With the completion of its Thermal Energy Storage Facility project, the University of Texas has one of the most cost-effective and economical central heating and power district energy plants in the world.

Photo: Roy Mata

The project involved construction and complete installation of a 4-million-gallon steel thermal-energy storage tank. The project included sitework, drilled piers, structural slab, steel-tank construction, insulation systems, protective guardrailing, tappings for piping and controls, and associated filling and testing. The work is part of the university’s energy-efficiency initiative.

Working around existing utilities proved to be a challenge for the project team. Before this project started, another general contractor was hired to bore the 30-in. chilled water supply lines that would eventually tie in to the thermal energy storage tank. Extreme care had to be taken to ensure the pipes were not damaged while drilling piers.

In addition, multiple utility lines had to be located before the site excavation could take place because all the utilities inside the slab footprint were active and currently serving university facilities. While drilling, crews encountered groundwater at more than half the piers before reaching the full pier embedment depth.

The building team, testing lab and structural design engineers ensured each pier was placed correctly and without water in the pier hole, which could weaken the concrete that was to be placed.

Key Players

Submitted by: Flintco Inc.
Developer/owner: University of Texas at Austin
General contractor: Flintco Inc., Austin
Architect: Austin Architecture Plus, Austin
Civil engineer: Raymond Chan & Associates Inc., Austin
Structural engineer: Frank Lam & Associates, Austin
MEP engineer: Affiliated Engineers Inc., Chapel Hill, N.C.