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PPI Jumps 24% in 12 Months, Preventing Contractors from Passing Along Cost Increases

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By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE

Increases in prices for wood, metals, plastics and gypsum continue to narrow the margin between what contractors pay to acquire raw materials and what they’re able to charge the project owner.

Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America, said the construction industry Producer Price Index – which measures the average change over time in the selling prices received by domestic producers for their output – has climbed 24.3 percent over the past 12 months, increasing 4.3 percent in May 2021 alone. The 12-month climb, he says, is nearly double that of any previous year in history.

“This increase far outstrips contractors’ ability to charge more for projects,” said Simonson. “This gap means contractors are being hit with huge costs that they did not anticipate and cannot pass on.”

Meanwhile, the PPI for new nonresidential construction – a measure of what contractors say they’d charge to build five types of commercial structures – increased only 2.8 percent over the past 12 months. AGC’s recent analysis included narrative from contractors across the nation who said they’d held their profit expectations down to compete for a limited number of new projects.

According to the AGC, the PPI for lumber and plywood more than doubled, increasing 111 percent from May 2020 to May 2021. The index for steel mill products increased 75.6 percent over the same period. The copper and brass mill shapes PPI rose 60.4 percent since May 2020, and the aluminum PPI rose 28.6 percent. The PPI for plastic construction products increased 17.5 percent, while the index for gypsum products such as wallboard climbed 14.1 percent.

Fuel costs, Simonson says, along with surcharges on freight deliveries, have also jumped.

AGC officials including CEO Stephen Sandherr, are urging the Biden administration to end tariffs and quotas on steel, aluminum and lumber as the first step toward easing pressure on construction costs and supply chain bottlenecks.

“Ending tariffs on Canadian lumber, along with tariffs and quotas on steel and aluminum from numerous allied countries, is good policy,” Sandherr said.

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Southern Illinois Construction Advancement Program Promotes Economic Development in Southern Illinois Through Donations to 3 Organizations

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Jefferson County Development Corporation

Formed in 2008, JCDC exists to lead, coordinate, develop and implement strategies to enhance economic development through business retention, expansion, attraction and create a climate for economic growth.  This teamwork drives the community forward with a collaborative spirit, the sharing of ideas and shouldering of initiatives that turn concepts into successful projects.

Regional Economic Development Corporation

REDCO is organized exclusively for the purpose of improving general business conditions in Williamson County:  assist in projects, undertakings, studies, and other activities in cooperation and in coordination with local governmental and civic bodies for industrial development; promote industrial development and expansion of industrial, professional, and civic enterprises; and secure cooperation of as many social and economic interests with Southern Illinois as possible.

Greater Egypt Regional Planning and Development Commission

Greater Egypt has been serving southern Illinois communities, citizens, businesses, and local governments since 1961 within the five counties of Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Perry, and Williamson.  Greater Egypt provides economic development planning and assistance, water quality management planning, local government services, technical assistance and provides administrative services for local, state, and federal programs such as Economic Development Administration grants, Delta Regional Authority grants, Community Development Block Grant, Enterprise Zone, and the Southern Illinois Metropolitan Planning Organization.

For Further Information:  Donna Richter – Southern Illinois Builders Assn. – (618) 624-9055

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AGC Charities Hosting a Volunteer Day During AGC’s Annual Convention

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The Associated General Contractors of America and its philanthropic arm, AGC Charities, Inc. is looking for help to make this year’s Operation Opening Doors volunteer project a success.

For the Orlando Annual Convention, they are working with a Kissimmee-based group called Give Kids the World Village. The group provides all-expenses paid trips, included a stay at their theme-park like Village, for terminally ill children and their families. The visits include free trips to Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World.

On Monday, September 20th, AGC Charities is holding a volunteer day at Give Kids the World Village to make improvements to the facility including replacing a protective fence and upgrading bathrooms at one of the Village’s pools.

Here is more information about Give Kids the World and why it is so important for us to help them, watch video here.

