Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Celebrating 45 Years of Earth Day

The official Earth Day celebration began as a demonstration in the United States on April 22, 1970.  It has grown worldwide and has gotten bigger every year. A few things happening around the globe this Earth Day include:
  1. Clean up around the Great Wall of China. Volunteers will be collecting litter left by hikers and campers.
  2. Students will plant over a hundred Ghat trees in Dubai.
  3. Corporate employees from Tokio Millennium Bermuda will team up with children at a Primary school to plant a butterfly garden, paint an inspiration mural and provide litter clean up.
  4. The Rainforest Trust plans to protect 25,000 acres of rainforest in Sumatra to protect the Sumatran Tiger.
  5. Bolivia holds a Mother Earth Festival

If there is not an Earth Day activity in your area, here are a few ideas of things that you can do on your own or in your community.
  1. Take a hike or go bike riding 
  2. Grow a garden
  3. Get a home energy audit
  4. Donate clothes to charity
  5. Write a letter to your senator
  6. Volunteer at an environmental organization
  7. Go paperless
  8. Turn off the tap
  9. Recycle
  10. Make Earth Day Everyday

These ideas can be enjoyed all year and we hope you celebrate Earth Day today and every day.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

National Architecture Week

In the spirit of celebrating National Architecture Week #ArchWeek2015, we tip our hats to the devoted designers of GBA. This group truly embraces GBA’s core purpose, creating remarkable solutions for a higher quality of life, particularly for the Life Sciences and Critical Facility industries. Whether it’s designing a cleanroom for the latest pharma or biotech advancement or space planning for a mobile switch center, our experts enjoy the challenge of highly specialized and complex regulatory environments.

Rather than just talk about their greatness, we asked why they chose to direct their awesomeness to architecture.

Architecture is a combination of art and science; I chose to become an architect because I enjoy the aspects of design combined with problem solving.” – Victor K.

“I liked art and math so I thought architecture was a good option.  Growing up I would look at house plan magazines and change the designs.” – Leah M.

“I chose to be an architect to be a creative contributor in a client’s growth process, a practical artist who really likes math.” – Michelle C.

“I chose to be an Architect in the 2nd grade because I wanted to create better environments for people to live in and more importantly due to Mike Brady.” – Brian S.

“My dad thought it was my natural calling, a good blend of art and science. In high school, he had me job shadow our neighbor who is a successful Kansas City architect. Plus, he didn’t think I was cut out for the family business, law enforcement. I come from a long line of police officers. Honestly, I can’t see myself doing anything other than architecture. I think it was a perfect fit for me and am grateful my father introduced me to the profession.” – Molly O.

“My mom and dad made me.” – Craig R.

“In third grade I dressed up as an Architect for a class assignment on who we wanted to be when we grew up, from then on that’s what I have always wanted to be.” – Micala M.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Traffic Group Restructuring

With the impending retirement of longtime principal and vice president Paul Bertrand, P.E., PTOE, GBA’s Traffic Group has been restructured.
As of April 2, heading up the group is Mandy Anderson, P.E., PTOE. In addition to being the Traffic Group Leader, she is also the lead for traffic modeling. Her new responsibilities include staffing, business development, strategic planning, simulation modeling (VISSIM, Synchro, SimTraffic) and travel demand modeling (VISUM, TransCAD). Mandy has a degree in civil engineering from Iowa State and a master’s in business administration from Baker University.

Dave Mennenga, P.E., PTOE, is now the group’s technical lead for studies, including traffic impact studies and access justification reports (AJRs). Mark Stuempel, P.E., PTOE, and Janelle Clayton, P.E., PTOE, will share design leadership responsibilities. Mark’s and Janelle’s duties include noise studies, signal design, traffic control design, lighting design and permanent signing design.

“This is an exciting time for our entire group,” Mandy says. “Everyone has opportunities to take on new responsibilities and stretch into new roles.”

Under Paul, GBA’s traffic group has grown to eleven engineers and technicians, and has served various municipalities, counties and DOTs in Kansas, Missouri and other areas across the Midwest. Paul has been with GBA since 1987 and has been a traffic engineer since 1971. He will retire at the end of 2015.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Little Mill Creek Park Wins ASCE Award

GBA, along with City of Lenexa and Johnson County Wastewater, were awarded the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Civil Engineering Project of the Year Award for the Little Mill Creek Restoration and Sanitary Sewer Improvements project located in Lenexa, KS. The award was the first to be given by ASCE to recognize the important contributions that are provided through civil engineering projects. 

