Smart Solutions

Circulating Air ‘Amazed’ by Speed, Ease of Installing Uponor Radiant System

The southern elevation of UCLA’s new Wasserman Eye Research Center is a wall of glass that welcomes light in. Circulating Air installed a Uponor radiant heating and cooling system, which takes a huge load off the forced-air system and helped the building qualify for LEED Gold status.

Research Center Reaches LEED Gold with Efficient Solutions

Describing the Circulating Air crew’s first experience using Uponor products, Job Foreman Matt Fitzgerald said, “We were truly amazed at how quickly and easily we installed the tubing for the radiant heating and cooling system.” The Los Angeles-based mechanical contractor’s four-man crew installed 16,000’ of Uponor’s Wirsbo hePEX™ tubing in a new research building on the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Using the radiant heating and cooling system helped earn LEED® Gold status for the six-story, 100,000-square-foot Edie and Lew Wasserman Eye Research Center.

Uponor PEX Tubing
Circulating Air’s four-man crew installed 16,000’ of Uponor’s Wirsbo hePEX tubing in UCLA’s new research center. “I love how fast and easy the Uponor ProPEX system is,” said Job Foreman Matt Fitzgerald.

Efficient, Easy to Install

The first three floors of the structure were specified to include radiant heating and cooling, a technology that embeds tubing into floors of the building to circulate warm or cool water to condition the space inside. Because water has the capacity to transport energy 3,500 times greater than air, it is an extremely efficient method for heating and cooling an environment.

Working closely with Circulating Air, Uponor, which manufacturers PEX tubing and provides plumbing, heating, and cooling systems, helped design the radiant heating and cooling system in conjunction with the engineers and architects on the project. The building’s southern elevation is a wall of glass, and the radiant heating and cooling system takes a huge load off the forced-air system.

Circulating Air also had some onsite training from a local Uponor sales representative. “Receiving training onsite really helped us, and our crew felt up to speed very quickly,” said Fitzgerald.

According to Fitzgerald, prior to the training, he was unaware how easy it was to make the connections to the manifolds and fittings. “I love how fast and easy the Uponor ProPEX system is,” he said.

“We were truly amazed at how quickly and easily we installed the tubing for the radiant heating and cooling system.”

—Matt Fitzgerald, Job Foreman, Circulating Air

Uponor’s PEX tubing uses ASTM F1960 ProPEX expansion fittings, which require one simple tool to make fast, easy connections. The contractor simply places an expansion ring on the end of the tubing and expands the tubing and ring with a ProPEX expansion tool. After expansion, the contractor inserts a ProPEX fitting. The tubing and ring shrink back down, creating a strong connection to the fitting that holds tight with up to 1,000 pounds of radial force. Those familiar with traditional copper or other rigid pipe connections recognize that the ProPEX fitting system is a much easier, more reliable connection method.

The system connected to six Uponor TruFLOW manifolds and six manifold cabinets divided between the three lower floors. “The installation was fairly straightforward,” Fitzgerald said. “And we didn’t encounter any obstacles that we couldn’t overcome.”

After the installation of the PEX tubing was complete, concrete was poured over the radiant system to create a large mass for heating and cooling the structure. Circulating Air then performed a pressure test to ensure system integrity before starting up and commissioning the system.

Leading in LEED

The Wasserman Eye Research Center is a culmination of a 50-year vision to house a world-class research and care center on the UCLA campus to preserve and restore eyesight. The $115.6-million building garnered a Community Impact Award at the Los Angeles Business Council’s Los Angeles Architectural Awards and was named Best Medical Project by the Los Angeles Business Journal’s
Commercial Real Estate Awards.

The University of California system became the first American university to have 100 LEED-certified facilities—an impressive milestone and a testament to the system’s dedication to responsible building practices. The Wasserman building was designed to ensure the structure included as many sustainable building technologies as possible. The three lower floors were dedicated to the expansion of the Jules Stein Eye Institute, making it a state-of-the-art research and treatment facility.

For more information, visit MCAA thanks Uponor, Inc. for being a major sponsor of MCAA18 and sponsoring the David Horsager Education Session.