Westmoreland Museum of American Art, WMAA Expansion & Renovation

WMMA1James Construction is responsible for the following general construction services for the WMAA Expansion & Renovation project; General Trades / Site, Metal Studs, Drywall & Exterior Envelope, Doors, Frames, Hardware, & Specialties, Floor Coverings, and Terrazzo & Ceramic Tile packages.

The Westmoreland Museum of American Art was established in 1949 because of one woman’s vision.  Mary Marchand Woods, a long time resident of Greensburg, saw the community’s need for an important cultural institution.  To make this vision a reality, she bequeathed her entire estate so that a museum facility could be built on her family’s property in the heart of Greensburg.  The building, state of the art at the time, opened its doors in 1959. The staff and trustees of The Westmoreland have spent the last 20 years creating a museum experience that is both inviting and engaging to visitors.  In support of that vision, the Expanding What’s Possible Expansion and Endowment Campaign has been launched. This project will improve gallery space, expand educational facilities and enhance visitors’ amenities. The project, scheduled for completion in the Summer of 2015, is the most transformative moment in The Westmoreland’s history.  The expansion and renovation will create a state of the art facility, honoring Mrs. Woods’ vision of a world class cultural institution in the city of Greensburg and creating a building in which American art will be exhibited, studied and celebrated.

The project is scheduled for completion in March of 2015.

Follow this link to view the Time-Lapse Construction Video… http://youtu.be/scmkqtaZ04s

Defining Net Zero-Energy Buildings

nrel-report-coverHigh Performance Building projects often reference net zero-energy buildings.  The metrics used to establish goals in performance-based contracting specifications affect how buildings are designed to achieve the goal. Critically, the question becomes “How do you define net-zero energy use buildings”  The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) defines a net zero-energy building as a residential or commercial building with greatly reduced energy needs through efficiency gains such that the balance of energy needs can be supplied with renewable technologies.

NREL’s Conference Paper, Zero Energy Buildings: A Critical Look at the Definition, addresses the definitions of zero-energy buildings (ZEB) and why a clear and measurable definition is needed in zero-energy projects.  Different definitions may be appropriate, depending upon project goals and the values of the design team and owner.  Four well-documented definitions are reviewed.

  • Net Zero Site Energy: A site ZEB produces at least as much energy as it uses in a year, when accounted for at the site.
  • Net Zero Source Energy: A source ZEB produces at least as much energy as it uses in a year, when accounted for at the source. Source energy refers to the primary energy used to generate and deliver the energy to the site. To calculate a building’s total source energy, imported and exported energy is multiplied by the appropriate site-to-source conversion multipliers.
  • Net Zero Energy Costs: In a cost ZEB, the amount of money the utility pays the building owner for the energy the building exports to the grid is at least equal to the amount the owner pays the utility for the energy services and energy used over the year.
  • Net Zero Energy Emissions: A net-zero emissions building produces at least as much emissions-free renewable energy as it uses from emissions-producing energy sources

The NREL study details design impacts of the definition used for High Performance Buildings and the large differences between the definitions.  Depending upon the goals set by the Owner, project teams will implement different project strategies, which result in significantly differing energy utilization outcomes.  Further, each goal will significantly impact whole-building project strategies to integrate efficiency measures with renewable energy supply options.

The NREL research study is a must read for all team members engaged in performance-based contracting projects.


LEED’s Value Proposition

In 2000, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) introduced its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system.  LEED is arguably the most popular green rating system in the United States, and has been instrumental in the progression of sustainable thinking in the built environment. Owners are asking if LEED certified buildings are directly influencing primary energy utilization and GHG emissions, and if so, how much?  Two reports attempt to answer this question based on empirical evidence.

NBI-CoverNew Buildings Institute’ report “Energy Performance of LEED for New Construction Buildings” analyzed measured energy performance for 121 LEED New Construction buildings. Measured performance results show that on average LEED buildings are saving energy.  The bad news is that there is a wide scatter among the individual results that make up the average savings, with a significant number of buildings using more energy than average for comparable existing building stock.  The take away from the NBI report is that performance energy results from LEED certified buildings vary greatly, and that better measured performance and feedback is required.


