PHOENIX, AZ — One of the nation’s leading firms in developing district cooling projects has selected Comfort Systems USA to serve not only as the mechanical contractor on its next project, but as general contractor, too.

Tri-City Mechanical, a Comfort Systems USA company based in Arizona, recently signed an approximately $11 million design-build construction contract to build a chilled-water distribution plant for Northwind Phoenix, a partnership between Unicom Thermal Technologies (Chicago) and APS Energy Services (Phoenix).

Besides the non-traditional approach of having a mechanical/hvac contractor lead the overall charge in terms of construction, the Northwind project is unique because it will create a new district cooling system in the Phoenix downtown area by connecting with and adding onto large chillers that already exist at the city’s Bank One Ballpark.

Expansion and the creation of winning teams are nothing new for the Arizona Diamondbacks, the major league expansion baseball team for which Bank One Ballpark was built two years ago. After their first season of play (and use of 8,000 tons of chillers built into the ballpark’s initial design), Diamondback officials approached APS Energy Services, asking for ideas on how to better use their chillers. That’s when Northwind Phoenix was born.

Northwind originally focused its attention on developing the add-on concept and securing a few more anchor customers for the new district cooling project. By late 1999, however, it had begun working with Comfort Systems USA on design-build ideas.

“One of the things we liked about them was their size and their depth in expertise,” said Jim Lodge, vp and general manager for Northwind Phoenix.

Tri-City Mechanical/Comfort Systems USA has worked on major hospital, high-tech industrial, university central plant, and other high-profile projects, including several that required bringing together other sources of expertise, either from another Comfort Systems USA company or from subcontractors in other areas of construction.

Contractor Network

The company’s Arizona location also is Comfort System USA’s regional fabrication center for the West Coast. Its 52,000-sq-ft fabrication facility and 85,000-sq-ft staging and storage area can supply entire mechanical systems and deliver them to other Comfort Systems USA companies or the sites where they are working.

“Our national network, team approach, ability to help market projects like this, and technical expertise are ideally suited to district cooling projects, which generally involve multiple businesses or facilities,” said Comfort Systems USA president and chief operating officer Gary Hess. “We’re within reach of the nation’s 100 largest markets and have worked with some of the nation’s top energy companies and other businesses.”

Besides serving as general contractor on the front end of a project as it is doing with Northwind, Hess said that Comfort Systems USA can work with individual business owners or facility managers on an ongoing basis.

This report provides information for contractors living in the West/Pacific region of the United States. This includes Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. If you have information from this region, please contact Mark Skaer at 248-244-6446; 248-362-0317 (fax ); or (e-mail).

Publication date: 10/23/2000