On March 21, 2019, more than 160 members of the construction industry, government, and students of the University of Washington attended and spoke at the 2019 New Frontiers in Construction Conference (NFCC).  This conference took place at the Center for Education and Research in Construction’s (CERC) facilities at Sand Point in Magnuson Park, Seattle, WA.  The main goal of this conference was to further bridge the gap between the activities of the University – education and research- and the construction industry of the Greater Seattle Area.  The UW is at the forefront of construction research in the area and they are continuously improving upon their methods and learning what they can do to help the industry with issues they are currently facing or expect to face in the near future.  Alternately, this conference serves as a learning opportunity for the people of the construction industry.  Giving firms of all concentrations a firsthand look at what University research programs are focusing on, allowing them to take this information and use it to help further their success in the industry.

This daylong event was broken up into panel discussions, breakout sessions, and poster presentations from undergrad CM students and graduate students from the Civil Engineering Program.  Panel sessions focused on cross-disciplinary collaboration in built environments practice and the “go-to” project delivery methods of some of the largest project owners in the Seattle area. Breakout sessions introduced topics such as construction education and training, lean construction, energy and sustainability, safety and health and more.

NFCC ’19 launched with opening remarks from Professor Renée Cheng, the Dean of the UW College of Built Environments.  In this introduction, she shared some of the results of her most recent research which seamlessly tied into the themes of both the upcoming panel session and the conference.  Dean Cheng shared that diversity does not necessarily lead to high performance or output from a project team.  A highly diverse team that is poorly managed will often times produce less than ideal work and show less than ideal performance levels.  On the other hand, a highly diverse team that is well managed and collaborates with one another will lead to higher levels of performance.  In short, diversity, equity, and inclusion are qualities that matter, so we must make an effort to maximize these qualities to maximize performance.  Mutual trust and respect, aligned goals, and accountability between members of a project team is the formula for success and will allow project teams to reach their full potential.

What you missed:

⇒   More than 160 participants at this year’s event
⇒   All 5 of the departments within the College were represented
⇒   33 speakers and panelists
⇒   Two great panel discussions

⇒⇒     Prof. Renée Cheng, Dean of the UW College of Built Environments opened this year’s conference with a focus on cross-disciplinary collaboration across our industry.  Her opening remarks took us straight into a plenary session on that very subject.  The premise:  The greatest benefits from interdisciplinary work in practice comes when each discipline contributes something (expertise, ways of thinking, approach, method, resource, etc.) that is relatively unique to make the team and project better, more innovative, more resilient, safer and healthier.  At the same time, the differences between the conventions and culture of each area can make it challenging to communicate and come to an agreement.

Each panelist shared stories that illustrated the benefits and challenges of interdisciplinary practice, and discussion amongst the panel and response to audience questions followed.

⇒⇒     Dean Emeritus, Prof. John Schaufelberger facilitated a panel discussion on Project Procurement: Best Practices, Challenges & Lessons Learned.  This panel was comprised of Owners from around the area and featured Janice Zahn, Assistant Director of Engineering / Director of Construction Management, Port of Seattle; Mike Bell, Executive Project Director, Sound Transit; Keith Donovan, Real Estate & Facilities Director, Microsoft; Steve Tatge, Executive Director, Project Delivery Group, UW Facilities; and Robert Cowan, Director of Facilities, Fred Hutch.

After the morning session, we broke out into focused groups.  An archive of the NFCC ’19 sessions will soon be available.  If you could not join us this year or you couldn’t make it to a certain session while you were here, catch up on what you missed.  Select the session you are interested in to see more.

Public-Private Partnerships: An Overview
Presented By: Ahmed Abdel-Aziz, PhD, Associate Professor, UW Department of Construction Management
Case Studies for Public-Private Partnerships
Presented By: William Gorham Associate Vice President, Project Development and Partnering at Plenary Group
Under Fire: Mix Design & Concrete Performance
Presented By: Kamran Nemati, PhD, Associate Professor, UW Department of Construction Management

Post-earthquake fire (PEF) is a relatively frequent disaster, but its damage to concrete is complicated and is usually affected by uncertain factors. The 1906 San Francisco and the 1923 Tokyo earthquakes caused severe damage due to the ground shaking; however, damage and losses from the subsequent fires reportedly exceeded the damage from the shaking itself. On a smaller scale, hundreds of fires were reported after the 1989 Loma Prieta, 1994 Northridge, and 1995 Kobe earthquakes. Although no widespread destructive fire occurred after these earthquakes, in Kobe alone almost 7,000 buildings were damaged by fire. Considering the risk of fire either locally within buildings or conflagrations after an earthquake, the effects of seismic damage on the fire resistance of structural members need to be better understood for resilient structural design.

