The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has hired a design-build team of JE Dunn Construction Co. and SmithGroup as it tests a new procurement strategy called cooperative construction contracting approach. The first work planned under the contract is a $224-million project to build an Energy Materials and Processing at Scale facility at its South Table Mountain Campus in Golden, Colo.

Through the use of cooperative construction contracting approach (CCCA), National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) aims to speed up future contracting processes and boost efficiency on its large upcoming projects by working with a single construction partner for projects valued over $10 million. The approach uses a three-step procurement process with the lab issuing a sources sought notice, a request for qualifications and a request for proposals to shortlisted teams, records show. The owner then signs the team to a task ordering agreement, which in this case lasts up to five years with a combined order ceiling of up to $500 million.

Future task orders under the CCCA contract may be at NREL’s South Table Mountain Campus or its Flatirons Campus, procurement records state.

NREL is part of the U.S. Dept. of Energy. It is focused on research and development for renewable energy and energy efficiency. The award of the CCCA contract comes about a year after a U.S. Government Accountability Office report recommended various changes to Energy Dept. contracting processes to draw more bidders, though solicitation for this contract started before that report was published. 

The Energy Materials and Processing at Scale (EMAPS) project is the first task order to be awarded under the CCCA contract. It would be a multi-disciplinary research facility where private industry, universities and other Energy Dept. labs can collaborate on development of new energy products and processes related to energy storage, advanced manufacturing, grid modernization and net-zero chemicals and fuels.

Design of the planned 127,000-sq-ft facility is underway. NREL wants a high-performance design and plans to seek at least LEED Gold certification. Construction is scheduled to begin late this year. 

Mark Kranz, design director at SmithGroup, said in a statement that the facility is being designed to “integrate elegantly into the architectural brand of the campus.”

JE Dunn and SmithGroup previously worked on NREL’s 180,000-sq-ft Energy Systems Integration Facility, which sits adjacent to the planned EMAPS lab site. 

“Returning to the NREL campus is more than just securing another project,” said Charlie Slattery, project director at JE Dunn, in a statement. “It marks the continuation of a valuable partnership.”