> PROFILE PREMIER ELECTRICAL CORP., RICK ELECTRIC INC.
The North Dakota winter was another factor to contend
with. PCL arranged the schedule to ensure the crew could be
digging in the ground or working outside. Late in the year, Premier’s crew was working outside pouring slabs and had to take
frequent breaks to warm up in the – 43°F temperatures and take
precautions to keep things from blowing away in the steady
40–50 mile-per-hour winds.
Instead of on-site storage in these conditions, Rick Electric,
Inc., rented a warehouse near the university to store the close
to $1.5 million worth of lighting fixtures it had ordered.
“Considering our winters, we would have had to dig out
snowbanks to get to a certain trailer to find the lights inside, so
I spent the money for the heated warehouse a mile away,” Rick
said. “We’d load up the fixtures we’d need for the day or the
next day and saved ourselves from having a lot of damage that
might have occurred if we had them stored on-site.”
Construction efficiency was escalated since the various
trades had access to iPads, enabling them to check the small-
est details of any of the systems and to check installation against
the architect’s designs.
“If you were going to carry around blueprints for a project
this size, you’d need a golf cart,” said Chris Koppang, electrical
foreman, Rick Electric. “On the iPad, I could look at the plans
for mechanical, plumbing, sheet metal and see what they had in
that area so we could stay away from them. It was a 100 percent
nonpaper project for me.”
Details of the treatment
Since the School of Medicine’s existing facility had an
emergency generator that had problems with maintaining
voltages—which created issues with testing research procedures—the university needed a more reliable system. Premier
Electrical installed two 2-megawatt diesel powered backup
generators for the building.
“If they lose utility power, we can bring on one or both gen-
erators and pick up 100 percent load of the building,” Voelker
said. “Also, as part of that scheme, we have a 160 [kilowatt] UPS
[uninterruptible power supply] system with batteries, so the
specific lab equipment can take power from the UPS system so
that, if the utility fails, the university will never see a blink in
power. The UPS capacity far out-reaches the time it would take
our generators to start. UPS can go on full load for 15 minutes,
but our generators will come on in less than 11 seconds. The
critical research equipment in the laboratories should never
see an outage.”
Rick Electric, Inc., installed lighting in the 43,000 square
feet of laboratory space. Instead of a closed-in ceiling, the
design called for suspending 6-by-20-foot clouds 3 feet apart
in a 50-by-100-foot room.
“Hanging the lights between the clouds was challenging, as
was getting them lined up,” Koppang said. “We had to lay them
all out before the ceiling went in. As part of our prep work, we
dropped cables down for them, working with the other trades.”
While Rick Electric, Inc., handled the lighting for the
rooms, Premier Electrical did the outlets and hooked up the
Rick Electric, Inc., also brought the high-voltage feed
underground to three pad-mount transformers. The company
excavated a trench up to a mile long under streets on the campus, after which the crew installed eight PVC conduits that
were 4 inches in diameter and 20 feet long. Premier Electrical
was then responsible for any wiring inside the building.
PCL furnished and installed scaffolds in each atrium area so
that ECs and other trades could work on a platform.
“We’d work from top down,” Koppang said. “As we finished
each level, the scaffold would be removed and the platform
lowered, so the trades could continue their work. It was kind
of challenging because, typically, you rough-in all the way down
and then finish, but this scaffold system didn’t work that way.
“Some of the atriums were open from the ground up to the
roof. Others were open from the ground up a few floors. It was
challenging just to get from one point to another. We couldn’t
run feeders in a straight line to get from the switchgear to the
panel. If we wanted to get from the east end to the west end,
we couldn’t just go straight across but had to go zigzagging
around the openings or below the ground floor slab and then
Rick Electric, Inc., provided power to the fire alarm system
that uses laser beams to detect the presence of smoke and inte-
grated it with the door openers and the heating, ventilating and
air conditioning system. The company worked with the fire
alarm vendors on the sequence of operations.
“Anytime you have a space open to multiple floors, the alarm
system has to be very sensitive as to keeping smoke from getting
everywhere in the building,” said Andrew Bartsch, electrical
engineer, Obermiller Nelson Engineering Building Systems
The building’s needs were so unique that Simplex Grinnell
designed a fire alarm system specifically for the project.
“It was a large project,” Hendrickson said. “Premier and
Rick met every one of our scheduled dates. They were an absolute thrill to work with.”
CA SE Y, author of Women Heroes of the American Revolution, Kids
Inventing!, and Women Invent! can be reached at
UND School of Medicine under construction
during the harsh North Dakota winter