IMEG/KJWW/TTG: University of Florida Reitz Union

Electrical, power; fire, life safety; HVAC, mechanical; energy, sustainability; plumbing, piping; technology; energy modeling; construction administration.


The University of Florida's newly renovated and expanded J. Wayne Reitz Union includes new lounges, study spaces, meeting rooms, a game room, dance studios, a reflection room, and more, allowing students to engage and connect with others like never beforeEngineering firm: IMEG/KJWW/TTG

2016 MEP Giants rank: 15

Project: University of Florida Reitz Union expansion and renovation

Location: Gainesville, Fla.

Building type: Educational facility

Project type: Expansion and renovation

Engineering services: Electrical, power; fire, life safety; HVAC, mechanical; energy, sustainability; plumbing, piping; technology; energy modeling; construction administration

Project timeline: September 2012 to December 2015

MEP/FP budget: $15.3 million


  1. Finding energy savings. The addition and renovation of the J. Wayne Reitz Union at the University of Florida was targeting LEED Platinum. However, the engineering team was required to model the project with existing campus systems instead of modeling with a new central system (which was being upgraded but under a separate project). Therefore, the engineers had to find the LEED-required energy savings via other strategies.
  2. Existing building structure. The two-phase project included demolition of the colonnade building and, in its place, the construction of the new addition between two existing adjoining buildings. During construction, the team discovered that the existing building's outside structure was much deeper than expected. This created a challenge for routing utilities between the new and existing buildings.
  3. Expansion of meeting rooms within existing space. The university desired to increase the size and quantity of meeting room spaces, but did not want to add on to the existing building.
  4. Maintaining an occupied building. A large food court adjacent to the new addition had to remain operational throughout both the Reitz Union project as well as during a concurrent campus systems upgrade that included a new chilled-water plant, replacing several air handling units, and converting constant-volume systems to variable-volume systems.


  1. Finding energy savings. The main strategies employed to find the required LEED energy savings included: designing a chilled-beam system in most spaces to reduce transport energy; using a displacement ventilation system in the atrium as well as meeting- and conference-room spaces to reduce the quantity of mechanically delivered outside ventilation air and increase the economizer hours; and introducing LED lighting throughout the building to reduce lighting power density.
  2. Existing building structure. The MEP engineers worked collaboratively with the structural engineer to find locations in the existing buildings where openings could be strategically placed in the structure. This allowed ductwork and piping to feed utilities from the addition to the existing buildings.
  3. Expansion of meeting rooms within existing space. The existing 2-story Rion Ballroom was chosen as the ideal location for creating the additional meeting space without adding on to the building. A floor was built in the middle of the existing 2-story space, and the ballroom was repurposed into smaller meeting and conference rooms. The roof and structure were removed above the 4th floor to create a new, larger 2-story ballroom and event space. The existing utilities serving the original space were reconfigured to serve the new meeting and conference spaces.
  4. Maintaining an occupied building. Since the engineers also were providing design for the separate campus systems upgrade project, they were able to coordinate system changes of that project and the Reitz Union project to minimize disruptions to the occupied building. For example, the replacement of two large chillers in the central mechanical room was completed during the cooler winter months, when mechanical cooling needs are minimized. This allowed the university to have full cooling capacity during the summer.


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