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The following are excerpts taken from a story written by Matt Parke, WorkingNation. We highly stress that you visit their site for the rest of the story, and an abundance of information regarding the hard truths about the looming unemployment crisis and bring the country together to create and amplify solutions for a changing economy Read More

The following are excerpts taken from a story written by Matt Parke, WorkingNation. We highly stress that you visit their site for the rest of the story, and an abundance of information regarding the hard truths about the looming unemployment crisis and bring the country together to create and amplify solutions for a changing economy.

The annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) and the SkillsUSA Championships features more than 18,000 attendees  working an event the size of 20 football fields. A diverse group of students puts their training to the test in events ranging from cosmetology and construction to broadcasting and information technology. The NLSC is the future of work on display and SkillsUSA students are fired up to be a part of it. This past June, SkillsUSA members descended on the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville and turned it into a model city filled with skilled talent

The national nonprofit organization brings the country together to promote the technical and soft skills that employers desire and SkillsUSA students have. It is where analog skills, such as swinging a hammer, are on par with digital ones found in robotics and 3D printing.

SkillsUSA is the first student organization for trade and industrial education and has served more than 13 million members since 1965. The organization trains more than 340,000 middle school, high school, post-secondary and college students across 130 occupational skill areas. Its continuing mission is to develop the next generation of workforce leaders and promote the value of Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs.

SkillsUSA’s strategy to develop skilled workers comes at a critical time in the U.S. labor market. Widespread labor shortages are happening across a majority of sectors.

Welding together copper pipes for the project’s indoor plumbing. Photo Credit: Jonathan Barenboim

Reversing the college or bust trend requires raising awareness about the opportunities for younger workers without a four-year degree. SkillsUSA also makes the trades more appealing to a new generation by elevating them to competition status. The same reverence that sports legends receive is bestowed on competitors whether they are a master at applying mortar to bricks or can control a robotic arm.

“We need young people that are engaged in the trades, excited about the trades, have passion about the trades and the professions that we serve to enter that talent pipeline,” Lawrence said.

Examining the project’s blueprints. Photo credit: Jonathan Barenboim

Getting students to have that passion will take convincing them and their families about the ample career opportunities that await after graduation or obtaining a technical certificate. SkillsUSA makes employment a priority for students by treating the NLSC as a giant job fair. Each student must bring a resume and meet with employers who are looking to recruit talent from the competition floor.

The event space is spread across multiple buildings. Photo credit: Jonathan Barenboim

While many SkillsUSA students compete in the more than 100 events as individuals, the event’s TeamWorks contest tests the combined abilities of trades students representing four aspects of construction: carpentry, masonry, plumbing and electrical work. In only 16 hours, all teams must plan, present and build a structure from the same blueprints provided by SkillsUSA.

Wilo, a provider of pumps and pump solutions for water management, building services and groundwater, was proud to sponsor Thomas University’s ‘Camp STEMtastic’ this summer through the Wilo-Foundation. The camp is the University’s science and technology-focused summer program for young students, and the foundation has been an active sponsor since 2015. Wilo USA was pleased Read More

Wilo, a provider of pumps and pump solutions for water management, building services and groundwater, was proud to sponsor Thomas University’s ‘Camp STEMtastic’ this summer through the Wilo-Foundation. The camp is the University’s science and technology-focused summer program for young students, and the foundation has been an active sponsor since 2015.

The students pose alongside camp leaders and Wilo USA’s Director of Operations, Darren McGuire, after an afternoon at Wilo’s production facility in Thomasville, GA.

Wilo USA was pleased to welcome this year’s group of rising 8th grade student campers to its production facility in Thomasville, GA as part of the STEMtastic program. The theme for this year’s camp was ‘The Human Machine,’ and campers’ activities and learning experiences throughout the week focused on simple and complex machines related to how the systems in the human body function together to complete specific tasks.

The students toured the Wilo USA facility on the fourth day of the camp and learned about the complex machines and systems used in production, as well as how Wilo pumps work to treat water supply and sewage within cities’ infrastructure. The campers also participated in a hands-on activity led by Wilo USA’s Director of Operations, Darren McGuire, in which they worked in teams to assemble two versions of a simple circulation system. They then used a Wilo circulator to pump dyed water through the piping structures they created, demonstrating how the human circulation system functions.

Students prepare to test their team project using a Wilo circulator to pump dyed water through a simple piping system.