You can help make this AGC Charities Operation Opening Doors project a success by signing up to participate in the volunteer day when you register to attend AGC’s Orlando Annual Convention. In addition, we will need to purchase construction materials and tools. Your donations will allow us to make those purchases. Click here to donate today.

AGC Charities Operation Opening Doors project plans for success to make sure the World these special kids get is truly spectacular.

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Getting to Building Energy Performance Standard Benchmarking

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Join the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter and the City of St. Louis for an interactive event providing real details on how to save energy in buildings. Attend multiple quick presentations to gain insight into numerous energy efficiency projects and financing solutions with a special focus on how to prepare to meet the City’s new Building Energy Performance Standard (BEPS).

Presentations Include: 

  • Updates on City of St. Louis Building Energy Performance Standard (BEPS) by Rajiv Ravulapati, City of St. Louis Building Division
  • Planning for BEPS Compliance in Affordable Housing by Cady Scott Seabaugh, McCormack Baron Salazar
  • Using Audits & Retrocommissioning to Prepare and Plan for Compliance by Jonathon Bell, Ross & Baruzzini
  • Hypothetical Compliance for a Typical Building Type by Steve Andert, Mazzetti
  • Utility Incentive Updates! by Maddie Emerson, Ameren Missouri BizSavers and Christopher Wright, Spire Energy

WHEN: 
Friday, June 4
8:00 – 10:00 am

WHERE: via ZOOM – registrants will be sent a link upon registering and the day before the event

FEE: Free to all

REGISTER: Click on the Registration button on the left side of the screen.

If you’re interested in providing a presentation at this Carousel or the one in October 2021, please complete this short interest form – we are always looking for new ideas!

Background: On January 27, 2017, the City of St. Louis Board of Aldermen unanimously passed an energy benchmarking ordinance that requires municipal, institutional, commercial, and multifamily residential buildings who’s square footage is equal to or greater than 50,000 to track and report their energy and water usage annually to the City’s Building Division.

In the City of St. Louis, buildings (residential, commercial, and industrial) are responsible for 80% of greenhouse gas emissions. Policies like the City’s benchmarking requirements and the new Building Energy Performance Standard (BEPS) make St. Louis’ existing buildings heroes in the fight against wasted energy, air pollution and climate change. 

QUESTIONS? 

USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter | usgbc-mogateway@mobot.org | 314-577-0854

City of St. Louis | benchmarking@stlouis-mo.gov | 314-622-5689

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Theft-Proof Your Construction Site

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Submitted by: Schmersahl Treloar & Co.

Construction site theft is an expensive, growing concern. Costs rise as contractors lose building materials, tools and equipment and liability insurance premiums rise. Often those losses are passed on to customers.

Sites are especially vulnerable to theft, both by on-site workers and by criminals who recognize an easy opportunity. In fact, experts say that most thieves are in and out within 10 minutes, taking what is easily and quickly removed.

You can’t eliminate theft entirely, but you can take steps to reduce it and make your sites less vulnerable. Thieves are good at knowing what contractors fail to do to protect a site.

Even before you start a job, check with others in the industry to learn what the risks are in the area. Then follow this checklist of measures you should take to crack down on theft by both employees and criminals looking for an easy mark:

1. Mark and Register Your Equipment

  • List it with a national registry such as the National Equipment Register. Keep an inventory and photos.
  • Use warning and reward decals.
  • Paint equipment and tools with a distinctive color.
  • Stamp items with a company identification number.
  • Mark it with “microtagger” thermostat plastic coating that contains coded pigments or metal particles.

2. External Security

  • Erect a chain link fence around the site and install lighting. If you cannot erect a fence, take other precautions to protect vehicles.
  • Ask the police to watch your site at night and on weekends.
  • Hire security guards.
  • Require delivery people to show a company ID, a driver’s license and credit card.

3. In-House Security

  • Have a theft prevention policy and an incentive plan that rewards employees for keeping losses to a minimum.
  • Discuss loss prevention during safety meetings.
  • Make surprise visits to sites.
  • Enable employees to report suspicious activity anonymously.
  • Conduct background checks on employees.

