Debunking common BIM myths

3D BIM ModelOver the last decade, BIM has gained prominence within the AECO industry. With BIM’s capability to foster more efficient and faster project delivery, it’s easy to see why their adoption rate has increased. When done right, BIM can also help reduce costs and foster better decision-making processes.

Even with all these benefits, some construction companies still fail to see how BIM can fit into their organizations. However, many of these hindering beliefs they hold are myths. In this post, we dispel some of these myths so you can create buy-in for BIM within your organization.

BIM is simply a trend that will pass away soon…

Whenever a new technology arises, many people see it as a fad. And in all honesty, most eventually end down the drains. However, BIM isn’t one of them! BIM offers tremendous benefits that make them superior to any other thing in the construction industry!

Back in the early days, paper, two-dimensional designs were the real deal. But that was soon replaced with computer-aided design (CAD) software that helped visualize projects in 3D. BIM is an extension of 3D models. It adds additional dimensions like information about scheduling (4D), costs (5D), and many more.

These capabilities are too sweet to turn down. And it’s difficult to see how BIM would not play an even greater role in the construction industry for decades to come.

BIM is nothing more than software

To be fair, having the right software is a crucial part of BIM. However, BIM is way bigger than ‘just software’ used to create building models. It involves a rethinking and reorganization of the way building projects are carried out.

From its definition, BIM is an intelligent 3D model-based process that gives AEC professionals the insights and tools to more efficiently plan, design, construct, and manage infrastructure and buildings. BIM’s primary focus is on creating a collaborative way for everyone involved in a project to work together, from architects to engineers to even stakeholders.

BIM is only for big companies

Embracing a new technology like BIM doesn’t come without its challenges. The huge upfront investment in time and training can be daunting, especially for smaller companies trying to do the barest minimum to stay afloat.

Even though big companies might have more resources to easily adopt BIM, it’s no excuse for small companies to evade adoption. Turning down BIM would hurt any organization in the long run as BIM is here to stay. And because BIM helps to streamline workflows, improve collaborations, and plan better, adopting BIM – even as a small company – can help save costs in the long run while maintaining a competitive edge.

BIM is for project planning, not execution

While BIM is an invaluable tool for project planning, its usefulness extends throughout the entire project lifecycle, from planning to designing to constructing and even managing. One great way to think about BIM is its integrative capabilities. It doesn’t consider each stage of the project as separate entities. Instead, it sees the larger picture and collects important information.

Data collected during the planning stage will help during the execution stage. Similarly, information collected through the execution phase will be beneficial for operation and maintenance down the line.

BIM is just 3D modeling

No doubt, 3D modeling is an important part of BIM, albeit just a small part of a humongous process. The ‘modeling’ in building information modeling extends beyond the visual representation of building models. It is, instead, a part of a digital dataset and database centered around a collaborative framework.

The Common Data Environment hosts both graphical and non-graphical information that is used to generate data-rich models that can help manage data throughout the life of infrastructure. Saying BIM is just about 3D modeling is an unjustified reductionism.

BIM has little impact on long-term productivity

There is nothing further from the truth! Anti-BIM advocates point how BIM takes time to scope and implement in the initial stage. While it is true that careful planning and implementation takes up more time and resources, this initial investment benefits long-term productivity.

Just think about the training and learning curve required to make the shift towards BIM. That can be daunting, but that’s just the way it is when learning new technology. But with time, people will get used to it, and greater productivity will naturally follow.

BIM is expensive

Again, shifting from a traditional system to BIM will involve lots of upfront costs, just like any other transition would. However, what truly matters is the long-term costs involved, and BIM is not expensive from that perspective.

During the planning stages of a project, the aspects of BIM that will be implemented will help determine the BIM tools that will be used. With proper planning, these tools can be free or inexpensive. Asides from helping professionals attain spending budgets, BIM can also help speed up completion time.

Contact us here today for more information.


Types of building materials commonly used in construction

Building MaterialsBuilding materials are at the heart of the construction industry. Think about it; no structure can be erected without some form of building materials. These materials are what come together to form a structure.

There are different kinds of building materials used in construction. They range from naturally occurring substances such as clay and wood to man-made substances like concrete and steel.

Each material has different properties such as density, strength, durability, load-bearing capabilities, stress resistance, and more. These properties define the suitability of these materials based on certain applications.

While there are numerous kinds of building materials, we focus our attention on the most common ones in this post.

  • Steel

Steel is an alloy made up of iron and carbon content that can range from 0.03{ffa1fb9a833dbe70b91c2563ca2a54067368c324c18ffac54b9412388222efff} up to 2{ffa1fb9a833dbe70b91c2563ca2a54067368c324c18ffac54b9412388222efff}. Steel also contains trace amounts of manganese, silicon, phosphorus, sulfur, and oxygen. The presence of carbon in steel increases its hardness and strength. This makes steel one of the strongest building materials available.

Here are some of the unique properties of steel:

1) Steel is relatively easy and fast to install.

2) It has a high strength-to-weight ratio. This makes it ideal for the structural framework of tall buildings and industrial facilities.

3) Steel is expensive compared to other building materials.

