Category Archives: Events Attended

Pare Gets Resilient!

Pare’s Ryan McCoy Presents at the ASCE COPRI Coastal Structures Conference in Boston

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From September 9-11, 2015, Ryan McCoy, a project engineer with Pare’s Waterfront/Marine team and co-chair of the Pare Climate Change Committee (PC3), attended a 3-day conference in Boston, Massachusetts hosted by ASCE-COPRI (Coasts, Oceans, Ports, and Rivers Institute). The “Coastal Structures and Solutions to Coastal Disasters Joint Conference” highlighted resilient coastal communities focusing on coastal protection and the vulnerability of the coastal infrastructure to coastal storms. In addition to attending technical sessions with topics ranging from coastal storms and flood mapping to tsunami response and protection to climate change and sea level rise, Ryan presented on day 2 at the conference’s poster session. Ryan discussed the Salisbury Tide Gate project, highlighting the resiliency of the structure which was designed by Pare with construction completed in 2014.

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Oxford dictionary defines Resilient as “able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.”   The Salisbury Tide Gate project exemplifies the resiliency that is required when future sea level rise and the intensity of coastal storms are unknown. Pare reviewed available data including FEMA flood maps which indicated a 100-year flood elevation several feet above the embankment’s crest. In lieu of raising the crest elevation of the entire embankment (over 1 mile long), Pare incorporated resiliency into the embankment and tide gate design by allowing the site to be overtopped during significant storm events. Pare’s engineers designed the structure to be reliable and robust in order to preserve the structural integrity and water control required for post-storm recovery.

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The reconstruction of the site included the reconstruction of the embankment, replacement of the single culvert with twin culverts, and the installation of new tide gates. In order to make the site resilient, the new design included the installation of a steel sheet pile core wall driven to effectively eliminate seepage through the embankment, installation of armor stone on both sides of the embankment to reduce the effects of erosion potentially caused by flood waters, setup of remote water level sensors upstream and downstream of the embankment to alert DPW employees to rising flood waters, and new tide gates designed as combination sluice/flap gates to provide additional water level control during predicted flood events. In addition to these hard and fast solutions, proper tidal exchange and flushing of the sensitive salt marsh was reestablished, which restored the health of the resource area and provided a natural buffer during storm events.

These types of design considerations are going to be required as coastal communities look to improve public or private infrastructure across the country. Pare’s Climate Change Committee has worked diligently to understand the effects that climate change may have on future projects and the civil engineering industry as a whole. By remaining current with the science and policy of climate change, PC3 and Pare will provide our Clients with knowledgeable recommendations to mitigate the potential impacts of climate change through resilient design that is adaptable to a dynamic environment.

Blackstone Valley Prep Opens 4th School in 4 Years

On November 20th, Pare Corporation celebrated the ribbon cutting and grand opening of the newly-constructed Blackstone Valley Prep Elementary School 2 (BVPES2), located at 52 Broad St. in Cumberland, RI.  BVPES2 is the fourth Blackstone Valley Prep Academy that has opened in Rhode Island within the past four years, and the program is expected to grow to seven charter schools by 2017.  Blackstone Valley Prep charter schools offer a high-quality public school option to families of Central Falls, Cumberland, Lincoln and Pawtucket, Rhode Island.  Students are admitted via a lottery system.  Pare provided site/civil design, structural engineering, geotechnical engineering, traffic/transportation engineering, and environmental services and permitting for the school.

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Students stand with Blackstone Valley Prep administrators and trustees to cut ribbon.

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A view of the newly constructed BVPES2 building.

This project was developed by Civic Builders, a non-profit organization operating from headquarters in New York City.  Since 2002, Civic Builders has made a large impact on the charter school movement on a national level.  Their organization aims to provide development responsibilities–such as financing, design and construction–to build or renovate inspiring schools in under-served neighborhoods.  As described on the Civic Builders website, “Our schools give under-served students—82% of whom live in poverty and 90% of whom are minorities—the opportunity to excel.”  Civic Builders partners with small independent charter schools as well as large charter school networks.  Projects range from renovations of existing facilities to new construction, like the Blackstone Valley Prep Elementary School 2.  Civic Builders’ CEO, David Umansky, attended the ribbon cutting ceremony, and spoke to students, faculty and guests about Civic Builders and the opportunities their mission strives to make possible.

David Umansky - CEO Civic Builders

David Umansky, Civic Builders CEO, speaks to guests at ribbon cutting ceremony.

