5 Reasons for a Subsurface Soil Investigation

 

So, you’re getting ready to start a new construction project, and you’ve been told that you need to test your soil using a subsurface soil investigation (also known as a drill report). They sound pretty expensive. You’re probably asking yourself, “Why do I need one of those?” Here are 5 reasons why soil testing is worth the cost.

1) They’re required.
Whether required by the local building department before they’ll issue a permit or by the geotechnical engineering firm to develop design parameters, your construction project likely won’t be allowed to proceed until you have had the necessary subsurface soil investigation(s) performed which may include some drilling.

2) They can help identify significant challenges presented by your site.
The soil conditions underlying the Colorado Front Range are highly variable and can present significant challenges to construction. A subsurface soil investigation can identify these challenges early in the process, and provide the information necessary to plan and budget for the necessary mitigations. In some cases, they may even identify challenges so costly to mitigate that you decide to sell the site and build somewhere else. While nobody wants to receive that kind of news, it’s better to find out before you invest significant time, energy, and resources into developing that site.

3) They provide necessary foundation design information.
One of the primary purposes of a geotechnical investigation is to provide foundation design parameters to the structural engineer. Without these parameters, the structural engineer can’t finalize a foundation design. While the foundation could be designed based on preliminary (assumed) design parameters, those parameters would need to be verified by having a geotechnical engineer perform an excavation observation (after excavation, but before the foundation is constructed). If the final design parameters are different from those preliminary (assumed) parameters, the foundation would need to be revised. This typically results in significant costs (both in money and in delays to the project).

4) They provide additional information necessary for contractor estimates.
In addition to the foundation type and associated design parameters, the subsurface soil investigation also provides additional recommendations relating to site grading and drainage, floor systems (particularly slabs placed directly atop soil), foundation drains, earthwork and excavation operations, etc. Without this information, contractors would have to make assumptions on what they think will be required later, which can lead to high variability in estimates from one potential contractor to another, as well as costly change orders later.

5) Peace of mind.
Construction of a new building (whatever its size) is a significant investment, both in time and money. No matter how much money you spend on the building itself, it won’t last unless it’s supported by a stable foundation. Likewise, the foundation won’t be stable unless it’s adequately supported by the underlying soil. An understanding of the subsurface soil conditions and their behavior is essential in selecting, designing, and building a stable foundation. Having a subsurface soil investigation performed at the beginning of the project gives you peace of mind in knowing that your investment will be supported atop a solid, stable and enduring foundation.

 

 

The Importance of Construction Materials Testing (CMT) Services

A finished building is much more than what meets the eye. Beyond the walls and flooring finishes, the building’s safety and structural performance heavily rely on proper placement and installation of a variety of construction materials throughout the construction schedule. Long-term building performance is a driving factor for property value and return on an owner’s investment. Construction Materials Testing also plays a necessary role in keeping your project on-schedule, within budget, and safe. Without construction materials testing and observation, the owner, builders, and engineers cannot have confidence that the quality of construction meets the project requirements.

A structure’s success first begins with the foundation support material. Prior to breaking ground on a new development, RMG – Rocky Mountain Group provides Geotechnical Subsurface Soil Investigations to explore the suitability and condition of a given site. During the exploration, subsurface materials are tested for their strength, swell, and settlement properties. Site specific recommendations are provided to mitigate risks the site may pose to your project. This due diligence service allows you to be aware of possible risks with developing the site, so you can budget for possible construction difficulties, and plan for a successful project.

Once ground has been broken on your project, RMG Construction Materials Testing technicians observe the site conditions compared to the soils report, to pro-actively apprise the owner of possible known/unknown hazards that may later result in construction difficulty or delay. Our construction materials technicians directly coordinate with our in-house Geotechnical Engineering staff to provide engineering solutions for construction/design issues that may arise. Our CMT technicians require a unique variety of knowledge and skill to understand the application of a wide range of construction materials. In-depth experience in construction material properties, construction processes, geotechnical engineering, geology, physics, chemistry, and mathematics is necessary to effectively diagnose problems and challenges that may arise during construction, and to identify possible solutions in the field. Timely service and verbal communication skills are necessary to effectively communicate our findings so that the owner/design team can make decisions accordingly.

Throughout the earthwork activities, RMG actively performs soil moisture and density testing to verify proper selection of material, correct placement, and adequate compaction. Undocumented, untested soil material has significant risk of future movement that may cause cracking or worse in foundations, pavements, floors, and walls. Structure serviceability and structural cracking issues can significantly reduce property value, and are expensive and difficult to fix properly.

Diligent materials testing helps to avoid future costly remedial work and repair. By pro-actively revealing issues relating to construction quality early in the project, it allows the design team to make educated decisions for the remainder of the project schedule. RMG – Rocky Mountain Group provides materials testing throughout the project on a wide variety of media including: soil subgrade, structural fill, utility trench bedding and backfill, reinforced concrete, concrete masonry unit (CMU) block construction, grout, mortar, structural steel, and asphaltic concrete pavement.

RMG – Rocky Mountain Group provides full service materials testing for commercial, industrial, municipal, residential, and government projects in the following typical roles:

As an Owner’s representative:
Inspection observations and test results are reported to the owner/design team to verify conformance with the project plans and specifications. As an Owner’s representative, these observations are also used to document pay item quantities and daily activities (i.e. equipment used, materials placed, tasks completed, etc.) so that the owner can be fully aware of construction progress without being on site.

As an Independent Third-Party for Code Compliance.
RMG – Rocky Mountain Group provides third-party code compliance testing observations for builders and contractors required to meet certain specifications when working within a regulatory jurisdiction. Accepted on behalf of municipalities, building departments, and other regulatory jurisdictions, our CMT service reports are relied on by the regulating agency to verify conformance with applicable material and construction specifications.

As an International Building Code (IBC) Special Inspector:
RMG – Rocky Mountain Group provides International Building Code (IBC) Special Inspection services to ensure critical structural items are in accordance with the project plans and specifications. Your RMG Special Inspector identifies and documents non-conformance items so that the design team and contractor may work together to find a solution to correct the deficiencies. Special Inspections are required by the IBC to verify that the building meets requirements prior to public occupancy.

Contact RMG – Rocky Mountain Group today to find out more on how our Construction Materials Testing (CMT) services can help you ensure a successful build.
www.rmg-engineers.com

Englewood/Denver, CO 303-688-9475
Evans/Greely, CO 970-330-1071
Colorado Springs, CO 719-548-0600

RainDance Growing NoCo With Geotechnical Engineering Help From RMG

Part One: The Importance of the Ground we Build On

RainDance Colorado

The Emergence of a Community
RainDance is a Master Plan Developed Community in Northern Colorado with a vision to reflect the agricultural heritage of the region with a “farm-to-table” concept. The development has dedicated 500 of its 1,500 acres to a golf course, open space and agriculture, and more than 100 acres throughout the community devoted to orchards and farms with sweet corn, pumpkins and other produce for those who live there. The development will eventually build approximately 2,800 homes for all stages of life.

As with any development or construction project along the Front Range of Colorado, an initial critical process is to understand the types of soils present below the planned site. The most costly geologic hazard to any Colorado construction project is the expansive/collapsing soils that could potentially negatively impact the foundation and integrity of a building or home. Therefore, it is critical for proper development to gain a clear understanding of the soil conditions in terms of their construction properties, and isolate any problematic areas, if any.

RMG Scratching Beneath the Surface
With great pride, RMG – Rocky Mountain Group, under the leadership of Tom Cope, P.E. Principal, and Lauren Caruso, P.E. Project Engineer, conducted a preliminary subsurface soil investigation for the 1,500-acres. This included completing approximately 200 boreholes (drilling with an auger below the surface and extracting soil samples at pre-determined depth intervals for laboratory analysis to determine soil properties) in a grid pattern in order to best cover the site and provide a snapshot of the soil conditions to the RainDance development. The results provide the developer a general understanding of the site in terms of the soil beneath the surface and their general construction properties. This allows them to estimate construction costs and generate early development plans.

Borehole drilling

Home Builders Need a Borehole Too!
RainDance developed the infrastructure at the site, installing roads, gutters, utilities and creating home lots and neighborhoods. Additionally, the homes were all built by local, state and national home builders. Each builder either designs homes for a property owner or builds neighborhoods of homes of varying price points and sells them to the general public.

In either case, it is standard care in Colorado to drill a borehole and get soil samples for homes built, otherwise known as a single lot geotechnical investigation. In this way, each home is assured to be built with corresponding recommendations based on the soil type. RMG has had the opportunity to have executed single lot geotechnical investigations for over 700 home lots, and will continue to do so, for builders such as Journey, Bridgewater, and D.R. Horton.

In the first installment of our the RainDance Blog Series, we discuss some of the home building processes in Colorado, and some of the critical points that RMG is involved in. Additionally, we briefly described the preliminary geotechnical site investigation and the single lot geotechnical investigation, and how important it is in Colorado for a great foundation and home from the ground up.

Stay tuned for our next blog in this series, assisting home builders is the structural design of homes and how RMG Engineers make sure the architect’s vision is structurally sound!

Keith Moore in CREJ

Congratulations to our very own Keith Moore, AIA, on his article in the Colorado Real Estate Journal’s Healthcare Properties Quarterly. You can read the article below, and learn more about CREJ here.

Keith Moore Crej

Keith Moore Crej

Four Growing Home Trends You Need To Know

Our TVs and internet are inundated with information about home trends relative to building improvement and renovation in this extraordinary current real estate market. Here are four home trends to consider when building or buying your dream home!

Smaller Size

In 2013, the average size of a single family home in the United States was 2,598 square feet. Today, more and more people are gravitating toward smaller, more manageable houses that require less maintenance (and less down payment). Whether it’s the “empty nester” Baby Boomers that are downsizing or the Millennials that are looking for a cost and environmentally-conscious option to serve as a “landing pad” versus a place where most of their time is spent, smaller homes are affecting all demographics. Couple that along with rising housing costs, people are seeing the desire and need for smaller housing. Hence, the need for less room.

Recently, this trend has been taken to the extreme with the concept of “tiny houses.” These structures are the epitome of functionality and minimalism, ranging in size from 100 square feet to more “luxurious” 300-square-foot models. And to accommodate today’s “on-the-go” minimalists, many of these tiny houses are portable!

Green Roofs

The concept of using the flat rooftops of city high-rises for vegetable gardens and topiaries is catching on in America’s urban landscapes, but what about for single-family houses? Why not? Green roofs not only can be beautifully aesthetic, but have many economic benefits as well.

A green roof can:

  • Reduce the chance of water damage from overflowing runoff from gutters
  • Extend the life of your roof because it protects it from excessive sun exposure
  • Reduce your air conditioning demand load by keeping your house cooler in the summer
  • Reduce your grocery bill with homegrown vegetables.

And for those neighborhoods that offer little to no yard space, green roofs can double as a back yard entertainment area!

“Smart” Features

Today’s home trends when it comes to technology are all about convenience and time-savings. Gone are the days of getting out of your car to punch in the code in the little box outside your garage to open the door. Access to a myriad of features to enhance your home’s comfort and security is as close as your smart phone. Turn the lights on (or off), turn the thermostat up (or down), and lock (or unlock) the door remotely.

Voice-controlled products like Amazon’s Alexa are literally making it possible for your home to “come alive” at the sound of your voice. Companies that offer complete comprehensive automated home systems are popping up all over to ensure that your home’s lights talk to the security system and the thermostat, and A/V components and Wi-Fi routers are not only stylish, but multi-functional as well.

Wide Open Spaces

Floorplans of the past were reminiscent of those mazes that mice go through to find a piece of cheese! Design trends are going more contemporary with clean, simple lines and openness throughout the floorplan. Instead of nooks and crannies that serve no purpose and hallways that seem to go nowhere, the trend in home architecture is following the “convenience and maximum use” philosophy already mentioned above. Disappearing and sliding barn doors, glass everywhere and more useable space with multiple rooms that blend into each other provide ultimate efficiency, flexibility and usability of every square foot of space.

