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Piping Alternative Provides Extensive Savings and Helps Fort Hood "Go Green"

ALT TEXTThus, the fact that Aquatherm Inc.’s polypropylene-random (PP-R) piping would be able to come in at roughly 20% less than copper or steel while also contributing to several USGBC LEED points made it very compelling. The German-manufactured pipe has been one of the world’s greenest piping systems for nearly 40 years and proven successful in 70-plus countries. Aquatherm also produces the most environmentally friendly piping option available.

The fusion process is fundamental to polypropylene’s ecofriendliness. Simply putting a piece of pipe and a fitting on opposite ends of an Aquatherm welding iron for a specified time (about 24 seconds for two-inch pipe), and then joining them together creates an incredibly strong connection.

An Intriguing Alternative

Lou Castillo, project manager for the DPW, was intrigued when he was presented with PP-R by Aquatherm distributor, David Wheeler, of ProLine Marketing in San Antonio. He was, however, “a bit skeptical” about replacing metal with PP-R.”

“We were a little concerned, but once we read more about it, we decided to go ahead and give it a try. We liked the way it was easy to run and took less time for labor, and it really looked cleaner on the design when we installed it,” Castillo said.

After plenty of due diligence, the DPW asked Marvin Carter, president and co-owner (along with Scott Hunter) of HVACmasters in Round Rock, TX, to try Aquatherm on two Fort Hood HVAC renovations. Carter, with 35 years of industry experience – including 15 years at Fort Hood – was also a bit hesitant.

“We all had reservations with the product at first. As you know change is not easy for employees or companies that have predominantly used other products for years,” Carter recalled. However, Carter agreed to try Aquatherm. The product is distributed in the U.S. and Canada by Aquatherm, Inc., and was approved for use on these projects due to its environmental friendliness and since all new projects allow a certain percentage of items to be manufactured outside the U.S.

The trial installation was to take place on two “five-company buildings” that were originally built in 1983 and 1984. The 25,000-square-foot, one-story structures are used for the administration and supply of an entire company. Neither had air conditioning in the supply room and both had substandard air conditioning in the administration areas.

The goal of the project was upgrading the HVAC systems via new chillers; DDC controls; new, larger AHUs; and replacement of the existing four-pipe system. The piping jobs would traditionally have been specified with standard copper and A-53 steel pipe.

However, Castillo said, Aquatherm’s flexibility and durability were critical factors. “Also, not having to use a lot of chemicals in the system and not having to worry about rust in the chilled water systems and the boilers was a benefit,” he added.