Posts filed under ‘Sustainable Civil Engineering’

No Time For Waste(water) In DC!

DC tunnelAn earth-moving event is underway in Washington D.C. Only this time it’s not on Capitol Hill. This one is happening approximately 100 feet underground to fix runoff and wastewater problems that have afflicted the District of Columbia since the 1800’s.

DC Water is conducting a $2.6 billion project to install 13 miles of new sewer tunnels under the nation’s capital. This effort will be the largest infrastructure project for Washington, D.C. that most people will never see. The effort, expected to be completed in 2022, will clean up local waterways while fixing an antiquated and poorly designed wastewater infrastructure.

Around the time of the Civil War, the district installed a combined sewage system. So when it rains, storm water mixes with wastewater and overwhelms the current system. As expected, the result is disgusting!

Neighborhoods are forced to endure flooding and more than two million gallons of polluted water flow into the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, as well as Rock Creek each year. This isn’t the type of information to be found in flyers produced by the local board of tourism or in new home listings. On a positive note, the new sewer system is expected to decrease local flooding to only minimal rain water and reduce the runoff into nearby tributaries by 96 percent.

The first leg of the project was successfully completed in July 2015. The Lady Bird, a 440-foot long, 1,300 ton tunnel boring machine, completed a 4.5 mile long conduit wide enough for subway cars. After two years, Lady Bird traveled approximately 4 inches every minute, 24-hours each day for six days each week. It cleared earth and rock while also laying reinforced concrete walls as it advanced. For the next seven years, boring work for smaller passageways will continue in order to connect the remaining 8.5 miles of sewer lines to the large tunnel made by the Lady Bird.

The first update to the D.C. sewer system since the late 1800s will benefit thousands of people while improving quality of life. The underground project addresses local sewer problems that have persisted and magnified as a result of more than 100 years of urban development.

As a civil engineering recruiter, I see that mega projects to repair or replace infrastructures systems, like the improvement to D.C’s sewer system, the Crescent Corridor Extension and the future Tappan Zee Bridge, ensures a lively job market. What are some other needed infrastructure improvements to be planned and implemented?

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Carol Metzner President, The MetznerGroup Managing Partner, CivilEngineeringCentral.com View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

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November 30, 2015 at 11:31 am Leave a comment

Civil Engineering & The 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi

As I have been enjoying the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi on TV I began to consider the unique engineering and construction of infrastructure necessary to pull off such an amazing feat.  The infrastructure must not only be able to satisfy the expectations of the 2014 Winter Olympics, but it must be able to satisfy future needs for post-Olympic plans and activities. The costs entailed in developing effective and efficient transportation systems, in building quality housing for Olympic athletes and coaches, in designing surrounding facilities to accommodate and satisfy the thousands and thousands of tourists and spectators,  and creating state of the art and sustainable sporting venues are enormous.  After doing a little bit of digging around I came across the following infographic below that was produced by the New Jersey Institute of Technology.  It is entitled, “Engineering the Sochi Winter Olympics.”  Enjoy!

Engineering the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics


Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner, CivilEngineeringCentral.com
View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

February 17, 2014 at 9:48 am 1 comment

Demand For Engineers Increases: Infrastructure Asset Management & Sustainability

Engineers that understand infrastructure asset management are in demand within the US engineering marketplace. Infrastructure asset management specifically focuses on the need to sustain structures such as highways, bridges, water treatment facilities, electric utility and transmission lines in addition to many others. Mounting pressures to cut public spending, has much needed maintenance and rehabilitation put on hold. Meanwhile, US infrastructure continues to decay. The planning, design, construction, operations, maintenance, upgrading, and rehabilitation of infrastructure has become split among the private sector and public agencies .

What has become clear is the need for talented engineering managers that understand the delicate balance between planning, design, operation, maintenance and sustainability of infrastructure. My clients, architecture and consulting civil engineering firms, have multiple year initiatives for expanding consulting divisions that focus only on asset management. Whether it be underground tunneling for large diameter pipes, water/waste-water systems or transportation systems- the market and the money are HOT.

