A Central Utility Plant (CUP) is the epicenter of the systems servicing a single building or the multiple buildings of a given site. Prefabricated, or “modular,” simply means the plant is engineered and fabricated at an off-site location. Prior to arriving at the final job site, manufacturers handle piping, wiring, and testing
Central utility plants house all relevant equipment, including major mechanical, electrical, and sometimes plumbing equipment. These units may contain chillers, water treatment systems, pumps, and cooling towers. For heating, they can include boilers and heat exchangers. Some units include pressure-reducing stations and variable frequency drives (VFDs.)
Modular central utility plants (MCUPs) provide the same benefits, functionality, and utility as traditional central utility plants, but from finances to space reduction, they offer a variety of advantages over their counterparts. Here are five reasons to consider modular CUPS.
One: Modular Central Utility Plants Are Easily Customizable
MCUPs come in standard designs, but there is a wide range of options available, and they are easily customizable and scalable to each job. From the simple and contained to the sprawling and comprehensive, the exact layout, fabrication, and design of the modular CUP can meet nearly any given project’s needs.
A prefabricated CUP can accommodate chilled water, hot water, steam, and electricity, as well as other utilities. MCUPs are even compatible with the needs of chiller plants, boiler plants, and penthouses.
Two: Prefabricated Central Utility Plants Are Built Off-Site, Reducing Construction Expenses and Other Costs
Opting for a modular solution means fabrication takes place at a location other than the final jobsite. This can significantly reduce build time because you’re removing many of the hurdles, barriers, and challenges associated with building construction. Onsite delays can happen for a number of reasons, from weather-related issues to logistical site challenges to adverse project timing.
By various estimates, construction costs on a modular central utility plant can be anywhere from 10 to 15 percent less than conventional CPUs.
MCUPs can also improve efficiency and reliability, which can reduce both operating and maintenance costs. However, the design process does differ from the traditional CUP design approach, and for optimal performance and results, it requires a comprehensive understanding of this specialized type of installation. If you have questions about any step in this process, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of experts.
Three: Modular Central Utility Plants Can Reduce Construction Expenses
An MCUP is not technically a part of the building. This means it does not contribute to the net gross area of the build. Without tying the MCUP to the building’s square footage, the client is given the latitude to fulfill all building space requirements without compromising or accounting for this structure. That saves money.
For example, in educational facilities, the MCUP can be located outdoors. This leaves all interior space available for classrooms and any associated school-related needs. Similarly, in healthcare facilities, retaining that interior space means more square footage is available for patient-directed activities. Whatever the vertical or industry, the space reduction of an MCUP has concrete and logistical benefits.
An MCUP is designed with this in mind. It’s intended to be compact, and it typically requires only around two-thirds of the space a conventional CUP requires.
Four: Modular Central Utility Plants Offer Simpler and Faster Installations
By the nature of modular construction, the MCUP is assembled and tested in the off-site factory. It’s then transported to the final site and reassembled—a process that’s much faster and more seamless than building a traditional CUP. In addition, with prefabrication, the system has a single-point hydronic, electrical, and control connection. This reduces the amount of site coordination necessary during the construction process. This decrease in installation complexity and time can also contribute to financial benefits.
Five: Modular Central Utility Plants Benefit from Single-Source Responsibility
Modular central utility plants are handled by a single manufacturer, which greatly simplifies the build process. When dealing with multiple contractors, you could be subject to everything from incompatible integration to poor communication to delayed time frames. All this increases the overall risk assumed by the involved architects, engineers, contractors, designers, and owners. By having a single manufacturer handle every relevant part of the prefabrication and serve as your single point of contact, you eliminate many of these concerns and issues.
Want to Explore Modular Central Utility Plants for Your Next Proposal?
Do you have follow-up questions about modular central utility plants? Are you ready to spec your MCUP? Whatever stage you’re in, contact the experts at Coward Environmental Systems, Inc. From the technical to the logistical, we’re happy to lend our expertise to any question you might have.