ACEC Weekly NewsLine
February 29, 2012

Land/Buildings

Chicago Area in Middle of Hospital Building Boom

Water

New EPA Water Runoff Permit Sets no Limit on Turbidity

Other

Industry Professionals Turn to LinkedIn for New Business




Land/Buildings

Chicago Area Sees Hospital Building Boom
Chicago Tribune (02/19/12) Frost, Peter

Hospital systems in Chicago have spent more than $6.6 billion since April 2009 to replace old facilities and update new ones, according to data from the Illinois Hospital Association. Among the projects is Rush University Medical Center’s recently completed $654 million hospital, Children’s Memorial Hospital’s nearly complete $855 million facility, and the University of Chicago Medical Center’s $700 million hospital pavilion that will open next January. Chicago is one of the most competitive healthcare markets in the country and hospitals are trying to gain market share while also dealing with major changes to healthcare delivery and payment due to national healthcare reform. The new state-of-the-art facilities will provide patients with more advanced treatments, private rooms, and coordinated care, but many hospitals have run up record debts in their race to compete. About $6.54 billion in bonds were issued by hospitals between 2009 and 2011, and by January 31 there was $12.59 billion in outstanding principal on tax-exempt bonds. Most organizations are choosing to start from scratch with new buildings because it is more expensive to retrofit existing ones. University of Chicago’s new building was engineered to be easily renovated for future changes to healthcare delivery, with features such as 18 feet of space between floors to accommodate future needs for wiring or other equipment. Two floors will also be left vacant to anticipate future needs.
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A Safety Makeover for Lady Liberty
Point of Beginning (02/12) Vol. 37, No. 5, P. 28; Grahl, Christine L.

A year-long $27.25 million renovation project for the Statue of Liberty began in October 2011 and was led by Joseph A. Natoli Construction. The renovations will involve upgrades to the interior that will improve safety and accessibility, including updating the electrical, fire suppression, and mechanical systems; rehabilitating restrooms, replacing elevators, and installing code-compliant stairways. Natoli chose Matrix New World Engineering to survey and map the interior within two weeks. James Sens, Matrix director of HD surveying and mapping, decided to gather data on the structure by using the Leica ScanStation C10, which would reduce potential error, gather vertical and alignment data, and offering flexibility for the alignment checks. Sens took 16 scans for the primary vertical survey and three to fill in areas that had been missed in the primary scans. Leica Cyclone software was used for processing the data, which was then exported to AutoCAD Civil 3D to create a line drawing. The scan data showed that the structure was exceptionally well built, as no point measured varied more than one and one-eighth inch from the baseline measurements. The results were delivered within the set time frame, on what coincidentally was the 125th anniversary of the dedication of the Statue. Sens noted that while this was a high-profile and extraordinary project, surveyors should remember that laser scanning is an ideal, reliable solution, that improves safety, decrease time spent, and provides a depth of information to the client that can offer insight in the future.
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Architecture Billings Index Remains Positive for Third Straight Month
American Institute of Architects (02/22/12)

The American Institute of Architects has reported that the Architecture Billings Index has reached positive territory for the third month in a row. The ABI score mirrors the lag time between architecture billing and construction spending, and January's ABI was 50.9. The score indicates a small increase in the demand for architecture design services. The new projects inquiry index say a slight drop to 61.2, a 0.3 drop from the score in the previous month. The AIA Chief Economist Kermit Barker notes that this is an encouraging sign, "because it is being reflect across most regions of the country and across major construction sectors."
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Gateway City Apartment Builiding Goes Single-Pipe
Engineered Systems (02/12) Vastyan, Dan

