flexiblefullpage -
billboard - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
Currently Reading

U.S. engineering firms ride on waves of innovation

Engineers

U.S. engineering firms ride on waves of innovation

Strategic acquisitions are also fueling growth objectives.


By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | November 25, 2020
U.S. engineering firms ride on waves of innovation

“Shorter Than the Day,” by contemporary artist Sarah Sze, is one of four permanent art installations at the 850,000-sf LaGuardia Airport Terminal B Arrivals and Departures Hall. The joint venture design and construction team included: HOK, Skanska USA, Walsh Construction, and WSP USA. Photo: Nicholas Knight

   

Last year, SSOE Group saved an automotive client more than $250,000 by streamlining how data from the client’s manufacturing structures were gathered, using laser scanning, innovative workflows, and technology that converts point clouds to Revit models that can be imported to structural analysis software.

Innovation continues to be engineering firms’ best foot forward to remain competitive and relevant. And sometimes, “innovation” is resolutely basic: For a series of manhole inspections it performed for Carnegie Mellon University, Wiley|Wilson attached a camera controlled by a smartphone app to a 9-foot-long selfie stick for 360-degree information capture. KCI Technologies piloted AM Gradiometry technology, a subsurface investigation methodology that harnesses the power of AM-band radio to identify and map underground infrastructure and anomalies.

Admittedly, most other innovations engineers came up with weren’t as rudimentary. Jensen Hughes launched a new software program, HazAdvisr, that quickly categorizes chemical hazards and applies them to a project to achieve compliance, eliminating the need for time-consuming and often error-prone classification done by hand. AECOM’s patented water treatment solution, De-Fluoro, destroys a globally pervasive emerging contaminant Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFAS), and optimizes infrastructure upgrades.  

Thornton Tomasetti launched Beacon, an embodied carbon measurement tool that allows structural engineers to understand and manage embodied carbon optimization. And CDM Smith recently collaborated with Autodesk to develop the Rapid Energy Modeling tool, an integrated desktop application that enables energy managers and planners to conduct energy analyses at facilities without deploying physical resources onsite. Syska Hennessy was of the same mindset when it established a process to perform remote commissioning, punch-lists, and onsite field work virtually.  

Engineers are more frequently being called upon for solutions that reduce their customers’ risks. For example, Affiliated Engineers Inc.’s resilience planning and design service features a tool that addresses climate change for the owner’s project location, characterizes the risk of failure to engineering systems should the identified potential disaster scale hazardous event(s) occur, develops adaptation and mitigation strategies, and presents this information in rich graphic form to the owner and design team.

Other innovations are designed as platforms for collaboration and greater efficiency. KLH Engineers created a series of custom Revit add-ins geared toward eliminating repetitive, rules-based tasks and providing the engineers with information they need to make informed decisions early in a project. And PBS Engineers is using 3D cameras to document the existing conditions of spaces during the initial site surveys. This process allows the team to have an accurate representation of the MEP conditions for a more coordinated design set. 

 

Engineering firms expand services

These innovations emerged at a time when engineering firms were adding to their practice menus, and the sector continued to consolidate. Last October, IPS–Integrated launched a new service called CarTon, a complete cell and gene therapy operational readiness solution. This bundled service offering focuses on getting compliant cell and gene therapy products to market. Bernhard’s Energy-as-a-Service solutions offer healthcare clients alternative financing and project delivery methods that are designed to reduce cost structure and increase operational margins.

Burns & McDonnell hired a dozen professionals to expand services in the life sciences industry, collectively adding more than 200 years of additional design and construction experience in the pharmaceutical, biotech, animal health, medical device, and gene therapy sectors. EAPC Architects is now offering Entitlement services that process land development cases for rezoning properties, obtaining special permits and conditional uses for a specific land use. HPE Data Center relaunched its consulting practice in the U.S., Thailand, and Indonesia. Davis, Bowen & Friedel introduced the addition of in-house unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) drone services. And DeSimone Consulting Engineers initiated a Risk Management Services practice.

For its industrializing colocation and hyperscale clientele, EYP Mission Critical rolled out a suite of formalized services focused on the adaptation of standardized designs for new paradigms, modular containerized implementation, tenant fit-out/retrofit, and optimization and operational efficiency in power, space, and cooling.

The coronavirus pushed several firms into new areas. Milhouse Engineering’s environmental experts developed a method for sanitization that combines a specially atomized fog and a three-stage HEPA air filtration system. NV5 Global offered a suite of COVID-19 support services. To support business continuity, its COVID-19 facility health and safety services provide site-specific deep cleaning protocols and training of cleaning staff to minimize risk of exposures. In California, the firm offered third-party building inspections and plan reviews in municipalities that closed their building departments during the outbreak. NV5’s MEP engineering and commissioning group supports remote field hospitals and facility renovations.