4) It is highly susceptible to corrosion if routine maintenance is neglected.

  • Concrete

Concrete is a composite construction material composed of cement, fine aggregates (like sand), and coarse aggregates (like gravels, stone chips, and pebbles) mixed with water which hardens with time.

As you can easily guess, the property of concrete strongly depends on the proportions of each of its principal components. However, here are some of the general properties of concrete:

1) Concrete can take any shape and form, making it easy to work with.

2) It is highly durable because it is extremely resistant to physio-chemical attacks emanating from the environment (rain, frost, pollution, etc).

3) It has high mechanical strength, in particular compressive strength.

The high strength and durability of concrete make it an excellent material choice for building foundations.

When concrete is combined with reinforcement steel bars, it is referred to as reinforced concrete. Reinforced concrete simultaneously utilizes the compressive strength of concrete and the tensile strength of steel. This enhanced property makes reinforced concrete suitable for a wide range of structures like roads, tall buildings, bridges, and tunnels, among many others.

  • Wood

Wood (or timber) is mankind’s oldest construction material. For thousands of years, it’s been used in building houses, bridges, barns, and a whole lot of other structures. When maintained properly, wood can last for hundreds of years.

Here are some of the properties of wood in construction:

1) Because it is naturally occurring, it is readily available and economical.

2) It is relatively lightweight.

3) It is highly machinable, making it easy to standardize in size. Standardized wood is referred to as dimensional lumber.

4) Its excellent insulation property makes it ideal for residential buildings.

5) It has high tensile strength.

6) Wood is susceptible to degradation from water, rot, and insect. That’s why wood needs to be pressure-treated to make it suitable for certain applications.

  • Masonry (or Brick)

Masonry consists of building structures from single units that are laid and bound together with mortar. Some of the most common materials used in masonry construction include brick, stone, and concrete blocks (which are the strongest).

Here are some of the properties of masonry:

1) Because it is made from smaller units, it provides great design flexibility.

2) It has high structural strength.

3) Masonry is fire-resistant, mold-resistant, and highly durable.

4) It can easily withstand high compression loads, making it suitable for load-bearing walls.

5) It is very easy to maintain.

6) It is cost-competitive.

These properties of masonry make it suitable for walls and buildings.

  • Stone

Humans have used stones for a very long time. Remember the Stone Age that lasted for over 2.5 million years, where humans used primitive stone tools. This also makes stone one of the oldest construction materials.

Some of the popular ancients buildings – like Stonehenge and the Ancient Greek Parthenon – were made from stones. And even today, stones continue to play an integral role in construction. Examples of modern stone buildings include Casa Mila in Barcelona and the Taj Mahal.

Here are some of the properties of stone:

1) Stone is very dense and heavy. This makes it difficult to work with.

2) It is a poor insulator.

3) It is fire-resistant and durable.

4) It is hard and tough.

Wrap Up

The construction industry will be non-existent without building materials. We’ve examined five of the most common building materials. But there are a whole lot of materials used in this industry. Some of them include mud and clay, thatch, brush, ice, glass, ceramic, and plastic.

But at the end of the day, the materials of choice for a construction project are determined by its purpose and design constraints.

We’re here to help. Contact us today for more information – we look forward to working with you on your next project!


McNeil Engineering’s Spring 2021 Recap

2021 Recap“Bringing science to life” is Engineering in its simplest form. And we are proud to be doing that and more for our customers. The past year was not the easiest; still, we cannot but appreciate our invaluable teams and clients as we rose to the challenges and got better every season.

Our spring was even better than we expected. There was a change in leadership at the top; we took on many amazing projects and saw our discipline and standards pay off in other numerous projects. There are few better ways to express our appreciation than celebrating;

  • Thank you, Outgoing President Ted!

Our utmost appreciation and debt go to Ted Didas as he steps down from the role he volunteered for a decade. Ted has been a sturdy, innovative, and savvy president, and his leadership years were nothing but exemplary. As he proceeds to head the Civil Engineering team, the board has chosen Michael Hoffman to replace him.

Michael has climbed doggedly through many ladders since joining the company in 1995 to become a licensed land surveyor, a bachelor’s degree holder in Civil Engineering (2006). He has until now managed our Survey department for the past 20 years.

  • The tale of the “Father-Son” Bridges

Special moments are never far in McNeil Engineering projects; you only have to look closely.

Structural and Dept. Manager Matt Roblez found his when he got a job to expand on a bridge designed by his father in 1969 (shortly after his birth). More of a generational bridge many would call it.

So here Matt was, expanding the Gunsight Bridge at St George. It begins to get sweeter when he says he got loads of insight from his father, Victor Roblez’s original “hand-calculated” plans/designs.

Matt’s father, Victor, passed on on December 19, 2019. He was a recognized member of the Utah branch of the ASCE as a “Landmark Engineer.”

  • The move to freestanding pads

While the Covid-19 proved challenging, we were always available to help our clients. And of the new trends, consequent of the pandemic was an increase of freestanding pads for business models, including the housing restaurants, coffee shops, and so on.

The freestanding pad innovation has a vast application that exceeds its primary purpose. Our excited client, where our Civil engineering team headed by Rob Poirier has perfected this project, includes; Slim Chicken’s in Herriman, Lehi and Shake Shack in Murray, and co.

