News

Queen of Prefab E3 : Convergence of Manufacturing and Construction

06.08.2021 in News

In this episode of “Queen of Prefab,” Amy Marks meets with Bill Bullock, Vice President at Environmental Air Systems, a leading mechanical contractor in North Carolina to see full-scale industrialized construction in action – complete with a tour of the factory floor.

Industrialized Construction Series: Mechanical Contractors are Paving the Offsite Way

06.08.2021 in News

Bill Bullock, VP of MEP Engineered Solutions at Environmental Air Systems, joins us on episode 205 of Art of Construction and episode two of our Deep Dive Series on Industrialized Construction with Autodesk.

As our industry progresses into the “Industrialized Construction Revolution,” there are plenty of misconceptions that go along with it – like the loss of individuality in buildings, or that there’s a limit in what prefabrication can produce. These concerns are valid, but what can we do to break down these false walls in our minds, so we can build actual walls more efficiently? Balance, mindset, and a blended approach. One MEP contractor knows there’s a need for standardization in the manufacturing process, while still accommodating custom solutions for their clients.

Environmental Air Systems, the premier mechanical contractor for nearly seven decades, has been the pioneer of offsite construction solutions. From developing custom HVAC and air handling equipment in the 80’s for the textile industry, now to full-scale modular data centers, they’ve seen constant change in processes. And throughout those years, adopting new technologies like Autodesk has been necessary in becoming the single source solution for MEP infrastructure.

Join Bill and Devon on part two of this Deep Dive Series, as they discuss the unique complexities of mechanical contracting and the data center projects they acquire, EAS blazing the offsite construction trail within the HVAC industry, and maintaining a forward-thinking culture in a legacy organization.

EAS Executive Featured on Art of Construction Podcast

18.02.2021 in News

Bill Bullock, VP of MEP Engineered Solutions at Environmental Air Systems, joins us on episode 205 of Art of Construction and episode two of our Deep Dive Series on Industrialized Construction with Autodesk.

As our industry progresses into the “Industrialized Construction Revolution,” there are plenty of misconceptions that go along with it – like the loss of individuality in buildings, or that there’s a limit in what prefabrication can produce. These concerns are valid, but what can we do to break down these false walls in our minds, so we can build actual walls more efficiently? Balance, mindset, and a blended approach. One MEP contractor knows there’s a need for standardization in the manufacturing process, while still accommodating custom solutions for their clients.

Environmental Air Systems, the premier mechanical contractor for nearly seven decades, has been the pioneer of offsite construction solutions. From developing custom HVAC and air handling equipment in the 80’s for the textile industry, now to full-scale modular data centers, they’ve seen constant change in processes. And throughout those years, adopting new technologies like Autodesk has been necessary in becoming the single source solution for MEP infrastructure.

Join Bill and Devon on part two of this Deep Dive Series, as they discuss the unique complexities of mechanical contracting and the data center projects they acquire, EAS blazing the offsite construction trail within the HVAC industry, and maintaining a forward-thinking culture in a legacy organization.

To listen to the podcast, click here.

Pre-Fab Central Utility Plant Key to Earlier Opening for Maryland Medical Center

04.12.2020 in News

The University of Maryland Capital Region Medical Center opens its doors next month to provide health and medical services to Prince Georges County, a suburb of Washington, D.C. An earlier-than-originally-anticipated opening was made possible by a time-saving approach to construction of the central utility plant.

The new 11-story, 600,000-square-foot hospital, originally called the Prince George’s Regional Medical Center, features a pre-manufactured central utility plant that was instrumental in the hospital opening sooner than what would have otherwise been possible.

Leach Wallace, a WSP company, provided the University of Maryland Medical System project with mechanical-electrical-plumbing (MEP), fire protection, electrical/lighting and fire alarm design for the project, which is set for completion in November. The building, designed by Wilmot Sanz Architects, will open to patients by spring 2021.

