RTF Construction History

RTF Construction History (8/21/06)

The sawdust has settled. Carpenters are filling nail holes and caulking locally harvested and manufactured birch door and window trim. Carpets are laid and tile floors sealed. The floors of the research labs were painted last week. The basement floor will be painted this week.

The mechanical systems just need final adjustments and fine tuning. We will be "hyper-ventilating" and filtering air through the building for the next two weeks to clean up residual dust and odors from the construction process prior to occupation.
The state-of-the-art Information Technology system installation is on going and will continue to expand as our research needs require.

Landscaping is nearly complete. Michele Hebert from the Cooperative Extension Service worked with our crew to transplant some beautiful large birch trees and spruce trees as well as an array of perennial flowers and shrubs. The garden roof is greening as are the seeded areas around the building. The building is beautiful inside and out. We are on time; on budget; and almost done!

Please join us in celebrating the Grand Opening of the Cold Climate Housing Research Center Research and Testing Facility in the afternoon on Saturday September 23, 2006.

RTF Update (5/8/06)
Spring is in the air and breakup has come and gone at the Research and Testing Facility (RTF). The storm water catchment pond is only half full of snowmelt this year; the result of a low snow pack and a long, slow breakup. (It was within a foot of the top last spring.)

The RTF construction project has progressed on time and on budget. The walls in the east wing offices and library are taped and painted as are the upstairs clerestory walls and ceiling. The mezzanine and classroom walls in the west wing are also painted. The suspended ceiling grid is in place. We are waiting to finish the Wirsbo sprinkler system to install the ceiling tiles. The bathrooms and kitchen floor tiles are at the grouting stage. Slate on the main floor of the west wing is nearly completed. The masonry heater only needs the door to be completed. Locally milled birch door and window jamb extensions and face trim is being installed.

The plumbing and heating systems are roughed in. Most of the electrical wiring including 4 miles of Cat 6 augmented communication wiring is in place. Rain gutters and down spouts are going up on the east wing.

Next week will see the erection of scaffolding around the entire perimeter of the RTF. A third layer of 2" expanded polystyrene will be glued on to the exterior walls and finished with a Dryvit synthetic stucco system. As soon as the Dryvit system is done the garden roofs will be completed over the west wing labs.

CCHRC staff are looking forward to moving in at the beginning of August. Please join us at the Grand Opening Ceremonies on September 23, 2006.

RTF Update (2/28/06)

Masons have begun constructing the Masonry Heater on the main floor of the office wing. The estimated total weight of the masonry and local river rock is about 12,000 pounds. Hydronic heating coils are being installed for space heating beyond the range of the radiant heat from the fireplace. Research will be implemented to determine combustion efficiency and potential for biomass as a fuel source in Alaska. EPA particulate measurement protocols will be followed to qualify masonry heaters for use in the Interior Alaska during an inversion.

The west wing is totally closed in. The garage doors and windows are installed. The garden roofs over the labs and the clerestory and elevator lobby roofs are insulated and waterproofed. Most of the lab walls are insulated on the exterior with 4" expanded polystyrene foam. An additional 2" of rigid foam will be glued on all exterior walls in the spring. Electricians are hanging conduit and pulling wires in the west wing walls. The mechanical contractor is right on the heels of the carpenters completing the plumbing, heating, and ventilation just ahead of the sheet rockers. The entire building should be sheet rocked and ready for taping and painting in March.

RTF Update (2/10/06)

Good progress was made on the Research Test Facility in January and early February. All ventilation, plumbing and electrical rough in is completed in the office wing. The CCHRC office walls on the top floor are completely insulated and sheet rocked. The in- floor radiant heat tubing is installed and will soon be buried in 1.5 inches of concrete. Permanent heat will soon be warming the east office wing.

The west wing is totally closed in. The garage doors and windows are installed. The garden roofs over the labs and the clerestory and elevator lobby roofs are insulated and waterproofed. Most of the lab walls are insulated on the exterior with 4" expanded polystyrene foam. An additional 2" of rigid foam will be glued on all exterior walls in the spring. Electricians are hanging conduit and pulling wires in the west wing walls.
The west wing will soon have temporary forced air heat thawing the build up of ice and snow on the concrete floors. The entire building should be sheet rocked and ready for taping and painting by the end of February.

RTF Update (1/6/06)

The Cold Climate Housing Research Center Research and Testing Facility (CCHRC RTF) is almost totally closed in. The ironworkers finished erecting the structural steel for the west wing labs just before Christmas. The CCHRC carpenter crew has installed about 80% of the pre-constructed, 24' tall steel stud wall panels around the perimeter of the lab. The only remaining wall sections require detailed rough openings for the 3 garage doors and the south window wall. The carpenters will likely be done with the west wing exterior walls the first week in January, 2006. The clerestory framing will be done in the next two weeks. The "green roof" system will follow shortly thereafter.

Work has continued in the east wing office complex. The basement ceiling and walls have been sheet rocked and taped and are ready for paint. The main level and second story ceilings have been sheet rocked and fire-taped. HRV ductwork is in progress. The plumbing has been roughed in. Electrical rough in will begin next week.

RTF Update (10/24/05)

The office wing of the CCHRC Research and Testing Facility is under roof and wrapped in 6 mil poly and DuPont Tyvek Stucco wrap. The ceiling vapor barrier and sheet rock will be installed and insulated in the next few days. Temporary heat is installed providing a semi-warm work space for Jack and his carpenter crew to finish building stairs before the sack lunch tour for The Alaska State Homebuilders on Saturday, Oct 29.

The foundation for the west wing lab area is curing slowly in the cold awaiting the arrival of the structural steel components. Once on site the steel will go up relatively quickly. The entire RTF will be dried-in and insulated by the end of December.

