The plumbing upgrades and related projects to curtail water use by the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport had the potential to create a host of challenges for managers, given the size of the facilities in question — 6.25 million square feet — and the amount of activity that takes place within the facilities.
One strategy planners used to ensure a successful project was to schedule work at the most opportune times. Crews conducted the work between 11:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. in order to avoid interrupting or interfering with everyday airport operations, including the movement of passengers.
Still, as happens with many large renovation projects, unexpected issues arose. One issue involved an early decision on which components of the upgrade would include.
The Department of Aviation’s Planning and Development Bureau provided project management. Because of the Georgia state mandate, the department requested an emergency authorization to hire Atlanta Airlines Terminal Corporation (AATC) for the design/build of the project scope, including the replacement of toilets, urinals and faucets for the subject project. AATC first attempted to only replace flush valves on existing urinals and toilets as determined in the scope development phase. But installing new valves onto existing urinals and toilets did not work.
“We received a number of complaints from our customers about water overspray from the urinals,” Marshall says. “We decided that it was necessary to replace flush valves and urinals and toilets using the same manufacture for each. Fortunately, (the replacement process) was not much of a delay. It was early in the project when we found that out, and we made the adjustment.”
The lesson: Ensure all components of the toilet or urinal are by the same manufacturer.
Upgrades to most plumbing systems and components can benefit from careful consideration, but many organizations might not have the time to step back from early decisions in order to determine the impact those decisions might have on the rest of the project and, ultimately, the project’s success. Marshall and his team were able to take that time, and the resulting feedback helped them fine-tune their product specification decisions.
“That was one of the lessons learned during the project — the need to do some test mock-ups to test not only the performance,” Marshall says. “We also wanted to see what kind of experience the customers have with the product, as well, because that’s just as important.
“We suggest that prototypes are installed before selecting the preferred manufacturer. By installing prototypes of three different manufacturers, we were able to obtain feedback from the public and our maintenance department on the performance of the fixtures. Thus, we made our final equipment selection based on performance, maintenance, availability of parts, and budget.”
As the water conservation challenges continue in the Southeast, the airport, along with most other institutional and commercial facilities, will continue the search for even more water savings, hoping to tap into both new and improved plumbing technology and streamlined methods of monitoring facility water use and detecting leaks and waste.
Says Marshall, “Currently, we’re conducting energy audits to identify opportunities to save energy and water.”
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