An interview with Bill Bullock of EAS
Environmental Air Systems (EAS) specializes in building modular mechanical rooms and central utility plants (CUPs). These plants can include a range of systems and components such as chillers, boilers, pumps, cooling towers, heat exchangers, air compressors, power generation, controls, fire pump rooms, and monitoring systems.
EAS specializes in designing and manufacturing CUPs that are engineered to meet specific requirements for factors such as energy efficiency, environmental impact, space constraints, safety, heightened industry standards, and overall system performance.
As the environmental and air quality demands of buildings continue to increase, especially in healthcare and life sciences, EAS has become a central part of larger and larger construction projects all over North America.
A Mega Build for Healthcare Construction
Recently, a newly constructed healthcare facility required a 30,000-square-foot CUP. “The hospital was 600,000 square feet of green field new construction,” says Bill Bullock, Vice President of MEP Engineered Solutions at EAS. “So, there was a tremendous need for sophisticated infrastructure. About two-thirds of the plant was two stories. It incorporated chillers, hot water boilers, electrical switchgear, and everything else the hospital needed for its utilities.”
This build also required a co-generation plant that used a natural gas reciprocating engine with the capacity to generate two megawatts of power. “We reclaimed the heat off of this engine,” Bullock explains. “It featured a heat recovery heat exchanger. As a result, the facility could use this heat to supply hot water for the hospital. The engine was capable of powering all of the equipment in the plant. Because the system is able to utilize recovered heat, the boilers and domestic hot water heaters we installed rarely run.”
EAS can configure CUPs in ways that meet tight space requirements, sometimes stacking two or even three stories high. “Four-story builds are definitely in the future as we continue to create more and more vertically oriented designs,” notes Bullock. “When the project site is space-constrained, EAS creates multi-story central utility plants. In addition, we often do an offsite build to develop a modular plant that expands vertically instead of horizontally. These multi-story central utility plants often have the cooling towers on top to reduce the footprint further.”
Some CUPs are basic and straightforward, but the plant had to incorporate a range of special features for this project. “This CUP handles normal and emergency power distribution. But there is also a rainwater harvesting plant,” Bullock adds. “All the roof runoff water is gathered through an on-site filtration system. It’s then used in the cooling towers, reducing the hospital’s water consumption.”
The plant also handles the production of medical compressed air and medical vacuum systems. “This CUP has a system that uses very high-pressure blowers or fans that suck the air out to allow for automated trash disposal,” says Bullock. “This vacuum system is also part of the laundry system, which would pull the soiled laundry into a hopper that sat next to the plant.”
Offsite Construction Makes It Easier to Incorporate Complexity
Creating intricate mechanical rooms or CUPs can be especially complicated if built onsite. Dozens of trades and contractors must work together as closely coordinated groups to keep a project moving. Working with so many trades is challenging and often results in delays. But with EAS, the architect, engineer, or GC works with one manufacturer to get a completely customized and fully coordinated plant built to each build’s specifications.
“This project has everything. It even contains a fire pump room, control rooms, and offices for facility employees,” Bullock emphasizes. “We offer quality, cost, and schedule certainty, so our clients know what they’re getting, when they are getting it, and exactly what it will cost.”