Out with the Old, In with the New Chillers

Chiller at Contained Research

chillerRecently, the chillers were replaced at the Contained Research Facility at UC Davis. This replacement comes from deferred maintenance funding, and as Ralph Fickett, Mechanical/HVAC and Controls Project Manager in Building Maintenance Services puts it, “This is a perfect DM project. We are replacing like for like parts, and removing end-of-life equipment that from natural wear and tear isn’t performing as well, and putting in a nearly exact replacement.”

The chillers are what keep the building and greenhouses cool. Before the replacement, the university was dedicating a lot of resources in after-hour and weekend call outs to troubleshoot issues, as the system began to show its age. “The reliability factor of equipment is huge for us,” stated Greg Bayne, superintendent for the mechanical/ HVAC department. While there are two chillers on-site, which provide one-hundred percent redundancy, it became apparent that in order to best support the researchers and ensure the integrity of their work at the facility, it was time to replace both of the chillers that were equally at the end of their life cycles.

Facilities Management began a two-phase project to replace the chillers in July, which recently finished in September. ”I really liked the way that the folks replacing the chillers worked with us to make sure that the research was not negatively impacted by the replacement,” shares Dr. Kristine Godfrey, project specialist at the Contained Research Facility.

The chillers, each about the size of a school bus, and weighing 10,000lbs were phased in, first one and then the other. The shops that worked on the project include mechanical/HVAC, steam, and electrical. “I appreciate their efforts at coming in before dawn to get the work done so that the greenhouses would not overheat and negatively impact all of the plants and insects that we raise for research purposes.  The people who planned and then replaced the chillers did an excellent job in both communicating what was happening and executing their plan,” shared Dr. Godfrey.