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With nine terminals totaling several million square feet of floor space, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is massive. It’s also crowded: the 75 million passengers who passed through it in 2015 made it the world’s seventh busiest airport. Keeping those travelers comfortable and safe falls to the airport’s facility management teams, who routinely look to Read More

Ultraviolet-C Technology, UV-C, HVAC, IAQ

Jim Edson of NUView Environmental, a distributor for UV Resources, inspects High-output DEF (Double-Ended Fixture) UV-C fixtures installed in one of LAX’s more than 200 air handlers. The lamps’ UV-C energy inactivates microbial growth on the air handler’s cooling coils, boosting energy efficiency and indoor air quality.

With nine terminals totaling several million square feet of floor space, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is massive. It’s also crowded: the 75 million passengers who passed through it in 2015 made it the world’s seventh busiest airport.

Keeping those travelers comfortable and safe falls to the airport’s facility management teams, who routinely look to boost efficiencies and decrease maintenance calls across their immense service area. So it’s no surprise that while solving a minor air conditioning issue, one facility manager identified a way to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) for the entire airport.

“A tenant in Terminal 2 complained of a musty smell in their offices,” recalls Richard Yakel, the airport’s air conditioning supervisor. “We quickly determined that the odor resulted from the buildup of mold and bacteria on the air handler evaporator coil; a very common condition, especially given our humid, seaside environment.”

Although Yakel’s maintenance crews could remove the mold with solvents and elbow grease, he knew that mechanical cleanings and antimicrobial agents were only a temporary solution. He recognized that—like all equipment—without a continuous maintenance program, the conditions would quickly reappear.

Moreover, the organic buildup on the coil had caused a pressure drop that reduced the volume of air passing through the coil, as well as its heat-transfer efficiency. In other words, biofilms that can be several millimeters thick can ‘choke’ an air handler, severely inhibiting system performance.

And, he reasoned that if there was trouble in one of the airport’s air handling units (AHU), similar conditions might be found in some of the facility’s other 200+ AHUs.

In Search of Better Indoor Environmental Quality

Seeking a more permanent solution, Yakel turned to Jim Edson with Santa Clarita-based NUView Environmental in 2009, to learn if ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) would be a cost-efficient and lasting means to remove such biological growth in HVAC cooling coils, plenum interiors, drain pans and air filters.

Ultraviolet-C Technology, UV-C, HVAC, IAQ

High-output DEF (Double-Ended Fixture) UV-C fixtures from UV Resources were installed in a troubled LAX air handling unit, where, by eliminating coil-fouling microorganisms, they yielded a 15 percent increase in airflow levels.

According to Edson—a distributor for UV Resources, the company whose founders pioneered the use of UV-C in HVAC equipment in the early 1990s—the UV-C energy degrades the organic matter. Ionization drives UV-C’s power to alter chemical bonds, causing lasting damage to DNA, ultimately killing the cell. Over time, the 254-nm germicidal wavelength also reflects deep into the coils to eliminate the build-up that mechanical and chemical washing often misses. Once gone, biological growth won’t re-form as long as the lamps are maintained.

This would solve Yakel’s air quality issue. However, Edson explained that this benefit is just the tip of the UV-C iceberg.

Besides improving air quality, the hidden value of UV-C is its ability to improve airflow, boost heat exchange efficiency and reduce maintenance needs.1 It accomplishes this veritable HVAC hat trick for an average equipment cost of less than $0.15 per cfm. In fact, the cost of the efficiency-enhancing UV-C equipment is a mere fraction of the 10-35 percent potential reduction in energy and maintenance costs it offers. In a facility the size of LAX, that’s a potentially huge annual savings.

Needless to say, Yakel was intrigued with UV-C technology.

A Successful Test

Although UV-C is a proven technology, with tens of thousands of systems sold each year, he wanted to verify its performance before committing to using it airport-wide.

He decided to conduct a test installation on the odorous AHU. Yakel’s team first measured the unit’s static pressure and airflow levels using a Magnehelic differential pressure gauge.