The addition is proving useful to dine-in, drive-through, pick-up orders. In the end, we are only improvising like we promise our customers.

  • We went to Texas to LiDAR Scan!

Laser scans and usage are not uncommon in Engineering. Here, unlike some we have undertaken in the past, Savage Sulfur in Galveston requested our services. Michael hopped on the next fight to assess the work to be done.

LiDar scanning services are one of the numerous things our survey team does. And there at Savage Sulfur, we once again employed our efficiency and accuracy to measure existing pipes and the overall structure of the sulfur processing plants. This information will be beneficial to them as they plan an expansion of the facility. We would love to appreciate Michael Hoffman, PLS, who supervised the entire project.

LiDAR scanning is a form of remote sensing technology that gives smaller images of laser scans to create 3D models of objects, maps, and environments.

  • How important is a planned Landscape?

Beautiful things are hardly by accident. And we are happy to transform a mundane community into the best of paradise. Landscape architecture is a growing area in the field that includes prioritizing the space around which we live, work, shop, and play.

Your building can only be as beautiful as its surrounding. How beautiful is your “between buildings”?

Our Landscape architecture team, led by Scott Schoonover (PLA, ASLA), gives the best in all the projects they undertake. We are not only set to plan and transform an area, but we create a perfect interface where humans, nature, technology, and animals blend into a beautiful and “healthy” environment.

Restoring the roof of the Central Utah correctional facility

Nothing bites harder than an inadequate roof. And that is why we have undertaken this project with clear alacrity.

The Central Utah correctional facility is seeing a growing number of inmates across its three housing units. Most of these units also offer multiple services to the community apart from housing the inmates.

Another thing that makes this project special is the fact that new buildings construction are running parallel to the renovation of older ones. However, with Carl Greene (consulting manager at McNeil) in charge of the project, there has been ongoing headway.

At last, the CUCF will get a working roof as soon as possible.

Wrapping Up

The spring has always been a great one for everyone, and not in the least McNeil Engineering. We always appreciate our old and new clients for trusting us with delivery, innovation, and science. Respect, healthy work environments, and growth are priorities here, and that is what makes us great as a family!

Reach out to us today for more information.


What is Structural Engineering and what do Structural Engineers do?

Structural SteelEver since the dawn of civilization, humans have built structures for several purposes – ranging from residential houses to the Great Pyramids. Even today, our lives revolve around structures – from buildings to bridges to canals to skyscrapers and more.

Although we rarely think about it, these constructions have internal structures that enable them to stand as a collapse may prove catastrophic. In this article, we examine the facet of engineering that tries to understand the mechanism of building reliable and safe structures.

What is Structural Engineering?

Structural engineering is a sub-discipline of civil engineering that involves the application of mathematical principles, the laws of physics, and empirical knowledge to design, construct and maintain the ‘bones’ or load-bearing elements of man-made structures.

Specializations in Structural Engineering

Structural engineering can be subdivided into several specializations. Some of which include:

  • Building structures
  • Earthquake engineering structures
  • Civil engineering structures, like bridges, dams, railways, waterways, and more.
  • Mechanical structures like cranes, elevators, marine vessels, and more
  • Aerospace structures
  • Nanoscale structures

Who are Structural Engineers?

Structural engineers are trained professionals that focus on the physical integrity and design of projects such as bridges, buildings, and waterways. They help ensure that these structures are safe, stable, and able to withstand external loads.

They accomplish this by applying their technical knowledge to specify the appropriate construction materials to use, as well as their shapes, geometry, and arrangement. All with the end goal of ensuring the structure withstand external stresses like gravity loads, earthquakes, and storms.

Stages in Structural Engineering Design

The structural design process of a building typically involves three stages: load calculation, structural analysis, and design.

  • Load calculation

The initial step is to determine all the loads that will act on the structure upon completion. The functional purpose of the building in addition to building standards and codes are used to estimate the building’s weight, as well as external forces – like snow, earthquake, and wind – that will act on the building.

  • Structural analysis

After all such loads have been determined, their impact on the structure itself is carefully studied to answer important questions like: Would a particular beam bulk under full capacity or thermal expansion? How would the building react to an earthquake of a particular magnitude? And more.

There is an engineering software that makes it easy to carry out this analysis. Thereafter, the results from the software are verified using first principle knowledge and simple structural analysis formula.

  • Design

The stresses and forces derived from the analysis stage are used to design the structural elements of the building, like the foundation, floor system, vertical supports, load-bearing beams, and other parts of the building.

When Do You Need a Structural Engineer?

Structural engineers play significant roles in several building projects. Some of which include:

  • Building new structures

Most people know they need an architectural plan before building a home. What they don’t realize is a structural engineer is often required in the planning stage. They help in designing the structural framework that will help support the aesthetic conception of the architect.

  • Renovation projects

Renovation usually involves making changes to the structural component of a building. A major renovation might be extending your building by including a patio. While a minor renovation might be something like removing the wall between the kitchen and a room.

