Copper Proves to Be the Superior Piping System for Hospital Expansion Project

October 28, 2014


Unique Building Design, Versatility And Reliability Make Copper Pipe The Better Choice Over Black Steel For Plumbing And Mechanical Systems

NEW YORK, NY— When it came time to install the plumbing and mechanical system at the Nemours/A.I. DuPont Children’s Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware, the shape of the new building created some unforeseen challenges for the contractor.  

The semi-circular design of the new $215 million, five-story hospital building required a large-diameter piping system that was lightweight, malleable and easy to work with. Black steel pipe — the material originally specified for the project — did not meet the criteria and was proving to be difficult for the job. As a result, Binsky/Snyder Mechanical Contractors, SkanskaUSA and AEI Engineers, as a group, decided to contact the Copper Development Association (CDA) for assistance.

Recently, CDA released a video case study to highlight the new copper piping system installation at the Nemours/A.I. DuPont Children’s Hospital.

“We got a call from the engineer on the project asking about bending copper tube in sizes up to  2 1/2 and 3 inch so that they could have it wrap around two football-shaped additions,” said Dale Powell, project manager and piping application specialist for CDA. “Following discussions with the engineer and installing mechanical contractor, it was determined that the amount of bend required would be well within the limits for copper tube and could easily be accomplished by several local pipe bending companies.”

On the advice and recommendation of CDA, the hospital opted to go with a copper piping system instead of black steel pipe.  Copper tube, of various sizes, is now being installed for domestic hot and cold water service, HVAC systems as well as for medical gas distribution.  Copper’s superior performance, durability, versatility, reliability, resistance to corrosion – as well as its ease for bending and fabrication – ultimately made it the better option for this project.

According to Michael Duffy, project manager for Binsky & Snyder, “Given the radius of the building, the bending required and the weight of the piping, it was much easier for us to work with copper than steel pipe.” 

When complete, the hospital expansion will consist of a 144-bed unit with underground parking. The parking garage will also connect to the existing building by means of a three-story connecting link.  The building’s first floor will contain a new emergency department, atrium, retail and dining facility.