Following this baseline measurement, the team installed high-output DEF (Double-Ended Fixture) UV-C fixtures from UV Resources in the 14,000 CFM AHU. The high-output DEF series generates up to twice the ultraviolet irradiation levels compared to standard fixtures, to kill and/or degrade the toughest microorganisms and organic matter, whether surface or airborne.

Pressure readings were taken monthly for the following six months.

“My team and I were surprised by how quickly the germicidal wavelength cleaned the HVAC evaporator coil, fan motor housing and blades. However, we were truly stunned to witness a 15 percent (2,000 cfm) increase in airflow levels after just a week of operation.”

“Almost immediately after installing the UV-C fixtures, the troubled air handler was able to meet thermostat set points and there was no odor,” he says.

Ultraviolet-C Technology, UV-C, HVAC, IAQ

The experiment’s timing proved fortuitous. The airport was in the initial stages of planning a multi-year, $4.11 billion improvement and redevelopment project that would include renovation of existing facilities, as well as a major expansion of the Tom Bradley International Terminal. UV-C Lighting has been included in the HVAC design standards for LAX.

With budget funds available for HVAC improvements, Yakel made a case for equipping all of the airport’s 200+ air handlers with UV-C as a way to enhance indoor environmental quality for passengers and employees.

Breathing Easier

One of the reasons that Yakel opted for UV Resources’ High-Output DEF series was its robust design. With a 120­-277 volt waterproof ballast, stainless steel construction and built-in weep holes, the DEF can withstand the harshest commercial or industrial HVAC environments. Power supplies and lamps are electronically matched to provide the highest output while maintaining the longest life expectancy. Yakel also liked the fact that the DEF comes with a three-year warranty, compared to one year for competing products.

“Our application requires the most durable equipment. Anything we specify has to run 24/7 and it has to last for at least 20 years,” notes Yakel. “It has to be compatible with new and existing air handlers and other system components, as well as the building management and remote monitoring systems. Parts must also be readily available.”

Each of the airport’s terminals has multiple air handlers, ranging from five in Terminal 1 to 30 in Terminal 4. AHUs range in cooling capacity from 10 to 40 tons; some of which have been in place for decades.

LAX, Ultraviolet-C Technology, UV-C, HVAC, IAQ

According to Edson, none of this was a problem: the beauty of UV-C is that it will work with any type of air handling equipment regardless of brand, capacity or age—the science remains the same. The required number of UV-C fixtures varies by unit size, but UV Resources’ software program specifies the exact amount of UV-C energy needed based on the height and width of the coil and plenum. Some of LAX’s really big air handlers needed 24 UV-C fixtures to do the job.

At the end of the first three-year contract period, more than 75 air handlers had been retrofitted with UV-C. The UV-C contract went out to bid again in June 2014 and NUView was the lowest bidder, securing the contract for the second three-year term.

The plug-and-play wiring meant that Yakel’s crew could retrofit the DEF fixtures in-house, while new AHUs would be required to have UV-C already installed. Workers prefabricate rows of fixture assemblies in the shop, minimizing downtime for the air handlers. They can then install the prefabbed fixture rows and bulbs for a medium sized air handler in a single work shift (typically from 12 midnight to about 5:00 a.m. when the disruption is minimal).

The UV-C fixtures have reduced maintenance costs and freed crews up for other tasks. With union positions earning an average $28 per hour, the typical eight-hour physical air handler cleanings were each costing roughly $230 and needed to be performed on a quarterly basis. At nearly $900/year/AHU multiplied across 200 AHUs—the new technology could eventually save upwards of $180,000 annually in maintenance costs alone.

Following the addition of the UV-C fixtures, the airport’s maintenance crews still visually inspect the air handlers and coils, but generally don’t have to clean the cooling coils as often.

“I have personally inspected the drain pans and plenums of several units and have seen no mold growth,” concludes Yakel. “The lack of organic growth on the coils has also improved the heat-transfer efficiency and airflow levels, thereby reducing electrical consumption.”

But Yakel sees cost and time savings as fringe benefits. His main goal was to improve indoor air quality for the millions of people who use the airport each year, and that has certainly been the case. “We haven’t had any more complaints,” he beams.

In more ways than one, everyone at LAX can now breathe more easily.


