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SMACNA contractor helps Cleveland plant go clean and green

Mar 26, 2015

Cut natural gas consumption by 95%

20140917_073413When Cleveland’s Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District recently constructed a new $170 million energy treatment center, they called upon SMACNA contractor Duct Fabricators to provide the new facility with its extensive air-handling systems. They had a big job to do.

Duct Fabricators Inc. of Cleveland took on the $3.9 million job of fabricating and installing the large-scale ductwork and heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning units in the new Renewable Energy Facility (REF) at the Southerly Wastewater Treatment Center in Cuyahoga Heights, south of Cleveland.

Duct Fabricators enabled the new energy plan to cut natural gas consumption by 95%.


The new energy facility helps the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) conserve resources, generate energy, and reduce air emissions. It is part of the District’s waste water treatment system that pumps water back into Lake Erie that is fresh and clear.

20140917_074109In all, Duct Fabricators installed a remarkable 45,000 pounds of aluminum, stainless steel, and galvanized materials and ductwork in the massive building.

The height and size of the building also posed a challenge. The company installed much of the ductwork above an elevation of 25 feet. The firm also had to run the duct above, around, and through the facility’s process equipment.

That’s where using building information modeling (BIM) came in. Duct Fabricators used BIM in their planning due to the magnitude of winding the HVAC equipment and ductwork around the center’s process piping, plumbing, and electrical equipment.

20140917_074002The huge HVAC and sheet metal project included installing numerous heating and ventilation units, air conditioning units, and exhaust and supply fans, as well as fabricating and installing boiler flue venting and wall louvers.

The new Southerly renewable energy center replaced four aging multiple-hearth incinerators built in 1964 that burned biosolids (or sewage sludge, solid biological materials collected during the sewage treatment process). The renewable energy facility takes the sludge waste and converts it into energy through incineration.

Now, the center’s three new state-of-the-art fluidized bed incinerators burn biosolids more efficiently, using only small percentage of the original energy needed. The new incinerators burn just five percent of the natural gas that was needed for the previous multiple-hearth incinerators, cutting natural gas consumption by a whopping 95 percent. The three incinerators burn solid biological material collected from two NEORSD treatment plants.

20140917_074622The incinerator also captures excess heat that produces high-pressure steam to operate a turbine that powers 25 percent of the plant’s electricity, saving $1 million to $2 million a year in electricity costs.

The new Renewable Energy Facility marks the remarkable role NEORSD has played in the astounding recovery of the region’s waterways. More than 40 years ago, the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie were infamous for their dark polluted waters where no fish could swim. 

Now, thanks to the NEORSD’s amazing water treatment improvements, Lake Erie is sparkling blue with sailboats, fishing tournaments, and bustling waterfront neighborhoods—and is one of the world’s cleanest lakes too.

The details are in the ductwork

  • Ninety-five percent of the ductwork in the Southerly Renewable Energy Facility was fabricated from aluminum materials, consuming 45,000 pounds of aluminum.
  • The remaining 5 percent consisted of stainless steel of galvanized materials.
  • Aluminum type 3003 ranging from a thickness of .040 up to .080 was used.
  • All ductwork was fabricated and installed according to SMACNA standards for 3-inch w.g. construction, using Pittsburgh lock seams and TDC-flanged connections.

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