Each year, Earth Day serves as a reminder of how important it is to keep sustainability and the protection of the environment in mind when we build. Sustainability is a priority for our clients as well, and many construction projects incorporate sustainable features like solar panels, automated HVAC systems and unique features that use renewable resources. Another key consideration is the construction process itself. Employing sustainable practices and methods of building and waste management enable us to take extra steps to preserve the environment.
To celebrate Earth Day this year, we’re highlighting three Sundt projects prioritizing the health and wellness of the environment. These are just a small sample of the sustainability-forward and environmentally conscious projects we’re working on.
Golden West College Language Arts Complex (LAC)
The Golden West Language Arts Complex (LAC) in Huntington Beach, Calif. harnesses the power of the surrounding environment to reduce energy consumption and minimize the building’s carbon footprint. The LAC, Sundt’s third project for Golden West Community College, will support the growing needs of the school’s language arts programs with new classrooms, computer labs, gathering, office and support spaces, and a reading, writing and resource center.
This three-story building will be approximately 72,000 square feet and feature modern LED fixtures, natural daylighting, native landscaping, and cutting-edge HVAC design components that will reduce energy consumption on campus. These sustainable strategies minimize the building’s carbon footprint, provide healthy spaces for students and move the campus toward Net Zero Energy (NZE).
Since the building is located less than five miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, it will utilize a natural ventilation system to reduce HVAC energy use. Sundt is installing interior and exterior transom windows that will open simultaneously to catch the breeze, bring it in through the classroom, into the building, and then vent it up through one of two solar chimney stacks extending through the roof on either side of the building.
Sundt topped out the Golden West LAC building in April 2022, and the project will complete in summer of this year. This will be one of the last major projects on the Golden West campus completed under Coast Community College District’s Measure M bond program, which aimed to provide modern facilities to support the district’s science and arts programs.
Improvements to Boeckman Road in a Wilsonville, Oregon neighborhood provide new opportunities to enhance and protect wildlife habitats. The original construction of the road included 300 feet of corrugated metal culverts to allow the waters of Boeckman Creek to flow under the road. However, this created a barrier that made it more difficult for fish and wildlife to move through their native habitat.
The city employed an environmental monitoring team to observe the area to assess how the local critters were faring with the current setup. They found that only small species, such as rodents, felt comfortable navigating the current culverts. The existing culverts are too small for larger animals and fish to pass through.
A major undertaking of Sundt’s work will be to remove these culverts, restoring the natural ebb and flow of wildlife in the area. Sundt is currently working hand-in-hand with the city, engineering team and environmental agencies under a progressive design-build delivery model to develop the best strategy to achieve the project’s sustainability goals and environmental benefits. The design will also enhance the creek’s natural resources and treat stormwater for improved water quality.
“We care about performing quality work that will improve neighborhoods and enhance the environment, and this project is a great example of both,” Ryan Silbernagel, Project Manager.
The project is currently in the preconstruction phase and is slated to break ground mid-summer of this year.
Salt Lake City Water Reclamation
Harkening back to Earth Day in 2021 is the Salt Lake City Water Reclamation Facility. In 2019 Sundt and PCL (Sundt/PCL, A Joint Venture) were chosen by the Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities to construct a 48-million-gallon per day new Water Reclamation Facility (WRF) that has a number of sustainability goals.
The Sundt team is working on building new facilities and decommissioning old ones, as well as installing a biological nutrient removal (BNR) process designed to reduce phosphorus in wastewater in a sustainable and efficient manner. Finally, a (UV) disinfection process will be added as a final step to help to replenish the Great Salt Lake.
“This project is proof that it’s not just one entity contributing to the success of sustainability; it has to be integrated into the project team from the beginning. Doing a project this large, cost-effectively and sustainably, all while maintaining operations, requires the voices of all stakeholders. This collaboration leads to more resilient, sustainable infrastructure and long-term value for the community,” said Jennifer Graves, Senior Project Engineer.
The guideline for the project’s sustainability goals is based on a rating system called Envision. This system is designed to help project owners, designers and contractors create the most sustainable and resilient infrastructure possible. One of the focus areas is resource allocation: for this project, that involved recycling, reusing and/or salvaging at least 50% of all waste materials. As of 2021, we not only met but far exceeded those numbers. Today, we’re doing even better.
We believe that the construction industry has both the opportunity and the responsibility to protect and preserve the environment. Sundt’s sustainable business practices have consistently supported the reduction of waste, water and energy use while helping our clients achieve their own sustainability goals.
Check out our Sustainability page for more about how we are working to build a more sustainable future for the industry.