research facility
Helios Energy Research Facility. (Rendering by SmithGroupJJR)

BERKELEY, Calif. — Firespray International has provided an innovative lab exhaust ductwork system for the University of California, Berkeley’s (UC Berkeley) Helios Energy Research Facility, solving a complex construction challenge at the 113,000-square-foot building under construction in downtown Berkeley.

The structure will house the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) and the University’s Bioengineering Program. Dedicated to finding solutions to global climate change, the EBI is a collaboration of academic experts and energy industry leaders researching new carbon-neutral biofuels and examining biofuels’ potential environmental, social, and economic impacts. UC Berkeley, the University of Illinois, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory partnered with the funding agency, energy company BP, to assemble the Institute’s researchers and staff.

The five-story facility is being built to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification. In the design phase, when architectural firm SmithGroupJJR and the design engineer, Gaynor Inc., sought a solution for extremely constrained above-ceiling space, San Jose-based mechanical contractor Critchfield Mechanical Inc. (CMI) proposed Firespray’s Flamebar BW11 lab exhaust ductwork as a space-saving, “single-fix” approach.

“Our project incorporated Flamebar in lieu of using horizontal shaft-wall construction,” said Gabe Pattee, project engineer with general contractor Rudolph and Sletten. “As top-tier lab space, Helios was a project with robust, space consuming MEP systems. During our 3D modeling effort, we found Flamebar to be a fantastic value engineering idea to maintain architectural design, save time on schedule, and save money,” Pattee added. “The combination of schedule savings and elimination of the horizontal shafts proved to be an economically advantageous benefit to the project.”

Fully compliant with the International Mechanical Code (IMC) and Uniform Mechanical Code (UMC), Firespray’s lab exhaust system is approved by the University of California (Berkeley, San Francisco, and Irvine) for use on its campuses. “Eliminating the need for a drywall shaft, Firespray’s system reduced the assembly’s footprint by more than a foot horizontally and vertically,” said Joe Vincenti, vice president, Firespray USA.

“In the lab building’s tightly packed mechanical space, Flamebar BW11 was the only viable solution to make a substantial amount of construction work far easier,” said architect Johnny Wong of SmithGroupJJR. “As we consider the system for future projects, a key is that it’s listed and accepted under stringent requirements of UL, the University Inspector of Record, and the California State Fire Marshal.”

The system features factory-sprayed, stainless steel ductwork fabricated to an enhanced Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) standard. Firespray licensee Pacific Firespray applied coating for nearly 5,000 square feet of fire-rated ductwork, which CMI fabricated and installed.

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Publication date: 04/09/2012