According to the Denver Post, Colorado is the “the second-fastest growing state in the U.S.,” with migration to the state making up “two-thirds of Colorado’s population gains.” While we continue to benefit from our growing tourism industry, the influx of long-term residents has provided new challenges for real-estate developers, especially within the dense Denver metro area. Here at EVstudio, we have noticed an increased interest in repurposing office-style high rises into residential apartments to combat the growing demand for housing downtown.
In a recent such project, we were tasked with retrofitting a 1960’s apartment with modern heat and plumbing when we discovered the outdated building design allowed for extremely narrow wall cavities between rooms and an assortment of other bizarre design challenges. Current safety codes call for thicker insulation around heated pipes as well fire retarding partitions between floors. Until recently the typical response in our area would be to build an additional chase through the building. Not only does this method cut into the resident’s square footage, reducing rent fees for the homeowner, but it also adds additional labor with the construction of the chase’s walls and drilling through each floor.
To navigate around these obstacles EVstudio has reached out to the Canadian manufacturer Aquatherm for help. With their recent push into the U.S. in 2009, Aquatherm has earned a stellar reputation amongst the plumbing and chemical industry for their line of corrosion resistant, thermally insulated polypropylene pipes. Designed and rated for variable temperatures, pressures, and fluids; Aquatherm pipes have been used for projects including large-scale farming irrigation, fluid transportation in chemical plants, and potable water supply in residential housing. In our recent project, we utilized Aquatherm’s Green Pipe to fulfill our proposed hydronic system design to heat and cool the building. Aquatherm’s plastic pipe is designed with an inherent insulation value based on the color of the pipe and the SDR or Standard Dimension Ratio. These insulation values are surprisingly high for the thickness of the pipe. This allowed us to fit larger diameter pipes with code compliant insulation values into spaces they would not have ordinarily fit. Additionally, when connecting sections of ordinary plastic pipes, large specialized tools are required that wrap around the pipe and fuse the joints together and can only be used in horizontally running sections of the pipes. Aquatherm has recently developed a small tool that couples sections of pipes and fits within the wall itself, allowing for even smaller wall cavities when necessary. This tool heats metal coils within the ends of the polypropylene pipe, fusing the two sections together through a thermal and chemical process. This also allows segments of pipe to be joined within the wall space vertically without the need for large tools which encircle the pipe.
Not only do these new Aquatherm products allow for new and creative solutions for our dense urban environment, but they do so in a cost-effective way. Aquatherm piping on average costs similar to a copper piping for the same length but does not require additional insulation. In this project, not only were we able to save our client thousands in insulation costs, but we also avoided incurring tens of thousands in additional labor and material costs for new chases and the reduction of square footages within each apartment. So, the next time your building remodel or a bathroom addition has you cramped for space, consider using an Aquatherm pipe and squeeze every last inch of square footage out of your new space.
“Our Organization.” Aquatherm. State of the Pipe, 2017. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.
Murphy, Joe. “Table: Colorado’s Population Grows in 2016, But Is Growing Slower.” The Denver Post. N.p., 27 Dec. 2016. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.