University of San Diego - Commercial Plumbing - Bill Howe

University of San Diego – Commercial Plumbing

Commercial - Plumbing

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Project Overview


The university required an efficient and reliable solution to replace the water heating infrastructure for four dormitories housing roughly 1060 students. Due to the beautiful and unique landscaping on the campus, a crane was not feasible to remove the old rooftop boilers.


Bill Howe proposed an innovative solution meeting the demand, efficiency and mechanical robustness of the application. This involved designing a system consisting of 23 tankless water heaters connected in series in a rack system. This setup ensures continuous, on demand hot water to the buildings, even if several units fail.

Location: San Diego, CA

Client Background and Project Scope

The University of San Diego is a medium sized, private university that is home to roughly 9000 undergraduate and graduate students. Approximately 3000 students reside in the campus dormitories. The university is known for its architecture and beautiful landscaping. Four of the 10 campus dormitories needed new hot water infrastructure decreasing reliability and increasing repair costs. Roughly 1060 students across 4 dormitories would lose access to hot water when these boilers failed.


The old boiler units were carefully dismantled and piece by piece and removed from the rooftop without employing a crane. This meticulous approach ensured minimal disruption to the campus’s unique landscaping. Because of the compact size of the new tankless units, we were able to transport them by hand

We then installed 23 total tankless units across the four dormitories, housed in a rack system and connected in series. Each unit has an isolation valve so it can be maintained, repaired and replaced without shutting off hot water to the building.


The university now enjoys a state-of-the-art water heating system that enhances efficiency, minimizes downtime and environmental impact, and provides continuous hot water under high demand. This solution successfully addressed the university’s water heating needs while overcoming the challenge of preserving the campus’s breathtaking landscape. By implementing a series-connected rack system of tankless water heaters, the university achieves an outstanding 97% thermal efficiency across these four buildings. This system is non-disruptive to maintain and repair, and does not require the use of a crane or other heavy machinery.

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University of San Diego – Commercial Plumbing

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