1 ASHRAE. (2015). ASHRAE handbook – HVAC applications (ch. 60.8). Atlanta: ASHRAE. https://www.ashrae.org/resources–publications/handbook/description-of-the-2015-ashrae-handbook-hvac-applications

Navy Pier opened its People’s Energy Welcome Pavilion in 2017, designed to greet people as they get set to enjoy one of the Pier’s various amenities and provide them with information as they arrive. For the more-than-9 million guests that visit the Pier annually, the Welcome Pavilion needs to make a good first impression on Read More

Navy Pier opened its People’s Energy Welcome Pavilion in 2017, designed to greet people as they get set to enjoy one of the Pier’s various amenities and provide them with information as they arrive. For the more-than-9 million guests that visit the Pier annually, the Welcome Pavilion needs to make a good first impression on visitors, while setting the tone for what they’re to expect throughout the rest of the facility.

Sloan, BASYS EFX800 wall-mounted faucets, commercial fixtures, plumbing

When it came time to specify commercial restroom products at the Welcome Center, not only did Sloan’s products present the elegant aesthetic that greets guests in a pleasant environment, but they also provide the durability to stand up to the millions of users each year. The Pier also needed products that would match its commitment to sustainability, and along with the facility’s energy-saving green roof and LED lighting, Sloan’s products help to make the building over 20 percent more efficient than traditional structures.

Sloan SU-7009 small washdown urinal fixtures, commercial plumbing fixtures, urinalsWith Lake Michigan in its backyard, the Pier strives to protect and conserve water and the life around it. That’s why Navy Pier wanted water-saving flushometers that would contribute to its sustainability efforts in maximizing the guest experience while minimizing the environmental impact. Sloan SU-7009 small washdown urinal fixtures were paired with Sloan Royal® Sensor Flushometers (Royal 186 SFSM) to deliver an efficient 0.125 gallons per flush (gpf). Additionally, Sloan ST-2459 Elongated Wall-Mounted Water Closets were installed with Sloan Royal 111 SFSM Sensor Flushometers. With a static load rating of 750 pounds, the water closets can withstand the Welcome Center’s high-traffic environment, while the flushometer’s 1.28 gpf contribute to water savings across the facility.

Sloan ST-2459 Elongated Wall-Mounted Water Closet, commercial plumbing fixtures, Sloan Royal 111 SFSM Sensor FlushometersThe Pier paired Sloan DSG Designer Series sinks with its BASYS EFX800 wall-mounted faucets to present an aesthetically pleasing, yet sustainable handwashing experience. Featuring a cool Silestone Spa Suede finish, the ADA-compliant sinks complement the faucets’ sleek polished chrome appearance. The faucets’ infrared sensors enable a hygienic-friendly and touch-free handwashing process, with a flow rate of just 1.5 gpm and a line purge feature to eliminate stagnant water.

We get our first in-depth look at the new Navien NFC We stopped at Navien’s booth at the AHR Expo to look under the hood of the new Navien NFC combi-boiler using Navien’s own firetube heat exchanger. Take a look at the video to see some details and specs, one thing that surprised me right Read More

We get our first in-depth look at the new Navien NFC

We stopped at Navien’s booth at the AHR Expo to look under the hood of the new Navien NFC combi-boiler using Navien’s own firetube heat exchanger.

Take a look at the video to see some details and specs, one thing that surprised me right away was the included accessories. For contractors looking for high amounts of hot water production, a low head loss heat exchanger for easier piping on the hydronic side and additional features like remote connectivity it looks like the NFC is worth checking into. You can find more details and specifications on Navien’s website or here in our new product listings on Hydronics Hub.

All the bells & combi boiler whistles

The new Navien NFC combi boiler models come with a patented in-house designed and manufactured heat exchanger, Low Profile Burner for ease of service, advanced controls offering intuitive user navigation, a built-in DHW module (pump, flat plate heat exchanger, 3-way valve, mixing valve, water adjustment valve and auto water fill valve), common venting capability up to 8 units, cascading capability up to 16 units, and built-in hardware to connect up to 3 zone pumps without a need for additional external controllers.