If you’re ready to move from watching reality TV shows about tiny homes and fix-and-flips to actually planning and building your own dream home, RMG can help you turn your “napkin thoughts” into reality. Call us today for a consultation.

Should You Build with a Pier and Beam Foundation?

Choosing a foundation type for your home is one of the most critical decisions you will make as a homeowner. Understanding the pros and cons of a pier and beam foundation versus a slab foundation, and a solution that brings together the best of both foundations can make your decision that much easier.

Pier and Beam Foundation vs. Slab Foundation

As noted in our discussion of How to Choose the Right Foundation Types, the foundation for your building project is one of the most critical decisions to be made in design and construction. From the soil characteristics to the load types, several factors are considered before selecting a foundation type.

Based on the soils conditions and geotechnical report, one foundation type to consider would be a pier and grade beam foundation. A drilled pier foundation consists of concrete piers drilled into “bedrock” that supports the concrete foundation walls at the piers. Another option would be to spread footing foundation.  This is the most common type of foundation system used in residential construction design.

Pier and Beam Foundation Pros and Cons

With a drilled pier foundation system, current construction practices often incorporate a structural floor system below the basement. The floor system can consist of wood joists, light gage steel joists, or steel beams with a concrete topping. These structural floors create a “crawl space” below the basement.

This crawlspace area between the ground and the bottom of the structural floor can allow for mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems to be easily installed and repaired should issues occur in the future. Repairing damaged pipes or electrical systems with a concrete floor slab at a spread footing foundation can sometimes cause damage to the pipes, resulting from chipping out of the concrete slab.

The drawbacks to a crawlspace include the possibility of mold, if moisture seeps into the soils below the crawlspace.

Cost Considerations for Pier and Beam Foundations

Cost is always a determining factor for foundation types and should be investigated based on both direct and indirect costs. For example, pier and grade beam foundation types are often more costly to install than a standard spread footing foundation. The structural basement floor often used a drilled pier foundation are less prone to vertical movement than a concrete slab-on-grade basement, however, this can be a significant added cost.

Spread footing foundations are typically less expensive and can be constructed faster than pier and grade beam foundations because the pier installed requires specialized equipment to drill the piers and the forms are often taller than those used for a spread footing foundation. However, the basement slab will be prone to movement with variations in moisture in the support soils.

Pier and Beam Foundation Soil Conditions to Consider

In addition to crawlspace considerations and cost implications, the soil upon which you build your home can affect the type of foundation you choose. In Colorado, where swelling soils is a known issue for homebuilders, pier and beam foundations can offer more stability in this shifting soil environment.

Swelling soil typically contains a high density of clay which, when combined with subsurface water, can expand and heave upward, and impart vertical lift on the bottom of a spread footing creating problems. When the clay soils dry, they shrink back down to a smaller form and the house foundation can settle. Drilled pier foundations, typically do not have this type of movement since there is a void space below the grade beams, isolating the foundation from soil movement.

Tella Firma Solution

Tella Firma is a foundation technology where you do not have to choose between a typical pier and beam foundation and a concrete slab. Tella Firma combines the benefits of both systems with an elevated slab-on-grade foundation above the ground that creates a protective void. This innovation isolates the slab, helping protect it from swelling soil.

As a structurally suspended slab, Tella Firma provides isolation from the active soils like that of a pier and beam foundation, yet is much more affordable and takes less time to install than traditional suspended foundations.

To learn more about Tella Firma, contact our consultants today and schedule a consultation.

Senior Living Trends: Preparing for the Boom of Baby Boomers

At each stage in a person’s life they need food, water and shelter. Perhaps the biggest factor as people age is where they will call home. In 2029, the youngest Baby Boomers (those born between 1946-1964) will turn 65 years old, and they will represent 20 percent of the U.S. population (approximately 19 million people). With 70 percent of seniors over age 65 requiring some form of long-term care, as a project manager, it’s important to consider how senior living trends can impact project planning and execution.

