New Chiller Plant, Design

New Chiller Plant, Design - Kalamazoo, MI


G/BA provided facility studies followed by MEP/FP engineering design for a stand-alone chiller plant supporting a pharmaceutical manufacturing site in Michigan. Collaborating firm Ingenii provided architectural and structural design services.


Zoetis, the world’s largest animal pharmaceuticals firm, was created as an independent company through a 2013 spinoff of a Pfizer division. A Pfizer facility in Kalamazoo, MI, became a key manufacturing site for Zoetis. The site has since undergone critical upgrades to support Zoetis’ current and future goals.

  • G/BA performed an analysis in 2015 to help the client prioritize improvements. A new chilled water plant was selected as the priority project, needed to allow development of a new oral solid dosage (OSD) manufacturing line as well as additional planned production and packaging operations. Aging chillers that used outdated refrigerant (R-22) needed to be replaced with more modern units.
  • The firm analyzed four design options for the client, including air-cooled chillers; constant-speed water-cooled centrifugal chillers; variable-speed water-cooled centrifugal chillers; and premium-efficiency variable-speed water-cooled centrifugal chillers. G/BA also considered the pros and cons of putting the new chillers and pumps inside an existing facility, or building a new stand-alone plant.
  • The premium-efficiency option with magnetic bearing centrifugal chillers in a stand-alone plant was ultimately selected for its life cycle benefits and its ability to maximize existing production space.
  • A single-story, 7,500-square-foot, steel-framed building now houses the new chilled water plant with three water-cooled chillers plus room for a fourth future chiller. New cooling towers were installed adjacent to the building, which also holds water-distribution pumps, dedicated switchgear, and a new process compressed air plant. Chilled water system piping was interconnected to existing distribution, which was converted from primary/secondary to variable primary.
  • The scope also included heating and ventilation for the building and its interior control room, and a restroom.
  • Site electrical distribution was upgraded to 15kV to accommodate expected production upgrades.