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Construction Tech: Tablets Proving Their Worth in the Field

Mechanical contractor, HVAC, Construction, technology

COAC’s Foreman Justin Tucker using iPad on Roof of Amazon Fulfillment Center in Tracy, CA

The construction industry is not known for embracing new technologies quickly. Any new tool or piece of equipment has to prove itself extensively in the field before it is considered worthy and even then it takes time to move the construction mindset to new ways of working. Tablets, like the iPad, and construction apps, like PlanGrid, are proving to be a useful field tool and dramatically increasing the speed and accuracy of projects.  Currently Cooper Oates Air Conditioning is proving the effectiveness of the tablet/app technologies on the 1.2 million square foot new Amazon Fulfillment Center underway in Tracy, CA.

With the tablet and app, our project manager and field foremen can carry a complete set of plans, from every sub-trade, that incorporates every change order and all notations made to the projects plans in a pocket of their safety vest.  They no longer have to go back to the job trailer to reference the paper plan set and try to figure out whether they are working off the most recent version.  We are now working from a unified, instantly updated set of plans.

Any issues or discrepancies in the field can be noted on the electronic plans. We can then take a picture of the problem, link it to the details on the plans and e-mail this immediately to the general contractor and any sub-trades.  It allows us to develop solutions quicker, more accurately and in collaboration with everyone on the job. The improvement in speed, clarity and accuracy of communication alone has proven its worth with COAC.

We will be integrating this technology into future projects, large and small giving us greater efficiency and giving our customers more insight and awareness of the building process.


REGULATORY UPDATE: AB-1103 delayed until Jan 1, 2014

AB-1103, the Commercial Building Energy Benchmarking Regulation, has been delayed until Jan 1, 2014.

On August 14th, the California Energy Commission issued a postponement (again) of AB-1103, the Commercial Building Energy Use Disclosure Program, for buildings 50,000 sq. ft and larger until Jan. 1, 2014. These regulations require building owners to disclose the building’s energy use benchmark score to potential buyers, leasers of the entire building and/or upon refinancing the building. CEC Announces Delays in the AB1103 enforcement

Benchmark scores are derived from comparing the energy use profile of your building to that of similar buildings (in size, usage type and location). The postponement is due to the technical problems integrating the national Energy Star Portfolio Manager database with various energy providers.

The current CA Energy Commission schedule for AB1103 implementation is:
 — For buildings larger than 50,000 sq. ft. enforcement begins Jan. 1, 2014.

— For buildings from 10,000 to 50,000 sq. ft. enforcement begins Jan. 1, 2014.

— For buildings from 5,000 to 10,000 sq. ft. enforcement begins July 1, 2014.

California Energy Commission Postponement Notice

California Energy Commission AB1103 information page


COAC Welcomes Industry Veterans

COAC is delighted to welcome two industry veterans to the organization, Cyndi Soares and Gary Storck, P.E. Cyndi joins the team as a Senior Account Manager while Gary takes on the responsibilities of Principal Engineer. Gary is replacing long-time COAC Engineer, Steve Van Riessen.

COAC, HVAC, Mechanical Contractor,

Cyndi Soares, Senior Account Manager

Cyndi started her HVAC career in 2002 at Airco Commercial where received extensive training through the LINC system on all mechanical equipment including chillers, boilers, and package units, built-up systems, cooling towers, water treatment and ALC controls.  She quickly showed her aptitude and abilities by being the first maintenance diamond award winner for the Sacramento branch.  Cyndi’s career then advanced her into building retro-commissioning where she focused her client base in San Francisco Bay area and was very successful with buildings 50,000 square feet or bigger. Cyndi’s success has been driven by her ability to bring her clients creative solutions to help overcome their most challenging building issues, she continues that strategy at COAC.

