News

Read the latest updates from Bernhard.

Bernhard Prioritizes Sustainability with Creation of Vice President of ESG Position

Bernhard is continuing their focus towards a better future with the announcement of Alyssa Jaksich as their first Vice President of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG). The new position demonstrates the company’s commitment to deliver innovative engineering, construction, and energy solutions that work to promote sustainability across the industry.

“Not only are customers becoming more critical of their own ESG performance, they are also turning that lens on us,” said Ed Tinsley, chief executive officer at Bernhard. “With eight of the top 10 business risks identified by the World Economic Form being ESG related, it is becoming increasingly clear that a heightened awareness of ESG factors is critical to sustaining success.”

Jaksich will develop, consolidate, operationalize, and publicize Bernhard’s ESG strategies and initiatives through coordination with multiple internal teams and business stakeholders, furthering Bernhard’s ongoing mission of promoting sustainability.

“Ethics, safety, teamwork, and innovation are the very foundation and fabric of our work,” said Melissa Samuel, chief legal officer at Bernhard. “As a result of Alyssa’s diverse experience, she has come to embody these values while gaining an intimate awareness of both internal and external needs for ESG.”

Under Jaksich’s leadership, Bernhard will establish clearly defined goals to enhance its commitment to reducing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions, improving its internal diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, and creating momentum behind its charitable giving and community engagement efforts. The company’s ESG framework will focus on transparency, stakeholder engagement and performance tracking to measure results.

“Establishing an ESG program cannot be a paper or marketing exercise – there must be real commitment behind our policies and initiatives paired with quantitative and transparent reporting mechanisms,” said Jaksich, “I am extremely excited for the opportunity to work alongside our executive team to further embed ESG initiatives into Bernhard’s culture, business plan and strategy.”

Jaksich previously served as Bernhard’s Vice President of EaaS implementation where she led a team focused on increasing efficiencies within the solutions division at Bernhard, particularly related to Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS) projects. She was a key driver in the development of Bernhard’s industry leading measurement and verification services, and was heavily involved in the development of numerous EaaS projects. Jaksich earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hendrix College in Conway, Ark., double majoring in chemical physics and economics.

Bernhard Promotes Lyndsey Mitchell to Vice President of Human Resources

Bernhard announced the promotion of Lyndsey Mitchell as the company’s vice president of human resources. Mitchell previously served as Bernhard’s director of human resource integration systems (HRIS), where she led the company’s implementation of a new HCM system.

In this role, Mitchell will leverage her expertise in human resources management to provide strategic leadership to the company’s HR functions, including talent acquisition, talent development, benefits and compensation, and employee relations.

“Lyndsey is an invaluable asset to our company and our employees,” said Melissa Samuel, chief legal officer at Bernhard. “We are confident that her professional expertise and knowledge of the company will enable her to drive our efforts to acquire and develop talent, as well as implement key HR strategies for the future of Bernhard.”

Mitchell has more than 15 years of experience in human resources and recruitment as an HR manager, HRIS analyst and recruitment manager. Prior to joining Bernhard, she served as the HR manager for the Water Institute of the Gulf where she was responsible for all aspects of HR for the Institute.

“I have loved working with the Bernhard team over the last year,” said Mitchell. “I am ready to continue supporting the company’s mission, vision and values by serving in an executive-level role with this incredible team.”

Active in the professional community, Mitchell is currently a member of the Society for Human Resource Management where she is registered as a certified professional. She holds a certificate as a Professional in Human Resources. She earned a Bachelor of General Studies in social sciences from Louisiana State University.

Melissa Samuel Named Chief Legal Officer

Bernhard is pleased to announce that Melissa Samuel has been named the company’s Chief Legal Officer (CLO). Since joining Bernhard in 2018, Samuel has worked with the Executive Leadership Team on a myriad of legal and operational matters designed to advance key initiatives and position Bernhard for continued growth.

“Melissa has proven to be an incredible asset for our company and our culture,” said Chief Executive Officer Ed Tinsley. “She has demonstrated the kind of solutions-oriented mindset that is at the heart of our core values and makes her ideally suited for this role.”

In her expanded role as CLO, Samuel will oversee all aspects of the legal department, including transactions, compliance, corporate governance, major claims, labor relations, employment law, and corporate risk management.

Samuel has more than 25 years of legal experience, with more than 13 years of experience in the engineering and construction industry. Throughout her career, she has focused on strategic legal partnerships with operations to find optimal and sustained solutions. Prior to joining Bernhard, Samuel served as senior vice president for H&E Equipment Services overseeing HR, legal and safety, and as vice president and associate general counsel for The Shaw Group, Inc.