“This facility will serve a lower income community and will provide state-of-the-art, modern healthcare in an area that deeply needs it,” said Michael Lamdin, WSP USA project manager. “This project is by far the largest – and the MEP systems the most complex – that I have had the chance to work on as project manager.”

Design began in late 2014 and construction for the $285 million project began in October 2017. The central utility plant, which provides heating, cooling, electricity and other utility services to maintain a comfortable environment for the patients, faculty and staff at the medical center, was installed during the summer of 2019.

The plant is now operational but due to COVID-19 concerns, the public opening of the medical center has been delayed until spring 2021. The medical facility was designed to meet U.S. Green Building Council requirements for LEED Silver certification.

The University of Maryland Capital Region Medical Center includes a 60,000-square-foot ambulatory care center, an emergency department with 41 treatment bays, trauma department, eight operating rooms, nine labor and delivery rooms, and a two-level cancer center, medical oncology and radiation oncology department.

More Patient Space

The $30.5 million central utility plant was originally slated for traditional stick-built construction. However, the State of Maryland considers stick-built mechanical space as part of the overall building area, which posed a problem with design that would limit medical space in the building. It was a problem the design team determined could be avoided with a pre-fabricated approach to the plant that sits adjacent to the main hospital building and is connected by a corridor on the lowest level.

“By using a pre-fabricated, modular building, the square footage of the central utility plant did not count towards the overall allowable hospital area and allowed for more patient space,” Lamdin said. “It also allowed the plant to be fabricated quicker and installed in time to use its systems for heating and cooling during the final stages of construction, saving the need for temporary systems.”

While the pre-fabricated central utility plant was determined to be “cost neutral” in comparison to a stick-built plant, the time saved by using a modular design ensured that the University would be able to open its doors earlier than originally anticipated.

The final design of the two-story plant required more than 60 modules to create approximately 25,000 square feet of interior space – 18,000 square feet on the first level and 7,000 square feet on the second level.

The plant includes three primary electric utility service feeders, two 2,000-kilowatt emergency diesel generators, and a 2,000-kilowatt natural gas combined heat and power (CHP) generator, which will provide heating hot water to support the year-round heating requirements of the facility.

The CHP has three heat sources: a low temperature loop, a jacket warmer loop and heat recovery off the exhaust flue. The jacket warmer loop will provide 4,700 MBH of heat and the exhaust flue recovery will provide 3,200 MBH to the heating hot water system.

While the system is designed for non-stop operation, control logic was provided for the system to receive real-time utility rates and operate the engine only when beneficial to the owner.

Energy-Efficient Design

The central utility plant and the main mechanical systems were designed with energy efficiency in mind. The CHP generator allows the facility to generate a portion of its own power using natural gas while also producing the base heating load as a by-product of the engine heat dissipation.

In addition, the chilled water plant includes four sets of 550-ton chillers in a counterflow configuration, with one set designated the winter chilled water plant, provided with closed-cell fluid coolers and glycol to allow for winter operation. The other three sets create the summer plant. “The control intent is to operate multiple pairs of chillers to meet the load, which allows the chillers to operate at a very high efficiency,” Lamdin said.

Heat recovered from the CHP will be used as the primary source of heating for the hospital and will be supplemented by the heating hot water plant as required to meet the load. Excess heat will be dissipated via heat exchangers connected to the condenser water system.

The storm water from the main hospital is being collected, treated on site and re-used for cooling tower make-up water.

Continuous collaboration and communication was also critical to the project’s success. The owner, central utility plant manufacturer, design team, general contractor and subcontractors had to work very closely together to make the pre-fab, modular approach work.

As the facility prepares to open, not only is the owner is pleased with the result, but the central utility plant design is already serving as an example of an approach that can accelerate construction of medical facilities without impacting cost or quality.

“We have already used this project and the pre-fab approach as an example of how to efficiently streamline the construction process to save time and possibly cost,” Lamdin said.

