Surveying land has always been a critical part of any construction project. The technology used for surveying areas, however, has continued to evolve. Engineering Surveys & Services (ES&S) has been performing survey work for clients in Missouri and throughout the country for nearly seven decades. Over that time, surveying technologies like the use of drones and LiDAR (light detection and ranging) have provided new ways to quickly and accurately capture data. 

InnoSurv evolved from the realization of several at ES&S who were interested in finding innovative ways of incorporating drone and LiDAR into their surveying methods. The results give ES&S clients the ability to see their projects in new ways.

What Is InnoSurv?

InnoSurv is centered around the idea of having industry leading tools and resources available to be able to select the best tool for each dynamic project or situation.

The Benefits of InnoSurv Surveying

Experts at ES&S identify four major advantages that their clients get from InnoSurv surveying. They include:

The benefits get more specific when you look at how ES&S applies InnoSurv to specific types of projects.

Drone Photogrammetry

Drone photogrammetry can be utilized to create a three-dimensional, data-dense models of any site. 

3D mapping also provides a close look at an area’s topography. Surveyors do not need to spend a lot of time and energy covering the land. Drone photogrammetry provides a scaled version that includes every dip and rise in the landscape. Before so much as putting a shovel into the dirt, developers can identify potential challenges in the land.


As with Drone photogrammetry, LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) provides another method to capture millions of data points very rapidly. This data can be used to create an accurate 3D model and collect any needed measurements. The models can be used to extract detailed measurements or to overlay with plans to identify any potential conflicts.

Aerial Photographs & Videos

ES&S InnoServ can provide static images or videos. Aerial photographs work well for projects that involve mapping and planning, site condition documentation, pavement evaluations, or building inspections.

For example, a developer might want to evaluate the current state of a property. Aerial photographs can provide clear views of the building’s roof and parking lot. No one needs to go on top of the building to inspect the roof or scan the lot for signs of damage. The drone does this work to provide accurate imaging while lowering any risk to workers.

InnoSurv can provide videos of buildings or proposed sites for development, which carries multiple benefits for owners and developers.

Drone videos can also provide quick, useful site observations that help developers understand the lay of the land and how they can use the property. They might inspect the area before deciding to buy it. They can also use aerial videos to determine the best ways to use land they currently own.

Developers who want to find investors or sell properties to buyers can even use videos for marketing purposes. In-depth videos give potential stakeholders an easy way to view opportunities closely without visiting sites.

Learn More About The Future Of Surveying

As with drones and LiDAR, ES&S InnoSurv is always looking to find and utilize the best tools for every job. As those tools continue to evolve, it is ES&S’s goal to evolve with them. Whether you have a difficult-to-reach area that you need to be surveyed, a construction site that requires careful planning, or a building that you want to inspect, ES&S InnoSurv will always provide the most advanced and customized option to help you succeed.

Learn more about InnoSurv by scheduling a consultation with Engineering Surveys & Services. Whether you want to start a project soon or you just want to get more information about InnoSurv services, it only takes one message to get the process started.

Feel free to contact any of our three Missouri offices for help.

Image Credits: Unsplash

For both construction professionals and workers, it’s sometimes challenging to keep an analytical eye on all the ongoing affairs of the active construction site. The aggregation of multiple trades, professions, and regulatory bodies that overlap these activities and occupations is continually innovating to capture the values emerging from new techniques, materials, and strategies. With so many systems in almost continuous evolution, staying abreast of changes while also achieving best practices and contractual requirements can be an arduous task. 

Maintaining a constant vigil on all construction site elements is critical for every building project, however, to ensure quality and safety and avoid costly rework, especially as engineering and construction industry dynamics continue to advance.

New Capacities. New Tools.

According to Deloitte, technology and digital innovation are impacting the engineering and construction sectors, as they are in every other industry. To remain competitive, tradespeople, architects, engineers, and other building professionals are expanding their current capacities to accommodate new consumer demands. Fortunately, construction support service tools and technology are also evolving, and newly introduced options frequently enhance the performance of tried-and-true traditional methods. That expanded tool base is now optimizing building activities to meet the requirements of each specific project. 

The augmented tooling and technology capacities of construction support services also hone and fine-tune their consulting (design, diligence, and compliance, as examples) and servicing (resource management, cost estimations, surveying, etc.) activities:   

All of these factors are already impacting the execution of every construction and engineering project, and that impact will continue to grow. Having an extra, well-trained set of eyes on-site throughout the build process, especially during and after transition into new ways of working, offers on-site management and project owners peace of mind that all the legacy, emerging, and new exigencies are accomplished.   

New Partners. New Opportunities.

Engineering Surveys & Services (ES&S) designed its engineering, surveying, and construction-support services to ensure that its clients have all the professional construction and engineering oversight needed to safely and accurately bring each project to completion. The company offers research, analysis, and construction consultation services for large and public works construction projects throughout the mid-Missouri region (including Columbia, Jefferson City, Sedalia, and Wildwood), focusing on all aspects of the design-construction process. Whether its clients are seeking construction quality control (QC) or construction quality assurance (QA), the industry experts at ES&S can provide the service and support they need to complete a high-quality, regulatorily compliant construction product.

