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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Library Committee using ‘novel' approach for new Berlin branch

(Oct. 8, 2015) Favoring energy efficiency over the many other concerns associated with building a new facility, the Berlin Library Committee received approval from the Worcester County Commissioners Tuesday to seek proposals for a “general-contractor-at-risk” arrangement.
County Engineer Bill Bradshaw said the setup, which entails a general contractor acting more like consultant during the pre-construction design and planning processes, has never been used on a county project, but has been in Ocean City.
During the Aug. 18 meeting of the commissioners, acting library Director Jennifer Ranck said the committee favored a “Passivhaus” design strategy, a building concept developed in Sweden and Germany that emphasizes extreme energy efficiency.
“The general idea of a Passivhaus approach is to provide an extremely well insulated and airtight envelope, and reduce the size and complexity of mechanical systems,” according to a report provided to the commissioners at the time. “This would reduce annual energy costs by 50-70 percent and even these may be offset by on-site photovoltaic production.”
However, problems with that approach arose. The principle one is that county purchasing requirements will not allow the number of at-risk contracts generally used in this type of construction, Bradshaw said.
Secondly, Bradshaw said, certain construction materials required for such a project are only manufactured in Europe.
While that defeats the dream of Passivhaus, an ultra-energy efficient building might still be workable with a general contractor acting in tandem with the design team.
“After selection,” Bradshaw wrote in the request for proposals, “the General Contractor then becomes a part of the pre-construction team and is tasked with participating on the team to achieve building goals, developing estimates and schedules, developing bid specifications and managing the sub-contractor bidding process.”
After that, the contractor is expected to provide a guaranteed maximum price for the project and construction schedule. The construction contract is then derived from the schedule, price, contractor and county.
Bids will be accepted until 1 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 26.
Construction isn’t expected to begin for another year, and the new library isn’t expected to open for another year after that — Nov. 2017. The 11,000-square-foot facility has a projected cost of about $3.85 million.