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Offiste Efficiencies (Ormandy, packaged plant rooms)

16 March 2010

Few FMs will be able to comply with the CRC, FiT, DEC, EPBD regulations without some impact on their current building plant. Prefabrication of new plant offsite can, explains Paul Cooper, be a more sustainable process

FROM APRIL, THE CRC – Carbon Reduction Commitment – will focus all organisations on improving energy efficiency. It is estimated that about 20,000 organisations will have to disclose information about their energy usage patterns, and at least 4,000 with total half hourly electricity consumption exceeds 6,000MWh will take part in carbon credit purchasing. Last month, government announced the Feed in Tarriff (FiT) rate offering the possibility of gaining income from microgeneration. It is also likely that the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) will be applied to the private sector requiring Display Energy Certificates (DEC) to show actual energy consumption, rather than just Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) that shows the design intent of the building.
All this points towards there being a major rollout of refurbishment programmes later this year as the energy pennies start dropping in boardrooms all over the country. However, there could also be a temptation for FMs to go for low cost options in a rush to ensure their building meets minimum standards for compliance. There is a danger of being seduced by ‘green bling’ and covering buildings in renewables to take advantage of whatever grants are going.
When the decision to refurbish has been taken, FMs should then take a step back and examine what is going to be best for their buildings in the long term. Whole life costing is a crucial issue and FMs must be clear about how they are going to operate the building into the future. Heating plant is an obvious place to start when looking at overall operating efficiencies. Ask: ‘Would it be more cost-effective to rip out and replace my existing, traditional heating system and replace it with a more modern, high efficiency system capable of delivering an improved service at 30 per cent less running cost? Or should I just stick a wind turbine on the roof so everyone passing will think I have gone green?’
Consider designing for maintenance. Is it more sustainable to use high cost, but low maintenance components, or look at cheaper alternatives that will lead to breakdowns and headaches in the years to come? However, budgets are under pressure and a clear hierarchy of priorities must be established. What can you afford to tackle and how do you we get the best value for your spend?
We can’t hold off improving our existing buildings any longer, but at the same time, we must not compromise sustainability in a frantic effort to meet legislative and commercial deadlines.
With many building services refurbishments, you can end up adding complexity and increasing your failure rates as new systems fail to integrate with what is already there. How can FMs speed up delivery of these changes, get better certainty about the finished product, keep the project costs under control and still be sustainable? The answer has to be offsite pre-fabrication. Offsite pre-fabrication allows systems engineers to factory test the finished article and precommission complete plant rooms and ancillary systems before they are delivered to the building.
Offsite fabrication is the very foundation of sustainability because it reduces waste, improves health and safety, cuts costs and delivers a quality end product – it ticks all the boxes. There have been a number studies and considerable research into the benefits of off-site manufacture. An independent analysis undertaken by BSRIA, with the help of one or two specialist manufacturers, indicates a saving of 13.4 percent for stand alone plant rooms manufactured off-site against a traditional construct of the same function (see below). Whilst this is not applicable across the board, it does give an indication of what can be achieved. The same report also looked at labour productivity within a manufacturing environment against the on-site option and showed a considerable saving in labour costs. For example, the time taken to pre-assemble, skid-mount, deliver and install three 1.5MW boilers, two hot water calorifiers with pumps, pressurisation plant and chilled water secondary pumps was 5-6 hours in one installation using six men, a saving of 64 percent when compared to the best practice time of 15.5 hours of a traditional approach where individual components are delivered and installed on site also using a six-man team.
Engaging the specialist manufacturer at the earliest stages of the project allows the client to realise the full benefits of the off-site concept. At the first briefing Ormandy will assist with a basic layout, sizes, weights and budget costs. All the client needs to provide is an indication of the plant room function, a schematic of the intent and preferred inlet and outlet positions for the services. Once the principle has been agreed and a detailed cost provided, the basic layout can be developed. At this stage the client can add his comments prior to initial design release. Taking this route, the client has the certainty that the plant room footprint will be exactly in accordance with the project requirements rather than having a room included in the main building layout that may be too small, too large or the wrong configuration.
Once an order has been placed, the Ormandy design and engineering teams take over and confirm all details with the client at a post order briefing. The design team develops a 3-D model which will show the full layout of the plant room, taking account of all the required manufacturers’ maintenance and operational requirements, and the pipe work configuration, and it will be designed with the manufacturing process in mind.
This will allow schematic and spatial layout approval by the client prior to manufacture. This model allows is a virtual walk through of the plant room for the client to have a closer view of the proposals and highlights any potential services clashes.
The 3D model also offers 2-D plan and elevations; weight calculations; prefab assembly details; total assembled model showing all prefab assembly locations within the  pipework layout; equipment schedules; pipe and fittings bill of materials; pipe fabrication times and assembly labour times. These documents provide an exact detail of all the pipework and fittings required for the complete plant room fit out. They provide the purchasing department with ease of supply to the shop floor assemblers either from stock or from suppliers, which negates over ordering and controls unnecessary waste.
Employing off-site fabrication means there is immediate access to the design and layout engineers from the office; usually a site foreman, can wait days for the engineer to visit the site. The plant room assembly is inspected by the client during manufacture and prior to delivery thus ensuring zero defects.
About 13 per cent of all materials used in construction projects are simply thrown away adding to landfill. With the offsite approach, components are sized to fit in advance and any off-cuts can be re-used. The supply chain is also more manageable, as suppliers are bringing materials to a factory rather than a building site, allowing fabricators to establish a waste and packaging minimisation strategy. Pre-fabrication reduces site traffic and noise for the benefit of the local environment and community. It cuts down disruption in an operational building because whole sections of the project can be brought in at once, so reducing the amount of work that has to be done on site. And – best of all – it makes commercial sense because time is money and putting things right on site is a hugely wasteful and expensive process.
Pre-fabricated systems are factory tested and the contractor only has a minimum of pipework connections to make. The equipment arrives already pre-tested and commissioned, so the engineer can have confidence that it will work first time.
Ormandy has created our own engineering team that has the expertise needed to be part of the whole design, delivery and quality control process. It works in close partnerships with FMs to ensure they get a more predictable outcome with as little disruption as possible.
Case study: Ormandy has installed its 100th plant room as part of the Ministry of Defence’s largest ever PFI project to create modern living and working accommodation for the British Army. Specified by Aspire Defence Capital Works, the plant rooms contained both low temperature hot water and domestic hot water equipment and, in certain areas rainwater harvesting, CHP and solar technology. Ormandy is the sole supplier of packaged plant rooms for the junior ranks single living (JRSLA) accommodation; the whole estate will eventually house over 18,700 soldiers.
The need for rapid, but bespoke manufacture and installation of hot water plant meant that an offsite solution was ideally suited for this project. Ormandy worked closely with Aspire and other suppliers to design a fully-tailored system that could be easily integrated into the building with minimal impact on the build program.
Supplied by Ormandy to M&E contractors, Carillion PME and ISG Pearce, each of the plant rooms has three individual elements which were disconnected in the factory prior to shipment and reconnected on-site by Ormandy. A plug and play system for all plant room wiring meant the plant rooms could be delivered, lifted into position on site and reconnected, both electrically and mechanically, in less than one day.

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