March 12, 2017 – March 15, 2017
The PDC Summit brings together senior leaders working in all disciplines of health care planning, design, and construction to learn, network, and discover ways to create value for the health care built environment. Attend the 2017 PDC Summit to connect with colleagues in the field and learn innovative strategies to increase flexibility for the future of health care. Earn up to 2.3 CEUs. Event hosted by the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) of the American Hospital Association, in collaboration with AIA/AAH, ACHA, and FGI
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Orange County Convention Center
Orlanda, FL
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*CEU – 2.3 credits
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Early-bird rate ends Jan. 13, 2017! Event is in Eastern time zone.

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Here in New Orleans, you have been involved in the Lower Ninth Ward, one of the neighborhoods hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina. Ten years after the storm, what has changed? Has anything improved?

Ten years after the storm, the community has totally changed. The Lower Ninth Ward had about 18,000 residents before Katrina. Today, it has roughly 6,000, so two-thirds of the population is gone. There were over 1,000 vacant lots before the storm; now, there’s about 7,000.

There are little pockets of improvement where houses have been built, but a lot of housing still needs to be built. Improvement means there was a plan that things were going to get better.

In New Orleans, 100,000 African Americans have not returned. They’re in Houston, Atlanta, Baltimore or Los Angeles. When you lose that amount of a population, it affects the overall culture, economy — everything.

So the Lower Nine is a different Lower Nine. 6,000 remain. Some were here pre-Katrina, but there’s an influx of new people. There is a lot of vacant land that needs to become housing.

Over the past decade, has planning and design improved the lives of low-income communities in New Orleans? If so, how?

When Katrina happened, one of the responses afterwards was to shut down or restructure public housing. It’s never good to be poor or live in subsidized housing, but it was a lot easier before, because the public housing was located adjacent to Canal Street, so people were close to where they worked and other families. Someone said the underground drug culture even changed, because the city spread these people all around, whereas before they were in one place.

When you close down that much public housing, there’s a lot of people that don’t have housing. Some of the housing, like Lafitte and Magnolia Housing, still have low-income residents, but there were a lot of restrictions in terms of felony records that kept people from coming back. Public housing in the most desirable neighborhoods became market rate and mixed income.

So a large portion of the people in public housing — poor people — were shifted to New Orleans East, which is across the Industrial Canal and has little public transit infrastructure. New Orleans East is a transit desert. (This is discussed in my forthcoming book, Lost in the Transit Desert: Race, Transit Access, and Urban Form). New Orleans East is not currently a job center. They just rebuilt the hospital there 11 years later. And a lot of the affluent African American community that was in New Orleans East left. So now you have a population that’s under-served and underprivileged or shifted away from resources.

For some people, New Orleans is much better. If you live in one of the nicer neighborhoods or are a young person that came from afar, there are all these tech and movie jobs. There are many new stores and restaurants.

In my opinion, Katrina was a boom for some people and a bust for many others.

FEMA’s new flood map for New Orleans marks 50 percent of the city as “safe,” meaning homeowners and commercial property owners in these zones don’t need to buy flood insurance. According to NPR, “Intermap analyzed thousands of coastal properties and found virtually no difference between FEMA’s high and low risk zones, two neighborhoods might have different insurance rates but essentially the same risk of actual physical flooding.” What does this say to you about the flood insurance system in New Orleans?

Damage from flooding in New Orleans is not all based on geography like in other places. It’s not all based on whether you’re in the flood zone. For instance, the Lower Ninth Ward is not the lowest area in the city, but the flood walls were not structurally sound. We also have to look at dredging. They dredged the Mississippi Gulf Outlet, which allowed salt water intrusion, so there was no protection from the storm surge. So there are a lot of man-made factors that influence what happened.

Flood insurance isn’t affordable. Post-Katrina a lot of people who can’t afford it have been shifted to places that are low and at risk. They’ve been shifted to New Orleans East and St. Bernard Parish. They’re living in lower areas and have to pay a higher flood rate.

It’s really complicated because much of the situation is man-made.

Last year the city released its first ever comprehensive resilience strategy, in part financed by the Rockefeller Foundation, which emphasized environmental adaptation, equity and governance. In your experience, what differentiates a resilient community from one that is not?

Many times when these plans are done, the most affected don’t participate.