A structural engineer is needed to analyze how these changes will affect the load-bearing elements of the body. Hence, the right actions can be taken (like replacing the wall being removed with a beam and column system) to preserve the structural integrity of the building.

A renovation might also be needed after significant damage has been done to a building, typically by factors like an earthquake, fire, or just deterioration that occurs with time. Structural engineers analyze how the structural integrity has been compromised and how it can be rectified.

  • Inspections for Home Purchase Transactions

Just because a building looks new or flashy doesn’t mean it is structurally sound. That’s why proper inspection is required before you buy a home.

A structural engineer will inspect more than what meets the eye – like the basement, beams, foundation, walls, and other structural components. The structural engineer might pick up on questionable structural components like large cracks in the foundation. Based on this, they will provide a scope of repair in an engineering report.

Such inspections are part of the due diligence process that will give you peace of mind before you purchase a property.

  • Commercial Projects

Site inspection plays a crucial role in commercial project development. First off, a structural engineer examines the soil to see if it’s conducive to the project at hand.

The structural engineer then works hand-in-hand with the architect/design team to develop a robust construction plan that strictly incorporates safety considerations.

Once actual construction commences, the structural engineer often supervises project teams and is actively involved in the project management phase.

Wrap Up

The roles of structural engineering and structural engineers cannot be overemphasized. Ultimately, structural engineers help ensure that all the buildings and structures we see around are safe to use.

Feel free to reach out to us here for more information. We look forward to working with you on your next project.


4 Important Considerations for Civil Engineering

Civil engineering at Cottonwood MallCivil engineering has played a crucial role in advancing human civilization. Through sheer ingenuity, our ancestors built awe-inspiring structures like the Great Pyramid of Giza. However, with advances in science and technology, we have taken civil engineering to new heights that couldn’t even be imagined by those before us.

The industrial revolution, for one, provided us with machines like cranes that do the heavy lifting. And with software tools like Building Information Modeling (BIM), it is easier to manage construction projects.

However, these advances have severely impacted the environment. Construction machines require fossil fuel to work, thereby releasing emissions at unprecedented levels. As thousands of buildings rise every day, the earth’s natural resources are exploited.

While we cannot ramp down on making buildings and infrastructure, we as civil engineers should be more intentional in factoring in environmental considerations into our projects. In this post, we explore some of these important considerations.

Climate Considerations

Do you know that buildings take up more than 40{ffa1fb9a833dbe70b91c2563ca2a54067368c324c18ffac54b9412388222efff} of global energy usage? They also contribute to a third of greenhouse gas emissions.

While there are emissions associated with the construction phase of a project, the bulk of the emissions come from the operational phase. Think about it, buildings require energy for electricity lighting, as well as cooling and heating throughout their life.

Greenhouse gases cause climate change by trapping heat. They also contribute to respiratory disease from smog and air pollution.

As of now, the majority of these emissions come from developed countries. But with construction projects taking off at accelerating rates in developing countries, emissions level might soar.

Civil engineers need to understand how their building contributes to climate change. But more importantly, taking steps to deliver significant, long-term emissions reductions in construction projects.

Initiatives like making use of green materials over traditional ones can go a long way. For instance, using recycled materials from other construction projects can help reduce waste – which not only reduces emissions but also reduced overall costs.

Similarly, new technologies, as well as innovative methods can reduce energy consumption in buildings by up to 80{ffa1fb9a833dbe70b91c2563ca2a54067368c324c18ffac54b9412388222efff}. New buildings have to be designed to leave a minimal carbon footprint.

Energy Efficiency

Ever since we discovered how energy sources like fossil fuels can improve the quality of lives, there’s no going back to the Stone Age. Consequently, as the world population increases (especially in developing countries), the demand for more energy to sustain our lives will only go upwards.

While some might argue about the environmental-friendly nature of renewable clean energy like solar, we shouldn’t forget that fossil fuel will continue to play a crucial role, at least till the turn of the century. Therefore, we all need to be conscientious about energy usage.

Civil engineers, in particular, need to constantly think about how they can make the entire project phase as energy-efficient as possible. This starts from making sure machines, equipment, and tools are repaired and maintained. Also, using old, outdated tools and equipment lowers productivity and consumes more energy, so they should be replaced.

The lifecycle of buildings also needs to be analyzed for energy consumption. Simple changes like the position of the windows or using the right kind of bulbs can help save energy in the long run.

Long Term Sustainability

When executing a construction project, civil engineers should not only think of the present- but also the future. How will the building affect the environment over the long haul? Only methods and techniques that will pay environmental dividends for decades to come should be adopted.

As noted earlier, the majority of greenhouse emissions (up to 80{ffa1fb9a833dbe70b91c2563ca2a54067368c324c18ffac54b9412388222efff}) come from the operational phase of a building. Simple operational designs like choosing when the light and air conditioners come on and off can help reduce CO2 emissions.

What’s more, older buildings can be retrofitted for today’s environmental considerations, so they become sustainable. Countless generations lie ahead of us and it is crucial we make use of the resources we have to meet our building needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.

Governments have a role to play.

Left alone, unscrupulous civil engineering firms will continue to create environmentally unfriendly buildings as long as it maximizes profit for them in the short term.

