December 1, 2008
In 16 Weeks, DPR Converts Norcross Warehouse into Facility for Clean Energy Production
DPR Construction, one of the nation’s leading technical builders serving the advanced technology, life sciences and healthcare markets, announces the completion of Georgia’s first solar cell manufacturing facility. DPR managed the design/build services of the new Norcross facility for Suniva, a high-efficiency clean energy solar cell manufacturer. DPR completed the facility’s 30,000sq.-ft. Photovoltaic cell production space and 15,000 sq.ft. of office space in four months.
The building team began work on the high-tech project July 1, and in a period of 16 weeks, converted an empty warehouse into a fully operational facility. Suniva began production of solar cells while DPR was still in the final stages of construction, and produced the facility’s first solar cell Oct. 23, 2008 — just 115 days after DPR began work on the project.
“Our team worked in two shifts for a total of 18 hours each day, six days a week, to meet the project’s strict schedule,” said Andy Andres, regional manager for DPR. “It takes an incredibly dynamic group to build such a complex project in record time, and we’re proud to have met the ambitious challenge that Suniva presented us.”
DPR managed the design and construction of the facility’s high-tech structures, including such advanced elements as high-purity water systems, on-site waste treatment systems, chemical delivery systems, chemical bunker and high-purity piping. To build the complex systems, DPR used unique materials, including epoxy flooring coatings, Teflon-lined stainless-steel ductwork and double-contained welded polypropylene piping.
Constructing the project’s specialized systems presented several challenges, including last minute changes to duct work requested by insurers, nonspecific drawings of laboratory equipment and having to coordinate intricate installation within a small space—all while meeting the project’s tight schedule.
“It was like a ballet because we had to dance around each other. Tools were coming in the door and we were still putting up the ceiling,” said Jack Poindexter, project manager for DPR. “But when you’re moving that fast, the schedule has zero flexibility and you have to work together as a team to get the job done.”
Another important element of the project’s success was DPR’s design/build partnership with architecture firm Perkins+Will. Because the laboratory’s foreign-made equipment required precise coordination between the design and build teams, DPR worked closely with project architect Rob Noma of Perkins+Will to solve problems and ensure they successfully adapted the plans into reality. “I’ve never had a better architect-contractor relationship, and that made the difference,” Poindexter said. “This project was a one-of-a-kind office and lab facility, so having the right team was crucial.”
Because Suniva’s facility is one of only 3 or 4 solar cell manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and the first of its kind in the U.S. (and the first new one in many years), DPR had no prior experience building a solar cell facility. However, the building team’s experience with constructing somewhat similar high-tech facilities, such microelectronic manufacturing facilities for some of the world’s leading companies, enabled them to successfully break new ground.
“As a builder of highly technical projects, we’re often presented with unique situations and building facilities that have never been built before under tight deadlines,” said Andres. “Facilities such as Suniva’s are right in our ‘sweet spot’ and are just the type of challenging projects we love to build. We hope this facility will spur further growth of Georgia’s clean energy community.”
About DPR Construction
DPR Construction, Inc. is a forward-thinking national general contractor and construction manager specializing in technically complex and sustainable projects for the advanced technology, life sciences, healthcare and corporate office markets. Founded in 1990, DPR has grown to more than $1.5 billion in annual revenue, making it one of the largest general contractors in the nation and a “great” story of entrepreneurial success. The privately held, employee-owned company serves customers nationwide and has built projects—both large and small--for such world-class companies as Apple, Bayer, Digital Realty Trust, Genentech, HCA, Kaiser Permanente, Oracle, Pixar, Rockwell International, Sun Microsystems and Sutter Health. For more information, visit http://www.dprinc.com.
Based in Atlanta, Suniva develops, manufactures and markets high-value crystalline silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells for clean solar power generation. The company has an exclusive license to critical patents and patent-pending intellectual property developed by founder and CTO Dr. Ajeet Rohatgi at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s University Center of Excellence in Photovoltaics, the nation’s premier silicon PV research center. In addition, the company’s deep process know-how and unique approach to
manufacturing delivers leading solar cell performance while dramatically cutting the cost of PV-generated electricity. For additional information, please visit http://www.suniva.com.