In December of 2010, Southland Industries was awarded the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center replacement hospital project in Fort Hood, Texas. Now, almost three years later, we are in the process of turning over almost one million square feet of hospital space to the Army in Fort Hood.
The medical center provides assistance to more than 42,000 active duty personnel and 145,000 family members and retirees. By providing design-build mechanical and plumbing services, Southland replaced the existing medical facility and provided a state-of-the-art healthcare facility for fellow service members and their families.
Early on in the project, we understood that the need to minimize water usage and maximize energy conservation was vital for the central Texas facility. The area is familiar with droughts, but we worked with the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to decide on the implementation of a capture and re-use cooling tower system to reduce irrigation water requirements. By summer 2014, we were able to have the plumbing and condenser water systems tested and ready for implementation. We also created a strategy of tying multiple air handling units into a common header, which has proven to be very robust during the commissioning process and will provide the facility increased redundancy. This system, in combination with energy recovery wheels, high efficiency chillers, and steam boilers make the overall system extremely efficient.
Throughout the entire project, we were able to form a strong relationship with the USACE. Once they understood that Southland had their best interest in mind from the design process all the way through the commissioning phase, a level of trust was developed. Members of Southland and USACE joined together for bi-weekly meetings to address potential issues and opportunities for the project. The open relationship we created proved beneficial for both USACE and Southland.
In turn, USACE has been a great partner to work with on this project. They have allowed a phased turnover of the spaces, starting with the clinics and then floor by floor within the hospital. A phased turnover is mutually beneficial as it allows the trades to flow through the buildings efficiently and it also gives the owner time to slowly moved in, as opposed to suddenly having to deal with over one million square feet.
The project team is now focused on installing the last finishing touches while we operate the central utility plant and each building system during turnover and commissioning. We are working hand in hand with the USACE to make sure the interstitial mechanical space on each floor has clearance for maintenance staff and future renovations. The facility will be completely turned over to the Army in the coming months, and will serve many of our nation’s heroes.