The pipes bursting in air, gave proof through the night, that's it's still cold out there

Loews evacuated in Boston

Loews wasn't catching fire, it was leaking water. Photo by Laura Kinson.

Cold-weary Bostonians seeking a little diversion at the Loews found themselves back out on a frigid Tremont Street late this afternoon when a pipe burst and the megaplex was evacuated.

Earlier, the Prudential Center mall developed an impromptu waterfall when a pipe burst. Chico's was ruined, Julie Loncich reports.

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I was there

Decided to catch the 3:40 screening of Anchorman 2.

About a half hour into the movie the speakers were beeping with a message saying to exit the building while the incident is being looked into. Ended up exiting the building around Washington Street, saw a bunch of water rushing under another exit door.

Walked around to Avery Street, saw all the people outside and decided to go home. Too cold to stand out there for god knows how long. Will be back tomorrow, still have my stub.

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Not necessarily insulation

The building I work in was closed today because the heating system wasn't able to keep the building warm enough to prevent pipe breaks without shutting down the fresh air ventilation system and losing heat out the doors.

This building has plenty of energy-saving features, but that doesn't help if the heating system is sized for typical and some excursion loads (but not the current extreme cold). That's because sizing a heating system for those rare events where you have extreme cold means wasting a lot of energy on a regular basis.

So, it may not be a lack of insulation but a lack of heating capacity given the insistence on keeping the building open - there is no way to "insulate" doors that open in such a way to move large numbers of people in and out, or insulate the need for fresh air in areas occupied by a large number of humans.

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Vestibule doors

help with the first problem, of heat escaping through doors. Does your building have them?

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Vestibules/air curtains

A vestibule can definitely help this (as can revolving doors), but when there isn't one, an air curtain can be employed above the entrances inside. It literally creates (blows) a curtain of air in front of the door to keep the temperature-regulated air inside and the outside air out.

Odd situation

The problem is that the lobby floor is a walk through - people who don't work there walk through the building, as there are businesses on the floor. Complicating this is that the revolving doors don't operate properly in high wind and bad weather, so people use the regular doors to the side.

Again, these temperatures are the worst in ten years. Design is usually for the likely maximum - more efficient to just shut down the building once or twice in ten years than have oversized systems.

The pipes should be insulated

I design P/FP systems. The pipes themselves should have 1" of insulation (typ.) - domestic supply/return, mechanical supply/return and fire protection.

Also, your comment about ACT grid systems doesn't really hold up. The ACT grid is under the roof (or floor slab if there are floors above). The P/FP is typically above the ACT grid ceiling (where one is present and the system is horizontally distributed). There should be insulation in the actual building envelope - on the roof membrane as well as in the facade. That is what is truly insulating the cavities/interstitial MEP spaces from outside temperatures. This isn't quite enough insulation (especially in extreme temperatures), so we insulate the pipes themselves.

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Challenge to make commercial go green

I'm generally frustrated at the economics of commercial buildings. The builder loses money to make buildings more efficient when its not a priority for tenants when other factors like location for neighborhood prestige, customers and workers, lease cost and terms, appearance, proximity to transportation, ease of permitting etc. are all often bigger factors than heating/cooling costs or greenness.

We simply don't hear of many occupied houses bursting water pipes like we do for commercial buildings in cold weather, so what's the conclusion to draw from that? Commercial buildings are less well insulated than private residential ones. Some condo and apartment complexes are built on the cheap and they also have pipe bursts just like commercial buildings built on the cheap. Again, the builder would lose profit making them more energy efficient.

Mark, Boston requires all new

By on

Mark, Boston requires all new construction and significant renovation to follow the stretch energy code which is the more stringent version of the state energy code which itself is based on the stringent IEEC/LEED codes. It isn't an option for builders when it is a LEGAL REQUIREMENT!

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How does that change the economics?

By making buildings more expensive to build in Boston and Massachusetts than elsewhere? Capitol costs vs. operational savings still don't seem to be brought together. I am glad that builders still don't have to pay off the LEED marketing program to get recognition for more efficient construction, by now having state standards.

Sampling error

We simply don't hear of many occupied houses bursting water pipes like we do for commercial buildings in cold weather, so what's the conclusion to draw from that? Commercial buildings are less well insulated than private residential ones.

That's a hell of a conclusion to draw. May I suggest another: The smaller impact upon the citizenry of a broken pipe in a residence tends not to garner a lot of headlines, so your sample is skewed to the point of uselessness.

Oh say

Does that Lowes movie theatre yet play
A cartoon and serial
With the kids' matinee?

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