Commercial Construction 2017
Commercial construction is one of the key indicators of a thriving city and economy; it’s a sign that business is good, and the market supports such a major investment into growth. Lincoln is a city that has enjoyed steady growth, which is projected to remain true again this year as construction season is about to begin.
Every year we kick off our construction series with our Commercial Construction feature because it’s so exciting to talk to all of our clients about the plans they have in place for major projects in the coming months, and this year is no different. In doing so, we’ve also gathered details about what’s new in many of the different industries that contribute to the different components of commercial construction along with a lot of tips and guidelines that are helpful for those who are rolling around the idea of building. So if you’re wondering what’s in store for the business landscape here in Lincoln, keep reading for the inside scoop!
Nothing is quite as exciting as seeing a new mixed-use development being constructed. Serving as a commercial hub or sorts, it signals the potential for many different types of businesses to pop up in one convenient location. For the most part, these are now being constructed in areas that are somewhat on the outskirts of town near newer residential developments, and often bring in new businesses along with additional locations of existing ones. However, it’s not out of the question for a new development to be constructed right in the middle of town, as evidenced by the recent revitalization efforts along O Street. However as you’ll notice, particularly in south Lincoln, there are a lot of new commercial construction projects underway within new mixed-use developments that have been established. Here’s just a glimpse as to what you can expect for new developments in Lincoln, NE:
Kensington Center: The Kensington Center is a mixed-use development positioned at 14th & Old Cheney Rd., a well-trafficked location that serves as Lincoln’s southwest entrance to the city. Along with the potential for much new construction ahead within Kensington Center, it already houses a nice assortment of businesses and more are expected to join throughout the year. Upon filling all of the available space, Kensington Center will be comprised of a balance of office, medical, and retail businesses. As far as food options, restaurants already located there include Culvers, Mr. Goodcents, Dairy Queen, and a Scooters Coffee and Yogurt Drive-Thru. In the area of fitness, there are two unique concepts already locked in. Powercycle, Lincoln’s first exclusive spinning studio, is located in Kensington Center. Additionally, with the Rock Island Bicycle Trail adjacent to the development, Joyride Bicycles, Lincoln’s specialized bicycle dealer, has opted to capitalize on that location.
One of the most high-profile members of Kensington Center will be Old Cheney Rehabilitation, which is set to open this year. Project specs indicate this will be a state-of-the-art, upscale “suite style” skilled nursing facility, which will meet the growing demand for these offerings in our community. Promontory Health Care Companies and developer Cheney Investments, LLC broke ground on Old Cheney Rehabilitation mid-May of 2016, and Manzitto Construction is currently building on the 3.4-acre lot. Construction of the $7.8M facility was projected to take a full year, and is on schedule to be completed this summer. Architectural Design Associates is serving as the project architect and Olsson & Associates of Lincoln as the civil engineer. Construction financing is being provided Mutual of Omaha.
If you’re a business looking to have a location in the south Lincoln area, Kensington Center is a fantastic option to explore! You can check out the website, kensingtonre.com, to find out more details as they are announced.
Plaza Court Office Park: This is another exciting new development in south Lincoln, but in the eastern quadrant at the corner of 84th & Hwy 2 in a high-visibility, high-traffic location. Tru-Built Construction is responsible for all new commercial construction within the Plaza Court Office Park, an office park development that’s an ideal home for many different kinds of offices. This might include: Medical (general practice, dentist, chiropractor, pediatrics and other specialty practices), Multi-Purpose Office (insurance, finance, banking, accounting, other general office uses), Education (child care facility, academy, or post-secondary education facility), and the potential for other unique uses that require a storefront.
If you’re a business that’s interested in building in this location, call (402) 610-0523 for more details about available space and requirements. For passersby and consumers in the Lincoln area, it will be exciting to see more businesses open in such an ideal location in 2017.
Woodlands at Yankee Hill: Although this is a residential development that’s still in the early stages, it’s already blossoming into an established Lincoln neighborhood on the south side of Yankee Hill Rd. between 70th & 84th Streets. As a result, Krueger Development is set to begin construction on the commercial corner at 70th & Yankee Hill – The Woodlands District – upon completion of the major street improvements that area already underway. On the easternmost border, lots have already been purchased and secured by businesses in the new Woodlands Enterprise Center, located on the west side of 84th & Yankee Hill.
Yankee Hill Business Center: Back to the southwest quadrant of Lincoln, expansion is currently underway on Krueger Development’s Yankee Hill Business Center development at 14th & Yankee Hill Rd. This is an established commercial district with a mixture of businesses that own and rent their spaces, and approximately 9,000 sq. ft. of commercial space is now available for future development, starting at 1,250 sq. ft. The existing zoning allows for a wide number of uses, so you can expect to see a diverse range of businesses in this area too.
For both the Woodlands at Yankee Hill and the Yankee Hill Business Center, Krueger Development serves as the builder and property manager. If you’re interested in the opportunity to custom-build your dream space in one of these developments, contact the main office at (402) 423-7377.
