Tag Archives: Pare

From LEED to Envision: Expanding Green Design

By Matt Alford, P.E., ENV SP, Senior Engineer at Pare Corporation and a member of Pare’s Sustainability Committee

Green design and construction practices have been around for some time, and there are several industry rating systems to help with implementation.  Leadership In Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), a sustainable rating system for buildings, is the most widely used system around the world. The LEED program guides the design, construction, operations and maintenance of buildings toward sustainability. It has been 16 years since the first version of LEED, and the number of buildings receiving LEED certification increases each year. And it’s not just about the shiny plaque! It has proven to increase building performance throughout the lifecycle of the building while enhancing the experience of the occupants.  The program provides real long-term cost savings in the operation and maintenance of these buildings. This was demonstrated during the economic downturn of 2008-2009 when, despite the economy, the number of registrations increased. “Green” sustainable design can increase the efficiency of a building, provide long-term cost savings, increase public recognition of a project, and improve quality of life.

But, what about infrastructure? Infrastructure changes the way we get around, communicate, and view the world—it is an essential element to our culture. However, it has different challenges than buildings. Often coordination between several organizations that each have their own agendas and budgets is one of the major challenges when implementing sustainable design for infrastructure.

Similar to how LEED is focused on the occupants of the building, the new Envision Rating System focuses on the stakeholders affected by the project.  Envision is an objective framework of criteria and performance achievements that helps users identify ways in which “green” sustainable approaches can be used to plan, design, construct, and operate infrastructure projects. It also looks to enhance the social, environmental and economic aspects of a project by providing a holistic project assessment and guidance tool to tackle these challenges.  Using the design and building of a new industrial plant as an example, Envision encourages cohesive planning so that how the new plant impacts the historical value of the community is as important as how clean the air is being released thru its smokestack.  The goal of the program is to best use taxpayer dollars, reduce our environmental footprint, and enhance the overall quality of life in our community.

Envision is broken down into five categories to evaluate how a project contributes to the overall sustainability of the community.

  • Quality of Life – addresses a project’s impact regarding the health and well-being of individuals and the community as a whole.
  • Leadership – engages the project stakeholders and team leaders to provide meaningful commitment, collaboration and communication with each other.
  • Resource Allocation – dives into the use of recyclable materials and overall waste reduction for the long-term operation and maintenance of the infrastructure and construction.
  • Natural World – how the project preserves and renews ecosystem functions.
  • Climate and Risk – looks at two main concepts: ensuring resilience and minimizing emissions of a project both in the short-term and long-term future conditions.

Using Envision demonstrates an organized and comprehensive approach to decision making.  It embraces the use of best practices and garners support from stakeholders. Effective sustainable infrastructure development cannot be completed without involving several parties.

Similar to the LEED program, Envision has four award levels: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Even if an award is not pursued, it is strongly encouraged to use Envision criteria as a guide or a set of standards for creating sustainable infrastructure.  Envision is laying the groundwork for making sustainable design the new standard for all infrastructure projects.

And why not!?!   Here are some advantages to doing so:

  • Quantifying the qualitative benefits, including preserving local character
  • Applying a consistent, transparent approach to sustainability
  • Helping communities address long-range needs
  • Evaluating environmental and economic benefits
  • Extending the useful life of a project
  • Improving the efficiency of a project
  • Demonstrating good governance of resources

Just as using a sustainable building rating system as a guide for development has proven to be worth the investment for new building construction, Envision will help guide decisions about sustainable infrastructure projects to be made proactively instead of reactively in our communities. Imagine a world with less congestion, cleaner waters, purposefully-developed communities, and tax dollars being used more efficiently.  Envision provides the framework to improve the way we develop the infrastructure and its impact on our daily lives.

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I Thought GIS Was the Newest Primetime Crime TV Show!

By Kailyn Corrigan, Marketing Coordinator at Pare

As a non-engineer/scientist, there is a lot of unfamiliar language I’ve come across since my introduction to the A/E/C industry in May 2014. For example, there is an entire division at Pare Corporation dedicated to geotechnical engineering – a term I’d never heard before I visited the company website. In order to be a successful marketing contributor, I try to notice which words come across my desk or within office earshot most often, and I ask a lot of questions. In 2015, I began to notice the term “GIS” more and more often, and so I realized it was time for me to investigate what GIS means and why its mention is on the rise.

