E-news for the Construction Division Spring 2011

A Few Basics For Gaining An Edge In The Green Marketplace

One of the most frequent comments voiced by small to medium-sized businesses regarding green construction is on beginning the process of implementing a viable program. Another common concern is that green enhancements are too costly up front for many project owners to consider.

While the initial capital outlay for building green can exceed that of more traditional construction—currently estimated at 2% or less of the total project cost—the yield in energy savings can be as much as tenfold over the entire life cycle of the constructed project. In terms of actual dollars, studies have shown that over a 20-year life cycle, some green buildings have returned to stakeholders $53–$71 per square foot of investment, supporting claims that investment in green construction can result in lower capitalization rates, higher sale prices, and increased tenant occupancy

Once the hurdle of up-front costs vs. life-cycle costs can be cleared, most companies approach environmentally friendly construction by first “thinking green,” defined simply as the design, commercialization, and use of processes and products that are feasible and economical, while minimizing source pollution and risk to human health and the environment

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes that green engineering can have the greatest positive impact and cost effectiveness when applied early to the design and development phase of a construction project. Strive to use this life-cycle thinking in all engineering activities by minimizing waste and ensuring that all material and energy inputs and outputs are as inherently safe as possible. Also, actively engage communities and stakeholders in development of engineering solutions, and create these solutions beyond current or dominant technologies. In other words, improve, innovate, and invent new methods and technologies to achieve sustainability

One simple process that companies might consider in developing a green building program begins with the encouragement of clients and project partners to consider sustainable design and construction methods as part of project goals, thus bringing viable, green building ideas and solutions to the table for discussion. Complementing this approach should be a company wide initiative to educate and train all project team members in sustainable construction practices and provide them necessary tools for achieving sustainable benchmarks.

Companies interested in pursuing a green agenda have numerous information resources at their fingertips on the Web:
  • Reed Construction Data, a premier information and data resource for the architectural, engineering, and construction industries in North America, offers a wide range of articles on green building and a diverse portfolio of integrated products and services that address information needs during every phase of the building life cycle.
  • Certification services provided by Green Advantage emphasize the role of construction personnel in improving the environmental and health attributes of the built environment: commercial, residential, and commercial/residential. Certified practitioners must demonstrate foundational knowledge, comprehension, application, and ability to analyze green construction concepts, materials, and practices.
  • Noblis Inc., CTG Energetics Inc., and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently released the U.S. General Services Administration’s sustainable facilities tool, which is intended for facility managers, project managers, developers, and building owners who require more guidance about sustainability, why it matters, and how to implement sustainable solutions. The tool is free to use and can be accessed at www.sftool.org.

Perhaps the most comprehensive green resource available for construction companies to access is USGBC and its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program that was launched in 2000. LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across a series of green metrics: energy savings, water efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of natural resources

More than 40,000 projects are currently participating in the commercial and institutional LEED rating systems, comprising more than 7.9 billion square feet of construction space in all 50 states and 117 countries. In March, USGBC released its 2010 list of top 10 states for LEED-certified commercial and institutional green buildings per capita square footage, based on the 2010 U.S. Census. In descending order, the list includes the District of Columbia, Nevada, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Carolina, Washington, Illinois, Arkansas, Colorado, and Minnesota.

USGBC has long touted environmentally friendly construction, claiming that implemention of an integrated, systems-oriented approach to green project design, development, and operations can yield synergies and improve the overall performance of a building and reap financial benefits. For instance, LEED-certified buildings are designed to lower operating costs, increase asset value, and qualify for tax rebates, zoning allowances, and other incentives in hundreds of cities across the U.S

As a primary benefit, LEED provides building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations, and maintenance solutions. A hallmark of LEED is its open and transparent process where the technical criteria proposed by USGBC are publicly reviewed for approval by the almost 20,000 member groups that comprise the organization.

2011 Federal Engineer of the Year Announced

Vincent P. Sobash, P.E., an emergency management program specialist for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command within the U.S. Navy, has been named NSPE’s 2011 Federal Engineer of the Year. Sobash received the honor during the 32nd Annual FEYA Banquet at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on February 24. This year, NSPE was honored to have keynote speaker Rear Admiral Christopher J. Mossey, P.E., CEC, USN, commander of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, and chief of civil engineers.

Sponsored by NSPE and the Professional Engineers in Government, FEYA recognizes engineers working for federal agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Naval Facilities Command, and the U.S. Air Force, for their dedication and exemplary service to the public.

For more information on the FEYA program, the full press release, and to hear the podcast interview with Rear Admiral Mossey and FEYA winner Sobash, visit the FEYA Web page.

You can also watch interviews with several semifinalists and the winner covering current topics facing the engineering profession on NSPE's YouTube channel.

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NSPE 2011 Annual Meeting

Join your fellow engineers at the NSPE 2011 Annual Meeting, July 13–17, headquartered at the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort. In addition to the State Leader Conference, there are many other opportunities to network, earn professional development hours, and learn about issues impacting the engineering profession and our Society. They include:

Thursday, July 14
NSPE Networking Lunch: Order of the Engineer Ceremony

Friday, July 15
NSPE Awards Lunch

Saturday, July 16
Young Engineers’ Forum (5 PDHs)

Sunday, July 17
Private Engineering Tour of the Hoover Dam & Bypass (6 PDHs)

For more information on how to register for the meeting and the above mentioned events, please visit the NSPE Web site.