The French Quarter and Garden District, which actually happen to be on the higher land, are economically valuable. People come to the city to be there. But New Orleans East is valuable, because the people who actually shape much of the culture, and make the art and music, serve the drinks, and shuck the oysters, live there.

Resiliency plans only work to me if they’re going to be resilient and sustained, if they’re going to create community stewards and stakeholders. I’m using all that design outreach language, but, you know. The most effective plans are co-generated with the community, because they are the ones who are going to be impacted by what happens.

People realize we’re living with water. But the question is: how do we protect the landscape, but also protect the rights of everyone?

New Orleans Lower NineCommunity event in Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans / Diane Jones Allen

Earlier this year, Louisiana received $95 million from the Rebuild by Design competition to adapt to climate change. Some of those funds will also help the tribal Houma community on Isle de Jean Charles whose land is submerged by an amazing 98 percent since 1955 move to a new location. Given New Orleans is experiencing both sea level rise and sinking land, can you imagine this city conducting a strategic retreat in places, or have to move communities wholesale to new locations?

Right after Katrina, there was the “green dot plan,” which basically asked, “Why should people be allowed to come back, for instance, to the Lower Nine? Why should people be able to come back into a place that would flood?”

We are experiencing sea level rise and coastal erosion. A lot of that erosion is man-made because of dredging and shipping channels.

For me, the solution is rethinking density and diversity and helping people realize they’re going to have to live closer together with different people. We also have to densify so you can move people together safely, but keep them in the same region.

When Katrina occurred, a lot of people moved to Baton Rouge, because they thought that was safe. Now we just had flooding in Baton Rouge. We want to stay in our state and region. We should — it’s rich in heritage and culture and unique.

But we’re going to have to rethink how we live on the land. We’re going to have to be more sustainable in terms of how we use our resources and infrastructure. Right now, we all want to spread out and live in our own space. Sea level rise, flooding, coastal erosion are fighting against that way of living.

On a panel at the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) summit on the new landscape declaration, you discussed the concerns you have with landscape architecture students and professors helicoptering into low-income communities to help with a project for a semester, often not to be seen again. What can landscape architecture programs do to more deeply engage and connect in these places where they want to help?

Professors need to do a lot of preparation before the semester starts. They need to take time to bring the community into the preparation, understand the situation, create a partnership with the community, and then come up with an action plan of what you’re leaving. A design studio is really about the students learning. They only have a semester, so what value are these 20 or so students really going offer for these communities?

Yesterday at the ASLA Annual Meeting, we hosted a field session called Beyond the Edge. We visited three communities dealing with critical life and death situations. One is living on a landfill, the other one’s living next to the port, and the other one is dealing with a prison population. My trepidation was whether it was even a good thing to bring the field trip there.

My trepidation was: will I be bringing these people in to gawk? After a lot of discussion with members of the community, they wanted people to come. So we were able to meet with them, and they actually invited us into their homes. We went to a community college and talked with community members. We came up with a follow-through so we could reach out to them after this session.

ASLA TourASLA 2016 Annual Meeting Tour “Beyond the Edge” at Gordon Plaza / Diane Jones Allen

In a nutshell, that’s what should happen if you’re going to do engagement. You have to really work with the community beforehand. The field session generated so many ideas, a lot of positive energy, and was good experience for the attendees and community. People who went on the session came up to me saying, “Thank you.”

It’s good for students to understand first hand and learn how to relate to other people. Our profession can solve problems. But you can’t helicopter in and out. You have to think about what you are leaving them, what’s going to happen after your semester’s over, because some pretty plans are not going to help them. You have to help the community translate them into some sort of reality.

At the LAF, you also said, “If we,” meaning landscape architects, “as a whole, truly want diversity, we need to focus less on statistics and instead recognize and praise diversity and lift it up.” What are some specific ways landscape architects can better lift up diversity?

It’s important to look to the future and reach out to young people and increase the number and the diversity within the profession. But in order to do that, young people need to see people who look like themselves. That was my point about recognizing and using the diversity we have in the profession to further increase diversity.

Firms can use their diversity. If you have women, or people from diverse cultures in your firms, put them in the forefront sometimes, so that clients and communities can see and say, “Oh, there’s somebody like me,” or, “This profession is diverse.”

