When we think of Napa Valley, California, we think of great wine, gourmet food and breathtaking views. And in such a picturesque region with a beautiful climate year-round, it’s inevitable that new buildings will incorporate the weather and views any way they can. The Boys & Girls Club of Napa Valley’s newest location is no exception. The new club features soaring ceilings, large overhead garage doors open to the outdoors – and brightly-colored EPIC Apex commercial fans.

Sarah Marshall, principal architect at Napa Design Partners, specified eight EPIC Apex fans for the new Boys & Girls Club facility, opening in spring 2018. She believes the fans provide a sleek, modern look that fits into the “industrial chic” design of the new building, as well as an efficient, cost-effective way to limit ductwork and operate the building in the long term.

Blurred Indoor/Outdoor Spaces

In regions like Napa where the weather is nice most of the year, architects are designing buildings with spaces crossing the line between indoor and outdoor, Marshall said, rather than designing for fully-enclosed, fully air-conditioned spaces.

The new Boys & Girls Club facility is going in on land leased from the city, opening right out onto a park and sitting next to a big school system. Because of the connection to the park, Marshall said, she expects the new building to get far more use than the old building – and the open-air connections between the new facility and the park outside are a vital design feature.

However, Marshall said, this also necessitated rethinking the mechanical systems providing heat and A/C. Marshall said that challenge was what initially spurred her to investigate HVLS fans for the Boys & Girls Club project. Open doors, especially large overhead garage doors like the new club will have, can bring in plenty of fresh air that just needs to be circulated. After her initial research, Marshall quickly learned that Epic fans could be the key to efficiently creating enough of a breeze to keep temperatures comfortable for those inside without hardly having to run the A/C at all.

“Industrial Chic”

With the new Boys & Girls Club, Marshall is going for a clean industrial look – tall ceilings with exposed sheet-metal ductwork, exposed beams, exposed garage door tracks, metal doors and concrete floors. As soon as Marshall saw the EPIC Apex commercial fan, she loved the sleek, simple look and knew it would fit right in with her design.

She noted that “industrial chic” is a look that has gained popularity, and she’s worked on a number of projects in the Napa region that feature exposed framework, metal trusses, exposed ductwork and other industrial touches. Though the industrial aesthetic can be dramatic and effective, it can also bring the risk of cluttered-looking ceilings, and Marshall was excited to discover that HVLS fans can actually help solve that problem. By making them an integral part of the HVAC plan, she could actually reduce the amount of HVAC ductwork needed, a major source of ceiling clutter.

Energy & Cost Savings

HVAC ductwork can also be costly to build out. Marshall said fans tend to get cut from projects when the team and building owners are weighing the value of the engineering – they can often be seen as extras in finished-out commercial projects. But she’s found that the cost of the Epic fans isn’t an “extra” when you take into account the cost savings on ductwork, as well as the reduction in building operating costs – HVLS fans draw a fraction of the electricity that an HVAC system does. She realizes HVLS fans are not a complete replacement for an A/C system, but said that they work so effectively that you can do without the A/C more often, reducing electric bills.

“When building planners discover that they can use a different type of technology to save themselves a lot on their operating costs in terms of energy, that’s a really big deal if you’ve got a 60,000-square-foot warehouse. Even a new Boys & Girls Club is a 15,000-square-foot facility. That becomes a significant number when you’re looking at annual costs,” Marshall said. She believes HVLS fans play a part in that, and that it’s a win for everybody when an architect’s design can allow mechanical systems to be used more efficiently.

Affordable Color Customization

For the new Boys & Girls Club, Marshall was also drawn to Epic fans because of the range of color options available. She designed the facility using color-coding for different areas of the building, such as yellow for the early childhood room, green for the tech center, and blues in the education rooms.

Some other HVLS fan makers charge extra for any customization in color. EPIC, however, offers eight standard color options on their Apex commercial fan (with even further opportunities for customization available). The Boys & Girls Club was excited to consider integrating color into their building design, and the chance to get vibrantly colored fans within Marshall’s budget was a boon.

Marshall said, “We had the opportunity at no extra cost to make the fans color coordinated with the rooms, so why wouldn’t we do that?” She’s thrilled that the colorful fans will be part of a fun atmosphere for the kids.


The children of the Boys & Girls Club of Napa Valley will enjoy the cool breezes and vibrant colors of the Epic fans in their new building, but the architect behind the project knows that these fans provide so much more – including integration into the industrial aesthetic, upfront savings on ductwork costs, long-term energy efficiency and operational cost savings.