Vivarium Project Success Through Collaborative Effort

Expectations were high on a recent vivarium renovation project, and contractors were challenged to collaborate closely on every level.

Complicating the project were the tight quarters – small rooms, ceiling spaces, corridors, below-ground spaces – in which the HVAC and plumbing work would take place. Close coordination was required to develop a precise project schedule to prevent trade overlap in these small areas. Building Information Modeling (BIM) was utilized to determine placement of ductwork, equipment, piping and architectural features.

The vivarium lead was closely involved in project planning and coordination, as well as throughout construction and quality control, and this involvement was a significant help when questions arose on how the space would function. PJM made several recommendations during the submittal process from a service and ease-of-access standpoint that were adapted into the design.

Following mechanical demolition, PJM proceeded with plumbing and HVAC installation. The vivarium’s plumbing systems consisted of underground sanitary and trench drains, plumbing for cage washers,autoclaves, booster pump, animal watering system and clean compressed air. On the HVAC side, a new high-efficiency chiller and boiler plant was installed to back up campus systems in the event of system failure. A custom-designed and built heat recovery system was installed to capture energy from the exhaust air system. This energy was transferred to the building’s air handling unit via a glycol piping loop used to preheat the outside air, thus reducing the energy required to temper the outside air.

Because it was an existing vivarium and many of the walls remained in place, PJM and other trades closely adhered to their individual schedules,moving room by room and area by area to keep the project running smoothly. When issues did arise, crews worked extended hours to minimize disruptions.The user pressed for a minimal punch list and an early start on the commissioning, which PJM met. Several of the facility’s key maintenance personnel were involved in the commissioning effort to gain an understanding of the vivarium’s systems their operation to prepare for building turnover at the end of the project. Validation of noise levels, air balancing, room air changes, lighting, and pressurization were of particular importance.

About PJM

PJM Mechanical Contractors, Inc. is a multi-faceted mechanical contractor providing construction and installation, service and maintenance, and design/build services in a comprehensive range of mechanical disciplines that include HVAC, plumbing, controls, refrigeration, custom metal fabrication, piping, fire protection, and backflow preventer testing. PJM primarily serves clients in pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, healthcare, institutional, and other various commercial and industrial sectors.

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