Engineers completing complex calculations? Someone working hard to procure much-needed specialty equipment and materials? Workers on site building intricate projects with tight schedules?  Bet your thoughts didn’t include transforming cow waste into renewable natural gas. Cow manure has a notorious reputation because it contains a high concentration of methane gas that can trap heat in the atmosphere. California Bioenergy LLC found a way to transform that gas from something harmful into something beneficial for the local and global environment. Successfully delivering CalBio’s vision for a greener future required a collaborative team approach, expertise in the EPC delivery method and a partner fully invested in achieving the project’s long-term vision of helping the State of California reach its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. 

Not unlike the Walkman’s demise, as time goes by a tower’s building systems, structure and envelope lose efficiency and the ability to keep up with technology and the times. The interior spaces become outdated and less attractive to tenants as new modern buildings with all the bells and whistles enter the marketplace. As we enter the 2020s, companies and employees are demanding contemporary and comfortable workspaces. Offices must provide an exceptional user experience, outstanding occupant comfort and sustainable features that reduce environmental impacts. 

CalBio designs, develops, operates and secures financing through grants, dairy owners and partners, as needed, for each digester project. The projects convert organic matter into renewable natural gas for utility company transmission lines and for use as vehicle fuel. CalBio has proven electricity generation expertise and exceptional relationships with local dairy farmers. All they needed was a partnership with the right EPC contractor. This is where PCL was able to step up and provide a single point of responsibility for detailed design, construction management, change management, project schedule control, start-up and commissioning, quality and safety, price certainty and performance.

EPC delivery offers many benefits throughout the project lifecycle. It ensures a collaborative and flexible approach, transparency and trust, ongoing and timely communication and a unified project team that works together as one for the success of the project. An EPC approach engages us early in the process and helps us add value through constructability reviews and a greater understanding of estimating the project. It also allows risk to be better defined and shared between the owner and EPC lead to ensure both parties bring value to the project.

“PCL was engaged early through the RFI process from relationships external of CalBio. Our team was able to demonstrate that we had the right tools in our tool belt coupled with our experience in gas compression, gas plants, gas conditioning and pipeline construction to build the CalBio projects,” says Mark Pittser, director business development and fabrication services, PCL Industrial. “Both CalBio and PCL went through several contract modifications to balance the risk between both parties that would eventually make economic sense to keep the project moving forward to an executed contract.”

Once the projects moved into detailed design and construction, PCL moved several of the preconstruction team members to the project team to ensure the preconstruction knowledge was transferred to the project for a successful outcome.

“Establishing clear project parameters and key performance indicators at the onset of the project ensures all stakeholders understand what a successful project delivery entails,” says Pittser. “By defining success at the start, we are able to ensure there are no surprises, we meet or exceed performance requirements and all stakeholders are happy with the project’s outcome and performance.” Our strong partnership with CalBio allowed us to work closely with the client and numerous engineering firms to validate the design of this unique concept and technology. Our scope of work on phase 1 of the project included the design and construction of new conditioning plants at 12 dairies. 

Today, PCL and CalBio are successfully building out 33 conditioning plants, more than 71 miles of HDPE buried pipeline and five upgrading facilities. Now, at the dairies, the waste is gathered into a digester that produces biogas, which is conditioned to reduce hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas, then dried and compressed before moving to underground gathering lines made up of HDPE piping varying in size from three to 12 inches. These lines finish at an upgrading facility where the biogas is refined to PUC-quality gas and then injected into the Southern California Gas Company transmission line.

This renewable and sustainable industrial project not only benefits California Bioenergy and the project investors, but also residents as it provides natural gas to them and many businesses.