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Life Resource Center overhaul won't be required to comply with LEED energy standards

Sep 15, 2016 By Christina George, Staff Writer

Design work for overhauling the Wyoming Life Resource Center in Lander and the Wyoming State Hospital in Evanston will not be required to be energy-efficient certified.

Members of the Joint Legislative and Executive Task Force on Department of Health Facilities said the firm selected to design the projects will be asked to have building plans that have efficient aspects. However, the designs do not have to meet specific standards such as LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

"We are certainly looking for efficiency, but we are not requiring any LEED certification nor are we pursuing it," task force co-chair and Wyoming Rep. Lloyd Larsen, R-Lander, said.

The committee held a telephone conference to answer questions raised by firms interested in phase three of designing the dual-project in Lander and Evanston.

The task force two years ago studied all five state-run health care facilities to determine needs of improvement and prioritized the WLRC and WSH.

The projects are estimated to cost a combine $149 million.

Not required

Task force member Bill Panos is director of the Wyoming Department of Transportation and former director of the Wyoming Department of Education. He said Wyoming doesn't require facilities, including schools, to be designed with LEED certification in mind.

"It's a significant third-party certification process," Panos said, adding, "There is an increase in cost in the front end, but it's made up in the back end (through energy cost savings)."

Panos noted LEED certification is an additional cost for schools that opt to have it. Gannett Peak Elementary School and Lander Middle School are LEED certified.

Design for both sites

The task force also discussed and agreed it wants the selected firm to provide complete design services for both the Evanston and Lander medical campuses.

Earlier this year it was decided the projects should move forward together.

However, if there's a shortage in funding because state revenues are down due to the slumped energy sector, the WSH is to move forward first, followed by the WLRC.

Owner's rep

The task force voted to send out a request for proposals for an owner's representative - a third-party individual hired to represent the state on site and during the different phases of the construction project.

The cost for an owner's representative typically is one-half percent of the total cost of a project.

Panos said having an owner's representative can be effective for large-scale and complex projects such as those planned at the WLRC and WSH.

Having someone on site scheduling and coordinating with subcontractors, following up and answering questions moves the project along quicker, he noted.

"It's going to be fairly complicated ... because of the age of the facilities and requirements of health care facilities," Panos said.

Co-chairman and state Sen. Eli Bebout, R-Riverton, agreed.

"When you are in the design phase, it's one thing to have the owner's rep making sure the walls are in the right place," Bebout said. "You also need someone to say, 'You have to have a certain size of rooms because of health care regulations we have to comply with.'"

Task force member and state Rep. Bob Nicholas, R-Cheyenne, said he wants to have an expert on the ground.

"At the end of the day you are just adding one more level of security," Nicholas said "There is always risk of failure and negligence, and that is why we create those levels of security to begin with."

The task force agreed an owner's representative was needed as soon as possible so that he or she can be involved in the design process. The RFP would include an option to keep the owner's representative through construction.

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