U.S. Federal Building- Air Handling Unit Installation Project
Advantage Mechanical-Refrigeration’s (AMR) most recently completed project was the replacement of a large air handling unit (AHU) at a United States federal building in the state of Michigan. AMR was selected by the General Services Administration (GSA) to be the Prime Contractor, responsible for all aspects of fulfilling the contract.
The building in need of a new AHU was built in the 1930’s and, although the existing HVAC equipment is not original, the portion AMR completed was in need of a renovation. The purpose of the project was to replace the current equipment with an air handling unit that had the capacity to accommodate additional occupancies for future tenant space. Tasks included replacing the existing equipment with a modular air handler, provide direct digital control for the equipment through integration into the existing building management system, replace ductwork and insulation, and install fire protection sprinkler heads and lighting fixtures.
AMR both self-performed and subcontracted out portions of the project. The project began with asbestos abatement, demoing the existing equipment, and cleaning the existing ducts. Next, the new AHU was transported to the basement in five sections where it was constructed, along with accompanying controls and piping to each VAV (variable air volume) box. AMR also added a steam heat exchanger which harnesses heat from the incoming city steam and transfers it to the hot water reheat system creating a very energy efficient and more controlled way to heat the building.
Specialty subcontractors were selected to perform the asbestos and duct cleaning work, the electrical and control work, the insulation, some general trades tasks and air testing and balancing.
At the project’s conclusion GSA gave AMR an “Exceptional” rating for the management of this contract, the highest performance grade available!
The following are excerpts from GSA’s post-job feedback report:
“This project suffered numerous unforeseen site conditions requiring additional work, nevertheless, the contractor successfully performed the additional work within the additional time allowed.”
“The installation of new air handling equipment under this contract was performed without flaw, allowing easy startup of the unit with no corrective action necessary. Training videos provided for the new equipment were very helpful and very well done.”
See video below!
Annual Apprenticeship Contest
AMR had the pleasure to stop in and tour around at the Michigan Pipe Trades Association’s annual statewide apprenticeship contest which was conducted May 3-4 at the West Michigan Plumbers, Pipe Fitters and Service Trades Local 174’s Training Center.
Apprentices from around the state competed in various contest categories including: Plumbing, Pipefitting, Welding and Service Technician.
Training and developing new talent for the HVAC & Plumbing workforce is a vital necessity for our industry. Take a look at our short video below to see the equipment apprentices train on, and pass the word around to young men and women that may be interested in joining our industry!
East Rockford Middle School – Orchestra Room Addition
In the Spring of 2018, AMR completed a new construction addition of an orchestra room at East Rockford Middle School. AMR was responsible for the heating and cooling portion of the addition.
This project was particularly interesting because of the school’s needs. They required the new orchestra room to be operated by a climate-controlled system, meaning both the temperature and humidity could be manipulated as needed. The reason for this is to control for the effects of temperature and humidity on live sound.
The relationship between temperature and humidity is vital when it comes to orchestra music. Changes in temperature cause refraction effects, or the bending of sound waves. For example, mornings are the coolest time of the day due to the ground being cool from the night before but the upper air is already warming from the sun. Under these conditions, sound will bounce between these cool and warm regions resulting in high/low sound intensity. In a climate-controlled room, instrument noise and intensity would be consistent no matter the time of day.
To make this vision a reality, AMR installed a make-up air handling unit, commercial-sized humidifier, steam generator, and air conditioning unit, all of which work together to create a climate-controlled environment. The separate units are controlled simultaneously by a DDC, or direct digital control. It is a computer system that controls HVAC functions throughout the entire school.
What makes this particular heating and cooling system special is that it not only heats and cools but humidifies or dehumidifies. When humidity falls below the desired setpoint, the system will kick on and make the proper adjustments. If humidity is rising above the desired setpoint, the air handling unit will use reheat from the condenser to cool and heat instantaneously to lower the humidity.
AMR was honored to complete this work for a school district with such a prestigious music program such as Rockford’s. The Rockford High School Marching Band has been invited to the MCBA State Championships every year since 2009 where they have always finished in the top 3, and for the first time in school history the band was awarded first place in the Flight I State Champions in November of 2017. More notably, the band was invited to perform in the 2017 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
See video below!
