As Co-President of McCarthy Cook & Co., commercial real estate investor and developer Edward Cook possesses a solid understanding of the construction process and value within that realm. Over the last couple decades he worked with Mark Reuter of Reuter Homes to build and then renovate his initial Newport Beach (California) home.
Cook is primarily responsible for acquisitions, leasing and development as well as fundraising for the real estate investment and development firm, which specializes in office, medical office, life science and mixed-use real estate assets in the major metropolitan markets west of Denver. When he decided to build a new home closer to the coastline and docks of Newport Beach, he again enlisted Reuter.
“A Research Project of Sorts”
In March 2011 Reuter and Cook assembled a team of architects and designers to help them realize Cook’s vision. When it came to choosing the building products, Cook’s experience in commercial real estate development played a key role. “Edward builds incredible projects, such as the 900,000-sq-ft China Basin project in San Francisco, and he does a lot of research. Building this home was a research project of sorts,” said Reuter, “we’ve got products from all over the world.”
When deciding on the home’s piping systems, Cook had a product in mind. He had discovered German manufactured Aquatherm PP-R pressure piping while researching technology options for the University of California San Francisco Neurosciences Building, Mission Bay Parcel 19A, a $200 million building that his firm built and manages.
McCarthy Cook & Co. had been working with engineering firm Flack+Kurtz (San Francisco) on the project and an engineer recommended Aquatherm as an alternative to copper. For nearly 40 years, Aquatherm has produced polypropylene-random (PP-R) piping systems for potable, heating and cooling, greywater, fire sprinkler, and other applications. The company has installations in over 70 countries worldwide, but is relatively new to North America.
Reuter said that it was clear Cook wanted to incorporate Aquatherm into the home. “We were definitely looking for world class products that were cutting-edge and Aquatherm was one of those that we found,” he said.
Fusion Welding Throughout the House
All Aquatherm systems are connected by fusion welding, which means that no solders, sealants, gaskets or adhesives are used to achieve a permanent connection. The pipe and fittings become one solid, inseparable piece with no weaknesses. Training and equipment are the same for all Aquatherm Greenpipe® (potable water), Aquatherm Blue Pipe® (formerly Climatherm) for HVAC, Aquatherm Lilac® (for reclaimed water) systems, and Aquatherm Firestop Red Pipe systems.
Aquatherm won’t leach, is rust- and corrosion-proof, and resists freezing, scaling, abrasion and other effects that may lead to hazards associated with other piping systems. “Aquatherm’s environmental friendliness was important to us, but the durability and longevity was more important. We no longer run copper underground, because of the salty soil and air, and Aquatherm is perfect for that application here because it’s resistant to that,” Reuter said.
“Everyone gets the advantages of Aquatherm,” Cook said. “PEX has been known to be eaten by rodents in this area and I don’t think Aquatherm is going to have that problem. You also have the seismic advantages of Aquatherm, the sound attenuation benefits and the lack of corrosion, which all add up to a lot of positives.”
The team used Aquatherm for the majority of the home’s piping. They used:
- Aquatherm Greenpipe for the soft water potable, reverse-osmosis, sprinkler and spot-free water systems
- Aquatherm Blue Pipe for HVAC supply
- Aquatherm Firestop Red Pipe for the sprinkler system
A Learning Curve – and Plenty of Benefits
While Aquatherm was a bit more expensive than some of the piping options, Cook found an installer who reduced his price in order to learn about the system. Once the training had set in and installation commenced, the plumbers began noticing benefits though, and as Reuter said, they got better at the installation process as they went.
“They did a great job with it,” said Cook. “It wasn’t totally linear because of the learning curve, but once they got it and started working with it they really embraced it. And we paved the way for others in Newport.”
McCarthy Cook & Co. is looking to use the piping for several of its commercial applications, and Cook is sold. “I’m proud of the plumbing on this home. There’s no comparison between Aquatherm and the competition. With the fusion welded joints, once they are connected, they are not going to leak.”