Burns & McDonnell, the subcontractor to Austin Commercial and Webcor Builders Joint Venture, served as decommissioning and demolition consultant, aircraft hydrant fueling system engineer, and the environmental remediation consultant. Our team’s fieldwork relied heavily on job-specific certifications, stringent airside security approvals, night and weekend work to minimize operational delays, and the ability to adapt to challenging weather conditions.
We worked collaboratively to find consistent and cost-effective solutions, contributing to the project’s high performance, efficient design and cost savings. We also established a direct line of communication from the Burns & McDonnell environmental services team to the construction and design-build teams to address questions and challenges.
A critical first step at project kickoff was to be part of the SFO Big Room environment — a large, shared office space to host the full multidisciplinary team with shared resources and processes. The Big Room was an essential strategy for engendering a culture defined by a breakthrough mindset, face-to-face communication and high productivity. That configuration led to more efficiency in decision-making and approval processes, with all interested parties present. Most importantly, the team developed a deep level of trust, where stress levels were low, positivity was high and quality work could get done. When challenges arose, resolutions were discussed and agreed upon quickly, allowing the whole team to benefit from lessons learned throughout the project life cycle.
We were one of the first consultants to work with the design-build team in the programming phase. Working in the Big Room, our team conducted a thorough review of the project with the design-build team and tailored the activity sequencing with the activity breakdown to create a realistic, thorough and accurate project baseline schedule.
This forward-thinking and collaborative approach in the design phase paid off during construction of each of the four phases. Early in the project, we learned of an estimated 300,000 cubic yards of potentially contaminated subsurface soils within the construction area. Our team acknowledged an opportunity to cut costs and save time by mapping out the nature and extent of historical and current contaminants. Since Burns & McDonnell has been working at SFO since the early 1980s with access to historical fueling layouts, we completed a comprehensive soil and groundwater investigation in 2015. We then combined the recent environmental data points with the historical data and, using GIS/GPS technology, we mapped known and projected environmental impacts to establish risk-based cleanup values and risk management zone standards. These steps eliminated the need to conduct mass excavation and disposal efforts and saved the project 12-18 months of schedule.
The success of a design-build project relies on the ability of the team to be collaborative, innovative and fully integrated. We worked well in advance with both design and the trade partners. During the preparation for the new terminal building, we managed the demolition of the existing buildings. The advance collaboration increased our ability to be responsive, resourceful and strong team players. We provided services like PCB remediation, lead paint stabilization, and asbestos and universal wastes abatements. We performed daily observations of the asbestos abatement contractor’s work area, including full containment and regulated areas, perimeter air quality monitoring, and collection of air samples at key locations to document the safety and compliance of the work. When demolition was complete, we provided final clearance inspection and prepared a comprehensive abatement report. The collaborative experience generated exceptional results in testing and recommending protocols for the removal of contaminants from the roof of the old terminal buildings prior to demolition, saving the project both time and money.
The collaborative design-build team took advantage of available innovation, beginning with repurposing the existing Boarding Area B to achieve the new terminal building. Materials and systems were selected based on having the least environmental impact, such as carbon-sequestering concrete and nontoxic carpet tiles and finishes. Radiant heating and cooling, dynamic glazing and 5-filter carbon air filtration systems create a comfortable ambiance while meeting SFO's healthy building and sustainability goals. Other features include a sophisticated baggage carousel and photovoltaic panels on the roof, which generate the energy required for operations and recycling and diversion of approximately 95% of construction waste from landfill. Despite the complexities of upgrading to new systems, SFO will reap long-term benefits of operating common use gates, building management systems, North America's first independent carrier system (ICS) baggage handling system and all-electric shared-use ramp service vehicles.
A phased approach was used to complete this redevelopment without ever having to stop airport operations. A minimum of nine gates were always safely shuttling passengers to their destinations. The first phase opened in July 2019 with nine departure gates, followed in April 2020 by nine additional gates, an exterior façade with new signage and a new ticket counter area. The third phase opened in May 2021 with the final seven departure gates, a new post-security connector to the International Terminal, and a new museum gallery.