Background. UGI’s existing headquarters in Reading, PA was quickly becoming too small for their workforce. With a new corporate headquarters in mind, UGI chose to relocate to Lancaster County, selecting a site right off of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Route 222. This brand-new building would reflect UGI’s commitment to providing reliable services, focus on providing sustainable energy savings with natural gas, and the professionalism expected of a large company serving more than 700,000 customers.
Preconstruction & Values Management. More than a year in preconstruction, the UGI project went through several stages of value engineering. Our team performed “rolling” value management exercises at every budget update and between budget updates. This provided the client and community stakeholders with the lowest responsible price point for the project.
Site Logistics. Located on a 32 acre site adjacent to wetlands, the UGI project necessitated extensive and complicated sitework. During one of the rainiest years on record, our team intensely focused on ensuring that the wetlands, stream, and preexisting drainage easements were preserved appropriately. Breaking ground in November 2017 meant that the bulk of foundations and footings were poured just as winter started. Several snowstorms, followed by above-freezing temperatures quickly turned most of the site into a muddy mess. Despite this challenging environment, collaboration with a great sitework partner allowed our team to move into building envelope work as scheduled in the Spring.
Project Flow. Due to the wet and humid weather that arrived in Spring 2018, our team tented the building in plastic so concrete slabs could be poured on each floor. With a large building footprint and aggressive schedule, creative measures were necessary to keep the project on schedule during difficult weather conditions. Subcontractors were phased throughout the building, working from the East to West wings, then from third floor down to the first, to keep work moving smoothly. To combat humidity, our project team worked carefully with the MEP subcontractors so air conditioning could be up and running during the summer, maintaining the interior environment at moisture levels that would allow finish trades to begin work.
Coordination Challenges. An extremely taxing coordination project, the UGI Utilities Headquarters building included more than 7,000 feet of ductwork, 20,000 feet of piping (excluding sprinkler systems), 1,000 light fixtures, and nearly a million tons of steel between beams and columns. Warfel’s MEP Coordination team, as well as the Virtual Design & Construction team, collaborated throughout the project to prevent clashes and prevent lost time and materials on the project. Meeting weekly with trade partners, Warfel’s coordination team worked on the project for more than 6 months, building a detailed building information modeling (BIM) system from the architectural model produced by the design team.
The project team worked tirelessly to resolve clashes, re-routing ductwork and other MEPs that did not fit in their originally intended areas. Coordination also provided for safe installation of rooftop equipment, which was significantly larger than the space prepared, rerouted the floor pipe system around the kitchen for better tie-ins, and moved the exposed gas line on the loading dock underground.
The combined cooling, heating and power (CHP) plant was designed by an outside firm which tied their model directly into the one produced by Warfel. Equipment for the CHP plant was fabricated straight from the model, assuring that the energy generated from the plant would adequately feed all the systems inside the building.
Even after project completion, the Warfel-created BIM model is still in use by the owner, allowing UGI to monitor temperature, machinery statistics, and energy consumption within the building.
Safety. In addition to Warfel’s proactive safety staff and standard safety program (including weekly Toolbox Talks to ensure worker safety), Warfel’s safety team conducted monthly site visits to audit the project and ensure that all workers were performing their work in a satisfactorily safe manner. Warfel’s stringent safety program exceeds OSHA standards in some measures, and Warfel safety staff and project management team ensured that subcontractors understood requirements to working on site.
Each new subcontractor entering the site was required to watch a short video reviewing Warfel’s safety policies and procedures, and signed a release indicating their understanding of Warfel’s expectations. Subcontractors who did not meet Warfel’s safety regulations were warned and cited by Warfel management accordingly.
Quality Control. As a standard practice at Warfel, a team member was assigned to photo document all of the work done at the UGI Utilities project to ensure that our guarantee of high-quality work was met by every subcontractor. All photos were uploaded into Warfel’s project management software. Subcontractors, the design team, and the owner were granted shared access to Warfel’s project management software, which expedited corrections, notifications of completed work, and any necessary follow up.
Greater Community Impact. UGI’s innovative use of a combined cooling, heating and power (CHP) plant converting natural gas into electricity and thermal energy will provide a significant amount of the heating and cooling for the new building. CHP systems use thermal energy that would have otherwise gone to waste, thereby raising the total efficiency of the facility. Often utilized in healthcare or other large projects, the CHP plant at the UGI headquarters building was the first of its kind completed by Warfel, and provided our team with an instructional experience that will inform other energy-conscious projects for years to come. UGI plans to use the CHP building as a working model, sharing with current and potential clients how natural gas can be used for energy and environmental savings.