News & Industry Updates

Calibre: Civil Engineers in the Know
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I don’t know about you but there are many days where I have so much going on, I forgot to stop and take a breather. Studies show you get more done when you make time to rest and renew your mind.

Check out this article about making sure you break up your concentrated work time, and great ways to do so!

-Danielle Lewis
 Marketing & Office Assistant

CalibreEngineering by CalibreEngineering @
Python is a free (in most cases) high-level programming language with an intuitive syntax. It is especially useful
collecting and storing large sets of hydrologic data, as well as moving data between formats (e.g. generating/inserting
reports from a database into Microsoft Word). The following link is an introduction to the easy-to-learn programing software: 

-Aaron Mangione
CalibreEngineering by CalibreEngineering @
Thoughts on Essential Value in Green Stormwater Infrastructure

For those of you who have heard me speak at conferences or lectures, you know how passionate I am about the idea that we, as designers, must continue to push the idea that high quality of life, resiliency, and sustainability are not just buzzwords to be used for marketing. We are accountable to our communities and humanity to design and build infrastructure that makes these characteristics and qualities ESSENTIAL, and not just “added” value.

If you think about it, any piece of infrastructure is already a “place”…

1. a particular position or point in space.

We should be focused on making infrastructure into places… that are attractive, enjoyable, durable, and of course - functional.

Younger generations clearly appreciate quality in the places they choose to live – by moving to those places that value quality in place. This is why cities with a perceived high quality of urban life are thriving. If for no other reason, we should all strive to provide infrastructure solutions that we are proud of, that lasts, and that inspires future generations - so that all of our cities and towns thrive.

The “new” paradigm that our firm believes in is actually really old.  We look as far back as early civilization to be inspired by infrastructure designs that (thousands of years later) are still beautiful, and still standing! We can no-longer afford to build infrastructure that serves only one purpose, or only lasts as long as its designer’s career. Stream Landscape Architecture collaborates with exceptional design and engineering partners to be leaders in planning and designing truly multi-functional Green Stormwater Infrastructure solutions like Denver’s Ultra Urban Green Infrastructure Guide.

Our infrastructure should enhance the context, improve quality of life, celebrate achievements in civilization, and generate community pride.

Here is a quick read from Stormwater Magazine on one viewpoint on how Green Infrastructure provides value on many levels. From the Author: “… pointing out the benefits not just for water quality, but for the economy and for cities as well—saving money for developers, in some cases benefiting investors, and creating more green space in neighborhoods.”

-Jesse Clark

Jesse Clark is the founder and managing partner of Stream Landscape Architecture. He is a Colorado Professional Landscape Architect with nearly 20 years of experience in public urban and open space environments and a focus on design and planning for water resources, stream channel reclamation, green infrastructure, municipal parks, and recreation facilities. He has been invited on numerous occasions to present on a variety of topics including Integrating Waterways with Recreation Facilities, Replicating Natural Processes in Shoreline Stabilization, and Creative Stormwater Infrastructure Solutions for Urban Areas.
CalibreEngineering by CalibreEngineering @
Ajin Prasad, a  Civil / Structural Engineer at The Louis Berger Group, Inc wrote an extremely intriguing article about an alternative to the Mexico and U.S border that's been thrown around by President Trump. Check it out!  

Of all the ideas that have been suggested for the border wall, there is one that may help to bring together Mexico and the U.S., instead of pitting the countries against each another over illegal immigration. I’m part of a group of civil engineers in Massachusetts that has conceived of a program that is based on a recently acquired patent for an advanced concrete construction technology for building large-scale, monolithic concrete structures capable of physically partitioning two countries while serving to promote economic development. This fast and thrifty construction method and our proposed program prove that, as far as creativity is concerned, civil engineering isn’t dead yet.

The research behind our basic design concept has roots in a scheme to irrigate the Saudi Arabian peninsula and another scheme to develop a concrete alternative for replacing earthen levees in the years after Hurricane Katrina. Our idea is to construct a monolithic concrete conveyance structure that is capable of transporting saltwater to the Gulf of Mexico, off Texas, from the Pacific Ocean, off the California coast, a distance of about 2,000 miles. Drawn off the conveyance structure, the saltwater would be desalinated using solar-powered units to produce potable water and irrigate arid terrain on both sides of the border.

The proposed facility is essentially a very large pipeline in the form of a rectangular box culvert. While the problem of moving large quantities of saltwater over mountains and deserts seems insurmountable, we now have the science, engineering and technology to do that in an economically viable way.

