Keeping an Eye on the Green
The sanofi-aventis Tucson Research Center team focuses on delivering a fast-track, green project while maintaining a tight budget
For the scientists who conduct research at sanofi-aventis—a leading global pharmaceutical company that discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions to improve the lives of patients and their families—the words “favorable reaction” create a lot of buzz. And for good reason: A favorable reaction between the researchers’ compounds and certain cells is the first step in the development of a new drug that has the potential for improving, and even saving, the lives of millions of people.
DPR also seeks favorable reactions, which it is getting from sanofi-aventis for its ability to manage a difficult schedule and a tight budget, while providing expert guidance through the LEED® certification process.
Project: Tucson Research Center
DPR broke ground last November on the two-story, 110,000-sq.-ft. sanofi-aventis Tucson Research Center in Oro Valley, AZ, which will encompass a mixture of chemistry and biology labs, and associated support facilities and offices.
Two months later, the rains came.
“We had severe winter rains in January,” said DPR Project Manager Robert Mitchell, “The footing trenches, which were open and full of rebar, filled with water and mud. Our crews cleaned out and dried the footing trenches, and Superintendent Fil Velasquez had to do some creative resequencing to absorb the lost time, but we were able to get back on schedule.”
Another threat to the sanofi-aventis team’s schedule was ensuring the right concrete team was in place. “We are self-performing the structural concrete on this job, including the footings, foundation, and the exposed, vertical, 21-ft.-tall, Peri® system walls,” Mitchell said. “It was difficult to find craft that met our high expectations for quality, but we located some exceptionally skilled concrete workers.”
Schedule, however, became a small issue when bids for mechanical and electrical came in significantly higher than the budget.” We rolled up our sleeves and got even more collaborative,” said Project Executive Brett Helm. The project team used Building Information Modeling (BIM) to create 3-D coordination drawings of the ductwork, plumbing, electrical and fire protection systems. “We built all overhead utilities virtually before we started building them in the field,” said Mitchell. “BIM absolutely will save us time and money by eliminating conflicts.”
The team also brainstormed ways in which everyone involved on the project could reduce costs. “We worked with the subcontractors, the mechanical and electrical engineers, the designer and the owner representative to create a shopping list of 200-300 cost-reducing items,” explained Mitchell. “We then presented those options to the client and went through each item. Ultimately, we chose the options that would not affect the look or the function of the building.”
“We also experienced some significant material escalation and shortages,” added Preconstruction Manager Hamilton Espinosa. “So, we looked at alternative products and materials to try to reduce costs.” Architect KlingStubbins had chosen mechanically attached Chinese stone for a portion of the project. The team suggested various stone alternatives, but ultimately chose a mechanically restrained stone from India. “It was less expensive and had the same look,” said Espinosa, who added that other budget-reducing options included changing air handler suppliers and economizing pipe and pump sizes.
“When we have had budget challenges, the DPR team has worked with sanofi-aventis’ aggressive style in finding every possible way to reduce costs without compromising quality,” said sanofi-aventis Project Manager John Cocco. Added Mitchell: “We had to do lots of value engineering, but we succeeded in getting the budget back in line.”
Sanofi-aventis decided to spend money upfront for certain green features, including radiant cooling, sustainable materials and energy-efficient mechanical systems that have proven to yield substantial savings in the long term. Targeting Silver LEED certification, the project also is recycling construction materials, currently tracking at 96 percent.
“Sanofi-aventis is committed to sustainability,” said Cocco. “One of the strength’s of DPR is their understanding and management of the LEED process. Throughout the construction process, sanofi-aventis and DPR, together with the design engineer, have looked at ways to increase our commitment to LEED.”
The sanofi-aventis Tucson Research Center is scheduled for completion in summer 2009.
Posted on June 9, 2011
Last Updated August 23, 2022