Design-assist lets Goldman save hospital time, money

Nov. 1, 2002
Special to CONTRACTOR OCOEE, FLA. Health Central, a 141-bed hospital built in 1992 in Ocoee, near Orlando, is known for its unique, hotel-like architecture. Like many health-care facilities in central Florida, the areas increasing population has strained resources, and Health Central responded with a 10-year capital-improvement program. The hospitals facilities and management team looked to the original


OCOEE, FLA. — Health Central, a 141-bed hospital built in 1992 in Ocoee, near Orlando, is known for its unique, hotel-like architecture. Like many health-care facilities in central Florida, the area’s increasing population has strained resources, and Health Central responded with a 10-year capital-improvement program.

The hospital’s facilities and management team looked to the original construction team when it kicked off Phase One last year. The Robins & Morton Group, a construction management company that specializes in health-care projects, began assembling its team of subcontractors early in 2001 to assist in the design process.

S.I. Goldman Co./Comfort Systems USA, part of the construction team that originally built the hospital, was the logical choice since the construction manager was familiar with Goldman’s capability to provide design-assist, prefabrication and installation for plumbing, HVAC and medical gas systems. Moreover, Goldman’s design department was involved in development of prefabrication CAD drawings in the design-assist phase.

Phase One comprised a 105,000-sq.-ft., five-story addition to the existing hospital with a sixth-level mechanical penthouse. When complete this month, the new space will house patient beds, radiology, administration and support functions.

Phase Two comprises 45,000 sq. ft. of renovation within the existing hospital. New areas planned include three new surgical suites, a 21-bed expansion of the emergency room and renovations to other areas.

Jonathan Bailey Design of Dallas designed the $27 million project. Working closely with Orlando-based Bard, Rao & Athanas Consulting Engineers during the design-assist process, the Goldman team drew on its knowledge of the building’s systems and used its original as-built drawings during the selection process to plan an advanced strategy of cost and time savings for connecting the new addition and renovated areas.

Design-assist has many advantages for an owner, said Curtis Becker, Goldman’s senior project manager for the team. By allowing the contractor to have input on methods of construction, materials specified and equipment selection, the owner can achieve cost savings, reduce the construction schedule and have a safer project.

During the design-assist process, the designers, contractors and suppliers analyzed energy savings for the equipment to ensure initial capital outlays would reap benefits for the owner over time. Goldman reduced the mechanical portion of the project by $500,000, Becker said.

Initially, Goldman brought together its project manager, project superintendent, in-house design department staff, estimating and operations personnel to conduct a thorough review of the design documents. Working with Bard, Rao & Athanas, the Goldman team suggested pipe rerouting to save time and labor, to reduce the amount of pipe and to ease installation. During construction, Goldman prefabricated pipe sections at its 16,500-sq.-ft. in-house fabrication facility and delivered at scheduled intervals for installation.

“The piping went together like a giant erector set and saves having to field-weld each section,” Becker said.

Victaulic grooved couplings were used for final pipe field connections. Becker said the quality of Goldman’s prefabricated pipe exceeds other methods because work is performed in a controlled environment. The contractor reviewed equipment to assess factors such as availability, placement, space saving, ease of maintenance and cost reductions.

As a result of Hurricane Andrew, which devastated parts of south Florida in 1992, the state of Florida adopted a disaster preparedness plan in 1995. The new building codes created a complex challenge for contractors. Equipment vital to hospital operation must be hurricane-rated and all air conditioning systems must have backup emergency generators.

Since manufacturers are not about to develop individualized equipment for Florida projects, mechanical equipment is now housed in fully enclosed structures. For example, Health Central’s sixth-floor penthouse encloses six, 17,000-cfm York air handlers for chilled water, two Taco shell-and-tube steam-to-water heat exchangers for hot water to dehumidify air and provide heat, two Sentry shell-and-tube steam-to-water heat exchangers for domestic hot water, and 600-gpm Taco pumps and condensate pumps for each heat exchanger. Goldman ran steam pipes from the existing ground level central plant to the sixth-level penthouse to push steam through the four heat exchangers.

Other work in the central plant included the installation of an additional 200-hp steam boiler. For energy efficiency, Goldman then installed auto-flame boiler control systems on one new and two existing steam boilers. Goldman’s team also installed a 900-ton York R-134A centrifugal chiller with variable-speed drive for added energy efficiency, removed and replaced most of the primary and secondary chilled water piping and replaced an existing cooling tower with a new 900-ton tower.

One of Goldman’s keys to securing the project was its solution to reduce HVAC downtime for the hospital for equipment change-outs throughout construction. Using a line freeze technique, Goldman eliminated the owner’s concerns about air conditioning downtime for the hospital.

Goldman’s solution was unique. The company isolated the central plant from the main hospital and used a temporary chiller during construction downtimes. This carefully choreographed procedure occurred over more than a month.

Isolation was achieved by using liquid nitrogen to freeze two 10-in. chilled water lines connecting the main hospital to the central plant. The frozen section of pipe created a plug that allowed Goldman’s crew to drain the plant’s chilled water lines without draining the hospital’s entire system.

Once frozen, Goldman’s crew installed two 10-in. isolation valves to the lines between the plug and the central plant. This allowed the mechanical contractor to shut the main hospital from the plant when necessary during equipment change-outs.

During work in the central plant, Goldman switched the hospital air conditioning over to a temporary General Electric 400-ton air-cooled chiller with its own pump and temporary piping. This solution allowed Goldman to change out the pipe, demolish and remove several pieces of equipment and install upgraded systems in the central plant in just two seven-day periods scheduled 30 days apart.

Another innovative solution used by Goldman was hot tapping a steam-to-water boiler. This method is not performed often in Florida and allowed the contractor to minimize boiler downtime for the hospital’s sterilization systems and tools run by hot air.

Goldman, through its experience in design-assist projects and the ability to present innovative solutions to the construction manager and owner, achieved 8.5% savings on the mechanical contract for this hospital. Phase Two will present its own challenges as the hospital moves departments into the new space to allow renovation of 45,000 sq. ft. of existing space. Phase Two is scheduled for completion in September 2003.

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