Environmental Air Systems Companies Announces Charles E. Gulledge III, 2020-2021 ASHRAE President

03.07.2020 in News

Charles E. Gulledge III, P.E., HBDP, LEED AP, Fellow ASHRAE, is ASHRAE’s newly appointed President for the 2020-21 term. Gulledge previously served on the ASHRAE Board of Directors as president-elect, treasurer, vice president and director-at-large.

Gulledge is employed by Environmental Air Systems, High Point, North Carolina as a Senior Mechanical Engineer. From North Carolina, Charles is a 1983 graduate of North Carolina State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering.

In addition to his time served on the Board of Directors, Gulledge has served as chair of the Members Council and the President-Elect Advisory Committee, chair of the Finance Committee, chair of the Standards Membership Ad Hoc Committee, chair of the Development Committee for Fundraising, and as an ASHRAE Distinguished Lecturer. He has held ASHRAE Society-level leadership roles on many standing committees, technical committees and presidential ad hoc committees.

For his time and dedication to ASHRAE and the industry, he is the recipient of numerous awards including the Exceptional Service Award, Distinguished Service Award, Chapter Service Award, Regional Award of Merit, two ASHRAE Technology Awards and the Dan Mills Technology Award.

His theme for the 2020-21 ASHRAE Society Year is “The ASHRAE Digital Lighthouse and Industry 4.0.”

“Why should we engage in digital transformation? To gain a competitive advantage amongst our peers, position ourselves as the go-to resource for clients, improve margins, provide greater value, and attract and retain a digitally skilled workforce.”

“Digital transformation is not simply associated with adopting new technical solutions. Knowledge needs to be captured and linked in such a way that ALL relevant stakeholders’ benefit. Doing so requires understanding of how to collect, store, and analyze data; so that it is insightful and actionable.”

In addition to his contributions to ASHRAE, Gulledge’s career in HVAC spans over 36 years. He entered the industry as an engineer-in-training with Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas, working on transit system infrastructure, vehicular tunnels and moveable swing-span bridges. Over his career, he has served the built world in the roles of a consulting engineer, municipal owner and design-build contractor. Gulledge is currently a Senior Mechanical Engineer with Environmental Air Systems, LLC.  He is registered as a professional engineer in the states of North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Alabama and Virginia.

Environmental Air Systems is a premiere design build mechanical contractor, a national manufacturer of custom-built HVAC solutions and a building automation controls and HVAC service provider.  In conjunction with their custom HVAC offering, they also specialize in highly engineered modular off-site construction (OSC) applications for a variety of mission critical customers.

Comfort Systems USA Announces Acquisition

10.02.2020 in News
Acquires Starr Electric Company in North Carolina; Enhances Modular Construction Offering

Comfort Systems USA, a leading provider of commercial, industrial and institutional heating, ventilation, air conditioning and electrical contracting services, today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Starr Electric Company, Inc. (“Starr”) headquartered in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Starr was founded in 1928 and provides electrical installation across North Carolina. Starr engages in a broad range of electrical contracting projects and services, and has offices in Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, and Fayetteville, North Carolina and in Columbia, South Carolina. Starr also participates in modular and off-site construction services and has a long-standing partnership with Environmental Air Systems, a Comfort Systems USA subsidiary that includes a leading modular construction and off-site construction offering. Initially Starr is expected to contribute annualized revenues of approximately $90 million to $100 million, and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $5 million to $6 million. In light of the required amortization expense related to intangibles and other costs associated with the transaction, the acquisition is expected to make a neutral to slightly accretive contribution to earnings per share in 2020 and 2021.

Brian Lane, Comfort Systems USA’s Chief Executive Officer, commented, “We are extremely happy to announce that Starr and its extraordinary team of professionals have joined Comfort Systems USA. Starr is an important force in electrical contracting and related services across North Carolina, with deep experience in the industrial, medical and educational sectors. In addition to the world class construction offering that Starr brings, this investment will allow us to further develop our modular construction offering by adding electrical rooms and other assemblies to our off-site construction business in High Point, North Carolina. For decades Starr has worked with us in that business, and Starr has resources and expertise that will be pivotal to improving our modular solutions for industrial, institutional and commercial customers.”