Governments have to ensure that as a society, we are working towards a better future with a lower overall impact on the environment. New buildings, for one, have to meet this future that we envision.

That’s why governments of countries around the world have to introduce credible, achievable, and measurable energy performance standards and targets in the construction industry. But more importantly, training should be provided for technicians, so they’re better equipped to assess the energy performance of buildings.

Easily enforceable laws must also be put in place to ensure that those that willfully disobey them are prosecuted.

Contact us today for more information and to ask any other questions you may have.


The Growing Importance of BIM in Civil Engineering

BIMWhile Building Information Modeling (BIM) might sound like a relatively new industry buzzword, the idea for BIM dates back to 1975. Through its evolution over the last 45 years, BIM has gained significant relevance in the construction industry. What’s more, it’s projected to gain even greater dominance in the future.

In this post, we briefly examine what BIM is all about. But more importantly, we explore some of the ever-increasing importance of BIM in the field of civil engineering.

What is BIM?

According to Autodesk, BIM is an intelligent 3D model-based process that gives architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) professionals the insights and tools to more efficiently plan, design, construct and manage buildings and infrastructure.

But when we delve into the nitty-gritty, BIM can be understood in two ways: either as software or as a process.

As software, BIM software helps in creating precise virtual 3D models of structures that show the components in a construction project. This includes obvious features like the building’s geometry and spatial relationship. But more than that, it is also used to gain insight into the materials needed, cost estimates, project schedules, and sustainability. And as the project proceeds, information updated to the system are available in real-time to all the parties involved.

As a process, BIM is focused on optimizing the workflow of the entire team, which includes AEC professionals, as well management. When different departments work cohesively, efficiency is improved while waste is drastically cut down.

What’s more, the centralized availability of information about the construction project makes it possible to give and receive feedback in real-time, thereby ensuring everyone is kept in the loop.

How BIM is Transforming Civil Engineering

Here are some of the ways BIM is helping civil engineers with the design and development of construction projects:

  • Visualization and Troubleshooting

To be fair, BIM isn’t the first visualization tool available to civil engineers, but it takes visualization to a whole new level. By creating accurate 3D models, it is possible to tell how the project will look upon completion even before laying a single brick.

But more importantly, these models can be inspected to look for structural faults that may compromise the building in the future. For instance, during the execution of the Eastside Tunnel project, BIM tools were used to generate existing conditions models. And guess what? Over 800 serious issues were uncovered from the model.

Catching potential problems on time improves efficiency in terms of costs, time, and energy.

  • Cost Estimation

Costing has always been an integral part of civil engineering right from the earliest civilization. However, providing spot-on cost estimates is a difficult endeavor.

But BIM is up to the task. Since BIM tools create pretty reliable models, cost estimates that are based on these models tend to be quite accurate.

What’s more interesting is that the entire process is automated. What this means is that if the model is updated, the cost estimate for the project gets updated automatically. A veritable time saver!

  • Comparing Different Solutions

Any building project can be designed and executed in an infinite number of ways. For sure, some designs, methods, and processes will be better suited than others. Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a way to compare different options so the best can be chosen? BIM makes that possible. By adjusting building parameters, civil engineers can see the overall impact changes can have on the building.

For instance, by changing the construction decisions in the preliminary design phase of the Istanbul Metropolitan project, the 18-month construction time was reduced to 8.5 months.

  • Lifetime Maintenance

BIM isn’t only relevant to the design and execution phase of a project. It is also relevant to the operation and maintenance of the building because it contains all the relevant information associated with it – ranging from materials to cost estimates and more. This makes it possible to track the performance of a building.

  • Project Coordination

Every civil engineering project requires hundreds, if not thousands, of professionals that must work hand in hand to attain the final result. As noted earlier, BIM makes it easier to coordinate the different departments involved in a project. What’s more, since information about the project is centrally stored in the cloud, project members can readily access information. All this leads to massive savings in costs and time.

A notable example is the InterCity Sorli-Brumunddal project. BIM workflow was used to cut the traditional construction time by up to 30{ffa1fb9a833dbe70b91c2563ca2a54067368c324c18ffac54b9412388222efff}.

Wrap Up

As you can see, BIM is a game-changer throughout the entire construction industry. It significantly simplifies the design, execution, and maintenance of construction projects. Based on a recent survey, over 82{ffa1fb9a833dbe70b91c2563ca2a54067368c324c18ffac54b9412388222efff} of respondents said that BIM had improved the overall efficiency of their companies. With several undeniable benefits, BIM is here to stay.

Have more questions? Feel free to reach out to us here today for more information. We look forward to hearing from you.


How Landscape Architecture can Boost Overall Health and Well Being

Landscape architectureHave you ever wondered why you feel a deep sense of calm when you walk along the pathway in a forest? Or why you feel so much ease in your soul as you watch the ocean waves roll on a beach? Or why you feel Mother Nature’s strong call when you see birds soaring in the sky and singing beautiful songs at dawn? No one would argue that we have an innate desire to connect with nature as humans, even in ways we don’t fully understand.