ES&S's design-support services and construction-support services provide a variety of inputs and consultation opportunities for clients throughout the public works construction industry:

Available to All

All project professionals will appreciate the company's extensive construction QA credentials, which include a broad scope of industrial, architectural, and engineering capacities and competencies. During the build, ES&S professionals track all construction processes from the bidding stage to the final certification stage. Their presence alleviates client concerns about the copious demands for instant on-site communication and decision-making. They frequently facilitate contractor clarifications, evaluate critical construction elements, and assess material and methodology qualities, which helps to mitigate any risks of errors or omissions.   

ES&S also provides wage rate assessments and interviews and monitors the daily construction diary to confirm its accuracy regarding the project's adherence to budget, regulatory compliance status, and timeliness terms. 

And ES&S's clientele emerges from numerous stakeholder entities within the construction industry: 

Public works construction can be lucrative and rewarding but is also becoming more complex every day. ES&S maintains the highest standard of civil engineering and construction-support consultation services, so its public works construction clients have the expert project oversight needed on-site to avoid missing any critical building, regulatory, or contract details. Their deep experience and professional expertise assure all stakeholders that the building and construction project meets the contractual and regulatory standards (existing and emerging) demanded by its contractors, municipalities, and the general public. 

Are you concerned about the possible expenses and costs incurred when your project does not have the benefit of a construction-support services expert? You can read about that in our next post or contact Engineering Surveys & Services to schedule a consultation to answer all your construction project questions.

When you consider all of the details involved across the various sectors of a major build, it's easy to see the extraordinary level of expertise and oversight required to bring projects in on time, on budget, and in full compliance with all relevant regulatory standards. To achieve those goals, the primary contractor must certify that every subcontractor, materials supplier, and tradesperson on the job provides high-quality, timely, and fiscally responsible services. Verifying that assertion, however, is a project in and of itself -- one that all contractors must complete, but that many wish to delegate if they have an available, trustworthy party they can rely on for impeccable construction-support. The team of construction and civil engineering experts managed by Josh Lehmen, Director of Construction-Support and Geotechnology Services at Engineering Survey & Services (ES&S), is available to perform and guarantee those verification services. In addition, their presence on the job site may reduce liability risks for owners and contractors if something goes awry during construction or after the project's completion. 

Code Compliance Assures Construction Integrity

The International Building Code (IBC) governs the construction metrics of virtually every building and facility in the country. If your construction projects involve the installation of fuel gas, "green" or environmentally sensitive products, sewer lines, or mechanical processes (among many other construction elements), your architecture must comply with IBC rules.

According to Lehmen, the ES&S Construction-Support Services (CSS) platform of technical, trade, code, and protocol resources provide Missouri's public sector entities, private owners, and construction industry clients with a supplementary pool of capabilities that enhance their on-the-job performance: 

In addition to its skills and competencies with IBC regulations, ES&S is also certified by the Missouri Department of Transportation, and the US Corps of Engineers validates the accuracy of its lab results on a biennial basis. 

Missouri Relies on ES&S 

In Missouri, the specific construction-focused services offered by ES&S are particularly valuable when evaluating the sufficiency of the state's tornado protections. Missouri ranks 10th in the country for the number of annual tornadoes, averaging 32 per year since 1950 (the year that official record-keeping began). In 2006, the state experienced a national record of 102 such storms. Five of the country's deadliest tornadoes occurred there, including three of the top 10 most damaging tornado events.

The worst Missouri tornado occurred on May 22, 2011, when a massive twister hit the small city of Joplin. Rated the highest danger level of 5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale for tornado intensity, the storm injured more than a thousand people and killed 161. Economic losses rose to almost $3 billion, including damage to or total losses of 553 businesses and 7,500 homes.

The subsequent investigative report about the disaster issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) addressed the building and construction failures that contributed to those high loss values. It recommended significant improvements in the state's tornado shelter construction standards to prevent future losses and recommended comparable enhancements to national construction standards.

In addition to suggesting advanced technological and geographical tools for predicting and measuring tornado activity, NIST encouraged:

Missouri used the report's information to mandate enhanced tornado protections in all school-based tornado shelters. ES&S is one of the contractors hired to inspect existing refuges and inform the design of new ones. Their work entails testing current and new systems to ensure they operate smoothly during crisis events. Accurate, concise evaluations of the functioning of electrical, ventilation, water, and other systems let the government, schools, and parents know children can evacuate to a safe, secure shelter when the next tornado roars into town. Further, ES&S's extensive knowledge of Missouri's geography provides an extra layer of confidence that each safety zone is specifically designed and suited for its location.

Learning From Loss

The Missouri event was a wake-up call for all of that state's building and construction community. The volume and expense of losses due to construction failures revealed why using a construction-support team can save a contractor's business:

In light of these potential risks, it's no wonder that ES&S clients embrace their services as a form of "insurance" to confirm that the project is well-executed -- and has the proper documentation to back it up. 

Your organization may benefit from ES&S consulting services if it's embarking on a new project or wants an analysis of ongoing work. Contact them directly to speak with Josh Lehmen or another ES&S professional about your project. 

