Case Studies

W.T. Rich Company Inc.

A leading public sector contractor in greater Boston

W.T. Rich Company Inc. is a Massachusetts-based construction manager serving clients predominantly within the public sector. From its headquarters in Newton, W.T. Rich works across the state completing public bid work for municipalities.

“Almost all our competitors do both public and private work whereas we focus almost exclusively on public,” says Jonathan Rich, CEO of W.T. Rich. “It’s our understanding of the public market that really sets us apart.”

Founded in 1968, by Walter T. Rich, the company is rooted in the principals of performance, quality and integrity. With a focus on the public sector, W.T. Rich has further distinguished itself with a specialization in highly sophisticated new construction and renovation projects, including challenging historical restoration and preservation, ranging in size from $10 million to $50 million.

W.T. Rich Company Inc.

The company offers a slate of construction services including construction management, pre-construction and general contracting services to clients in a range of market sectors in the Boston area including airports, libraries, schools and other municipal facilities such as athletic complexes, parks and public safety buildings.

Sustainability goes to school

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, W.T. Rich recently completed work on the Martin Luther King Jr. School, an $80-million facility that will house students from prekindergarten through eighth grade. Built with sustainability in mind, the new, 190,000-square-foot school features a litany of green features and is expected to attain LEED Platinum status.

“We followed normal LEED protocol, so 95 percent of construction waste and debris was recycled, we used regional materials, all low-VOC paints, coatings and adhesives, and FSC-certified wood products throughout,” says Davida Flynn, project manager for W.T. Rich on the Martin Luther King Jr. School project.

“Most people have the perception that various contractors have an A team and B team and even a C team, but we only have A teams and it’s that mentality that’s key to our success.”

–Jonathan Rich , CEO of W.T. Rich

For   flooring,  W.T.   Rich  turned  to   Forbo  Marmoleum,  a covering made from 97 percent natural raw materials, including linseed oil, wood flour — a waste product from  the forestry industry — and jute, a crop whose fibers are used as a membrane onto which the linoleum is adhered. “We use it in almost every new school because it’s rapidly renewable, very low-maintenance and easy  to  clean,” Flynn says.

The Martin Luther King Jr. School also features  gypsum walls made with 60 percent recycled material and reception desks made from reclaimed lumber. “The design team definitely went out of their way to specify the right types of products,” Flynn says.

In a bid to save the City of Cambridge on heating costs, the school features a high-performance envelope that ranges in thickness from 4 to 6 inches. “It’s called a ‘super-insulated’ envelope and we actually had to install Thermal Break Pads at the structural steel base plates to prevent or minimize thermal bridging; we did everything we possibly could to improve the thermal performance of the building,” says Flynn.

The school will draw its energy from a number of renewable sources, including a 592-kilowatt-hour, roof-mounted photovoltaic panel array that will produce 43 percent of the building’s energy needs and 65 geothermal wells drilled 500 feet into the ground. While the urban location of the project presents some challenges on the geothermal side, Flynn says the technology is still a viable, sustainable solution.

The urban setting also presented a challenge when it came to the construction phase of the project. With no parking area outside, crews had virtually no lay-down area in which to set materials. “It was an extremely confined project site and getting a truck in there with steel was difficult. In addition, the overall design included many state-of-the-art features and sophisticated elements, requiring careful coordination and well-orchestrated sequencing throughout,” Flynn says.

A growing portfolio in education

Flynn has spent most of her career working on construction projects in the public sector and has seen the use of sustainable building and certification practices steadily rise in the last decade. Now that trend has become the norm for public sector building projects in Massachusetts, where the state has adopted an exacting set of sustainability standards as part of the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS). “Almost every public school project in Massachusetts is either LEED or Mass CHPS-certified,” she says.

While the Martin Luther King Jr. School did not seek to achieve full net-zero status, W.T. Rich will be focused on earning that distinction on another upcoming school project in Cambridge, the $130 million King Open/Cambridge Street Upper School & Community Complex.

The City of Cambridge was so happy with the way the Martin Luther King Jr. project went that they selected W.T. Rich, in conjunction with joint venture partner KBE Building Corporation, to build their next school project. “The King Open project will be seeking full net-zero energy attainment,” says Flynn. “Cambridge actually has net-zero goals for any building they own or maintain by 2020, so it adds an additional group of requirements.”

W.T. Rich recently broke ground on the new project, which will require a year of abatement, demolition and geothermal well installation before construction of the new building begins in the spring of 2017. The end result will be a pre-K through eighth grade school which will draw 100 percent of its energy from roof-mounted photovoltaic panels and utilize more than 220 geothermal wells to heat and cool the building.

As a midsize general contractor, the $80 million Martin Luther King Jr. project has contributed to W.T. Rich doubling its revenue over the previous year. W.T Rich has made a concerted effort to maintain controlled growth throughout the years as a mean of ensuring quality on projects big and small.

“We’ve been able to maintain a very high caliber of team members,” says Rich. “Most people have the perception that various contractors have an A team and B team and even a C team, but we only have A teams and it’s that mentality that’s key to our success.”

As the public sector continues to embrace sustainable building practices, W.T. Rich Company Inc. will be there to help Massachusetts municipalities achieve their building goals on-time, on-budget and with the smallest environmental footprint possible.

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Spring 2018



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