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KEEPING HISTORY COOL

In the fall of 2014, Carrier installed an innovative heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) solution at the Sistine Chapel, specially developed to help preserve Michelangelo’s masterpieces against deterioration caused by an increasing number of visitors.

The new system uses two Carrier AquaForce® 30XWV water-cooled chillers with Greenspeed® intelligence, each with 580 kilowatts of capacity. It leverages specially designed software and components, as well as patented, energy-saving technologies to maintain optimal climate conditions for the protection of the paintings within the chapel. An intelligent system of controls, linked with an advanced video application from UTC Building & Industrial Systems, enables the HVAC system to anticipate visitor levels and adjust its performance intuitively. The new system delivers twice the efficiency and three times the capacity of the former system, which was built and installed by Carrier in the early 1990s. To ensure the smooth operation of the new system, the Vatican has chosen to enter into a five-year maintenance contract with Carrier .

“Our aim now is not restoration, but conservation. This is why we have chosen Carrier, because a masterpiece like the Sistine Chapel needs a comparable masterpiece of technology,” said Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums.

In 1993, Carrier designed and installed the Sistine Chapel's first air conditioning system to accommodate a maximum load of 700 simultaneous visitors. Today, with daily visitor traffic of approximately 20,000 people, the new system is designed to accommodate up to 2,000 visitors at one time in nearly any weather condition.

The Vatican Museums was able to keep the chapel open to visitors throughout the system dismantling and installation process, which occurred over the peak summer season, through use of a temporary HVAC system provided by Carrier Rental Systems.

“From start to finish, this project has highlighted the important role high technology can play in preserving our most important pieces of history for future generations,” said Michel Grabon, director, Carrier AdvanTE3C Europe. “When we started to design the system, Professor Paolucci told us to think in terms of five, six, seven centuries, and to think of it as work for humanity. Our solution accomplishes this in a way that strategically allows for future updates to help meet the Vatican’s evolving needs. We’ll continue to innovate to help preserve the brilliance of Michelangelo’s frescoes.”

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