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NSF Certifies 56 Consumer Products That Meet New "Emerging-Contaminant" Standard
NSF International has unveiled NSF/ANSI 401: Drinking Water Treatment Units — Emerging Compounds/Incidental Contaminants, a new standard that addresses the ability of water-treatment devices to remove up to 15 "emerging contaminants" from drinking water. The emerging contaminants include pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter medications, herbicides, pesticides, and chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA), used in manufacturing. Applying the standard, NSF has certified 56 products at varying levels, providing home-water treatment options to consumers. Chances are consumers in your community, and the news media that inform them, would be interested to know more about what they can do to protect their health. Learn more and then inform them!
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2 learn what all the excitement’s about, you've got to see what's in store at GBA's October 23-25, 2014 Fall Conference in San Francisco. It's going to be 1 heckuva good time for gaining the business knowledge you need to confront the risks of the times ahead, for networking with peers, for enjoying outstanding food and drink at no additional cost, and for taking a few hours (at least!) to smell the roses. You have 0 reason not to attend; the benefits outweigh the costs by far. LAUNCH your tomorrow with GBA. Register today — and then reserve your hotel room; the deadline to get the group rate is September 30!
It's Official: We Are Now the Geoprofessional Business Association
The votes are in! Member firms have voted all proposed bylaws amendments into effect and, from this point forward, we are the Geoprofessional Business Association (GBA). According to GBA President Steven D. Thorne, P.E., D.GE (Terracon), "The time had come. Continually fewer of our most active members knew what ASFE originally stood for or how we've evolved over the years. Geoprofessional Business Association identifies who we are today."
ASFE was an acronym for Associated Soil and Foundation Engineers, the name the organization began with in 1969. Then, when ASFE-Member Firms became active in the environmental-remediation field in the early 1980s, Member Firms' staff who focused on the environment felt like second-class citizens. "That’s when we changed our name to ASFE — adopting the acronym as our name in full — and added a tag line explaining who we were. Taking that approach, we were able to recognize our geotechnical heritage while also explaining what we had evolved into. But answering the question 'What's ASFE stand for?' was becoming a steadily more cumbersome process."
Having Fun in the City by the Bay
While you're planning your conference attendance in San Francisco, don't forget about these great activities:
- Learn about Alcatraz during the day and then see it for yourself during the Local Color Night tour, "Alcatraz Island: An Inescapable Experience," sponsored by GBA-Member Firm BSK Associates.
- Experience Sausalito: Spouse and guest registrants may embark upon a scenic 30-minute ferry ride to the charming seaport village of Sausalito. This picturesque community perched on the hillside across the bay from San Francisco offers a cornucopia of things to see and do. Experience Sausalito's unique shops, art studios, and interesting sites. Enjoy lunch at Scoma's Sausalito, a delightful waterfront restaurant specializing in fresh seafood.
- So much great food, so little time! Make the most of it with John and Patty's restaurant recommendations.
Bring home the best of GBA conferences with content on demand — online and on DVD.
PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE: Something Better Than PLI
Civil + Structural Engineer
Most clients require their engineering consultants to carry professional-liability insurance (PLI), and many also specify the amount of coverage required. Some even require the professional-liability insurer to meet certain criteria established by A. M. Best Company, the internationally recognized insurance-company rating organization. Unfortunately, some clients seem to believe that having what they deem to be enough PLI coverage in place permits them to accept risks they’d otherwise avoid, such as a skimpy, less costly scope of service or reliance on a second-tier firm whose key attraction is low fee. Insurance is important, but client representatives need to know it may be useless when needed, as when those additional risks that PLI coverage seemingly justified mature into full-fledged economic catastrophes.
42 Organizations Now Endorse Recommended Practices...
Forty-two organizations now endorse Recommended Practices for Design Professionals Engaged as Experts in the Resolution of Construction Industry Disputes, an annotated list of 13 "shoulds and should-nots" originally developed by the Interprofessional Council on Environmental Design (ICED), a now-dormant, high-level "umbrella organization" in which GBA was active. GBA recognized the need for the document and spearheaded its development through ICED, then accepted responsibility for the document's publication and long-term management, as well as gathering additional endorsers. The 42 endorsers comprise a "who's-who" of construction-industry organizations. Because the document has been used extensively to impeach the testimony of "hired-gun experts," GBA advises that leaders of “every engineering, environmental, and architectural firm in the nation should be familiar with 'Recommended Practices.' Their lawyers and insurance agents need to be aware of it, too."
Faster, More-Accurate, Less-Expensive Pipeline-Leak Detection
Pipeline-leak detection is about to take a giant step forward, it seems, thanks to a tiny new robot developed by researchers at MIT and Saudi Arabia's King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. The self-propelling robot does its work quickly and accurately by monitoring pipeline-pressure changes alongside pipes carrying petroleum, gas, or water, detecting leaks as small as two millimeters, even at a comparatively low pressure. This approach compares favorably to conventional methods that are labor-intensive, require skilled operators, and often are incapable of finding small leaks.
HR DEPT.: Incentives To Drive Behavior; Metrics To Track Results
The New York Times
"I'm a big believer that you have to have incentives that drive behavior, and to align everyone around them you must make them easily understandable. Metrics that show progress, and that make it possible for everyone to know where they are going, are even more important than trying to be the fastest or the first. You've got to find a way to measure progress, because if you don't, you might end up with a person spending a year thinking that they’ve done a great job, but actually they haven't." That's just one of many on-point insights offered by Genpact CEO Tiger Tyagarajan, interviewed by The New York Times.