If your enterprise is involved (or plans to be involved) with a public works construction project, you'll want to check out our upcoming post about how ES&S services help government entities maximize their publicly funded investments.  ​

Welcome to our final article in this six-part series exploring the intricacies of engineering and designing for education industry clients. In our last article, we shifted focus from higher education clients like colleges and universities to the K-12 educational arena, looking at the differences in these facilities regarding site selection and what developers might need from their partner civil engineers. 

This time, we're continuing with K-12 facility engineering, considering some of the unique challenges of school building development, renovation, and expansion — and the solutions a civil engineer can provide. Many school districts endure for decades, meaning that K-12 educational facilities must be able to adapt to various changes and evolving expectations. These adjustments include regularly updated building codes, changing expectations for school buildings, and advancing accessibility for a broader range of students.

In this article, ES&S explores the issues surrounding compliance and expectations for both new and existing K-12 developments.

Compliance Concerns


Planning and designing educational facilities requires compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) so that all people can access public school facilities regardless of the nature of their physical challenges. The original ADA guidelines were established in the 1990s, and the federal law has been amended several times to accommodate evolutions in both educational trends and "disability" definitions. Also, because many K-12 school facilities are often used for public purposes other than education (as voting centers, public meeting spaces, etc.) any structural changes must accommodate adults and children. For schools built after the passage of these laws, K-12 facility engineering must now comply with their mandates. Schools constructed prior to their enactment will require retrofitting to bring them into compliance.

Retrofitting aging public school facilities will, in most cases, require restructuring some parts of the school's physical buildings with ramps or alternative access points to accommodate wheelchair access. Reengineering access to bathrooms and office spaces may also be necessary to accommodate similar access availability. Civil engineers who plan and design K-12 educational facilities must also consider and incorporate both usage factors and adjoining structures and systems into those strategies.

Environmental and Infrastructure Concerns

Other rules and regulations have evolved over time and now govern activities undertaken for the construction and reconstruction of K12 education facilities. 

Environmental concerns that were overlooked at the time of original construction may now pose significant challenges to both school users and the physical plant itself. Civil engineering projects frequently resolve water management concerns when water quality issues related to underlying environmental hazards are detected. In Missouri, weather-related incidents such as tornadoes pose potentially lethal threats to state residents; schools must now have appropriate and compliant tornado shelters to provide safety for young learners when those storms engulf their community.   

A "quadrennial report card" issued in 2017 by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave a D+ to almost 100,000 K-12 public school buildings, which were ranked as being in only fair or poor condition. Years, sometimes decades, of neglect of maintenance issues have resulted in failing foundations, crumbling infrastructures, and toxin exposures. In many cases, the only option for repair is a complete reengineering of the entire structure because the physical and environmental problems present barriers not just to the student's physical health but also to the quality of their education.   

Choosing a civil engineer with experience in K-12 facility planning and design means you gain the benefits of their comprehensive knowledge of ADA and environmental regulations, whether overseeing a new development for accessibility or retrofitting an older building for compliance.

Evolving Expectations

Other drivers influencing either the redesign or full development of a K-12 educational facility are the community's evolving expectations for the use of that site. In addition to its use for general civic purposes, as noted above, educational trends are also mandating expanded capacity across the physical plant to facilitate an ever-broadening scale of teaching opportunities:

Special Spaces

Most schools are required to provide educational inputs beyond traditional academic pursuits. 

Emerging Technologies

The COVID-19 pandemic cemented technology in all facets of society, including K-12 schools. Almost all of America's elementary, middle, and high school students recently completed up to two years of school online; they are now fully acclimated to that learning venue. Schools were compelled to accommodate the transition and now have at least a minimal capacity to continue providing online learning resources. New and retrofitted school construction projects will need to have that digital infrastructure engineered into their foundational systems to remain competent for today's class corps and prepare for those classes.  

Many developers will want to incorporate Low Impact Development (LID) design practices to help echo a school district's mission, vision, and values. These design practices also reflect a societal change of perspective regarding the natural world and how individuals interact with it. Incorporating environmentally friendly design features into K-12 facility engineering can make the school a more valuable presence within the community. 

ES&S has worked with multiple educational facilities, from the design process and site selection to subsurface investigation to project completion. We can help you create safer, more welcoming environments that are compliant, community-focused, and provide all students with equal access to unique places to learn and grow. 

For more information on how ES&S can help you advance your development and renovation initiatives in the education sector, contact Engineering Surveys & Services.

Welcome to the fifth article in this six-part series exploring the complexities of design and engineering for educational facilities. We’ve already reviewed the benefits of having a civil engineer involved early in the planning process, and common design considerations unique to higher education institutions. In brief, an experienced civil engineering partner can address and anticipate issues before they cause delays and excessive costs to educational development and renovation projects.

The same applies to many K-12 facility engineering projects, but there are also key differences that designers and contractors should take into consideration, and below we provide a brief discussion of some of those factors.

Designing for Education: K-12 and Higher Education Campus Similarities

Building cycles for educational institutions at any level, from kindergarten to college, should involve thoughtful, long-term planning. New buildings need to be evaluated for adequate service from existing infrastructure. Renovations must avoid conflicts with existing utility services.. Environmental impacts such as water demand, storm water management of both runoff quantity and quality, degradation or loss of wetlands or sensitive habitat, etc….these should to be considered. ES&S provides infrastructure planning to support educational clients in a cost-efficient way. They work as a strategic partner alongside project team members, including architects, contractors, and urban planners, to ensure successful project within required timeframes and budgets.