Charter Schools are currently on the rise in Rhode Island.  There are currently 25 charter schools in Rhode Island, and many of these charter school networks, including Blackstone Valley Prep, intend to expand in the coming years.  In 2014 there were 1,935 applications for Blackstone Valley Prep Elementary School 2 and only 185 open seats.  Students, which Blackstone Valley Prep refers to as scholars, complete an eight-hour school day that includes extra attention to the arts, and a focus on career and college readiness.

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BVPES2 students perform for guests at the ribbon cutting ceremony in their new dual-function auditorium.

Not all Rhode Islanders are pleased with the rise in charter schools.  Some groups including RI public school teachers claim that charter schools take needed funding away from public schools.  Unlike charter schools, public schools cannot accept private funding.  However, testing has shown that RI charter school students perform well in these new facilities.  Blackstone Valley Prep eighth graders ranked at 94% for proficiency in math in the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP), the highest such ranking in Rhode Island.  While charter schools may be controversial in some cases, it is clear that Civic Builders and Blackstone Valley Prep are dedicated to improving education.

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Pare engineers joined volunteers to build the KABOOM! playground on Sept. 13th.

One aspect of this project that impressed the Pare team is the enthusiasm and support this project generated within the community.  As the project neared completion, several members of the Pare team participated in a volunteer project to build a KABOOM! playground for BVP students.  Parents, staff and volunteers of all types came together and assembled the KABOOM! playground in one day.  KABOOM! is a national non-profit that describes their mission as “dedicated to saving play for America’s children.  Our mission is to create great play spaces through the participation and leadership of communities.  Ultimately, we envision a place to play within walking distance of every child in America.”  This playground is open to children outside of school hours.

The Blackstone Valley Prep Elementary School 2  project was not without obstacles.  Previous development in the area presented the project team with difficulties related to historic sub-surface disturbance in the neighborhood, as well as routine pollutants (which are treated as anything but by the State School Siting regulations).  Pare was able to use its in-house expertise to overcome these obstacles, ensuring the success of the project.  The aggressive construction schedule also posed a significant challenge to the design of the project, as the structural construction documents were needed as an “early bid package.”  This meant that the structural design needed to be completed well ahead of other disciplines, requiring close coordination to meet this goal.  Pare was well equipped for this challenge, as the site design and geotechnical design were done in-house, streamlining the flow of design information.  Also, due to Pare’s close working relationship with the architect, Ai3, the team was able to identify critical items for the structural design so that decisions could be made in a timely manner.

Pare is proud to have been a contributing partner in the BVPES2 project, and looks forward to Blackstone Valley Prep’s continuing expansion and positive effect on Rhode Island education.

Stunning Results After Dam Removal

On June 24th, 2014, PARE joined the Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), the Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game, Town of Lancaster, MA dignitaries, elected officials and our partners, to celebrate the completion of the Bartlett Pond Dam removal and the restoration of free flow to Wekepeke Brook, a tributary to the North Nashua River. The dam removal’s ribbon cutting ceremony was utilized as a backdrop to proclaim June as “Rivers Month.”

Bartlett Pond Dam before dam removal:

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The Bartlett Dam removal project marked the first completion of a project awarded funding under the EEA Dam and Seawall Repair and Rehabilitation Fund. The fund enables the Commonwealth to fund project which address current infrastructure concerns  such as the growing need to repair dams, coastal flood control structures and inland flood control structures that pose a risk to public health, public safety and key economic centers, while also supporting the enhancement, preservation, and protection of the natural resources and scenic, historic and aesthetic qualities of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Pare’s Project Manager, Allen Orsi, describes dam removal in general in a previous blog posted here.

The Bartlett Pond Dam, which was identified as a significant hazard potential dam in 2009, “was a threat to native ecology and natural processes,” as described by Briscoe Lang, Principal Environmental Scientist at Pare. Through detailed evaluations, Pare worked with the Town of Lancaster to consider both the rehabilitation and the removal of the dam. After completing a preliminary feasibility study in 2011, Pare worked with the Town, the Massachusetts Department of Ecological Restoration, and other project partners to advocate dam removal as the preferred approach for remediating observed deficiencies, such as native brook trout having no upstream passage, which affected the overall ecology of Wekepeke Brook. Design and permitting for the dam removal program commenced in fall 2012. Permitting was completed by summer 2013 and a contractor was selected by August 2013. Construction activities started in May 2014 with unobstructed flow restored to the brook within two weeks of commencing work.