Now that we’ve covered what’s going on around town to change the commercial landscape, let’s get into all of the other things that would likely be on the radar of those who are considering embarking on a commercial construction project. There are many different types of companies that might be involved at different points in the project timeline, all with professionals who bring something different to the table with unique skill sets, experience, and offerings.
This is the first of many things to come that will involve a major decision on the part of the business owner/investor. You’ll want to choose your general contractor wisely, because their level of experience and the established network of subcontractors they’ve chosen to partner with for projects will make all the difference in the outcome of yours.
“As the contractor on a project we get to bring the vision and dream to life for the owner, and that’s not something we take lightly,” says Rod Berens of Kingery Construction. “Most people will only be involved with one or two major construction projects in their life so we try and make it a fun, positive experience for them.
Prior to our role, clients work with an architect to put together a design. You’ll want to interview several before committing to one. Pick someone that you can easily work with and who will allow you to be involved with the design process. Be very detailed about the design, because changes that become necessary or are wanted later in the project cost much more than if they were incorporated into the initial design.
Next, it’s helpful to be aware that there are a few different contract methods when dealing with general contractors/construction managers. Educate yourself on these different methods, and the one you are most comfortable with should be your choice moving forward.”
Regarding the different methods, John Hyland of Hampton Construction explains, “By the time we are contacted typically the client has made the first decision, ‘We need to build.’ The second, and in our view the most important a client makes is, as it relates to cost, time, and value should be ‘How are we going to build?’ That question must be addressed before anyone is contracted. The most far-reaching question then becomes ‘What is the best process for this project?’ In answering this question, and setting out in a method of procurement, you’ll live with the outcome for months or years as the project is designed, developed, budgeted, procured, and built. No decision is more critical, and may determine satisfaction when all is said and done more than this one.
At Hampton, for example, we respond to bid requests in any of the following contractual methods: Design-Bid-Build, Design-Build, or Construction Management. These are the arrangements for the project delivery process that a client would choose from depending on their needs and preferences. As previously noted, there are benefits to a project within each of these methods. We advise our clients of the potential advantages to each method, helping them to ultimately decide for themselves and the companies or organizations they represent which will be the best process to move a project forward successfully.
After making the decision about how you are going to build, you’ll want to put together a solid team. The trust level between the client, the architect and the general contractor is one of the most significant factors in the success of the project. Simply said, always remember ‘whoever is on your team is spending your money.’ On every project, there will be things that don’t go according to plan – so relationships will be tested. Pick a contractor and an architect that you trust and let them work together to deliver your project.”
He adds, “At Hampton Construction one pillar of how we operate today, which was practiced by Joe Hampton, is stated in a quote from Joe we have in large letters on a wall just outside our board conference room. This gives us a reminder of how the company was built and how it is expected to operate in the future. The quote reads as follows: ‘If we are building something for other people, we treat it as if it was our own.’
Our company is involved in all sizes and types of building projects. We are poised and organized to professionally help guide clients through any projects they may bring to our attention.”
In agreement on the many capabilities of a general contractor, Justin Kurtzer of Cheever Construction notes, “As a commercial general contractor, the expertise and established network we bring to projects allows us to provide complete coordination of all details. From an idea to completion, this includes obtaining competitive bids from all trade sub-contractors, handling the contracts, and supervising all phases of construction. With our skilled employees alone we’re able to self-perform installation of concrete foundations, both rough carpentry and finish carpentry installation of doors, cabinets, restroom partitions, hardware, and many other specialty items. From projects that require limited assistance to extensive projects with multiple phases and new construction, we’re versatile enough to be capable of delivering a quality finished product on budget that meets all expectations. My advice would be to work with someone who is experienced and has a proven track record, but also who is invested in gaining a complete understanding of your goals and budget, and then commits to keeping open lines of communication throughout the project.”
J-Tech Construction is another local company that can serve in this capacity. “We usually assume the role as the General Contractor but often are brought on as a subcontractor for the exterior as we specialize in seamless siding,” says Tyler Lawrence of J-Tech Construction. “Our team is capable of generating projects from an idea, or if a customer brings plans and knows exactly what they want, we are happy to come on at that point for the build. Either way, we assume the responsibility of delivering a quality and affordable project in a timely manner. With the ability to do most of the exterior work within our company, we can keep costs and time to a minimum.
As far as trends go, seamless siding has continued to grow in popularity in our area. The smooth, flawless look has more and more builders looking to use it for their new construction projects. It is pretty fascinating to watch the smooth 60lb coil rolls be transformed through the siding machine on the construction site into siding panels that can be 100ft or longer.
Construction will and has always been an evolving trade. Different technologies, ideas and the economy are always changing which provide a variety of situations. Commercial construction has become more efficient, but with more efficiency comes larger and more complex projects. What will never change is the need to have a capable general contractor that can bring quality to a project in a timely manner.”
He further advises, “The boom in start-up businesses and new businesses moving to town due to a strong local economy has generated a large demand for cost-efficient new construction. Also, due to the growing population, Lincoln’s demand for storage options is bound to increase in large numbers.
