When the California Department of Education decided to build a new, state-of-the-art headquarters building in Sacramento, it issued a Request For Proposals (RFP), complete with an initial design. This 397,000-square-foot, six-story project, which was worth a total of $68.8 million, also included an underground parking facility and a daycare center.

After learning of the project, the general contracting firm of Hensel Phelps Construction Co., headquartered in Greeley, Colo., invited the architectural firm of Fentress Bradburn Architects Ltd., Denver; Critchfield Mechanical Inc., Menlo Park, Calif.; and Rosendin Electric Inc., San Jose, Calif., to compete as a team for the stipulated-sum design-build competition. “Rosendin Electric had worked with Hensel Phelps Construction on a variety of similar projects over the past 15 years and was considered to be the most qualified electrical contractor for the team,” explained Jim Hawk, Rosendin’s executive vice president.

Three other groups competed for the contract, but the eight-member evaluation panel, which included the project’s owner, the California Department of General Services, chose the Hensel Phelps team, based on its ability to provide the best project design and value in accordance with the criteria set forth in the RFP and its familiarity with similar projects. “Our same team had successfully completed a similar project for the Oakland Administration Building in 1998 and all the team members have developed a unique working relationship and the ability to perform well together on these types of projects that require high performance and a great deal of collaboration,” Hawk said.

In January 2000, Rosendin Electric’s designers and engineers began working to convert the conceptual specifications in the RFP into a complete design-build electrical project. According to the senior project manager, Willie Micene, the most significant part of the process involved submitting the systems confirmation documents to the owner and its team of internal design professionals. “The intent of the documents was to confirm that all of the electrical and low voltage systems in our design would meet the requirements of the project,” he explained.

Rosendin designers and engineers worked with personnel from the fire safety and security division of Siemens Building Technology, Hayward, Calif., to develop the construction documents that would provide Rosendin field electricians with the specifications and drawings necessary to install the systems. In addition, Siemens’ security division was required to provide a turnkey installation for which it used Capitol Communications to perform the actual cabling and hardware installations. “With the atmosphere of trust and cooperation developed between our team and the project owner and its construction manager, 3D International, we were quickly able to create a positive, productive and creative design and construction relationship,” Hawk added.

Scope of work

After the electrical and low-voltage systems designs were completed and approved, Rosendin Electric went to work in July 2000 on the $8.7 million electrical portion of the project. The company was responsible for installing the high-voltage electrical distribution and backup emergency power systems for the facility, lighting systems and lighting controls, fire alarms and life safety systems and the telecommunication and network systems.

The fire alarm system was unique in that it is protected by an underfloor air- distribution system. “The underfloor air- distribution system is a new HVAC system that uses raised floors similar to the ones in computer rooms to deliver the building’s heating and cooling,” Micene observed. During coordination meetings with the mechanical trades on the project, the floor system layout was used to create drawings that would enable all of the trades to install their work prior to the final installation of the floor. The fire alarm system that Rosendin was responsible for installing underneath the floor included one main panel, three expander panels, and roughly 700 smoke detectors, 250 speaker strobes and 100 pull stations to form a fully functional emergency fire alert system for the building.

Siemens’ fire safety division personnel supervised the final terminations and testing of the fire alarm system after Rosendin electricians ran the cabling. “We held biweekly meetings on-site to coordinate the rough-in, cabling, and final phases of the installation to ensure that the schedule was being met,” Micene said. Team members also used these meetings as part of the pre-functional and functional commissioning tests of the fire alarm system as required by the contract. In addition, fire alarm system documents were reviewed by the California State Fire Marshal’s Office, which was the Authority Having Jurisdiction over the system’s testing.

The security system installed by Rosendin consisted of more than 200 access control readers, a video badging system, a closed circuit television (CCTV) surveillance system consisting of 20 panning and fixed mount cameras, a Roving Area Network (RAN) for the security guards to be in constant communication with the main security control room, an intercom for loading dock control and 25 duress and panic alarms. The system also required a completely redundant backup server to provide seamless switching of the system should any disruption in operation occur. “Testing of the security system was done under the watchful eye of the owner and end-user and testing documentation was submitted that demonstrated that the system worked in accordance with the owner’s requirements,” Hawk added.

