Three years ago, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) was experiencing a problem completely unrelated to the task of educating its vast student body. Amid the usual stresses of standardized test scores, dress codes, hallway decorum, and lunchroom nutrition, more than half of the district’s schools were faced with aging, dilapidated mechanical systems that posed a possible health risk to students and faculty.
As in most commercial buildings, the mechanical lines were held in place by metal cushion clamps and the lines were then insulated up to the clamps. As the district’s senior HVAC fitter Kwok Lee explained the problem, “The clamps had rusted out and the insulation was saturated with moisture, a warning sign of black mold to come. All of those old components would have to be removed and replaced with brand-new materials that typically last four to five years before the next necessary update.”
75 MILLION SQ FT AND THEN SOMEIn addition to mechanical line updates, the LAUSD is undergoing its New School Construction and Modernization Program. This program is scheduled to build 145 schools by 2012, provides a neighborhood school on a traditional calendar for every student, eliminates involuntary busing and creates small learning communities in secondary schools. To date, in addition to completing 15,000 modernization projects, LAUSD has completed 67 new schools and 53 additions, allowing 136 schools to return to a 180-day, full-year calendar and providing more than 68,000 new classroom seats for students throughout the district.
With more than 75 million sq ft of buildings in the district to consider, the job would most certainly take years to complete the traditional way, and cost millions of dollars - an amount particularly hard to part with for any school system on a strict budget.
The solution came to Lee, via an ad in a magazine. The ad showed a new twist on an old idea, which promised to eliminate condensation, reduce installation costs dramatically, and save the district from having to make similar upgrades in the future.
The design is an insulation coupling that installs in less than a minute vs. the traditional method of using strut clamps and running insulation up to, and at times, around the clamp. The old method could increase the time for installing and insulating each clamp to three to five minutes, according to Lee.
Additionally, the Klo-Shure couple doesn’t require any taping, gluing, or other adhesives, which is where most of the time is lost on the traditional method. Another cost saving feature is that the clamps can be reused if needed, creating additional savings for the user and eliminating waste.
“The insulation coupling supports and secures the copper tubing. The coupling then allows for the insulation to be secured by sliding the insulation inside the body of the part. No other process is needed to finish the job. The product provides a greatly improved installation compared with other methods,” according to Klo-Shure’s president, Bob Dodge.
CONTAINING FLAME AND MOISTUREThe couplings provide an advanced vapor barrier, meaning increased energy efficiency and they have a longer life, reducing warranty and rework costs. In addition, the product is certified as meeting the UL’s 25/50 Flame Spread test.
Once the coupling was installed, the lines were set and level. The insulation just had to be slid inside the coupling to finish the job.
With construction mostly allocated to the summer months, Lee realized that time was a major issue for the district. If one portion of the construction time could be dramatically reduced, he knew that he could save LAUSD a large amount of money while finishing more projects.
In addition to retrofitting the LAUSD’s 1,100 schools, the couplings are now specified on all new schools in the design stage. With the district expanding to an estimated 82 million sq ft by 2012, the Klo-Shure product should eliminate any previous headaches when running mechanical lines.
The Klo-Shure Insulation Coupling System passed with flying colors, so now students and faculty can breathe easy, worrying only about standardized test scores, dress codes, hallway decorum, lunchroom nutrition, and so on.
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