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Our Summer Vacation – An Inspiration for Green Building

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Rainbow Falls – Gorges State Park

On our summer vacation with family this month, we spent time Southwest of Asheville, NC in an area of the mountains near the Blue Ridge Escarpment.

The Blue Ridge Escarpment is the steep transition area between the mountains and the Piedmont.  The severe elevations changes, combined with heavy rainfall in this region, qualify the area as a temperate rain forest featuring numerous waterfalls, river gorges, and rare plant and animal species.

20 plus years ago I was introduced to a specific region around the Horsepasture River by a very good friend while we both were attending school not far away in South Carolina.  My friend grew up in this part of North Carolina and knew the best places to go and visit.   The waterfalls along the Horsepasture are one of those places.

In college, we visited these waterfalls as frequently as our schedules allowed, especially in the milder months when we could swim or slide down one of the waterfalls.  Unfortunately, after graduating from college, I heard that you couldn’t access this area any longer.   I was very disappointed to hear that such a wonderful place was not open to the public, and that I wouldn’t be able to share this area with my son and daughter.  However, earlier this summer we were excited to find out that North Carolina had created a new State Park in 1999 featuring a trail that provides access to these same waterfalls.

As we planned our vacation, a visit to this new Gorges State Park, was high on the list of priorities.    The weather was beautiful during our vacation and so one morning we set out with our swimsuits, snacks, water, and cameras.  We arrived at the parks visitor center,  newly opened in 2012, purchased a map, secured additional directions from the park staff and promptly set out on a reasonable 1.5 mile hike down to waterfalls.   We passed the creek and spot where my friends and I used to camp, hiked past Rainbow Fall, and then onto Turtleback Falls.   It was an incredible experience sharing this area with my son and daughter.  Now, 14 and 16 years old, they were now old enough to enjoy sliding down Turtleback Falls.

During this incredible adventure in the outdoors, I was also reminded of the responsibility we have as building professionals to the world we have been given and the impact of what we design and build.

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Visitor’s Center – Gorges State Park

When we arrived at the visitor’s center I discovered a thoughtfully designed site and building.   I was not surprised to find out that the Gorges State Park 7,100 square foot visitor’s center was designed to national green building standards and includes many sustainable building features.

In 2013 the project was awarded LEED Gold certification.   Like the park, the building and associated site development is special and includes elements in the design, such as a waterfall feature, which make it fit well into this special mountain setting.   Other site and building features include solar energy systems, geothermal systems, rainwater collection, water saving fixtures, local materials, and beautiful water efficient natural landscaping.  The building also has museum-quality exhibits, some which educate visitors on the green features of the building and site, in addition to letting visitors explore the natural and cultural history of the area.

After visiting Gorges State Park I can’t wait to go back!  If you are traveling in this region or if you are planning a trip, I highly recommend visiting this area and visiting Gorges State Park, DuPont State Forest and other surrounding natural areas that are breathtakingly beautiful and wonderfully unique.

If you are like me, you will be inspired by your visit.

Travis Layman

LEED AP, HCI Preconstruction Team Member

Travis Layman

Travis Layman

Construction & Technology: A Symbiotic Relationship

construction & technology harman inc

Construction and technology have not always had a symbiotic relationship.

Many people picture construction workers using old out dated technology, one step above a chisel and stone tablet, to deliver homes and commercial buildings.  Here at Harman we strongly believe that using the latest technology will help mitigate risk and improve the overall customer experience for our clients.

We do this from the design phase into the construction process through the use of 3D modeling capabilities and mobile construction management technology.

 What is 3D building model rendering?  

3D building model rendering is a 3D rendering process for the planning, design and construction of a building.

3D rendering is useful to owners, architects and contractors by allowing for virtual tours, fewer RFIs (request for information)  and an overall reduction in field changes.

Clients who are not familiar with reading standard construction blueprints can have difficulty visualizing the final look of their building.  3D Rendering allows clients to take a virtual tour of the building, improving the customers experience while helping to solidify pre-design decisions.

From conception to completion, 3D rendering reduces risk and ambiguity in the design phase. This means that revisions can be made prior to putting a shovel in the ground. This equates to savings, more efficient work time and a high quality product at the tail end of the construction project.

Implementation of technology in the construction field is another key to a successful project.

Submittals, drawings, RFIs, emails and invoices can be maddening on any sized project.  It is through the management of these documents that we are able to minimize mistakes and maximize efficiency.

How many times has the phrases been uttered, “you didn’t send me that”, “wasn’t that changed?” or “I don’t have the latest drawings”.  These all lead to negative results.  Lost documents, incorrect finishes, costly mistakes and delays are the project’s demise.

At Harman we are working toward mitigating that risk with the utilization of tablet technology and construction software in the office and field.  Now there is an effortless update with the click of a button. Revised submittals, RFIs and drawings are available in real time to managers and subcontractors on the job site.

Mobile technology is the future of the construction industry and at Harman we are taking the necessary steps to have that competitive edge.

A good customer experience is paramount to the success and growth of our company.  In a world with sprained thumbs and buzzing phones, we understand the importance to adopting the latest technology and see the value it provides to our team and our clients.

 

Dustin Harper-Dustin Harper

Harman Senior Project Manager