Educating Engineering Students with PVC

Western Colorado University received funding to build a new engineering building in which the mechanical room was designed to serve as a tutorial for the university’s engineering students.

December 1, 2022


Western Colorado University in Gunnison, Colorado, recently received funding to build a new engineering building. The building was designed to be a LEED Gold-certified building that serves as a live tutorial for the engineering students who would be using the facility daily. As a result, instead of a mechanical system with the typical 5 to 7 pipes, this system was made with 16 pipes. The objective was to show budding engineers all the components that could be encountered in various mechanical systems. The purpose of the mechanical room as a tutorial and the sheer variation in the pipe systems that were part of the design created the need for clear differentiation between the pipes so they could be used for educational purposes.


To achieve the necessary differentiation among the pipes, this project used all 14 colors of Johns Mansville’s (JM’s) Zeston® 2000 PVC jacketing. Every supply and return had a unique color. This created an incredible visual aesthetic for the room, while making it easy for students to delineate between different pipe systems. The mechanical room houses more than 15,000 feet of insulated pipes that have been jacketed with various colors of Zeston PVC, ranging from blue to yellow. In an effort to further enhance the educational components of the room, designers used JM’s Trymer® PIR insulation on the chilled systems and JM’s Micro-Lok® HP fiber glass on the high-temperature systems to showcase the different use cases for each insulation.

This project was completed with the following contractors: CD Specialty Contractors and Ute Plumbing & Heating, Inc. CD Specialty Contractors is an industrial and commercial insulation and scaffolding contractor, providing mechanical insulation, scaffolding, and other services spanning numerous industries, working on refineries, petrochemical, pipelines and terminal, power plants, mines, and renewable energy installations. Ute Plumbing & Heating, Inc is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and is part of the Building Equipment Contractors Industry. Ute Plumbing & Heating worked as the mechanical contractor that installed the mechanical and plumbing piping on this project. JM provided some of the insulation materials for
this project.