Having an experienced construction manager for the proposed Medical Education Commons Building at Georgia Health Sciences University not only means a more cost-effective project but a more environmentally friendly and energy-efficient building, officials said.
Skanska USA was chosen from among four finalists for the $62 million project, which will also include a renovation of the Gross Anatomy Lab at GHSU. The university hopes the new building will follow principles of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — or LEED — program of the U.S. Green Building Council. Having a construction manager involved early in the design helps, said Matt Jones, the vice president of Skanska.
“A major part of achieving those LEED points falls onto the shoulders of the construction team,” he said. “That involves selecting materials that are regional and local. It involves finding materials that have the recycled contents that are needed to achieve those points.”
It means recycling construction waste and making sure sustainable materials are used, said Phil Howard, the vice president of facilities service for GHSU.
“There’s a whole host of environmentally friendly pieces to this,” he said.
As a national contractor, Skanska does monthly commodity reports on construction materials so it can monitor how their trends in prices will affect the ultimate cost of the building and perhaps influence the design, Jones said.
“At each step of the design process, we’ll work with the architect to do real-time cost estimates so that as they design it, we’re giving real-time feedback to what the market is saying the costs of this will be,” Jones said.
That means trimming or changing materials if the cost is too high or adding wanted features if it now appears they would be within the budget, he said.
“It makes it easier to negotiate things in or out throughout the process,” Howard said. “It’s difficult to do that at the end. They bring incredible value with that.”
Skanska is used to working in the midst of campus, avoiding disruption of other buildings and keeping students safe, Jones said. In the case of the Gross Anatomy Lab, it will work on the first floor while other classrooms and research labs continue functioning. The company seals off the construction area to prevent debris or noise from disrupting the other areas, Jones said.
“You’ve basically got complete isolation from your construction space and the ongoing classrooms and labs around you,” he said.
Skanska must still complete a contract with the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission, and bond funding for the project must still be approved and the bonds issued, Howard said. He hopes that can happen later this year.