According to Wikipedia, landscape architecture aims to design outdoor areas, landmarks, and structures to achieve environmental, social-behavioral, or aesthetic outcomes. In this post, we explore how carefully designed outdoor spaces can help boost our overall well-being.

Green Spaces Provide Access to Nature.

With the rapid urbanization of many places, the need for accessible green spaces is greater than ever. Several studies have shown that access to the natural environment in people’s daily routines is effective for general mental health, reducing stress and depression, and improving mood and cognitive functions.

That’s why green spaces should be incorporated in all designs. Simple features like street trees and flower commute is a great way for inhabitants to connect with nature. Having a garden in your yard can serve help you distance yourself from everyday hectic demands. All this will have a positive impact on your mental health.

Fostering Exercise

The benefits of exercising are well-established in the academic literature. Exercise is known to release positive brain chemicals like serotonin, which is associated with improved mood. Exercise is also known to provide relaxation, reduce stress, and improve sleep, all of which are important for improved mental health. And even though no one will argue with its immense benefits, many people find it hard to stay consistent.

However, a well-designed landscape can help improve people’s attitude towards exercising. Increased safe walkability and bike-ability with protected lanes and convenient connections between different parts of the city will encourage more walking and cycling. Furthermore, proactively designed centers like football pitches and outdoor gyms will make it easier for people to exercise.

Encouraging Positive Social Interactions

Humans are a social species – meaning we have to form bonds with other people to maintain our sanity. Hence, positive social interactions are important for our mental health. Also, having relationships with others give us a sense of community which can help boost self-esteem, empathy, and self-confidence. It also gives us a support system.

Landscape architecture pro-actively aims to design outdoor spaces in such a way as to improve social interactions. The most obvious example is public parks. Asides from serving as great relaxation centers, they also provide a platform where residents can easily interact with each other in an informal setting. Other innovative tactics can be used to foster this interaction. For instance, chess tables installed in parks give people a reason to interact. Lesser obvious features like compact, walkable neighborhoods also promote daily interactions.

Intelligent landscape architecture can help us satisfy our innate need for connection with others.

Improved Health

Several studies have been carried out to show how landscape architecture can help promote physical health. In this section, we briefly explore some of them.

  • Type II Diabetes

A Japanese study published in the US National Library of Medicine indicated that walking 3 km a day can help improve symptoms of diabetes by reducing glucose levels by up to 40 percent. As indicated earlier, landscape architects can help diabetic patients by creating walking trails in parks.

  • Attention Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

A study carried out by the University of Illinois Urbana showed that children playing in green outdoor spaces were able to concentrate more than those who played indoors. Landscape architects are responsible for designing green outdoor spaces. And with over 6 million children with ADHD in the United States, landscape architecture does a lot of good.

  • Depression

A report by the National Center for Biotechnological Information showed that interaction with nature could help improve depression. For reasons that are not yet fully understood, interacting with nature improves mood and even memory capacity. Public parks offer a great platform for people to interact with nature – especially those in urban centers where natural habitats are scarce.

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event – either experiencing it or witnessing it. Common symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts of the event. Thankfully, nature can immensely help in the healing process. Therapeutic landscape designers are building gardens that can help PTSD patients recover, among many other ideas they’re exploring.

Wrap Up

Landscape architecture plays a crucial role in our world today. And even as our civilization further advances, we will continue to need landscape architects to help us maintain our bond with nature, which is necessary for our well-being.

Contact us here today for more information.


The Future of Land Surveying

The future of land surveyingLand surveying plays an important role in land development. No wonder it’s been around for a very long time. In ancient Egypt, ‘rope stretchers’ were surveyors that used knotted stretched cords to measure property demarcations. Thankfully, we’re now long past that point.

The ‘Total Station’ theodolite, introduced in 1971, revolutionized the way land surveyors measured distance, elevations, and angles. And until today, they are an essential tool in a land surveyor’s kit.

Over the last two decades, advances in robotics and computerized data collection have further transformed the field. In this post, we look at some of the current trends that will immensely impact the future of land surveying.

Usage of UAV

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were once only associated with military applications. But thanks to technological advances, their inhibiting costs have been dramatically reduced. Consequently, they’re finding applications in many other sectors, including land surveying.

Drones have several advantages over both terrestrial surveying teams and manned aircraft. Some of which include:

1) Faster: a drone covers a far larger land area in a shorter time.

2) Accessing difficult terrains: Crossing some terrain put personnel at a safety risk. With a drone, such areas can be surveyed without risking the safety of anyone.

3) Robust data collection: Drones can be used to collect a wide range of data. Some of which include 2D and 3D orthomosaic maps, 3D models, thermal maps, multispectral maps, and more.

4) Better integration with software: Drone data can easily be integrated with CAD software to build models for land development.

With this greater precision, reduced cost, and better efficiency, UAVs will only increase in adoption.

Mobile 3D Mapping

Through the combination of advanced imagery, sophisticated measurement tools, and several mobile transportation platforms, Mobile 3D Mapping enables land surveyors to visualize, record, measure, and understand surrounding terrain.

The flexibility it offers is a massive time saver. What’s more, mobile 3D mapping removes the need for cumbersome equipment when collecting geospatial data. Versatile tools, handheld devices, and more makes it easier for land surveyors to collect and process data in real-time.

