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Design/Build Electrical Meets Green Contracting:
Companies expect their corporate headquarters to make a statement; if your name is Alberici Constructors and you are a member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), then your headquarters should reflect renewability, energy efficiency and construction cost savings.
When Overland, Kan.-based Alberici Corp., the parent, sought its new digs, meeting USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum rating was a goal of John Alberici, chairman of the board. To help his company build green, Alberici handpicked Guarantee Electrical Co., St. Louis, for the design/build installation of low-voltage systems and services.
Alberici began operations in 1918 as a construction company and has grown to encompass many different construction-related companies based around the world. The company’s stamp was already on many St. Louis-area buildings. Its portfolio includes schools, sports arenas, corporate headquarters, hotels, casinos, restaurants and parking structures. But this corporate headquarters project was to be special.
For its new headquarters, the company found a brownfield site perfect for renovation. Brownfields are abandoned or underused industrial and commercial facilities where redevelopment is complicated by environmental contamination. Alberici wanted its headquarters to be a showplace for environmental design at all levels—lighting, heating, water conservation, energy efficiency and site ecology—and sought out partners with which it could build green.
In July 2005, the efforts paid off. The USGBC awarded Alberici headquarters LEED Platinum status. Guarantee Electrical served as the electrical design/build contractor for the project, achieving an extremely efficient electrical system through the use of natural light, daylight harvesting, light pollution reduction, renewable energy and a comprehensive building management system.
“We have a long-standing relationship with Alberici, and they valued our design/build ability to provide the most cost-effective installation,” said Dipak Kapadia, Guarantee Electrical project manager.
Gary Schaeffer, president of Guarantee’s Engineering Group, was a lead engineer on the project. Dennis Murphy was the general foreman. Installation was done by members of IBEW Local 1.
Winner and shaker
When company growth led to the decision to move, president and CEO Rick Oertli wanted Guarantee to be in a place that would foster teamwork and creativity. The project entailed the adaptive reuse of an existing manufacturing plant. Requirements included an open office environment, structured parking, training rooms, exercise facilities and dining facilities.
After investigating 45 different sites, the 13.59-acre brownfield site became available with a 1950s-era office building and a more than 150,000-square-foot former metal manufacturing facility. With 70-foot and 90-foot clear-span bays, both 505 feet long, it was a “cathedral of steel,” said architect John Guenther, AIA and project designer with the lead design firm of Mackey Mitchell Associates, St. Louis.
As it stands today, the office building is 108,586 square feet, with 116,747 square feet of garage and another 33,872 square feet devoted to the courtyard. The ground-level office area comprises 55,790 square feet and the mezzanine-level office area is another 51,035 square feet.
Schaeffer said it started out with a plan to do the lighting design to meet a self-imposed target of 0.7 watts per square foot. Despite the open, light-sucking space it started with, when the job was completed, Alberici’s mixture of lighting consumed only 0.67 watts per square foot, which is about half the power typically used for lighting an office building. Energy savers included high-efficiency fixtures, ballasts and lamps; daylight harvesting (75 percent of spaces have natural daylight); and occupancy sensors, dimming and building automation system controls.
“The project made extensive use of premium fixtures, ballasts and lamps,” said Schaeffer. “We used occupancy sensors and dimming systems.” In addition, they used daylight harvesting in both the garage and open office areas.
Kapadia added there were few restrictions, except designing to meet Platinum criteria. “Open design really did not come in play. In fact, it was a bit difficult to set up the light fixtures so that they all could be installed ‘square’ to building lines,” he said.
Alberici wanted to lead by example, its target being able to transform the design and construction marketplace. The project achieved Platinum certification from USGBC by scoring 60 of 69 total points possible—the highest ever achieved by a building in this category. In fact, the building is among the highest rated LEED projects in the world.
“The biggest challenges were to meet the project’s fast-track construction schedule and the LEEDs Platinum design criteria,” Kapadia said. “Since this was never done before, we were all concerned.”
“The commitment to provide the best service begins at the top,” Kapadia said. “We do not tolerate mediocre performance. We meet this commitment by employing highly skilled people in our office and in the field. With our long history, we have extensive experience in all types of electrical system design and installation.”
If he could go back and change one thing, Kapadia said he would like to see a little more up-front coordination with other trades during the design stage to determine the cost of each trade and cost implication for the project overall.
Still, all’s well that ends well.
“The project was successful because of cooperation between trades and Alberici’s involvement,” he said. “We’re proud to be part of the team that designed and built the first LEED platinum building in the country.” EC
HARLER, a frequent contributor to SECURITY & LIFE SAFETY SYSTEMS, is based in Strongsville, Ohio. He can be reached at 440.238.4556 or [email protected].
Alberici Constructors Inc.—General contractor
Alper Audi Inc.—Structural engineer
Corrigan Co. Mechanical Contractors—Design/build mechanical and plumbing contractor
Guarantee Electrical Co.—Design/build electrical contractor
Hillsdale Fabricators—Metal fabricator
John J. Smith Masonry Co.—Masonry contractor
Lillie & Co.—Building commissioning
Mackey Mitchell Associates—Architect
Missouri Valley Glass—Glass contractor
Stock & Associates—Civil engineer