Jarrell Mechanical Contractors designed a single-pipe heating and cooling system to retrofit a 27-story apartment building that promises to be economical to install and operate, while giving tenants more environmental control and comfort. The one-pipe system eliminates the need to drill 400 new holes through the buildings concrete floors. “The original hydronic heating and cooling systems, installed in 1969 when the building was constructed, was a two-pipe changeover system which shared basic supply and return lines to fancoil units,” says P.E. and vice president of engineering at Jarrell Mechanical Contractors, Dewayne Jefferson. “At any given time, the entire building was either in heating or cooling mode. With the two existing floor penetrations — and now with new technology that permits heating or cooling using only two pipes — we’re able to run one heating and one cooling pipe to more than 400 fancoil units without the need to drill new holes.” With the old system, the building was either being heated or cooled, making spring and fall days with broad temperature swings uncomfortable for many tenants. “Tenants were continually calling the maintenance department, complaining about the heating and cooling systems,” says the general contractor on the project, Phil Krull. “Some would call and say it was too hot while others would call, complaining that it was too cold, literally minutes apart.” The new system will be able to simultaneously deliver heat to one area of the building and cooling to another. Using maintenance-free wet rotor circulators, the new system has a single-pipe loop for its primary distribution, and a decoupled secondary piping loop as a secondary distribution system for each terminal unit. The self-balancing systems sends the required flow to all zones at all times, reducing start-up and operational problems. In addition to savings typical of hydronic systems, the single-pipe system uses less energy to move the water by eliminating many control and balancing valves and some pipe. “Not only are operating and maintenance costs low, but we’ve found that the LoadMatch system is approximately 10 percent to 15 percent less initial cost than a conventional four-pipe system for this type of building,” says Jefferson. “It won’t be long before all the tenants can move back in. This time around, we’re sure that front desk personnel won’t be plagued with phone calls from irate, uncomfortable tenants. We’re certain they’ll also be happier with their utility bills.”
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Markus Kayser’s 3D Solar Sinter Prints on Sand – Could Replace Concrete
Green Prophet (02/20/2012) Nitz, Brian

German designer Markus Kayser has developed a 3D printer that runs on sun and sand. Called the Solar Sinter, the machine is powered by photovoltaic panels and uses a lens that concentrates sunlight from a larger Fresnel lens onto a tray of sand which is sintered, or melted, to form a glass object. As far back as 1933 scientists were theorizing that sintering could be used to burn roads and canals into the desert, but Kayser is the first to actually use the idea for a real-world application. Kayser says he’d like to see this technology used to replace concrete as a building material, using the immense power of the sun directly rather than converting it to electricity, which would cut back on the large amounts of CO2 that are emitted in concrete production. He hopes his printer will inspire the industry to look into sintering as an alternative manufacturing process, particularly in architecture and infrastructure. With enough funding, the process can be scaled to produce large-scale projects, he says, noting that his own work is sponsored by Kohler.
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Solar Satellites
Urban Land (02/12) Vol. 71, No. 2, P. 92; Laursen, Kai

Preserving open spaces and farmland and handling population growth with satellite cities and urban infill is a better use of land than urban sprawl. Technically capable of self-sufficiency, satellite cities are designed to be carbon neutral, use alternative sources of energy, exclude private automobiles, dedicate a lane for emergency vehicles, reuse or recycle all waste, and offer affordable housing. Satellite cities also would be characterized by high-density mixed-use development with good transit systems located close to essential facilities. One of the potential transit systems for satellite cities is the personal rapid transit (PRT) system, which uses automated electric vehicles to provide private, non-stop service on a network of guideways, with the end destination chosen by the passenger when requesting a car. PRTs initially faced difficulties from cost overruns; design, engineering and review flaws; technical limitations and opposition. The technical limitations are finally being solved and two PRT pilot systems are under development at London Heathrow Airport and In Masdar City in Abu Dhabi.

Water

New EPA Water Runoff Permit Sets no Limit on Turbidity
Engineering News-Record (02/27/12) Hunter, Pam

Construction industry experts were relieved to see that the 2012 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) general permit for construction-site storm water runoff does not set a limit for turbidity. Nonetheless, complying with the new permit will substantially increase costs and effort. Over 100 pages long, the permit, which replaces the 2008 permit is, "twice as long, and there's a lot of new stuff in here," says senior environmental advisor to the Associated General Contractors of America Leah Pelicans. The 2012 permit must be applied to all ongoing projects that require an EPA permit, though contractors will have some flexibility. It applies to Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and the District of Columbia where the EPA has permitting jurisdiction under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. Due to litigation over the guidelines' first-ever nationwide numeric limit of 280 nephelometric turbidity units, the general permit does not include a numeric limit. The EPA plans to issue a new numeric limit in the future, and published a notice on January 3 in the Federal Register soliciting input, despite industry concerns that nationwide numeric limits would be difficult to achieve and hard to enforce. At present, the 2012 permit incorporates most aspects of the effluent limitation guidelines (ELGs) that the EPA finalized in December 2009. The ELGs include "best management practices," says environmental policy analyst for the National Association of Home Builders, Ty Asfaw. "Depending on the project's goals, it's going to be difficult for some sites to meet [that requirement],” because some guidelines are overly prescriptive, defining, for example, the width buffers must be between development and surface waters.
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Researchers Fight Toxic Waste With Google PageRank
Wired (02/16/12) Garling, Caleb;