On the last day of the camp, campers’ friends and family members attended a reception in which the students gave a presentation highlighting the events of the week. The group enjoyed a demonstration of the students’ project for the week, which was to build a simple machine to complete a specific task. Wilo was proud to take an active role in the program again this year and looks forward to continuing community involvement. You can learn more about the Wilo-Foundation and their ongoing support of science, education, culture and sport at www.wilo-foundation.de/en.html.

The 20-story, terra cotta Standard Building has graced the cityscape of downtown Cleveland, OH, since 1924. Constructed by The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers—the oldest union in the nation—the Standard Building was their Cooperative National Bank Building. (See overview video at the end of the story.) Throughout most of its long life, the Standard Building functioned Read More

The elegant Standard Building has been a part of the landscape in downtown Cleveland since 1924. It recently underwent an extensive office-to-apartment conversion.

The 20-story, terra cotta Standard Building has graced the cityscape of downtown Cleveland, OH, since 1924. Constructed by The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers—the oldest union in the nation—the Standard Building was their Cooperative National Bank Building. (See overview video at the end of the story.)

Throughout most of its long life, the Standard Building functioned admirably as an office building in a prime downtown location. Today, the urban trend of office-to-apartment conversions is transforming the business districts of many cities, including Cleveland’s. Weston Inc., the building’s owners, knew the time was right to capitalize on that trend and convert the Standard Building into a completely renovated, 281-unit luxury apartment building.

Begun in April 2016 and completed in December 2017, part of the Standard Building renovation features a revamped piping system for both potable water and HVAC water-source heat pump piping for the building’s new comfort system, which includes 290 WaterFurnace water-source heat pumps.

For Lee Tucker, project manager, Marous Brothers Construction, the company’s Design/Assist approach at the Standard Building was to “go with what you know.”

Lee Tucker, project manager, Morous Brothers Construction, peruses the blueprints for the project. (And that view!)

“We budgeted the project and negotiated the contract based on what we felt comfortable with,” said Tucker. “We generally are not early adopters of new products unless we do extensive research. We explored the use of Aquatherm with the mechanical engineer and visited another project of similar size and interviewed the employees of the installing mechanical contractor. After our research, we felt comfortable with using Aquatherm.”

Ultimately, more than 8,300 ft. of Aquatherm polypropylene-random (PP-R) piping—ranging from ¾ to 12 in.—and more than 800 fittings were used on this project.

The project’s tradesmen appreciated Aquatherm pipe because it is lighter and cleaner to work with than steel pipe.

Blue and green come up golden

The Standard Building project incorporates Aquatherm Green Pipe® for the building’s potable water applications and Aquatherm Blue Pipe® for its HVAC applications.

Aquatherm Blue Pipe is ideal for HVAC applications, offering longevity and consistent performance. It is hydrophobic, which means it will not corrode or scale over time.

Aquatherm Green Pipe is chemically inert and is potable water (NSF 61) and food safety (NSF 51) rated. It will not leach, corrode, or erode. In addition, the heat fusion method of joining Aquatherm pipe does not create any VOCs and does not introduce any lead or other toxic materials into the system. Nor does it involve and open flame or hot work permit as does welding carbon steel.

The residents of this office-to-apartment conversion will probably never see the Aquatherm pipe that takes care of their potable water and HVAC needs, but it will be working behind the scenes for decades to come.

Both Blue Pipe and Green Pipe are available with optional multi-layer, faser-composite (MF) which allows the pipe to remain rigid at high temperatures and significantly reduces linear expansion. The MF extrusion process creates a middle layer in the pipe that is a mixture of glass fibers and Aquatherm’s proprietary fusiolen. Along with the benefit of reduced expansion, Aquatherm MF pipes are still flexible, and require fewer and smaller expansion controls.

Overcoming the challenges

 A major reason Aquatherm was selected for the Standard Building is the pipe’s light weight—up to 70% lighter than carbon steel pipe, depending on the pipe size—and ease of use on the job site.

The Standard Building presented some challenges that Aquatherm helped solve.

More than 8,300 ft. of Aquatherm piping, ranging from ¾ in. to 12 in., helped make this project a success.

“Construction of the building is unique,” Tucker said. “The floors are actually 18-in. thick per floor. We took the pipe up to the top floor where we fused the pipe and dropped it through the stacked mechanical rooms, with core drills, all throughout the building.”

