Powell City Council on Sept. 21 approved using a design-build contracting approach for a solar energy construction project.

Powell City Council on Sept. 21 approved using a design-build contracting approach for a solar energy construction project.

The approach differs from the traditional design-bid-build approach, in which the city hires an architect and advertises for bids.

With the design-build process, the city will contract with one contractor that would design the project as well as construct it.

The city cited the technical nature of the project retrofitting City Hall with a 77-kilowatt solar electric system.

Documents from the city's attorney, Gene Hollins, say the "specialized nature of the construction and the particular need for integrated planning and delivery make design-build attractive."

The project is funded by an $821,861 federal energy-efficiency grant through the Ohio Department of Development.

The grant money comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Awards for Local Governments.

Powell's charter requires competitive bidding, and the design-build contract is selected in a competitive bidding process, "but it's not the competitive bidding that we're all familiar with. It's more like a proposal comparison," construction attorney E. Rod Davisson told city council on Sept. 8.

Hollins' document says "design-build would not be inconsistent with Powell's charter" or its ordinances because it's not specifically addressed. City council needed only to approve an ordinance "to provide for a contracting procedure" for the project, not amend its ordinances as ThisWeek previously reported in error.

When problems arise with a design-builder, the primary contractor is responsible for remedying the problem.

The bulk of the grant money will be spent installing the solar system on the city hall roof. It is expected to produce half the electricity used in the building.

The grant also will fund energy-saving upgrades, including the installation of LED and light sensors on city property, plus energy-efficient improvements to the parks and recreation facility in Adventure Park.

In other business, council approved spending $25,000 for a new Aficio W2470 wide-format plotter and copier, a Ricoh wide format color scanning station and an HP Design jet Z6100PS 42-inch plotter.

City development planner Eric Fischer said the city was saving $12,000 because the company the city uses to provide the equipment was offering a special price, which included the 42-inch plotter at no cost.

Council member Sara Marie Brenner voted down the expense, but declined to comment