NV5 Global made nine strategic acquisitions in 2019 that added 1,100 employees, enhanced service offerings in the environmental, technology, infrastructure, and energy markets; and broadened its geographic coverage. 

In 2019, IMEG Corp. acquired five firms and 10 new office locations. These acquisitions brought its employee count to 1,500 employees across nearly 50 locations. In 2019, Dewberry acquired California-based Drake Haglan and Associates, an 80-person firm serving private- and public-sector clients. P2S Inc. acquired Muni-Fed, an energy and civil engineering consulting firm, in Q4 2019. In August 2019, TLC Engineering acquired an FP/LS firm that doubled TLC’s revenue in this discipline. It also acquired a Chicago-based MEP firm that became its 15th location. And with the addition of design firms studio951 and EPOCH during the fourth quarter of 2019, Shive-Hattery expanded into two new markets: Lincoln, Neb., and South Bend, Ind.

Other firms saw operational opportunities in the virtual world: For instance, Ross & Baruzzini converted its entire IT infrastructure to Amazon Web Services cloud and virtual desktop services. 

Last year, 31% of Desimone’s revenue came from green building and sustainability projects. And it was easy to forget, during a pandemic, that carbon neutrality remains a long-range goal for the built environment.

Morrison Hershfield, in collaboration with Humber College and project partners, completed a holistic deep energy retrofit of an aging Humber Building NX, making it the first existing building retrofit in Canada to achieve Zero Carbon Building-Design Certification from the Canada Green Building Council. In Spokane, Wash., McKinstry developed and designed Catalyst, a five-story, 159,000-sf cross-laminated timber (CLT) building whose goal is to be one of the largest zero-energy and one of the first zero-carbon buildings in North America.

Tags

Related Stories

Market Data | Jul 1, 2022

Nonresidential construction spending slightly dips in May, says ABC

National nonresidential construction spending was down by 0.6% in May, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of data published today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Building Team | Jul 1, 2022

How to apply WELL for better design outcomes

The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) cites attracting top talent, increasing productivity, and improving environmental, social or governance (ESG) performance as key outcomes of leveraging tools like their WELL Building Standard to develop healthier environments.

Building Team | Jul 1, 2022

Less portable potty, more movable restroom

Some contractors are packing up their portable potties and instead using the H3 Wellness Hub.

Market Data | Jun 30, 2022

Yardi Matrix releases new national rent growth forecast

Rents in most American cities continue to rise slightly each month, but are not duplicating the rapid escalation rates exhibited in 2021.

Headquarters | Jun 30, 2022

Lenovo to build its new global headquarters in Beijing

Washington, D.C.-based architecture and design firm CallisonRTKL has announced it will create the new global headquarters in Beijing for Lenovo Group, a Chinese multinational personal technology company.

Mass Timber | Jun 29, 2022

Mass timber competition: building to net-zero winning proposals

The 2022 Mass Timber Competition: Building to Net-Zero is a design competition to expand the use of mass timber in the United States by demonstrating its versatility across building types and its ability to reduce the carbon footprint of the built environment.

Laboratories | Jun 29, 2022

The "collaboratory" brings digital innovation to the classroom

The Collaboratory—a mix of collaboration and laboratory—is a networking center being designed at the University of Denver’s College of Business.

Airports | Jun 29, 2022

BIG and HOK’s winning design for Zurich airport’s new terminal

Two years ago, Zurich Airport, which opened in the 1950s, launched an international design competition to replace the aging Dock A—the airport’s largest dock.

Laboratories | Jun 28, 2022

The California Science Center breaks grounds on its Air and Space Center

The California Science Center—a hands-on science center in Los Angeles—recently broke ground on its Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.

Contractors | Jun 27, 2022

Reverse mentorship: A model for the future of the construction workforce

Reverse mentorship can help seasoned professionals develop new skills, stay connected with younger generations, and gain future-forward insights for life and business.

boombox1 - default
boombox2 -
native1 -

More In Category


Building Team

How to apply WELL for better design outcomes

The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) cites attracting top talent, increasing productivity, and improving environmental, social or governance (ESG) performance as key outcomes of leveraging tools like their WELL Building Standard to develop healthier environments.



halfpage1 -

Most Popular Content

  1. 2021 Giants 400 Report
  2. Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019
  3. 13 projects that represent the future of affordable housing
  4. Sagrada Familia completion date pushed back due to coronavirus
  5. Top 160 Architecture Firms 2021

 


Magazine Subscription
Subscribe

Get our Newsletters

Each day, our editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe

Follow BD+C: