Plumbing and Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning System

The VIPS project involved the renovation/construction of a 4,300 sq. ft. Data Center for the VIPS/General Dynamics Information Technology Corporation tenant at Towson Commons in Towson, Maryland. Mechanical Engineering & Construction Corporation (MEC²) was the mechanical contractor responsible for the plumbing, heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and glycol dry-cooler system. The renovation project included a 4,000-gallon above grade dual-wall fuel oil tank installation with duplex transfer fuel oil pump set with filtration for feeding two emergency generators for the Data Center, Liebert Computer Room air conditioning units for environmental control of the Data Center, Liebert XD (extreme density) cooling modules located above the computer system racks, data center refrigerant chillers, and a roof-mounted glycol system including two glycol dry-coolers, a duplex pumping system and connecting piping extending up the existing office building. The VIPS Data Center is located on the Second Floor of the existing ten-story office building.

Construction was an intense coordination process with the Owner, data center users, The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, and the subcontractors to build a state-of-the-art Data Center utilizing the latest advances in data center cooling technology. The project site was an office building that had site cleanliness and safety requirements. The project created minimal environmental impacts to the existing area during construction.

The environmental control system serving the VIPS Data Center facility provides 24/7 year-round temperature and humidity 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 two (2) 117.5 ton dry-cooler packages, three (3) 42.5 ton refrigerant chillers, thirty (30) 4.6 ton XD fan coil modules which are mounted over the computer aisle racks to provide dedicated cooling to the specific area heat requirement, and seven (7) 7.2 ton Liebert horizontally mounted air conditioning units that provide environmental cooling and humidity control to the data center space.

The extreme density cooling installation is a rapidly emerging technology that couples space environmental control with dedicated computer air conditioning units to serve space temperature and humidity requirements with specific cooling modules dedicated to aisle rack cooling demands. The cooling is provided overhead and since the cooling is provided with a network of refrigeration piping to end devices at the racks, there is no potential for water to leak from the piping and potentially damage expensive computer gear. The refrigerant is piped to chillers that are equipped with heat exchangers that transfer the heat from the data center to glycol piping which extends from the second floor to the roof above the tenth floor of the office building. At the roof, MEC⊃2 performed a crane lift to set the roof top dry-coolers and pump package. The control system is a dedicated control network internal to the XD system; the commissioning of the system was imperative for proper operation. The dedicated control system is integrated, so the building automation system is for monitoring capabilities only. The plumbing work consisted of providing piping to the computer room air conditioning units for humidification and for condensate drainage.

The emergency generators in the facility required a dedicated fuel oil pumping station and dual-walled 4,000-gallon storage tank installed above grade. Fuel oil piping was extended to the generators for operation. Also provided for the generators were large air ventilation louvers and ductwork for the generators’ cooling system. Mufflers and welded steel exhaust piping were extended from the grade location of the generators to the roof.

Challenges to this $1.3M mechanical undertaking included scheduling the computer room cooling equipment that have long lead times for shipping with the construction effort of the renovation. Although multi-story office building construction is challenging (with the coordination of bulk materials storage and coordination with the multiple trades occupying the same building space), this project was delivered on time and within budget.

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