Archive October 2010

LEED Certification Growth Continues Leading Up to Greenbuild

The annual Greenbuild conference will be in Chicago in November, and the trend for green building continues to grow. Green building now accounts for almost one-third of all new construction in the U.S. That’s a staggering increase, since it only accounted for two percent of new construction just five years ago. LEED certification guidelines were only established a decade ago, but builders, and the general public, have learned about the guidelines and rating system quickly.

“The word LEED meant nothing 10 odd years ago,” Michele Russo, director of green research for McGraw-Hill Construction told NPR. “Now, that is literally like Kleenex is to tissues. When you think of a LEED building you know it is a green building.”

LEED certified buildings are designed to help the environment, but there may be other benefits as well. A recent Michigan State University revealed that workers in green buildings had fewer absences due to asthma, allergies and illness, and showed higher productivity.

Many construction experts questioned the viability of green building when the U.S. Green Building Council was formed, believing that it creates substantial additional cost opposed to a typical project. But the University of Michigan announced recently that its research indicated that on a typical $100 million project, LEED certification will add about 2 percent to the cost. That cost savings can be easily recouped through energy savings just over a few years of the building’s life.

Michigan isn’t the only college campus turning to LEED certification. Iowa State and Louisville have already built LEED certified facilities and Wingate University is also constructing a College of Health Sciences Building that is expected to be LEED certified when it opens in 2011.

CM Black Construction Company is overseeing that project, and has maintained more than 90 percent of recycled construction waste during construction.

“When you are building a LEED certified project, you have to be meticulous with all your materials,” said CM Black President Emmitt Black. “We are proud of how well we have done in that regard, and we are determined to maintain that kind of success with this and other future LEED certified projects we will handle.”

New Software Helps CM Black Maintain Grading Advantage

CM Black Construction Company has officially upgraded its grading services through the implementation of the AGTEK software system.

The AGTEK estimating program allows CM Black to be more competitive in its pricing. CM Black officials have undergone extensive training for the software, and now have the capability to create 3D models of landscapes to determine the best course of action.

“We wanted to maintain our advantage with our grading capabilities and AGTEK will help us do that,” said CM Black President Emmitt Black.

The program allows CM Black to create haul plans, monitor production and document for payment; or use Earthwork 3D output with GPS systems to verify land topography, set grades and machine control. The software also helps optimize earthmoving jobs and resolve issues that may arise between developers and contractors.

The program includes not only 3D views, but also creates cut/fill detail maps that can settle quantity discrepancies and streamline grading operations. That can be an essential tool in the planning, since it gives a clear view of any issues that may arise from the land surrounding the project.

“We are really excited to start implementing this program into our construction capabilities,” said project manager Justin Black. “This will give us a vital tool moving forward.”

CM Black Builds Residence Hall at Wingate, Other Projects

CM Black has begun construction on a new residence hall at Wingate University, continuing a relationship with the school that spans more than a decade

The new residence hall, scheduled to be completed by December, will be a three-story facility with more than 26,000 square feet. It will house 96 students once it is completed, and will be the third such residence hall constructed by CM Black on campus. CM Black previously constructed the Beam and Cannon residence halls.

The construction of the new residence hall has been necessitated by the largest freshman class in Wingate’s 114-year history. More than 600 students entered the university in August, and those students will be housed in temporary housing until the new residence hall is complete.

CM Black began the project in June, and will have the residence hall completed within six months.

“We are thrilled to once again work with Wingate as they continue to grow in the coming years,” CM Black President Emmitt Black said. “We look forward to working with them on this project and maintaining the high standards of the university.”

CM Black also has other projects in the Cabarrus/Charlotte Metro area. The construction company continues to work on the Levine College of Health Sciences Building at Wingate, which includes more than 69,000 square feet. That building, which will also house the School of Pharmacy, recently had its topping out and is scheduled to be completed by June.

CM Black also recently began an upfit for Southern Select Community Credit Union. That building, which is located off N.C. 3 in Cabarrus County, is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Three keys to meeting deadlines in commercial construction

Commercial construction involves projects that can sometimes take a year or longer to complete. Those kinds of multimillion dollar projects are often pushed back because of unexpected delays and other glitches that can hold up the building process.

Those kinds of delays can cost business owners, construction companies, and many others in the project, thousands of dollars. CM Black Construction Company has been in the construction business for 60 years, and the Concord construction firm has built a reputation for finishing projects on time.

Recent construction and renovation of the Albemarle City Hall and many projects at Wingate University all finished on time, but CM Black officials said there is no secret formula for getting work done on schedule. Each project is different, especially whether the project has been negotiated or competitively bid. Those variances each create their own set of special challenges, but CM Black President Emmitt Black said three primary philosophies have helped keep the company’s projects on track no matter how they are started.

1. Planning, planning, planning

Every CM Black project is meticulously planned down through every detail.

“Before the project even starts I am looking six months down the road,” CM Black President Emmitt Black said. “You have to know where the potential trouble can be.”

CM Black studies all blueprints, and carefully examines all potential trouble spots well before getting started. That trouble can seem to be in the smallest of details, from the light levels in a room to where fixtures will be placed, but if changes are made later in the process, they are more likely to create delays in the finish date.

2. Communicate thoroughly with everyone involved in the project.

CM Black views a construction project as a collaboration between builder, engineer, architect and owner. Emmitt Black said subcontractors must also be kept up to speed on everything involved with the project, to limit the number of change orders that need to be implemented.

“We try to work out any potential problems with the architects even before we get started,” Emmitt Black said.

Once construction has started, Emmitt Black said his company communicates frequently with the owner of the facility and continuously updates them on progress. Getting so many people involved early in a project creates a sense of ownership, and once they fully understand the parameters of a project, the process will go much smoother and eliminate the need for change orders.

3. Do things right.

Mistakes are easy to make on any project, but CM Black’s philosophy is to always check and doublecheck every plan thoroughly before proceeding.

“We try to be prepared for anything, and by being meticulous in what we do, we can make any needed fixes earlier in the process,” Emmitt Black said.

Once a project is started, CM Black follows through with thorough review of each phase of the construction process. Those reviews also help keep construction projects on track, and keep customers satisfied.

“We understand the value of a deadline,” Emmitt Black said. “We want to make sure that we keep things moving and on schedule.”