Bartlett Pond Dam removal construction:

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Briscoe Lang described the results of this project as “stunning.” Upstream passage was restored for 18 miles of high-quality cold water habitat. Pare also collaborated with Birchwood Design Group, landscape architects, to design the incorporation of park improvements and a landscaping program, which will provide added recreational benefits for the Town of Lancaster. The ultimate goal of this project is that the remnant channel will be stable and sustainable. When asked if there were any challenges the ecology could face after the dam removal, Briscoe mentioned that some plant life, such as purple loosestrife, does pose a risk, but Lancaster is aware of these factors and is adept in handling them.

Bartlett Pond after dam removal completion:

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“Cities and towns across the state are facing significant costs to update their antiquated water infrastructure systems. This Lancaster project demonstrates that, when appropriate, removing a dam can be a very cost-effective way to restore a river and enhance public safety and water quality,” said Geoff Beckwith, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association.

The completion of this project marks the first of what PARE hopes to be many successful dam removals, thanks to the EEA Dam and Seawall Repair and Rehabilitation Fund.

Pare Receives Boys Town “Spirit of Youth” Award

For 19 years, Pare Corporation has provided gifts to each child living with a Boys Town foster family during the holiday season.  This year, Boys Town New England honored Pare with the 2014 “Spirit of Youth” award.

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On May 2nd, Pare was honored at Boys Town New England’s 2014 “Spirit of Youth Gala.”  The theme of the night, “Fly Away to Neverland,” recalled the magic of the Peter Pan story and highlighted the magic that takes place every day in this wonderful organization as it works with children and families.

One of the evening’s most magical moments involved the gala’s Youth and Family Speaker, Adam Charron, a former Boys Town New England foster child.  After Pare was presented with The Spirit of Youth Award, Adam took to the stage to share his experience as a former foster child and to express his gratitude to Boys Town New England.  Adam was among the first group of children to whom Pare provided gifts—almost two decades ago!  Knowing they would be reunited with Adam, Pare’s Deb Poulos and Mel Hebert, who initiated Pare’s gift-giving effort in 1996, tracked down and purchased the items from Adam’s original wish list and presented him with one more holiday surprise on stage.  Deb recalls,“there wasn’t a dry eye in the building.”

_DSC5423Pare representatives receive Spirit of Youth Award, presented by former Boys Town foster child, Adam Charron

Since 1996, Pare has provided holiday gifts for 531 children. Deb Poulos best summed up Pare’s commitment to Boys Town New England:

“I am so proud that everyone at Pare still shows as much enthusiasm as they did that first year. Sometimes we have seen names on the list that were there the year before, and we knew that child had not been reunited with his or her family or had not been adopted. We all took this to heart and always kept these children in our thoughts. It’s because of them, and children like them, that we continue to help Boys Town each Christmas.  We want them to experience joy on Christmas the way the rest of us do.  I couldn’t ask for a better group of co-workers.  They know how to come together and make things happen and get things done. We all have families of our own and the holiday season is so busy that it’s not always easy.  But this has become tradition for us. To us, this is our little Christmas miracle. We have bought gifts for 531 children. That’s 531 smiles and for us that will always be enough.”

_DSC5324Left to right: Pare’s Matt Bellisle, Sue Gravel, Collette Gagnon, and Mike Rongione

_DSC5295Left to Right: Pare’s April Lagace, Lauren Hastings, and Lindsey Machamer

Founded in 1917, Boys Town has been dedicated to providing abused, abandoned, and neglected children with a safe, supporting and caring environment where they can gain confidence and learn skills to succeed in life. The Boys Town Model of care is research-based and produces life-changing results for youth across the country.

_DSC5322Captain Hook also attended the Spirit of Youth Gala

If you are interested in contributing to this important organization, through a donation or as a volunteer, please visit the Boy’s Town New England webpage, and see how you can help.

 

PARE Engineers Help Demonstrate Engineering Concepts to Area Children

Recently, engineers from Pare Corporation volunteered at the Providence Children’s Museum alongside the ASCE Rhode Island Section Younger Member Group as part of National Engineer’s Week. The event, conducted annually by the ASCE Younger Member Group, introduces children to different aspects of civil engineering through a set of activity stations. Children visit each station and are awarded stickers toward their “junior engineer certificates.” Over 120 kids participated at this year’s event, held on February 22nd.

Mark Dowdell and Shane Driscoll presented water filtration to the children, demonstrating how sponges and coffee filters can remove solids from water, much like a more sophisticated water filtration system.

Mark Dowdell explains the experiment.

Mark Dowdell explains the experiment.

