Iowa State University Chiller Plant/Yard Upgrades

Project Information

  • Owner

    Iowa State University

  • Location

    Ames, IA

  • General Contractor

    Story Construction

  • Engineer


  • Baker Group Scope


For the past two academic years, Iowa State University’s total enrollment set records, topping 36,000 students each year. To cool facilities on ISU’s growing campus, Baker Group was engaged to help expand its chiller plant/yard with a comprehensive mechanical-HVAC, electrical, plumbing, piping and automation upgrade. This upgrade will add a 7000-ton cooling tower, two 3500-ton chillers, two 600 HP pumps, corresponding drives, controls, structural upgrades and site improvements.  

Short Shutdown Window
Although the project was awarded in July 2017, the chiller plant needed to remain operational until mid- to late-October 2017. New capacity testing will be conducted in the spring of 2018.

“Since most of the work needs to be done during the shutdown period, this reduced what was to be a 12-month project to a four-month installation,” says Dave Regenold, Baker Group Project Manager. “That required us to identify and leverage every time-saving advantage possible.”

To create solutions and assure that installation would run like clockwork, Baker Group, Story Construction, ISU and other project partners worked in close collaboration. “Once we had a strategy in place, we used Story Construction’s ILOG CP Optimizer 2.0 software to build a schedule that accommodated all project partners’ needs,” Regenold says.

Tight Job Site Poses Safety Concerns
On the chiller yard, “Tight work areas, substantial pipes and massive weights all pose safety and productivity risks. A single mistake could result in significant delays or injury,” says Regenold.

To address these issues, all project partners again united to share expertise and tools to create solutions. Baker Group used Story Construction’s CP 2.0 software to map out activities and tasks. The construction team used Baker Group’s laser scanning, 3D building information modeling (BIM) and Advanced Manufacturing capabilities to prefabricate 379 of more than 400 large bore welds. “This gave our partners the time and space they needed to complete their critical path structural improvements,” Regenold says.

Additionally, ISU’s chiller yard is situated amid other active construction sites, busy parking lots, the University’s print shop, a train crossing and a public road. Ensuring the safety of university staff, students, general public, the job site and personnel was essential.

“We worked closely with ISU and surrounding contractors to create a safe environment for everyone while minimizing impacts to productivity. By working together, we were able to create a detour for the pedestrian tunnel, share fencing boundaries with neighboring projects, and limit traffic to a single, controlled path,” Regenold adds.

To see more of the features in the ISU project check out Inside the Project - ISU Chiller Plant.

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