Washington State University and University of Arizona researchers have demonstrated that Google's PageRank algorithm can be applied to helping clean up water. The algorithm, used to determine the relevance of webpages during an Internet search, can also be used to determine important information on a water molecule's position in a solution containing other ionized molecules, particularly toxic chemicals. This finding, published in the Journal of Computational Chemistry, is an important step in determining the best ways to remove nuclear waste and other toxic chemicals from water. "Now, you can control the chemistry and force certain reactions to occur," says Washington State University professor Aurora Clark, the primary author of the paper. Water molecules orient themselves in certain ways depending on any chemicals present. The researchers found that the Google PageRank algorithm can help determine water molecules' geometric positioning, what other molecules are touching the water, and what molecules are touching those molecules. Clark says that researchers previously had to look at hundreds of thousands of pictures of a solution to determine a water molecule's orientation over time as pressure, temperature, and concentration change, but this can now be accomplished in less than an hour. "Our goal in search is to help people expand their knowledge of the world," says Google's senior vice president and Google Fellow Amit Singhal, "and we’re delighted to see that our PageRank algorithm is being used to do just that with this innovative and efficient molecular research method."
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Wastewater a Key Issue in Fracking Debate
Associated Press (02/20/12) Esch, Mary

Fracking wastewater disposal is a major issue in New York's debate over Marcellus Shale gas drilling. "What's disconcerting is that while the state raises a number of possibilities, there isn't any real clear sense as to what the path forward is going to be," says Mark Brownstein with the Environmental Defense Fund's national energy program. "On an issue as important as this, all of us who commented from the environmental community are looking for greater clarity." New York's Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) environmental review outlines a trio of waste disposal options, including: Trucking the millions of gallons of wastewater produced per well to a treatment facility and either reusing the treated water for another drilling project or releasing it into a river; shipping the material out of state for deep-well injection disposal; or recycling the wastewater on-site for drilling multiple wells. "All of those options have impacts; none of them is particularly benign," says Kate Sinding with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). "What's missing in the DEC review is, what's the impact of each available technology? They shouldn't be deciding on treatment options when issuing permits until they have the science on the impact of each option." Supported by NRDC and other organizations is legislation to seal a loophole exempting oil and gas waste from the hazardous waste statute that applies to other industries. In May 2011, Pennsylvania invoked a voluntary moratorium to halt municipal wastewater treatment plants from accepting Marcellus waste because excessive salt concentrations were discovered downstream in rivers. Deep-well injection is deemed by NRDC's scientific consultants to be the "least undesirable" wastewater disposal option, according to Sinding. Taking wastewater requires treatment plants to pre-treat and analyze the water for chemical makeup and radioactivity, and afterwards the effluent is typically discharged into rivers that also supply potable water to downstream communities. The treatment mandates would exclude any of the existing plants in New York unless they make new equipment investments.
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Water Tunnels Would Be Huge Project -- If They Clear Huge Obstacles
Sacramento Bee (02/20/12) Weiser, Matt

California water officials have an ambitious plan to build possibly the largest water tunnel in America, but there are major obstacles to the project ever taking off. First, the project would turn much of the Bay Delta into a construction zone for more than ten years, and would industrialize some scenic, rural locations. A draft environmental impact report is expected later this year, and California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) will make a decision in 2013 which must then be approved by state and federal wildlife agencies. The cost is now estimated at around $14 billion, and could go higher due to the unique challenges of such a large job. The tunnel will have to be dug 150 feet down to avoid loose peat and sedimentary soils, and the right depth must be found to equalize groundwater and soil pressures. Some portions may need also extra steel liner to deal with the strains of the water itself, and there will be dozens of miles of levees. Fish screens as big as a quarter-mile long will be needed at each of the five pumping stations, as well as at least eight large vertical construction shafts to move people and material, and concrete construction plants to produce the two-foot-thick tunnel lining. Christian Frenzel, an associate professor at the Colorado School of Mines, noted that the cutting teeth on the machines will wear out over such a long construction period and will need to be replaced, which will be difficult to do in the soft sedimentary ground beneath the Delta and will require the building of underground “safe havens” for maintenance that could take months.
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Transportation

Determination of Longitudinal Stress in Rails
Transportation Research Board (02/20/12) Hurlebaus, Stefan

