Keeping Cool at Nationwide Children’s Hospital – Research Building 4

Headshot of author Jim Porter, PE
Jim Porter, PE Principal

For most people, tons are a unit of weight, equivalent to 2,000 pounds. For us cool engineers (pun intended), however, tons are a unit of cooling. One ton of cooling is equal to 12,000 BTU/H.

To give you an idea of scale, your house is probably cooled by a two-to-three-ton AC unit. In comparison, the Research Building 4 (RB4) at Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH) is cooled by two massive heat exchangers, each able to exchange 1,300 tons of cooling. Each is 12 feet tall, 14 feet long, four feet wide, weighs 30,000 pounds (or 15 tons of weight to most of you non-cool people), and uses 397 plates to exchange the heat. I put myself in the picture below to give it perspective—here I am at 6’3” and a svelte 285 pounds, just chilling in the mechanical room.

Part of NCH’s expanding research campus, RB4 is a 300,000-square-foot extension of the existing Research Building 3. The facility will be equipped with a combination of wet and dry research labs, a penthouse level mechanical space for housing the mechanical and electrical equipment, and utilities associated with steam, chilled water, and normal and stand-by power fed from the hospital’s West Central Energy Plant.

The ceremonial topping out for RB4 was held in August 2021, with several of our engineers in attendance. HAWA was heavily involved in the design of the facility, which represents nearly four decades of hard work and collaboration between NCH and HAWA, dating back to the hospital’s first research building that opened in 1987. We’re proud to be a partner in helping NCH meet their goal of improving the quality of life for children worldwide.

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