Commissioning team takes on challenges of large project: Orlando International Airport’s South Airport APM Complex

Hanson, its joint-venture partner, CMTS, and its subconsultant, Construction Moisture Consulting Inc., have helped the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) with its expansion of the Orlando International Airport. The team recently completed the commissioning of the new South Airport Automated People Mover (APM) Complex and Intermodal Terminal Facility (ITF), establishing the infrastructure for the upcoming South Terminal C – Phase 1. Commissioned systems include all major building envelope, mechanical (HVAC), plumbing, electrical and life safety systems.

This project involved the design and construction of several facilities with a total conditioned area of approximately 335,000 square feet, including:

  • APM and ITF: These combined facilities consist of a four-story building with a mezzanine of approximately 200,000 square feet (conditioned space). They operationally accommodate two rail modes of transportation: initially the APM (connected to the airport’s north terminal) and the future intercity rail (Brightline), as well as ground transportation consisting of public busing, shuttle busses, taxis and limousines.
  • Passenger drop-off lobby: Consists of a multi-story atrium and several shell space areas.
  • Central energy plant: The free-standing facility including chillers, pumps and field-erected cooling towers. The initial capacity is approximately 1,400 tons with N+1 redundancy; however, the plant has been designed for growth to 8,100 tons.
  • Parking garage: A six-level concrete building with approximately 2,400 spaces.

This large project was divided between two construction management-at-risk firms and presented a number of challenges and valuable lessons learned:

  • Work was divided into multiple guaranteed maximum price packages, resulting in a number of subcontractors working on different parts of the complex (portions of the chilled-water loop were installed by four different mechanical contractors, each responsible for flushing and treating their portion of the system).
  • It was important to hold regular tag-up, readiness and pull planning meetings to monitor system progress and adjust critical schedule activities for testing preparation.
  • With chilled water mains sized for the ultimate 8,100-ton buildout, proper adjustments were needed to achieve the required velocity in the piping system for flushing and treatment.
  • When the central chiller plant system was started with a limited cooling load, the plant needed a modified control sequence for operating during low loads.
  • While the massive amount of commissioning documentation was maintained on a cloud-based commissioning web application, other project documentation was kept on Prolog and BIM 360 Field, requiring coordination by all parties.
  • Verifying controls integration between the South Airport APM Complex and the airport’s north terminal, where the front-end central station resides, were delayed while communication issues were addressed.
  • There were logistics to consider for functional performance testing and “tuning” systems within a partially opened complex that serves the public.
  • The project has been submitted for certification under LEED v4 for “campus” certification, which requires additional documentation.

James Hackenberg, P.E., LEED AP of GOAA’s owner’s authorized representative team and Robert Knoedler, P.E., EMP, CxA, a vice president and principal of commissioning and energy-related services at Hanson (part of GOAA’s OAR team), will present a case study summarizing the commissioning of the South Airport APM Complex on Wednesday, April 25 at CxEnergy 2018 in Las Vegas. Hanson will exhibit at booth 309 during the conference.

For more information about Hanson’s commissioning services, please contact Robert at