Monday, November 30, 2015

GHT principal Ray Smith elected to Building Commissioning Certification Board Examination Committee

GHT Limited (GHT), a DC metro area mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) consulting engineering firm, announces that principal Ray Smith has been elected to the Examination Committee of the Building Commissioning Certification Board (BCCB). The Examination Committee consists of national subject matter experts who collaborate and employ best practices to create the Certified Commissioning Professional (CCP) examination forms. The committee’s responsibilities include writing, reviewing, and approving questions; creating and approving the form; and setting the passing score for a minimally competent practitioner.

The BCCB was formed in 2004 as an administratively independent arm of the Building Commissioning Association (BCA) for the purpose of recognizing building commissioning professionals who meet the standards of the BCA. Its mission is to provide commissioning professionals with the premier industry-recognized commissioning certification program that accurately validates their professional skill level, is accepted as the standard within the industry, and is recognized within the building community and governmental agencies.

Ray Smith specializes in optimizing the performance of MEP systems in new and existing buildings. As Section Head of Commissioning and Building Operations Consulting in GHT's Operations and Energy Services (OES) studio, he works closely with facility owners, managers, and operators to solve problems, develop strategies for operational excellence, and provide commissioning services that focus on long-term performance goals. He has more than 40 years of experience in the built environment, including three years of building operations experience. His unique combination of design and field experience and MEP system performance expertise makes him a resource for MEP studies, troubleshooting, forensic evaluations, concept option studies, payback analyses, post-installation training, and all levels of commissioning.

GHT provides mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) engineering solutions for the built environment. Their approach integrates proven techniques with the latest technologies and sustainable design practices. In addition to MEP design and commissioning for base building systems and interiors, GHT offers operations and energy services that enhance building performance and real estate advisory services that inform investment decisions. For 50 years, GHT has strived to improve efficiency and value for commercial, institutional, and government real estate in the Washington, DC region.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sanborn Head celebrates new Boston Bruins training facility

Stan Sadkowski and Amy Blomeke of Sanborn, Head & Associates were part of the recent Topping Off ceremony for the new Boston Bruins’ Training Facility at Warrior Ice Arena.  As part of the Boston Landing Development, Sanborn Head is working with NB Development Group to provide geotechnical engineering, environmental engineering, LSP services, and construction administration services for the majority of the Boston Landing development, including the new practice rink for the Bruins.

As Mayor Walsh mentioned at the ceremony, “This is more than a hockey rink. Boston Landing is an economic engine for Brighton, Allston and the entire City. This development is a great way to introduce people to the city of Boston.” The other projects on this site include the New Balance Corporate World Headquarters, a state-of-the-art indoor sports complex (including track), and a new MBTA Commuter Rail Station.   

Sanborn Head was one member of a larger design and construction team that includes the HYM Investment Group, Elkus Manfredi Architects, John Moriarty & Associates (JMA), Beals Associates, McNamara/Salvia, WSP, and the NB Development Group.

Sanborn Head provides geotechnical engineering and environmental consulting services to real estate development, industrial, solid waste, energy, and public sector clients.  More information can be found at  

Monday, November 16, 2015

Duke engineers help Siri hear through a cocktail party

People trying to talk to Siri, the operating system used on various Apple devices, may soon no longer have to look like they’re about to eat their iPhones, thanks to a new technology demonstration that solves the problem of crowd noise. In a crowded room with voices coming from every direction, the human auditory system is incredibly good at homing in on a single voice while filtering out the background jabber, but computers are not.

A new approach from engineers at Duke University, however, may soon improve their performance in loud environments. They have developed a sensor that uses metamaterials -- the combination of natural materials in repeating patterns to achieve unnatural properties -- and compressive sensing to determine the direction of a sound and extract it from the surrounding background noise. Once miniaturized, the device could have applications in voice-command electronics, medical sensing devices that use waves, like ultrasound, and hearing aids and cochlear implants. Their study appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We’ve invented a sensing system that can efficiently, reliably, and inexpensively solve an interesting problem that modern technology has to deal with on a daily basis,” says Abel Xie, a PhD student in electrical and computer engineering at Duke and lead author of the paper. “We think this could improve the performance of voice-activated devices like smart phones and game consoles while also reducing the complexity of the system.”

The proof-of-concept device looks a bit like a thick, plastic, pie-shaped honeycomb split into dozens of slices. While the honeycomb’s openings may all look the same, their depth varies from hole to hole. This gives each slice of the honeycomb pie a unique pattern.

“The cavities behave like soda bottles when you blow across their tops,” says Steve Cummer, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke. “The amount of soda left in the bottle, or the depth of the cavities in our case, affects the pitch of the sound they make, and this changes the incoming sound in a subtle but detectable way.”

When a sound wave gets to the device, it becomes slightly distorted by these cavities. And that distortion has a specific signature depending what slice of the pie it passed over. After being picked up by a microphone on the other side, the sound is transmitted to a computer that can separate the jumble of noises based on these unique distortions. The researchers tested their invention in multiple trials by simultaneously sending three identical sounds at the sensor from three different directions. It was able to distinguish between them with a 96.7 percent accuracy rate.

While the prototype is six inches wide, the researchers believe it could be scaled down and incorporated into the devices we use on a regular basis. And because the sensor is made of plastic and does not have any electric or moving parts, it is extremely efficient and reliable.

“This concept may also have applications outside the world of consumer electronics,” Xie reports. “I think it could be combined with any medical imaging device that uses waves, such as ultrasound, to not only improve current sensing methods but to create entirely new ones.
With the extra information, it should also be possible to improve the sound fidelity and increase functionalities for applications like hearing aids and cochlear implants. One obvious challenge is to make the system physically small. It is challenging, but not impossible, and we are working toward that goal.”

This work was supported by a Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative under a grant from the Office of Naval Research.

Monday, November 2, 2015

GAI wins Pennsylvania Turnpike construction inspection services contract

GAI Consultants has been selected to provide construction services on an open-end contract basis for several construction packages on the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Southern Beltway between SR 0022 and I-79 in Allegheny and Washington Counties. Projects to be inspected under this agreement will include roadway, bridge, and interchange construction
·          GAI will serve as a subconsultant to L.R. Kimball and will provide inspection support for the construction management team already in place. Each agreement will be for a maximum cost of $6.5 million or for a 48-month period, whichever comes first, with inspection services assigned on an as-needed basis. Possible assignments include inspection for the following design sections:

o   Section 55W, wetland/streams/terrestrial mitigation
o   Section 55-A-1, Exit 6 and Exit 9 interchanges
o   Section 55-A2, Exit 11 interchange
o   Section 55-B, mainline side road improvements
o   Section 55-C1, Exit 16 interchange
o   Section 55-C2-1, I-79 widening
o   Section 55-C2, Exit 18 interchange
o   Section 55-S
In business since 1958, GAI is an employee-owned planning, engineering, and environmental consulting firm providing local expertise to worldwide clients in the energy, transportation, development, government, and industrial markets. The firm has offices throughout the southeastern and midwestern United States. For more information, visit