The objective of a recent project by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), College Station was to determine the longitudinal stress in rails, in order to reduce rail buckling due to temperature-induced stresses. Continuous welded rails (CWR) are typically long members which are susceptible to failure caused by temperature changes, which can in turn cause disruption to the rail network and freight or passenger train derailment. This project developed a non-destructive procedure for monitoring the stress-free temperature in rails using the acoustoelastic effect of ultrasonic waves. Analytical models were developed to explain the relationship between the polarization of Rayleigh waves and the state of stress. The polarization of Rayleigh waves is considered as a measure to identify applied stress.
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Open at 9
Roads & Bridges (02/12) Vol. 50, No. 2, P. 20; Wilson, Bill

When the city of Orlando decided to reconstruct Bumby Ave., they chose Hubbard Construction to serve as prime contract and were able to fully fund the full-depth reclamation project with money from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. The project made use of a Wirtgen Reclaimer WR2500S to pulverize the 11 inches of pavement and base, before 3 inches of material was removed and the remainder stabilized with SS 1h asphalt emulsion supplied by Mariani Asphalt which was them compacted with a Hamm HD+ 120 VO. The base was cured for 48 hours and then 3 inches of Superpave HMA with 30 percent reclaimed asphalt pavement was laid down in two lifts: a 9.6mm lift that used a RA 1100 asphalt binder and a 12.5mm lift that used a RA 1000 asphalt binder. During the project an abandoned gas line was discovered as were voids in a sanitary line, which were repairs, and the contracting company updated sidewalks, added a bike line, pedestrian poles and signals, and replaced signalization loops.
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U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Kicks Off Construction of Cincinnati’s New Streetcar Line, Highlights President Obama’s Call for Greater Investme
Department of Transportation News Release (02/17/12) Gates, Angela

Construction has begun on a new 3.9-mile streetcar line that will spur Cincinnati’s efforts to revitalize its downtown core by improving access to major employers, the developing riverfront, and many area attractions. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was joined at the event by Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff and Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory. “President Obama called on us to rebuild America by putting people back to work on transportation projects that are built to last, like Cincinnati’s modern streetcar line,” said Secretary LaHood. The Cincinnati streetcar will connect Cincinnati’s riverfront and downtown employers with Findlay Market and the Over-the Rhine historic district, revitalizing neighborhoods along the route, and giving people greater mobility and access to jobs and services. The U.S. Department of Transportation is contributing a total of $39.9 million to the Cincinnati streetcar project, and the remaining cost of the project is being covered by local funding sources.
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Other

Industry Professionals Turn to LinkedIn for New Business
Foundation Works (02/20/2012) Butcher, Su

Construction professionals say they are receiving a growing number of Linked invites from clients and colleagues, and it can be a very powerful tool for professionals. The fact that so many clients use the service is the first reason to join, and it is the social network with the highest reputation among professionals. It does a better job of controlling how people can interact than Facebook, which is one reason professionals find it more trustworthy. Once Linked connects a person with everyone they know, each of their common connections can be seen, as well as their contacts’ contacts. And because most people in the construction industry get work through people they know, this makes Linked a valuable networking tool--introductions can be more targeted and fewer speculative calls will be needed. Being on Linked also makes one easier to find on Google, as it allows for optimizing a profile for key search terms and phrases, and can help employees to work together better. Finally, Linked helps boost the bottom line--one entrepreneur established a new sustainable products business and through Linked and a simple web site managed to bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars in orders from referrals.
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Construction Employment Below Peak Levels in 329 out of 337 Metro Areas While Vital Federal Infrastructure Measures Languish
Associated General Contractors of America (02/21/12)

An analysis released by the Associated General Contractors of America shows that construction employment continues to remain below peak elves in 329 of 337 metropolitan areas. Several areas have experienced sharp declines in construction employment, including the Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, Ariz. area,which lost the highest number of jobs, and the Lake Havasu City-Kingman, Ariz. area, which lost the highest percentage of jobs. Areas in Nevada, California, and Illinois also experienced sharp drops in the number of construction jobs. Only six areas have added construction jobs: Bismarck, N.D. added 400, Houma-Bayou Cane-Thibodaux, La. added 100, as did Lawton, Okla., and Waco and El Paso, Texas, while Longview, Texas added 600 new jobs. The Associated General Contractors of America has been urging Congress to pass infrastructure measures that would include legislation to fund construction work in aviation, transit and highways, and is working with groups like the Chamber of Commerce to push for a fully-funded surface transportation bill as part of the 'Make Transportation #1' effort.
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