For those who are considering any type of commercial construction project, just as they say in real estate, Location, Location, Location! The first important step would be finding a desirable location that serves your business well. After site selection, it is very important to find a general contractor that fits the project. Many general contractors have certain specialty areas. Finding the best suitable contractor will save you time and money and most likely produce the best product. You can check references or look at past projects to assure the contractor is capable and right for you.”
Speaking of new trends, utilizing technology that acts as a second set of eyes so to speak has become more accessible here in our local market.
As a prime example, it’s becoming commonplace for drones to be used in commercial construction projects. Much like sending them into space, there are certain applications that are very difficult, costly, or simply impossible for humans to perform. Enter drones, which are able to provide aerial footage that provides critical data in the planning stages, during the construction process, and afterward for maintenance or a before-and-after comparison.
“Usage of drones in the construction industry has definitely been on the rise,” says Jase Robak of Midwest UAV Imaging. “Currently about 60% of our business comes from that industry alone. We have had to increase our fleet due to the demand over the past year, expanding our offerings to provide various services during the planning stages all the way through to post-production photos.
As far as benefits, drones are cheaper to fly than manned aircraft and faster than human surveyors, and they collect data far more frequently than either, letting construction workers track a site’s progress in live real time. Management teams no longer need to pile into a vehicle and drive to a job site to survey or view the crew’s productivity. The cost-saving, time-crunching alternative is to dispatch a drone to fly over the site and report live feedback to management team back at the home office. This saves not only time but also the money that it would take to pay several people to go out to a site and do the same thing a drone can do.
Furthermore, since advancements in drone technology never seem to come to a halt, expertise becomes a factor. Speaking from firsthand experience, keeping up with the rapidly-changing advancements in drone technology is a full-time job. Many construction companies find this out very quickly when implementing their own in-house drone divisions. By utilizing a service provider who is an experienced operator, you won’t have to invest resources in staying up-to-date on all of these developments with programs and platforms because they’ll be the ones responsible for that.
From the planning phase to post-production phase, we scan, survey and monitor a site, then turn that into 3D models, elevation maps, orthomosaics, dense point clouds, and take real-time measurements including distance, area, and volume. Drones also play a vital role in site security, worker productivity, and job site progression. By just taking progression photos of a site, I have personally seen employees scurry back to work once someone points out that “the drone” is on site. While nobody can see what someone is doing 6 or 9 stories up on the top floor of a building that’s being constructed, our drones sure can.
For those reasons, drones use will continue to be on the rise in the commercial construction industry. Just the few services I mentioned have the potential to save companies thousands of dollars on any one commercial construction job site. If a company is looking to invest into their own in-house drone divisions, I would highly recommend consulting with us prior to implementation. You’ll need to be aware of the local, state and federal laws that govern commercial drone use at the very least. I would also recommend outsourcing a job first to see what all goes into the production, and taking that opportunity to have your in-house operator do some shadowing. Feel free to contact me at (402) 802-5804 to find out more.”
Along the same lines, Tyler Bebout, an agent with Real Estate Avenues: The Brokerage offers up yet another way to see things from a different perspective. Bebout points out the benefits of utilizing virtual reality technology to visualize what the outcome of a commercial construction project well before it comes to fruition.
In short, he provides the following explanation: “Virtual reality technology has been especially useful in commercial real estate construction for spaces that don’t exist yet. Buyers often struggle with visualizing a space when it’s a jumbled mess of slab and pipes. Now developers transform those flat renderings and make it possible for potential investors to walk through the finished product months before the ribbon cutting. Some platforms can add a company’s logo and branding into the virtual environment. Talk about selling the space! I personally use this in every aspect of my real estate portfolio! Those interested in more information on 3D and virtual reality are welcome to contact me at (402) 617-7808.”
You’ve seen them go up all around town; for commercial space, pre-engineered metal buildings have become very popular in recent years. It’s seen as an attractive option for industrial purposes or for someone who is on a shorter timeline, but does not exclude any type of business as these can be designed for just about any use one could envision. You’ll find that flexibility is important with any offering in the construction industry, with this being a key example.
Local companies with the erection of metal buildings as a part of their offerings generally are able to provide design-build services, followed by certified installation and project management throughout the entire process. Working with one company on a project is nice because you have one point of contact for anything within the scope of that entire project, and one party who is responsible for delivering the results as promised, on time and on budget.
“As an authorized dealer of Chief Buildings, we’re able to deliver high-quality, durable, and energy-efficient structures for businesses based on our expertise with pre-engineered metal buildings, metal wall panels, insulated metal wall panels, and architectural metal panels,” explains Troy Bridgford of Ironhide Construction. “These have a clean, sharp look on the outside, which can be further enhanced with signage and landscaping, and can be completely transformed on the inside to best serve their intended purposes. We also have established a great relationship with MBCI, the leader in the metal component industry, which allows us unlimited possibilities in finding the exact match to meet our customers’ needs. Our team also does quite a bit of structural steel work and roofing that’s involved in the erection of these buildings, so our recommendations are based on our working knowledge of the full scope of these projects from concept to completion.
