A flexible gas piping system allowed tenants to add custom gas appliances such as professional gas ranges at this Portland, OR, apartment complex.

The revitalization of the Pearl District - an area west of the Willamette River in northwest Portland, OR - has been underway for almost ten years. This area had previously been dominated by industrial and commercial uses. The proximity to downtown Portland and the Oregon Health Sciences University prompted the planning and construction of a large number of residential units in addition to commercial spaces within the new buildings.

The Brewery Blocks is a five-block project in Portland’s Pearl District, located at the former site of the Blitz-Weinhard Brewery. As the five different building projects were in the design stage in 2000, TracPipe representatives were in contact with both the mechanical design engineers and the mechanical contractors to encourage their specification of TracPipe for the gas piping systems in both the residential and commercial areas of the buildings. The gas risers in these buildings could be either flexible TracPipe, with a complete size range of tees or rigid steel with a TracPipe system serving each floor.

Key factors such as equipment load demands, gas pressures, and pipe routing were discussed with the design engineers. TracPipe was specified in all five projects. The convergence of residential and commercial units in many buildings became a major selling point for TracPipe CSST. TracPipe offers a broad range of sizes and accessories for both types of construction and provides technical support to engineers and contractors.

The architectural approach to green urban design is to plan high-density mixed use centers with ample green spaces. Buildings must then be designed to utilize sustainable building techniques and qualify as Green Buildings under the LEED® building program.


The strong points for TracPipe included the capability to easily pipe tenant-requested appliances, such as gas logs and professional gas ranges, in addition to large commercial equipment. Using flexible gas piping instead of rigid black iron pipe also tends to allow projects such as this one benefit from installation time savings of 75% or more.

As the construction of the buildings progressed to the point of mechanical systems installation, one mechanical contractor realized an early green benefit from using TracPipe. He was able to cut back on the number of employees which were commuting from the suburbs into downtown Portland each day. The number of vehicles including trucks that carry heavy equipment and pipe was reduced from six to three. In addition to being environmentally friendly, this also provided a significant savings in vehicle fuel expense to the contractor.

The availability of natural gas in each unit residential or commercial provides a greater range of choices for equipment or appliances to the builder and occupants. Natural gas-powered water heating and space heating offer considerable savings in energy when compared to the alternatives; gas ranges are the choice for upscale kitchens, and gas fireplaces have replaced wood-burning logs for a reduction in air pollution.

The capability of TracPipe to “snake” around obstacles, and the availability of fittings and accessories, such as tee fittings, wall boxes, and a variety of termination mounts made TracPipe an easy choice for the Brewery Blocks.ES