RTF Update (9/28/05)

There has been considerable progress made in construction of the Cold Climate Housing Research Center Research and Testing Facility at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. As of today, September 28, 2005, the second floor of the office wing is covered with 6 mil polyethylene while the carpenters are constructing grade beams forms for the west wing lab complex which will be ready for concrete by Friday, September 30.

The lab wing already has over 100 cubic yards of concrete jacking pads in place beneath the grade beams. The grade beam forms will be stripped on Monday and back filled with gravel and compacted to support the slabs. Second story office walls will go up next week followed by trusses on October 12th. The office wing roof should be on soon thereafter and covered with bituthane for the winter awaiting steel roofing next spring.

The steel frame for the west wing should be in town the week of October 17-20th. An experienced crew of iron workers should have a roof on by the end of October. It will take a few more days to insulate and install a waterproof membrane. Then it can snow. A vegetated "green roof" will be installed next spring over the structures lab and the environmental lab. Inside work will proceed all winter.

RTF Update (8/31/05)

Construction of the CCHRC Research and Testing Facility (RTF) began in earnest on July 15th, 2005. Core drilling and blow counts by our soils engineer confirmed the need for the current design of a foundation that could easily be leveled. The full basement area including the lower elevator lobby and utility corridor were excavated to about 11 feet deep and backfilled and compacted in 1'to 2' lifts to 98%-100% density.

About 4' of compacted Non-Frost-Susceptible (NFS) gravel was placed below the first level of concrete jacking pads. The 16" thick jacking pads of varying dimensions required more than 80 cu. yards of concrete. The concrete mix included about 15% fly ash. The fly ash improves the strength of the concrete and avoids the necessity to place the ash in a landfill.

The first level of the foundation was back filled and compacted with NFS material to within 2" of the top of the jacking pads. Jacking piers were formed and poured followed by excavation and pouring of the elevator pit. The footer is a grade beam 16" deep by 21" wide that, along with a couple mid floor grade beams and the elevator pit, required almost 50 yards of concrete. The concrete is being provided by University Redi-Mix and pumped by Haydon Concrete Pumping.

The foundation is designed to be adjustable with a series of 50-ton hydraulic jacks in the event that differential settlement occurs as permafrost degrades. Detailed monitoring of the soils and foundation is being done by GW Scientific using Campbell Scientific Instrumentation. Two-dozen thermistor strings have been installed in the foundation with others scheduled. Eight moisture probes were installed under and in the backfill beneath the slab to monitor ground water fluctuations.

CCHRC is working with members of the Carpenters Local 1243 who are doing the form work for the concrete and with members of the International Association of Iron Workers Local 751who are tying and placing the tons of rebar involved in the massive foundation of the RTF. As of Saturday, August 27, 2005 all the rebar has been placed for the full basement foundation walls, pilasters, and buttresses. The 10' and 11' tall basement walls have been formed using ARXX Insulating Concrete Forms (ICFs) that were supplied by Maxiximum Construction Co. The carpenter crew is constructing plywood forms for the pilasters and buttresses. The full basement walls should be ready for concrete by the end of August. The form release oil for the plywood is recycled soy cooking oil that came from a local restaurant. We are not allowed to impact the ground water table with petroleum products.

The basement floor slab will be poured in early September. As soon as the concrete slab is cured enough to bear weight we will crane in to the basement the Extreme Sewage Treatment Plant constructed by Lifewater Engineering Company, a local Fairbanks Engineering and manufacturing company. We will also have to crane four 2500-gallon water tanks manufactured locally by Greer Tanks into the basement before the floor system is framed.

After the basement slab is poured the first floor framing system will be installed to provide a rigid diaphragm to resist the pressure of backfilled earth against the still curing 8" thick concrete walls. Once back filled with non-frost-susceptible gravel compacted to 95% density the jacking pads and grade beams for the 110' x 48' west wing which houses the labs will be formed and poured followed shortly by the floor slabs. After that it will be a full speed effort to get a roof on before winter sets in.

A small office is set up on site with Internet capabilities. Stop by the office and we will give you a tour!

RTF Update (7/14/05)

The road into the RTF building site is complete. A gate was installed across the pioneer access road to keep unauthorized vehicles off the site. The actual site of the proposed building is still under several feet of dirt from the excavation of the storm water retention pond which has pre-loaded the building footprint.

GW Scientific has worked with CCHRC to establish accurate elevations on the water level wells and thermister well casings. In late May the ground water was 6' to 8' below the water level in the storm water retention pond. The pond level was 3' to 4' below existing ground level. We expect the ground water to rise and pond level to lower in the next few months. This data will help us decide the design elevation of the basement slab. CCHRC will continue to monitor water levels and temperature of the earth at intervals from the surface down to permafrost. This data is available on the CCHRC web site along with weather data.

Jim Loftus, principal and lead structural engineer at PDC in Fairbanks, has contracted to design the RTF foundation in light of current soils information. He is redesigning the entire west wing to be a light weight steel post and beam structure with a REMOTE curtain wall. A unique footer is being designed to provide for leveling the structure if ever required.

A 3rd party estimator has provided a Professional Estimate of the cost to construct the RTF. This was a requirement for one of our funders and adds to our confidence that the RTF can be constructed for the funds identified.

Long-term lease negotiations with UAF have been completed & the final building design and paperwork to secure the capital funds is being completed. Anticipated ground breaking is mid-July.

The most recent rework of the RTF construction Schedule and Budget indicates completion in the summer of ’06, at a total cost of $5 million.

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Ground Source Heat Pump Demonstration at CCHRC Long-term test of a ground source heat pump at CCHRC's facility in Fairbanks to study performance in cold soils.