Along with creative financing options, the use of alternative delivery methods experienced growth in 2011. When reporting on their key areas of expertise, the Top 30 electrical design firms revealed that design-build gained more traction last year (Table 2).
Burns & McDonnell provided full design-build services for building modifications at Halls Crown Center in preparation for the new SEA LIFE aquarium in Kansas City, Mo. The recently opened 30,000-square-foot, two-story aquarium features 30 displays of salt water and freshwater marine life species. Under a contract with Crown Center Redevelopment Corp., Burns & McDonnell provided a range of design-build services, including architectural design, mechanical and electrical engineering, construction project management, estimating, and construction services. The project involved clearing the interior space on two floors of the Halls Crown Center department store, making structural modifications to accommodate large aquarium tanks and displays, modifying mechanical and electrical systems, and implementing new exterior entrance features.
Burns & McDonnell worked closely with Crown Center throughout demolition and construction to ensure the entire project met the company’s standards of environmentally responsible management and disposal of waste materials and installation of materials within the building envelope.
Many firms also incorporated energy conservation and sustainability into their designs. All but two of the firms on the Top 30 list reported that at least some of their firm’s work was based on green and energy-efficient design in 2011 and into 2012. In fact, eight firms estimate that more than 75% of their designs contain green and energy-efficient principles, with at least two claiming as much as 100%.
“The majority of our work includes some form of energy conservation or green design,” says Bauer of Affiliated Engineers, Inc. “Almost all clients are looking for energy efficiencies in their building systems. This will continue to be the majority of our work as the little money clients do have to spend is being invested in MEP and utility infrastructure to operate buildings and campuses more efficiently and economically.”
This trend has continued into 2012 and is expected to carry beyond this year. In January, Folsom, Calif.-based Glumac (No. 19) relocated to a new 15,150-square-foot LEED Platinum-designed office space. Sustainability was targeted as a primary goal for the design, which called for LEDs in more than 50% of luminaires, vacancy and occupancy sensors for all lighted spaces, daylight sensors for all luminaires in daylight areas, wireless controls and switches for all lights, and motorized blinds. To make all employees aware of energy usage, Glumac is installing a custom energy dashboard to show real-time and past energy use. This will lend insight into identifying trends and anomalies of the heating, cooling, and control systems and give Glumac the ability to make system changes in the future to ever-improve energy usage.
All but two firms on the Top 30 list reported including a renewable energy component in a percentage of their work, as well. Although percentages varied from 0.5% to an average 20%, one firm claimed that 90% of its work includes a renewable energy component.
In 2011, CH2M Hill announced completion of a first-of-its-kind modeling tool designed to promote the expansion of solar energy in the United States. The project was completed as part of the company’s ongoing support of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar America Communities program. The tool is intended to help communities understand how and when solar energy will become economically viable in various regions of the United States. The PV Cost Convergence Model provides valuable information about grid parity time lines and solar incentive scenarios for 25 cities across the United States, and forecasts when distributed PV energy costs may become competitive with existing grid electricity. CH2M Hill’s Cost Convergence Model can be accessed at www.PVcostconvergence.com.