Brigham Young University is a 560-acre property with 311 buildings. Being such a large campus, the university was in need of an effective solution to providing cooling (air conditioning and cold water) to each building. Around 25 years ago, they installed two absorption chillers to fulfill that function, but over time, the ductile iron in the pipes began to rust and stood in need of replacement. Zwick Construction was hired to replace those chillers, as well as the pipes connected to each chiller. Zwick completed the project in October 2020.
To begin, the Zwick team was tasked with extracting every piece inside the chillers, the chillers themselves, and the pipes affected by the removal. Due to the limited space in the room, many of those pieces had to be trimmed to a more manageable size to fit through relatively small doors. During the demolition phase, the main floor, where the chillers were located, was almost completely gutted. The majority of pipes in the basement were also removed.
From there, teams had to figure out how to install the new pipes. At the onset of the project, engineers drafted a general layout of how replacement pipes and chillers should be installed in the area. Since the demolition phase had not yet been completed, the plan was relatively ambiguous. After the removal, teams verified the field conditions and mapped out a more detailed and individualistic plan of how to install the new pipes and chillers. The teams fabricated pipes off-site and then fitted/welded them on-site.
The chillers themselves brought some interesting challenges to the team. First, the chillers were shipped in from China. It took several months for them to arrive. Teams had to carefully plan to avoid schedule slippage while they waited for the chillers to arrive. They worked on the pipe system first. In the end, when the chillers did arrive, the only parts left on the project were minor adjustments.
Second, because of the unique layout of the heating plant– the door that the absorption chillers had to enter through was up a ramp driveway and on the second floor of the building– using one crane would not be acceptable. The weight and size of the crane would not allow for proper installation on the ramp. Instead, they used two smaller cranes to hoist them into position.
Even with unforeseen challenges, the team delivered a timely and impressive project. The new chillers will effectively serve the campus for many years to come. Thanks to the project team for their hard work!