Bob Schroeder, P.E., LEED® AP, Portland Associate Principal
There’s something green going on in Austin, and Glumac is a part of it.
In conjunction with ccrd partners, Glumac is performing the building commissioning on Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) innovative new Lone Star campus in Austin, Texas. The Sunnyvale, California-based company is a leading global provider of microprocessors and other consumer electronics. Their new campus in Austin’s Oak Hill consists of four office buildings, a dining commons building, a central utility plant and three parking garages. This project consolidates 12 separate AMD facilities, currently spread throughout the city, that employs approximately 2,000 people.
"Glumac is pleased to bring our experience, particularly with raised floor installations, to this significant project," said Mike Steinmann, the Principal-in-Charge of the project, and located in Glumac's San Francisco Office. Bob Schroeder, an Associate Principal in Glumac’s Portland office, is the Project Manager.
Building commissioning is a process of ensuring new buildings and their systems perform as designed, and this campus facility is designed to be extremely energy efficient.
This state-of-the-art facility will contain a number of innovative green building features, including one of the largest rainwater collection systems in the world. Rainwater will be collected from the roofs and top floors of the parking garages in ten separate cisterns totaling 350,000 gallons and approximately 1.1 million-gallon storage tank located underneath one of the garages. The collected rainwater will be used to irrigate the site's 100-percent native landscaping and to supplement the potable water used in the energy-efficient evaporative cooling system designed for cooling the indoor facilities.
The evaporation of rainwater instead of the capture/re-irrigation required by the City of Austin has significantly reduced the land area required for the conventional filtration and detention ponds as the captured rainwater from the roof never becomes "stormwater". This alternative approach to meet regulatory requirements will be verified as part of the commissioning process.
An effort was made to locate the facility centrally to cut down on the commute time of its employees, to bring employees closer to their homes and each other. Planners estimate that about 60 percent of local AMD employees live within 10 miles of the new Lone Star campus.
This commissioning project is a multi-partnered effort for Glumac. The architect is Graeber, Simmons & Cowan (GS&C), headquartered in Austin. The mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) engineering and commissioning firm of ccrd partners, which also has offices in Austin, is providing local support on the construction as well as supplying some of the building commissioning. In addition to commissioning, Glumac has a role in peer reviews for the project.
According to Steinmann, AMD Lone Star poses some unique opportunities for Glumac to utilize the expertise of the different offices and collaborate, as has been done on previous projects, with ccrd. The commissioning deadlines for each of the buildings fall at a rate of about one per month from July to November.
The campus buildings feature displacement ventilation systems, designed to distribute air through an underfloor plenum instead of the more conventional overhead delivery. The scope of the project also incorporates commissioning the water quality system. "This is the first time a water quality system of this magnitude has been commissioned. A local civil engineering firm, C Faulkner Engineering, LLP, was included on the team to perform this task," said Steinmann.
Schroeder is enthusiastic about the Lone Star campus, and the opportunities as well as the issues the project poses. Sequencing the commissioning of multiple buildings, and testing rainwater collection systems in the absence of rain are just two of the challenges his team faces. In addition, there is the coordination of a large group of subcontractors and contractors to achieve consensus. We are fortunate to have the expertise of Austin Commercial, the general contractor, to help coordinate this effort.
"We’re excited about doing this in Texas," said Schroeder. "I think it’s going to be a good collaboration with ccrd because they’re local there." He added that the day-to-day monitoring of construction is being done by ccrd, but the testing itself will be a coordinated effort between ccrd and Glumac.
Tom Cornelius, Principal-in-Charge of the project at GS&C, said the project was very much about minimizing the footprint of the structures on the site. The architects worked closely with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to identify the habitat areas, and they made it a priority while developing the site plan to disturb the natural habitat as little as possible. As a result 43 percent of the land at the campus site will remain undeveloped.
Other architectural challenges Cornelius cited were the underfloor ventilation system ("easily the largest underfloor system we have designed") and the rainwater collection system.
"I am not aware of another rainwater collection system or a cooling tower system accomplished at this scale," said Cornelius. He added there was a good synergy among the project’s partners. "Glumac helped us get a fairly complicated system up and running."
The team of architects, designers and engineers working on the new AMD facility has set a goal to earn a LEED® Gold certification, and commissioning is an integral part of that effort.
Planners for AMD Lone Star enlisted architects, engineers, and ecologists in the Austin community and nationwide with the goal of making this new construction an ongoing case study of sustainable design practices. Data about the site will provide designers, academics, and citizens with information to make future decisions about environmental protection.
A staunch advocate of sustainable manufacturing and green building technology, AMD aims to set a new standard for responsible development in Austin with its Lone Star campus. And Glumac, in conjunction with Graeber, Simmons & Cowan and ccrd partners, is helping them hit that target.