Randall Lamb Association

Archive for Project Insights

INsight: Updating Our Hospitals, Retrofitting

October 24, 2011

Updating Our Hospitals: Retrofitting for the Future

Since 1994, hospitals have been hiring architectural and engineering firms to study and develop projects to deal with the new seismic requirements of Senate Bill 1953 (SB 1953), enforced by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD). Based on their Structural Performance Category (SPC) and Non-Structural Performance Category, hospitals have closely examined how their facilities will be utilized in the future.
SB 1953 only requires seismic strengthening of the building and anchorage of the nonstructural components of a hospital, with the goal of providing a safer environment for patients in the event of an earthquake. Hospitals also realized that there are additional upgrades to consider for patient safety. The costs of meeting SB 1953 standards are already staggering and upgrading outdated patient services, or creating greater efficiencies in unreliable mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) system infrastructure greatly increases those costs. Nonetheless, hospitals understood that retrofitting their facilities required that they cast a much wider net.
Since the onset of SB 1953, Randall Lamb has assisted hospitals in studying and engineering new projects to address the MEP impact of the mandated requirements. In conjunction with those projects, Randall Lamb has reviewed the MEP equipment for age, condition, capacity, efficiency, remaining useful life and disruption impacts; and developed recommendations and costs to support current and future growth requirements. MEP equipment that has reached its end of useful life can fail at any time, and the loss of equipment through a catastrophic event can be costly and disruptive to hospital operations, impacting patient care.



Kaiser San Diego Medical Center Zion, Infrastructure Surveys, San Diego, CA

Randall Lamb was commissioned to evaluate and identify the mechanical and electrical infrastructure upgrade projects that would be required for the 597,000 sq ft hospital and central plant through the year 2020. The scope of services addressed the condition, age, location, disruption impacts and recommended upgrades and probable costs for the MEP systems that are currently being implemented.

Scripps Health, Air Handler Units Evaluation and Repair, San Diego, CA

Randall Lamb evaluated thirty (30) existing air handling units; twenty-four (24) units in the hospital and six (6 ) units in the Anderson Outpatient Pavilion at Scripps Green Hospital. The project determined each unit’s existing condition, remaining useful life, component replacement options and overall unit replacement. Subsequently, Randall Lamb recently provided prime mechanical and electrical engineering services to repair six of the hospital’s air handlers to extend their life by 3-5 years until they could be replaced. The exact scope of work varies for each unit, but includes repair/replacement of the following: Moisture eliminators/pre-filters, control dampers, condensate drain pan, chilled water and heating coils, supply and return fans, air handler cabinet, air filters, test and balance, and temporary HVAC system.

Kaiser San Diego Medical Center Zion, 4th Floor NICU Department Study/Remodel & Postpartum Department Remodel, San Diego, CA

Randall Lamb is also providing MEP design to support the build-out of the NICU and Postpartum Departments on the 4th floor of the Hospital. The scope incorporated recommendations from a prior study completed by Randall Lamb, and includes new HVAC, plumbing, lighting, power, fire protection, nurse call/code system, and low voltage signal plans. The Design Team is working diligently and collaboratively to produce an excellent outcome without disrupting these important and special units in the hospital.

Posted in Project Insights

INsight: Energy Efficiency

May 18, 2011

CALGreen Building Standards Code and Commissioning:
What Does it Mean?

On January 1, 2011, the CALGreen Building Standards Code went into effect. CALGreen consists of Part 11 of the California Building Standards Code in Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations (see diagram below).

In the past few years, CALGreen has experienced several iterations, but now that some provisions are mandatory, it’s important to take notice. Although not a drastic modification in California’s green building standards, the mandatory measures will require incremental change. Municipalities are required to adopt these provisions, but can also choose to incorporate the voluntary measures as part of local building standards. The new Code is not meant to replace private building certification systems such as LEED, although there may be some minimal overlap. Compliance with the CALGreen Code will be upheld through actual building inspections.

Development of CALgreen:

An initial edition was created in 2008, which was completely voluntary. The 2010 edition, which is now in effect, includes both mandatory and voluntary standards. CALGreen is split between residential and non-residential uses, and further divided among specific building types and among the four (4) state agencies that have specific authority:

1. Building Standards Commission

2. Department of Housing and Community Development

3. Division of the State Architect

4. Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD)

Within each classification, CALGreen establishes a set of mandatory provisions and two sets of voluntary code provisions (Tier 1 and Tier 2). It is expected that these voluntary Tier provisions will eventually become mandatory, just as the 2008 voluntary standards became mandatory in 2011.

