Metropolitan Mechanical Contractors (MMC) of Eden Prairie, MN, found that using Uponor’s AquaPEX® crosslinked polyethylene (PEX) piping for the risers and the unit piping in a new hotel saved crews about two to three days of installation per floor. On a 13-story project with 50 units per floor, that adds up to almost a month of installation time savings.
Bob Wolf, MMC’s project manager for the Radisson Blu hotel project, said, “We started out with a three-man crew, which took three days to complete each floor,” he says. “Installing copper would have been double that time.”
Miles of Piping Required
From south of the Twin Cities, you can see the Radisson Blu Hotel at the Mall of America on the horizon. This 570,000-square-foot, 13-story, 506-room structure sits on a two-acre site in Bloomington, MN. It is the first hotel to be connected to the Mall of America—the second largest mall in the world. The $137-million structure opened in March 2013.
The hotel sports more than 1.2 million pounds of structural steel, 24,000 cubic yards of concrete, and 23,000’ (nearly 4 1/2 miles) of Uponor PEX pipe for the plumbing system. The PEX pipe was selected for the in-suite potable-water plumbing and the floor-to-floor riser piping.
On learning that the project required having the product files in the Trimble Building-Data database, Uponor’s Design Services Manager Mike Rivers and .NET Developer Chris Bertsch responded rapidly, getting the product information into the database within two weeks.
Saving Time at Every Step
When the product landed at MMC’s shop, workers learned how to make 2″ ProPEX® expansion connections to prefabricate the risers. The unique shape memory of Uponor’s PEX allows the pipe to be expanded before inserting a higher-flow fitting. As the PEX shrinks back down around the fitting, it creates a solid, strong connection without the need for torches, solder, or open flame.
“With the experience we’ve had with the [Uponor] PEX pipe saving us a couple days of install time per floor, I know we’re going to be using it more and more in commercial plumbing applications in the future. It just makes sense.”
—Bob Wolf, Project Manager, MMC
Wolf was on the project from the beginning and found the plumbing installation with PEX to be very efficient. “I started installing PEX in small retail applications several years ago, and I really like how the flexible tubing makes it faster to install because we don’t need as many fittings,” said Wolf. “The Radisson Blu project has been my first experience using large-dimension PEX in riser applications, and I really like the additional labor savings it provides.”
Mark Montgomery, MMC foreman, said the PEX pipe’s flexibility is one of his favorite features of the product. “I’ve been working with PEX pipe in residential structures for about five years now, but this has been my first experience using it in a commercial application,” he said. “I like the 2” PEX for the risers. It works really well. And the flexibility of the pipe for in-suite distribution makes it faster and easier to fish through the walls.”
MMC prefabricated the risers and installed them during the cast iron installation. Then, the crew hooked up the unit piping for all 50 units on each of the 11 occupied floors (third through 13th floors).
“When you’re talking about 50 units on one floor, you can whip through it pretty fast with PEX and the multiport tees,” said Chris Dent, MMC assistant project manager. “The multiport tees also help save time by reducing the number of fittings required.”
Multiport tees are made of engineered polymer, a highly durable material that is resistant to corrosion and can withstand high temperatures and pressures. The multiport tees offer an ideal parallel piping fitting solution for hospitality and multifamily applications, and they require about 60-percent fewer connections compared with a piping system using traditional elbows and tees.
The fewer connections offered by the multiport tees not only save significant installation time, but they also reduce potential leak point liability. For a 506-room hotel, the fewer potential leak points, the better.
“With the experience we’ve had with the PEX pipe saving us a couple days of install time per floor, I know we’re going to be using it more and more in commercial plumbing applications in the future,” said Wolf. “It just makes sense.”
For more information, visit www.uponor-usa.com.