Harley Garrison, Chief Executive Officer of Starr, commented, “We chose to join Comfort Systems USA because we have seen first-hand through our long association that Comfort is committed to its employees and to the legacy that they will now share with us. We believe that our partnership with Comfort Systems USA is a fantastic opportunity to provide training, security and growth for our employees and all of our stakeholders. We believe that Starr and Comfort Systems USA have a bright future together.”

Brian Lane concluded, “Starr brings extraordinary capabilities and an established and excellent reputation in one of our nation’s most vibrant markets. Given the strong leadership at all levels of the company, we believe that Starr will continue to grow and improve. We could not be happier that the Starr Electric Company is joining Comfort Systems USA.”

Comfort Systems USA® is a premier provider of business solutions addressing workplace comfort, with 134 locations in 115 cities around the nation. For more information, visit the Company’s website at www.comfortsystemsusa.com.

EAS Receives 3 North Carolina Safety Awards

24.04.2019 in News

Environmental Air Systems attended the North Carolina Department of Labor Annual Safety Recognition Banquet and received three important Safety Awards from State Commissioner Cherie Berry.

The awards received were:

  • Gold Award Application EAS Construction
  • Gold Award Application EAS RTP Office
  • Silver Award Application EAS Envirotrol

Criteria for the awards:

  • Gold: DART rating is 50% better than the industry average. DART rating is lost time and restricted duty rates.
  • Silver: Lost Time Incident Rate is 50% better than the industry average.

This is Environmental Air Systems second year in a row to receive the GOLD Awards for Construction and the RTP Office. Attendees for EAS included Adam Kelly, Director of Safety, Frank Stefanick, VP of Construction and Bill Tyler, RTP Construction Operations Manager.

Environmental Air Systems Supports United Way

22.03.2019 in News

Environmental Air Systems and all of its employees are proud supporters of The United Way serving 28 local partner agencies.  Recently completing our company’s contribution campaign, we were presented with the United Way Outstanding New Campaign award.  A big Thank You to everyone for contributing and having the Courage to Care!

Environmental Air Systems Kicks Off 2019

18.01.2019 in News

To begin 2019 with energy and purpose, Environmental Air Systems assembled over 600 employees for a special event held at their headquarters facility.  Factory bays were cleared, a stage was set up, large video screens and American Flags were hung and music was in the air as the lights dimmed for the playing of a patriotic song.

At the end of the song, a lone spotlight shined on their special guest standing on stage, retired Navy Seal Jason Redman.  After describing the intense battle in Iraq that left him nearly dead the spotlight was turned off and after Jason walked off the stage the lights came on to a Marine color guard marching toward the stage.

The American flag was presented by the color guard and the Star-Spangled Banner played to a standing audience.  Brian Evans, EAS President then formally introduced Jason and the two of them asked that all veterans come forward and individually walk across the stage for a small gift and handshakes.  Fifty-six veterans who were in attendance were honored and met our special guest.

Jason Redman then spent the next hour talking through his Five Principles of Elite Performance while relating many of them to his training both as a Navy Seal and an Army Ranger and his over 20 years serving our country in the military.  His Five Principles of Elite Performance are:

  • Teamwork
  • Lead yourself, lead others, lead always
  • Clearly define your mission, tasks & goals
  • Have a relentless overcome all mindset
  • Adapt to the unexpected and to adversity

After Brian made closing comments, everyone had lunch while talking about what they had just learned.  It was a memorable event, and thanks to retired Navy Seal Jason Redman it was an event that many believe will be long remembered.   After lunch a smaller group made up of office and management personnel assembled in the cafeteria for a business update given by each business leader from Construction, Manufacturing, Controls and Service.  They each recognized certain people for their 2018 achievements and reviewed their 2019 business objectives to kick off the new year.

It was clear that Jason Redman made a lasting impression when late that afternoon people were describing a business situation using terminology Jason used in his speech earlier that day.  In Jason’s words: Live greatly, live fearlessly, leave nothing on the table!