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Illinois’ New Retainage Law Now in Effect for Construction Contracts

Facility Managers, Building Owners and Contractors take note that on August 20, 2019, Illinois Governor Jay Pritzker signed into law SB 1636, the Contractor Prompt Payment Act.

The Act, which became effective the day it was signed has the following requirements:

  • A retainage of 10% of the payment may be withheld from a payment under a construction contract prior to the completion of 50% of the contract.
  • When a construction contract is 50% complete, retainage withheld must be reduced so that no more than 5% is held.
  • It further provides that after 50% of the construction contract is completed, the amount of retainage for any subsequent payments may not exceed 5%.

These differ from previous requirements and generally accepted contractual standards for construction projects in Illinois which upheld a retainage value of 10% throughout the project construction until substantial completion.

All future contracts and subsequent pay applications and approvals associated with construction projects within Illinois limits must ensure these provisions are upheld.

The full Act can be found here.

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Elara Procures Over $800K in Incentives for clients

In 2017, Elara Engineering successfully procured for its clients $820,212 in incentives from Commonwealth Edison, Peoples Gas and Nicor to help offset costs associated with the installation of energy efficiency improvements. This represents Elara’s highest annual total to date; although, current trends indicate that procured incentives in 2018 may be even higher. Elara has been actively involved in various utility incentive programs since 2009 and has successfully procured $4,649,228 since then for its clients.ComEd’s Smart Ideas Program, the Chicagoland Natural Gas Savings Program from Peoples Gas and Nicor’s EnergySMART Program all offer non-residential Illinois customers a wide range of incentives for the installation of energy efficiency improvements and the purchase of energy efficient equipment.  Incentives are received after a detailed application process and successful completion of the designed project.Lead by Elara’s Incentive Procurement Team and working with our clients and program representatives during the assessment and design phase of an energy project; Elara checks project and equipment eligibility, develops, submits and tracks the pre-approval application, completes the project design, reviews the installation of selected equipment, and submits the final application once the project is complete, including required measurement and verification data for custom projects.

Through its relationships with program representatives and participation in incentive program round tables and conferences, Elara has the ability to maximize the incentive amounts for our clients and streamline the incentive application and approval process. As of June 2018, Elara has already received approval for $206K in incentives with another $705K in the pipeline, bringing the potential total of procured incentives from ComEd, Peoples Gas and Nicor for this year to $911K.

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Maine Township High School District 207 to Receive $260,270 in Utility Incentives for Central Plant Upgrades

As a result of Elara’s design to replace and upgrade the existing central plants serving Maine South High School and Maine West High School, Maine Township High School District 207 has been approved to receive $260,270 in incentive funding due to the demonstrated energy efficiency of the new central plants.

Through the initial stages of a master plan for the entire School District, Elara identified the opportunity to convert the existing inefficient heating system serving Maine West High School from low pressure steam to hot water heating fed by a high-efficiency condensing hot water boiler plant and to install a new dedicated domestic hot water and pool heating plant. This work included replacement of the existing steam absorption chillers with new high-efficiency electric chillers, upgrade of ten air handling units, and the elimination of nine heat exchangers.

Elara similarly identified the opportunity to replace the existing high temperature/high-pressure hot water boiler plant at Maine South with a new high-efficiency condensing boiler heating plant and to install new dedicated domestic hot water and pool heating plant. This work included the elimination of ten heat exchangers and the consolidation of the space heating boiler plants.  Also as part of the central plant upgrade project, new state-of-the-art direct digital control building automation systems were also installed to replace existing pneumatic controls at both high schools.

Additional benefits of Elara’s central plant upgrade design include replacing aged equipment in need of repair with new higher efficiency equipment with lower operating costs, reducing maintenance through the elimination of equipment, and improving comfort through state-of-the-art controls. The projects were completed on-time and under budget with $260,270 ($159,639 for natural gas; $100,631 for electric) in incentive funding approved through local utility companies.

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Elara Client Awarded $100,000 Solar Array Grant

In collaboration with Indian Trails Public Library (ITPL) , Elara Engineering completed and submitted an EBSCO Industries, Inc. (EBSCO) Solar grant application to offset the installation costs of a solar panel array to further reduce the Library’s annual electricity expenditures.  EBSCO received 90 submissions from 15 countries for the 2017 grant.

Elara’s energy modeling experts provided the following information and data for the grant application submittal:

  • Computation of solar accommodating roof area according to calculated shade lengths of existing roof elements during winter solstice.
  • Modeling and computation of panel inclination angle of highest photovoltaic efficiency.
  • Modeling of solar building performance, including thermal imaging of building exterior and solar inclination angles.
  • Comprehensive schematic descriptions of sustainability projects already completed for the Library:Geothermal Heating and Cooling
    • Energy Recovering Dedicated Outdoor Air Handling Units
    • Variable Air Volume Terminals with Demand (occupancy sensing) Control and Automation
    • LED Efficient Lighting
    • Conversion of backup generators to natural gas.
  • Review of local roofing and electrical building code requirements

Congratulations to Indian Trails Public Library for its ongoing dedication to environmental sustainability, including its strong commitment to the use of renewable energy sources.

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Elara Engineering Procures $164,685 in Incentive Funding for Chicago Client

Identified in a Master Plan that Elara had developed for the owners of “The Fields” building at 4000 West Diversey Avenue in Chicago, Elara’s engineering team conceptualized and designed a demand controlled ventilation (DCV) system that provided $164,685 in incentive funding with an estimated $157,000 in annual energy cost savings.

The DCV system for the 700-space indoor parking garage supports the conversion of the former Marshall Field & Company warehouse into a multi-use facility that includes high-tech loft live/work apartments, a grocery store, and loft style office spaces.  This work, along with Elara’s specifications for new burner controls including linkage-less high-turndown burner retrofits for the building’s existing primary steam boiler, greatly improved energy efficiency, occupant comfort, and overall system reliability.