Modernization of a fully operational 1970s federal building into a high-performance green building
The Henry M. Jackson Federal Building is the largest federal building in the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Northwest/Arctic Region, home to over 35 agencies with more than 2,300 employees. The challenge presented to Balfour Beatty was to transform the 1970s flagship government building into an economically and operationally efficient high-performance green building with one caveat. The renovation must take place while the facility remains fully occupied and operational with no disruption to the tenants or daily business.
Retrofitting a Fully-Occupied Building
In 2010, Balfour Beatty accepted GSA’s challenge to deliver a deep energy retrofit without impacting the occupants. Retrofitting a 40 year-old fully operational building presented logistical challenges that impacted Balfour Beatty’s ability to easily implement the energy upgrades. To offset potential issues, Balfour Beatty crafted a design-build team centered on trust and creativity that co-located with GSA’s team to ensure real-time collaboration. By co-locating from day one, Balfour Beatty’s design-build team was able to obtain highly useful information from the building maintenance team to assist with solving the procurement and scheduling hurdles.
Keeping GSA’s goals in mind, Balfour Beatty designed the renovation around the user’s experience and comfort. Chiller and cooling tower replacements occurred in the winter months when the air-conditioning would not be used. In the warmer months, the windows were replaced as well as the other comfort based systems. Typically, deep retrofits come at the substantial price of the occupants; however because of Balfour Beatty’s thoughtful pre-planning there was not one complaint from an occupant during the entire renovation.
Keeping employees and workers safe during construction
Balfour Beatty’s safety approach for this project included an intense focus on ensuring that the public remained unharmed. The team designed system replacements that were installed overnight so that the space would be clear of construction and ready to be occupy the next day. Exterior window replacement were installed in a way that ensured the occupants couldn’t cause themselves harm or a failure of the systems. A switchgear replacement was scheduled over the weekend so that the power outage would not affect people during working hours. In addition, scheduling the replacement on the weekend ensured the safety of Balfour Beatty’s crews who were then able to work on de-energized equipment.
Through innovative thinking and early alignment, Balfour Beatty completed all required scopes, had additional funding to add value scopes, and completed the project on time and within budget. As important, the team did not impact or move a single occupant and exceeded our proposed energy savings. Though there isn’t new “architecture” to inspire, Balfour Beatty’s project is a celebration of the hidden architecture of a high-performing green building that demonstrates any building can be brought forward to cutting edge technologies and performance.
“Balfour Beatty was instrumental in ensuring the project was a success and met the energy saving goals while ensuring the missions of all tenants could continue while the project progressed to completion. All utility interruptions were carefully coordinated to ensure minimal tenant impact.”
-Christopher Helmer, Project Manager, General Services Administration
- 37-story, 865,000-square-foot, originally constructed in 1974
- GSA’s goal to reduce the building’s energy consumption by 30 percent, increase the Energy Star score to 97, and achieve a LEED-EB Silver certification from the USGBC through multiple energy-related scopes
- Scope included the replacement of all primary mechanical equipment, building management system, electrical switchgear and lighting, fire alarm systems, enclosure upgrades, and a full glazing replacement
- Excellence in Teaming and National Award of Excellence in Rehabilitation/Renovation/Restoration winner, 2014 DBIA Design-Build Project/Team Awards