What were some of the challenges and rewards associated with working in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and specifically the Presidio of San Francisco?

The most rewarding aspect of working within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), and specifically the Presidio, is being part of a team that transformed a former US Army base into a spectacular National Park.

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Battery East – Before

Our role as the environmental consultant began more than 16 years ago. At that time, the US Army base at the Presidio had recently transferred to the National Park Service with the Presidio Trust in charge of managing the interior park lands. The National Park Service  would control coastal lands.

Some of our projects included assessing and achieving clean closure at landfills on or near the coast of the Presidio, cleaning up soil impacted with lead near the Golden Gate Bridge, assessing water quality in habitat ponds to support the resurgence of the red-legged frog, and performing remediation on former landfills to assist in bicycle and pedestrian trail development.

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Battery East – After

Our biggest challenge was navigating the complex regulatory structure associated with working within the park to clean-up previously contaminated sites and obtain closure. Some of the government agencies with jurisdiction in the GGNRA are the Regional Water Quality Control Board, Department of Toxic Substance Control, Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District, National Park Service, and Presidio Trust. Another critical component to successfully manage a park project is to understand land use and applicable cleanup standards, whether they be commercial, ecological, recreation, or residential. Different areas of the park have different cleanup criteria, which are based on land use, exposure assumptions, and background conditions.

The GGNRA now consists of over 80,000 acres of ecologically and historically significant landscapes in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.  Over 14 million people visit and enjoy the GGNRA each year making it one of the largest urban parks in the world. We at Langan are proud to have helped open many areas to the public.

About Joshua Graber, CHMM
Joshua is a senior project manager with nearly 20 years of environmental consulting experience.  His responsibilities include geologic, hydrogeologic, and chemical analytical evaluations; Superfund site management; vapor intrusion assessments and mitigation; soil and groundwater remediation; litigation support; remedial excavation, waste classification, and disposal; and technical report preparation. He currently manages the Presidio-wide groundwater monitoring program, GGNRA projects, in addition to other projects in Northern California.

What challenges have you faced applying SWPPP regulations to projects?

The initial challenge is ensuring our clients understand what a SWPPP (storm water pollution prevention program) is and how it affects construction.

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Langan provided Qualified SWPPP Practitioner (QSP) services during the construction of the Equinix SV10 development.

SWPPP provides instructions on how to treat stormwater prior to leaving a construction site. This isn’t new. For many years, cities have required sites to have SWPPPs, however the programs were unenforced and remained unopened throughout construction.

In 2009, the state’s General Permit mandated a SWPPP monitoring and compliance program. Every construction site that disturbs over one acre must have a project-specific SWPPP that the state has reviewed. Also, the construction team is responsible for appointing someone to monitor the site for SWPPP compliance throughout construction. SWPPPs may remain in effect for a few months up to several years, depending on the project’s construction timeline.

Some requirements are as simple as collecting trash and storing it in covered bins; while others require intricate systems to divert stormwater and remove sediment prior to entering the storm drain system.

While SWPPP is a great tool, it has created some confusion. Misunderstandings among different levels of government, contractors, and the property owners have placed us, as the consultants, right in the middle.

Part of our “middle man” role is ensuring clients and property owners understand their responsibilities as well as ours. For example, the party who develops and writes the SWPPP does not have to be the same party monitoring and inspecting the site for compliance.

Whether it’s writing the SWPPP, obtaining state approval, or overseeing the contractors during construction, Langan can play all roles, relieving the client from the burden of keeping up with the evolving regulations and staying on top of multiple contractors.