The project included sanitary sewer protection, stream restoration, water quality enhancements and park improvements in Little Mill Creek Park. Stream restoration included increased sinuosity, stream bank erosion mitigation, added stream length, grade controls, flood benches, and energy pools in stream, and stormwater treatment cells were added on small tributary channels where they entered the main stream on the project. 

Paul Miller, GBA’s project manager, worked closely with the City and Johnson County Wastewater, to accomplish the goals of the project including improved infrastructure sustainability, improved water quality and park safety. 

The project demonstrated civil engineering excellence by utilizing shared financial and labor resources of both the City of Lenexa and Johnson County Wastewater to meet common public welfare goals in a responsible and sustainable fashion. Congratulations to everyone involved in the award-winning project!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day

We hope you have a safe and fun St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Noise Studies and Mower Man

Have you ever been relaxing in your backyard, enjoying the warm sunshine of the spring day, listening to the chirping of birds, admiring the new buds on the trees and—BAM—your tranquil oasis has been invaded by your neighbor, aka, the Mower Man?

You know the guy—he mows the lawn at least twice a week, whether it needs it or not, and seems to time his noisy yard maintenance perfectly with your personal enjoyment of your usually serene outdoor sanctuary.

If you’re mad, you’re totally right to be: the noise created by Mower Man’s lawn ritual is roughly equal decibel-wise to the amount deemed loud enough by Federal law to negatively affect quality of life.

Ouch, right? Though those laws aren’t in place to imprison Mower Man (darn), they are there for a reason much more frustrating to outdoor serenity than poorly timed lawn maintenance: highway noise.

If you live next to a highway, your backyard might see the equivalent of Mower Man 365 days per year. So loud, in fact, that if you were sitting on your deck during peak hours, trying to have a nice after dinner conversation with friends, you would struggle to hear each other.

You’ve got to admit, that’s way more annoying than Mower Man.

Which is exactly why those laws—including two key Federal ones—are in place. And those laws lead to noise studies. These studies are completed by qualified engineers like those at GBA—our engineers are recognized by the Missouri Department of Transportation and others as experts in Traffic Noise analysis.

When conducting these noise studies, engineers collect existing data in the study area like topography, surrounding land use (homes, schools, commercial property), traffic information (volume, speeds, types of vehicles) and existing noise. After existing data is collected, future noise levels are predicted and impacts are evaluated. If the noise is deemed excessive, abatement options would be identified and could be recommended for implementation. 

If your backyard is included in the area determined to be impacted by excessive highway traffic noise, there are a variety of ways it can be shielded, but the most effective tend to be noise walls and berms.

They can’t do anything about Mower Man and his habits, but if you’ve got more on your plate than his John Deere, they might just return your backyard to Zen-level peacefulness.

Monday, March 2, 2015

10 Years of Autodesk Civil 3D!

Nearly ten years ago, GBA made the investment to become an early adopter of Autodesk Civil 3D. This software took the civil engineering deliverables from 2D designs on paper to 3D models in the computer. Once a 3D model is created, any data referenced from it is instantly calculated. If the model is refined or changed, the same data updates automatically. Once completed, these models can be shared with contractors for use in machine controlled earthmoving equipment or for quantity take-offs.  

Being an early adopter was not easy. Our in-house Civil 3D project team worked with consultants to develop standards and processes for the new software. We frequently found ourselves in meetings with software engineers who had flown across the U.S. to meet with us to evaluate the software performance in the real world. 

The transition to 3D modeling software saved significant time on tasks like earthwork calculations - operations that once took several hours of computer processing now take mere minutes. Additionally, we have an ability to run design scenarios for projects while seeking to reduce overall development and construction costs. Most importantly, referencing data from a completed 3D model results in fewer errors in design documents translating to fewer delays during construction. 

We have continued our investment by sending key team members to attend Autodesk University (AU) each year. AU is a gathering of engineers, designers and technology teams that teach, share and learn about Autodesk products. By providing our team members with opportunities to learn and engage with their peers, we believe they will be best equipped to serve clients with innovative solutions.

In a design world where 3D modeling has become common place, GBA is positioned as a leader in the application of design technologies. You can read about GBA’s early adoption efforts in an Autodesk Whitepaper titled “Implementing AutoCAD Civil 3D: Three Case Studies” at this link.