Ft. Detrick Pumps

Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning Systems

The Ft. Detrick Building 568 Pump Replacement project involved the renovation of a 3-story, 50,000 sq. ft. laboratory test facility in Frederick, Maryland. Mechanical Engineering & Construction Corporation (MEC²) was the mechanical/general contractor responsible for the design and construction of the heating, chilled water, condenser water, and cooling tower filtration water systems. The project is an existing facility with central station air handling equipment with chilled water coils, heating water coils, steam heating coils, and steam humidifiers. The air side equipment was pre-existing equipment that was to remain in service during the renovation; the chillers, steam distribution, and steam converter systems were also pre-existing and were to remain in service during the renovation.

Construction was an intense coordination process with the Ft. Detrick base personnel, the facility users, government planning coordinators, and Linc Government Services who contracted the project. The building was to remain in operation and the laboratories and test facilities functions were not to be interrupted.

The HVAC system serving Ft. Detrick Building 568 Complex provides year-round cooling and heating, which is critical for the laboratory tests. Fluctuations in temperature or humidity in the lab would render any active testing void. The government had strict environmental conditions that had to be maintained.

The existing pumping system consisted of dual-arm pump arrangements that were intended to provide redundant back-up pumping in case of a system pump failure. Close coordination with the laboratory personnel and scheduling were paramount. The scope of the project involved changing the pumping systems from three single dual-arm pump arrangements to three two-pump arrangement systems. Physical space constraints made the phasing of the replacement units challenging.

MEC² provided scheduling that would replace the heating system pumps initially. Due to the testing nature of this facility, the heating water system could not be out if service for more than 8 hours. MEC² planned for a pre-fabricated pump package to be designed, built, and installed in a 4-hour window. Change out of this system occurred during the heating season. Therefore, the risk of losing the data from critical laboratory experiments was high. The pump packages required demolition of the existing units, installation of the new pump packages, connection of the electrical power systems, coordination of the automatic control system, and unit start-up and commissioning. MEC² pre-fabricated the pump packages, piping connections to the heating system piping, and chemical treatment systems to insure a smooth transition from an existing inadequate system to a state-of-the-art system that provided the appropriate capacities and improved efficiency. The heating water pump change out was successful.

MEC² was also required to change the chilled water pumping system and condenser water pumping systems in the same manner. The change out occurred during the spring months, so the cooling demand requirement of the building system had begun. MEC² coordinated with the electrical subcontractors, control subcontractors and equipment supplier to verify that the system augmentation would be seamless. The pumping systems installed for the chilled water and condenser water included upsizing the pumping systems for increased capacity. Therefore, this demanded increased space demands. Careful design planning and specific installation drawings proved extremely effective in the layout and installation of the pumping systems. MEC² provided variable frequency drives on the pumping systems to aid in the water balancing and provided increased energy efficiency for the Owner.

During the final stages of the installation, the Owner requested a modification of the contract to include a cooling tower filtration system addition. The specific filtration system required an extended lead time for manufacturing. MEC² and its subcontractors provided the required utilities ready for connection at the time of the filtration system implementation. Piping modifications, increased power, control demands, and space limitations in an existing mechanical room were challenges to overcome. Upon arrival of the cooling tower filtration system, MEC² installed the unit and had it operational in one day without interruption to the cooling and environmental control of the laboratories. The construction of the project was completed on schedule and interruptions in the critical laboratory experiments did not occur. The Ft. Detrick Building 568 cooling and heating systems are operating smoothly with additional capacity and increased safety alarms. The systems are now installed with the redundancy that is required for the laboratories to produce successful experiments.

With the help of the Ft. Detrick personnel, Linc Government Services, and the dedicated effort of the MEC2 staff, this job was successfully completed within the proposed schedule and completed within the project budget.

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