GBA Associate Jordan Martin, PE, has been honored with the Charles Steinmetz Award for Technical Merit by the Electrical Association of Chicagoland.
The award is given annually to a consulting electrical engineer who has distinguished himself among his peers by innovative design of a project with greater than $1 million of electrical equipment installed. The award recognizes the work of Martin, the GBA team, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), and the on-site facilities staff for a project done at the John C. Kluczynski Federal Building (JCK) in Chicago’s Loop.
Completed in 1974, this historic Mies van der Rohe-designed, 45-story, 1,428,620-square-foot structure houses 23 federal agencies, including two U.S. Senators’ offices, the Department of Labor, Drug Enforcement Administration, General Services Administration, Internal Revenue Service, and Office of Personnel Management, among other tenants. This building is owned and managed by the GSA.
The goals of the project included:
- Improving electrical reliability at JCK.
- Reducing safety risks at JCK.
- Providing arc flash warning labels on electrical equipment at the building, the interconnected Loop Post Office Building, and the adjacent Ralph H. Metcalfe Federal Building.
- Avoiding disruption operations during normal office hours.
This project was undertaken to upgrade the seven existing service entrance metal clad switchgear, which were primarily original to the building. The equipment was experiencing frequent and multiple failures, as documented in reports that showed failed electrical testing components, nuisance tripping, faulty metering equipment, safety concerns, uncoordinated circuit breakers, GFI deficient circuit breakers, and unplanned partial outages.
To minimize downtime and save building space, the project team decided to refurbish the existing switchgear instead of a complete switchgear replacement.
The switchgear was upgraded with multiple new safety and reliability features including:
- Complete breaker refurbishment.
- Digital adjustable L,S,I trip units.
- Ground fault protection system replacement.
- Digital power metering.
- Surge protection devices.
- Arc energy reduction maintenance switches.
- Arc flash optical relay system.
- Time-delay electrical operators.
- Egress hardware upgrades.
- Complete building electrical study, including a selective coordination, short circuit study.
- Installation of arc flash warning labels.
GBA was awarded a task order by the GSA to perform the design and construction administration services for this project. Martin performed the roles of design project manager and lead electrical designer for this project.
The design outlined logistical phasing that allowed spare circuit breakers to be maintained at an off-site location before switchgear outages. This ensured that the building maintained the correct amount of appropriately sized circuit breakers to re-energize all active loads with refurbished circuit breakers. The design also required the installation of temporary power solutions for select tenants and equipment throughout the building. Temporary installations were required for the duration of four of the five partial building utility outages to keep critical loads operational.
During construction, Martin worked with the GSA Project Managers, the GSA’s Electrical Engineering Subject Matter Expert (Nathan Ingersoll), GSA property management, facility engineers, contractors, and ComEd to coordinate detailed work plans to implement equipment repairs over scheduled weekends. As part of Grumman|Butkus Associates’ construction administration contract, Martin performed shop drawing reviews, attended construction meetings, and wrote field reports and punch list documents to help align the performed work with the GSA’s project criteria.
To mitigate tenant inconveniences, the building engineers (JLL) and construction contractors (Tamsah, ABM, ABB, Jamerson & Bauwens, ComEd) worked around-the-clock over five separate weekends to perform equipment upgrades. The project construction duration was seven months. All repair work was successfully completed during scheduled shutdown timeframe requirements. Therefore, the building was able to maintain normal operating business hours for all tenants.
The project was completed in May 2020 with a total construction cost of $2.7 million. The upgrades are expected to extend the life of the switchgear for another 30 years.