Dual Certification No Longer Needed for LEED, BREEAM

The U.S. Green Building Council announced recently that its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program now will recognize credits from the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method, or BREEAM. The U.K.'s popular green building rating system, BREEAM is an equivalent to LEED. Recognition will begin with LEED for New Construction and the international version of BREEAM. For projects outside the U.S., the advantage is that teams no longer have to pursue dual certification.

Oregon DOT, Granite Argue Over Default of $217-Million Job

The Oregon Dept. of Transportation issued a notice of default to contractor Yaquina River Constructors, a division of Granite Construction Co., Watsonville, Calif., on March 16 regarding a $217-million, 5.5-mile U.S. 20 straightening project in western Oregon. Granite has 10 days to correct defaults or submit a proposal for correction before the contract is terminated. Two years ago, the project was halted after bridge columns were found to be out of plumb in the landslide-prone, mountainous area. A document outlining the default-notice issues says Granite failed to engineer or design the project adequately and meet permitting and deadline guidelines. Granite is contesting the notice. The two parties disagree over responsibility for the delays as well as required new design and construction to fix the landslide issues.

Perini Pushes $2-Million Repair Over Hotel Demolition

The unfinished $279-million Harmon Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip still lingers in limbo. Held from March 13-15, hearings in Clark County District Court made it apparent the fight over the 28-story building will be bitter and messy. Prior to a scheduled February 2013 jury trial over competing claims between the owner and contractor, Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez had hoped to decide quickly whether the oval-shaped glass tower, anchoring the northeast corner of CityCenter, should be demolished. A new round of hearings is set for July 9. Owner MGM Resorts International wants to raze the building, claiming it is unsafe; general contractor Perini Building Co. denies the claim and maintains the move is financially motivated. The contractor has a $313-million mechanic's lien for unpaid work on the $8.5- billion megaresort, which opened in December 2009. MGM believes the building, which has 1,700 construction defects, is a lost cause and is willing to spend $30 million to demolish it. Perini, however, claims a $2-million fix can be done in eight weeks or less. The Harmon was lopped in half in January 2009, shedding 207 high-end residences; at the time, less than half of those units had been sold. The move saved $800 million.

TVA To Halve Workforce At Bellefonte Site in Alabama

The Tennessee Valley Authority said on March 15 that it is cutting in half the number of contract workers on the 1,280-MW Unit 1 reconstruction project at the Bellefonte nuclear station in Alabama while it verifies the remaining work needed to complete the project. TVA will reduce the workforce to about 430 between now and mid-May. The utility received approval last August to resume unit construction, which was 55% complete when work was halted in 1988. Construction cannot begin at Bellefonte until fuel is loaded into TVA's Watts Bar Unit 2 in Tennessee. That project has been delayed by two years, until late 2013, giving the utility time to develop a plan at Bellefonte that incorporates lessons learned from the Watts Bar reconstruction. Watts Bar is about $1 billion over budget.

New Hampshire Law May Pose Hurdle for Transmission Line

New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch (D)signed a bill on March 5 that bars the $1.1-billion Northern Pass hydroelectric transmission-line project from using eminent domain to acquire right-of-way. The legislation gives landowners the right to refuse to sell property for the renewable-energy project. A Public Service of New Hampshire spokesman says the Northern Pass, which will bear all costs and risks of the project, was never predicated on use of eminent domain. The owner is acquiring the remaining land and rights needed to complete the project, which will deliver 1,200 MW of hydroelectric power from Hydro Quebec.