4. Storing and Issuing Tools

  • Immobilize equipment that could be hotwired.
  • Attach anti-theft devices, such as steering wheel locks, kill switches, and wheel and axle locks.
  • Store materials and small equipment in a shed with a double-cylinder deadbolt and monitored security alarm.
  • Assign equipment by serial number to supervisors and work teams.
  • Restrict storage access to authorized employees.
  • Issue only the tools needed that day.
  • Standardize procedures for handing out and returning keys.
  • Stamp “Do Not Duplicate” on keys. Keep a list of the people who have been given them.
Double Check Subcontractors by Asking if They:
~ Have a theft prevention policy.
~ Conduct background checks on employees.
~ Restrict access to storage.
~ Understand procedures for securing materials and equipment at the end of the day.
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Southern Illinois Builders Association Receives Heritage Award

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The Southern Illinois Builders Association recently received the 2020 Heritage Recognition Award from the O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce for 75 years of continued service in the area. SIBA, a trade association for commercial contractors, started in southern Illinois in 1945 in East St. Louis and has grown to approximately 500 members covering the southern 39 counties in Illinois.  Donna Richter, CEO of SIBA (left) accepts the award on behalf of SIBA and Cindy Helmkamp (right), President of the O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce presented the award.

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Habitat for Humanity Breaks Ground on Home Build in St. Louis’ Gate District

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Partners with Concrete Strategies, Clayco and the Construction Career Development Initiative with the support of Geotechnology, Inc. and the St. Louis Job Corps Center.

Habitat for Humanity’s breaks ground on a new home build today, bringing together a collaborative team led by Concrete Strategies, part of the Clayco enterprise, and workforce diversity nonprofit Construction Career Development Initiative (CCDI). The four-day build will take place at 3429 and 3427 Park Avenue, and each day the site will be staffed with twelve skilled Clayco and CCDI volunteers. The volunteers will be pouring foundations for two homes in St. Louis’s Gate District neighborhood and helping to support minority representation in construction.

While Concrete Strategies and CCDI are providing volunteers and donations, the project is also fueled by a partnership with the St. Louis Job Corps Center’s construction program, Geotechnology, Inc., and other local subcontractors who partner with CCDI to hire program graduates into full-time employment. Three CCDI graduates who are now employed full-time with Concrete Strategies are participating in the build: Chris Conners (class of 2016), Keshawn Outlaw (class of 2018) and Shutaun Williams (class of 2020 and a St. Louis Job Corps graduate).

“Habitat for Humanity appreciates the tremendous planning, skills and time that each of the partners in this build have dedicated,” said Kimberly McKinney, Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis CEO. “It’s especially meaningful knowing we are bringing together a changemaking group of individuals to participate. Our team of community partners are driving equitable opportunities for the underserved in our community.”

Volunteer Shutaun Williams, a 2020 CCDI graduate and Concrete Strategies carpenter, joins fellow graduates and four of his former St. Louis Job Corps instructors on the project. “The build is bringing together a group of people who want to do good for our community,” said Shutaun. “I am happy to be part of this project, and even more so, I am proud to be a part of the CCDI family. To have a support system of impactful leaders who want to see you succeed and want to create solutions that give more people an opportunity to overcome systematic barriers—this support is unmatchable.”

CCDI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded by Clayco in 2015 in response to the unrest in Ferguson to provide career development opportunities to young minority adults who are underrepresented within the construction industry. The organization works to bridge the workforce diversity gap by partnering with various school districts in North St. Louis County and St. Louis City, community leaders and organizations such as St. Louis Job Corps and North Technical High School to cultivate a renewed interest in apprenticeships and career technical education programs. For example, once students graduate from St. Louis Job Corps Center, CCDI helps to place program graduates into full-time employment and assists with any barriers students may face from transportation to tools to help ensure retention in the construction industry. Since CCDI’s establishment in 2015, 80 of the program’s students have been placed in full-time careers.