The focus of this article is in regards to the mandatory CALGreen requirement that all new, non-residential buildings 10,000 square feet or over must be commissioned, as defined in Section 5.410.2 of the Code. So what does this mean?

Commissioning (Cx)

Commissioning is the process of modeling, testing and adjusting building design, construction, and operation systems to ensure all components perform according to the owner or developer’s specifications. It further states that it shall be performed by trained personnel with experience on projects of comparable size and complexity. The requirements include:

1. Owner’s Project Requirements

2. Basis of Design

3. Commissioning measures shown in the construction documents

4. Commissioning Plan

5. Functional Performance Testing

6. Documentation & Training

7. Commissioning Report

As with the other sections of the Code, the objective is to improve public health, safety and general welfare by enhancing the design and construction of buildings for positive environmental impacts. Commissioning plays a vital role in accomplishing that goal.


Randall Lamb introduced our Commissioning Services to our clients in 2010. Under the direction of Michael (Mike) Kohler, CBCP, Construction Services and Commissioning Manager, we offer commissioning services (Cx) for both new construction and existing buildings (retro-commissioning), ensuring that building systems perform as intended to meet these requirements, ultimately avoiding costly measures in the future.

With an impressive resume of satisfied clients, Mike would be happy to share his success stories with you.

Randall Lamb continues to expand its services as we embrace social responsibility, clean energy, energy efficiency and cost reducing measures for our clients. Please contact Mike at or call (619) 713-5775 if you have any questions regarding the commissioning process, or how CALGreen has impacted it.


CASE STUDY: Takeda San Diego, Inc., Energy Efficiency

The U.S. pharmaceutical industry consumes nearly $1 billion in energy annually. Laboratory facilities often have environmental and clean room requirements that call for 24/7 heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC). As a result, HVAC can consume as much as 65% of a facility’s total energy use, making HVAC a prime target for energy efficiency initiatives.

Rising energy prices and a strong emphasis on corporate social responsibility led Takeda San Diego, Inc. to seek out innovative technologies to reduce energy consumption in its San Diego, California research lab. The company hired Randall Lamb to carry out its initiatives, based on our experience in sustainable and energy-efficient solutions.

Randall Lamb Redesigns the HVAC System

Randall Lamb conducted an extensive evaluation of the facility and found that the existing chilled water plant, which consisted of a primary-secondary pumping configuration, and two (2) 400 ton centrifugal chillers approximately 8 years old, was operating at an average of 1.60 kW/ton. We recognized that redesigning the HVAC system for better energy efficiency would play a major role in meeting the company’s environmental and cost savings goals. The solution included redesigning the system to be an all variable speed, primary-only centrifugal HVAC plant utilizing the existing chillers. We worked closely with Optimum Energy who installed their OptimumHVAC patented software, and the final result was a significant reduction in energy use for heating and cooling the building.

Chris Weixelman, PE, LEED AP, spearheaded the Randall Lamb mechanical engineering team for the project, and along with the client, was extremely pleased with the results. “With OptimumHVAC, not only were we able to get optimal efficiency from our client’s HVAC system, the first year savings exceeded expectations by 45%. The ability to track operating performance online has also been very positive, enabling our client to see the savings in real-time and continuously maintain the plant for peak performance.”

Research Yields Positive Results

In the first year with OptimumHVAC, the pharmaceutical company:

1. Saved more than 1,140,600 kWh of electricity.

2. Reduced operating expenses by $171,000.

3. Improved wire to water kW/ton 58% –down to 0.67 from 1.60 kW/ton.

4. Decreased carbon emissions by 1,185,100 lbs.

5. Qualified for utility rebates of $86,000

When we hired Randall Lamb to conduct a study of our chiller plant and subsequently redesign the system, we anticipated savings, but not to this degree. Not only are we experiencing tremendous cost savings with a short payback period, we are also drastically reducing our carbon emissions. The benefits are extending beyond our plant and into the greater community. We are experiencing the equipment working less and enjoying the energy use reduction. We are able to track the savings and carbon emissions reduction on a real-time basis through our dashboard. The project is a success beyond what was anticipated in the initial engineering study done by Chris Weixelman and Optimum Energy.
Paul Eiler, Director of Facilities at Takeda San Diego, Inc.

