Brinjac Engineering: Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex Substation Upgrades

System overhaul of a government building.

By Brinjac Engineering August 14, 2014

Engineering firm: Brinjac Engineering
2014 MEP Giants rank: 89
Project: Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex Substation Upgrades
Address: Harrisburg, Pa., U.S.
Building type: Government building/military facility
Project type: System overhaul (e.g., mechanical system upgrade, fire protection system overhaul, etc.)
Engineering services: Electrical/power, fire/life safety, HVAC/mechanical, lighting, plumbing/piping, and other
Project timeline: 4/3/2009 to 7/15/2013
MEP/FP budget: $1,500,000


The Capitol Complex Substation provides power for all of the buildings in the state Capitol. Therefore, loss of electrical power, even for short times, would affect most departments in the executive branch, the state supreme court, and both houses in the state legislature. Additionally, during specific periods of time in the legislative year, any electrical shutdowns were unacceptable. The substation was originally designed with 4-fold redundancy in capacity and twofold redundancy in distribution, specifically to address the need for high reliability and minimum interruption of the state government. Finally, the substation had an enviable safety and reliability record over its 40-year life span.


Brinjac Engineering met the challenge of no state government shutdowns by structuring the project during design to provide systematic and step-wise replacement of the entire system. The system was designed through the DD Phase and included thorough analysis of needed construction sequences and costs. Electrical distribution feeders were bid and replaced as a first construction phase. The feeders were 2-fold redundant; one set was replaced followed by the second. The second phase of construction replaced the substation; one set of two of the four existing substations was replaced, followed by the second set of two. The existing building was replaced during the third phase, only after the first substation was replaced and was completed prior to the completion of the second substation. Design of controls allowed for temporary control room placement and relocation prior to commissioning. The project was completed on time and within budget. Change order performance (E&O) was exceptional (1.3%) given the complexity, duration, and number of phases.