Installing fire alarm and security systems was just the tip of the iceberg for this large, complicated project. Rosendin also had to install the building’s electrical distribution system, which consisted of two 4,000A services, 16 277/480V lighting and power distribution panels, 54 120/208V power distribution panels for 1,100 workstations and general receptacles, 22 75kVA 480/120-208 volt transformers to reduce harmonics from non-linear loads, two motor control centers for HVAC equipment power, more than 300 linear feet of feeder and plug-in busduct risers for the electrical closet distribution pathway system and more than 300 photovoltaic panels to provide 15kW of solar power. The emergency power distribution system required the installation of one 500kW emergency generator with a 1,200A transfer switch, one 225kVA uninterruptible power supply (UPS) unit with a maintenance bypass switch and three 75kVA power distribution units.

The lighting system designed and installed by Rosendin called for 10,000 linear feet of pendant lighting fixtures, 1,700 recessed fluorescent fixtures, 450 compact fluorescent recessed downlights and wall-mounted fixtures, 120 175W metal halide fixtures for the underground parking facility, 125 specialty fixtures for the elevator lobbies, and two custom chandeliers in the main lobby. To ensure the highest possible energy efficiency levels, the building’s plans required a fully programmable, microprocessor-based lighting control system with components including 14 intelligent programmable lighting controls panels with relays, 300 wall-mounted occupancy sensor switches, 100 ceiling-mounted occupancy sensor controls, 200 ambient lighting sensors and one time-of-day lighting control for the outdoor lighting.

The last responsibility Rosendin Electric fulfilled for the project was the installation of the building’s telecommunications systems. According to Micene, the system consisted of installing the conduit infrastructure for the voice/data and CATV service from the point of entry through intermediate distribution frames (IDF) to the main distribution frame (MDF) on each floor for complete connectivity. “A total of 18 IDFs are located throughout the building and the MDF located on the third floor also serves as the main data distribution hub for all users of the system,” he said.

The job of distributing all of the voice/data and CATV cabling to the 1,100 workstations and the 1,900 voice/data and CATV station jacks located throughout the building’s open workstations, private offices, and conference rooms was subcontracted out to NetVersant of Northern California, based on the company’s bid and its experience with this kind of work.

Challenges overcome

The strict quality control and assurance requirements spelled out in the state contract required Rosendin Electric to work closely with Hensel Phelps’ quality control personnel to document the installation precisely. “Rosendin supplied the owner with a narrative document as part of the project’s overall quality assurance and control plan that explained all of the details of each system installed and provided the owner with the assurance that all systems would operate as required and be of the highest possible quality,” said Hawk.

As part of that documentation process, on-site meetings were held bi-weekly and attended by all of the team’s members, as well as representatives from subcontractors and system vendors. “The meetings were used to document each installation that had been completed over those two weeks, verify each system’s functionality and provide a project status in terms of scheduling, equipment delivery and testing,” Micene said.

The underfloor air distribution system presented its own problems. In order to accurately deliver all of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing installations, Rosendin and the other team members developed underfloor coordination drawings. “In meetings with the HVAC, plumbing, and Rosendin subcontractors, we determined the locations where the piping, fan-powered terminal boxes, telecommunications pathways and electrical distribution wiring needed to be placed,” Micene recalled. The HVAC system was the first layer installed, followed by the electrical, plumbing, and telecommunications, fire alarm, and smoke detection systems. A color-coded AutoCAD drawing was plotted to allow all the field crews to easily follow the coordinated pathways as each system was added under the flooring. “The color coding system enabled us to provide a smooth installation with almost no conflicts,” Micene added.

It was during the final testing and turnover phase that Rosendin Electric experienced some additional challenges with the software that communicates with all of the components of the security system. “Because of the complicated nature of the security systems and the redundant servers, there were some initial parts of the software program that needed to be fine tuned,” Hawk explained. The software system supplier was brought in to troubleshoot the system, perform the necessary adjustments, and train the owner and end-users.

“We attribute our ability to overcome the challenges and complete such a large, complicated, high-tech project on time to the team atmosphere that prevailed between the general contractor, the electrical subcontractors, and the mechanical and plumbing contractors,” Hawk concluded.

BREMER, a freelance writer based in Solomons, Md., contributes frequently to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. She can be reached at 410.394.6966 or darbremer@comcast.net.