Cooper Oates Air Conditioning HVAC, Mechanical Contractor, Engineering

Gary Storck, PE/CEM/GBE

As a Registered Professional Mechanical Engineer, a Certified Energy Manager and a Green Building Engineer, Gary brings to COAC over 22 years designing, installing, retrofitting, and managing mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems for commercial, industrial, healthcare, educational, and governmental customers. Recently, Gary worked at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, CA. as the Chief Maintenance Engineer for the entire Maintenance Engineering and Technical Services department of over 200+ buildings. Over the course of his extensive career he has earned 2 patents, one for a raised floor air distribution unit for data centers and the other for a cryogenic cogeneration system. Gary’s engineering specialties include energy conservation/management; turn-key design/build; building controls systems (DDC/BAS/EMS); supercomputer facilities, data centers, and server rooms; HVAC systems; large campus/building plant systems; solar thermal and photovoltaic; refrigeration systems; system Integration.

COAC’s Amazing “Amazonian” Air Lift Story and Photos

Cooper Oates Air Conditioning, HVAC, Mechanical Contracting

Helicopter Lifting HVAC Unit Onto Roof Of Amazon Fulfillment Center, Tracy CA.

The word Amazon conjures up superlatives like the largest river in the world, the largest internet retailer and now, for COAC, the largest single-day helicopter lift in the company’s history.  This past Sunday, the COAC construction team successfully air lifted a staggering 124 commercial HVAC units onto the roof of the new Amazon distribution facility in Tracy, CA.

Every 2 minutes and 20 seconds a unit was safely flown from a large staging area onto the 1.2 million square foot roof and placed on a specifically designated structural curb.  This carefully orchestrated ballet of men and machine was accomplished with a team of 27 COAC construction veterans, with additional support from Big-D Construction, and the air and ground crews from A&P Helicopters.

The paramount aspect of the helicopter lift was safety. Everything from the high visibility clothes, predawn safety meetings, to the pre-lift pilot briefing hammered home the mandatory safety protocols.  With over 2,800 pounds of heavy equipment swinging on a cable overhead there is no room for error.

With three roof crews in place, ground crew at the ready and safety personnel surrounding all, the first lift took off at 7:32am. The 124 HVAC units where laid out on the newly poured asphalt in front of the building’s loading area in a very specific order of pick up. This “pick plan” was the gospel for the day.  All personnel and equipment movement was dictated by this, weeks-in-planning, pick plan to insure a safe, efficient and orderly process.

Cooper Oates Air Conditioning, HVAC, mechanical contractor, Amazon Distribution Center

Over 60 HVAC units rigged and waiting to by helicoptered on to roof of Amazon Fulfillment Center.

The lifting process actually began during the weeks leading up to Sunday’s lift with the careful planning and staging of material and equipment on the ground and roof, safety coordination, contingency planning and finally, placement of equipment on the ground and pre-rigging 60 units. Project Manager Kent Keller, Foremen Justin Tucker and Anthony Vallejos and support crews invested hundreds of hours developing the plan and making sure there was nothing left to chance

Cooper Oates Air Conditioning, HVAC, Mechanical Contractor, Air Conditioning

Field Superintendent Dave Armenta directs helicopter and roof crew to land HVAC unit safely.

The 1967 Vietnam-era “Huey” helicopter, piloted by Erik Vandagriff of A&P Helicopters, did the heavy lifting from early Sunday morning until well into the afternoon.  The entire “ballet” was directed and conducted by Field Superintendent Dave Armenta, with hand signals and more than a few choice words, making sure that men, helicopter and equipment were in the right place at the right time, 124 times.
By 2:30pm, as the Tracy winds were beginning to make flying more treacherous, the last unit of the day was safely lowered onto its curb.  The planning and execution of this enormous undertaking was a resounding success. The day’s accomplishment bodes well for the next lift on August 25th, where the team will lift the remaining 90+ units on to the roof of this “Amazonian” structure.

Cooper Oates Air Conditioning, HVAC, Mechanical Contracting, Amazon,

The entire Cooper Oates Air Conditioning air lift crew