Payback for the entire project, including hardware and software upgrades, is expected to be 2.3 years.

Posted in Commissioning, Project Insights

INsight: Data Centers

November 9, 2010

Data Centers: Success with Air-side Economizers

By: Brad Hollub, PE, LEED AP – Senior Associate
The world of HVAC design for critical facilities seems to be evolving by the minute. However, in a world of endless design options (e.g. indirect/direct evaporative cooling, air/water-side economizers, in-row cooling, hot/cold aisle containment, supply/room temperature set-point adjustment, etc.), finding a common ground that makes economic sense and pleases both owners and operators is paramount. We’re always faced with the same question when hearing new design theories: How do you balance a client’s need of proven reliability with new energy-saving solutions?

This is a challenge that Randall Lamb has faced on two recent data center expansions. What’s important to note in the last sentence is the word “expansion.” This means we’re expected to provide solutions that meet the facilities’ needs and their operators in a live, critical environment. The benefits of incorporating air-side economizers in the projects profiled below simply could not be ignored. We understood the potential savings associated with these systems, and fortunately for us, so did our clients. Despite the obvious advantages of utilizing free cooling by means of outside air, this topic remains in debate by specialists throughout the industry due to the risk of introducing pollutants and humidity control issues into the data center. Ultimately, we were able to meet the team’s goals without compromising our dedication to energy conservation and our client’s bottom line.


Colocation size: 3,200 SF, Critical Load Requirement: 3.0 KW/Cabinet

We targeted implementing an HVAC design that maximized the energy savings associated with using the mild bay area climate. Located in San Francisco, the mechanical design is comprised of split-DX CRAC units with overhead ducted supply distribution. This particular co-location site was on the top floor of a 2-story building, and the subject of connecting an air-side economizer to the overhead distribution from the roof became the main focus during our design development phase. We were able to introduce a rooftop modulating economizer system that best fit the needs of this speculative data center environment. Seven (7) 26-ton units were designed to condition the space at full capacity, with the economizer system able to meet the demand of the space in increments, as tenants began to populate the room with cabinets. Room contamination of outdoor pollutants was mitigated by the use of a filtration system on the intake side of the economizer fan. A custom housing fitted with 4” deep ASHRAE Standard 52.2 MERV 11 filters was installed to protect the indoor environment. Working with our local utility provider PG&E, an early energy analysis estimated the annual savings with the economizer design at 964,000 kWh/yr at peak load. With an estimated annual energy cost savings of $115,000 and simple payback of less than two years, this option became immediately desirable to our client. Participating in PG&E’s incentive program, an incentive of 50% of the installation cost of the economizer and controls is available to the Owner, thus reducing their final project cost and their payback to less than one year.

Client: Confidential Data Center Expansions, Seattle, Washington,
Colocation size: 18,000 SF, Critical Load Requirement: Present = 3.0 KW/Cabinet, Future = 5.0 KW/Cabinet

This data center expansion was located on the top floor of a 3-story building with dedicated rooftop space for mechanical equipment. Working concurrently with the building’s engineers, multiple equipment manufacturers and the client, we were able to propose a layout for the 650-ton cooling system using manifolded packaged A/C units. Collaborating with the unit manufacturer, we selected units that included custom features to meet our space constraints. Through a streamlined design process, the client was able to pre-purchase the equipment prior to construction document completion, thus keeping the project on schedule and on budget. The units, shipped from the factory complete with comparative enthalpy modulating economizer control, exceeded our client’s expectations. The system also included “adiabatic humidification” as opposed to the traditional isothermal humidifiers that vaporizes water to humidify, consuming significant amounts of energy. The humidification equipment, coupled with a building management system that monitored humidity throughout the data center, ensured the space environment met the operator’s needs. With the inclusion of the air-side economizer, this data center is expected to see a 60-70% reduction in HVAC operating costs. Upon completion of the Level 4 Integrated Systems Testing (IST), the client is hoping to report significant energy savings and a low Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE).

Posted in Project Insights