Similar Building Types

Most educational institutions, regardless of level, share a common mission. This leads to a requirement for many similar building and facility types. While institutions may differ in the magnitude of the total building program, each will generally include classrooms, laboratories, performance and art spaces, lecture or assembly halls, music facilities, kitchens and dining rooms, and indoor and outdoor athletic facilities. They also require sufficient vehicle, bike, and pedestrian access, plus parking facilities. Civil engineers play a critical part in both higher education and K-12 facility engineering and design, ensuring site selection and preparation are sufficient to support all aspects of facility usage.

Accessibility and Inclusivity Requirements

Accessibility is vital in all educational facilities. It impacts students, faculty, other staff members, and visitors like family members. Designers must consider that everyone is entitled to equal access to engage in educational and extracurricular activities regardless of their individual abilities.

The 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design provide a range of expectations for developers. These include compliant accessible routes for pedestrian traffic, curb height limitations for wheelchair users, adequate volume and location for parking, to name just a few. Civil engineers help planners and architects go beyond the basic expectations to create educational facilities for everyone, with accessible outdoor spaces as well as internal facilities.

Considering accessibility and inclusivity during the planning and design process can prevent the need for costly retrofits to a site once a project is already under construction or complete.

The Differences in Planning and Designing Educational Facilities

There are many ways K-12 schools and college campuses differ that affect the planning and design of educational facilities and the support needed from a civil engineering partner.

Campuses Expand in Differing Ways

K-12 institutions are typically more sensitive to population growth, whereas colleges and universities have to continuously focus on recruiting students. K-12 attendance is also often dictated by district boundaries. However, the sheer growth of the general population can lead to sudden requirements for expansion or additional flexibility in the development of facilities. The needs of a district can shift and change much more often and unpredictably than those of higher education communities.

Deeper Community Engagement Required for K-12 Facility Engineering

In the K-12 arena, there is a greater need to focus on where facilities will be located, whereas buildings for higher education are typically added to an existing campus. This requires thoughtful and thorough site screening. ES&S provides detailed site screening and selection services for K-12 schools. Site selection requires expertise, diplomacy, discretion, and a deep understanding of the community, as well as engineering skills and knowledge.

Public opinion about the location of K-12 schools can be widely varied, and site choices may be controversial. This is where engaging a team with existing community relationships and a track-record of maintaining confidentiality proves particularly valuable.

Site Screening Complications and Competition

Desirable sites for developing a K-12 facility generally have to be of a particular size. For example, a new middle or high school might require a 50-60-acre parcel of land, and sometimes larger, that ideally already has excellent access to transportation and utility networks. If a large tract of land with good roads and utilities hasn't yet been developed, this could be for a good reason. Explore potential underlying issues such as the presence of a high volume of rock, a significant difference in elevation across the property, or karst features that need to be addressed. Environmental constraints could also be present, such as jurisdictional waterways, presence of wetlands or habitat for threatened and endangered species, or are located in sensitive watersheds with downstream constraints such as water quality-impaired streams.

The factors that make sites and properties attractive to educational developers tend to also appeal to other interests, so schools are often competing with commercial and residential developers for the same land. Competition can drive prices up, so maintaining confidentiality during site screening and selection is critical and should always be a primary expectation of an educational institution.

Working with a civil engineer who has experience with education clients can make your projects more efficient and cost-effective and help you build the right relationships that could bring you more project opportunities in the future. Contact Engineering Surveys & Services for more information about development and site engineering for K-12 and higher education clients.

This is the fourth article in our series exploring civil engineering considerations for higher education clients. In the previous installments, we looked at the various issues associated with planning and design on campus and how addressing site and infrastructure issues in the early stages of your project can be significant in ensuring a successful outcome. Civil engineers can offer a different view of the project from concept to construction; they are often “in the neighborhood,” so to speak, and can offer valuable insight about local and regional requirements and standards, and frequently about the expectations of the educational institution itself. 

A university or college campus can resemble a miniature city. They can serve thousands of people, both students and faculty, and require complex infrastructure. Ideally, they fit organically with the surrounding community without causing disruption, and bring benefit to locals and facility users alike. From planning and designing higher education facilities to working onsite, civil engineers can provide a range of added value services to your project to boost efficiency and potentially cut costs.

Preventing Costly Issues

Campus designing for higher education clients often means working on sites with highly complex existing infrastructure. Utility lines may need to be relocated, extended, or avoided. Erecting one building could spoil the efforts of a previous designer – for instance, blocking a viewshed of an area of campus, or interfering with the natural light flow into an adjacent building. Even within the lifecycle of a single project, numerous changes can occur that can impact work at ground or subsurface elevation. A civil engineer with experience in campus engineering can avoid potential conflicts before construction starts, preventing costly delays or even drastic last-minute changes to designs.

This is why having your civil engineer in the communication loop from the outset is vital. For a civil engineer, higher education projects require careful assessment and planning from the design process and throughout construction. Accessing available survey and utility records, knowledge of previous campus construction, and careful subsurface investigation can ensure potential conflicts are considered before breaking ground. This can prevent a domino effect of continuous changes as issue after issue arises while trying to build without a complete understanding of the site and surrounding infrastructure.

