Project Profile - Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport

Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport

Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (PFN) – the first new airport designed and built in the United States since 9/11 – presented a profound climate control challenge. This new airport serves Panama City and its spring break revelry. Along with the sweltering, hurricane prone climate of the Florida Panhandle, the Northwest Florida Airport possessed a formidable technical hurdle: air conditioning piping runs greater than the length of a football field.

The air conditioning needs center on the telecommunications rooms and service elevators. “The system is critical for the airport telephones and elevators,” said the airport authority, “and must maintain 68º F.” The condensing unit is located on an exposed mezzanine. Due to a lack of space on the roof, design realities demanded that one outdoor unit cool the entire facility. The sizable gaps between these areas necessitated a system capable of bridging such voids: and LG’s Multi V Plus II lends itself to this HVAC solution.

When presented with such a daunting task, project manager Ricky Taylor of Peaden Mechanical, inspected the site, then immediately contacted Al LaPera of TLC Engineering in Tampa, Florida. Given the site’s realities, Mr. Taylor sought the guidance of the HVAC design engineer. The piping leaves the condenser with runs of 250 feet that turn 90º before advancing another 200 feet. The system feeds multiple indoor units along the entirety of the run. Avoiding piping through the airport lobby atrium proved a challenge to both the designer and installing contractor. In response, LaPera, who has considerable HVAC system experience, called upon Philippe Jean, P.E., of Stan Weaver & Company to provide a customized solution within the guidelines of the design parameters for the piping loops.

Armed with field confirmed pipe lengths, provided by Peaden Mechanical, Mr. LaPera hand sketched pipe drawings using precise distances to meet VRF system piping parameters. Mr. LaPera and Jean conferred and crafted a unique answer to the piping design to meet architectural considerations of the airport.

Entrusted with this drawing by Mr. LaPera, Mr. Taylor traveled to Atlanta so as to attend LG’s engineering training class, where he met LG engineer Martin Brinton. In it, Mr. Taylor conferred with Mr. Brinton and learned that these drawings would satisfy LG’s VRF system design parameters. Additionally, other advantages of the singular long piping run reveal themselves, such as reduced unit footprint, low sound, and the introduction of soft copper pipes instead of hard copper. This singular alteration saved countless hours in installing, brazing and other incumbent activities.

Ricky Taylor placed his trust in TLC’s piping layout concordant to LG’s recommendations. This sentiment permeated the entirety of the job, as seen by the contractor when he remarked that he, “decided to go ‘by the book’ on this project.” By trusting LG’s factory recommendations and TLC’s airport design expertise, the single piping run was successfully installed. Piping the job took two men four weeks. Further attesting to the benefits of LG VRF, Taylor touted that, “the system has been operating flawlessly.”