google-site-verification: googleac31132f3d1837d9.html

Blog Post Content

Solving for Positive Pressure

In February of 2022, Atrium Health opened their new greenfield hospital, Union West Hospital, just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. Just days before opening, the project’s design and construction team had an immediate sense of urgency to get the project open. The 40-bed, 150,000 SF facility was having difficulty getting positive pressure at the exterior doors, an issue that if left unresolved would delay the certificate of occupancy and opening.  

SSR has been involved in the project since mid-2019, serving as the design engineer for the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, and technology systems. As the mechanical engineer for the project, Terry Madden, PE, was aware of the pressure issue and immediately proposed the engagement of our building enclosure team. They were brought on board to identify the issue and resolve the problem so the facility could open as scheduled.  

Within 24 hours, SSR had a building enclosure professional on-site. Our colleague suspected that the underlying issue was an envelope air leak, creating a stack effect through the top of the atrium, but wanted to confirm these suspicions. They performed a smoke test that verified the issue was not mechanical but a stack effect, as suspected.  

Shortly after, a second colleague traveled to the site. They performed an infrared survey overnight identifying the air leak at the top of the atrium. Using these photos and the smoke test from the previous day, our team generated a report for the contractor that identified the issues at complex transition sites that were not properly sealed. A third-party consultant hired by the architect confirmed these findings.  

Based on our findings and report, Atrium Health was able to resolve the problem and the facility opened according to schedule.