Miron Construction is one of the largest contractors in Wisconsin, with offices in Neenah, Wausau, Milwaukee and Madison, as well as Cedar Rapids, IA. It provides construction management, design/build and general construction for the health care, educational, industrial, commercial/retail, governmental, religious and environmental markets. It is also recognized for such services as Building Information Modeling (BIM), Sustainable/LEED and Experience-Based Design.
The company has been a frontrunner in school construction for many years. It fosters this business by providing no-cost, pre-referendum consulting services to local school districts. Its services include assisting with development of plans, education of the local community, publicizing the referendum, etc. This process can often take a year or more, from the time a project is announced until it goes to a public vote. And there is always the risk the referendum won't pass.
Still, John Schneider, project executive, asserts the risk of failure is minimal. "We feel we do a good enough job, it's likely to pass in the majority of cases," he states.
Taking the LEED
One of Miron's recent school projects is the $15 million addition and renovation of the Lake Mills Middle School (LMMS) in Lake Mills, WI. The project, which broke ground in February 2009, includes a 62,000-sq.-ft. addition with a 36,000-sq.-ft. remodel of the existing school.
The addition was needed to house new classrooms, a kitchen/cafeteria and office space, plus bring the gymnasium under the same roof. A new geothermal heating system - which makes up a big part of LEED certification for the school - will significantly reduce overall utility usage, with anticipated savings of over 40% from a traditional system.
A leading authority in the Midwest on the LEED process, Miron boasts 58 LEED-certified professionals on staff, with more being trained. "We see sustainable design and construction as a point of difference," says Schneider. The company works with customers on the project design, plus ensures all materials used have low VOCs (volatile organic compounds). "We make sure we follow all of the standards."
On the LMMS project, a large portion of the original building was remodeled to minimize material use and demolition and disposal of large volumes of debris. Over 75% of the construction waste was salvaged or recycled and reused during construction. In addition, local materials were incorporated whenever possible to reduce the environmental impact of transportation.
Ups and downs from the start
Work at LMMS started while school was in session, presenting some initial challenges. According to Jay Kuhlman, project superintendent, "We were actually pouring footings for the foundation of the three-story [addition] while they were still playing baseball near the building. We only had one access [to the rear of the school] and that was from the front."
Since the front of the school was positioned at the top of a small hill, a ramp was constructed to move equipment in and out. This had its limitations. "We couldn't drive the concrete trucks up and down the ramp because it was too steep," Kuhlman explains. So, a 100-ton-capacity Liebherr 853 crawler crane was positioned at the base of the hill. "We loaded the concrete trucks on the top of the hill and used the crane to swing the bucket around to pour the footings at the bottom."
With pours taking place next to the building, the school had to be underpinned to maintain stability. "We underpinned the adjacent school down 15 ft.," Kuhlman says. "We put in support piers and a shotcrete wall to hold the school in place."
Other areas were shored up by placing soil against the building to maintain a 20-ft. earth bank. Large volumes of plastic were needed to maintain erosion control during the rainy spring conditions.