Bernhard, LCMC Health Announce Landmark Energy Arrangement

Bernhard and LCMC Health have announced a 15-year agreement to provide Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS) solutions at six of LCMC Health’s facilities. The EaaS arrangement, the largest of its kind in U.S. healthcare history, transfers the risk of utility operations and maintenance of LCMC Health’s chilled water system to Bernhard and allows for state-of-the-art infrastructure upgrades.

“This agreement allows us to improve and strengthen our facilities, better serve the needs of our community, and focus on our healthcare mission,” said Greg Feirn, LCMC Health CEO. “Bernhard’s technical, design, and financial experience in projects across the country proves they understand the stakes to provide not only sustainable, but reliable energy services for healthcare facilities.”

In the first two years of the partnership, Bernhard will deliver improvements to LCMC Health’s infrastructure that will create efficiencies and improvements in each facility’s operations, and provide utility cost savings once the improvements are completed. Cumulatively, the improvements are expected to yield a 26% reduction in LCMC Health’s enterprise carbon footprint.

“LCMC Health and Bernhard share in the belief that environmental responsibility should not just be an added benefit, but it should be our responsibility to ensure every decision we’ve made in the agreement will protect the natural environment of our shared communities,” said Ed Tinsley, Bernhard CEO. “The carbon footprint we are reducing is equivalent to more than 140,000 cars taken off Louisiana roads.”

With the agreement, LCMC Health joins a group of health systems, including Ochsner Health, Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, East Alabama Medical Center, The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and Midland Health in Texas, each of which has executed similar agreements with Bernhard.

The LCMC Health transaction further represents an important milestone in Bernhard’s exclusive agreement with HealthTrust and ProStar Energy. As one of the nation’s leading performance improvement organizations, HealthTrust offers procurement and supply-chain services to more than 1,500 U.S. hospitals and health systems, including LCMC Health.

“Our work with HealthTrust members across the United States illustrates how we can marry our proactive management, technology, and experience to offer efficient and reliable services time after time,” said Tinsley. “By leveraging the experience and expertise Bernhard provides, this first-of-its-kind transaction allows LCMC Health to focus more exclusively on its core objective of providing the best possible patient care at the most affordable cost.”

Bernhard’s Phil Watson Named to Consulting-Specifying Engineer 2021 40 Under 40 List

Phil Watson, Director of Engineering Design at Bernhard, one of the largest privately-owned engineering, mechanical and electrical contractors in the United States, has been recognized by Consulting-Specifying Engineer in its 2021 40 Under 40 list.

“Phil is an invaluable member of our team and fully deserving of this honor,” said Rob Guthrie, vice president of business development at Bernhard. “Due to his multi-disciplinary knowledge and his strong communication and organization skills, he has developed a profound rapport with his core clients and his teammates, resulting in an efficient and earnest work product that is tailored to his client’s specific needs.”

This award is given annually to 40 nonresidential building industry professionals ages 40 and younger who stand out through a mixture of personal and professional aspects of their lives.

“If the technical proficiency, breadth of experience and self-assured attitudes don’t impress you, then the dedication given to mentoring, the community and family certainly should,” said Amara Rozgus, editor-in-chief of Consulting-Specifying Engineer. “Now in its 14th year, the 2021 40 Under 40 winners are more creative, attentive and passionate than most professionals at any phase of their career, leading them to succeed in their respective professions.”

Watson joined the Bernhard team in 2013 as a mechanical designer. He received his B.A. in architectural engineering from Kansas State University and quickly grew his expertise in building engineering design. Watson became one of the youngest project managers in the company, kick-starting his role as a leader within Bernhard.

“I am honored to be recognized nationally among my peers and have my team to thank for this honor,” said Watson. “Bernhard has created opportunities for me to advance my skills and engage more deeply with my community and for that I am grateful.”

Watson has developed a cycling club at Bernhard, as well as many internal training efforts for the company including Revit Training (3D modeling software), on-board training for mechanical designers, and a project management workshop for young project managers. He is also very passionate about STEM education and is an active member of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers as the chair of the Young Engineers group. He regularly speaks at local schools and career fairs to help spread awareness of career opportunities in engineering.