How Senior Living Trends are Changing

Perhaps one of the largest changes are the overall layout and building design of senior living facilities. The focus has shifted towards a more comfortable, “homey” atmosphere, while maintaining high-quality care. Many senior living communities have started to implement communal, condo-style living quarters to help establish a larger sense of community. Additionally, many senior communities are offering a larger variety of activities that promote lifelong activity and learning, such as gyms, libraries and even on-site breweries.

As society gravitates more and more towards a digital world, so have senior living trends. Many facilities now offer wireless internet, computer training programs and large digital signage to display community activity schedules and announcements. For those suffering from dementia or other illnesses affecting memory, living facilities have also begun using geo-fencing and small GPS devices. In addition, facilities are beginning to use electronic records to manage resident medical care, billing, payroll, scheduling and care plan creation.

What Senior Living Trends Mean for Construction Planning

Architects and designers have a big job. Not only do they need to create a building plan that includes all of the amenities and offerings of a traditional living facility (e.g., chapels, medical and administrative offices, etc.), but they also need to include additional amenities in an efficient, well-designed layout.

Another senior living trend to consider is a push towards a more environmentally-friendly society. With an ever-growing “green” mindset, more communities are embracing measures that will increase their efficiency and less their harmful global impact. According to The Senior List, facilities planning to focus on green living will need to take several measures in their operations and building construction plans, including:

  • Meeting EPA Energy Star standards
  • Improving indoor air quality
  • Practicing water conservation
  • Improving weatherization of all facility buildings
  • Utilizing renewable energy resources

Creating a Solid Foundation for Seniors

No matter what age, people need a safe, secure place to call home, starting from the bottom up. Because Colorado is prone to soil issues, including expanding and collapsing soil, it’s important to start your building plan on strong ground, beginning with the foundation. RMG recommends using an innovative elevated foundation system, Tella Firma to build a community with a solid foundation for adaptation to senior living trends.

Tella Firma uses a proven, patented process of elevation a slab-on-grade foundation above the ground to create a protective void.  This innovation isolates the slab, helping protect it from damaging soil swells, contractions, and movement. The elevated foundation creates space between the foundation and underlying soil, so that soil swells, and collapses cannot exert pressure on and damage the structure. Tella Firma is also an environmentally-friendly foundation solution, requiring no water or chemical injections into the soil.

Are you in the beginning stages of a large-scale construction project? Schedule your Tella Firma consultation today!

Mohamad Gozeh Makes the NAHB September Newsletter

Congratulations to Mohamad Gozeh for making the September issue of the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) newsletter. Mohamad Gozeh has been practicing engineering and project management since 1976. He has worked on infrastructure reconstruction and city master planning projects with the U.S. government in Iraq as well as managed several large-scale construction projects in Iraq that total more than $210 million, including $8 million in housing development.

Gozeh works for Rocky Mountain Group (RMG) and has been a member of the Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs since 2004.” Congratulations to Mohamad Gozeh for making the September issue of the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) newsletter.

To read the full story, click here.

How Green Building Products Improve Sustainability

Sustainability is certainly not a new term in the AEC industry, but has become popularized with the advent of LEED, and now more rigorous programs such as the WELL Building Standard and Living Building Challenge. Green building products are an essential pillar to sustainability that can affect the energy efficiency, water efficiency, air quality and the overall building’s impact on the environment.

What are Green Building Products?

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) defines green building as the “planning, design, construction and operations of buildings with several central considerations: energy use, water use, indoor environmental quality, material selection and the building’s effects on its site.”

Green building products are an essential pillar to green building and sustainability that can help lower energy consumption, increase water efficiency, improve indoor air quality and overall reduce the building’s carbon footprint on the environment.