When it comes to the types of panels used in the construction of metal buildings, while architectural metal wall panels are still on-trend, insulated metal panels are a trend that will likely become the most commonly used version of these the future. In fact, with increasingly complex environmental regulations to meet, and more specifically, with energy code requirements beginning to exceed the capabilities of conventional fiberglass insulation as it relates to R-value and U-value, we expect to be using them more than all of the other options that are available combined. As such, it’s important to be aware that the possibility does exist for insulated metal panels to be the only type that’s allowed on pre-engineered metal buildings such as manufacturing and warehouse facilities in the not-too-distant future, and to plan accordingly if this is the type of project you’re embarking on.
Looking towards what’s on the horizon, it’s important to be aware that insulated metal panels are, what I believe, soon be the only panels that may be allowed on pre-engineered metal buildings such as manufacturing and warehouse facilities in the upcoming years. This is due to the fact that energy code requirements are beginning to exceed the capabilities of conventional fiberglass insulation as it relates to R-value and U-value.”
Another type of pre-engineered metal building seen all around Lincoln is the Butler Building, an offering of TCW Construction, which is also well-known for its concrete capabilities. “At TCW, we provide general contracting and design-build services, with an emphasis on pre-engineered buildings and concrete construction for commercial clients,” says Chad Aldrich of TCW Construction. “Since 1977, we’ve acted as a trusted trade partner to some of Nebraska’s most successful businesses and public entities. We pride ourselves in our ability to consistently provide quality results and reliable performance, proactive solutions, and responsible service. As a select Butler Builder, we’re able to deliver pre-engineered metal buildings that combine 100 years of experience, the strength of BlueScope Steel, and the collective expertise of others in the network. Altogether these buildings provide reduced material use, utilizing salvaged and recycled products, have a long life cycle, feature structural finishes that meet or exceed EPA regulations, and are energy efficient.
Butler provides custom designed and pre-engineered one to five-story steel buildings for use as offices, manufacturing facilities, warehouses, schools, shopping centers, theaters, churches, medical buildings, banks, and other commercial, industrial, and institutional facilities.”
With new construction for commercial space often comes the need for new construction to accommodate parking, whether it’s a garage or lot.
When it comes to any project where concrete and/or masonry are involved, it’s important to work with those who have plenty of experience with these specific materials. Here in Nebraska, the changes in weather can be quite drastic, and this is a frequent phenomenon that happens year-round. In just one week, we can go through all four seasons, from windy and cool to snow, shifting suddenly to a sunny and calm 60-plus degrees, then back to rain and freezing into ice. Considering that exact thing just happened, although maybe not in that specific order, let’s just say it’s not at all uncommon.
The problem with these types of unpredictable weather patterns is that it causes the continuous expansion and contraction of the primary materials commonly utilized in commercial construction, with freeze-thaw cycles causing degradation over time.
So, if your commercial construction plans include any type of masonry, or you’re constructing a parking structure connected or in proximity to your building, there are a couple things you can – and by all accounts, should – do early on to ensure the stability of the structure over time.
“Protection of critical areas of the structure that are exposed to the elements or responsible for its continued stability is key,” advises Dennis Rice of McGill Restoration. “You need to consult with the professionals on the construction of the building itself, that’s apparent, but don‘t overlook assessing the protection of that investment from ground zero. Concrete in particular is susceptible to deterioration and delamination over time, so you can and should expect that to happen, but slowing it down significantly is entirely possible with sealants and other protective coatings.
Many people find it hard to invest money in the things that cannot be seen, and I’ll caution you that most of the things that are done to protect your building fall into that category. While it’s not as sexy as some of the other components of your new building and space to conduct business, it’s definitely not something you’ll regret putting more money towards up-front later on down the line, that’s for sure. With our weather in the Midwest, even a brand new building might experience things within the first year’s progression of seasons that could become problematic over time. With commercial construction jobs, low bids can be attractive given the amount of money involved in this type of transaction, but might not include important items such as a urethane layer to protect the ceiling of a parking garage. Similarly, if costs need to be cut at some point before or during the project, protective elements shouldn’t be sacrificed if at all possible. You might think you’re saving money now, but you’ll subsequently be spending more down the line in repairs, and sooner than you might think. Not only is it likely to be costly, but also dangerous. Being a proactive building owner is advised across the board, and along the same lines of protecting your investment, it’s the best course of action to get a solid maintenance plan in place right away after construction is completed.”
Your building will be composed of many key systems working together in unison to meet the needs of its inhabitants. Meeting basic requirements as far as shelter, electricity, water, connectivity, safety, and the like may not be as appealing as the overall design, the fun extras to add, or the exciting new capabilities you’ll have once your new building is complete. Although these are things from which enjoyment and satisfaction aren’t necessarily derived, they are responsible for all of the functions that will keep you up and running and able to conduct business without any interruptions or costly setbacks.