And try to increase the diversity in your firm and also work in diverse communities. Your firm might not be diverse, but if your projects are in communities with people different from yourself, you’re actually letting the community know this profession is out there. You can get people to start thinking, “landscape architecture can help solve my problems, and the problems in my community. Maybe this is something that I want to do.”

Use the diversity you have, increase your diversity, and work in diverse communities.

Diane Jones Allen, ASLA, is principal of DesignJones LLC based in New Orleans, Louisiana. DesignJones won the ASLA 2016 Community Service Award. Jones Allen was associate professor of landscape architecture at Morgan State University. Her book Lost in the Transit Desert: Race, Transit Access, and Suburban Form will be published by Routledge in April, 2017.

Interview conducted by Jared Green at the ASLA 2016 Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

Industry shed 3,000 jobs vs. Nov. but gained 102,000 since Dec. 2015.

As colder weather arrived in much of the U.S., construction’s December unemployment rate rose to 7.4% from November’s 5.7% but still was an improvement over the year-earlier 7.5%, the Labor Dept. has reported.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest monthly employment report, released on Jan. 6, also showed that construction lost 3,000 jobs in December, compared with November, but gained 102,000 year over year.

Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America chief economist, said in a statement that the BLS report sends “mixed signals” about the industry. He added, “Although a dip in employment might normally be a sign of declining demand, in this case the industry is raising wages and taking other steps to attract and retain workers.”

Simonson noted that average hourly earnings were up 3% in the past year, to $28.42 per hour, and recently have been increasing at their fastest annual rate since 2009. He said that trend signals that contractors want to add workers.

Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist, said in a statement that construction firms are having trouble finding qualified workers. “Accordingly,” Basu said, “many construction firms are required to do more with fewer people, which should eventually show up in construction productivity data that reflect the amount of output generated by the average worker on a per-hour-worked basis.

The BLS unemployment rates aren’t adjusted for seasonal variations. The volume of construction work tends to decline, and the industry’s jobless rate climbs, as temperatures fall in large parts of the country.

The BLS report’s monthly jobs figures, which are seasonally adjusted, show that residential specialty trade contractors added 11,700 positions, but those gains were outweighed by losses in all other industry segments.

Heavy-civil engineering construction posted the largest decline, shedding 8,900 jobs.

Nonresidential specialty trades and buildings construction each saw their workforce shrink by 3,200 positions.

Basu said, “The significant number of jobs lost in the heavy and civil engineering segment indicates that U.S. spending on infrastructure remains low.” He added, “For  much of the year, the level of spending in publicly financed segment was stuck in reverse, and [the BLS] data indicate that increased investment in the shared built environment is much needed.”

BLS also reported that the overall U.S. unemployment rate edged up to 4.7% from November’s 4.6%, despite a gain of 156,000 jobs during the month.

Story updated 1:52 pm 1/6/17 with industry economists’ comments.

Despite frequent news accounts of Chinese cities choking on fossil-fueled air pollution the country’s renewable energy sector continues to progress. China leads the world in photovoltaic capacity, achieving 43 gigawatts in 2016. It overtook Germany for the top spot in 2015 after increasing the solar industry’s capacity at the rate of 40% per year for over a decade.

China is now racing to become the world’s biggest carbon trading market. It introduced carbon trading as a pilot project last year when 120 million tons of carbon dioxide worth 3.2 billion yuan ($463 million) had already been traded. The project will be extended to the entire country this year, and this will make China the world’s biggest market, Xie Zhenhua, China’s special representative for climate change affairs, said.

China’s success has attracted Apple Inc., which recently bought a 30% stake in four wind power projects owned by Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co., China’s biggest wind turbine manufacturer, as part of its efforts to minimize its carbon footprint.

“This is an image booster for both companies,” says Zhou Yiyi, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance based in Shanghai. “It will indirectly offset Apple’s carbon footprint linked to manufacturing in China through offsite power generation, as well as benefit Goldwind’s exports.”

Solar panel manufacturers from China have built up strong presence in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia markets. Their strategy involves making large-scale investment in foreign solar farms, using their own products.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), comprising all the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf except Iraq, offers a lucrative opportunity. GCC members in aggregate are expected to increase installed solar capacity 50-fold between 2015 and 2025. Saudi Arabia alone has announced plans for an additional 9.5 GW of renewable energy by 2030. Outside the GCC, India is targeting 175 GW by 2022, including 100 GW of solar. Li Dan, Vice Executive Secretary-General, Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association, said these countries are gradually shedding their preference for western suppliers.