It’s never a good thing when your building is known as “the leaky building.” That, however, was the unfortunate reputation of Windsor Over Peachtree, a 22-story, 265-unit condominium building in Atlanta. The vapor barrier on the 53-year-old building’s existing steel and copper piping had deteriorated, and the condensation that was forming on the pipes was Read More

It’s never a good thing when your building is known as “the leaky building.”

That, however, was the unfortunate reputation of Windsor Over Peachtree, a 22-story, 265-unit condominium building in Atlanta. The vapor barrier on the 53-year-old building’s existing steel and copper piping had deteriorated, and the condensation that was forming on the pipes was causing them to break down from the outside in. The combination of leaks caused by age and damage caused by dripping condensate was proving to be a regular and ongoing challenge in the building, and the need for an upgrade was apparent.

Windsor Over Peachtree is a 265-unit condominium building built in 1965.

“The management and maintenance staff had been chasing leaks for years,” said Jeff Long, Southeast District Product Manager, Commercial Group, Ferguson, the largest wholesale distributor of residential and commercial plumbing supplies and pipe, valves, and fittings in the U.S. “We had several discussions with them about changing out the piping.”

As might be expected in a half-century-old building, the challenges with the HVAC system ran deeper than just the piping. Foremost among the other issues was that the old two-pipe fan-coil system was struggling to keep up with the cooling demand during Atlanta’s hot summers. So when the money for an HVAC system upgrade was allotted, it was decided that a new system of water-source heat pumps—sized to handle the building’s 500- to 600-ton cooling demand—would replace the old fan-coil system that had been sized for a 300-ton demand.

‘Not Your Typical Plastic’

For Joe Escher, Vice President of E. Escher Inc. Mechanical Contractors, Roswell, GA, the project represented his firm’s first opportunity to perform a large-scale installation of Aquatherm PP-R piping.

At this project, Aquatherm Blue Pipe® replaced an old and leaky system composed of steel and copper pipe.

“This wasn’t your typical job where an engineer draws up a spec and everybody follows it,” Escher said. “We worked closely with the engineer and the building owner in a collaborative effort to determine the best equipment and the best piping system.”

Escher was on board with the conversations between the building owner and engineering firm about using Aquatherm, but he also wanted to see for himself the benefits of PP-R pipe.

At Windsor Over Peachtree, the piping had to run through 8-in. thick concrete floors with 10-in. square blockouts.

“Everyone has an ‘a-ha!’ moment when it comes to choosing PP-R pipe, and before it was determined that we were going with Aquatherm we visited Joe at his shop,” Long relates. “We put together some sections of 2 ½-in. pipe, and Joe tried to drive a nail through them with a hammer. I remember him reporting back and saying, ‘This is not your typical plastic.’”

Escher pointed out that he also researched the pipe using more sophisticated methods, but he does not discount the value of the hammer-and-nail test.

“Aquatherm is a plastic, but don’t even consider equating it to something like PVC or CPVC,” he said. “If you look at a cross-section of it you can see that it doesn’t even compare to those pipes. It’s in a class of its own.”

Ultimately, the decision to use Aquatherm pipe to serve the new heat pump system was an easy one.

“The building management didn’t want to use any flame or welding in an occupied building, and the project’s engineer didn’t like the idea of having a copper-press system behind the walls,” Long explained. “That gave us the opportunity to discuss Aquatherm pipe, and it turned out to be the perfect solution for this retrofit.”

In with the New

At the Windsor Over Peachtree project, more than 6,000 ft of Aquatherm Blue Pipe® SDR-11 ranging in size from ½ in. to 4 in. was installed, along with new Raypak boilers, Evapco cooling towers, Bell & Gossett pumps, and JCI-branded WaterFurnace water-source heat pumps.

Aquatherm pipe was able to be heat fused and installed in tight quarters without welding or open flame, which was extremely important in an occupied building.

Installation was made challenging because the floors were concrete slabs 8-in. thick, with blockouts approximately 10-in. square in identical locations from the fourth through the 20th floors. The existing risers went straight up through the blockouts without any offsets.

It was determined early on that the ability to fabricate Aquatherm offsite and transport the fabricated spools to the jobsite ready to install was going to be an important component of this project. Escher personally drew up the 16 sets of risers needed for the project and they were fabricated at Ferguson’s facility in Fulton, MS. The risers consisted of 1¼-in. through 4-in. pipe, with ¾-in. runouts.