In December 2014, Pare hired Sarah Pierce, a recent graduate of Westfield State, to join our Environmental Science group. In June of this year, Sarah was promoted to a full-time GIS Specialist and Environmental Scientist, so I asked her if she wouldn’t mind giving me a quick tutorial—a “GIS for Dummies,” if you will.

Wikipedia weighs in

Before meeting with Sarah, I made sure to check what GIS stood for, seeing as that was my first question, and nowadays one is expected to “Wikipedia” the basics. I learned GIS stands for “Geographic Information System.” Well that was a relief! At least I was familiar with the three words that comprise the acronym. I’m not always so lucky. I perused the resources Sarah provided me before the interview to develop a basic understanding, and I noticed that GIS is not exclusive to the A/E/C industry. Excited to share something in common with GIS already, I prepared my questions.p3p2-lg

I sat with Sarah, and asked for the less technical explanation of how GIS is used in our industry. Sarah explained that “GIS allows you to view data as a geographic representation.” For example, before GIS, location and project data was entered and viewed in list form, using software such as Microsoft Excel, and then data was applied to a map in a two-part process. GIS has made it a one-step process, which Sarah credited as one of GIS’s biggest benefits, “GIS has cut fieldwork time in half.”

A Growing Technology

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Now that I understood a little bit more about what GIS actually accomplishes, I was interested in learning why it is a growing technology. According to my Googling, GIS has been around since the 1960’s. GIS consists of an electronic display map, where the information you upload is associated with the corresponding geographic coordinates. When I asked how the growth spurt in GIS usage started, Sarah showed me the computer tablet she uses. While GIS has always been a helpful tool, prior to the development of portable computer tablets, GIS was restricted to desktop computers…which obviously aren’t as compatible with working in the field. The tablet has enabled engineers and scientists to enter and review data, whether they are in the office or knee deep in swamp land. Software companies like Esri have increased the mobility of GIS and the reasons for using it through tablet apps, such as Collector, which syncs information with ArcMap Online, the GIS software used on desktops.

Moving Forward

GIS 1

A Pare project illustrating the visual components of data mapping.

I asked Sarah about Pare’s specific GIS expansion and which projects have benefitted the most from GIS technology. Currently it is used most often in feasibility studies, setback (a term commonly used in floodplain management) maps, and asset management in hydraulic modeling. However, Sarah hopes to utilize even more opportunities, and has developed a plan to do so. Sarah will be holding Lunch & Learns open to all staff. By providing the newest developments in GIS information and resources to staff members, our engineers will find new ways to integrate GIS into their projects. When I asked for an example of an area where GIS isn’t being used but should be, Sarah mentioned that it can be used as an alternative to computer aided drafting (CAD) in some cases. She hopes that Lunch and Learns will spark ideas among staff members and ultimately alleviate the workload of our very busy CAD department.

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A Pare project that used GIS to map components of a Town’s water system.

As a recent graduate, Sarah hopes to stay ahead of the ever-evolving GIS technology and remain at the forefront of the field. GIS software is updated on a yearly basis, so this will be no easy feat, but she looks forward to making GIS her professional priority. Since I learned a bit about GIS, Sarah also shared her ideas of how the Marketing department may be able to benefit from data visualization in proposal making and through our web presence. I am looking forward to working together and exercising my newfound understanding of yet another really cool engineering tool. For more information on GIS, its capabilities, and how you can apply it to your work, visit the GIS resource website that one of Sarah’s college professors created.

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:

LancasterDam2

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:

LancasterDam3

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:

Lancaster Dam

“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.

 

The Upcycle Series: Bourbon Barrels

By Tim Thies, Managing Environmental Engineer at Pare

There have been other posts on this blog about recycling, upcycling, and downcycling, each espousing the virtues of re-use.  Whether you’re re-using a product for a higher or better purpose than it was originally intended, or simply trying to salvage a small amount of value out of a product before throwing it away, any type of “cycling” gives new life to a product and ultimately increases the usefulness of the resources and energy that were used to create it.  The more use that we can extract from the resources and energy we spent making a product, the lower the overall impact that product will have on our environment.

