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Case Study In Santa Ana, CA Project

Case Study: Tankless Water Heaters Rooftop Atlas Plumbing here in Dallas is always interested in finding out how products are used in other areas of the country. Mostly as ideas, sometimes out of necessity, and clearly for education sake. This article below is no exception. We believe you may be inspired with this one. If you are in the commercial real estate market or have land in a commercial setting and buildings that need out of the box solutions this may be an idea you hadn't thought of.

A cutting-edge food emporium locates water-heaters on the roof to track tenant fuel consumption.

Food Service applications for Tankless Water Heaters is a great way to save money; but you must recognize the challenges of installation. Many contractors are not suited to large projects of this type for commercial applications. While many of the challenges of this project were encountered, the energy and water savings made it well worth while to all parties concerned. Let's discuss this trending scene on this great project in Santa Ana, CA project

Get Inspired Now!

"The newest addition to this trending scene is the 4th Street Market: a 30,000 sq.-ft. street-level emporium, designed to attract a young clientele seeking groundbreaking cuisine from talented young chefs lacking the wherewithal to go solo. Inspired by well-known food markets like Pike’s Place in Seattle and Grand Central Market in Los Angeles, 4th Street Market is devoted to food and the people who make it—and make it special—as Chase told Orange County’s Coast Magazine: “Food was always the driving force. But part of the challenge with the cutting-edge food business is that these chefs are very cool and very hip, but they don’t know how to run a business and they have no capital. So we created an incubator-type concept to help defer a lot of the startup costs and overhead these chefs face when they want to open a restaurant. The idea is to make it as simple and clean as possible…”

Now fully operational, the facility consists of 15 different artisan food vendors occupying roughly 300 sq. ft. apiece and with funky names like Electric City Butcher, Radical Botanicals, Chunk-N-Chip, and Noodle Tramp. The largest player in the space is East End Incubator Kitchens, offering 10 commercial rental kitchens, including three for gluten-free cooking and one for confectionary items. All are intended exclusively for young masters-in-the-making to hone their culinary skills and build local followings.

Combining all of these food venues into a single space on one level—and the special mechanical requirements that resulted—are what drove the plumbing design and installation challenges for this projects plumbing crew. This was especially true for the building’s domestic hot-water system, an obviously critical need for all 22 food-service tenants in the market.

In addition to space for unique food vendors, the facility offers 10 commercial rental kitchens. While this may not be the type of facility you are interested in finding out more about, let it serve as inspiration for what is possible. As a commercial realtor, investor from a bank, or a chain of stores in various settings, much can be learned from this set of locations alone.

Up On The Roof!

Southern California climates offer the luxury of locating building mechanical systems outdoor; and in this case the additional needs supported their central location. Space is a big factor here with this project, but the entire 30,000 and 15 artisans who benefit far outweighed the alternative solutions.

While a rooftop location for the water-heating equipment was seen as the best option from the outset, installation logistics proved unobtainable in this setting.

“Providing enough water for 22 tenants, plus the facility’s own needs, is a huge requirement,” said S&A construction manager Jeff Beddow. In fact, the finished building had 49 outlets for hot water: 20 kitchen sinks, 19 prep sinks, 7 lavatories, and 3 mop sinks. If all were running simultaneously, they would require a flow rate of nearly 43 gpm. The system was sized for approximately 75% of that maximum.

“At a minimum, we would have needed two, 600-gallon storage tanks to do the job,” Beddow continued. “Not only was there no room on the first level for such a system, but its sheer weight would’ve been way too much for the roof.”

There was one other complication. As much as possible, S&A wanted to offset its operating costs by metering the hot-water consumption of each tenant separately. That way, each could pay its own monthly gas bill. All of which is why Chase and Beddow Case Study opted for a rooftop installation of 22 commercial-grade tankless water heaters. No question, the up-front cost of a boiler system, even with two large storage tanks would have been lower, compared with the extra gas and water lines, plus all the water meters, of the tankless setup. But the idea of individual gas bills outweighed the cost and complexities of the tankless option.

