I am writing this to compliment Hometown Mechanical on the great experience we had working with them on the University of Iowa Petersen Residence Hall. Hometown was the mechanical contractor responsible for installing plumbing systems and HVAC hydronic and steam piping systems and equipment, along with overseeing and coordinating the work of their subcontractors for HVAC sheet metal, insulation, fire protection, and temperature controls. The project contained many advanced and highly energy efficient systems that required close coordination and attention to detail both prior to and during installation; Hometown did a great job paying attention to details during the coordination drawing process and coordinating with other trades, and then making adjustments during the installation process when necessary to ensure the systems can operate as intended and allow for optimal maintenance access for the owner.

One of the specific challenges on the project was limited floor-to-floor heights on the student room floors; although limiting the heights helped allow the project to maximize the quantity of student rooms and keep the general construction cost down, it presented many challenges for trying to install mechanical and electrical systems. Hometown, along with their fellow subcontractors, accepted the challenge and successfully coordinated the installation of piping, ductwork, and conduits in areas with as little as eight inches of ceiling space. All of this was done without having to compromise desired ceiling heights or maintenance access, and resulted in no cost changes to the project.

Another challenge unique to this project was the heat recovery chiller system that is the primary heating plant for the building along with producing chilled water for the building and campus district chilled water system, the first of its kind installed on the University of Iowa campus. This highly efficient central plant system requires a significant amount of large diameter piping, control sensors, numerous pumps, and two rotary-screw chillers, all of which was impressively installed within a mechanical room space that also accommodated an air handling unit, electrical gear, plumbing pumps, water heaters, and fire protection equipment. During the early stages of the project Hometown produced a detailed drawing of the piping layout for the mechanical room that helped facilitate a successful installation.

Finally, the complexity of the mechanical systems and full commissioning process required a high level of project management and coordination by Hometown’s staff both in the office and in the field. They did an exceptional job in helping make the project successful.