Brinjac Engineering: Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex Substation Upgrades

System overhaul of a government building.


Substation and feeders. Courtesy: Brinjac EngineeringEngineering 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.

Product of the Year
Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
40 Under Forty: Get Recognized
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
MEP Giants Program
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
November 2018
Emergency power requirements, salary survey results, lighting controls, fire pumps, healthcare facilities, and more
October 2018
Approaches to building engineering, 2018 Commissioning Giants, integrated project delivery, improving construction efficiency, an IPD primer, collaborative projects, NFPA 13 sprinkler systems.
September 2018
Power boiler control, Product of the Year, power generation,and integration and interoperability
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Data Center Design
Data centers, data closets, edge and cloud computing, co-location facilities, and similar topics are among the fastest-changing in the industry.
click me