Engineering Inc. - March/April 2007 - (Page 46)

B U S I N ESS INSIGHTS FROM ACEC’S INSTITUTE FOR BUSINESS MANAGEMENT AVOIDING ONEROUS CONTRACTS; A LEED CASE STUDY; SELF-CONSOLIDATING CONCRETE CATCHES ON Overlooked Contract Indemnity Clause Can Spell Trouble One of the quickest ways for an engineering firm to get into liability trouble is to sign a contract with an onerous indemnity clause, according to a panel of insurance experts at an ACECsponsored conference. “What you have to do, on a very basic level, is go through the indemnity clause and start neutering things out,” says Tom Bongi, director of industry relations for the Design Professional Group at XL Insurance. “When I look at a contract, that’s the first place I go. The indemnity clause is really where the rubber meets the road on risk management.” Design professionals, Bongi adds, are increasingly being asked to sign the same indemnity clauses as contractors. “Why are clients demanding this?” he asks rhetorically. “Because they can.” John Magliano, chairman and CEO of Syska Hennessy Group, suggests that firms attempt to use their own contracts for potential projects. “It’s not always possible,” he says. “But even if it’s not, at least you have set a benchmark for the kind of language with which you’re comfortable.” Thomas Porterfield, vice president of Victor O. Schinnerer & Company, adds that the best contracts are usually specifically tailored to each individual project. “These are not one-size-fits-all documents,” he says. “The point is that you and your clients must have the same expectations going into a project. When a client doesn’t get what he or she thinks they are paying for, they are then more likely to bring a claim against you.” The panelists also advise: ■ If you want to alter a contract, present your reasons in a business context that the client will understand; ■ Make sure the contract does not demand absolute perfection; and ■ Become a trusted adviser for the project owner—this will derail most misunderstandings before they become a problem. North Charleston School a Model LEED Building neering and management services, learned early in the project that local buy-in from residents, school board officials and politicians was imperative to achieve the desired environmental results. “The community was old, established and politically connected,” says Douglas Vincent, Heery’s project manager on the work. “We were trying really hard to honor their past. We were dealing with public money and public perceptions.” “The students can get an understanding of how all these systems work together,” Vincent says. “Some of them even give guided tours highlighting sustainable design practices.” The school, which earned the LEED’s program High Silver certification, was built for a very reasonable $110/square foot, and now is an example for other Charleston County schools, which must be built using LEED guidelines. High-Performance Concrete At North Charleston (S.C.) Elementary School, books and computers are not the only learning tools. The 600-student school, which had to be virtually rebuilt, is now a testimony to LEED building practices and a showpiece for environmental design. The school now contains a number of upgrades promoting sustainability in a learning environment, including healthy airquality systems; low-noise mechanical systems; Web-based kiosks that are geared toward environmental information; an ice storage system for cooling; and color-coded visible piping and wiring that allows students to learn about engineering design. Heery International, an Atlanta-based provider of design, engi46 ENGINEERING INC. MARCH / APRIL 2007 Relatively new applications for self-consolidating concrete, developed in Japan in the 1980s and transferred to North America in the mid-1990s, are beginning to make major inroads in the U.S. Proponents of self-consolidating concrete, or SCC, say the mixture far surpasses traditional concretes in durability and versatility. “When you’re talking about SCC you’re talking about a lot of strength,” says Kirk Deadrick, director of quality assurance for Lafarge AC&A Southeast, who recently led a discussion on the topic at an ACEC-sponsored seminar. “Strength is not an issue. In fact, we sometimes have to take the strength down.” In addition to its strength, SCC also is, to a high degree, selfleveling and self-placing. Very little external or internal vibration is necessary because it can spread into place under its own weight, Deadrick says. And because of its flow characteristics, the mixture more precisely fills molds, giving engineers and designers greater flexibility and owners a finished product with higher aesthetics and lower long-term maintenance costs. “For structural engineers, you have the ability to design with higher reinforcement density,” he adds. “You have a better bond to reinforced steel. And it gets into all the nooks and crannies very efficiently and without vibration.” ■ The ACEC Institute for Business Management provides comprehensive and accessible business management education for engineering company principals and their staffs. Visit ACEC’s online educational events calendar at www. or bookstore at publications, or call 202-347-7474 for further information.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Engineering Inc. - March/April 2007

From ACEC to You
News & Notes
Legislative Action
Market Watch
Cover Story: Alternative Energy
The Greening of Wal-Mart
Re-Energizing the Industry
The BIM Boom
Help Wanted: Leaders for Tomorrow
The Path of Perseverance
ACEC/PAC Achieves Record Fundraising Year
ACEC Annual Convention
Helping Firms Manage Healthcare Costs
Facilities Management for A/E Firms
Business Insights
Members In The News
One on One

Engineering Inc. - March/April 2007