UAVs are a prime example of mobile 3D mapping, making it easy to collect geospatial data even without any personnel present.

What’s more, the tremendous amount of money pouring into the Mobile 3D mapping space will improve sensors, vehicle connectivity, and onboard processing. Ultimately leading to the proliferation of millions of mobile 3D mapping units worldwide that will provide abundant spatial information.

Data accessibility via LiDAR

LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging. It is a form of 3D scanning that has been around since the 1960s and has for a long time be used to collect detailed 3D survey information about the earth’s physical characteristics.

LiDAR maps are typically gotten by attaching laser scanners to airplanes and helicopters to survey large areas of land. Other types of LiDAR include terrestrial (which maps topographical ground measurements) and Bathymetric LiDAR (which measures elevation in seafloors and riverbeds).

LiDAR has a wide range of applications, including agriculture, archeology, atmosphere, astronomy, and even physics – thanks to its ability to offer real-time point clouds. To cite an example of LiDAR’s application in archeology, it was used to rediscover the lost city of Mahendraparvata in the Cambodian mountains.

Although LiDAR is still expensive and reserved for only sophisticated land surveying projects, future trends show that the cost will reduce. When that happens, LiDAR will become more common in survey projects.

Cloud Storage

Scanning technologies are becoming more sophisticated in the last few years. Consequently, data is produced at an unprecedented rate. For the average surveying company, managing this data through its in-house IT infrastructure is becoming burdensome. On-site data storage is very expensive to scale.

That’s why many companies have been turning to cloud storage. Cloud storage facilities are owned by third parties that focus solely on protecting the integrity of their client’s data, thereby removing the burden of data protection from surveying companies. Hence, they can focus on what matters. This also helps to save costs on building new in-house IT infrastructure.

Also, cloud storage allows for better collaboration and efficiency. Data need not be needlessly replicated as they can be accessed from a single source. And since there’s centralized data storage, involved parties – including contractors, engineers, surveyors, and other stakeholders – can easily access field data like scans irrespective of their locations, making collaboration easier than ever.

Wrap Up

These are exciting times in the field of land surveying – thanks to a litany of technologies, from drones to robotics to LiDAR, that are enhancing land surveying processes. Artificial intelligence (AI) is another new technology that will take over a large chunk of tasks undertaken by surveyors in the future. The future for land surveying seems bright, but only time will tell what turn it takes.

If you’re looking for more information regarding land surveying, please reach out to us HERE today. We look forward to assisting you in any way possible.


Tips for Hiring the Right Civil Engineering Firm

Tips for Hiring the Right Civil Engineering FirmCivil engineering has always been at the heart of humanity itself. Arguably the oldest engineering profession, our ancestors applied civil engineering principles to place a roof over their heads. Structures of early civilization like the Great Pyramid of Giza or the Great Wall of China were possible – thanks to civil engineering.

Even today, civil engineering still plays a crucial role in our civilization. From residential subdivisions to water distribution systems to stormwater drainage systems to bridges to roads to airports and more, these structures that make our lives better would be impossible without civil engineers!

But like in all professions, neither civil engineers nor civil engineering firms are created equal. To attain optimal results in any civil engineering project, you must work with the right people with the necessary expertise who will effectively plan, manage, develop and maintain your construction project. In this post, we explore some of the things to bear in mind, so you only work with the best!

  • Talk to people in the know.

When it comes to finding quality services, word-of-mouth is still one of the best ways. Ask people – like building inspectors – who have experience working with contractors, either by using them in the past or working side by side with them.

  • Choose a company with experience with a project similar to yours

Civil engineering is a broad field consisting of subdivisions like coastal engineering, transport engineering, construction engineering, structural engineering, environmental engineering, water resources engineering, and more.

While many civil engineering companies offer a wide range of these services, it’s usually best to choose one specializing in the field that your project entails. Even better if you can find a company that’s worked on a project very similar to yours. But why is that? Their prior experience will make it more likely for them to anticipate snags that may arise.

  • Select a firm with excellent land-use knowledge.

A thorough understanding of land-use is a prerequisite to be considered a good civil engineer. Land use and land management practices have a crucial impact on natural resources, including soil, water, nutrients, plants, animals, and more.

Aside from erecting the structure, it must also be well integrated with the surrounding in terms of sustainability and aesthetics. A good civil engineer should be able to study your land, visualize your project and determine the best way your land can be put to use to realize the project.

  • Check for reviews and certifications.

Before hiring a civil engineering firm, make sure you do a background check on the company. A crucial part of that is asking for references. Thanks to the internet, you can promptly get reviews of a company through a simple Google Search. If other customers are raving about how good they are, then you know you’re in good hands. If not, then you know to look for another firm to work with.

Civil engineering firms require certifications depending on the services they render. You must ensure the company you work with is certified to execute your kind of project. That way, you’ll never make the mistake of working with subpar professionals.

  • Verify their insurance

Since civil engineering projects tend to be quite extensive, any serious form of damage may cost you several thousands of dollars. This is even more likely if your project is executed improperly. That’s why it’s important to ensure that the firm you choose has insurance.