The concrete conveyance structure itself forms an enclosed riverbed roughly 30 ft high and 90 ft across, with an average 18-in. wall thickness. Depending on soil conditions, it would be buried in a trench most likely about 10 ft deep, which means it would present a 20-ft-high barrier structure along the border, except at designated crossing stations. The top surface of the concrete riverbed is wide and strong enough to support an elevated, multilane highway, which is another deterrence to illegal crossings: Active interstate highways are virtually impossible to cross.

Consider all the benefits. Irrigating vast stretches of empty desert is not a small accomplishment. Inside the conveyance structure, a separate chamber would serve as an enclosed utility corridor to provide electrical services to communities in both countries using the flowing saltwater to power electricity-generating units positioned along the route. Powered by magnetic and pneumatic technologies, another enclosed chamber would be set aside for rapidly transporting containerized goods.

There are obstacles, of course. As we see it, the project’s biggest problem would be to acquire an international right of way, but the conventional border-wall ideas face that same challenge. Further, in our scheme, private-sector investors would be encouraged to finance design and construction of the facilities in exchange for concession rights.
Although it isn’t part of the Trump administration’s agenda, conveying large quantities of raw saltwater to a desert opens up a new approach to countering the impending threat of climate change, rising sea levels and ever-increasing human population. In this way, what was intended to be only a physical barrier could serve other functions and pay for itself many times over.


-Jennifer Googins, EIT
CalibreEngineering by CalibreEngineering @
Engineers and Inflation
Part of the job of engineers and architects is to provide a cost estimate with our design products. For projects where construction will be delayed for a year or more, we typically include an inflation factor in the cost estimate to account for an increase in prices for the future construction. Usually this inflation factor is between 2 and 4 percent. But, what actually is inflation and where does it come from?
Most people equate rising prices with inflation. However, rising prices are only a symptom of inflation, not inflation itself. Most economists agree that inflation is an increase in the supply of money. The United States Federal Reserve (the Fed) is the entity responsible for creating, or, in some cases, destroying dollars. The Fed has the authority to create money ex nihilo, or out of nothing. They can then use this new money to purchase assets, such as United States Treasury Bonds. When the Fed engages in these "Open Market Operations" to buy assets, it is adding money to the economy. The Fed states that its objective is to achieve 2 percent inflation each year. But why?
When the supply of money is increased, it has the effect of devaluing the existing stock of money. As an example, if a candy bar costs one dollar today and the Fed achieves its goal of 2 percent inflation, then next year, the same candy bar will cost you a dollar and two cents. The following year, it would increase again by 2 percent to a dollar and 4 cents and so on. Each year, the value of the dollar falls by the rate of inflation. A long term example of inflation is the price of gold. In the early 1900's, an ounce of gold would cost you 20 dollars. Today, it costs about 1290 dollars. That is some serious inflation. But, why do we as consumers want our dollars to be worth less?
The truth is, inflation is not good for the average consumer. Inflation is sometimes called the "hidden tax" because it continually eats at the purchasing power of one's wages. Because new money enters the economy at discreet points, those at the top of the money supply chain benefit from inflation. Those at the top of the money chain include banks and governments. They get the use of the new money before it has entered general circulation in the economy and caused prices to rise. Additionally, inflation benefits debtors as it makes past debts easier to service since often times wages will rise with inflation. As people "feel" richer from the increase in their wages, their past debts look "smaller" in comparison. But, the problem with this is that wage inflation rarely keeps up with price inflation and so the result is people actually end up poorer. At the same time, inflation tends to "punish" savers since the value of the money they save continues to fall over time and the interest that they earn on their savings is usually much less than the rate of inflation.
Some would argue that the money supply has to increase with the increase in the population. But, the truth is that any fixed amount of money will do in an economy. If the amount of money is fixed, then over time prices would slowly drop, not increase, because the value of the money would increase.
As an example, most people see the cost of housing as increasing over time. But why should housing go up in value? A house is in many ways like a car. It needs maintenance over time. It will need new paint, carpet, appliances, roof replacement, etc. So, why should it go up in value? If one was to chart the long term trend in the value of housing against the value of the dollar, what becomes evident is that housing isn't necessarily becoming more valuable, it is simply holding its value against the sinking value of the dollar (a comparison like this ignores local impacts to housing such as new industry moving into an area or an industry moving out of an area which can have a tremendous impact to local house prices).
So, this is a brief introduction on inflation. What about deflation? What things are deflationary? That is a topic for another time.
 - Keith Brookshire
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