The result, is alternatives of tankless technology have improved so much that no objections occurred to going tankless from local building inspectors.

Twenty-two tankless Noritz water heaters were mounted units on the roof, with pipe runs from the units going through the building’s top level to the kitchens and shops at ground level.

The Tankless Advantage:

Manufactured by Noritz America Corp., Fountain Valley, CA, the 22 units at 4th Street are all Model No. NC1991-OD-NG, with a thermal efficiency of 84%, a maximum flow rate of 11.1 gpm, and gas consumption from 16,000 to 199,900 btu/hr. Measuring only 23.6 in. high x 13.8 in. wide x 9.4 in. deep, as many as 24 of these heaters can be quick-connected into a multi-system. At the 4th Street Market, those operations large enough to require multiple units had them linked together. The remainder are unlinked.

Beyond their diminutive size and weight (54 lb. each) versus a boiler and storage-tank system, tankless also offered the advantage of delivering hot water only when needed, that is, on demand, thus saving on storage fuel costs. This redundancy also offers a critical maintenance advantage for multi-user applications. If one unit needs servicing, it can be isolated and even removed, while the other 21 continue delivering as much hot water as needed, so that the whole building does not suffer.

Hoisting the equipment from street level, from the four-person crew clustered the 22 water heaters into five small groups atop the roof. The Incubator kitchens were assigned four heaters, each with its own meter, while Electric City Butcher employs another two. The remaining 16 are divided up among the other tenants, with a few operations sharing a unit.

“Because of the amount of piping required, it wasn’t practical for each vendor to have a dedicated, metered tankless unit,” explained Crandall. “S&A really did this system right.”

The installation team found its greatest design/installation challenges in two areas: developing a way to mount the 22 units on the rooftop, and building the pipe runs from those units through the building’s top level to the kitchens and shops at ground level.

The pipe runs proved an even bigger challenge. On the roof, installers used copper tubing for the water lines and galvanized steel pipe for gas. The piping covers approximately 4,000 sq. ft. of roof space, runs to one of five chases leading from the roof, through the second floor, to various vendors and kitchens on the first level.

Why five chases? Once again, because of limited space in the building, in this case between the roof and ground level. Any more than five chases would have been unacceptably disruptive for the floor layout on both levels. Among the challenges with the chase-building work was observing specified clearances for head height in a building that measured only 10 ft. from ground level to the bottom of the second floor joists.

As in most commercial-rehab projects, fitting the necessary infrastructure through the five chases was no easy chore, Crandall reported.

“Coordinating the layouts of the different grease trap, HVAC, electrical lines, plumbing and gas—plus the installation schedules of their respective trades—was quite a chore. Everything was very tight.”

Predictably, the path from the roof to the first level was not a straight vertical shot. If a copper water or black-iron gas line inside the chase did not wind up precisely where it was needed on the first floor, the team adjusted, jogging the line in whatever direction was required to make the final connection. As a result, piping distances varied from the original plan. In these instances, the engineer resized the pipe to accommodate the variance.

Crandall said that the tankless installation, including the rooftop lines, took his team roughly a week to complete. The five chase runs required another four weeks. No prefabrication was done on this project, and everything had to be done in the field. We’d see a problem, put our heads together, sketch something out, and then go for it. In the end, it all came together nicely.

Size does matter in this setting. The 22 tankless water heaters at 4th Street Market have performed “without any problem” since the renovated facility reopened in early 2015, according to S&A’s Beddow. In fact, because of the “reliable experience” the company has enjoyed at the market, it opted for a tankless solution from Noritz at two other Santa Ana properties, both restaurants.

Tankless water heaters “provide a reasonable solution to the demands of the county health department and the state plumbing code,” Beddow commented. “We also know that tankless units are energy-efficient for our tenants,” given their high, ongoing demand for hot water. As hot water tech improves, consider this option when you begin to think about renovation at your restaurant or commercial setting.

Trust the Best, Atlas Plumbing in Dallas is here to help you improve your hot water heating solutions and save electric, water and money around the clock.

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