San Diego State University Aztec Center
San Diego, CA 

Student Center is High in Tech and Low in Energy

In the spring of 2011, San Diego State University razed the existing student union building to replace it with a highly sustainable, three-story building designed to house student offices, a recreation center and an intercultural relations center; including a 1,200-seat lecture hall and a 300-seat theatre.

Global architectural firm, Cannon Design, designed the new building – a classic Mission Revival design – and P2S Engineering, located in Long Beach, provided the mechanical, electrical and plumbing design for the 202,000-square-foot building. “We incorporated a number of energy-saving features that will not only make the building more efficient, but will significantly reduce operation costs,” Kent Peterson, vice president and chief engineer of P2S Engineering, said.

The HVAC system is designed to consume 40 percent less energy than standard systems. Uponor provided the in-slab radiant heating and cooling system for the building which couples with a dedicated outside air system to reduce energy and improve indoor air quality.

Lead P2S engineer Marko Becir visited Uponor in Las Vegas during the 2010 Uponor Convention, and was impressed with the systems and the flexibility of the pipe. Devin Abellon, business development manager for Engineering Services at Uponor, accompanied Becir and Peterson on a tour of the California Academy of Sciences, a project that used Uponor PEX tubing for radiant heating, where they examined the installation and discussed control strategies with the building’s facility staff. After the tour, Becir decided to utilize Uponor’s system for the Aztec Center and Uponor worked closely with P2S during the entire design phase.

The installing contractor, San Diego-based University Mechanical, had worked on two similar, but smaller in scope, radiant heating and cooling installations on the nearby University of California at San Diego campus prior to the Aztec project – the UCSD Structural and Materials Engineering Building and the UCSD Health Sciences Biomedical Research Facility.

“With those two projects recently completed, they felt comfortable moving on to a bigger installation, utilizing installation methods and applications they had recently learned,” Abellon said. “And Uponor rep firm, Keyline Sales, provided local support and training on site when issues popped up to ensure a smooth and efficient installation.”

The project used 75,000 feet of 5/8" Wirsbo hePEX™ tubing on three floors on the west side of the building to serve 36,000 square feet of space, including dining and lounge areas on the first floor and meeting and offices spaces on the second and third floors. The tubing was spaced 6" on center and fed by 21 Uponor Engineered Polymer (EP) Manifolds. The chilled and heated hot water is supplied from the campus central utility plant.

Today, SDSU students enjoy a highly sustainable student union while school officials are proud to know that nearly 80 percent of the materials from the original student union were recycled or reused in the new Aztec Center.

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Project Highlights:

• LEED®-Platinum project
• Radiant heating and cooling system from Uponor
• Radiant heating and cooling system from Uponor
• Underground storage tank collects rainwater
• Storm water control removes pollutants from water run-off

Project Data:

• Architect: Cannon Design
• Building contractor: Sundt Construction
• Mechanical systems designer: P2S Engineering
• Installing contractor: University Mechanical
• System: Uponor radiant heating and cooling
• 75,000 ft. 5/8" Wirsbo hePEX™

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