Even though we may be in charge of SWPPP, we still stress that all involved parties know what it is and its intent, which leads to the most common question we get asked: what’s up with all the acronyms? While there are too many to list here (the state’s General Permit lists them all), I provide a few key ones below:

SWPPP­­ — Storm Water Pollution Prevention Program

QSD — Qualified SWPPP Developer (writes the SWPPP)

QSP — Qualified SWPPP Practitioner (oversees the SWPPP inspections)

LRP — Legally Responsible Person (usually the owner or contractor; cannot be QSD or QSP)

REAP — Rain Event Action Plan (instructions for the contractor to follow prior to a rain event)

SMARTS — Storm Water Multi-Application and Report Tracking System (the state’s portal for submitting SWPPP documents)

Answer provided by Vitina Mandella, PE, LEED AP, QSD/P, Senior Project Manager
Vitina manages project teams from design through construction for land development, site design, and infill projects. She has extensive experience with stormwater management throughout the construction process and after completion as well as designing and implementing stormwater controls. Vitina has prepared stormwater pollution prevention plans (SWPPPs) as well as site and off-site plans for street improvements, traffic, LEED designation, Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, and historical preservation.

Q&A: How are civil engineering and master planning evolving in the Middle East?

Ege Yapi Mixed-Use Development

Ege Yapi in Istanbul, Turkey is an 800,000-square-meter mixed-use development featuring residential and retail space, a five-star hotel, a high school, office buildings, and parking facilities.

 

I believe 2015 and beyond will mark the progression of sustainable and smart master planning for real estate development in the Middle East. Governments and developers will continue to emphasize perfecting the art of efficiently engineered and architecturally sustainable real estate development projects. This is a breath of fresh air from the “design-and-build as fast as you can” days of old for which the Middle East was known. We are already witnessing the time and effort spent on preliminary planning and forward thinking of the projects revolving around the Dubai Expo 2020 and the Qatar 2020 World Cup. Both events are a driving force for new and smarter developments in the Middle East, and have shown the need for sustainable and long-term building solutions.

I strongly believe that the emphasis on planning will become the norm for future projects as all stakeholders will continue to benefit from the results of carefully planned real estate development. Langan has been involved with a number of initial planning projects, working closely with the master planners/architects, and has seen first-hand the positive impact of extensive planning before the project even gets underway. Our recent projects include large master planned developments in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Russia, and other CIS countries which have been successful due to the involvement from the site/civil engineer from the beginning planning stages, and the preliminary planning on the part of the architect and developer.

Estidama (UAE's sustainability initiative) certified Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) Data Center - Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Estidama (UAE’s sustainability initiative) certified Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) Data Center – Dubai, United Arab Emirates

 

About Can Karayel, PE, LEED AP

Can has over 16 years of design and project management experience in the Middle East, Europe, CIS, and the US, specializing in civil and land development engineering. He has successfully designed and managed numerous land development projects within the retail, office, residential, industrial, school, and government sectors.

Q&A: What are some of the site/civil engineering challenges in Latin America?

One major challenge throughout Latin America is extensive earthwork on large land masses with poor soil conditions. Projects with hundreds and even thousands of acres are common, and typically involve the movement of millions of cubic meters of soil.

Intelligent site grading software provides significant savings in construction costs.

Intelligent site grading software helps decrease construction costs.

Grading design – often overlooked as a way to save millions on budget – is critical. Langan has successfully focused on earthwork management design to save millions of dollars at the onset of construction. Our approach combines the skills and experience of our engineers with the latest software applications to optimize grading for our clients.

Also, on large projects, we know that master planning goes hand in glove with master engineering – thinking about and considering infrastructure for the full build-out and future phases. Minimizing a project’s infrastructure investment in the initial construction phase helps bring it to life. That’s key because once a project becomes visible, further funding often becomes available.

Stabilizing/Reusing On-site Clay Oils

Clayey soils or steep slopes require ground improvement methods that strengthen the soil for long-term high performance.

Soil quality is also an issue. Much of LATAM (and especially undeveloped areas) is situated on clayey soils, steep slopes, or has seismic concerns such as liquefaction failures. Our geotechnical teams have extensive experience with ground improvement methods to strengthen the soil for long-term high performance. Our proven techniques shorten schedules from years to months. This saves clients’ money, time, and long-term reconstruction headaches while positioning their project on premium infrastructure.

Answer provided by Eric Schwarz, PE, LEED AP
Eric specializes in site/civil land development engineering, hydraulics and hydrology, storm drainage, water distribution and sanitary sewerage conveyance design. During his 20 years at Langan, he has managed dozens of major projects throughout Latin America.