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CASE STUDY// the energy side, which meant they’d need to consider details such as day lighting, low energy use and thermal comfort. Another objective, that the building would house 800 staff, dictated how big it needed to be. “We worked through all of the details of everything that tied into fleshing out the features of the building,” Simpson says. Those features include high-performance design elements such as strategic building orientation to allow for day lighting and natural ventilation; labyrinth thermal storage; transpired solar collectors; radiant heating and cooling and triple-glazed, operable windows. OLD MEETS NEW Simpson notes that while many people expect the building to use state-of-the art technology, many of the design features do not involve new advancements but rather employ centuries-old architectural principles. For example, the concept of using thermal mass to temper the indoor temperature during the day is an ancient technique used in cathedrals and adobe homes of Southwest Indians. And the day lighting was achieved largely through the building’s narrow footprint, interior design and east-west orientation. “We pulled a lot of things that are out there and combined them in a unique way; it’s just nobody had really put all those simple strategies to purpose in one building,” Simpson says. Such innovative thinking is the cornerstone of a successful performance-based contract, according to Macey, who emphasizes that when forging new ground, it’s important for builders to try to say “yes and…” instead of “no.” “When owners ask you if they can do audacious things, instead of a straight no, it’s always better to say ‘yes, but here’s some other things to think about,’” Macey says. “What ownership really wants to hear from you is the implications of their choice, decision or question, and all too often, we’re too quick to just try to achieve something, instead of coaching people into better choices. That became hugely apparent on RSF, where there was so many things they were trying to achieve at once.” For example, he says, the original contract had very high insurance levels, so the team explained that the project wasn’t facing some of the risk the policy covered and suggested an alternate policy that cost about 40 percent less. “They went back to their legal counsel, reconsidered that position, did their own internal double check and then came back and said, ‘Let’s do it,’” he says. “That change liberated probably a quartermillion dollars that came back to the job.” It was that kind of collaboration and trust that all parties agree were paramount to the success of the project. Simpson says that having the entire design-build team working together under the same constraints made the team more cohesive than it might otherwise have been, and that “it’s hard to imagine” that the project could have been completed without a partnership of all the parties with a stake in the construction and the design. “Traditional design just never would have worked for this building if we didn’t have the participation of the contractors on confirming costs, working with us to refine systems and finding a location where we could do it,” he says. Ultimately, everyone involved agrees that while its innovations are certainly remarkable, the real success of the $64-million RSF is its potential to help others construct similarly sustainable buildings. Baker says the promise of the RSF is its ability to transform the way people think about building performance such that others can duplicate it successfully no matter where they are. “The defining factor is not the design of the building, but how we got to the design,” he says. “Our design wouldn’t work as well in a place like Ohio, but by using the acquisition approach we did—design-build with a lot of up-front work defining good performance objectives—you can get much better projects and change the way we build commercial buildings across the nation. One of our greatest triumphs is when we have the next project that comes along and it’s inspired by what we did but performs even better.” That’s exactly what’s happening in Colorado today. N REL has several new projects in the works that Leitner says build on the success of the original RSF. Construction on a second RSF wing is currently in progress and scheduled to be completed in November, and insiders say it’s already showing signs of energy-efficiency improvements over the original building. 36 summer//2011 the quarterly publication of the design-build institute of america

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IQ Summer 2011: The Federal Issue

IQ Summer 2011: The Federal Issue

IQ Summer 2011: The Federal Issue - (Page Cover1)
IQ Summer 2011: The Federal Issue - (Page Cover2)
IQ Summer 2011: The Federal Issue - (Page 1)
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