Most project owners feel, and understandably so, that they should be entitled to purchase what they want when it comes to the brand of material or equipment installed in their project. For public project owners, however, there is a problem. Due to concerns regarding open competition and lowest price, there are statutory and regulatory limitations on proprietary specifications when taxpayer money is involved.
The solution is the notorious “or equal” specification. The contract calls for the product the owner really wants or an equal product if approved by the owner’s architect or engineer. This complies with the prohibition against sole-source specifications on public contracts, but it creates problems for contractors and their suppliers. A low bid which assumes approval of a less expensive alternative product is risky. How will equality be judged? And can the contractor expect an impartial evaluation when everyone knows the owner’s true preference?
United Solar July 14 announced that its Uni-Solar photovoltaic rooftop products will be used on what is considered a unique, first-ever new school construction project in Kentucky. Morton Solar & Wind LLC. has secured a $2.16-million contract to install a 340-kilowatt photovoltaic system on the new Richardsville Elementary School, which is undergoing construction near Bowling Green, Ky. The system is expected to become the largest photovoltaic system in Kentucky to date, and the school is projected to be the first net-zero energy elementary school in the United States. A net-zero building produces as much energy as it uses. Uni-Solar rooftop products are flexible, thin-film solar laminates.
Systemates July 15 announced the City of Tacoma, Wash., as the newest client of the company's construction management software, Projectmates. After a comprehensive bidding process, the Environmental Services Science and Engineering Division in the city's Public Works Department chose Projectmates to manage the construction of its capital improvement projects.
Construction will begin in early August on the city's Solid Waste Recovery and Transfer Center at the Tacoma Landfill. The new center will provide space for separating and recovering recyclable materials from the waste stream. Lewis Griffith is the professional civil engineer and project manager for the center.