When Virginia contractors Southern Air Inc. and Kirby-Vass Insulation Inc. joined the project team for the construction of the expansive Greenbrier Casino Club, an addition to the historic, luxurious Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., they knew they would be put to the test.

The Greenbrier’s new owner, Justice Family Group LLC, had commissioned the $80 million, 103,000-square-foot casino to be built as the showpiece in a series of improvements to the legendary luxury resort. The biggest challenge was having only eight months to complete the entire project. The casino needed to be finished in time for the inaugural Professional Golfers Association of America (PGA) Greenbrier Classic tournament. This set a grueling pace and required several different contractors to work simultaneously alongside each other.

System Design

Southern Air was hired by the project’s general contractor, Clancy & Theys Construction Co., to install a chilled water-hot water HVAC system designed by Innovative Engineering Services (IES) LLC, the project’s mechanical engineer. The job also included the fabrication and installation of the system’s sheet metal ductwork. Since IES’s specifications called for the ductwork to be insulated on the exterior with fiberglass duct wrap for better energy efficiency, Southern Air brought Kirby-Vass onto the job as a subcontractor. Based on the type and density of duct insulation specified by IES, Kirby-Vass decided to use CertainTeed® SoftTouch™ Duct Wrap.

“We’d used the SoftTouch before on projects, found it handled very comfortably,” said Greg Cundiff, vice president and construction manager for Kirby-Vass. “It’s also easy to install, which helps get the job done quickly.”

The product, which has GREENGUARD® certification, benefits the end user as well by reducing unwanted heat loss or gain and condensation during HVAC system operation. This increases energy efficiency and helps minimize potential for microbial growth from condensation on or inside the ductwork.

As part of the HVAC system, Southern Air installed one mile of cast iron pipe, two miles of domestic water pipe, two miles of mechanical piping, and chillers with 960 tons of total cooling capacity. Then, there was the 80,000 feet of rectangular and round ductwork, much of which was fabricated at Southern Air’s Lynchburg, Va., facility and transported to The Greenbrier — a two-hour drive — for installation. A total of 92 tons of sheet metal was used in the fabrication. Rectangular duct sizes ranged from 6-inch by 6-inch to 140-inch by 48-inch, and the round ducts were a mix of 12-inch and 26-inch diameter.

“We had some very large ducts closer to the two main air handlers that served the casino, and duct size gradually decreased as we dropped connections down the length of the building,” said Doug Davidson, project manager for Southern Air.

Tight Timeframe

With a 50-person crew on site, Southern Air used 26-foot hydraulic lifts to carry ductwork sections up to the ceiling for installation. The ducts were hung with 3-inch by 3-inch steel angle and ½-inch rods to tie back to the structure. Kirby-Vass’s crew, ranging from six to eight workers, followed close behind, installing duct wrap over the new ducts. Working efficiently and being considerate of the several other contractors working in the space at the same time was crucial in getting the job done on time.

“Because of the timeframe, the project team had to erect the structure around us while we worked, so there were a lot of people in a small area — the casino floor looked like a race track filled with hydraulic lifts,” Cundiff said. “We all had to keep up with each other’s pace, since our speed depended on how quickly the crew ahead of us was installing the ductwork. For the most part, everybody understood the situation and worked together really well.”

“It was a very aggressive schedule,” Davidson added. “We were working seven days a week and probably 12 to 14 hours a day. Everybody realized when they were brought on that we would all have to work together as a team and cooperate or the job wouldn’t get done. The opening date was set for July, and they had a bunch of celebrities coming in, so missing the deadline was not an option.”

The collective teamwork and long hours paid off, as the project was finished successfully with one month to spare before the Greenbrier Classic — and the team of contractors received glowing reviews from resort management.

Publication date: 10/15/2012