“Looking ahead, decisions will be based on purely commercial factors. Chinese companies can provide the quality, the capacity, and the commercial viability to put renewables at the center of the energy mix,” she said.

Inside China

The renewable sector accounts for one fourth of the total electricity production in China. Hydroelectricity took the lead contributing 20% to the total electricity generation in 2015, the last year for which detailed figures are available.

Wind farms contributed 3.3%, solar farms 0.7% and 0.9% came from biomass power plants. The government has set a target of raising non-hydro renewable power generation from five percent now to nine percent by 2020. The government wants companies to install 110 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity by 2020. China invested $100 billion on renewable energy in 2016, and plans to intensify its investments year on year.

“During the period of the 13th Five-Year Plan (from the present to 2016-2020), we assume a coordinated development of the power grid on regional and provincial levels to be able to integrate on the order of 300-350 GW of wind power and 200-220 GW of solar power,” China National Renewable Energy Centre said in its report, “China Renewable Energy Outlook 2016.”

By 2030, the China grid would basically be built out, effectively integrating all produced renewable power generation as an energy-friendly internet-like smart grid, according to the report.

Despite recent progress, there is grave dissatisfaction within China about the tardy growth in solar and wind power, which have failed to contribute enough.

These industries depend heavily on a government backed pricing mechanism, which will be phased out gradually starting with a 25% reduction in subsidies this year. Wind and solar together will lose $864 million in 2017, with deeper reductions scheduled in the following years.

Analysts cite the gradual withdrawal in subsidies as the main reason driving Chinese solar and wind power companies abroad.  Inadequate linkage with the state grid and countrywide power transmission networks is seen as one of the hurdles.

Nearly 34 billion kilowatt-hours of wind power produced in 2015 were idled for want of takers. Similarly, solar farms could not sell 5 billion kwh of generation in 2015, the government’s energy department said.

One of the major solar panel makers, ReneSola Ltd., recently unveiled an ambitious program to produce 335MW of electricity by building rooftop solar plants in major industrial units. The idea is to encourage them to meet a part of their electricity needs from the rooftop plants.  The idea is to sell power directly to end users instead of going through the state grid.

The Trump effect

The renewables business has been worried about whether U.S. President-elect Donald Trump would go ahead with his election promise to scuttle implementation of the Paris Climate Change agreement. If the U.S. follows this course, China would be under much less pressure to reduce its carbon emissions.  But Chinese officials say they will stick to their stated plans to move aggressively to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy. “As we speculate about what the United States might do, I hope the international community understands that China’s position will not change,” Gou Haibo, deputy head in the Chinese delegation on climate change talks, said.

The Treasury Dept. has released a list of 40 proposed major U.S. transportation and water infrastructure projects—and two wide-ranging programs—that promise big returns on investment but face funding or other hurdles.

According to the report, released with little fanfare on Dec. 30, the 40 projects’ estimated capital costs total more than $330 billion, but would produce net economic benefits of $500 billion to $1.1 trillion.

The two programs—autonomous vehicles and “recapitalizing” the Interstate Highway System—would cost a combined $2.1 trillion but their benefits would be much higher, the report states.

The study was produced by a team led by AECOM and is part of the Obama administration’s Build America Investment Initiative. That program, launched in 2014, aims to spark more infrastructure investment and draw on the private sector.

The study focuses on projects that have “major economic significance, but whose completion has slowed or is in jeopardy.”

The future impact of the study, released near the end of the Obama presidency, is unclear. President-elect Donald J. Trump has pledged a $1-trillion, 10-year infrastructure plan that, according to a campaign white paper, would involve tax credits.

Brian Pallasch, American Society of Civil Engineers managing director for government relations and infrastructure initiatives, said via email that the Treasury report’s examples of projects that can have significant economic payoffs is “a message ASCE has been sharing for years, and we’re excited that the Treasury took on this research and quantified the benefits.”

The authors note that previous infrastructure “needs” reports include “projects of all sizes and types lumped together.” By contrast, they add, “This study aims to help re-focus the debate on projects with significant national economic benefits relative to their costs.”