Natural-Gas Pipeline Snakes Its Way into Maine
The rapid growth of U.S. natural-gas supplies, the low cost of the supplies (vs. oil), and gas' lesser environmental impacts (vs. oil and coal) are creating demand that requires construction of new pipelines nationwide. This includes Maine, where Summit Natural Gas of Maine, a subsidiary of Summit Utilities Inc., specializes in delivering natural gas to underserved communities. Now, Summit has announced plans to invest $460 million in transmission and distribution projects in Maine, to serve some 52,000 customers in the Pine Tree State. Is your firm getting involved in such projects? Should it? In Maine, residents are welcoming the pipeline-expansion project because they regard natural gas as a much cleaner fuel. They're also happy about the prospect of saving 30%-50% on their heating bills.
Call for Abstracts: Spring Conference in Miami
Have a creative idea for a presentation at the Geoprofessional Business Association (GBA) Spring Conference in Miami, FL, April 16-18, 2015? Here's your chance to share it with us: Just download the submission form, complete it, and send it in. The GBA Conference Committee will review all submissions. The theme of the conference is "Optimizing Performance for Our Firms and Our Clients: Innovation in Practice."
For a complete list of upcoming events, click here.
According to R. Burns Logan, Esq., owners that conduct well-orchestrated preconstruction meetings — attended by the right people focused on the right topics — experience an "overall increase in project efficiencies, decrease in work-related accidents, and, ultimately, larger project profits…The meeting should include the relevant managers and upper-level stakeholders within the company involved in the project." Representatives of some of your client organizations may find Logan's advice helpful. The legal topics to cover, he says, include:
- change-order provisions,
- damages-for-delay issues,
- liquidated-damages clause,
- time and money for concealed conditions,
- responsibility for reporting design defects and other issues,
- notice requirements, and
- timetable for responding to RFIs and submittals.
I am so tired of hearing about "work/life balance." Who comes up with this stuff? The word "balance" implies a balance beam; a teeter-totter. So on one side is work and on the other side is…life? Of course not. The last time I checked, work is part of life. Work/life balance? As I leave my house in the morning, I should say to my wife, "See you later, honey. I'm going to my death now"?
If you really want to balance "work," you've got to use an opposing force; i.e., the opposite of work. In other words, those who jabber on about work/life balance should really be thinking and talking about "work/play balance." And when they do that, they'll finally start to put the whole thing into its proper perspective.
MEETING MANAGEMENT: What People Really Do during Conference Calls
The Advisory Board Company
A 500-worker survey conducted by international conference-call giant Intercall found that most conference-call participants press their telephone's mute button and then "phone it in" — literally! What else are they doing while on a call?
And — icing on the cake — more than one in four admitted to falling asleep. How are they getting away with it? You can thank smartphones for that.
- 65% are doing other work,
- 63% are sending e-mails,
- 55% are eating,
- 47% are using the restroom,
- 44% are text messaging,
- 43% are checking social-media websites,
- 25% are playing video games, and
- 21% are shopping online.
Private Sector Will Drive Transportation-Infrastructure Growth
Cars and trucks powered by natural gas and electricity. Sub-orbital flight that cuts a 15-hour plane trip to 2 hours. Driverless vehicles, like the Google prototypes recently introduced. These are the near-term future of transportation. Nonetheless, according to Dale Bonner, chair of infrastructure-developer Plenary Group USA and the former California Secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing, "History has shown that the public and broader market forces will look for the most efficient form of transportation available, and for the foreseeable future this probably means a reliance on current technologies using existing forms of infrastructure....
Most investors are betting on this also, since so much of the investment is in technologies designed to improve rather than replace these modes and the complex systems they rely upon."
The future will be looking to these transportation-infrastructure investors; they’re already prepared to invest some $100 billion in U.S. transportation-infrastructure improvements. But that's only a drop in the proverbial bucket: McKinsey estimates that, to support economic-growth expectations, $57 trillion of infrastructure investment is needed by 2030, with $23.8 trillion of the total going for transportation-related projects: roads ($16.6 trillion), rails ($4.5 trillion), seaports ($0.7 trillion), and airports ($2 trillion).
YOU'VE JUST GOT TO BE KIDDING: There's an App for That?
Many of the 7,000 known genetic disorders often go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed because they are rare. Now, researchers at Oxford University's Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine have created an algorithm that can detect — with 99.5% accuracy — the risk for genetic disorders in children. Researchers scanned photographs of family members dead or alive, and cross-referenced them with a database they built from images of people with known genetic disorders. The key indicators? Eyes, nose, and corners of the mouth.
2014-2015 GBA BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Steven D. Thorne, P.E., D.GE
(Terracon / Somerset, NJ)
Gordon M. Matheson, Ph.D., P.E., P.G.
(Schnabel Engineering, Inc. / Glen Allen, VA)
Joel G. Carson
(Kleinfelder / Omaha, NE)
Charles L. Head, P.E., P.G.
(Sanborn, Head & Associates / Concord, NH)
Kimberly F. Morrison, P.E., R.G.
(Morrison Geotechnical Solutions, Inc. / Denver, CO)
Laura R. Reinbold, P.E.
(TTL, Inc. / Nashville, TN)
Alex Sy, Ph.D., P. Eng.
(Klohn Crippen Berger Ltd. / Vancouver, BC)
Woodward L. Vogt, P.E., D.GE
(Paradigm Consultants, Inc. / Houston, TX)
7701 Las Colinas Ridge, Ste. 800, Irving, TX 75063