Erickson Retirement Community

The Erickson Retirement Community project involved construction of a 150,000 sq. ft. full fit-out of an office and general use building. Mechanical Engineering & Construction Corporation (MEC²) was the mechanical contractor responsible for the plumbing, heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and control system installation. The project was a new facility with air-cooled chillers, gas-fired hot water boilers, mechanical pumping systems, a large data center facility, direct-buried fuel oil tank installation with fuel oil pump set for feeding two emergency generators for the building, fully fit-out commercial kitchen, and variable air volume roof top and indoor air-handling units. The facility is a new five-story structure located near the UMBC Campus on Technology Drive.

Construction was an intense coordination process with the Owner, Erickson Retirement Communities, the construction managers (Erickson Construction), and the sub-contractors to build a state-of-the-art office building that maintained site cleanliness, safety and environmentally-friendly impacts to the existing area.

The HVAC system serving Erickson Retirement Community provides year-round temperature and ventilation that meets or exceeds all applicable code and industry standards as defined by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE). The system utilizes (3) 175-ton high-efficient air-cooled chillers, pumping chilled water to variable volume rooftop and indoor air handlers and ducting supply air to fan-powered variable air volume terminals. The air-handling units incorporate economizer cycles which constantly supply filtered air. Heating is supplied by (2) 1.3 million BTU high-efficient hot-water boilers housed in the boiler/pump room. The overall heating, ventilating and air conditioning system serving the building is monitored and controlled by a direct digital computer-based control system. The control system automatically coordinates the function of all mechanical components to assure economical and reliable operation. The system may be monitored within the building and remotely for failures of equipment or operating criteria outside of pre-set levels.

The scope of the project consisted of providing heating, ventilating, and air conditioning for the new facility. The ventilation system and air conditioning system is provided by rooftop and indoor variable air volume units provided with supply and relief fans, variable frequency drives and air-cooled chiller refrigeration systems consisting of high-efficient compressors, condenser coils and fans. As well as selecting high efficient cooling systems and energy saving variable frequency drives, the air handling units are equipped with free cooling cycles and carbon dioxide monitoring to ensure acceptable indoor air quality levels. High-efficient filtration is installed in the rooftop units to remove airborne contaminants. The supply air is distributed through insulated sheet metal ductwork to variable air volume terminal units consisting of single duct and fan-powered units. The fan-powered units were selected with high efficient ECM motors.

The heating system for the building is designed to provide heating water to the terminal units for the supply of warm air to the spaces. The terminal units are equipped with heating coils so we can maximize the heat output of the units while minimizing the demand for heating water quantities. The heating water is generated by two high-efficient condensing type boilers. The boiler system utilizes reset water temperature schedules to increase the system’s efficiency. The boilers can fully modulate the entire range of the heating demand spectrum and these boilers are coupled with base-mounted pumps equipped with variable frequency drives that modulate the pump capacity based on heating demand from the building.

The building automatic temperature control system by YEM monitors and controls every HVAC component in the building and also additional controls the building lighting system scheduling. The rooftop units and terminal units work in sequence to minimize energy usage while providing the required air conditioning capacity. The control system is married to the boiler control system to integrate the heating process efficiently and effectively. Innovative control strategies for static air pressure recalculation were implemented for the control of the variable frequency drives to minimize fan power usage and save energy use and costs.

The facility is also equipped with a fully functioning commercial kitchen. The elaborate plumbing systems installed to serve the kitchen included insulated domestic water piping as well as a grease interceptor for handling waste from the kitchen system. The kitchen was equipped with large grease hoods that required welded ductwork with fire rated insulation. The ductwork was extended to up-blast kitchen exhaust fans and a 100% outdoor air unit for make-up air was also provided to serve the kitchen hoods.

The data center in the building was a 4,000 square foot facility with a raised floor installation. Liebert down-flow computer air conditioning units were installed utilizing chilled water that was piped to the units from under the raised floor. This installation minimized overhead water piping in the data center.

The emergency generators in the facility required a dedicated fuel oil pumping station and dual-walled 3,000-gallon storage tank installed below grade. Fuel oil piping was extended to the generators for operation; also provided were large air ventilation louvers and ductwork for the generators’ cooling system mufflers and welded steel exhaust piping was extended through the roof.

Challenges to this $4.6 million mechanical undertaking included fitting out the data center that was included late in the project and also working through specific environmental impacts due to the inclusion of the direct-buried dual-walled fuel oil tank facility installation. Coordination is paramount in any large construction project and when MEC² found conflicts between the design documents and field conditions, a tight set of coordination drawings assisted us in working through construction challenges at the site, keeping construction on schedule and manpower efficiently operating.

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