“All of us involved are thrilled by the opportunity to serve our St. Louis neighbors,” said Tom Sieckhaus, President of CCDI and Executive Vice President of Clayco’s Corporate Business Unit. “This build signifies our shared commitment to placing underserved young people into full-time employment and expanding our joint reach to ensure as many people as possible have access to career development in the construction field is critically important.”

Longtime CCDI partner Dr. Dave Baker was in attendance at the groundbreaking. Dr. Baker retired last year from his role as Assistant Superintendent of College and Career Readiness of Special School District and is now the Business and Community Liaison for St. Louis Job Corps. About CCDI and its impact, Dr. Baker said, “CCDI has become integral in the northern portion of the St. Louis region in regard to ensuring a diverse and competent workforce for the construction industry. CCDI has taken on the task of connecting young men and women interested in the field of construction to the companies who will mentor and eventually hire them. Young people need validation of their hard work and good decisions; CCDI and its partners are providing that validation.”

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About Clayco
Clayco is a full-service, turnkey real estate development, master planning, architecture, engineering, and construction firm that safely delivers clients across North America the highest quality solutions on time, on budget, and above and beyond expectations. With $3.8 billion in revenue for 2020, Clayco specializes in the “art and science of building,” providing fast track, efficient solutions for industrial, commercial, institutional and residential related building projects. For more information visit www.claycorp.com.

About Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis

Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis (HFHSL) is a not-for-profit, ecumenical housing ministry working in partnership with individuals and communities to improve housing conditions and provide safe, decent and affordable housing in St. Louis City and County. With more than 400 homes already built or rehabbed, HFHSL is one of the leading housing developers in St. Louis. HFHSL regularly ranks among the top Habitat for Humanity affiliates in the country. HFHSL donors, volunteers, and partner families work side-by-side to build or rehab homes ensuring that every deserving family in St. Louis has a decent place to live. Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis:  Building Homes, Building Hope, Building St. Louis.  For more information, visit: www.habitatstl.org.

About the Construction Career Development Initiative

The Construction Career Development Initiative (CCDI) was founded by Clayco in 2015 in response to the aftermath in Ferguson, Missouri to provide a program for selected young adults in North County to help them overcome barriers to success, pair them in long-term one-on-one mentorship, offer financial support, and create opportunities for job placement. Clayco’s vision and ultimate goal with CCDI is to support workforce diversity and bridge the gap in workforce development. Clayco realized this task could not be completed alone and that is what this initiative has grown over the past three years to include many partnerships in the St. Louis community with school districts, local leaders and contractors and subcontractors. Together, we can build the foundation to change. For more information, please visit https://ccdi.org/.

About St. Louis Job Corps

St. Louis Job Corps Center supports the Job Corps program’s mission to teach eligible young people the skills they need to become employable and independent and place them in meaningful jobs or further education. St. Louis Job Corps has 15 Career Technical Training Programs and six (6) are in the Construction Trades. The program also draws students from St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles County; the majority of Job Corps participants hail from St. Louis City and north St. Louis County, the areas of CCDI’s focus. Job Corps is a U.S. Department of Labor Equal Opportunity Employer Program. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.

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Find Success Fulfilling IDIQ Contracts

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Indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts, which may secure a construction manager for an undefined number of projects during an extended time period, are highly beneficial for owners with ongoing construction needs. IDIQs allow owners to use one construction manager for multiple projects, help the team to operate more nimbly and create management team consistency.

However, contractors must lean on project management best practices to ensure success while executing numerous smaller, often simultaneous and fast-paced projects. Kwame Building Group is the construction manager at risk (CMAR) for the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, Inc., a nonprofit with the mission to empower African Americans and others in securing economic self-reliance, social equality and civil rights. In addition to managing a 4-month renovation for Urban Leagues’ new $20 million corporate headquarters, Kwame is consulted regularly on new projects that arise as the organization receives donations of time, resources and even buildings. In order to make full use of donated time, buildings, money or resources, there is no choice but to be flexible and move quickly.

