Sky-High Water Delivery: Fluid Control in High-Rise Buildings

 Supplying water in high-rise buildings has changed dramatically over the past few decades as architects and contractors design and build ever-taller residential and commercial structures.

In 1965, the tallest building in the world was the Empire State Building in New York City, standing at 1250 feet tall. Today, the tallest building is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates at 2,718 feet. Even that mega-tall structure is soon to be eclipsed by the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, which will reach 3,280 feet tall when completed in 2019.

Buildings that are that tall face many challenges with regard to supplying domestic water for drinking, bathing and sanitation, as well as water needed for cooling and fire fighting.

Control Valve Applications in High-Rise Structures

Cla-Val Automatic Control Valves and other complementary products such as air valves and check valves are used in high-rise building domestic water, fire protection and HVAC/cooling systems in a wide variety of applications, as shown below. In a well-designed system, the valves throughout the building work in harmony to provide water at the optimum pressure for human consumption, for mechanical systems and to fight fires.


Figure 1: Master PRV Set
Figure 1: Master PRV Set

Domestic Water Pressure Control 

  • Pressure Reducing
  • Master Pressure Reducing Valve Sets
  • Pressure Relief
  • Pressure Sustaining



2_Fire Pump Relief Valve
Figure 2: Fire Pump Relief Valve

Building Water Distribution System Applications

  • Surge Control
  • Flow Control
  • Pump Control
  • On-Off Solenoid Control
  • Electronic Control
  • Cavitation Control
  • Level Control for Storage Tanks
  • HVAC Chilled Water Pressure Relief


Fire Protection System Valves

  • Deluge
  • Pressure Reducing
  • Fire Pump Pressure Relief
  • Fire Pump Casing Relief
  • Pump Suction Control
  • Pipe Breach Control

Complementary Products

  • Check Valves
  • Air Release Valves
  • Air Release and Vacuum Breaker Valves

Domestic Water: Primary Applications for Resident Health, Safety and Comfort

Waterworks Final 11
(08) 124 Series Float Valve  // (18) 136 Solenoid Control Valve // (19) 90 Series Pressure Reducing Valve// (20) 50 Series Pressure Relief Valve // (21) CRD-L Direct Acting PRV // (22)  Fire System Pressure Reducing Valve

In domestic water systems, Pressure Reducing Valves (PRVs) are installed in multiple locations starting from initial entry into the structure through pumps (i.e. in the basement) where water pressure from city main transmission lines is reduced or increased to usable levels. From there, pressure is adjusted through booster stations located intermittently throughout the structure to ensure adequate pressures at higher elevations.  The most commonly used Cla-Val PRVs used are 90 Series Valves and the CRD-L Direct Acting PRVs.

Pressure Relief Valves are used throughout high-rise building to prevent excess pressure and to thwart pressure surges and water hammer caused by pump stops and starts.  The most commonly used Cla-Val products in high-rise for pressure relief applications are 50 Series Valves.

These, and other valves such as PRVs equipped with anti-cavitation trim to prevent noise; differential pressure relief valves used in the cooling system; and float control valves in onsite water storage tanks; all contribute to the health, safety, and comfort of the people that work and reside in high-rise buildings.

Fire Protection System Valves: The Most Important Type of Valve

The valves that are used in the fire protection system are arguably the most important valves in high-rise buildings. First, there are the workhorse valves that adjust pressures upward or downward to accommodate fire flow requirements (such as Model 90-21 PRVs, see item 22 in Figure 3 above). Also in the VIP spot are valves such as 50 Series Pressure Relief Valves and Model 50B-4KG1 Pressure Relief Valves that protect the system during pump starts and stops.


Additional Protection for Fire Fighting Sprinkler Piping 

 After the tragic events of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks,  Cla-Val, in conjunction with the designers behind the new WTC buildings, developed the Automatic Breach Control Valve (ABCV). The ABCV automatically isolates portions of distribution piping when a catastrophic downstream breach or line break occurs. An ABCV is typically installed in commercial building water distribution systems, such as fire protection, potable water service, or chilled water circulation.

Strategically located throughout the piping network to isolate damaged portions of water systems, the ABCV prevents significant water loss and damage, allowing continued service until piping can be repaired. The Breach Control Valve is especially well-suited for high-rise building fire sprinkler systems because of the systems’ vulnerability to failure should a line break occur in the top floors, where gravity can cause fire water reserves to quickly drain. Look for Cla-Val Model 85-09-1 when considering the implementation of added fire system reliability.

Proven the World Over: Cla-Val Products for High-Rise Buildings 

One World Trade Center
One World Trade Center

We could talk all day about which control valves are the best options for ensuring optimum health, safety and comfort of residents and business tenants that live and work in high-rise structures. Perhaps the surest way to know that is to look at the choices designers and constructors the world over have chosen for their masterpieces. Tens of thousands of Cla-Val products are installed in high-rise buildings throughout the world.

From New York City, Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore to Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, Austin and Los Angeles, skyscrapers in the US utilize Cla-Val control valves in their domestic water, fire protection piping, booster pump station and fire pump installations.


Some of the more recognizable US locations include One World Trade Center and the Bank of America Tower in New York City; Millennium Park, Chicago; Hancock Place, Boston; Westin Bonaventure, Los Angeles; and Comcast Center and Liberty Place Towers, both in Philadelphia.

It’s not just newer structures that use Cla-Val control valves. “Vintage” skyscrapers such as the Marina Towers (1964), the John Hancock Building (1969), and Willis (Sears) Tower (1974) in Chicago have counted on Cla-Val control valves for reliable domestic and fire protection water service since their beginnings and still do today.

Downtown Chicago - Marina Towers
Downtown Chicago – Marina Towers
Chicago skyline.
John Hancock Building – Chicago






Proven the World Over: Cla-Val Products for High-Rise Buildings 

New Downtown Dubai
Burj Khalifia – Dubai

The list of international high-rises utilizing Cla-Val products reads like a “Who’s Who” in the realm of mega structures. They include the world’s tallest building – the Burj Khalifia, Dubai, United Arab Emirates; plus Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia; Gran Torre Tower, Santiago, Chile; Multiple high-rise buildings in La Defense business district, Paris; Frankfurt Main Tower, Germany; Mandarin Hotel, Singapore; and Shanghai Grand Hyatt, to name a few.

The next time you are staying in a high-rise hotel, attending a meeting in commercial skyscraper, or just getting a bird’s eye view of the city you are visiting, you can bet that the domestic and fire protection systems are equipped with Cla-Val products. Enjoy the view!

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