Ensure you go through their policy and confirm their coverage limits. That way, you know who is liable for what if anything goes wrong. While most construction companies are required by law to hold an insurance policy, it’s important to verify their credibility and limits.

  • Price should not be the sole determining factor.

When looking for a civil engineering firm to work with, most people check out multiple companies to find out the best deal. While this is a good approach, you mustn’t base your selection solely on price.

If a company is offering a ridiculously low price, chances are you might not be satisfied with the delivery. Therefore, actively look for loopholes in such deals. Furthermore, some companies use underbidding as a strategy to secure the contract, after which you realize their bid didn’t cover the entire scope of the project. This means you’ll have to make more in the long run. Make sure you do your homework to evade such tricks.

Wrap Up

Whether you’re looking for a company to assist with land planning or designing a drainage system, you must take your time to find one that’s perfectly suited for your needs. By following these tips, you’re one step closer to finding the right civil engineering firm for your project!

Ensuring that you partner with a knowledgeable team of civil engineering experts is vital to the success of your project implementations. Reach out to us here today for more information. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!


The Future of Civil Engineering

Civil Engineers UtahAs one of the oldest engineering professions, civil engineering has been a major force in the advancement of human civilization. From the Great Pyramid of Giza to the Roman aqueduct, the ingenuity of civil engineers is made apparent through intricate planning and impressive execution. Even today, we rely on civil engineers for the design and construction of buildings, bridges, roads, and other large-scale structures with unparalleled sophistication. That’s why structures like the Burj Khalifa and the Golden Gate Bridge are a reality.

Over the past two decades, new technologies, including artificial intelligence and nanotechnology are reshaping several fields. In this post, we explore how these new technologies and concepts will shape the future of civil engineering.

  • Transportation of the Future

Transport engineering is a branch of civil engineering involved with the design and construction of structures to aid the movement of people and goods. These structures include roads, bridges, and canals, among many others.

In the last decade, exciting modes of transportation are being made a reality. These include the concepts of electric vehicles and self-driving vehicles. The Nissan Leaf currently holds the world record for a self-navigating, covering a distance of 230 miles. With the widespread adoption of these autonomous vehicles, we would have to rethink our highways.

To cater to the increasing number of electric vehicles, the number of charging stations will also need to increase. Civil engineers will be needed to figure out smart ways to incorporate these new needs into the current transport infrastructure.

However, some new transport technologies will require civil engineers to come up with new designs, the likes of which have never been seen before. For instance, the Hyperloop, as proposed by Tesla and SpaceX, will involve the construction of low-pressure long tubes capable of transporting pods at speeds up to 760 mph. Civil engineering will play a key role in making this a reality.

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The word “AI” gets thrown around so often that it might sound banal to someone unaware of the full extent of its capabilities. In simple terms, artificial intelligence is concerned with building smart machines capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence. How cool does that sound?

AI has been applied to chatbot technology, healthcare, sports betting, and many other fields. In civil engineering, AI methods have been extensively used in construction management, building materials, hydraulic optimization, transportation engineering, and geotechnical engineering.

As we accumulate more data, engineers can better train AI models to perform these tasks with ever-increasing sophistication. What this means is that many professional tasks that usually require human engineers to make crucial decisions can now be automated. What we anticipate is a great improvement in the speed of project delivery, as well as a drastic reduction in cost and human labor.

  • High-Tech Revolution in Structural Engineering

Structural engineering is a subfield of civil engineering concerned with the strength and stability of buildings, bridges, and other structures. Structural engineering helps to outline the behavior of individual structural members and the most suitable geometries and material requirements for them.

Computer modeling harnessing AI allows for the development of complex structures with minimal human input. Cloud computing makes it possible to make enormous calculations in real-time. Tasks that traditionally took structural engineers weeks to complete can now be done within minutes.

A good example of the application of these technologies was in the construction of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building at 828 m. Through computer simulation and modeling, engineers could create several iterations with different materials to come up with a final design optimized for minimal wind loads and materials.

  • Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is concerned with the building of materials and devices on the scale of atoms or molecules. Nanotechnology has a wide range of applications, from improving fuel production efficiency to the use of carbon nanotubes for smaller and more efficient microchips.

The field of civil engineering isn’t excluded. Nanomaterials like nano-silica, nano clays, and nano iron particles are incorporated into concrete to improve its pore structure. This also helps to improve concrete’s early stage strength. Copper nanoparticles are used in steel beam production to reduce roughness, corrosion, and fatigue.

  • Sustainable Design

Human actions over the last 250 years have accelerated ozone layer depletion, resulting in global warming and climate change. That’s why over the past few decades, we have been taken conscientious actions to incorporate sustainability into everything we do.

The future of civil engineering is not merely to build – but rather, to do it with the utmost care and consideration for the natural environment. This not only involves the incorporation of green energy, but the incorporation of sustainable planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of infrastructure.

Wrap Up

The buildings and structures of the future will boast better precision and efficiency – some of which will look like nothing we’ve seen before. Civil engineers will play a crucial role in making it a reality. But more importantly, civil engineers will act as stewards of the environment in design and construction processes.

Contact us here today for more information!