Consulting A/E firms seek to expand their ability to offer their clients asset management action plans that create an effective and practical business framework for transportation, stormwater, water and sanitary assets. One firm states the importance in providing agencies/municipalities a “comprehensive approach that creates a sustainable program to help achieve performance goals, minimize costs and meet stakeholder demands.” These asset management plans vary from firm to firm and may include but not be limited to: strategy and service level development; business planning; infrastructure assessment and planning; financial and capital planning; technology strategy implementation; operational excellence; computerized maintenance management systems.

Engineers with comprehensive business experience and practices will find a variety of opportunities open to them over the next year. This may reactivate the MBA vs. MSCE discussion. What do you think?

Carol Metzner
President, The MetznerGroup
Managing Partner, CivilEngineeringCentral.com
View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

September 18, 2012 at 3:19 pm 3 comments

Civil Engineering Accomplishments Evoke Emotions

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge always brings a smile to my face. As a Marylander, I have traveled the Bay Bridge each summer on my way to the beach. Reaching the bridge symbolized that I had hit the halfway mark- another couple of hours and I could relax in the sun!  As I cross the bridge and marvel at its height and strength, I wondered how many other civil engineering accomplishments evoke emotion in people?

The World Trade Centers were landmarks to New Yorkers.  Now, their footprint and the beauty of the new structure stir differing feelings. How many reports have we all heard that the vacant skyline still haunts locales and tourists alike?

Each time my business partner sees Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, he “craves Kick Ass Eagles Football!” Likewise, as a Raven’s fan (sorry Matt) M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore has me craving football, a cold beer and hot chocolate!

Driving along the DC Beltway, I marvel at how wide the roads are reconstructed and how many more cars cause gridlock. My frustration even thinking about taking a journey to DC along our extensive beltway is often tempered by the hope of a future high-speed rail.

The Hoover Dam lured our country out of the Great Depression. One of my clients tells me that when he sees it he “feels proud to be a civil engineer and an American. That someone had the foresight to create such a structure and then to construct it” marvels the mind. Simply put, the Hoover Dam Bypass/Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, in Boulder City, Nevada is beautiful. Nearly 40 years in making, the structure takes my breadth away.

As you take a moment out of your day to “smell the roses,” look around at the civil engineering accomplishments that surround you. What do you see and what do you feel?

By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of CivilEngineeringCentral.com
  View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

September 10, 2012 at 12:15 pm 2 comments

Sustainable Highways, Transportation & GREENROADS?

The CivilEngineeringCentral.com blogs have often discussed the need for sustainable transportation in the US. Whether we discussed transit, high speed rail, the SCHWEEB or SkyTran, we are fascinated with the concept of finding a way to be better to our planet while getting where we need to go when we want to get there. One thing is for sure, the majority of us will not give up our cars and highways will always be needed.

The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) has developed the Sustainable Highways Self-Evaluation Tool, INVEST (Infrastructure Voluntary Evaluation Sustainability Tool), version 1. INVEST was built using the FHWA concept of sustainability. FHWA describes how sustainability in highways:

A sustainable highway should be planned or replaced, financed, designed, constructed, inspected, operated and maintained in a way that provides sustainable benefits related to three principles: Social, Environmental, and Economic. 

 with the understanding that highways are one part of transportation infrastructure, and transportation is one aspect of meeting human needs. In addition to addressing environmental and natural resource needs, the development of a sustainable highway should focus on access (not just mobility), moving people and goods (not just vehicles), and providing people with transportation choices, such as safe and comfortable routes for walking, cycling, and transit.

Sustainable transportation may be described or defined in many ways that broadly address environmental, social and economic impacts, safety, affordability, and accessibility of transportation services. Transportation agencies address sustainability through a wide range of initiatives, such as ITS, livability, smart growth, recycling, planning and environment linkages…Transportation planning processes that incorporate these values and integrate the elements of sustainability should be the foundation from which to implement sustainability decisions as a project moves forward. Measures of project success include a wide range of indicators, such as travel performance, gains achieved through material selection, and construction methods.

Are you familiar with GREENROADS and the GREENROADS rating system? Do you think it is worthwhile to worry about sustainability  with our highways and “promote environmental stewardship, accountability and integrity”  or is this just another “roadblock” to development?

