Big Sky, Montana, is an outdoor lover’s paradise located in the Rocky Mountains of Southern Montana. You’ll find stunning vistas, an exciting ski resort, and exclusive residential communities. So, when Northwestern Energy began plans to build a new electrical substation, they knew the facility would require special consideration for the perimeter wall. Keeping in mind local requirements, residents’ concerns about the aesthetic impact on the neighborhood, and substation protection and security, Northwest Energy began exploring options for the substation screening walls.
Big Sky required that a beautiful, decorative screening wall be built to screen the equipment from eyesight and protect the local animals from entering and possibly being injured. Since the substation was being built on a mountainside, not completely flat terrain, building a wall from typical construction material such as brick, wood or stone would require a broader footprint to accommodate the great height. That would gobble up valuable space and increase overall construction and maintenance costs. Another challenge was finding material that would continue to look attractive after years of harsh Montana winter weathering.
Along with getting the city, residents, and the power company’s needs met, everyone had an opinion on how they would like to see the substation screen wall look. A good bit of compromising and coordination took place to get the job started. Not to mention the project’s terrain, which presented challenges for receiving material and product.
At Superior Concrete Products, we like to say “Concrete Never Looked So Good” when referring to our attractive precast concrete screening wall solutions. However, it’s not enough to look good in today’s construction industry. Building materials are held to high-quality standards and building codes to ensure that they are safe and will perform as expected for the long term.
With Superior Concrete Products, you can have peace of mind that our precast concrete screening walls will meet your project’s national building code requirements, as evidenced by our ESR-4772 evaluation report by the ICC International Code Council Evaluation Service LLC (ICC-ES). Currently, we are the only precast concrete screening wall company to have this designation.
For the Big Sky project, the product selected for the screening wall was Superior Cobblestone™ with Pueblo integral color, 5,000psi reinforced concrete with steel I-Beams, and a 20’ high drive gate. In addition to the substation screening wall, the project also included a large retaining wall because of the substation’s mountainside location. This required teams to excavate a massive amount of earth and retain the high side of the mountain to provide a flat and level surface for the substation.
“The most exciting project we have installed, by far to date, is a substation we did last year in Montana. It combines a 10-foot-high screening wall incorporated with a 20-foot high CIP retaining wall, 20 foot in I-Beams, and a 20-foot-tall drive gate. It’s an awe-inspiring project, so we hope to leverage other substation opportunities soon.”
– Kyle Wilson, Vice President of Operations.
“We are very proud of the substation project we have completed in Montana. It’s the most impressive installation our crews have completed to date.”
– Brett Thornburg, Project Manager
Drive gate for Big Sky, Montana, Substation project, plus Superior Cobblestone™ screening wall from Superior Concrete Products.
Superior Concrete Products’ substation screening wall solution provided an ideal balance between strength, beauty, reliability, and cost that ultimately satisfied the needs of the company and residents. They supplied and installed a decorative precast concrete wall of modular design that also met necessary wind loads, weathering, soil conditions, and seismic factors without adding to the footprint. Superior Concrete Products’ solution was also more cost-effective due to reduced construction costs and maintenance requirements.
To learn more about our precast concrete screening walls, retaining walls or fencing, please contact our Sales or Design team today.
Superior Cobblestone™ screening wall from Superior Concrete Products.