Since the roof is what protects everything of value inside your business, you’ll want to be sure you’re installing a system that performs up to the highest standards, with materials used that stand up to the test of time and the elements. With every major system, you’ll also find that there are options for efficiency and energy savings, and capitalizing on those whenever and wherever you can is advised. This is definitely as true for roofing as it is for all of the others we’ll subsequently cover.
“At The Secure Roof Solution, we specialize in educating building owners and commercial roofing contractors on the energy saving roofing systems available today that offer extended life and significant energy savings,” says Dennis Nun of Heartland International, an independent manufacturer’s representative for Conklin Company, Inc. “They are now widely available, and the advantages are numerous. Energy efficient roofing systems can actually pay for themselves in energy savings and significant reductions in roof expenses in the future.
The advice I’d offer to someone who is planning to build is to take the time to research the advances in roofing, and to then select the systems and contractors you work with carefully. An energy saving roof that offers a long-term solution to your new building’s needs is a great investment, but selecting the wrong system or the wrong contractor can create a nightmare for the building owner. After 40 years in the commercial roofing industry, I think I’ve seen it all. Yet I still meet building owners who didn’t do their due diligence in advance of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars or hiring a contractor that’s inexperienced or unreliable.”
While for some commercial buildings, this may be your normal single or double door, for others, a garage door entrance, or even in some cases multiple garage doors, will be a part of the plans for the new building. If this is the case, you’ll want to work with a professional that specializes in those types of systems.
In any event, the doors need to be well-designed and installed in order to be functional and stand up to regular use from being highly trafficked. As they are also responsible for the safety and security of the building, and will have a major impact on the energy efficiency of the building, solid materials and craftsmanship are a must too. Your best bet is to visit a local showroom to see the options for yourself, and take that opportunity to ask the professionals plenty of questions, to get a good handle on what would work best for your building.
Lighting & Power
Of the many subcontractors that will play a crucial role in a commercial construction project, an electrician is one that you can expect be heavily involved throughout, from design to installation. This is a professional who will be instrumental in establishing an infrastructure that supports the core functions of a business, from interior and exterior lighting to outlet placement to safely wiring the entire building in a way that allows for handling loads suitable for the building’s operational systems and technology use.
Of all the important things that will be determined by the electrical grid and foundation of your building, lighting is at the top of the list. Exterior lighting will help to ensure the safety of your employees and customers, doubling as a theft deterrent by illuminating areas that are most susceptible to unauthorized entry, and can also be used to enhance the design features of the structure and potentially the landscaping too. Interior lighting is what will make the space a work environment that’s conducive to productivity, and will factor into its overall design and ambiance as far as aesthetics.
“Lighting is a major component to consider when you’re building a brand new space to conduct business,” says Matt Collins of Oak Electric, Inc. “An investment in good lighting yields a more efficient workforce with a higher morale, as well as setting the right tone with your clients. Also, don’t forget about exterior lighting in high-traffic areas such as sidewalks, stairways, and parking lots.
I highly recommend going with LED lights for their energy efficiency, an up-front investment that will end up saving you money in the long run. For those who are building a new location to add to their portfolio of existing ones, I’d recommend looking into the 2017 Sustainable Energy Program offered by LES. It’s a great way to stretch your investment dollars during a remodel, but could also be leveraged for a new construction project. By upgrading the lights in your other buildings to LED, you may be eligible to reduce your project cost up to 50%.
The most important piece of advice I would suggest is to work with a reputable contractor. I have come across numerous instances where a contractor will install a residential grade panel in a commercial environment. This is completely legal and comes in at a lower cost to the customer, but it is very low quality and just as poor in terms of longevity. Residential panels are not designed for commercial duty. I recently removed a single phase residential panel with tandem breakers in a restaurant kitchen and replaced it with a bolt-on commercial grade panel, which will accommodate the heavy loads and last a very long time.
Oak Electric, Inc. is a locally owned, full-service electrical contractor, so we have a great deal of experience with residential, commercial, and industrial projects. For more information or to obtain a quote for a commercial construction project, please visit www.oakelectriccompany.com or call us at (402) 440-5969.
As mentioned regarding estimates for the electrical portion of the project, while those that come in at the lowest cost can be appealing to pursue, this is definitely an area where you don’t want to cut any corners if at all possible.
“You can count on getting what you pay for,” advises Jon Eicher of ABC Electric. “In the long run, paying a little extra for quality is also an investment in the assurance that what’s being installed now will stand the test of time. For any bids you’re considering, I’d strongly recommend asking for references and that you have permission to contact the owners of past projects. You’ll be able to use that information to make a better decision as opposed to strictly evaluating them based on price, which isn’t at all indicative of the whole picture. There are many factors that together will lead to a successful project outcome.
At ABC Electric, during our 85-year history, we’ve been involved with many different types of projects, and for a vast array of clients. Some of our more high-profile clients have been the State Capitol Building, Bryan Memorial Hospital, and more recently, Pinnacle Bank Arena. As a full-service contractor, we’ve worked with many others in the area across all industries. Our goal is to deliver a finished product that’s functional, dependable, safe, and meets all electrical codes and the client’s objectives.”