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Happenings on the Hill

NSPE Comments on QBS, NEPA at DOT Meeting
NSPE member L. Daniel Tanksley, P.E., F.NSPE, presented remarks on behalf of NSPE at a Department of Transportation regulatory review meeting. NSPE's remarks focused on two issues: the Federal Highway Administration's and Federal Transit Administration's limiting qualifications-based selection procurement procedures to construction-related projects and the convoluted environmental clearance process. NSPE submitted written comments prior to the meeting that also discussed the FHWA conflict of interest policy, inconsistent models of quality assurance, and outdated pipeline safety standards. Read NSPE’s comments at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=DOT-OST-2011-0025-0010.1.

DOT's regulatory review is a response to Executive Order 13563, which requires every federal agency to review its existing regulations and determine whether regulations are effectively promoting economic growth, job creation, and competitiveness without being unduly burdensome.

NSPE Supports Federal Good Samaritan Protection for Engineers

Reps. Dave Reichert (R-WA-8) and Jim Matheson (D-UT-2) introduced the Good Samaritan Protection for Construction, Architectural, and Engineering Volunteers Act (H.R. 1145), which would  provide qualified immunity to engineering, architectural, and construction entities volunteering in a declared emergency. The bill was proposed in response to lawsuits against architectural, engineering, and construction firms that volunteered after 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. It would protect both individuals and companies. The legislation was first introduced in 2007.

NSPE supports both federal and state Good Samaritan protection for professional engineers volunteering in a declared emergency. For more information, please read NSPE's position statement on Statutes of Repose, Certificate of Merit, Sole Source Workers' Compensation, and Good Samaritan Laws at http://www.nspe.org/GovernmentRelations/TakeAction/PositionStatements/ps_st_of_repose.html.

NSPE Advocates Introduction of E2 for Innovation Act

NSPE sent a letter to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY-21) in support of the Engineering Education for Innovation Act, which will be introduced in the coming weeks. The E2 for Innovation Act would provide grants to integrate engineering curricula and content into classrooms across the country. The bill's goals of increasing student achievement and interest in engineering, broadening the diversity of students participating in engineering, and developing a workforce prepared to teach engineering are critical to cultivating the next generation of engineers. Gillibrand and Tonko are expected to introduce the bill soon. Rep. Tonko is an engineer.

NSPE Requests Clarification of Forensic Science Reform Act
NSPE sent a letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) expressing concern about his introduction of the Criminal Justice and Forensic Science Reform Act (S. 132). The intent of the bill is to strengthen and reform forensic science in the criminal justice system and ensure that forensic evidence and testimony is accurate, credible, and scientifically grounded. The bill would require personnel performing forensic work for federally funded facilities to obtain certification. While forensic professional engineers rarely work in criminal laboratories, the legislation’s certification requirement could inadvertently include them, infringing on the engineering profession. NSPE requested that the legislation be revised to include a clarifying statement that the bill is only intended to affect those who are directly employed by a criminal laboratory.

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NSPE Spring Web Seminars

Ethics Forum: Ethical Issues in Expert Witness Testimony and Public Safety
May 11, 2011, 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. (E.D.T.), 1 PDH

This spring’s NSPE Ethics webinars feature discussions with NSPE Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel Arthur Schwartz and members of NSPE’s Board of Ethical Review. Discussions center on decisions from the Board’s 2010 session. This session will combine expert testimony by engineers and various public health and safety issues, including:

    * Agreement limiting services for expert witnesses,
    * Multi-party relationships,
    * Off-site safety violation observation; and,
    * ADA guideline compliance.

Pending and Current Legislation, Rules, and Programs that will Change How We Manage Storm Water

May 12, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. (E.D.T.), 1 PDH

This program will give an overview of Federal Programs, Proposed EPA regulations, and Design Guidance and Rating Systems that will change the way we manage storm water.  The program will look at examples of Green and LID methods and discuss some options for obtaining the same results using familiar technologies.

Engineering Your Career with a High Quality Social Network
May 19, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. (E.D.T.), 1 PDH

Social networking can be a powerful tool when applied to the pursuit of professional career development. Due to differences in objectives and audience, however, professional social networks need to be managed very differently than how one would maintain a social network of friends and family.

From the perspective of career development, a professional social network is highly diverse tool that when used effectively, can grow one’s capabilities while simultaneously establishing resources for future development and work opportunities.  The downside is that within this context, that also makes professional social networks naturally subject to a high degree of scrutiny from peers, colleagues, head-hunters, and potential employers.  Such scrutiny can open new doors or forever close existing ones.

To maintain a positive, forward momentum in extracting the benefits of professional social networking, an emphasis is needed on the quality of networking connections, not just the size of the network itself. To build a high quality social network as it relates to one’s career, participants will learn how to manage professional networking opportunities within the scope of four key elements: Knowledge, Skills, Professional Organizations, and Personal Growth.

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2010-11 PEC Executive Board

Paul J Bakken, P.E.,F.NSPE

Immediate Past Chairman
David Hunley, P.E.

Chairman Elect
Thomas L. Paxson, P.E., F.NSPE

Dr. David Ray Shields, P.E.

Northeast Region
Donn R. Zang, P.E., F.NSPE

North Central Region
Paul E Harmon, P.E.

Southeast Region
James B Harper P.E.

Southwest Region
Lee M. Alexander, P.E.

Central Region
Glen R Schwalbach, PE,FNSPE

Western & Pacific Region
Paul Highley, P.E.

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