Through IDIQ relationships for many clients, including Urban League, Kwame has developed eight project management best practices for delivering projects on time and within budget no matter how small or fast paced.

1. Understand the end goal – Don’t just take the design and build it. In an IDIQ relationship, construction managers serve as a strategic advisor. Take time to understand the client’s ultimate goal and advise them through the various projects to reach that goal.

2. Develop and rely on your system but adjust as needed – Don’t be tempted to ditch structure on smaller projects. Make sure to adapt your systems in order to operate efficiently. You shouldn’t do a task unnecessarily just to check a box. All items on the checklist should satisfy the project.

3. Establish an experienced, single point of contact – Many IDIQ projects required thinking on your feet and troubleshooting along the way. An experienced project manager, who is the client’s single point of contact will help the workflow go smoothly and streamline communications. Leadership is critical when selecting the project manager. The right project manager must have a sense of urgency about completion and budget constraints. Kwame often pairs newer team members with an experienced manager so they can gain experience.

4. Develop relationships with subcontractors – Make sure to have numerous, trusted subcontractors identified and ready to work with you before you need them. Part of the mission of Kwame and the Urban League is to use MBE/WBE/DBE contractors as much as possible. Kwame maximizes the utilization of minorities and women with education, experience and work ethics. Since some of these businesses do not have the advantage of bigger companies, Kwame often advises them on developing project management systems so those firms can be successful.

5. Monitor small projects – The quality of work being done by subcontractors directly relates to the frequency of being on-site to monitor the work. It may seem counterintuitive, but smaller projects, especially when being completed on a rapid timeline, need even more frequent communication and higher coordination.

6. Use Products You trust – There is no time for mistakes or shipping delays on IDIQ projects. Choose products you know and manufacturers you trust to ship on time to avoid unexpected issues.

7. Be at the front line of technology – Project management, including scheduling and reporting, can be supported through so many technology tools these days. Build your team’s comfort level with technology and strive to be on the frontline of adopting new technology. However, never forget that while tools make your job efficient and productive, experience and knowledge are the most important requirements.

8. Open the door to feedback – Ultimately, IDIQ contracts are all about the long-term client relationship. Regularly ask the client, “How are we doing?” You’d be surprised by the things you learn when you ask. Uncovering any sore spots can help prevent issues in the future and demonstrate your commitment to the relationship.

Anthony Simmons is a senior project manager at Kwame Building Group, Inc., which dedicates 100% of its resources to project management services. An employee-owned company, Kwame provides estimating, scheduling, project planning, value engineering and other project management services as an independent advocate for owners and developers. Kwame’s public and private sector projects include educational facilities, major airports nationwide, light-rail systems, hospitals, wastewater treatment facilities and government facilities. Visit kwamebuildinggroup.com.

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IMPACT Strategies Begins Construction on Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility

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IMPACT Strategies has been selected by Encompass Health to manage construction of a 40-bed inpatient rehabilitation hospital in Shiloh, IL. With the structure conveniently located adjacent to BJC HealthCare’s Memorial Hospital Shiloh campus on Frank Scott Parkway East, IMPACT broke ground on the $15.5 Million project in January 2021.

Under the design guidance of Gresham Smith, the 1 story building will contain 48,000 square feet of acute rehabilitation care. Supplementing acute care services, like those of Memorial Hospital Shiloh, the facility will include 40 private inpatient rooms, a kitchen, dining room, exercise room, pharmacy, therapy gym, dialysis room, and therapy courtyard. Upon completion in December 2021, the rehabilitation hospital will offer physical, occupational, and speech therapies to the Metro East area and surrounding region.

Looking to expand and utilize their healthcare construction expertise, this is the first time IMPACT Strategies has worked with Encompass Health. The facility is expected to operate as a joint venture between Encompass Health and BJC HealthCare.