While we touched briefly on LED lighting as a way to save on energy costs and reduce your carbon footprint over time, that’s just one option in a growing portfolio of energy-saving offerings that are available for use in commercial buildings. On a much larger scale, for those considering a commercial project, it’s the perfect time to contemplate what’s widely considered to be the wave of the future – harnessing solar energy to power your building.
“Commercial solar fields are becoming more and more popular as our investments in clean energy rise to the top of energy solutions,” explains Drew Coffey of J-Tech Solar. “Whether it be power utilities, customers wanting to do their part in reducing the negative impact of their operations on the environment, or customers wanting a safe return on investment, solar energy is a leading option.
Locally, we are poised to see drastic changes in the commercial solar landscape of Nebraska. We have seen an increase in the number of proposed bills and laws to benefit the renewable industry statewide. There are talks of utility scale projects popping up all around the state and we are excited to be a leader in establishing the local residential, commercial, and utility scale solar market.
Currently we’re on course to complete the largest user-owned photovoltaic solar panel system in Nebraska. It’s composed of 940 panels and located in the Haymarket atop what used to be the Meadow Gold Dairy Plant. Spread across eight rooftops, it will generate nearly 300KW.
Due to the significant reduction in purchase and installation costs as well as the introduction of new and improved technologies, the price of solar has decreased more than 62% since 2009. This decrease in price has more and more local business owners looking into this type of investment. The availability of federal tax incentives, rebates from LES, and the steady rise in the cost of electricity are all cited as driving factors by those who express interest in solar.
I’d advise anyone who is taking on a new commercial construction project to dive headfirst into grants, rebates, and incentives so you can use that money for top-quality products. There are so many ways to save the customer and yourself money if you just dedicate yourself to searching high and low for different options. Whether this type of research is your forte or not, consulting with an expert is highly recommended. Many of these grants, rebates, and incentives are not made specifically for solar, but we can still apply some of them to different projects. As the team’s design engineer, I’m happy to personally meet with anyone interested for a complimentary consultation, during which time I’m also able to provide an initial estimate.”
You’ve probably made note of the fact that energy efficiency and environmentally-friendly practices are recurring themes within the topic of commercial construction. Moving on through to another critical utility, water usage is also something to consider when you’re installing new systems and features of the building itself, and across the entire property as a whole. This will entail the plumbing and main equipment installed on the inside as well as the irrigation system on the outside.
Curb appeal is a big deal as far as a business’s reputation and ability to attract customers just based on first impressions alone. As such, after the building is constructed, and areas from parking to entry are complete, landscaping is generally next on the to-do list. Hand-in-hand with establishing said landscape is the installation of an irrigation system to keep it alive and thriving, protecting what’s likely to be a significant investment in the property and part of its continued maintenance.
Jeremy Hunt of Hunt Irrigation offers insight on irrigation systems for new commercial properties based on his extensive expertise in this area: “On a commercial property, your landscape is your front-facing, first-impression maker. Nothing adds life and vibrancy to commercial building like lush lawns, and thriving plants and flowers in complementary shades. Presenting a positive image is important to any business, and a healthy, attractive lawn and landscape can certainly boost a visitor’s impression of a property or employees’ enjoyment of their work environment. To provide all of these benefits, a commercial landscape must shine green—even in the heat of summer. And to look their best, plants, trees and turf require just the right amount of supplemental irrigation particularly through the growing season and during those hotter, drier summer months. But with increasing water prices in Lincoln, how do you walk that fine line of a beautiful commercial space without breaking the bank?
The first step is to talk with the water conservation experts at Hunt Irrigation, Inc., The Water Smart Company. Hunt Irrigation, Inc. is a full-service commercial irrigation company. Starting a new commercial project? Hunt Irrigation offers CAD design services using the latest computer aided drawing programs, and we promote the latest BMP (best management practices) in irrigation design and layout which ensures the most efficient irrigation design possible. Our staff includes a nationally Certified Irrigation Contractor as well as a Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor (certified by the Irrigation Association). An EPA Water Sense Partner and two Nebraska Certified Backflow Operators are also a part of our staff to handle all of the backflow requirements of your commercial building.
So what are the latest and greatest advancements in irrigation? To begin with, the irrigation systems of today are not remotely akin to the irrigation systems our parents had installed at their homes and businesses. Advancements in irrigation range from web-based interactive controllers to pressure regulated sprinkler heads and sub-surface irrigation that offers direct delivery of water to the turf’s roots with no working parts to ever fail.
Flow sensors are a great way to reduce water loss on mid- to large-sized commercial sites. A ruptured pipe or broken sprinkler left undetected can result in substantial damage or money loss. Plants and ground cover can be flooded, slopes can be eroded, and hundreds of gallons of water can be wasted. Flow sensors guard against these damages in the event of a ruptured line or broken sprinkler head, shutting down irrigation if it detects a flow rate higher than the programmed limit. Therefore, the amount of water loss and system damage is substantially reduced in the event of high external leak. If you couple this with a smart controller, you will also receive notifications to your smartphone. Your irrigation service provider can also be notified through the same system.