Green building products are often characterized by the following:

  • Amount of recycled content within the material itself
  • How the material was extracted from the environment
  • Manufacturing process to make the product
  • Location where the product was sourced in relation to the construction site

Another quality of green building products that has become more prominent lately in the face of the infamous Hurricane Katrina and now Hurricane Harvey, is its resiliency to natural disasters. For example, the National Ready Mix Concrete Association (NRMCA) has dedicated resources to this resiliency as the new sustainability entitled “Pathway to Resilience – A Guide to Developing a Community Action Plan.” The plan outlines how the building community can help prevent losses of life and decrease the occurrence of destruction in the wake of natural disasters by using resilient building products.

Driving Forces of Green Building Products

Amidst this wave of sustainable building practices, one can often question what is driving the need for more green building products. One answer lies in the increase of green building codes as set by the International Code Council (ICC) that develops codes and standards used in the design, construction and compliance processes to construct safe and sustainable buildings. The ICC even has a sector dedicated to green building codes known as the International Green Construction Codes (IgCC). The IgCC is touted as the first model code to include sustainability measures for the entire construction lifecycle from design to construction to certificate of occupancy to years after the buildings is in use.

These green building codes are causing municipalities, states and federal institutions alike to create mandates for sustainability for their buildings. For instance, the City of Denver passed the Executive Order 123 that states that “all buildings constructed, renovated, or maintained with City funds or using City bonding capacity are to be designed, constructed, operated, and maintained according to the principles outlined in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, the United States Environmental Protection Agencies ENERGY STAR program, and other applicable best management practices for sustainability and energy efficiency.”

Another driving factor for green building products includes the people inhabiting these buildings. Millennials, which are currently the nation’s largest living generation, already at 76 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest reports, are being dubbed as the “Green Generation” and are one of the main drivers of sustainability. In a Neilson report, millennials are found to be willing to pay more for sustainable products and housing.

Innovative Green Building Products

The widespread usage of green building products is identified as one of the top green building trends for 2017 according to the Survival Renewable Energy group. Some of those green building materials include:

  • Metal roofing – when applied in the appropriate manner, the material itself absorbs heat and can add to the energy efficiency of the building; in addition, the metal roofing itself is composed of recycled materials
  • Solar power – solar panels that use natural energy sources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, like those used at the Denver International Airport, are taking center stage as a widely used green building product, especially after the most recent United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (NFCCC)

Other innovative green building products that improve sustainability include those that help increase a building’s energy efficiency and decrease stormwater runoff. Below are some examples from the Top 10 Green Building Products for 2017 as identified by Construction Dive.

  • Nextek Power Hub Driver – addresses the massive energy consumption in the conversion of alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC).
    • This product serves as an all-in-one AC to DC power supply and minimizes system failures which can lead to cost savings
  • Bro-Microbics d-Rain Joint Rainwater filter drain – this green building product mitigates stormwater runoff issues by serving as an expansion joint in a concrete slab that provides a means for subsurface drainage. 

Tella Firma Concrete System as a Viable Green Building Product 

Green building products can also be found in a building’s foundation. Tella Firma is a suspended concrete foundation system that is environmentally friendly with no chemicals used and minimal waste.

Associations like the American Concrete Institute (ACI), which RMG is a member of, are leading the way to educate the industry about the structural integrity and resiliency of concrete based structures. For instance, concrete is found to be a durable material that provides longevity in buildings with little to no maintenance. As a concrete based foundation system, Tella Firma protects the slab and structure from the shrinking and swelling of our Colorado soils.

To take advantage of this green building product in your next project, schedule your Tella Firma consultation today!

Why Mid-Rise Buildings are “On the Rise”

As Colorado’s population grows, developers are embracing mid-rise buildings as a solution to proactively meet the region’s growth. In recent years, that growth has caused an overall housing shortage coupled with a need for affordable housing. These problems are especially apparent in Colorado’s Denver-metro area.

Why Mid-Rise Buildings

Mid-rise buildings are part of the ever-growing multifamily housing market that has become more prevalent lately in Colorado. With rising population rates, Metro Denver has struggled to keep pace with the development needs for housing. According to the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation the population of Metro Denver is currently more than three million people, with an estimation of an increase to more than 3.3 million people by 2020. To provide appropriate growth strategies, developers have turned to mid-rise buildings.