“The fabrication was right on the money,” Escher said. “We had more than 4,000 joints in this system, and we had five leaks. On a typical solder job we’d expect around three percent. So we were very impressed with the extremely minimal leakage of the Aquatherm.”

Also impressive was the time savings of the off-site fabrication. Escher estimated it saved about four to five days per riser.

“It really worked out well to have Ferguson’s people fabbing and our people installing,” he said. “Ferguson had all the fabrication equipment and lower labor rates than what we pay our pipefitters. So when you combine the lower labor rate and the better equipped shop minus the cost of freight, they were very competitive.”

In addition, he said, having the fabrication done offsite allowed his company to use its shop personnel in the field.

“The result is that without adding any costs we were able to dramatically reduce the time to complete the project,” Escher said. “This was very important because whenever we took a riser out of service we had about 20 condos that did not have heating or cooling until the new Aquatherm piping and WSHPs were installed and operational.”

Escher noted that the light weight of PP-R pipe provided an added benefit.

“We had to take all the piping up in elevators, in nine-foot maximum sections, and even the four-inch pipe could easily be carried and handled by one person,” he said.

The piping’s virtually leak-free performance impressed the installing contractor.

The installation and onsite heat fusions were performed by Escher’s team using McElroy irons and McElroy Spider® 125 with Chain Clamping, which allowed them to perform heat fusions in the tight quarters of the blockouts.

“The Chain Spider allowed Escher’s team to get up against the wall like they needed to,” Long noted.

Unistrut Metal Framing Systems and Walraven hangers were used to position the new piping spools in the existing blockouts.

“It was very simple and it worked perfectly,” Escher said.

Benefits in Occupied Buildings

Other piping options such as steel and copper were initially considered for Windsor Over Peachtree, but the engineer had misgivings about those options in an occupied building.

“We were looking for a way to avoid welding or brazing pipe in an occupied building,” said Tim North, P.E., LEED AP, principal, Johnson, Spellman & Associates Inc. “The fact that no hot work permit was required was an important factor for us in selecting Aquatherm. It was the best solution in an occupied building.”

In addition, Escher noted that unlike welding, Aquatherm’s heat fusion process gives off no fumes or VOCs. That added to its attractiveness for Windsor Over Peachtree.

Investigation Leads to Appreciation

Although this was Escher’s first opportunity to use Aquatherm PP-R piping on a large-scale project, he and his team already feel like old hands with it. And he offered some advice to other contractors and engineers who are considering Aquatherm for a piping project.

“Do what we did,” Escher said. “Investigate it, look at other projects that have used it and talk to contractors who have installed it. You’ll find the same things I did: it’s tough, it’s lightweight, leaks are almost non-existent, and it has a built-in insulation value that may allow you to reduce the thickness of the insulation. In addition, the lack of flame and welding makes it very well-suited for retrofit projects.”

Offsite fabrication done by Ferguson helped speed this project along, as ready-to-install risers were shipped directly to the jobsite.

The fine aesthetic value of Aquatherm compared to steel also shouldn’t be overlooked, Escher added. “This system is running at 45°F to 90°F and didn’t require insulation,” he said. “However, we have some runs that are exposed in corridors, and if we had used steel pipe we would have had to paint it. Aquatherm, on the other hand, has an attractive exterior.”

A final bonus for Escher and his people on this project is something that can be all too rare in the construction industry: appreciation. The building went from a two-pipe system where the main HVAC system was either in heating or cooling mode to a system that can provide concurrent heating and cooling based on individual occupants’ preferences.

“Many tenants have been blown away by how comfortable it now is in their spaces,” Escher said. “We got tons and tons of compliments. So it was a very good project for us. The condo owners are happy, the building management is happy, and it worked out well for us. We’re very pleased and proud of this job.”

“I’m glad somebody out there cares about me,” said the eight-year-old child, now beaming with joy because he had just received a new pair of shoes for the holidays. For Bob Carpenter, hearing these words tugged at the heartstrings and made the effort so well worth it. You see, Carpenter’s full-time job is Outreach and Read More

Bob Carpenter, right, diligently runs the shoe drive.