John Scofield, a professor of physics at Oberlin College, authored “No Evidence LEED Building Certification is saving Primary Energy”. Professor Scofield uses scientific data analysis of existing performances of LEED certified buildings. His report analyzes the public relations marketing versus performance data for existing LEED certified buildings.  His conclusions are, as his title suggests, there is no direct evidence linking performance of buildings to LEED certification.  Of particular interest is the collective momentum from all sides to understand the need for measuring performance of buildings.

APSImageAfter review of these reports, an argument can be made that any building that claims to be “green” or sustainable should meet the minimum requirement:

  • Disclose the building’s EUI.  If it is an existing building, disclose the existing EUI.  If it is a new building, disclose the as-designed or planned EUI.  Then, disclose the post-construction EUI based on actual performance data.
  • After this fundamental step, we can begin to debate and compare green rating systems.

Imagine in 10 years, looking back at this period and wondering how we classified any buildings as sustainable, without specifically addressing energy utilization and impacts on GHG emissions.

James Construction is a proud member of ISNetworld

isnMemberContractorLargeISNetworld is the global resource for connecting corporations with safe, reliable contractors/suppliers from capital-intensive industries. ISN collects self-reported conformance information from contractors/suppliers, verifies its accuracy, and then reports the results in an easy-to-follow format. This allows corporations to select those resources that best meet internal and governmental requirements, while providing contractors/suppliers the opportunity to centralize their conformance information, saving time and gaining presence in the marketplace.

ISN’s Review and Verification Services (RAVS) is the industry-leading provider of conformance verification. Self-reported health, safety and procurement related data is reviewed by subject matter experts who verify accuracy and validity. Health, Safety & Environmental Managers depend on RAVS as a critical element of their contractor information due-diligence process

James Construction is a proud member of ISNetworld and currently have connections with multiple organizations – all with Grade A for safety.

For more information about ISNetworld please visit their website at:  http://www.isnetworld.com/


Hilltop Community Healthcare Center, Passive House Retrofit

Blower Door Test 04James Construction conducted a preliminary 2-blower door air leakage test at the Hilltop Community Healthcare Center, Passive House retrofit project.

Hilltop Community Healthcare Center is a satellite of the Sto-Rox Family Health Center in McKees Rocks.  Both Centers are Federally Qualified Health Centers.  Hilltop Community Healthcare Center provides adult, pediatric, women’s health, senior care, podiatry and lab services. Dental care is available through a referral to a local dentist.

The retrofit project, located in Mt. Washington, is a 7,400 square foot renovation of an existing structure to Passive House standards.  The renovations include 10 exam rooms to serve both pediatric and adult patients along with administrative and staff areas.  The project is intended to achieve LEED and Passive House construction and certification.  The project is scheduled for completion in June of 2014.

AIA-MBA Joint Committee, Best Practices Guides

The AIA-MBA Joint Committee publishes a Best Practices Guide , which is a set of guidelines that are recommended industry procedures established by members of AIA Pittsburgh and Master Builders’ Association of Western PA.  In 2014, James Construction assisted with the latest revisions for Project Delivery Systems. A description of the various delivery options, along with advantages and disadvantages of the system, are detailed on pages 58 – 70.


James Construction is a proud member of the Green Building Alliance.

GBA-180James has been a member of the Green Building Alliance since 2000.  Green Building Alliance (GBA) is the regional chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.  GBA strives to meet the ever-growing and changing demands of the green building marketplace through its education programs and initiatives.  From LEED to the Living Building Challenge and from Passive House to the Pittsburgh 2030 District, GBA lives on the cutting edge of healthy and high-performance buildings and works to ensure that everyone can achieve them.

National Safety Stand-Down Event

osha-posterJames Construction is a proud supporter of OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down event on June 2-6, 20104.  A Safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about “Fall Hazards” and to reinforce the importance of “Fall Prevention.”  Please visit OSHA’s website for more information:  https://www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown/index.html.

The purpose of the National Fall Prevention Stand-Down is to raise awareness of preventing fall hazards in construction. Fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction workers, accounting for 269 of the 775 construction fatalities recorded in 2012. Those deaths were preventable. Fall prevention safety standards were among the top 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards, during fiscal year 2012.