Understanding Design Expectations Versus Site Realities

The ultimate goal is to combine the desired design with the realities of the existing site. Architects and designers for higher education facilities often create stunning 3D models that look like they'll fit perfectly with existing buildings. These are ideal for showing stakeholders what they can expect when the project is finished. However, after the site is assessed, those designs may have to shift and change to accommodate the physical limitations of the site.These limitations may include conflicts with existing utilities, underlying instabilities or unsuitable soil quality, property encumbrances such as easements or setbacks, or the ability to feasibly provide pedestrian accessible routes to a facility.

Changes can happen for numerous reasons throughout a project's timeline. Having an idea of the volume of storm runoff that will need to be detained onsite during concept planning might impact building location, or even whether a site is feasible for the intended use. Perhaps the design team receives new information that results in a loading dock height elevation being raised or lowered. In these cases, a civil engineer can help understand how this will affect site layout, access, and site drainage, etc. 

When a mechanical room location is proposed for a new building, have the existing utilities that will serve the facility been considered? The mechanical room is often where water and electric services come into a building, so consideration about where it should be located could avoid the cost of extending water distribution or electrical lines around the building. The same planning approach should be applied to sanitary sewer service and where storm/roof drain runoff finds a way off the property. Letting these be an afterthought in the design process versus a deliberate part of the planning process can avoid unnecessary cost and delay. Again, this is an area where engaging your civil engineering partner earlier can provide assessment and valuable insight

Building the Right Relationships

Civil engineers also understand the benefits of engaging local community leaders and authorities. They can help project leaders connect with the right people to move their projects forward faster.

In central Missouri, ES&S has strong relationships with design consultants and construction contractors who offer excellent skillsets to higher education projects. Long-lasting connections with universities and colleges in our region provide ES&S with a strong background of experience to draw upon to aid in new higher education design and construction projects.

Contact ES&S for more information about the specialist skills and added value that engaging with a civil engineer brings to your higher education clients. In our next article, we’ll explore the similarities and differences between planning and designing for higher education and K-12 facilities.

Welcome to the third article in our series looking at the unique planning and design challenges associated with facilities and infrastructure projects for higher education clients. Previously, we’ve discussed the need to consider the integral role a college or university plays in the community and the permanence of expanding or renovating buildings on higher education campuses. One aspect we touched on was engaging stakeholders and partners to help projects run smoothly — including a design team with expertise that can help make projects more efficient and safer, with better outcomes for all.

As part of that design team, civil engineers bring a wide range of skills to campus engineering projects. They often have local knowledge and existing relationships with local agencies that other design professionals may not possess and can help work through the review and permitting process more efficiently. But when is the best time to bring your civil engineering partners on board? Let’s take a look.

Planning and Design for Higher Education — The Right Partners

Construction projects can have a significant impact on the communities in which they are located.  This is often magnified for institutions of higher education, where a campus might dominate an entire town, city, and even the region depending upon the scope of the institution. 

Project delivery for higher ed projects involve a large team consisting of architects, planners, surveyors, discipline engineers (including civil), landscape architects, interior specialists, and ultimately a general contractor and variety of construction trades – all working together to a successful finish.  The larger and more complex the project, the larger the group of professionals and workers.  If the project is in a smaller market area, then this often results in the project delivery team coming from a greater distance away.

In the planning and design phases of a project, this doesn’t necessarily result in a significant challenge, since many design specifications and building codes are significantly shape at the state, national, and even international levels.  By contrast, many civil engineering and surveying guidelines, practices, and requirements are affected at more local or regional levels.  Storm water ordinances, subdivision requirements, planning & zoning processes may be quite different from one municipality to another.  The same differences in approach can also be observed from one campus facilities department to another. 

Engaging with partners that are ‘closer at hand’ to a project can be more valuable when dealing with civil-site and surveying issues.  This is even more pronounced in the project’s construction phase, where the support services necessary for quality control and assurance tasks often need to be quite responsive to a contractor’s evolving schedule for critical construction activities, or the need for retesting, in order to keep delays to a minimum.  

When to Engage Civil Site Engineers

Facility managers will find value by engaging a civil site engineer early in project development. Budget constraints may make it seem more cost-effective to limit the time spent with subcontractors. However, failing to onboard a campus engineering expert could be more costly in both the short and long term.

Civil engineering partners can identify problems before they arise, making use of resources such as publicly available LiDAR images to see inside and beneath existing infrastructure and utility lines or drone technology to collect data about a site. When you work with a team that has experience designing campus renovations for higher education clients, you know that they understand the unique considerations for these types of projects and can help streamline and troubleshoot your project early on. This improves the efficiency of your project, identifying cost drivers and maximizing the available space or existing building work with the aid of specialist guidance.

Advantages of Early Intervention From Civil Engineering Experts

As we’ve already mentioned, one primary benefit of getting your civil engineering partner onboard early is to ensure issues don’t arise later that could delay or even halt work. Another key point is that employing the same experts throughout gives you a consistent approach to tasks such as boundary surveys and basemap production. This avoids the potential of having plans drawn on mismatched datums from one project to another or even confusion caused by differing symbology.

