ENR Mountain States magazine previously announced its 2016 Best Projects award winners (see my editor’s blog on this website). Now, after tabulating final results and polling our judges, we are ready to reveal the winners of this year’s Best Projects Excellence in Safety Awards.

This year’s safety competition was the tightest one so far. Our safety judges noted that many firms have improved not only their safety records but also their approaches to safety and their safety cultures through comprehensive, job-specific programs with well-documented plans and good follow-up. Here are this year’s safety winners, by region:

Colorado/Wyoming & Plains States (Kansas, Nebraska, Dakotas)

• Winner: Rocky Mountain Institute Innovation Center

Basalt, Colo.

Entry submitted by JE Dunn Construction

The Rocky Mountain Institute’s Innovation Center, which also won the Colorado/Wyoming award for Best Green Project, touts itself as the most energy-efficient building in the coldest climate zone in North America. The Innovation Center was developed as a “living lab” to demonstrate how deep green buildings are contracted, designed, constructed, occupied and, most importantly, replicated.

The key to contractor JE Dunn’s safety culture is “everyone, everywhere, all the time.” Safety issues and expectations were the first item discussed with each of the project’s trade partners at every pre-installation meeting. Other highlights included a site-specific orientation conducted for every worker before working onsite and a management approach to safety based on a philosophy of active caring rather than reactive enforcement.

• Merit Award: Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels Fire Suppression System

Western Colorado

Entry submitted by Barnard Construction Co. Inc.

In the twin, 1.7-mile-long Eisenhower Johnson Memorial Tunnels (EJMT), a Barnard-led design-build team constructed a first-in-the-U.S., comprehensive, fixed-fire suppression system. It was also the first fire suppression retrofit to be done in a tunnel—especially one that carries more than 30,000 vehicles a day. The project also won the 2016 Colorado/Wyoming award for Best Specialty Construction.

Ensuring safety at 11,000 ft isn’t easy, but Barnard’s team developed a strong safety culture through close communication with subcontractors, who participated in the project’s “Good Catch” safety incentive program. Barnard promoted a “one team” atmosphere and collected valuable feedback to improve site conditions as the project progressed.

Intermountain Area (Utah, Montana, Idaho)

• Winner: Chevron Human Resources Facility Project

North Salt Lake, Utah

Entry submitted by Okland Construction Co. Inc.

Chevron constructed a new human resources facility at its Salt Lake refinery. The complex features 14 buildings situated on a 20-acre site located northwest of the existing refinery facilities.

The Okland-led project management team committed to completing the facility without incident or injury to all individuals associated with the project. The “zero-accident” culture was enhanced through effective communications and personal accountability based on creating workable solutions. Every employee on the project was empowered with the authority and obligation to stop unsafe work conditions. The project logged more than 417,000 man-hours without a lost-time accident and only two minor first-aid recordable accidents.

• Merit Award: La Pointe Student Housing


Entry submitted by Engineered Structures Inc. (ESI)

La Pointe, which also won the Intermountain Best Residential / Hospitality Award, is a 130-unit complex offering luxury off-campus housing to students at Boise State University. The 280,000-sq-ft, ground-up project is located on a previously developed 2.29-acre site that was cleared before construction.

The safety judges commended contractor ESI’s “Safety First” culture, which was evident on the jobsite, including daily ergonomics exercises and briefings about potential hazards; a comprehensive, jobsite-specific safety orientation; and thorough training on multiple safety and wellness issues.

These projects, along with many other Best Projects winners, will be honored at our annual awards in late October.

Information and registration for the Best Projects events is available at:

Hope to see you in Salt Lake City or Denver for the ceremonies. Congratulations to the winners.