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Top 3 Qualities to Expect from a Quality Design-Build Contractor

As water/wastewater projects continue to increase in complexity, collaborative-delivery methods for project execution are becoming increasingly favored among clients. As this shift gains momentum, clients need to be able to trust that their design-build contractor will help them realize the benefits of the collaborative-delivery approach throughout the life of the project. The list below outlines several key qualities a water/wastewater client should expect from their design-build contractor.

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Topics: Best Value, Collaborative Delivery, Kiewit.

Collaborative Project Delivery in Action: The Altoona Water Authority

Rendering of the new anaerobic digestion complex at the Altoona Water Authority’s Westerly facility in Altoona, Pennsylvania

Beyond simply being an alternative to the traditional design-bid-build method, collaborative project delivery offers wastewater utilities and authorities several benefits. Two of the most salient benefits of collaborative delivery are the flexibility it allows during the project development process and the performance guarantee it provides. The Altoona Water Authority’s (AWA) Water Resource Recovery Facility project with Energy Systems Group, LLC (ESG) is a recent example of a utility using the collaborative approach to address its long-term operational, environmental, infrastructure, technology, and financial needs through a single solicitation.

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Topics: Collaborative Delivery, ESG (Energy Systems Group).

Is Design-Build Right for Your Smaller Project?

Design-build has become the fastest-growing delivery method in the water/wastewater industry across the nation. Cost certainty and accelerated schedules have encouraged most states to embrace the design-build model. In the current market, large-scale design-build projects receive most of the headlines, but design-build can be a perfect fit for your small-scale projects.

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Topics: Collaborative Delivery, Design-Build, Garney.

Innovative Technologies Play Key Role in Gaining Winning Advantage in Competitive Collaborative-Delivery Projects

The word “innovative” is talked about a lot in the water and wastewater industry, but as an industry we have been slow to accept technology innovation. I have been in the industry for 30+ years and participated in several industry efforts with WEF, AWWA, NSF, and EPA—like the EPA’s Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) program, WEF’s LIFT program, etc.—to increase the use of innovative and new technologies. These programs typically test the equipment through a range of conditions and a report is written on the testing. Testing the full range of conditions that technologies might experience is virtually impossible in the water and wastewater industry since the influent conditions are constantly changing. The major difficulty in gaining the acceptance of new, innovative technologies has involved state-by-state regulatory approval, with some engineering firms and utilities not wanting to be early adopters due to the believed risk of failure and local bidding requirements.

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Topics: Aqua-Aerobic Systems, Collaborative Delivery, Technology.

Addressing Critical Water Infrastructure Needs in Uncertain Times

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the continued development of critical infrastructure, creating growing uncertainty concerning financing opportunities and project delivery. The water industry has not escaped this reality, and for municipalities that already struggle to find financing opportunities the situation is more dire. Due to a reduction in commercial water use throughout 2020, the water industry faces more than $13 billion in annualized revenue losses across the U.S. This is forcing municipalities that would normally finance critical infrastructure projects through more traditional bond measures to look for new avenues to deliver necessary infrastructure upgrades.

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Topics: Burns & McDonnell, Collaborative Delivery, CWSRF, Design-Build.

Dispute Boards on Water/Wastewater Projects? Why Not?

I have always been perplexed as to why dispute boards are so rarely used on water/wastewater projects. They enjoy a long history of successful use on transportation projects – particularly tunneling projects and big-dollar design-build projects. Most transportation owners find dispute boards helpful, and it is clear that they provide the parties with a vehicle to get real-time resolution of project challenges. But it seems that water/wastewater owners and owner advisors don’t even give a thought (let alone a second thought) to considering the use of a dispute board when they put together their contracting approach for a non-tunneling project. And why haven’t design-build teams pushed owners to use them on complicated, big-dollar design-build water/wastewater projects, as their counterparts in the transportation industry have done?

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Topics: Dispute Board, Water Design-Build Project.

Allure of the Industry – Is It (Still) There?

Tower cranes flying materials for a high-rise in the downtown skyline. Excavators and loaders moving dirt and installing pipe along the side of the road. Bridges flying over a freeway one berm at a time. What is it that attracts people to the architecture/engineering/construction industry? Is it seeing those construction projects in action? If so, what aspects of that work entice someone to think about making that a career? At what age do those scenes resonate enough for someone to even start daydreaming about the industry?

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Topics: Flatiron, Technology.

How Do You Decide the Best Project Delivery Approach?

Most major construction projects in the water and wastewater industry have conventionally been delivered through a design-bid-build (DBB) method of delivery. However, collaborative project delivery (CPD) methods are being considered more frequently in the public sector because they can provide a variety of benefits over traditional delivery methods such as time and/or cost savings. It is important to recognize that these benefits sometimes come with trade-offs, such as reduced control or change in risk, so the pros and cons of each CPD method need to be weighed.

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Topics: CMAR, Collaborative Delivery, Design-Build, Stantec.

Remember the Yugo!1

Remember the Yugo? Wikipedia reminds us that you could buy one of these imported cars brand new for $3,990 in 1987.2 That’s about $9,1003 in 2020 dollars — about a third less than the least expensive new car that you can actually buy today (which, according to Automobile Magazine, is a 2020 Chevrolet Spark LS for $14,395,4 if you happen to be in the market). A thirty-plus percent discount isn’t bad for a brand new car — it sounds like a great deal! Wouldn’t it be great if local governments and utilities paid as much attention to the competitive market? Wouldn’t ratepayers benefit from responsible budget management, competitive pricing, and efficiency?

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Topics: Best Practices, Best Value, Brown and Caldwell, Collaborative Delivery.

Best Practices for Accelerating a Design-Build Project Schedule

Compared to the traditional design-bid-build method, design-build delivery can accelerate design and construction schedules by 20% to 30%. Many cities and counties have implemented new fast-tracked permitting review processes to reduce the turnaround time for issuing permits, which are critical to maintaining the construction schedule.

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Topics: Design-Build, PCL.