January 13, 2012
January 11, 2012
Have you ever budgeted a year in advance for a European vacation, only to discover that airline ticket prices suddenly doubled right before you made your purchase, leaving you with enough cash to buy round trip bus fare to Truth or Consequences, N.M.? Although it’s a simplistic example, the equivalent situation happens often in construction: yesterday’s estimate may fall short of today’s prices, catching less experienced contractors – and their clients – off-guard. The result is less buying power, i.e. building potential, than was originally planned.
Pricing in the construction industry is affected by a number of factors, primarily the cost of materials, fuel and labor. These numbers fluctuate over time in response to changes in supply and demand – both domestic and international. The challenge is to make reasonably accurate predictions about future prices when estimating the costs of projects that may not begin for several months or even a year or more. In 2011, the average cost of construction materials rose about six percent, which was less than the previous year’s increase but twice the annual inflation rate. What’s on tap for 2012? Industry experts, including Sundt, agree that the U.S. construction industry will experience an average price increase of approximately five percent this year, driven mostly by international demand.
What does all this mean for builders and those who hire them? “We put a lot of time into tracking and understanding pricing so that we can effectively manage risk, both for ourselves and for our clients,” says Don Goodrich, Sundt’s director of preconstruction services. “When we serve as the Construction Manager at Risk, we work with the client to ensure that there’s an escalation line item that acts as a buffer for price fluctuations to protect our clients and their budgets. When we are competing for projects that require us and our subcontractors to go at risk for a fixed amount – regardless of what the prices are when it’s time to purchase materials – we use the data to analyze and manage risk.”
What if a contractor doesn’t factor the right costs into in its early estimates and include its clients in conversations about market volatility? That, says Goodrich, can create a credibility problem. “Construction pricing is a very dynamic process. It pays to work with an experienced contractor that dedicates time and talent to this subject, and it also helps to utilize alternate project delivery methods that provide the most flexibility and protection against the unexpected.”
January 9, 2012
This aerial photo shows recent progress on construction of the $99 million Health Sciences Education Building at Phoenix Biomedical Campus, being built by Sundt and joint venture partner DPR Construction. Phoenix Biomedical Campus is a major academic health center developed by the Arizona Board of Regents, the state universities and the city of Phoenix. The 268,000-square-foot Health Sciences Education Building is on track to be complete this summer, in plenty of time for the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year. Its unique design features multiple exterior finishes including copper metal panels, concrete, masonry, and glass.
January 8, 2012
The Richard E. Arnason Justice Center is the first new California courthouse to earn LEED Silver certification.
Another recently completed Sundt project has been recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council for its contribution to the sustainability movement. The $42.3 million Richard E. Arnason Justice Center in Pittsburg, Calif., has earned LEED Silver certification, putting it into an elite category of civic buildings that serve the public good while reducing their impact on the environment. It is the first new California courthouse to earn LEED Silver certification.
The three-story, 73,500-square-foot courthouse gained LEED points for its high-efficiency mechanical systems, extensive use of local and recycled materials, and the incorporation of natural light and ventilation. To help save on energy usage and costs, motion sensors control the building’s lights, turning them off whenever a room is unoccupied, while the HVAC system lessens its environmental impact through the use of a chemical-free water treatment system. One of the most unusual features is the jury assembly room, which is covered by a 2,900-square-foot “green roof” planted with a variety of native grasses, reducing heat load and conserving water.
The building includes seven courtrooms, judges’ chambers, administrative space, conference rooms, a library, and in-custody detention areas, plus state-of-the-art systems for security, access control and video surveillance.
January 5, 2012
Artist's rendering of the John M. Roll United States Courthouse in Yuma, Ariz.
Six lives were brought to a tragic end during the mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz., last January 8, which left an additional 13 people wounded, among them U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Although the victims’ lives were cut short, their hopes and dreams live on thanks to the many programs, nonprofit organizations and projects that have since been founded in their names.
Sundt is honored to be building one such project: The John M. Roll United States Courthouse in Yuma, Ariz., a landmark building that pays tribute to its namesake while reminding us that out of tragedy comes hope and renewal. John M. Roll was a federal judge who was killed in the attack.
The $25 million design-build project, which was funded several years ago and then put on hold because of the stagnant economy, was brought back to life largely because of the efforts of Justice Roll, who was one of the project’s biggest champions. The courthouse is being constructed in a prominent location on the city’s riverfront, where it will replace an outdated facility and help stimulate economic reinvestment in the area.
The building’s design puts a southwestern twist on the classic American courthouse by using locally sourced sandstone, living walls made of vines planted on steel trellises to shade windows, and fans for maximum ventilation. The project’s centerpiece is a 10,000-square-foot canopy made of photovoltaic panels that will provide shade while generating one quarter of the building’s electrical needs. Together, these innovative features are expected to put the project well within reach of earning LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. It is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2013.
The John M. Roll Unites States Courthouse will stand as a tribute to a man who dedicated his life to his family, friends and community. Sundt is honored to help him be remembered.
Artist's rendering of PECOC, a new emergency management center being built by Sundt for Pima County, Ariz.
Sundt’s latest mission critical project – a $14.6 million emergency management facility for Pima County, Ariz., known as PECOC (Pima Emergency Communications and Operations Center) – will greatly improve communication and coordination between various public safety agencies in the county and nearby city of Tucson when it is complete this June. The innovative facility will centralize communications, dispatch, and public safety answering points for the Pima County Wireless Integrated Network to meet a variety of critical needs for the community.
Sundt’s contract includes a partial building demolition, remodeling, and building a 13,400-square-foot addition to an existing, county-owned building. The completed 63,000-square-foot facility will house the 9-1-1 call center and dispatch operations of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department and a consortium of fire districts that serve unincorporated Pima County, plus the Pima County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security Emergency Operations Center. Backup dispatch facilities for the City of Tucson Police and Fire Departments and a backup Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition center for Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department Operations will be housed there as well.
Sustainability is one of the project’s top priorities. In order to help PECOC achieve LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, an energy-efficient overhead HVAC system with raised flooring will be utilized to heat and cool the facility. The team is aiming to recycle as much as 75 percent of the project’s construction waste, including saving rocks that were in the original landscape and reusing them to create a new gabion wall. Masonry walls inside the building are being built by Sundt’s own crews.
The facility will be outfitted with state-of-the-art technology and security features including radio communications equipment and telecommunications infrastructure for the new regional public safety voice communications network, for which Sundt will install all of the cables. PECOC also includes high security fencing, a controlled access system, seismic bracing to prevent earthquake damage, and a number of redundant features and backup generators so that the facility never loses power.