Project Spotlight: Columbia College, Residence Hall & Business Center

Project Spotlight: Columbia College, Residence Hall & Business Center

Columbia College, Residence Hall & Business Center – Columbia, MO

Horizon Engineering Associates (HEA) was contracted by Columbia College to provide commissioning services for the construction of Columbia College’s New Hall. The new facility includes state-of-the-art classrooms and event space on the first floor, as well as three floors of residential space for 150 students. HEA’s scope of work included all new mechanical, electrical and plumbing equipment. HEA was present to evaluate the installation process, start-up of all major equipment, testing requirements, system balancing & assisted critical decision making, including commissioning-related issues.

Client: Columbia College

Location: Columbia, MO

Q/A with Luke Serkanic – Senior Engineer

When first contracted for this project, what did the client express as the main goal / most pressing need for our services to accomplish?

The main goal of this project was to turnover a quality project by the time students were expected to move-in. Our client was hyper-focused on ensuring the VRF system would be able to properly control the humidity levels throughout the facility.

What was the biggest challenge faced during the project and how was HEA able to navigate through any problems faced due to this challenge?

The biggest challenge our team faced was developing a procedure that would ensure the contractors used the correct length of refrigerant lines for the VRF system. If the length of tubing didn’t match the submittal, the charge would be off and the system would not function correctly. Our engineers made routine site visits to verify the physical length of refrigerant lines by walking down each section after it was installed. When it came time for functional testing, we made sure to test the system on a design day and kept a close eye on subcooling/superheat pressures and temperatures. Witnessing the system operating with acceptable levels of subcooling and superheat ensured that contractors used the correct length of refrigerant piping.

Were there any lessons learned during this project that you believe can be applied to future projects to make them even more successful?

This facility was constructed with a wooden structure, so keeping the dust under control was a major obstacle, as it related to the project timeline. As we got closer to startup, the factory representative stated: energizing the units while the interiors were incomplete may void the warranty. This created an all-hands-on-deck situation to get the facility cleaned up so the mechanical contractor could get the units up and running in order to condition the facility. It was essential to keep the dust under control throughout the startup phase because we wanted to avoid having the fans transport dust onto the coils, creating an efficiency problem from day 1. A major lesson learned was understanding the need to communicate the importance of maintaining a clean environment early on. Incorporating this into our communication plans helped preserve the units, and created a milestone for equipment startup.

Based off client feedback, where do you feel we provided the most value to the project?

Helping drive the schedule. HEA’s onsite presence helped both the GC and subcontractors identify issues during the installation phase, which allowed them to come up with a plan for corrective action; before the functional testing phase.

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