In the mechanical contracting industry, common practices and tools are constantly evolving. The relentless search for improved means, methods, software platforms and project delivery approaches has become an engrained tenet within the industry.

Through evolved practices, teams strive to minimize waste, increase collaboration, reduce construction costs, and provide a superior product to the customer. However, without the use of a solid and collaborative management approach, achieving these goals is often a difficult task.

An integrated project delivery (IPD) approach is one methodology which allows contractors and their teams to join forces every step of the way and is a critical tool to help address challenges throughout the design process. The ability to incorporate all participants’ insights and perspectives enhances collaboration and ultimately helps optimize quicker and more successful project results.

Southland Industries, a national MEP building systems firm, recently began work on the mechanical and plumbing system for a replacement hospital for Sutter Health’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), St. Luke's campus in San Francisco. The project is notable not only for its size — totaling 215,000-sq.ft., seven stories, and 120 beds — but its advanced technical and regulatory requirements, including compliance with California's Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD-1) standards.

To address the challenges of such a complex project, Sutter Health is employing an integrated project delivery contract and project management approach, as well as leading negotiations to establish digital review of the design through the state of California.

Collaborating toward efficiency

Sutter Health CPMC has recognized that the implementation of an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) approach and digital review for St. Luke’s is critical to managing challenges often associated with projects of this size and complexity. They have played an integral role in the team’s communication with OSHPD and the execution of creating an IPD environment.

The IPD team consists of SmithGroupJJR, Boulder Associates, HerreroBoldt (a partnership of Herrero Builders and The Boldt Company), Degenkolb Engineers, Southland Industries, Rosendin Electric, Silverman & Light, RLH Fire Protection, Vantage, Pankow Builders, Harrison Drywall, and RTKL. This team structure allows all participants in the project to work more efficiently by collaborating early and frequently throughout the project.

IPD is an essential tool in effectively addressing design challenges, such as bringing the design from a previous code cycle to a newer code cycle. St. Luke’s is being built under the 2010 code cycle of California Building, Mechanical and Plumbing Code and NFPA 99 (2005 edition).

The IPD team is using a digital review process, rather than a traditional review process, to improve communication between builder and regulator, allowing for opportunities for feedback and clarification in a more efficient and flexible manner. One significant advantage of this approach is the easy access to OSHPD comments on submitted drawings. In a traditional review, it can often feel like submitted drawings fall into a black hole.

With digital review, project managers can see the comments more quickly and begin working to address them with minimal delay. In addition, as comments are received and responded to, the team maintains a weekly log in order to prioritize comments as well as track the team’s progress.

A key to ensuring a successful digital review process is to provide multiple trainings to project managers and regulators early on. Participants also are more likely to stick to the digital review process if software support is provided to answer software questions, such as, “How do I access the callout box in Bluebeam Studio” or “The comments are not showing; how do I turn on the comment layer?” The project team has found that providing one or two people on the IPD team who are available to both OSHPD and IPD team members to answer questions like this is critical to keep the review process moving forward.

Participants using the digital review system may also need to make software and hardware upgrades in order to use the system.

Southland Industries and the IPD team have already reaped many benefits from the digital review process, particularly in terms of face time with OSHPD early in the design process. This collaboration has allowed all trades to head off dozens of comments that would have surfaced much later during a traditional review.

This combined with the ability to get a snapshot of activity and actively work on review items makes the electronic process a major asset to engineers and builders.

The mechanical systems

Key features of the plumbing system include a two-zone up feed/down feed recirculating domestic hot water design. Domestic hot water is provided by redundant plate heat exchangers connected to dual fuel (natural gas and fuel oil) boilers and 1,000-gal. storage tanks.

A sustainability feature of the project is a storm water harvesting tank, complete with pre-filter and UV skid for cooling tower make-up water. Southland also designed the system to accommodate additional domestic water and waste storage tanks that will be completed by 2030.

The mechanical system features three air handling unit systems located on the upper roof; two of them serve the seven floors of the main hospital. These are 100 percent outside air, constant volume units with chilled water and hot water coils. The third air handling unit serves critical care spaces, such as operating rooms, C-section rooms, and post-anesthesia care units. This is a partial recirculation unit with a chilled water coil and an electric-to-steam humidifier.

Two 400-ton chillers serve the air handling units, the building fan coil units, kitchen walk-in refrigerator and freezer, and the main technology room air handler units. Two 400-ton cooling towers provide condenser water for the house chillers. Four dual fuel (natural gas and fuel oil) condensing heating hot water boilers serve building reheat coils, air handler unit heating coils, and domestic hot water heat exchangers.

Point-of-use electric steam generators provide the hospital with high-pressure steam for sterilizers, and cart wash. Electric to steam humidifiers located above the ceilings provide humidification for intensive care units, the nursery, and pre-op and recovery rooms.

Elyse Widin, P.E., is a design engineer for Southland Industries, a national MEP building systems firm. Widin has extensive experience in designing HVAC and Plumbing systems for high-tech facilities such as Hospitals, Institutional Research Buildings, and Biotech facilities. She can be reached at: EWidin@Southlandind.com.