In 2009, the General Services Administration (GSA), which delivers federal workplaces, turned its attention to transforming the Edith Green/Wendell Wyatt Federal Building (EGWW)—originally constructed in 1975—in Portland, Ore., into a landmark high-performance green building. With the project completed in May 2013, the building meets LEED Platinum standards and includes innovative, sustainable technologies. The renovation boasts an intended 40 percent reduction in lighting energy use, a predicted 65 percent reduction in potable water consumption, modernized elevators, a rooftop solar array that will produce power on-site and offset up to 6 percent of the building’s energy consumption, and envelope treatments that include light reflectors, shading fins and vertical screens. The $140 million project is the largest one funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in the GSA’s Region 10.

The GSA awarded the project on a best value source selection basis. The project’s request for proposal allowed construction manager Howard S. Wright (HSW) to include up to five key subcontractors on the initial team list, and one of those was Dynalectric, Portland, Ore. HSW brought Dynalectric on board as an integrated project delivery (IPD) team member, based on the company’s previous high-rise construction experience.


“HSW contacted us to join its proposal team because of our two companies’ history of successfully collaborating together on similar high-rise projects in Portland,” said Randy Wagner, CEO of Dynalectric.


“Dynalectric demonstrated that they have the expertise and collaborative approach that would prove beneficial in the early, critical planning stages of the project and then provide that continuity through construction,” said Matthew Braun, HSW’s project manager. 


According to the American Institute of Architects and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the IPD method means being part of a collaborative alliance of people, systems, business structures and practices that harnesses participants’ talents with the goal of optimizing results, increasing value to the owner, reducing waste, and maximizing efficiency through all phases of design, fabrication and construction. Rather than each participant focusing on its part without considering the implications on the whole process, the IPD method brings everyone together early with collaborative incentives, eliminating waste and allowing data to be shared directly between the design and construction teams.


“Because of its IPD status, the entire project was, in a way, a design/assist process,” said Curt Sander, Dynalectric’s senior project manager. 


The project presented numerous opportunities for Dynalectric to provide feedback on the design of the systems it was responsible for installing. In addition, Dynalectric’s project team worked with the engineer of record to propose revisions or provide value-engineering ideas for the rest of the IPD team.


“This collaborative exchange of ideas continued as documents were issued, field conditions changed or potential flaws of the designed results were found,” Sander said.


The GSA also introduced the concept of co-location, which means all major team members work in the same room.


“Co-location has been an invaluable tool and has enabled us to discuss, coordinate or resolve items almost immediately,” Wagner said.


The co-location concept is what has made this such a successful project, from Dynalectric’s perspective.


“Being able to work with and directly communicate with the design team and ownership group greatly contributed to our success. We were able to interject our ideas from the beginning of the design process and to streamline construction, rather than have to develop work-around plans down the road,” Sander said.


The team focus was also evident when it came to specifying the products necessary for the electrical, solar, and low-voltage and security systems. For example, the designer wanted linear fluorescent lighting fixtures in the open office areas. Dynalectric worked with the designers to determine the actual design intent and performance criteria that needed to be met. The company then solicited proposals from vendors to meet all those criteria. Once the proposals were received, the team evaluated mock-ups and chose vendors based on product performance, maintenance, appearance, ease of installation and construction. 


“Initial price was certainly a consideration, but the more important deciding factors were high-value and lower cost of long-term ownership,” Wagner said.


It’s not easy being green


Construction began on the EGWW building in October 2010. Dynalectric generally averaged 35 electricians and technicians in the field, and the project peaked at 65. The complete electrical service replacement required bringing in two 4,000-ampere (A), 480/277-volt (V) services from utility transformers in the penthouse. The power is distributed down through the building using two main bus risers. Standby and fire/life safety emergency power comes from a 1-megawatt (MW) generator, which is also located on the penthouse level.


“There is also a self-contained server room with UPS power backup located in the basement for the major tenants’ use,” Sander said.


The main lighting source in the tenant spaces comes from direct/indirect linear luminaires controlled by light sensors that will dim the lighting fixtures during peak times when sufficient daylight is present to properly illuminate the space. For general lighting control, there are full addressable devices so that one central server can manipulate control zones. Lighting power consumption data can also be extracted from the system for the owner to determine future energy conservation strategies.


Dynalectric’s scope of work also included installing a full voice/data distribution system throughout the building and a full design/build fire alarm system.


“This system not only had to be NFPA-compliant, but also had to conform to GSA Region 10 requirements, which include a Class A wiring method and custom voice evacuation messages during alarm events. The final GSA code authority acceptance testing required six weeks to complete,” Sander said.


For the security system, Dynalectric installed an extensive video surveillance system with cameras distributed throughout the building, including the roof and adjacent exterior areas. All the cameras are power over Ethernet-enabled, and the data is collected on a video server, which is monitored by on-site security personnel. The company also was responsible for installing the access control and intruder monitoring systems.


“The systems have to comply with new Department of Homeland Security guidelines for credentialing procedures, which is monitored off-site,” Sander said.


The greenest aspect of Dynalectric’s installation, of course, is the 180-kilowatt solar array, which is built on top of a canopy that was constructed on the roof. The system includes 715 photovoltaic (PV) modules and five inverters and combiner boxes. To ensure that the power generated from the PV system did not feed into the utility, Dynalectric helped develop an extensive relay system that systematically shuts down inverters in scenarios that include a fire alarm event, utility power outage or the PV output exceeding the building’s electrical load.


“Building a solar array on top of a high-rise tower in downtown Portland was probably the biggest challenge and the highest profile activity of the project,” Wagner said. 


The company had to address numerous issues, including high winds, mitigating winter snow and ice sliding off the array, and eliminating the chance of construction material blowing or sliding off the canopy surface. Working extensively with other members of the design team to ensure the safety of the installers, other trade personnel, and the public and to maintain the designed performance of the array, a gutter system was installed to capture the rainwater coming off the array and prevent snow or ice from falling onto the street below.


“The water captured by the gutters is then stored in the cistern located in the basement, which will be maintained for the irrigation, cooler tower and toilet-flushing systems,” Sander said.


Another concern was ensuring that all products for the project were from ARRA-compliant companies. The GSA had an additional requirement that products be locally sourced as much as possible.


“Our long history and partnerships with local sources of electrical products made it possible for the company to comply,” Dynalectric’s Wagner said.


“Our purchasing department performed a great deal of research to ensure that lead-times were adhered to in scheduling product delivery,” Sander said.


A unique aspect of the project is that the building was stripped down to its structural steel and concrete rather than demolished; it was then rebuilt from the ground up.


“The choice was made as part of the green building process so that as much material as possible could be reused and recycled,” Sander said. 


HSW’s Braun attributes the project’s success to teamwork and praises Dynalectric for its commitment to innovative solutions.


“The company has repeatedly provided expertise at pivotal junctions, including the development of the smart building scope, developing the fiber backbone, establishing the security design, and building the co-located server room,” he said.