Campus engineering often involves dealing with an accumulated concentration of underground utilities, plus historic lot lines and unclear real estate parcel splits. Many campus structures build out their underground utilities over time. This results in a highly complex system of moving parts. It’s invaluable to have a civil engineer who understands what utilities are critical and have to be moved outside the building footprint and which can be abandoned and removed.

ES&S provided a range of site planning and design services in the multi-year process of project development for a new, four-story academic and residential facility in the heart of Columbia College’s flagship campus.  A complex network of utilities was concentrated within the building footprint, requiring precise and detailed utility mapping to avoid conflicts during construction and design of numerous relocations to prevent future O/M challenges.  Forward-thinking by the College’s facilities department had provided for a storm water management master plan completed by ES&S in the early 2010s that accounted for the new impervious surface area created by the project, allowing surface runoff to be conveyed to underground detention facilities that had been constructed to achieve compliance with City of Columbia storm drainage ordinances in a more efficient, regional approach rather than building small detention facilities on an individual project basis.

Other subsurface considerations include unexpected ledges of rock, an understanding of soil characteristics, and previous construction that may interfere with the new designs. A preliminary investigation into subsurface conditions on a site can inform the entire layout of the project plan. For example, parking lots and walking paths can be inserted into areas with unsuitable subsurface conditions and materials, so teams can make full use of the space while also avoiding construction delays from trying to establish a foundation in problematic areas. This is yet another reason why it’s critical that you work with a trusted partner who can come on board at the earliest opportunity to support the best outcomes for your project and your higher education clients.

Look out for the fourth article in our series about campus engineering, where we’ll explore exactly how civil engineers can bring value-added service to higher education construction projects. Contact us here at ES&S with any questions about the topics in this article or for more information on the expert civil engineering services we offer. 

Welcome to the second article in our five-part series focusing on planning and design solutions for higher education clients.  

Leading the Way in Compliance

College campuses and K-12 schools were among the first industries to focus on compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Being involved with serving educational institutions, ES&S developed a keen understanding of issues that impact ADA compliance, paying careful attention to available survey data — notably, how vital it is to provide design details that support the construction of walkways, paths, and building access points to meet ADA requirements to avoid the potential of removing or altering new construction that is outside acceptable tolerances. This served ES&S well as the emphasis on ADA compliance became a more significant focus for clients within many other industries. 
Focusing on improving the community's experience through campus engineering also means moving away from facilities centered solely around cars, bicycles, pedestrians, and public transport. These are vital considerations when engineering for higher education clients. We have already looked at the importance of road safety around a campus, but making the whole area accessible for buses and bikes as well as the inevitable foot traffic is essential. 

Creating Naturally Inclusive Educational Environments

The best educational environments incorporate layout and design elements that promote ease of navigation and accessibility to the broader community being served.
Planners and designers follow guidelines from federal and state agencies to aid them in creating inclusive campuses. The U.S. Department of Justice’s 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design lay out requirements for construction projects that significantly impact design to provide accessibility throughout the facility and the building site. For a civil engineer, this involves providing “pedestrian accessible routes” along roadways, from parking lots to buildings and facilities, and along trails and recreational areas. Civil engineers can go beyond the basics to develop facilities for colleges and universities that are compelling and appealing places to learn and work — for everyone.

As a firm with a civil engineering focus, ES&S engages with these issues in various ways in our projects. Work on the Columbia College North Quadrangle Initiative helped create a beautiful outdoor area in the middle of campus for students to gather, study in the shade, or have lunch. ES&S provided site grading, sidewalk, and plaza design to support the accessibility goals for the students, faculty, alumni, and public that would be drawn to this beautiful new campus destination. These essential outdoor design components allow for easier pedestrian traffic flow and create more options for movement around campus regardless of student ability. ES&S engineers also spearheaded improvements to drainage systems and permeable pavement design implementation for efficient stormwater run-off management. 

Beyond the Campus

When working with higher education clients, there are several core areas to account for — including the infrastructure surrounding the campus itself. Roads, utilities, and walkways require attention to mitigate safety concerns from adverse weather conditions, high amounts of daily vehicle and pedestrian traffic, and other factors. 

The staff at ES&S utilize their decades of experience to plan and design reliable infrastructure for campus environments. One example is the College Avenue Safety Enhancement (CASE) Project, for which ES&S provided design services to upgrade a segment of College Avenue along the east side of the University of Missouri campus. Studies had shown that very high numbers of students crossed this five-lane thoroughfare at various times of the day.  Often they had to stop in the middle turn lane and wait for a gap to cross the lane in the opposing direction – a major safety issue. This crossing was even more challenging for students in wheelchairs, using other mobility aids, or those easily overwhelmed by crowds and heavy traffic. 

The addition of new mid-block pedestrian crossings, in combination with restricting access to channel pedestrians to the new “HAWK” signalized crosswalks, reduced risks and made the entire corridor more accessible and less stressful for thousands of students. When users of the corridor expressed concerns about the look of this new median element, the joint stakeholder agencies (city, campus, DOT) stepped up to enhance project aesthetics and show context sensitivity by emulating the white stone facades of the campus buildings along the corridor and identifying with the University. 

