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Prepare for Warm Days during Cooling Tower Replacement

(Photo - Cooling Tower 101)
Cooling Tower 101 has served SLAC for more than 40 years. (Photo by Shawne Workman.)

From its hillside domain at the intersection of Loop and PEP Ring Roads, Cooling Tower 101 recirculates water to cool air compressors, a low-conductivity water system and building air conditioning across the SLAC campus. The tower is a SLAC original, serving the lab since the 1960s, and it's due for an earthquake retrofit and upgrade. So it's coming down, starting next Monday, September 14, to make way for a new cooling tower with a reinforced base, upgraded electrical components and higher-capacity, 250-horsepower pumps.

The $1.62M tower replacement is the final phase in a larger Seismic and Operational Reliability Improvement project, which also included upgrades to cooling water piping and seismic retrofits for the Building 50 computing center floor. Scheduled completion for the entire SORI project is December 31 of this year. The cooling tower replacement team aims to have the new tower online in early December.

During the transition, from September to December, the lab will rely on a temporary cooling tower. Staff in affected buildings will need to be prepared for cooling shortages if the weather turns unusually hot. The temporary tower has limited capacity. To keep critical systems operating on very hot days, the team will need to limit air conditioning in some buildings.

"We'll have normal cooling and air conditioning while the outside temperature stays below eighty degrees Fahrenheit," said Lowell Klaisner, who is co-managing the project with Javier Sevilla, deputy project manager for the cooling tower replacement. "When it heats up outside, we'll prioritize cooling for critical computing centers and process labs first—ensuring support for science programs and critical operations—then conference and meeting rooms, and offices."

If you work in one of the affected buildings (see list below), please take practical steps to keep cool and minimize the heat load in your office during the project. For example, close window shades against bright sunlight, minimize use of lighting and turn off computers and terminals when they are not in use.

"Your building manager will communicate any expected change in conditions to affected occupants," said SLAC acting head of Facilities Liam Robinson, who is coordinating communications for the project. Supervisors are encouraged to allow staff who can telecommute to work at home in hot weather. If you have any health concern due to warm conditions during the project, please contact the SLAC Medical Department.

Watch SLAC Today for status updates, notice of anticipated warm days and path or roadway access changes during the work. Please be careful around the work area, and heed any posted access restrictions or PPE requirements. Staff members with concerns and questions about the cooling tower project can also contact Robinson by e-mail.

—Shawne Workman
SLAC Today, September 8, 2009

Buildings Served by Cooling Tower 101
50 Computer building
84 Central Laboratory Annex, Fermi Telescope ISOC Data Flow Lab
42 Cafeteria
43 Auditorium and Visitor Center
51 Kavli Building Auditorium
137 Laboratory Offices and Shops
48 Research Office Building Redwood Rooms
41 A&E
40 Central Laboratory
45 Klystron Building
31 Vacuum Assembly Building
44 Test Laboratory