Salk Institute - Infrastructure Renewal/Expansion Project

Addition to existing building, system overhaul; Salk Institute - Infrastructure Renewal/Expansion Project; P2S Engineering Inc.


P2S provided MEP services for the Salk Institute infrastructure renewal/expansion project. Courtesy: P2S EngineeringEngineering firm: P2S Engineering Inc.
2013 MEP Giants rank:
Salk Institute - Infrastructure Renewal/Expansion Project
San Diego, Calif., United States
Building type:
Project type:
Engineering services:
Automation & Controls, Code Compliance, Cx/Retro-Cx, Electrical/Power, Fire & Life Safety, HVAC
Project timeline:
May 2009 to April 2012
Engineering services budget:
$1.01 million
MEP budget:
$1.2 million


At first there were minimal as-built drawings for the existing central plant, HVAC equipment, standby emergency back-up power system, and primary and secondary power distribution substations. P2S conducted extensive field surveys to determine existing mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) as-built condition, equipment operational characteristics, and to develop accurate as-built drawings. Also, due to space constraints, the new MEP equipment was designed to be installed near the same location. The firm’s design had to take into account that Salk is a fully operational laboratory facility and minimal impact to its operation was a critical factor. The goals and objectives of the project included providing flexibility and ease of use for the various MEP systems, maximizing efficiency, minimizing environmental impact, and completing the project within its tight budget and timeline.


As prime consultant, P2S subcontracted and managed the architectural and structural engineering services and provided MEP engineering, design, and construction administration. To meet the project objectives, P2S designed the following systems:

Mechanical system

  • Designed the replacement of three absorption chillers with three new 1,000-ton centrifugal, water-cooled electric chillers with variable frequency drives (VFDs)
  • Designed the replacement of two 25 Mega Btu/hr output high-temperature hot water generators with three 10 mega Btu/hr output high-temperature hot water generators
  • Designed the replacement of four cooling towers with four 1,000-ton cooling towers with VFDs
  • Designed the replacement of chilled water, condenser water, and high-temperature hot water pumps, piping distribution, and hydronic accessories
  • Designed the replacement of air handling units, 3-way to 2-way control valves, multiple supply and exhaust fans, air distribution, and accessories
  • Designed the direct digital control system for all central plant equipment.

Electrical system

  • Designed main 15kV, 1200A switchgear which feeds all distribution substations located in different buildings
  • Designed five new 480 V/277 V substations located in different buildings
  • Designed MCCs and switchboards in the main electrical room
  • Designed the modification of existing standby emergency power system and designed a new 1.5 MW standby emergency power distribution system, which provides backup power to selected loads in different buildings
  • Designed a metering and monitoring system for the entire electrical power distribution system at Salk Institute.

Plumbing system

  • Designed an industrial cold water system and domestic hot water system
  • Designed natural gas service to high-temperature hot water generators
  • Designed a makeup water system for chilled and condenser water system.

P2S estimates that Salk's new central plant will be at minimum 20% more efficient due to the use of high-efficiency equipment and a variable flow system that will match actual loads. P2S completed the design of this project on time and within the allocated budget. By meeting project goals and objectives, the new equipment enables Salk and its teams to utilize the facility as planned—and with increased flexibility. Salk Institute was named SDG&E 2012 Energy Champion.

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