Candidates for this list were nominated by a colleague or mentor and judged by industry experts based on nine areas, including their commitment to leadership in their academic, professional, personal and community involvement

Energy-as-a-Service Transaction Provides Lifeline to East Alabama Medical Center

COVID-19 has presented a wide array of unexpected and difficult experiences for businesses to navigate. Hospital administrators feel the pressures of balancing their budgets with looming financial constraints all during a burgeoning global health crisis. Even before the pandemic erupted, East Alabama Medical Center (EAMC) in Opelika found itself with a backlog of capital renewal and deferred maintenance, including crucial steam plant renovations on hold due to a lack of cash on hand. The administration did not want to take on debt in order to maintain a healthy credit position, but the necessary upgrades and opportunities for increased energy efficiencies and occupant comfort weighed heavy. The team partnered with Bernhard to begin exploring a solution and then, COVID hit.

“When the pandemic began to escalate, we felt like we were backed into a corner,” said Sam Price, EAMC’s chief financial officer. “A lack of on-hand resources went from a back-burner issue to a critical, immediate concern.”

As COVID-19 surged, Alabama particularly felt the oncoming devastation. Early in April, Alabama was projected by models to have the fourth-highest rate of COVID-19 fatalities in the United States. High-revenue elective procedures were deferred to make room for more beds for patients. Without these high-margin lines of service, resources became tighter and the need for a lasting solution became dire. EAMC officials decided to leverage all of their resources to give their community the best possible chance against the virus.

Most facilities were hesitant to make changes in the increasingly volatile environment, but EAMC realized the energy asset concession agreement under review with Bernhard was the best choice of action. Bernhard’s unique and tailored financing, integral to its Energy-as-a-Service model, and plan for energy optimization and enhanced occupant comfort created the ideal solution at the perfect time.

“The increasing demands on our facilities led to a daunting backlog of deferred maintenance, which was exacerbated during this time. Bernhard delivered a solution that allowed us to get ahead of the virus and keep our community as safe as possible.”Sam Price, EAMC CFO

The two entered an energy asset concession agreement giving Bernhard the right to use, maintain and renew EAMC’s energy infrastructure over a 30-year term. The project provided for crucial upfront energy optimization improvements, substantial projected annual energy savings, and a significant upfront cash payment to EAMC. The transaction is set to provide $826,000 in annual estimated energy savings and $30 million in improvements to the facility. This is in addition to the $40 million net advance lease payment EAMC received; that’s immediate cash on hand and credit positive with a competitive interest rate.

Notably, under the Energy-as-a-Service model, the acquisition of the assets by Bernhard and recurring monthly service charges to Bernhard are off-balance sheet and credit-positive for EAMC. Bernhard worked with Warren-Averett, EAMC’s auditor, and Ernst & Young to review the relevant accounting considerations and ensure an off-balance sheet outcome. The hospital’s rating agency (Standard & Poor’s) agreed with the accounting treatment and viewed the transaction largely as credit-positive.

“We were eager to partner with EAMC’s two hospitals to serve the east Alabama area,” said Bernhard’s Executive Vice President of Business Development, Rob Guthrie. Our agreement empowers EAMC to focus its energy and resources on its core mission of providing high-quality, compassionate health care. We are proud to offer our expertise to deliver and sustain a win-win outcome for the next 30 years.”

The upfront improvements to infrastructure addresses a backlog of deferred maintenance at EAMC, including upgrades to:

  • Chilled water, tower water, heating water and steam systems
  • Air handling units
  • Building controls
  • Electrical infrastructure

Bernhard will also install a heat pump chiller heater, optimize procedure rooms, install LED lighting and facilitate retro-commissioning of the building’s automation system. These upgrades create efficiencies and improvements in the facility’s operation and also result in optimized energy savings.

“We are excited to partner with Bernhard on this long-term project and appreciate its critical role in helping EAMC allocate scarce capital resources for the things we need most to take the best possible care of patients,” said Price.

This energy asset concession transaction not only provides EAMC exactly what it needs to meet patient and employee comfort needs, but also enables an immediate allocation of additional resources for fighting COVID-19 and saving lives. The community is now better armed to fight COVID-19 while the facility added energy optimization, which creates future savings. For EAMC, COVID-19 became the catalyst for a positive and long-lasting change.

Midland Health Strives to Overhaul West Texas Healthcare Through Bernhard Partnership

Every business has a goal, but Midland Health has a mission: make a profound and lasting impact on the Midland County community by improving the health of its people. To this end, Midland created a master plan to renovate its facilities to enhance patient care.

In 2009, a new patient tower at Midland Memorial Hospital (Scharbauer Patient Tower) seemed to be the first big step toward realizing this mission. But when the tower opened in 2012, Midland Health knew they had a problem. The tower was consuming vastly more energy than expected, due in large part to inadequate commissioning. Bernhard was selected to retro-commission the new patient tower and a partnership began.

