SiteBilt™ at UConn Health Center “L” Building
The Challenge: Replacing Old AHU’s with Limited Site Access
Since its inception, the University of Connecticut Health Center (UCHC) has been the leading force for medical education and research in Connecticut. In order to remain in the forefront of medical technology and to jumpstart sustainable economic growth based on bioscience research, innovation, and energy efficiency, state officials created the Bioscience Connecticut Plan. As a result, new facilities, expansions and renovations have been ongoing since 2010. Known and named for its resemblance to the letter L, the iconic “L” Building at UCHC was no exception to campus updates.
Referred to as 1970’s vintage, the clinical and research labs and offices that the “L” building houses were due for modernization. The building needed to remain occupied and functioning during construction, including during the replacement of the building’s outdated air-handling units (AHU). This was deemed to be one of the more difficult tasks of the project. Normally, air-handling units are delivered or constructed inside the building before walls and other structural items are built, and especially before the building is occupied. Since this was not the case for the “L” Building, a solution had to be found to replace these existing AHUs.
The Solution: Air Enterprises Custom SiteBilt™ AHU
Choosing a solution for a large-scale state project like this wasn’t easy. Fortunately, early in the design process the specifying engineer did research on various suppliers and spoke with the owner to gain insight. After hearing the owner’s endorsement of Flow Tech, Inc. the specifying engineer contacted them to see what options they could offer. Flow Tech recommended SiteBilt™ by Air Enterprises (AE). SiteBilt™ is AE’s trademarked name for field-built AHUs. New units are shipped knocked-down, then assembled and installed onsite, piece by piece.
Flow Tech is the regional rep for AE and has successfully completed numerous SiteBilt™ projects in the area. After visiting several of those sites with Flow Tech and seeing SiteBilt™ in action, the specifying engineer based the air-handling unit design on this solution. Although SiteBilt™ was specified in the design there was no guarantee it would be awarded the project; however, Gene Chadwell of Walter D. Sullivan Co., the project manager for the HVAC portion of the renovations explains, “We usually like to go with the basis of design when determining who wins the bid; pricing always helps too.”” In the end, Flow Tech was awarded the project due to their, and AE’s stellar reputation and proactive approach. Work began quickly to coordinate the replacement of the first AHU.
The Results: Ease of Assembly and Excellent Service
From the moment the first sections of the AHU arrived, Chadwell knew he wasn’t dealing with an ordinary company. “The packaging was great! Everything was labeled correctly and very easily understood. A lot of times you just receive a big box and have to decipher which part goes where,” he states. Chadwell and his team were assigned a site supervisor from Air Enterprises to help with the installation of the air-handling units.
The SiteBilt™ pieces were hoisted by crane and brought in through an oversized hatchway in the roof. The sections were then moved to where the old AHU had been demolished, and a new unit was rebuilt in its place. It took a day and a half to bring in the unit’s sections and about two weeks to complete each air-handler assembly.
The first of three air-handling units was replaced while the other two supported the rest of the building. The next unit was replaced in turn, all while keeping the building fully ventilated, conditioned and functional. “Handsome unit- very impressive and tons more efficient than its predecessor” was Chadwell’s response to how the new unit is functioning. When asked what advice he would share with someone else facing a similar purchase he had to say this: “Weigh all your factors – don’t just think of the price and product, but all that comes with it. Air Enterprises and Flow Tech are top-notch! They put a lot in and kept the lines of communication open. It has been a pleasant experience. I deal with different vendors all the time and these guys put more time in and have more hands-on involvement than most. The site support has been great and they have the know-how for an easy assembly and the service to back it up!”