When Saskatchewan’s largest electricity provider, SaskPower, was looking to retrofit its 15-story, 55-year-old head office in Regina, it turned to a familiar partner: PCL Construction.

SaskPower’s primary objectives were to modernize the workspace, extend the building’s lifespan, remove hazardous products, increase operational efficiency, achieve significant energy savings and preserve the building’s unique historical aspects. The company encourages its customers to be energy efficient, and the head office renovation was intended to demonstrate leadership in the space.

The team took a progressive approach to sustainable building design, with high-efficiency plumbing and lighting control systems, modern HVAC and building envelope upgrades, heat and energy recovery systems and integrated building management system controls.

From the outset, PCL worked to understand SaskPower’s requirements, developing procurement and execution plans dedicated to ensuring construction could be completed efficiently even while the building was occupied. PCL understood that project success would only be achieved if SaskPower’s employees could do their work while we built around them.

PCL ensured continuous building systems operations throughout all phases of construction. “It was the most significant renovation you can do while being fully occupied,” said PCL’s project manager, Ryan Schindelka. “Every piece of mechanical equipment in the mechanical penthouses was removed and replaced while we needed to keep the building operational.”

In assessing the existing masonry condition of the building envelope, PCL cut initial inspection costs by 80% and removed the need to put workers on swing stages for an extended period by using drones and BIM 360 field technology to conduct an exterior scan of the building. This method also allowed us to stitch the high-resolution photos together for a thorough review, development of tender documents and future life-cycle tracking.

Design challenges and unexpected conditions are inevitable with a phased retrofit project, but early identification of design requirements and a profound understanding of site conditions and execution requirements reduced the potential for cost, safety and schedule impacts.

For example, it was discovered that asbestos-containing materials were on the building’s exterior finishes on the 13th floor. To safely perform abatement, the building envelope access plan for the exterior masonry restoration work was revised from temporary mast-climbing platforms to a temporary scaffolding structure to allow for negative air abatement, ensuring worker safety and the proper handling of hazardous material on the building exterior.

SaskPower estimates that the retrofits will result in significant energy and GHG reductions. Upgrades to the plumbing will also deliver water savings of 2.7 million liters per floor.

“The PCL team and trades have been so great to work with, always responsive to concerns, calls and info requests, and always willing to share their knowledge,” said SaskPower Properties Manager, Leeann Lebersback. “A good contractor determines the success of a facility, and I think great success was achieved.”

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