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Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrades HVAC, Revitalizes Building

Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrades HVAC, Revitalizes Building

Challenge: Aging Wastewater Treatment Plant Requires Equipment Upgrades

The wastewater treatment plant is the unheralded hero of civil infrastructure. People in every village, town, city and county in North America expect wastewater treatment to occur as naturally as they expect their lungs to draw air. It’s just supposed to happen.

Given the expectations of the community and the unpleasant consequences of failure, these facilities must operate optimally. Community health is at risk.

Built in 1970, the solids handling building at the Windham Water Pollution Control Facility (WPCF) needed several major upgrades to continue providing residents of the Town of Windham and the City of Willimantic, Connecticut with stellar service.

Gordian offers a suite of solutions to help state and local government entities with facilities planning, construction procurement and ongoing facilities optimization. Check our dedicated page to learn more about how we can help you successfully budget, build and maintain capital-intensive assets.

The facility’s HVAC system never ran efficiently and a new system was needed to ensure plant employees were breathing healthy air. This was not the only employee health concern present in WPCF, as it was built with asbestos that needed removal. The solids handling building had other issues as well.

When the building was originally constructed, a massive incinerator was installed to process solids. WPCF, however, never collected enough solids to warrant running the incinerator, rendering the large piece of equipment obsolete from the get-go.

A leaky roof and a brick façade separating from the structure only added to the case that the solids handling building needed to be revitalized, modernized and optimized. But there were two important complications.

The first complication was logistical. The Windham WCPF treats over 2.3 million gallons of raw sewage on an average day. The solids handling process can’t just shut down for renovations, it must stay online. Given this reality, WPCF Superintendent Kirk Washington considered a full rebuild, which was quoted at $6.1 million in 2009. But the second complication – a limited budget – eliminated this potential solution quickly. More on this later.

Given the urgency of the plant’s needs and the financial realities he was up against, Kirk went looking for an alternative way to upgrade the facility.

The Town of Windham’s revitalization of the solids handling building in the wastewater treatment plant made such a positive impact on the community that the project won the 2021 Harry Mellon Award of Excellence – SLED for outstanding use of Job Order Contracting (JOC) in state government, local government or public school district. Click here to find out more about the Harry Mellon Awards, including how to submit your exceptional JOC project for this distinguished honor.

Solution: Gordian Job Order Contracting (JOC) Helps Optimize Wastewater Treatment Plant for $3 Million Less Than Building New

Kirk heard about Gordian’s Job Order Contracting solutions at the Windham town hall. Intrigued by the ability to complete many projects with a single, competitively bid contract, he did some research and met with his local Gordian representative, the late Jay Duhamel, to learn more. Eager to update the WPCF, Kirk, a 17-year veteran of the industry, invited Gordian to make its case to the Windham Board of Trustees.

The Board was interested in a cornerstone of any Gordian JOC program: local, preset costs that provide the basis for pricing projects. Gordian verifies and collects prices in a Construction Task Catalog© (CTC), a book of local material, labor and equipment costs an owner uses to complete JOC projects.

Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrades HVAC, Revitalizes Building 1

The enhanced cost transparency afforded by a Gordian JOC program was appealing to the Board because they had been burned by cost overruns in the past. Notably, the costs of the 2009 plant renovation got so out of hand that the project scope had to be reduced. As a result, an update of the solids handling building was shelved.

The exorbitant expense of this past renovation created the financial constraints Kirk was working under when he introduced the Board to JOC. Gordian’s Job Order Contracting enabled the town to make upgrades to the plant for just north of $3 million, about half of what they were quoted to rebuild the facility in 2009.

The Town of Windham accessed a Gordian Job Order Contract via the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG). Purchasing JOC through a cooperative purchasing network allowed the Town of Windham to begin work immediately because the CTC had been established and contract details had been negotiated and agreed upon.

With Board approval and a contract in hand, long-overdue upgrades to Windham’s wastewater treatment plant were set to begin in March of 2020.

Then the world shut down.

Members of cooperative purchasing networks and interlocal agreements across North America use Gordian’s Job Order Contracting to accelerate construction procurement. Click here to find out if this solution is available in your area.

Result: Wastewater Treatment Plant Optimized Despite Pandemic-Related Delays

The COVID-19 outbreak delayed the start of the project by three months. When work finally began, it looked like nothing anyone would have imagined before. The Town of Windham provided specific instructions regarding masking and testing to protect plant employees and contractors from the coronavirus, and the team followed distancing protocols as best they could.

In such extraordinary circumstances, Kirk and the WPCF team found it helpful to have Gordian’s guidance. As the industry leader in Job Order Contracting, Gordian supports more than 30,000 projects every year. This experience was invaluable to the success of the project.

Gordian has been implementing and supporting JOC programs for more than 30 years. We know what works and what doesn’t. We gathered our expertise into an interactive Job Order Contracting Best Practices page to help current and potential clients run best-in-class JOC programs.

“I attribute this project staying on time to the fact that Gordian and Millennium Builders worked together very well. They had the correct equipment and very knowledgeable people. Through Gordian, we had a construction manager on site. That gave me the confidence that the project would stay on budget and on time,” Kirk said.

He was right. In the first phase of the project, the team removed the obsolete incinerator, effectively doubling the available square footage inside the solids handling building. In its place is a new HVAC system, boilers, a two-truck garage and new bathrooms for the employees. Next came asbestos removal and the installation of a peaked roof to prevent rainwater from pooling.

These upgrades were completed without disrupting the day-to-day work of the wastewater treatment plant. Technicians and other specialists operating this crucial facility safely continued their remarkable work maintaining community health without missing a beat.

The optimization of the solids handling building at the wastewater treatment plant is nearly complete and will be once solar panels are installed to reduce energy consumption by 10%. But that’s not the end of the story. The Town of Windham had such a positive experience with preset prices and expert support, that they plan to use Gordian’s Job Order Contracting via the CRCOG cooperative to renovate the town hall.

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