Smart Controllers have become very user-friendly and even more accessible. You are now able to communicate and monitor your irrigation system right from your smartphone. “Smart” irrigation controllers work by monitoring and using information about site conditions, (such as soil moisture, rain, wind, slope, soil, plant type, and more), and applying the right amount of water to the landscape based on those factors. Once the “smart” controller is installed and set up, the “smart” controller automatically takes care of seasonal weather/site specific adjustments and makes ongoing monitoring possible. Smart controllers can reduce water use by up to 50% on most projects. Pressure regulated sprinklers are a must in high-pressure areas of town and can reduce your water consumption by up to 30% annually.
A newer concept in drip is SDI (subsurface drip irrigation) for turf, which is another great addition to a new commercial project. Subsurface drip irrigation is a variation on traditional drip irrigation where the dripline (tubing and drippers) is buried beneath the soil surface rather than laid on the ground. SDI is more than an irrigation system; it is a root zone management tool. Water and fertilizer can be applied to the root zone in a quantity where and when it will be most beneficial, resulting in greater use efficiencies and better turf performance. Subsurface works great in high traffic areas, in those places that are harder to irrigate such as the parkways ( the area between the curb and sidewalk) and areas prone to vandalism. Along with sub-surface irrigation, drip irrigation is also a great tool for irrigating plant material. Buildings are becoming more architectural, and with this trend, storefronts have more glass and are less rigid-looking. We’re seeing warmer colors that are very eye-catching and vibrant perimeter landscaping. Watering closed-in areas is much more efficiently done with drip irrigation. Drip is also a great component for parking lot islands where over spray can cause damage to both employee and clients’ vehicles. Just like sub-surface, there are no working parts, which reduces both vandalism and maintenance costs.
Technology is not just something that’s in the boardroom and or the desktop. The advancements that have been made in irrigation are not just a passing phase or a playful widget; they are very effective money-saving tools that are also very functional and easy to use. Commercial outdoor water use in the United States accounts for more than 9 billion gallons of water each day, used mainly for lawn and landscape irrigation. Experts estimate that as much as 50 percent of this water is wasted due to overwatering caused by inefficiencies in irrigation methods and systems. Irrigation control technologies can significantly reduce overwatering by applying water when and where the turf and plants require it.
Starting a new commercial project? As your new commercial project comes to a close and it is time to finish up the outdoor portion of the project, resist the urge to sacrifice on the irrigation system. A well-designed irrigation system can give your commercial project the largest ROI of anything you do on the entire project, while a poorly designed irrigation system will cause you years of headaches and costly repairs. If you would like more information on what the Water Smart experts can do for you and your commercial property, feel free to contact our office at (402) 438-8151.”
Also related to curb appeal, with recently completed construction, although you may have plans in place to establish landscaping right away, it can take time to achieve the look you desire. In the meantime, instead of resigning to the fact that your property may look barren for awhile, there are many different ways it could be enhanced temporarily or permanently with decorative features that don’t take time to grow. Or, why not consider incorporating an outdoor oasis that can serve as a workspace or break area for your employees to enjoy, or an additional meeting space on those nice days where you just want to be outside for a bit of fresh air and sunshine? You’ll increase your useable square footage by extending it outside too!
Aside from the technology we’ve already covered to include in your project planning and implementation and on your property, there are still a whole slew of equally impressive options for cutting-edge technology that can be integrated into your new building.
“Our key role in commercial projects is to act as a resource for our clients for technology solutions,” says Doug Seaman of Echo Systems. “Complex systems such as audio, video, lighting design, lighting control, and automated shades require special attention to detail to execute them correctly. We have developed systems, processes, and people to do just that. Our main points of concentration for 2017 include, but are not limited to, the following: Assisted Living Facilities, Board Rooms, Conference Rooms, Video Conferencing, Network Operations Centers (NOC), Digital Signage, and Commercial Sound.
Our trademark is a well designed and engineered solution. Ultimately, we want to do what’s right for the client. One of the challenges for many integrators working in the commercial arena is the inability to showcase the products and services available. Within our $2.5 million showroom in Omaha, commercial clients can experience a world-class conference room, along with demonstrations of video conferencing and distribution, access control, video surveillance and control systems. We also place an emphasis on simplicity and ease of use in the systems we design and implement. If you can’t figure out how to use technology, it becomes a boat anchor and eventually collects dust.
The most important piece of planning advice we give to clients is to get us involved as early as possible in the design process. Sometimes as technology integrators, we can have a substantial, material effect on the overall design of a project based on the choices we can offer. Decisions such as cabinetry, furniture placement, lighting, speaker placement, microphone placement, and so on can all affect an overall construction plan. Architects and interior designers (and owners) are well advised to consult with integrators on a design-build project to see if there are design options and choices that could help them achieve their goals.”
Control of a building’s systems is another area where offerings, and the potential they have to positively impact a commercial building and the business inside, have been steadily developing to address the needs of building owners.