To increase the efficiency of concrete structures, the use of high-strength concrete is desirable, especially in bridges, tall buildings, and concrete tunnel linings. However, high-strength concrete shows very brittle behavior in compression and is prone to spalling in case of fire. The presence of fibers can increase the fracture toughness (or the ductility) in compression, and also reduce the risk of fire spalling.

On the other hand, high porous concretes show excellent resistance in the presence of high temperatures, and fail in a more brittle manner under compression. As the water/binder ratio of such concretes is generally high, their compressive strength reduces. For this reason, the aim of this research project is to investigate, both at ordinary and high temperatures, the performances of concretes having different water/binder ratios (and thus strengths), porosities, and fiber content. The aim is to optimize the composition of concrete in order to have the highest strength in conjunction with the best fire resistance and post-peak ductility.

From Internship to L&I Grant:
Creating Productive and Safe Practices through Research-to-Practice Partnerships
Co-Presented By:
Josh Mullen, Chief Operating Officer Snyder Roofing & Sheet Metal Company
Lucille Mihalic, EHS Director, Snyder Roofing of Washington and
Zhenyu Zhang, PhD Candidate UW College of Built Environments
New Safety and Productivity Paradigms in Off-Site Construction
Presented By: Elena Franks, PMP, Designer and Construction Consultant at EDL Studio

Given the promise of productivity gains, cost-effectiveness, and environmental efficiency, new off-site construction solutions are shaping not only the means of production and assembly for buildings but also the extended population of workers and their job conditions.  While the widespread belief is that the impacts from prefabrication will yield safer conditions when compared to traditional methods, there is little evidence, often contradictory, to support such a claim.  This session will review the foundation of knowledge on prefabrication, and reexamine the problems associated with occupational risk and project performance through an integrated lens.

Sustainability and Changes in WA State and Seattle Energy Code Requirements
Presented By: Stefanie Young, LEED AP BD+C, LEED for Homes Green Rater, WELL AP, Built Green Verifier, BREEAM Assessor, Senior Sustainability Consultant

Buildings in the U.S. consume 70% of electricity and account for 40% of carbon emissions, thus green building development offers a great potential to reverse the trend of global climate change. In response, cities, states, and the federal government have promoted and endorsed green building projects through various approaches, including codes, regulations, policies, and incentives. As a result, market leaders have developed green building practices and achieved higher levels of building sustainability and performance as a way to cope with increasing global challenges. Despite the increasing level of interest in green building development in recent years, little is reported about how the municipal and federal mandates have affected green building development in reality.

Quantitatively Assessing the Impact of Energy Disclosure Policy on Office Buildings
Presented By: Luming Shang, Research Assistant and PhD Candidate, UW College of Built Environments
Construction Management Accreditation
Presented By: Bill Bender, PhD, Professor and Chair, UW Department of Construction Management
Workforce Training
Presented By: Sarah Babcock, AGC Education Foundation & Karen Dove, Executive Director, ANEW
The Simply and Compelling Case for Lean and IPD
Presented By: John Strickland, Lead/IPD Director, Jacobs Engineering
A New Metric or Percent Constraints Removed (PCR): A Report from 32 Projects
Presented By: Yong-Woo Kim, PhD, Professor, UW Department of Construction Management
Application of New Technologies in the AEC Industry
Presented By: Bita Astaneh Asl, PhD Candidate UW Ph.D. Candidate Bita Astaneh Asl summarizes her work here at the UW starting with BIM for Facilities Management with the UW Facilities and ending with Virtual Reality applications for design review and education. She explores the ways that these technologies – Building Information Modeling and Virtual Reality – support productivity in building design, construction, and operations. Her talk will show highlights from this work with key takeaways for practice and implementation.
USACE Advanced Modeling Requirements: Necessary Tools to Complete the Job
Presented By: Steve Hutsell, Chief, Geospatial Section, Seattle District, US Army Corps of Engineers

The broad topics of BIM/CIM/GIS demand clear and well-defined requirements to help ensure the project is executed as expected. Without specific requirements, what an owner expects versus what they receive often differs. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in conjunction with industry leaders work collaboratively as a group through a Consortia to develop mutually beneficial Advanced Modeling requirements. This session will highlight the toolbox of Documents, Templates, Tools, Checklists, and Guides that have been developed to enable Advanced Modeling goals of USACE and other Department of Defense agencies, and what is currently planned for the future.

Frontiers of Asset Data Standards in Practice
Presented By: Van Woods, BIM Program Manager, US Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District

The Corps of Engineers “COE” recently announced an enterprise-wide initiative to treat data as a strategic asset.  In the broad ecosystem of data processing systems present in any small, medium, or large organization there are significant challenges to realizing that seemingly straightforward vision.  Experiences in asset data standardization in practice are discussed with overviews of developments in the following existing and emerging initiatives: NBIMS-US (National BIM Standard), COE Facility Data Exchange, SeaRAD (Seattle-area Regional Asset Data Standards).