 By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of CivilEngineeringCentral.com
  View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

August 15, 2012 at 11:39 am Leave a comment

Sustainability in Civil Engineering – Part 2


By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of CivilEngineeringCentral.com
  View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

In 2008, we posted a brief BLOG titled “Sustainability in Civil Engineering.” Now, 3 years later, I asked several civil engineering leaders to discuss this topic. For example: Do clients request or require sustainable design? Is there a difference in cost on sustainable design projects? What else do you think about this topic?  Here are their thoughts:

Mark Gabriel, Senior Vice President Strategy and Business Process, Black & Veatch

“Regarding sustainability, it is really about the efficient use of resources and has morphed into the realization of the triple bottom line. From an energy perspective all facets of construction (or deferral of construction) are now taken into account. For example, water use is a huge issue. In our 2011 Strategic Directions of the Utility Industry survey, water was the number one environmental issue by the 700 respondents. The challenge is that there is a cost to sustainable options that needs to be borne by someone–either the public or the shareholders. And, therein lies the challenge.

Sustainability in many ways is being “cooked” into the fabric of construction decisions as opposed to simply being another factor “sprinkled in” at the last minute to get a project constructed.”

Richard Diaz, PE, President, Diaz Pearson & Associates, Inc.

“In some respects, today’s Sustainability is a revival of the conservation movement back in the 1970’s. It still can be thought of as the wise use of our resources, the consciousness of designing infrastructure for the long term, and awareness that short term replacement and reconstruction are not realistic options. I think many would agree that there is more awareness today in our dwindling resources, many of which are precious.

Sustainable Development is more than just water cooler talk. For Civil Engineers, it’s also more than the ‘green theme’ architectural flavor of the day. Civil engineers have traditionally been concerned about sustainable design; as far back as I can remember. Life cycle cost and the creation of long term value have been civil engineering issues for a long time, not just current topics. Clearly there’s an appreciation for civil engineering’s ‘sustainability’ value that went into the Hoover Dam, Brooklyn Bridge and so many other notable landmarks still operating today.

Sustainability in design is critical, if nothing more, than to craft meaningful solutions to our infrastructure needs in competition with limited financial resources. Sadly, so much of our nation’s infrastructure has been overlooked and is in need of replacement. Arguably, one might believe that because of civil engineering’s core sustainability value, our nation’s infrastructure has been able to enjoy little maintenance attention. That’s no longer the case. We’re at the critical point in meeting our expected service needs for energy, transportation, water supply, and wastewater treatment.

Everywhere one looks there are social, educational, and medical issues competing for financial support. More than ever, sustainability in civil engineering design must be the central theme for creative solutions that match limited financial resources. I believe civil engineering’s core sustainability value will continue to provide reasonable solutions without compromise for the future. Perhaps more than ever this is an exciting and challenging time for civil engineering leadership!”

Jeanne Acutanza, PE,  CH2M HILL and http://www.greengrowthcc.com

“Infrastructure clients, generally public agencies, are not only interested in sustainability to preserve natural environments and reduce energy use, but increasingly to save money.  Measuring sustainability in infrastructure (like LEED certifications for buildings) is becoming necessary to compare and prioritize projects for funding as well as to optimize project efficiency.  CH2M HILL pioneered one rating system with the University of Washington called the Greenroads rating system http://www.greenroads.org/.  This tool is being used by funding agencies to help agencies enhance and optimize sustainability on their project grant submittals.  CH2M HILL is leading a team to develop a rating tool for FHWA.  The tool http://www.sustainablehighways.org/ builds on context sensitive solutions principles to evaluate highway projects.  The tool is in its pilot testing phase.  FHWA is seeking feedback from agencies using the tool.”

Confidential

“The concept of sustainability is just beginning to get traction at least in the US public sector. We are starting to see some RFP’s that discuss or request sustainable design. However, clients are also being cautious in implementation. Will sustainable concepts increase costs? If yes, how much? Do sustainable designs add value to the project? If yes, can we demonstrate the benefits added. In the global marketplace, sustainability is more frequently cited in solicitations.”

As we continue to pursue resource conservation, what changes are you seeing from your clients and within your projects? Thoughts?

October 20, 2011 at 7:38 am 3 comments


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