In a recent study published by the City and County of Denver, mid-rise buildings are defined as buildings that are between five to nine stories. This multi-story building type usually includes at least one elevator and is located in urban areas. Mid-rise buildings are “on the rise” in Metro Denver based on the following, including:

  • Cost-effective building options
  • Sustainable building practices
  • Complements to transit-oriented development (TOD)

Mid-rise Buildings are Cost-Effective

Mid-rise buildings can be more cost effective than other housing options due to affordable building materials and speedier construction times. They also allow for an increase in community density without negatively affecting residents.

Typical building materials used for mid-rise buildings include steel-frame, post-tensioned concrete and Insulating Concrete Forms (ICF’s) structures. Organizations such as the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association offer cost and energy analyses to demonstrate the overall cost savings of concrete with their Build with Strength campaign.

With lower construction costs and faster construction schedules, mid-rise buildings also support Denver’s need for more affordable housing. Denver Mayor Hancock reported in May 2017 that the city needs at least 21,000 affordable housing units just to meet current demand. With the U.S. Census Bureau ranking Colorado the seventh fastest growing state in the country, adding 91,726 new residents between July 1, 2015, and July 1, 2016 (at a rate of almost 10,000 per month), the need for affordable housing is only set to increase.

Mid-rise buildings also allow for an increase in community density without the expense of high-rise buildings. As one of the top goals in the Metro Vision 2035 plan produced by the Denver Regional Council of Governments, density can help achieve cost-savings by building on smaller lot sizes and using less resources.

Sustainable Building

With the rising popularity in sustainable building or green building, mid-rise buildings can help developers meet required energy efficiency standards and better qualify for sustainable programs, such as LEED, WELL Building and Energy Star.

The City and County of Denver recently released a new mandate entitled Energize Denver Benchmarking Ordinance that calls for a 10% reduction in energy consumption of commercial and multifamily buildings by the end of 2020. Using compact building designs that take advantage of unused space can lower the building project’s carbon footprint.

The construction materials of mid-rise buildings also influence the project’s sustainability. According to the Concrete Network, concrete offers several sustainable aspects including long-lasting durability, ability to absorb and retain heat, ability to retain stormwater and minimal waste as a building product.

RELATED: READ MORE ON MILLENNIAL HOUSING TRENDS

Transit-Oriented Development

As Colorado’s population continues to increase, traffic congestion, roadway damage and the cost of highway construction are escalating as well. One solution to this ever-growing issue is to create more opportunities for transit-oriented development (TOD).

The main concepts of TOD’s include places to live, work and play, like the new Peña Station Next developed by Panasonic near the Denver International Airport. Mid-rise buildings that include retail and other mixed-use options within the building are essential components to TOD’s.

“It’s time for Denver to show up,” said Kimball Crangle, Colorado Market President for Gorman & Co., in a panel on The NEXT Generation of Urban Infill Developers, an event sponsored by the Urban Land Institute of Colorado that shared best practices for TOD development.

“As a city, we’re gaining global attention and we’re attracting more funding, but we need to show the way in terms of social equity and equal opportunities. We’re a welcoming community and we encourage an entrepreneurial spirit that translates to who you live next to and how we create community.”

Case in Point  

One recent example of a mid-rise building in Denver includes the construction of Alameda Station – a 338-unit transit-oriented community with three four-story buildings at the former site of the Denver Studio Complex. RMG joined the design and construction team to perform the compliance inspections based on the plans provided.

After reviewing the engineered plans, RMG performed over fifty ongoing observations during the construction phase. This ensured the framing, roofing and structural components complied with the engineered design. RMG also provided numerous reports on their findings and recommendations during the different construction phases of all three buildings.

To support the growth of the mid-rise buildings in the Denver Metro area, RMG can provide one of its most established services with third party “special inspections.” These inspections ensure that the projects are following international building codes during the construction phase and can add to the success of mid-rise building projects. Contact RMG to make sure your building projects are in compliance.