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Building educational facilities: Keeping pace with technology

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As San Diego's institutes of higher education compete with institutions from around the world for research dollars, it creates a demand for more sophisticated research facilities with energy efficient and complex HVAC and plumbing systems. Whether constructing state-of-the art classrooms and laboratories or designing then building co-generation plants and residence halls, it is important to stay on top of the latest technology.

Building Information Modeling, or BIM, is a technology that virtually constructs the project before breaking ground. With the speed at which projects proceed from conception to completion, precise mechanical-electrical-plumbing coordination saves time and money for both the contractor and the owner.

University Mechanical & Engineering Contractors (UMEC) is a leader in today's construction arena when it comes to innovative procedures. To date, the company has completed more than 50 projects valued in excess of $225 million in mechanical work using BIM. Recent University of California, San Diego projects that UMEC utilized BIM technology on include: Rady School of Management, Applied Physics & Math, Price Center Expansion and Super Computer Expansion. This expertise was also applied to the University of San Diego School of Leadership and Grossmont College's Digital and Sculptural Arts Building.

University Mechanical started in 1922 as a small three-man sheet metal shop on University Avenue. As San Diego grew, so did the need for higher education facilities, and UMEC was there to build them. From the beginning UMEC helped create what were to become Cuyamaca College, Grossmont College, San Diego State University and UCSD.

"The long-term relationships we have developed with San Diego colleges and universities are the key to our success," said Steve Thompson, vice president of pre-construction services for UMEC.

Aware of the need to incorporate sustainable systems into buildings, the company has LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accredited professionals on staff. With more than 50 percent of the LEED certification points related to the type of work that UMEC does every day, the company is working to further expand its role and expertise in the area of environmental stewardship, as well as its client service offerings in the area of high performance and sustainable design facilities.

UMEC is a relationship based client-orientated company capable of performing design/build, design/assist, HVAC, plumbing, sheet metal, and process piping for a wide range of markets including: education, commercial, pharmaceutical, biotech/healthcare, water treatment, industrial, power generation, public and government entities.

Recent projects include: UCSD School of Medicine; Cuyamaca College Science Technology Mall; UCSD Pharmaceutical Science Building; USD Science and Technology Center; SDSU Zura Hall and Dramatic Arts Building; UCSD Eleanor Roosevelt College; SDSU Chapultepec Hall; Grossmont College HVAC Rehabilitation; UCSD Cogeneration Plant; and SDSU Cogeneration Plant.

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