Sunday, May 24, 2015

GAI Consultants employees graduate from on-site MBA program

Recently, national consulting firm GAI Consultants (GAI), in partnership with Point Park University, graduated its third on-site corporate MBA class as 10 GAI executives and top-level managers receive master’s degrees in business administration. “It gives me a great deal of pride and satisfaction in celebrating the successful graduation of GAI’s third MBA class. This achievement requires a significant amount of sacrifice and dedication by the MBA participants. Congratulations to each and every one of you in reaching this career milestone,” said GAI President and CEO Gary DeJidas, P.E.

Employees from six of GAI’s 26 offices simultaneously and remotely completed the on-site program through the use of web conferencing technology. Local Pittsburgh-based graduates include Jeanne Cotter, senior director of quality management; Ryan Hurt, P.E., engineering manager; Justin Johnston, AFP, environmental manager; and Richard Krajcovic, P.E., PTOE, engineering director. “Completing the Point Park University MBA program has been a challenging and rewarding experience for me,” says GAI Senior Director of Quality Management Jeanne Cotter. “Going back to school after so many years was a little intimidating, but I found I could apply real business experiences to every course, which made my MBA experience more meaningful and valuable.”

Point Park University’s on-site corporate MBA was launched in the fall of 2009, and GAI was among the first businesses in the Pittsburgh region to take advantage of the program. Employees attended a four-hour class every week, completing ten MBA courses over a 42-week period. The accelerated, fully accredited MBA program is a cornerstone of GAI’s in-house leadership development initiative and is offered to employees who have completed or are enrolled in GAI’s Harvard Executive Leadership Program.

GAI is an employee-owned engineering, environmental, planning, and economic consulting firm with over 55 years of experience providing local expertise to worldwide clients in the energy, transportation, development, government, and industrial markets. Visit to learn more about the firm. Connect with GAI through social media on Twitter (GAIConsultants), Facebook (gaiconsultants), LinkedIn (gai-consultants-inc.), and YouTube (gaiconsultants).

Monday, May 18, 2015

New solar energy source powering Valley Metro light rail facility

Valley Metro in Phoenix, AZ chose April 22, Earth Day, as the kickoff to begin powering the Valley Metro Rail Operations & Maintenance Center using solar power. The new solar plant, which consists of 2,800 solar voltaic panels spanning 1.15 acres, is mounted at ground-level and on parking lot shade canopies. It can generate 1.3 million Kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy savings annually, enough electricity to power 123 homes.

“From reducing greenhouse gases to improving fuel usage, we are involved in a variety of initiatives to protect and preserve our environment,” says Steve Banta, Valley Metro CEO. “Solar energy is a principal addition to our growing sustainability efforts.” Solar power adds to a menu of existing sustainable programs that Valley Metro practices each day, including a large fleet of alternatively fueled bus and trains.

Valley Metro received a Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas & Emissions Reduction (TIGGER) federal grant to help fund construction and installation of the solar photovoltaic system. Additional funding was received through the APS Schools and Government Incentive program. To date, the APS program has helped more than 32 government agencies, 300 schools and 70 school districts install solar energy.

Last week, Valley Metro received Bronze level status in the American Public Transportation Authority’s (APTA) Sustainability Commitment on the basis of making sustainability a part of the agency’s strategic objectives, developing an awareness program and establishing a sustainability inventory. The new solar facility is a vital part of the agency’s overall commitment to sustainability. Valley Metro is one of eight systems across the country to earn this distinction. Valley Metro is being recognized for its strong organizational commitment to improving sustainability, for significant progress in water reduction efforts in an arid environment, and for its innovation that led to saving energy in air conditioning on buses,” says APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy.

Valley Metro provides public transit options to residents of greater Phoenix and Maricopa County including the planning and operations of a regional bus system and the development and operations of light rail. The first 20 miles of light rail opened December 2008, and eight rail extensions are planned or are under construction that will create a 66-mile system by 2034. Valley Metro also offers alternative transportation programs for seniors and people with disabilities, commuter vanpools, online carpool matching, bus trip mapping, bicycle safety, and telework assistance.

Editor's note: Progressive Engineer magazine ran a feature article on Valley Metro's Metro Light Rail system in the July/August 2010 issue. You can see it at

Monday, May 4, 2015

Arup selected as prime engineer for Phase II of Hunter's Point South in New York City

Arup, a multidisciplinary engineering and consulting firm that specializes in sustainable designs, announced it has been selected as the prime consultant to design the second phase of work at Hunter's Point South. The vibrant, sustainable, housing community and waterfront park is expanding on 30 acres of city-owned waterfront property in Long Island City, Queens, New York. The firm has been engaged to coordinate engineering, design and related consultant services for the street network and a waterfront park and is providing civil, structural, and geotechnical engineering services as well as design of the roadway and sewer infrastructure. Phase II is consists of 15 acres of the planned development and includes a five-acre waterfront park and a newly developed street grid.

Already recognized internationally as a model of urban ecology and innovative sustainable thinking, Hunter's Point South Phase I has been recognized by ACEC New York with a  Platinum Award in the Special Projects Category in 2014; by AIA New York with an Urban Design Merit Award in 2013; by the American Society of Landscape Architects with an Honor Award in 2014; and the American Society of Landscape Architects with a Merit Award in 2012. The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) retained the same design team from Phase I to develop Phase II. Along with Arup, Thomas Balsley Associates is the landscape architect lead, and WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism is the design collaborator.

Phase I of this complex design and construction project required coordination of approvals with nearly 20 city and state agencies. Arup and its design partners have been retained to deliver similar results in Phase II and will leverage knowledge, an understanding of community concerns, and previously established relationships to pursue all applicable permits required to move the project forward.

Upon completion, Hunter's Point South will include up to 5,000 new housing units, of which 60 percent will be permanently affordable. The city is also planning for 100,000 square feet (SF) of retail and 50,000 SF of community space. Phase I of the waterfront park includes a children's playground, basketball courts, a dog run, a multipurpose play field, and an urban beach. Phase II will be more passive with signature architectural elements, including overlooks of the East River and the Manhattan skyline with large elevated decks and sweeping shade canopies.

"We recognize that the Hunter's Point South infrastructure and waterfront park will serve to support the development of an entire community and provide the city with a valuable new resource," says James DeMarco, Arup's project manager. "We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to its legacy." This is Arup's fourth project for the NYCEDC. Previous work includes the Coney Island Steeplechase Plaza, the East River Waterfront, and the Green Infrastructure Design for Newtown Creek and Westchester Creek.

Arup handles projects across the world having opened its first U.S. office 25 years ago. The firm was founded in 1946 and now employs some 1,000 people in the Americas. For more information, visit