Ductwork Addition Project
In the Fall of 2017, AMR completed a very labor-intensive project at a customer’s facility. The project’s focus was to redesign the current ductwork configuration located in the customer’s ceiling in order to evenly distribute the airflow throughout the building.
The work was completed in a facility that is heated by several rooftop units. These units are incredibly powerful and disperse air at roughly 90,000 cubic feet per minute (a standard home disperses air at roughly 2,000 CFM). These units are designed to heat an area by pushing 100% of the air flow in one direction, straight down. In order to prevent 90,000 CFM of air blowing everything below the main vent in a hundred different directions, a spill plate is put in place directly below the main air vent, as can be seen in the video below. Although the spill plate distributes the air more evenly, it can be counterproductive as it does not directly point where the air should go. This prevents proper circulation of air throughout the building.
Advantage Mechanical’s creative solution to this problem was a multi-step process. First, a sheet metal box was built that trapped the air between the spill plate and the main air vent in the ceiling. Next, AMR’s technicians made precision cuts into the ductwork box that ran several 24-inch tubes coming out of it. The tubes, which disperse air at approximately 3,800 cubic feet per minute, were strategically placed to avoid the customer’s conveyer belts but also evenly disperse air throughout the space.
After several rides up and down on the scissor lift, Advantage completed the project on time, with zero injuries, and very much to their customer’s approval. Each day brings new challenges but AMR’s team did a phenomenal job in both preparing and executing a well-thought-out solution!
Customs and Border Protection – Detroit, MI
In September of 2017, Advantage Mechanical-Refrigeration completed a project at the Customs & Border Protection building in Detroit, Michigan. See the photos below (taken by AMR’s journeyman technician, Adam Edwards) which shows the spectacular scenery the technicians worked in. The bridge photographed is the Ambassador Bridge which extends from Detroit to Canada and is 1.4 miles long. For this project, AMR was tasked with upgrading the current air conditioning equipment that cools the computer server room in the building. Recently, several servers were added to the building and the existing 3-ton A/C unit was not meeting its new cooling demands efficiently.
AMR began this project by removing the current 3-ton, water-cooled unit. This unit would be replaced with a 5-ton, air-cooled unit that would operate far more efficiently, as well as eliminate the need for hundreds of gallons of water per day. However, before the new unit could be installed, a temporary 4-ton A/C unit was put in place. This preemptive measure was done so that the computer servers would not overheat and crash during the swap out of the two permanent units. Lastly, AMR’s roofing subcontractor installed a roof curb that the condenser was then crane-lifted and mounted to.
Advantage’s experienced and fast-paced team traveled across the state, removed the existing units and installed the new A/C units all in under one week! Advantage has a great working relationship with the General Services Administration and is proud to have successfully completed another project for them.
Ann Arbor Federal Building – Ann Arbor, MI
In July of 2017, Advantage Mechanical-Refrigeration (AMR) concluded a vast service project at the Ann Arbor Federal Building in Ann Arbor, Michigan. AMR was responsible for installing a 20-ton dry cooling unit on the roof and a glycol pumping station. This project’s purpose was to provide better air conditioning quality to the building as well as reduce energy costs. This project was designed to better improve the facility by allowing the building to run more efficiently and in turn save money.
This 2-part project began in May and AMR hit the ground running as the completion date was only 2 months away. Thanks to AMR’s crane subcontractor, JJ Curran Crane Company, the 20-ton unit was successfully lifted onto the roof and into place to begin the installation. Next, AMR measured, cut, and installed 380 feet of 3-inch, 280 feet of 2½-inch, and 250 feet of 2-inch copper. The copper was then hung in the ceiling of the existing building and connected with copper fittings to three existing heat pumps.
Lastly, AMR installed a glycol pumping station for the 20-ton unit. A glycol pumping station is designed to move glycol through the system. For this project specifically, the station is estimated to reduce water consumption by over 2 million gallons each year! In large thanks to AMR’s service technicians, who spent several long days, nights, and extra time away from their families, this job was completed on time and under budget. AMR is proud of its reputation amongst its U.S. government clients in the state of Michigan and looks forward to completing more projects like this in the future!