“I’m glad somebody out there cares about me,” said the eight-year-old child, now beaming with joy because he had just received a new pair of shoes for the holidays. For Bob Carpenter, hearing these words tugged at the heartstrings and made the effort so well worth it. You see, Carpenter’s full-time job is Outreach and Education Manager, U.S., for Reliance Worldwide Corporation, yet spends most of his remaining time dedicated to his second full-time job, as CEO of the United Craftsman Children’s Shoe Drive (UCCSD), Inc., a non-profit organization that puts shoes—and now socks—on the feet of children from Children’s Homes and Foster Care.

The idea started back in 2005 when Tracy Newsome collected donations from fellow craftsman to “put shoes on those babies’ feet.” In 2009, Newsome was tragically killed in a car accident returning home from a job running cast iron for Art Plumbing at the Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport.

At his memorial service, Newsome’s widow asked Carpenter if he could help out and take over the shoe drive. He accepted, and what started with providing for 27 kids in the Atlanta area has turned into helping hundreds of kids every year.

It’s all about the kids.

In 2012, what was originally the TAN Shoe Drive becomes the United Craftsmen Children’s Shoe Drive, Inc., a 501 (C) 3, a federally recognized, non-profit charity incorporated in the State of Georgia. “The UCCSD is completely volunteer with no one receiving any compensation or travel reimbursements,” emphasizes Carpenter.

In 2014, UCCSD Inc. expanded into Birmingham, Ala. from the help of Wayne Brown, a retired plumber—a man whom Carpenter had never met. Brown helped set up a charity fishing tournament that started with six boats initially and turned into 27 (with the help of an anonymous contractor donor).

In 2017, in addition to the Atlanta and Birmingham, Ala. areas, UCCSD expanded with events in Daytona, Fla. and Tulsa, Okla. This year they will be branching into the Tampa, Fla. area, as well. In January 2017, James Reeves, Jr., a veteran of the U.S. Navy, and southeast regional sales manager for the ACCOR Technology, was named president of the UCCSD, and is now present at all of the fundraising and Shoe Drive events.

With the assistance from Shoe Carnival, which offers a 30% discount on all shoes purchased, most of the donations come from contractors, skilled craftsmen, and skilled trades organizations. Also, “Reliance Worldwide has been very supportive of my efforts,” says Carpenter.

The Shoe Drive’s mission is admirable—to let children who live in children’s homes know that the skilled craftsmen care about them by affording them the opportunity to pick out a new shoes, socks and enjoy a lunch with other children living in similar circumstances. For more information on the Shoe Drive, visit them online at www.unitedcraftsmenchildrensshoedriveinc.org.

Water Sanitation

If that wasn’t enough, Carpenter sits on the PHCC Georgia Board and the Georgia State Inspectors Association, and also recently played a major role with the International Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (IWSH) Foundation’s 2018 Community Plumbing Challenge (CPC) and the Navajo Water Project in Thoreau, New Mexico, an initiative to help ensure that every American has clean, running water forever.

A range of bathroom and kitchen renovations were carried out, including the installation of new basins, taps, toilets, water tanks, water pumps, and hot- and cold-water pipework. These renovations and repairs are required in order for these homes to be connected to water supply systems. Meanwhile, efforts outdoors will address the installation of, and connection to, new wastewater systems. In some instances where some residents of homes that grew up without any running water or indoor plumbing, through the help of some industry manufacturers and 60 plumbers, “We were able to equip 10 houses with water and proper sewage disposal. In one home, we witnessed a woman cry the moment we turned the water on,” says Carpenter.

Finally, Carpenter was asked to visit the Navajo Indian Reservation in Pinon, Ariz. to talk plumbing and teach some real-life skills to some 85 kids. Where others have declined the invitation due to the off-the-beaten-path location of the reservation, Carpenter does what he always does, and agreed to lend his time and expertise. “Everyone deserves a chance,” says Carpenter.

Judging from his work with the Shoe Drive and his efforts in the plumbing industry, you believe him at his word, and you can’t help but root for this guy.