The ‘Drive to 35’ (35Kbtu/sf*yr.) for GSA’s Federal Courthouse in Downtown LA

By Rob Bolin and J. Marc Kersey, SVP, Clark Construction Group


Syska’s Rob Bolin recently caught up with Clark Construction Group’s Marc Kersey, on the takeaways from our successful partnership and energy savings design strategies for the just-opened Los Angeles Federal Courthouse.

The inclusion of GSA’s new federal courthouse in in the LATimes Top Ten Architects list for 2016 was, in part, because it achieved the aggressive energy goal of 35Kbtu/sf*yr.

Here’s a snapshot of Marc’s perspectives on preparing for, winning, and executing this Design Excellence design/build project:

“The very first priority is to understand the owner’s goals. We knew the architectural significance, high sustainability and timeless design would have to be balanced against budget constraints to produce a courthouse that met all of these objectives.

The key to success was establishing one critical check-in meeting each week, and distributed a detailed costs mode – before drawing anything – so that we all know what could be afforded, yet remain open to all creative ideas.

Once the design decision was made, we were able to spend the rest of the competition time perfecting each part of the solution, detailing the faceted exterior, maximizing daylight through the central light court, and optimizing systems selections to suit the architecture and meet the high sustainability objections.

We coined the ‘Drive to 35’ initiative to achieve the aggressive energy goal of 35Kbtu/sf*yr. 

Once the building is fully occupied, each of the building systems are monitored closely for energy consumption and output, through monitoring of the BAS (Building Automation System). Contractually, the GSA will hold our final payment until the stated M&V period is concluded, and the energy consumption is proven to fall within the 35 KBtu/sf*year. Internally, we made a decision to share in the risk of this M&V (measurement and verification) hold back payment between Clark, SOM, Syska and our major MEP subcontractors to ensure that we all were invested in the outcome.”

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