I recently learned about an interesting example of recycling that adds real value to a very specific product.  During a recent conversation with my brother-in-law about beer and whiskey (because what else is there to talk about), I learned about the not-so-secret second life of bourbon barrels.  My brother-in-law has a family maple sugar farm (Baker Farm in East Dummerston, VT) where they recently produced a bourbon-flavored maple syrup (which is quite delicious I must say).  He told me that they buy the bourbon barrels from a distillery in Kentucky after they’re used in the bourbon making process.

Bourbon whiskey barrel

While each barrel is carefully crafted out of oak, they’re only used once in the bourbon making process.  In the past, the bourbon barrels were often burned for fuel after their first and only use.  However, some barrels find a second life at the Baker Farm.  After the distiller is done with a barrel, the Baker Farm fills that barrel with maple syrup and lets it age for a year, infusing the syrup with the smoky bourbon flavor that once filled the barrel.

Bourbon whiskey barrel 2

In terms of recycling, this process is great because it doubles the life of each barrel, which means it doubles the usefulness of all the resources and energy that went into making the barrel.  But wait, it gets even better.  After the Baker Farm is done with the barrels, they give them to the Harpoon Brewery in Boston MA and Windsor, VT (www.harpoonbrewery.com), who in turn uses them to make a maple bourbon barrel-aged beer.  Each barrel is now used three times, effectively tripling the usefulness of the resources and energy that went into their original creation.  Amazing!  This conversation with my brother-in-law got me thinking, what else could bourbon barrels be used for?  Well, a quick internet search reveals that bourbon barrels can be used for any number of things, including meat smoking, wine making, and antique-looking hardwood floors, just to name a few.  Apparently I stumbled onto a very poorly kept secret about the second life of bourbon barrels.  I found this cool infographic on tastingtable.com (http://www.tastingtable.com/bourbonbarrels) that shows how barrels from just few bourbon distillers find second, third, and even fourth lives.  So next time you’re drinking bourbon, order a second and rest easy knowing that the barrel that gave birth to your bourbon probably found a second life beyond your favorite distillery.

Bourbon barrel bottle

 

Pare Congratulates Walter Burke on Environmental Achievement Award

Pare Corporation is excited to recognize a long-time client, Bristol Parks and Recreation Director Walter Burke, as the recipient of Save the Bay’s annual Environmental Achievement Award. Walter was recently honored for his efforts to eliminate stormwater pollution entering Narragansett Bay in the Town of Bristol and, in particular, for his efforts to improve water quality at the Bristol Town Beach.

walterburkecropped

Working with Pare’s civil engineering and environmental teams, Walter initiated the Bristol Town Beach project to eliminate the frequent beach closings caused in years past by stormwater pollution. Historically, Bristol was forced to close its beach an average of 15 to 20 times per summer due to a stormwater system that carried bacteria, salt, and pollutants directly into the bay. David Potter, Senior Project Engineer in Pare’s Civil Division explains, “Pare worked together with Walter, the CRMC (RI Coastal Resources Management Council) and the DEM (RI Department of Environmental Management) to obtain a joint permit for the first-ever permitted GWVTS (Gravel Wet Vegetated Treatment System) in Rhode Island.”

Bristol Beach Plan

This design uses a vegetated permanent pool split between two cells to temporarily capture stormwater runoff from the adjacent residential neighborhood and treat for pathogens, total suspended solids, and other constituents. The two cells within the GWVTS are planted with a variety of aesthetically pleasing flowers and shrubs that feed on bacteria and pollutants before releasing this “filtered” water into the bay. The GWVTS is one of the solutions incorporated by Walter Burke on the Bristol Town Beach to treat stormwater runoff and reduce the number of beach closings.

The new system worked so well in the summer of 2013 (its first full season) that beach closings went from 15+ to zero. Briscoe Lang, Pare’s Principal Environmental Scientist, stated, “This system has proven successful in removing pathogens, and it should be used in all possible settings. It also provides significant aesthetic benefits.”

Bristol Bioretention Pond

When discussing the dual-functionality and success of the project, Pare’s team unanimously noted Walter Burke’s “vision” and his “get it done” attitude. As Briscoe Lang said, “Talk is nothing without action.” David Potter added, “He not only has the vision, but the patience and energy to achieve it.”

Bristol Beach Wetland

Congratulations to Walter Burke, who was presented the Environmental Achievement Award on Wednesday, May 21, by Save the Bay. For press coverage of Walter Burke’s achievement and additional GWVTS details, click here.