IMPACT Strategies provides client-focused construction management, design/build, and general contracting services. The firm offers a full continuum of innovative design/build service capabilities including proven construction management processes and site development. IMPACT Strategies serves a regional and national client base in the Healthcare, Senior Living, Multifamily, Office, Retail, and Warehouse/Distribution markets. To learn more visit BuildwithIMPACT.com or call 618-394-8400 or 314-646-8400.

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Children’s Mercy Research Institute Designed for Optimal Energy Efficiency

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Beyond being a tech-savvy, visually stunning addition to the landscape of Hospital Hill, Children’s Mercy Research Institute’s new headquarters exemplifies optimal energy efficient design.

Thoughtful, deliberate design and engineering of the array of systems that will power the new research institute is the result of years of planning, coordination and collaboration between BSA LifeStructures, owner Children’s Mercy Research Institute, MEP engineer Brack & Associates, structural engineer Bob D. Campbell and Company and Architectural Wall Systems LLC.

BSA LifeStructures has an office in Clayton.

BSA LifeStructures Director of Architecture Jacqueline Foy, LEED, AP, said planning to design the building’s systems began five years ago. The project was challenging to design a non-traditional laboratory and research building with a glass façade, open spaces and a monumental stair.

“We knew early on that glass would be the main exterior material, and we knew we would need the inside to be flexible and adaptable to meet the needs of changing research,” said Foy. “This meant minimizing additional interior wall construction. It started us down the path to push the limits of traditional curtain wall systems.”

Children’s Mercy Research Institute’s various building systems, inside and out, have been designed and engineered to achieve maximum energy efficiency for the client throughout the life cycle of the building.

The structure’s glass curtain wall system – the outer, non-structural covering of the building – has been designed to spur energy efficiency via a strikingly beautiful and research-centric design.

“The form of both the building and the monumental stair on the west side are inspired by science and by the research that will take place inside,” Foy said. “It was especially important to consider energy impacts at the monumental stair. Without the ability to have clear-vision glass, the structure of the stair would be lost and the connection to the institute’s purpose would not be on display. However, ignoring the energy requirements would mean no one would ever use this space,” she added. “Working alongside partners that understood the importance of balancing energy efficiency with aesthetics allowed for the true vision of the building, and specifically the monumental stair to be realized.”

Architectural Wall Systems (AWS) was the design-assist partner for the all-glass curtain wall system that is already a focal point for motorists traveling south along Interstate 35 or Highway 71 and westward on Interstate70 as they approach Kansas City. “Children’s Mercy Research Institute is an emerging, identifiable landmark for Kansas City just south of downtown,” said Brad Davison-Rippey, AIA, system design manager at AWS. “It definitely has a presence on Hospital Hill.”

The curtain wall system, according to Davison-Rippey, is 12 inches in depth, notably thicker than standard commercial curtain wall systems that measure seven to ten inches deep. “The primary reason we ended up with such depth is due to the amount of insulation we needed in the spandrel area, the area of the curtain wall that wraps all the spaces that need obscuring between the ceiling and the bottom of the structure. To optimize energy efficiency, we got really creative so we could make sure the insulation in these areas was as continuous as possible. There are approximately six inches of insulation in these cavities, easily half of which is continuous,” he added, noting that the curtain wall’s frames ranged from a U-value of .22 to .24, compared to typical curtain wall frames that have a U-value ranging from .35 to .40. “Our project team is proud of the level of efficiency this building possesses, particularly in light of all the glass it has. It’s a real win for the owner,” he said.

The diagrid curtain wall – an aerodynamic system comprised of interlinked triangles that eliminates the need for vertical columns – fills the space between the main tower and the monumental stair from ground level to just above the sixth floor. Diamond-patterned glass designed with the project’s four primary glass colors but also pulls in various blues and greens from the existing hospital. The main tower and the iconic stair each have an independent unitized curtain wall system.