“There is now a great demand for energy efficient buildings, high-tech devices and enhanced security systems that are now central components of building management systems (BMS),” advises Pat Killeen of Engineered Controls. “BMS provide efficient control of internal comfort conditions, effective use of energy, and quick and effective responses to HVAC and security problems that save both time and money. These systems also provide information on problems in the building, allow for computerized maintenance scheduling, are easy and effective for employees to use, and easily detect problems.
By integrating HVAC, lighting and security functions all within one common BMS platform, a building’s power systems; lighting and illumination; electric power and control; security, video surveillance and magnetic card access; heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems will all be monitored and controlled from one central location. Studies show that by 2018, it will be the integrated control systems that will show the greatest growth in future years.
Although hardwired building management systems have been around since the late seventies, it will be the wireless technology will continue to revolutionize building automation system market forward in 2017 and beyond.”
He also offers the following advice: “First, I would tell clients interested in adding building control technology to do their research. There is plenty of information on the internet today that will make the average building owner much more knowledgeable about what is available in the commercial construction market than anyone realizes.
Next, I would suggest that building owners need to get to know the consulting engineers that are designing their buildings. It is crucial for building owners to participate in the design process and to be smart buyers. Since the new construction industry consists of architects, consulting engineers, general contractors, mechanical contractors, and so on, many of the basic decisions that are being made regarding system type, configuration, manufacturer, functionality, etc. are all being made by everyone EXCEPT the customer. Far too often we see building owners moving into a new building only to find out that they did not get that they wanted. Or occasionally the BMS system is too complicated for them to operate. So the moral of the story is to get involved, ask questions, know what you want, and know what you are getting BEFORE the decisions are made by everyone but you, the customer.”
You’ll need to ensure that your new building is designed to be up to current code and compliant with all OSHA regulations and laws in place. Putting the right safety systems in place is a big part of that for any business; whether a restaurant, warehouse, or office building, there will be different things you’ll need to take into consideration, although quality and function will remain constants for all. You are not only protecting your investment in the property, you are protecting the lives of your employees and clients.
“FireGuard eliminates the need to contact multiple companies by offering complete life safety solutions,” advises Bob Sorensen of FireGuard. “We design, sell, install, inspect, and service all types of fire protection and life safety equipment. All new construction commercial-use buildings will have a need for these types of systems, so my advice is to involve the professional that will be tasked with the installation of the system(s) you require as early on in the design-build process as possible. By having this incorporated into the plans early on, you’ll ensure that everything goes smoothly down the line during construction and that you have exactly what you need in place to get up and running on schedule.”
Once the building itself is complete, it then will undergo a transformation on the inside to become your office, shop, boutique, salon, restaurant, showroom, etc. From the flooring and paint to cabinets and finishes to furniture and décor, the potential here is limitless. Working with a professional interior designer is advised, as well as the design team at any of the vendors you’ll use for the different features. The quality of materials is imperative because durability and longevity are they key to getting the most out of your investment. A professional will be able to guide you as to the pros and cons of the various materials to ensure you’re making an educated decision. Again, you get what you pay for, and the appearance of your place of business, inside and out, and the environment you’re able to create is part of your brand signature and an extension of your reputation. The impression it makes on your customers and those who are considering doing business with you in the future, and the effect it has on your employees, are not to be underestimated.
At this point, you may also be considering the installation of window films, and you’d be in good company by doing so. “Decorative Window Films, sometimes referred to as ‘Frost Films’ are one of the BIGGEST trends in new commercial construction right now,” says Keith May of The Tint Shop. “The 3M Fasara line of Decorative Films offers a wide variety of Frost finishes including Lined, Dot, Prism, and Etched finishes. These films are perfect for today’s modern office designs, which are replacing walls and doors with glass. While this gives the office a very ‘open’ feel and makes the workspace not as closed off to the world, it does come with some drawbacks. One of the biggest complaints we hear regarding the glass ‘open’ floor plan is the lack of privacy. Privacy in an office, or on a desk, is a big concern in some cases. This may also be the case in conference rooms. Sure the glass-enclosed conference room looks great and is very impressive, but if you are trying to have an important meeting with an overhead or projector, you are having that meeting with whoever is on the outside of the glass room as well. Another problem that comes along with giving full visibility into offices is clutter. Whether it’s an unorganized employee’s desk, an employee break room, server-IT room, or even just the bundle of wires under employee’s desks, 3M Fasara Window Films can conceal all of those things, and do it without sacrificing light or costly glass upgrades. At the same time, it gives the whole office a nicer decorative appeal as well as breaking up all the glass. Of course, there are also many other applications for window films in commercial buildings too, with benefits ranging from increased energy efficiency to privacy and security. If you’re curious about the possibilities, I’m happy to provide more information or a free estimate for your project.”
There you have it, all that you ever wanted to know about Commercial Construction in Lincoln…and probably more! It’s a booming industry, and we’ve got great companies doing great things here to build our great city. Should you be part of the excitement in the future, make sure to utilize the expertise of the professionals to get it done to the highest standard of quality and performance.