Wilcox Medical Center Emergency Generator Replacement

Lihue, Hawaii


Submitted By: Layton Construction Co.

Owner: Hawaii Pacific Health

Lead Design Firm: KYA Design Group

Contractor: Layton Construction Co.

Civil Engineer: Kodani & Associates Engineers, LLC

Structural Engineer: KAI Hawaii, Inc

MEP Engineer: Miyashiro & Associates, Inc

Electrical Engineer: MK Engineers

Located on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, Wilcox Medical Center was in desperate need of replacing its outdated, 30-year-old backup generators. Layton Construction was tasked with replacing the aging generators, while working around an open, fully operational medical center. The generator system replacement included adding a second floor to the existing central utility plant to house three 1,000-KW emergency generators and associated electrical and mechanical equipment.

The facility is a Level II trauma center and the largest medical center on Kauai, so an up-to-date emergency generator system was vital and the project team knew they could not risk shutting down the central utility plant and potentially impacting patient care.

A project challenge was water intrusion. With the new generator system being installed on top of the existing central utility plant, it was important to make sure the older equipment, which was still being used, was kept dry in Kauai’s humid and rainy climate. The project team regularly tracked weather radar reports to stay on top of when rainstorms were expected so they could ensure water was not entering through the new space onto the older equipment.

Wilcox Medical Center Emergency Generator Replacement

Photo by Aaron Shaw - Endeavor Architectural Photography

Because of COVID, the start of construction was pushed back a month, while the team put policies and procedures in place in accordance with the medical center. The pandemic also caused supply chain issues, especially on the islands. Fortunately, Wilcox Medical Center procured the new emergency generators and equipment before those issues started impacting work, which allowed the project to move forward.

The new system, with the three new emergency generators, is more effective and efficient and includes a new transfer pump, polisher and upgraded automatic transfer switches. The new automatic transfer switches were critical to the upgrade, which had to be done manually by facilities staff prior to the upgrade. The new generators provide three times the power that the two previous generators provided to the campus. The upgrade also allows the hospital campus the opportunity for future growth with the necessary capacity to support expansions.

To help the community, the two 30-year-old generators were donated to the County of Kauai Dept. of Public Works in May 2021 to act as emergency backup units for the county's wastewater treatment plant.

The project team credits careful coordination with the client and subcontractors for the success of the upgrades. The teams utilized pull planning, a process where the project is broken by sequencing so all parties can see who’s doing what and when, and how it impacts the next step in the process.