Sequencing of the building’s construction enabled AWS to prefabricate all of the unitized curtain wall system components off site as the structure was being erected. “Prefabricating allowed us to install the curtain wall system one five-foot-tall by 16-foot-wide frame (weighing 900-1,000 pounds) at a time,” Davidson-Rippey said. “It took us two to three weeks to wrap each floor, with a total of more than 1,400 prefabricated frames for the entire structure.” The glass was sourced from Viracon in Owatonna, MN, and installed into frames fabricated by AWS’ partner Sotawall in Toronto, Ontario. 

Foy said the project team spent much time and research to create the variations of the glass that are positioned within the unique curtain wall framing that wraps Children’s Mercy Research Institute.

“There is a very distinct and precise pattern on the glass,” she said. “It was important that the colors and reflectivity of the glass allowed the pattern to reveal itself. This time it was the balance between the performance of the glass and its reflective films that helped complete the design intent of the pattern.”

Another example of energy efficiency design is the triangular glass wall dividing the building’s main entrance from the interior with an eight-foot by eight-foot “glass box” vestibule. The glass box feature, according to Foy, adds another layer of separation from one area to the next, reducing the strain on mechanical systems specific to heating and cooling needs spurred by occupants entering and existing the main entrance. BSA LifeStructures’ designs were embodied in a 3-D physical model of each building system.

Balancing and regulating the amount of daylight streaming into the new research institute structure also proved an instrumental facet of designing and engineering for maximized energy efficiency. Children’s Mercy Research Institute, BSA LifeStructures, partner Brack & Associates and McCownGordon Construction. The companies’ representatives met weekly throughout the life of the project to ensure every detail of the sizes and requirements of the building’s mechanical, electrical and structural systems designs (engineered by Bob D. Campbell and Company) interacted with one another to operate at the highest level of energy efficiency possible.

“Our first concern was how this large addition to the hospital’s existing physical plant was going to impact their ability to power the systems in the new research institute building,” said Dave Krug, vice president of Brack & Associates and project manager. “We built the new building’s systems onto an ongoing, existing chilled water system project at Children’s Mercy Kansas City that was already underway when this new project began. We projected that Children’s Mercy Research Facility was going to require another 1,200 cooling tons. When they began planning for this research institute facility 20 years ago, they laid plans to build a second (energy) plant adjacent to the new structure that is nearly completed.”

The advantages of tying both plants – the original energy plant built to power the hospital three decades ago and the newer energy plant to supply the research building – are clear in terms of equipping Children’s Mercy Research Institute for maximum energy efficiency, according to Krug. The new chillers are state of the art, he said.

“We added two 1,000-ton, magnetic-drive centrifugal chillers to the owner’s cooling system that are newer technology,” said Krug. “Each operates at about 15 percent higher efficiency than a conventional centrifugal chiller. Instead of needing bearings, the new chillers are designed with a magnetic shaft.”

Energy efficiency also abounds within the laboratories housed in the new research institute. Krug said a Kansas City-based global manufacturer of lab fume hoods, Labconco, fabricated tech-forward hoods that detect if the user has walked away with sensors that automatically close the sash, decreasing the air flow required for safe operation of the hood to save exhaust-related energy draws. “We project that these lab fume hood sensors will save the owner about 40 percent in energy operating costs annually,” he said.

The lab exhaust system is also designed and engineered to require a lower amount of outside exhaust, saving additional energy. One example of this energy efficient design is the use of Type C biosafety cabinets. The specialized cabinets are designed to reduce the amount of exhaust required yet maintain a safe environment within the research labs.

Variable air volume controls providing the proper amount of exhaust and supply to keep positive and negative air pressure relationships in balance are further evidence of facility systems design that supports energy efficiency, said Krug. “Emergency push buttons that send the exhaust system into purge mode in the case of a sudden, high quantity of air needs pushing – should there be a chemical fume release – are another sophisticated mechanical system in this new facility,” he said. “While providing a safe, comfortable environment in which researchers will work, the system will also utilize only the required amount of energy needed.”

A heat recovery system with a run-around loop that’s able to recover some 40 percent of the heating or cooling that would typically be lost in a traditional, single-pass laboratory mechanical system is another energy efficient facet of Children’s Mercy Research Institute’s design.

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