The report found that “a lack of funds is by far the most common challenge to completing these projects,” observing that 39 projects face such shortfalls. ASCE’s Pallasch said, “By acknowledging these projects have major ROI and still are not getting funded, it shows the magnitude of challenges facing our infrastructure because of the investment gap.”

Increased costs have hampered 19 projects, and 20 are hindered by a lack of consensus among relevant public- and private-sector organizations.

Only nine face regulatory issues, such as lengthy reviews and permitting processes, the report says. As the numbers indicate, some projects face multiple hurdles.

The list includes 14 highway, 10 rail, nine water-resources and six port or waterway projects.

In terms of projects’ geographic mix, 17 are in the South, eight in the West, seven in the Midwest and three in the Northeast; five others are national in scope.

By far the most costly project, at an estimated $100.8 billion, is a passenger-rail improvement plan for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. The California high-speed rail program is next, at $58.8 billion.

Upgrades to Interstate-10, which crosses eight states from Florida to California, would cost $28.6 billion. Ranking fourth is the already-underway- but-still-incomplete Next Generation Air Traffic Control system, or NextGen, at an estimated $25.3 billion.

The fifth-largest project is the Minnesota-to-Texas I-35 Trade Corridor, at $15.6 billion.

The report’s two broad—and extremely expensive—programs are: technology to accommodate autonomous vehicles, pegged at $1.3 trillion in capital costs; and recapitalizing the Interstate system, including additional capacity, estimated at $790 billion.

 Despite the daunting price tags, the report says the programs would produce substantial bangs for those megabucks: it estimates the autonomous vehicle plan’s benefits at seven to 10 times its costs; the Interstate plan’s benefit-cost ratio would be between four and seven to one.

The Treasury report isn’t all-inclusive: it omits airport and toll-road projects because, it says, “they do not face the same set of funding and financing hurdles that many other infrastructure projects face.

The study also excludes water and wastewater-treatment projects, “because they are driven by regulations and compliance timetables, not explicit benefit-cost economics.”


Proceedings of the10th Asia Pacific Transportation Development Conference, held in Beijing, China, May 25-27, 2014. Sponsored by International Chinese Transportation Professionals Association, Beijing University of Technology, and Transportation & Development Institute of ASCE.

Challenges and Advances in Sustainable Transportation Systems contains 86 peer-reviewed papers addressing the challenges facing transportation engineers in the design, construction, maintenance, and management of transportation facilities.

Topics include

  • planning and design of sustainable public transport
  • asphalt mixtures in highway construction
  • rail and subway planning and design
  • intelligent transportation systems
  • tunnel design and construction
  • geotechnical design considerations
  • bridge design, durability, monitoring, and evaluation

This proceedings will be of interest to academics, practitioners, planners, and managers working in the field of transportation engineering.

Click here to order book on the ASCE web site.

Join RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts for a conversation about how to increase reuse and recycling of construction and demolition (C&D) materials. RecyclingWorks would like to hear from architects, contractors, and other building professionals to help develop best management practices for diverting this waste from disposal.

We invite you to attend a meeting of the Boston Society of Architect’s Committee on the Environment on this subject. Topics for discussion include:
– Reuse: Connecting with salvage outlets to capture reusable materials.
– Source Separation: What materials make sense to separate on-site and at what scale of project?
– C&D Processing: Best practices for capturing high-value materials at comingled facilities

Please attend to share your experience with these or other issues related to diverting construction and demolition materials from disposal.
This meeting is open to both members of the Boston Society of Architects as well as others involved in the construction industry (contractors, C&D haulers and processors, salvage outlets, building officials, etc.)

About our speaker:
This conversation about construction and demolition waste will be facilitated by Emily Fabel, Green Business Program Lead for the Center for EcoTechnology. Emily administers two waste reduction programs funded by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection: RecyclingWorks in MA (for businesses and institutions) and THE GREEN TEAM (for K-12 schools). Emily has a Masters of Architecture from the University of Minnesota and entered the waste management field through hauling trash, food waste, and recyclables by bicycle for Pedal People Cooperative in Northampton.

For those who qualify, 1.5 LU/HSWs are available.

To learn more about the Committee on the Environment, visit

Click Register to attend.