K-12 Solutions 

The importance of proper site planning and design extends beyond college campuses to all levels of education. K-12 institutions have equal responsibility to comply with ADA standards; the forethought of an experienced site planner/designer is essential to making this happen for the sake of student safety and accessibility, and results in more efficient long-term maintenance and potential for expansion. 

Many K-12 projects involve components built in close proximity to one another that occupy large amounts of space in order to function, such as athletic facilities. ADA compliance becomes challenging within projects that are spread out over large areas because they generally don’t start out completely flat.  A well-thought-out grading plan can greatly assist the engineer as they later design pedestrian paths that have tight tolerances for slope, landing geometry, and other details. For example, during the project development of the New Battle High School in Columbia, ES&S worked to avoid the need for costly switchbacks, inefficient grading plans, or change orders during construction by accounting for ADA compliance associated with different building and facility layout options before the job exited the planning stage. This project also incorporated many “low-impact development” (LID) practices. Curbless paving and grass swales were used throughout the site to capture surface flow from parking lots and roof drains. Flows were conveyed to a variety of stormwater detention and retention facilities and water quality features to allow storm run-off time for deposition of solids, and species of vegetation were incorporated to encourage nutrient uptake as flows work their way through the site. 

In our next article, we’ll take a look at the best ways to engage civil-site engineers in the higher education environment. In the meantime, if you seek more information about our planning and design services through construction support of higher education facilities, contact ES&S and speak to a member of our dedicated team.

Higher education construction projects confront planners and designers with a number of special and unique considerations within the broader institutional market. College campuses often aim to be deeply integrated into existing communities and may require expert individuals or teams with municipal experience and strong relationships with town leaders. Welcome to our first article exploring a perspective on work for higher education clients, focused on the importance of long-term planning and dealing with the time constraints of working around term time and intermittent funds.

A campus can resemble a miniature, self-enclosed city, yet one that still interacts with the town or suburbs surrounding it. Colleges and similar facilities don’t just house classrooms: They may have medical and public safety facilities, on-site housing accommodations, cafeterias, and libraries, plus all the infrastructure that connects these facilities. How do modern and traditional planning techniques come together to address the unique challenges these projects present?

Planning for Permanency

One of the keys to understanding engineering for higher education projects is recognizing that what you create will likely be there for generations. For site layout and design, this involves a thoughtful and thorough approach to all aspects of the project’s development:

This “building for the long-term” attitude is also reflected in the construction phase of the project, where robust efforts are common to ensure that critical elements of construction are observed and documented, materials testing and special inspections as required by the relevant building codes are conducted for quality assurance, and sometimes even require serving as the client’s full-time project representative if the need arises. All of this is geared to confirming the project is constructed in conformance with plans and specifications and will stand the test of time. 

More recently, designers and planners are focused on a future where sustainability is of greater concern than in previous decades. Aspects to consider might be the integration of solar and thermal energy, alternative types of insulation and beams, and provisions for more people walking or on bicycles. This sometimes leads to more robust and stringent requirements than commercial buildings around materials and energy use, and enhancing the multi-modal access around the campus such as wider pedways, additional pathways to connect buildings, and more facilities for bikes, scooters, and transit options. 

Working Within & Around One’s Surroundings 

Campus engineering rarely means working with a completely blank slate. Many higher education settings are built around existing communities, including the infrastructure and utilities that serve those communities. Higher education institutions often already own the land that they build on and need to make the best and highest-value use of their available property. Conversely, if they have to acquire new property, they need a trusted, knowledgeable resource to advise on development requirements and cost-drivers so they can begin gathering parcels that will allow for expansion. Doing this deliberately and confidentially can avoid unnecessary conflict or cost escalation due to speculation.

Another element of considering a project more holistically is understanding how it fits into the other parts of the campus. Does the look and feel of the building match or conflict with existing architecture? From a civil engineering perspective, does the layout of a building or facility take advantage of the surroundings? This issue was a key piece of a recent transportation project completed for the University of Missouri, where ES&S leveraged our past experience to provide context-sensitive solutions for issues such as pedestrian crosswalks on a busy thoroughfare adjacent to the campus. What exactly did we do?

  1. The project was a bit controversial with the nearby neighborhood because we would be limiting access to left turns by adding a median, triggering worry about an unattractive addition to a high-traffic road. To counter this concern, a design was proposed that incorporated unique aesthetic qualities similar to the University’s white stone building architecture along the corridor. 
  2. Another design element was the location. ES&S was aware that the campus master plan defined particular “visual corridors” that were to be preserved on campus. One of these was perpendicular to this roadway and maintained a view of the University’s iconic Memorial Union. We were able to align the crosswalk in a manner that avoided an inadvertent blocking of the line of sight with infrastructure (no matter how attractive it might look!). 

Building the Right Relationships
That’s why it’s vital to build and maintain constructive relationships with campus stakeholders, planners and public works officials, elected officials, and other relevant agencies within the communities where the client’s campus is located.  Engaging partners who know the local area and already have contacts within the region can go a long way to the successful delivery of your project. 