Midland has trusted Bernhard with more than 25 projects over the last 10 years. As a tax-supported hospital, Midland recognizes energy efficiency as a key aspect to the realization of its mission and its role as a good steward of taxpayer money and trust.

This partnership has now entered into yet another exciting chapter. Bernhard and Midland Health announced in December 2020 a 15-year energy asset concession arrangement which provides $16.2 million in immediate unrestricted cash to Midland Health, while also addressing significant capital renewal, deferred maintenance, and energy optimization priorities at Midland Health’s main and west campuses.

But that’s not all: Brought to Midland Health exclusively through the TPC group purchasing framework, the Bernhard-Midland transaction is further reinforced by significant economy-of-scale savings available only to TPC member hospitals. After awarding a 2018 energy services contract to Bernhard and its partner, ProStar Energy (subsidiary of Dallas Cowboys), TPC has worked with Midland Health and other TPC hospitals to launch Bernhard-ProStar’s innovative service offering. Midland Health, as a longstanding Bernhard client, is the first member hospital to enroll in the program.

The Midland Health transaction underscores Midland’s commitment to its mission, its patients and the future by addressing many visible and invisible concerns facing the health care system in West Texas and across the nation. These included:

  • Difficulty recruiting and retaining operations and maintenance personnel because of competition with the oil and gas industry, coupled with an aging O&M workforce
  • A large backlog of capital renewal and deferred maintenance at the west campus identified in the master plan
  • Aversion to taking on debt to fund infrastructure improvements because of competing priorities, including the master plan project
  • Ongoing, costly repairs and expensive rental equipment at the west campus due to aging and obsolete equipment

Because of Bernhard’s intimate knowledge of Midland’s facilities, expertise in cutting-edge project delivery methods, and endorsement by TPC, Midland was certain that Bernhard’s prowess offered the right solution to their challenges.

“Advancing our partnership through an Energy Asset Concession Arrangement just made sense. This transaction aligned with Bernhard’s expertise, will provide significant improvements to our utility plant, provide long-term energy efficiency and position the hospital to continue to provide high quality care to Midland and our surrounding community for years to come.”– Stephen Bowerman, Midland Health COO/CFO

Over the course of due diligence, Bernhard worked with Midland to develop an upfront scope of work with the aim of reducing Midland’s backlog of necessary capital improvements, and achieving an appropriate internal rate of return (IRR). Together, the teams developed a final scope of work that delivers comprehensive value to the hospital’s central energy plant and surrounding facilities.

In this Energy Asset Concession, Bernhard will accept the responsibility for operating, maintaining, renewing and replacing existing infrastructure in the central energy plant in addition to making infrastructure improvements across both campuses that result in guaranteed energy savings.

It’s easy to miss the true value of these savings. Not only will the transaction achieve approximately $664K in annual energy savings for the hospital, but an upfront cash payment of $16.2M will be given to the hospital to use at its discretion. Because of the risk transfer, this payment is treated as off-balance sheet and therefore protects the debt capacity for potential future projects, enabling the facility to make vast strides toward its mission and immediately enhance patient care.

Ultimately, the partnership will fund approximately $19M in infrastructure improvements, eliminate $3M in future capital renewal and replacement costs from Midland’s budget, and provide $16.2M in upfront cash. With a partner like Bernhard who truly understands its mission, challenges and efficient solutions, Midland will be able to accelerate its master plan and realize its mission of improving the health of its community.

Bernhard Fayetteville Facility Moves to New Location at Commerce Business Park

Bernhard is celebrating the opening of its new Fayetteville office at Commerce Business Park after four years of planning and construction. The modernized office space is the new home for its 27 employees and full-service design and energy engineering suite. It is located at 3714 N. Business Dr., Fayetteville, AR 72703.

“In the process of figuring out where the new facility was going to be, it was always important for us to stay near our core clients and remain close to our roots,” said Grant Logan, director of Bernhard’s Fayetteville office. “This cutting-edge facility is truly a place we can be proud to call our own.”

The team in the Fayetteville office provides engineering services such as mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, construction administration, and a wide variety of energy services including BAS controls design, commissioning, and retro-commissioning.

“Being more centrally located in northwest Arkansas is a huge positive for us,” said Jay Keazer, director of Fayetteville Logic. “We have a lot of employees that commute from neighboring cities so this location will help streamline that commute.”

The team is moving from their original location at Green Acres Road where they have operated since 2005. The office began with three employees but has seen more than 700% growth in their workforce during the last two decades. With this explosive growth, the office had outgrown their facility and was in need of a larger space to not only accommodate all employees, but to allow for continued growth in the future.

