The American Society of Civil Engineers/Structural Engineering Institute Committee on the Design of Steel Buildings has created an online survey concerning the practices of structural engineers when it comes to the design of steel buildings for serviceability under wind loads. The committee is encouraging all engineers with experience in the design of such structures to participate in the survey.
Participants are requested to complete the survey by May 31, 2006. It can be found at www.celes.ictas.vt.edu/drift.
According to the non-profit association Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, North American green roof infrastructure implementation increased from 1.3 million square feet in 2004 to 2.5 million square feet in 2005, an increase of 72 percent.
The organization reports that the top 10 cities by square footage planted in 2005 are as follows: Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Suitland, Md.; Ashburn, Va.; New York; Culpepper, Va.; Austin, Texas; Arlington, Va.; Des Moines, Iowa; and Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Green roofs, which largely are used for stormwater retention, can be installed for as little as $9 per square foot, experts say. The resulting increased property value, energy cost savings, and a longer life for the roof can offset the investment.
New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine has unveiled a $3.2-billion transportation improvement plan that ranks as one of the largest plans in state history. The plan includes initial funding for a $5-billion rail tunnel under the Hudson River, as well as road-widenings, bridge repairs, intersection improvements, and pedestrian/bike paths.
Most of the money will come from federal sources, with the state contributing about $1.6 billion. Nearly half the total funds will be applied to train or bus projects. "Congestion relief is not just what we can do on our roadways. It’s what alternative modes of transportation we can provide our residents," New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner Kris Kolluri told Gannett newspapers in April.
Just two days after a dam failure in Hawaii led to the deaths of seven people, the House and Senate introduced bills on April 19, 2006 to provide more funding for dam safety programs. The House bill, the Dam Safety Act of 2006, would reauthorize the National Dam Safety Program, providing up to $12.7 million a year for four years to assist states in improving their dam safety programs. The Senate bill, the Dam Rehabilitation and Repair Act of 2006, would provide up to $350 million over four years to repair and upgrade the estimated 2,600 unsafe dams in the United States.
"We fully acknowledge states’ rights, but the problem is so big that it merits federal attention," said Ken Smith, president of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, regarding the condition of U.S. dams. "Dams are a vital piece of the national infrastructure, and the failure of one dam can affect several states. I’m afraid more lives will be lost without help from Washington."
Joining other branches of the military as well as several government agencies, the U.S. Army announced recently that it would begin using the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System for the design and construction of facilities.
By 2008, the Army will transition completely from its own Sustainable Project Rating Tool (SPiRiT) to the LEED system in an effort to integrate the principles and practices of sustainability and to minimize the impacts and total ownership costs of Army facilities and operations. "It is important that we all continue to emphasize sustainability and incorporate sustainable design and development practices into facilities built on our installations," Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installations and Housing) Joseph W. Whitaker said in a January 2006 memorandum. "This is just one way we are reducing our energy consumption and optimizing life cycle economic performance."
The Texas Water Development Board has approved a $1.3-million grant to help pay for a pilot desalination plant on the Brownsville Ship Channel in the Gulf of Mexico. For one year, beginning in August, the plant will process about 100,000 gallons of seawater per day.
According to the Brownsville Herald, Brownsville was chosen for the pilot project in part because 94 percent of the water in the south Texas water region comes from one source-the Rio Grande. That makes the region vulnerable to drought and the changing river. If the project is considered a success, the city’s Public Utilities Board will seek funding to build a full-scale desalination plant by 2010.