The piping contractor, T.H. Martin Inc., would fuse the pipe on the 19th floor and drop it all the way down the building. This made the lightweight nature of the pipe critical.

“You’re not moving stuff as heavy so the guys can be more productive all day long. That’s essentially what it comes down to.” — Ryan Pepper, piping project manager, T.H. Martin Inc.

 

“They just set up on one floor and drop, drop, drop,” Tucker said. “They set up a kind of chain fall. We couldn’t do this with steel pipe.”

A lightweight, effective solution

“After working with Aquatherm and having installed it, the cleanliness is by far a long-term benefit to wherever you would install it,” said Ryan Pepper, piping project manager, T.H. Martin Inc.

Pepper also noted the light weight is a huge benefit to his crew.

The light weight of Aquatherm pipe allowed finished sections of the new piping to be dropped down through the building’s stacked mechanical rooms.

“You’re not moving stuff as heavy so the guys can be more productive all day long. That’s essentially what it comes down to,” he said.

Shaun Swaney, pipefitter, Local 120 Pipefitters Union, agreed.

“It’s a lot easier on the guys, on your body,” he said. “It makes it an easier day, and you’re not exhausted at the end of it.”

Aquatherm’s ease of use helped Swaney and the other installers at the Standard Building get the job done quickly and efficiently.

Ease of use and overall savings

Unlike welding, the heat fusing process used for Aquatherm pipes physically turns the two pieces of plastic pipe into one piece. The heat fusion tools and process are both easy to learn and work with.

“The Aquatherm representatives came right out to the jobsite [to provide training],” Swaney noted.

“It’s a very easy system to put together,” Pepper said. “Guys that are used to welding, grooving and even soldering a lot, when they go to do this the tools make it easy. The tooling, combined with the simplicity of how to put it together, really makes it a fantastic product.”

The Standard Building offers tenants spectacular views of downtown Cleveland and the lakefront.

Tucker said the Design/Build contractor on the project provided a credit of $250,000 to Marous Brothers Construction for using Aquatherm piping. The credit was based on the estimated combined labor and material cost savings compared to using metal pipe.

Tucker added that he often expects to see a sort of resistance to new technology, but what he finds is exactly the opposite with Aquatherm.

“It’s a lot easier on the guys, on your body. It makes it an easier day, and you’re not exhausted at the end of it.” — Shaun Swaney, pipefitter, Local 120 Pipefitters Union

 

In the end, a combination of Aquatherm’s light weight and ease of use in the field made it the clear choice for this renovation project.

“I didn’t just push for Aquatherm, I required it,” Tucker concluded.

The Standard Building is up and running and occupied, and has begun its new life as prime downtown Cleveland apartments. Marous Brothers Construction and T.H. Martin are proud to have played a role in the successful renovation of this historic and beautiful structure, and both companies said they planned to use Aquatherm pipe on other projects in the future.

Check out the video of the Standard Building project here:

Johnson County Community College (JCCC), Overland Park, Kansas, serves about 20,000 students. In 2009, the school formed the Center for Sustainability to promote an environmentally, socially and economically responsible campus. The Center set goals, including becoming a zero-waste-to-landfill campus by 2025 and a 100 percent renewable energy campus by 2050. This commitment to sustainability has Read More

Johnson County Community College (JCCC), Overland Park, Kansas, serves about 20,000 students. In 2009, the school formed the Center for Sustainability to promote an environmentally, socially and economically responsible campus. The Center set goals, including becoming a zero-waste-to-landfill campus by 2025 and a 100 percent renewable energy campus by 2050. This commitment to sustainability has affected every building project on campus, including Galileo’s Pavilion, a new 3,000-square-foot academic building. A host of super-efficient practices and products, including Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) technology from Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating (Mitsubishi Electric), has made Galileo’s Pavilion a true showcase of sustainability—with LEED® Platinum certification to boot.

Jay Antle serves as the executive director for the Center for Sustainability, as well as a professor of history. He said, “This is an age where sustainability and green building are going to be increasingly important. We wanted a place for technology to be on display – for students to learn about renewable energy, energy efficiency and what pioneering, high performance buildings look like. And the students themselves had expressed interest in having a cutting-edge building on campus to serve as a learning lab for sustainability – so that’s where the project began.”

The team at JCCC had recently read an article about Studio 804, Inc., a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) in Lawrence, Kansas, comprised of graduate students of the University of Kansas (KU) School of Architecture, Design and Planning. Each year, these students design and construct a technologically sophisticated, green building under the direction of Dan Rockhill, distinguished professor of architecture at KU and the founder and executive director of Studio 804. The organization was a strong match for JCCC’s vision, so the school contacted them. Rockhill said, “We designed Galileo’s Pavilion – its two classrooms, lounge and exhibition/display space – using our current knowledge of sustainable design. We took advantage of the daily and seasonal cycles of nature to passively cool, heat and daylight the building, as well as supply electricity and utility water. We planned rainwater harvesting, green roof trays, photovoltaics and a wind turbine to further reduce or even eliminate the need to use public utilities.”

When it came to selecting an HVAC system, Rockhill said, “We basically had three distinctly separate spaces. Although they’re in the same building, the loading on them is different. So that resulted in us needing three separate air-conditioning and heating solutions”—or, zoning. Efficiency was of course paramount, as well: “We pride ourselves on being able to promote sustainable everything, so HVAC is no exception.” VRF was the clear choice.

Rockhill had used Mitsubishi Electric VRF on a recent project—KU’s Center for Design Research—and had been impressed. “Mitsubishi Electric is, first of all, leader in its field. That’s the most important thing. Many of the others follow, but Mitsubishi Electric developed the variable refrigerant concept. They know what they’re doing. For Galileo’s Pavilion, we wanted to demonstrate the most technologically advanced equipment in the industry. So VRF and its capacity to simultaneously cool and heat all of the spaces within the building was a fit.”

He continued, “Mitsubishi Electric was also very generous in working with us on the engineering aspect of the Center for Design Research. I thought that was a real strength. So with Galileo’s Pavilion, it was no surprise that Mitsubishi Electric was happy to accept its role and be respectful to the other aspects we were bringing to the project. Mitsubishi Electric gets passive solar, and gets that it’s the sum of the total of all the parts that makes the systems positive. In other words, it’s not just air conditioning and heating, but how that’s balanced with many factors. And there was never any pushback from them. It was always, “Yeah, that’s great.”

Since Studio 804 not only designs but constructs each project, once the team finished its plans, construction got underway. “Installation went quite well. The Mitsubishi Electric units are compact and easy enough to install that the whole thing really was pretty simple,” said Rockhill.

The team also constructed exterior louvers to block out intense summer sun, a concrete thermal mass floor to absorb and radiate heat, strategically placed operable windows, skylights for natural lighting, superior insulation, living walls and more.

A solar array of 44 photovoltaic panels and a 2.4-kW wind turbine installed on the site now produce about 70 percent of the building’s energy. Loads are reduced through occupancy sensors, LEDs and fiber optics, and a lighting control system. “The school monitors the whole thing,” explained Michael Rea, JCCC’s sustainability project manager, “through our building automation system. The Mitsubishi Electric system is integrated into that. So we can see humidity or change set points, for example.”

He continued, “Everything with the Mitsubishi Electric system has been going well. No compressor failures, no leaks, no fan problems, nothing. Our maintenance is easy, too – just changing the filters and making sure the condensers are clean.”

Another sign of success: LEED Platinum certification. Rea said, “For us in the Center, we were excited to get something above Silver, our current standard. Galileo’s Pavilion is a showcase about what a sustainable building can be on a campus. We were also honored to receive the 2013 CSI Kansas City Chapter Innovation in Sustainability Award for the building.”

Rockhill has also been pleased with the project—both for his students and all the JCCC students who have enjoyed the building so far, and who will enjoy it for years to come. “For my students, the experience was very important. The polar ice caps are melting. We can no longer dispute that as hearsay. So educating my students in that area is imperative, because they’ll eventually be seeds that are planted in architectural offices around the country. And then for the Johnson County students, Galileo’s Pavilion makes them more aware of the ways our buildings impact the environment. It is a living textbook that significantly impacts their education.”

To further that education, detailed informative signs were posted in the building’s lounge, along with an energy management system display that shows the building’s real-time energy usage on a monitor. The whole team says these details, among the building as a whole, have been received positively.

Antle said, “I am fortunate to teach a class in Galileo’s Pavilion and can personally attest to how students have positively responded to this building. The classrooms have a very comforting feel about them. And while the students are here, they are learning both actively and passively about what high-performance buildings can really be. They leave wondering why other buildings don’t have the features this one does. And so in that sense, Galileo’s Pavilion is perhaps the crown jewel of Johnson County Community College’s green portfolio.”

Photos Courtesy of Studio 804

It’s good to be in favor with a design professional; especially if you introduce them to a technology that gives them an edge in design. I found great success over the years and working closely with architectural and engineering firms and sharing information freely that can help him to improve building design. It’s been a Read More

It’s good to be in favor with a design professional; especially if you introduce them to a technology that gives them an edge in design. I found great success over the years and working closely with architectural and engineering firms and sharing information freely that can help him to improve building design.

It’s been a busy year or two in the geothermal industry. As an advocate and consultant for geothermal technologies, I have made it my goal to publish columns on the technology and professional magazines of all kinds. One of my favorites is Mechanical Hub. I very much enjoy the online presence, and the following of the fine people that read and write for Mechanical Hub.

I mentioned that I have been busy, and a lot of that centers around various governments and provinces placing geothermal programs into effect. We have placed thousands of hours of effort and research into these programs. There are some amazing takeaways that we’ve discovered from all of this. I’m sure you’ll agree as you read on that there is some merit to what we’ve learned.

While it’s certainly true that contractors have a lot of say in the type of system that goes into a building, this is limited, often times to singular design-build projects and those projects are often smaller and lower-profile projects. We have found that engaging design professionals can provide more lasting results.

By “we”, I mean primarily the folks in New York State; the New York Geothermal Energy Association (NY-GEO) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). They’ve had a remarkably successful run the last few years as they’ve engaged the government of New York State at many levels, created new positions at NYSERDA, and have instituted programs that are designed

Before I share the challenge that was issued to these architects and design professionals, I would like to give a little bit of information on the structure of the presentation created.  Most of the design professionals that have even heard of geothermal exchange think that there is only one way to do it. Most of them are familiar with the boreholes drilled into the ground that accept the insertion of a pair of pipes with a u-bend at the bottom of the hole. Of course, this is a vertical closed-loop geothermal system. And, to be fair, most of the systems installed are engineered in this fashion.

However, there are several different ways to design geothermal exchange. We have found that most designers don’t realize there are so many variables. Once the variables are shared, and the applications are illustrated over the course of a day, these design professionals tend to become very comfortable with these various types of geothermal exchange systems. Just as a refresher, there are five different types of major types of geothermal Exchange. They are:

  • Vertical closed loop
  • Horizontal closed loop,
  • Standing column well (SCW)
  • Class V thermal (Ground-Water) exchange,
  • Surface water exchange (Lakes, ponds, rivers, etc.)

Out of these several different types of exchangers, there are practically limitless variations to explore. Part of the purpose of the presentations was not only to share the various ways to do geothermal but to illustrate some actual case studies and get the creative juices flowing with these design professionals. It was amazing to watch. The question asked at the end of each of these sessions was, “can you think of any reason that you would not offer geothermal exchange to a client the first time, every time?” The answer was overwhelmingly affirmative. The key is to have a full day of immersion in the technology to become comfortable with it.

How do you get a busy professional to sit down long enough to get a full day of their attention? The answer was to make it part of continuing education units (CEUs) for architects and engineers.  This model was so successful that it’s been shared a dozen more times in the province of Ontario as they began to roll out their geothermal heating and cooling program.   Now, it has been added as part of the educational curriculum for the international Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA).

This latest edition to the IGSHPA website is amazing ; now architects, engineers, and design professionals from all areas of Industry can go online, learn a lot of useful information, similar to the programs shared in cities throughout New York and Ontario, and get continuing education units for their efforts.

So as to the title of this article, if you want to make a real friend in the industry, and increase the implementation of geothermal heat pumps, share the IGSHPA training with them, and tell them all about it. Maybe you don’t know an architect, engineer or designer personally, but you know of some major firms in your area.  Schedule a lunch and learn with them for the price of a catered lunch. You can have a captive audience for an hour, and share a little bit about the merits of geothermal. I guarantee that you will gain some friends in the design industry in this way.

EggGeothermal is a voting member on the IGHSPA Advocacy Committee, the Uniform Mechanical Code Committee for the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Professionals (IAPMO). Jay Egg is a geothermal consultant, writer, and the owner of EggGeothermal. He has co-authored two textbooks on geothermal HVAC systems published by McGraw-Hill Professional.

He can be reached at jayegg.geo@gmail.com