Working to the School Timetable
As well as getting buy-in from the local community, higher education projects often have to be completed swiftly. For renovations, expansions, or maintenance of existing facilities, this often means only working during the summer vacation months. This might influence the magnitude of the work that can be accomplished, how the project will be packaged or phased for construction, or the products and materials to be used (e.g., high-early strength concrete or precast/prefabricated materials). Looking ahead during the planning process to resolve permitting issues well before construction is to begin can avoid troublesome and costly project delays. This includes items such as identifying jurisdictional waterways or wetlands, making certain there is clear title to properties or whether replatting or variances are required. Perhaps there is a need to clear property of trees in advance of seasonal restrictions (think Indiana Bat habitat). 
This also applies to site characteristics, such as surcharging a building location in advance of construction in order to induce projected soil consolidation to avoid excessive settlement issues down the road. 

Finding a civil engineering partner that understands constraints such as these is critical to ensuring your project hits desired timelines and quality expectations, while meeting regulatory requirements of local, state, and federal agencies. Work with a team that can help you leverage technologies like publicly available LiDAR imagery to assess infrastructure or BIM modeling to present your designs in a meaningful way to stakeholders and other relevant parties. Planning and design for higher education presents multiple complexities, but they become a lot simpler with a partner that's been working in this segment of the industry for decades and can leverage a wealth of local knowledge and the relationships to keep projects moving. In mid-Missouri, this partner is ES&S.  
If you want more information on engineering for higher education or any of the topics in this article, feel free to contact ES&S to discuss your requirements in more detail. In our next article, we’ll move further into the campus, looking at those on-site improvements that designers and engineers can include to benefit the entire education community.

Anyone working in medium and small property development knows that there are plenty of challenges facing the industry right now. From supply chain shortages to workforce issues caused by the pandemic and other factors, the property building landscape has become rockier than ever. According to Forbes, one of the key concerns for property developers is the speed at which technological innovation is advancing. Many surveying and engineering partners still rely solely on traditional methods, which means that competitors embracing these emerging technologies have an edge. They can get projects completed more efficiently and with higher levels of safety for personnel. 

Engineering Surveys and Services (ES&S) embraces a hybrid approach to surveying and civil engineering, ideal for modern property developers who want to stand out in a competitive market. Let’s take a look at what this means for the medium and small property development industry.

Surveying Technology in the Air

Property development of all sizes requires plots of land that are carefully mapped and surveyed before any planning can begin. Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) use airborne vehicles such as various types of drones to fly over a potential construction site, taking numerous images that can be uploaded to a digital cloud. Drone photogrammetry empowers small property developers to assess their sites as accurately as their larger competitors by using these images to create 3D maps of the site’s physical dimensions and provide static shots of the environment. Because the drones collect digital photos, the data can be transferred to exactly where it’s needed. This allows architects and designers to get to work straight away, planning out a small neighborhood, or even a single property, based on the information gathered by the drones.

UAS technology is far more cost-effective than manual surveying and provides a greater wealth of information. Drones can get under the leaf cover of surrounding trees, protecting the local environment while assessing the ground beneath. Using aircraft to collect data from sites removes the need for repeated site visits by personnel, which also reduces costs. Drones protect your workforce from having to deal with potential hazards such as sinkholes, cliffs, or uneven ground, enhancing the overall safety of your project.

Civil Engineering Technology on the Ground

UAS by itself is not the only surveying solution for small property development. Aerial photogrammetry can be combined with ground control points -- pieces of topographical equipment that mark specific GPS coordinates. Another technology that assists designers and civil engineering teams in their plans is LiDAR. Light detection and ranging, or LiDAR, is a technology that bounces light waves off physical objects to map their dimensions with incredible accuracy. Because it uses light, LiDAR imaging can be captured day or night, making it more efficient than surveying techniques that rely on photographic techniques. Pre-existing LiDAR “maps” of sites can show old utility lines, abandoned foundations, sewers, or flaws and faults that could halt construction. Combining LiDAR imagery with aerial photogrammetry allows small property development teams to deal with these kinds of issues before the workforce actually gets on site. This reduces costly delays, making the whole project more efficient and potentially more profitable.

Remote and Digital Solutions

Combining these aerial and ground-based technologies with digital design solutions means that so much more of the development process can happen remotely. Building information modeling (BIM) can use the information from aerial photogrammetry, LiDAR, ground points, and even traditional photos to create detailed, virtual models of both the site as it is now and how it will look once the construction is complete. This is ideal for tweaking designs and engaging stakeholders.
Lining up a virtual model of a home, for example, with a LiDAR image of a building plot, could quickly show a conflict between existing utility lines and the planned utility inputs on the house. A designer can swiftly change the plans to take this into account without ever stepping foot on site. Investors might want to see exactly what they’re pumping their money into. Creating digital models based on accurate topographical surveying means the homes, offices, or other buildings can be displayed in their final destination so any stakeholders can enjoy a virtual “fly-through” of the property months before it’s completed.

ES&S launched their unique hybrid proposition, InnoSurv, to allow clients such as small property development teams to get the best of both traditional and cutting-edge surveying methods. ES&S has worked with property developers of all sizes and knows that one solution doesn’t fit every situation.

ES&S advises developers when they should be using:

By giving clients the tools and technologies they need for every situation, ES&S helps them build their properties faster and more safely, and even reduce the overall cost of construction.
Contact Engineering Surveys and Services for more information on how InnoSurv and can help support your medium or small property development projects.

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