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Alachua County (Fla.) - Project 2

CATEGORY: Renovations


Alachua County (Fla.) Board of County Commissioners



The Alachua County Family and Civil Courthouse is a 101,000SF facility which was constructed in 1978. This facility houses 9 judges, magistrates, attorneys, hearing officers and a host of administrative and support staff to carry out the day to day operations of the Alachua County Eight Judicial Circuit for Florida as well as all functions for the Clerk of the Circuit Courts. 

The Problem: Major air flow, distribution and air quality issues and out dated and very inefficient equipment.  We had equipment that had exceeded its life expectancy. There were still fifteen of the original AHUs in this facility.  The existing chiller and cooling towers were installed in 1996. But due to limited funding several critical HVAC components were not replaced. These components were old, inefficient and in dire need of replacement. 

The building was originally designed for the majority of the floor space to be open space with modular partitions, which were approximately 4-5ft in height.  With the exception of the judge’s suites and the court rooms all other spaces were essentially open.

As the civil and family court operations and the Clerk of the Courts operations expanded and the need to offer additional services was relevant.  There had been countless additions and modifications to the original floor plan, which added full partition walls throughout the facility. This is when our problems began. Though there were attempts during the design phases of several of the renovations to correct the air flow deficiencies.  After the installation of full partition walls throughout the building, air and heat flow was restricted immensely and caused many areas within the building to have extreme cold spots and air quality issues.  Facilities continued to receive cold and air quality complaints from the occupants. 

This occurred due to the original HVAC system was designed to meet the demands for open spaces by supplying limited reheat  to and through the magnetic light fixtures and the  perimeter of the building only.  The magnetic ballasted fixtures were later replaced with electronic ballast linear slot diffusers, offering no heat load to these areas and failed to properly supply adequate air flow.  For years there has been countless heating and cooling complaints from occupants in the courthouse.  Year round the building occupants would augment poor heating and air flow with high energy consuming space heaters.  Upon a thorough investigation by Facilities’ staff and a hired consultant, it was determined that major components of the HVAC system needed to be replaced and controls upgraded to improve the air circulation and distribution throughout the facility.

In 2011, Facilities included this project in the County FY 2012-2017 CIP Program.   While facing a declining budget the BOCC and Courts allocated funds for the project.  However we still did not have adequate funding to replace the chillers, cooling towers and the main two AHUs that service the building.  

Particular Course of Action:  After the schematic design phase, it was determined that we didn't have adequate funding to replace the chiller plant or the two main AHUs. This course of action was simply due to budget constraints. However we were confident that we would be able to achieve the goal of air quality and distribution deficiencies as well as replacement of old and inefficient equipment.  (See attached Project Scope).  This project was started in April of 2013 and completed in May 2014.

Challenges Faced:  (addressed below)

  1. Wisely utilize the funds allocated and achieve the desired outcomes.                  
  2. Complete a major HVAC Construction project while facility is 100% occupied. 
  3. Obtain Green Certification on a limited budget.
  4. Maintain the security requirements in a secure facility.

  How We Overcame and Achieved Success:

  1. Though the original design development submittal from the design team estimated the project’s scope to cost $5,350 Mil.  During several very intense design meetings and keen value engineering, the team was able to ascertain a scope that would achieve the desired outcomes and replace the oldest HVAC equipment for more efficient units as well as remedy the air flow issues.

    The final total project costs for A/E, construction and commissioning  was $3,242,584. 
    The project’s design and engineering was $348,100. (Affiliated Engineers, Inc.)
    The project’s GMP was $ 2,857,584. (BBI Construction Management, Inc.)
    The commissioning fee was $36,900. (Moses and Associates, Inc.)
  2. The courthouse had to and did remain occupied and in full operation during the hours of 7:00AM-5:30PM.  After many coordination meetings and strategic planning sessions with the user groups. It was determined that the project would be completed in four phases (see attached) and all construction activities would be performed during the hours of 6:00PM to 5:00AM.  There were no disruptions to the court or clerk’s operations, for the entire 12 months of this project.  This was due largely in part to strategic planning and bi-weekly coordination meetings.  Meetings were attended by the Facilities’ staff, Occupants, Construction Manager, Design and Engineers.  The project was completed on schedule. 
  3. In early 2002, the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) passed an energy reduction resolution requiring a 33% reduction in energy and water use throughout county facilities.  Since then, the County has adopted a strategy of designing and building green buildings that conforms to the ratings specified under the USGBC’s (LEED) program or other Green rating and certification programs.  Based on historical data from previous projects, we anticipated the LEED certification costs would not be obtainable in our budget. We explored and opted to apply for certification with the Green Building Initiative for Environmental and Energy Efficiency certification for Continual Improvement of Existing Buildings (CIEB).  The following areas were examined and assessed; Energy; Water; Resources; Emissions, Effluents and Pollution Controls; Indoor Air Quality and Environmental Management Systems. We achieved a score of 683 of a possible 969, equivalent to (3) three Green Globes (see attached Report). These improvements enhanced the systems reliability, provides maintenance staff with the ability to operate the systems and resolve indoor air quality and flow issues.   The Alachua County Family/Civil Courthouse is the first courthouse in the state of Florida to receive GBI’s “Green Globes Certification”.    The replacement of the eleven AHUs in the courtrooms alone, yielded at savings of $20,400 annually.
  4. Due to the operations and sensitive nature of this facility it was require that security be maintained during the construction activities. Alachua County BOCC contracted with the Alachua County Sheriff’s office to provide three officers for four 10 hour shifts each night.  Additionally all construction personnel had to have a finger print based background checks and wear badges anytime they were in the facility. A total of 125 badges were issued and maintained by the Security staff during this 12 month project.


In-house Participants

Charlie R. Jackson, Facilities Manager
Regina R. Bradley, Capital Projects Coordinator
Charley Balanis- Energy Specialist
Dan Bass- Maintenance Coordinator
Earl Hasson- Maintenance Mechanic-On-site staff

Additional Information

View Scope of Work (PDF) »

View Phases (PDF) »

View Energy Savings Analysis (PDF) »

View Alachua County Civil Courthouse Summary (PDF) »


Demolition of old duct work in several areas
Old boiler being disconnected and ready to remove
Old boiler removed and the location for new boiler
New Boiler installed and being prepped to go online. Online 11/4/13
Discussion with the Engineers about boiler connection issues
Site visit to look at the new flue pipe from the basement through the roof
Pipe insulation being prepared to install

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