“Obviously with that kind of growth happening we had to do something,” Logan said. “Giving our employees space to design and innovate is conducive to delivering the best services for our clients.” Along with more than 9,000 square feet of additional working room, employees also get to take advantage of “The Natural State” as the modernized space is situated right on the Fayetteville trail system.

The Fayetteville office played a hands-on role in designing the space along with KSA Architecture and CDI Contractors. The team officially moved into the new location March 8 and will be celebrating with a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony and guided digital tours later in the month.

Bernhard Part of 30-Year Energy Services Deal for LSU Campus

The Louisiana State University (LSU) Board of Supervisors announced the approval of an agreement for a 30-year energy services contract with LA Energy Partners, a joint venture of Bernhard, LLC and Johnson Controls, Inc.  The agreement with LSU also includes Enwave Energy. The agreement delivers $90 million in immediate modernization solutions, addresses $22 million of deferred maintenance annually, and transfers operation responsibilities of the University’s utilities system over the next three decades.

“We are pleased to reach this monumental agreement, which is projected to save LSU and the State of Louisiana approximately $90 million over the next 30 years,” said Robert Dampf, chair of the LSU Board of Supervisors. “Both LA Energy Partners and Enwave bring outstanding technical, financial, operational and development experience to LSU, and we look forward to working together with both partners.”

The combination of LA Energy Partners and Enwave Energy marries the operational strengths of both companies to immediately deliver modernization of LSU’s Central Utility Plant and Distribution Center, which keep thousands of classrooms, research labs, administrative offices and other campus resources running.

Under the agreement, LSU’s campus will see $90 million of major initial infrastructure improvements financed and developed. LA Energy Partners are tasked with the design and construction of these initial modernization solutions. Enwave will operate, maintain and provide additional capital improvements to the energy plants and energy distribution systems over the term of the agreement. LA Energy Partners retains the opportunity to design, build, and finance any future building mechanical system upgrades on the Baton Rouge campus.

For Bernhard, the LSU agreement comes on the heels of a six-month chain of awards beginning with the September 2020 closing of a $75M P3 arrangement with East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika, Alabama. Since then, Bernhard has brought an additional $400M in P3 and Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS) transactions to market in a total of four states. At an initial value of $90M, the LSU agreement rivals the company’s 2019 award with University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences ($150M), and further distinguishes Bernhard as a national leader in the P3 and EaaS marketplace.

“The awards we’ve received across the United States are very relevant to the LSU opportunity and position our team to provide lasting value to the University as its partner,” said Ed Tinsley, Bernhard’s Chief Executive Officer. “Our pledge to deliver a transformative outcome to LSU is further backstopped by the expertise and experience of our combined team.”

Bernhard has had a brick-and-mortar presence in Louisiana since 1919, completing more than 400 projects for LSU during that time span, including the design and construction of LSU’s existing combined heating and power system. In addition to its LSU experience, Bernhard also operates and maintains numerous energy plants in Louisiana, including the Shaw Center energy plant in downtown Baton Rouge.

With more than 2,500 employees in the state of Louisiana and 250 LSU graduates on its staff, LA Energy Partners shares much of the same community as LSU and prides itself on bringing that local assurance and expertise once again to a Louisiana powerhouse such as LSU.

“First and foremost we are a neighbor to LSU,” Tinsley said. “When that local passion meets the global strength of our combined team, the result exceeds the sum of its parts.”

James Skrmetta Joins Bernhard as External Marketing Manager

Bernhard, one of the largest privately-owned engineering, mechanical and electrical contractors in America, announced today that James Skrmetta has been hired as its external marketing manager. Skrmetta will be based in Bernhard’s corporate headquarters in Metairie, Louisiana.

Skrmetta will be responsible for enhancing Bernhard’s national brand through public relations, content development, website management and social media.

“James has years of experience easily explaining technical concepts, which is just what we need at Bernhard,” said Melissa Samuel, Bernhard’s executive vice president of corporate administration. “He has already proven to be a great addition to our team and will help us communicate our expertise to enhance our brand and reach new potential partners.”

Prior to joining Bernhard, Skrmetta previously served as the manager of marketing and communications for The National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) and communications officer at The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Ocean Science and Engineering (SOSE). There, he was responsible for the overall communications of NCS4, SOSE, and the Homeland Security National Training Program (HSNTP). Skrmetta led multiple teams in creating brand strategies that cultivated and enhanced relationships with a global audience.

Skrmetta has a background in journalism and before transitioning into communications and marketing, was a reporter for the Pulitzer Prize-winning Sun Herald Newspaper in Gulfport, Mississippi. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in mass communication with a concentration in broadcast journalism from The University of Southern Mississippi.