Mark Dowdell and a Future Engineer Perform the Demonstration

Mark Dowdell and a Future Engineer Perform the Demonstration

Shane Driscoll Performs Another Demonstration...

Shane Driscoll Performs Another Demonstration…

...to Amazing Results!

…to Amazing Results!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eric Silva ran the geotechnical station, demonstrating how settlement can differ in various types of soil, from sand to potting soil.

Eric Silva Preparing a Geotechnical Demonstration

Eric Silva Preparing a Geotechnical Demonstration

Other stations demonstrated building construction using marshmallows and toothpicks, bridge construction using cardboard, and how stormwater (or rain) runoff can create erosion problems around riverbanks.

Written by Shane Driscoll

Vegetated Roofs

A few weeks ago I attended a seminar on vegetated roofs offered by the RI Green Building Council and learned that a lot more goes into these systems then you might at first think. Vegetated roofs have several components beyond just the roof deck, soil, and vegetation. A properly designed system also includes a waterproofing layer, root protection barriers, insulation, drainage components, and geotextile and other erosion control materials. Some also include irrigation. Plantings are selected not solely on appearance but with consideration to rainfall amounts and anticipated wind loads.

The finished product helps mitigate stormwater runoff but can also reduce urban heat island effect. Pictured below is the vegetated roof installed on the CBLS building at the University of Rhode Island.

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USBGC Boston Chapter Webinar Summary

Last Thursday I attended the USBGC Boston Chapter sponsored webinar from its educational webinar series.  This specific webinar was on Urban Heat Island Effect and allowed for LEED AP’s to earn some credentialing maintenance credits.  Most of the content was reviewing general concepts revolving around the heat island effect but I’ve summarized a few interesting points and website links below:

  •  Benefits of Reducing Heat Island Effect:  reduce air conditioning use, reduce the rate that smog forms, increase human health, increase life costs of material
  • Material Albedo Defined:  If a material is reporting a 0.5 albedo than it translates to roughly 50% of the material reflecting
  • Ways to Reduce the Heat Island Effect:
    • Non Roof Areas:  Create shade over impervious areas (landscaping or roofs), Reduce impervious area, use ‘cool’ pavement or other materials with higher reflective.  The webinar stated that cool pavement typically resulted in a 30 degree temperature difference than use of typical black asphalt
    • Roof Areas:  Create cool roofs with either vegetation or material type

Interesting Website References:   http://www.greenroofs.org/ ; http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/cdot/Green_Alley_Handbook_2010.pdf ;  http://www.asla.org/greenroof/

The next webinar is on October 17, 2012 at 5PM and features the topic, ‘Water Efficiency and Innovation’.  For more details, or to register, go to http://usgbcma.org/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=221 .

While on my way to the webinar I noticed this electrical vehicle charging station in a lot in Boston!

 

Upcoming Green Events

Pare employees will be in attendance . . . will you?

September 19th:  LEED 251: LEED and the Urban Heat Island Effect, In Person Webinar, Boston, MA:

September 20th:  USGBC MA End of Summer Social, Boston, MA:

October 4th:  Massachusetts Green Career Conference, Marlborough, MA

  • This conference offers networking with municipalities, university and companies that promote green careers
  • Education, training and green resources will be available
  • Speakers include:  CEO of Mass Clean Energy Center (Mass CEC), Commissioner of Conservation and Recreation and Commissioner of Mass Dept. of Agricultural Resources.
  • Check it out and register:  www.MassGreenCareers.com

Partnership in Sustainability Conference

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On April 20th and 21st  Scott Lindgren and I attended the Partnership in Sustainability Conference at the UMass Boston Campus Center.  The 2nd annual communities conference was held on Friday and Saturday was a day devoted to campuses.  Even though the conference extended into the weekend there were almost 500 participants.  There were 9 states, 94 communities and 45 campuses and schools represented.  Each day offered the conference participants 16 different sessions throughout the day to attend.  One of the sessions on Saturday featured Scott Lindgren and I along with Jenny Isler, the Sustainability Coordinator at Clark University as speakers.  The ‘take home’ we were trying to portray during our portion of the session entitled “How do Design Professionals help with Campus Sustainability”, was that although there are many different measures and metrics to judge your campus sustainability, one might not be the perfect fit.  We tried to highlight the importance of campuses taking ownership and determine what was important to their campus.  We discussed using some of these measurement criteria’s as a starting point and to pick and choose from them to create their own guidebook to sustainability on their campus.

It was interesting to hear what communities and campuses across Massachusetts are doing to make a positive change.  To name a few: