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Southern California Chapter Visits L.A. World Airports

Members of the Southern California Chapter on tour of the new central utility plant of the Los Angeles World Airports, which is aiming for LEED Silver.

By Jay Madden, Public Relations Chair, Southern California Chapter

LOS ANGELES—On April 9, the Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) hosted 50 ASHRAE members on a tour of the new central utility plant (CUP). This plant will be complete and operating in summer 2014, replacing a plant built in 1961.

A few of our members reminisced that they toured the construction of that older CUP as ASHRAE student members from San Luis Obispo, Calif., Dan McKelvie, George Stawniczy, Roman Verba, Eugene DeSouza and Kevin Carpenter, led the tour. They started with a PowerPoint presentation of the project, followed by a safety talk. Then, after a group photo, we divided into smaller groups for a tour of the construction site.

Clark Construction and McCarthy Construction formed a joint venture to design and build the replacement central plant, using bridging documents prepared by Syska & Hennessy. ARUP is providing civil, structural, mechanical and electrical engineering design, with HVAC and plumbing construction provide by Murray Co. The new facility is striving to attain LEED Silver accreditation and will be 25 percent more efficient than the older plant. Infrastructure is being put in place to feed reclaimed water to the cooling towers, from the neighboring Hyperion Water Treatment Plant.

The design-build team’s challenges were to build the new 75,000 square-foot CUP on a small footprint in the center of the airport, while keeping the existing plant in operation. They accomplished this by designing a four-story structure, and relocating an existing electrical substation. The team constructed new cooling towers and associated pumps and piping, then tied this new system into the existing plant. Once the new condenser water plant is operating, the existing cooling towers will be demolished. When the entire CUP is complete and operating, the older CUP will be demolished and replaced with a 1.6 million gallon chilled water storage tank. The chilled water storage tank will allow LAWA to shift its chilled water production to off peak hours, providing savings on utility cost.

Two solar turbine 4.4 MW gas turbine generators will provide electricity to the plant. Exhaust from these machines is ducted to heat recovery steam generators, which in turn drives two steam-turbine water chillers. These chillers are set alongside five 4,400 ton dual-compressor centrifugal chillers in the main chiller room. Overall, this system will deliver 20,000 tons of cooling through miles of pipework to the terminals, the iconic Encounters Restaurant and other buildings. The new CUP will provide twice the capacity of the original plant.

The designers included a control room that overlooks the chiller room and cooling towers, with sound-resistant glass protecting the operators from the machinery noise. Further sound attenuation in the facility is provided by two CMU walls separated by air gaps. The designers even provided a real plan room for the site, not a dank storage room in the basement.

This tour was a great opportunity for our members. Best of all, when the central utility plant is complete, we can drive our friends and relatives slowly past its glass walls, and they can “ooh” and “aah” at the site of chillers, piping and gas turbines working to cool the airport.