When California voters approved a $685 million construction bond for the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) in 2002 and another $870 million construction bond in 2006, it cleared a path for completion of nearly 125 projects at SDCCD’s three main campuses and six continuing education campuses.
The projects, which were spread out over more than a decade, included construction of five facilities that opened in the fall of 2014. Among these was a new administration building and a new student welcome resource center at Miramar College.
“Our taxpayers deserve enormous credit for helping build the future of education in San Diego,” said Rich Grosch, president of the SDCCD board of trustees. To be sure, $1.6 billion funds a lot of construction and upgrades. But the board knew it had to return taxpayers’ generosity with smart decisions and close monitoring of each project’s budget.
The new administration building at Miramar College comprises 17,000 ft2 (1,579 m2) of new construction at the north end of campus. Plans originally called for installing a heating and cooling system similar to the campus’s existing system, which distributed hot and cold water through steel pipe. After consulting with REHAU representatives, however, Southland Industries, the project engineer, decided to use REHAU INSULPEX pre-insulated PEXa pipe.
The flexibility of INSULPEX compared to the rigid steel pipe allowed for a more direct route to and from the boilers, which are located a good distance from the building. Since INSULPEX moves with the ground, accessories such as anchors, thrust blocks and expansion loops typically used in rigid systems were not required. In addition, long coil lengths eliminated the need for time-consuming welds.
The amount of savings that we realize in labor as a result of the ease of installation compared to welding every 20 feet more than makes up for the slightly higher cost of the pipe itself,” said Andrew Carpenter, a project manager for Southland Industries’ Southern California division. “It’s beneficial for us to spend the extra money on the material, which is also more durable than steel.” Carpenter estimates the INSULPEX pipe provides his crew a 30 to 40 percent savings in time of installation.
Chris Ellis, a construction foreman for Southland Engineering, shared his appreciation for the stellar performance and reliability of the INSULPEX pipe in an email sent to REHAU and other members of the field support team after an initial hydrostatic test showed zero leaks. “It’s always nice, especially with a ‘new’ type of pipe, that you fill it up with water, put pressure behind it and it’s bulletproof the first time,” he wrote. “The inspector of record is very happy with the install and the product as a whole.”
The project obtained a LEED® Gold certification, and the INSULPEX system was pegged as the energy distribution system for a new 25,867 ft2 (2,403 m2) fitness center built on the San Diego Mesa College campus.