News, Trends, and awards

Envision Promotes Significant Strides in Sustainability

Sustainability has been a focus of the news cycle and academic journals for the past several decades. Most recently, with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Katia in the past three weeks, we have seen the direct impact changing weather patterns have on infrastructure and the strain natural disasters can place on cities. As science and technology continue to advance, our understanding of the long-term social and environmental impacts of infrastructure projects grows. Large cities with antiquated wastewater systems, like Philadelphia, are upgrading their infrastructure to include permeable surfaces and enhanced greenspaces. Low-lying areas, such as New Orleans, are installing new infrastructure to ensure their communities are protected against changing climate conditions. Government organizations, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), are incentivizing developers and municipalities to focus on sustainable infrastructure through funding and regulatory actions.

In light of these factors, LEED was created in 2000 by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to assess buildings for sustainability and reward those that demonstrated a commitment to reducing environmental impact. Today, LEED certification is required by many cities and developers, particularly when a project uses taxes or other government funding. Harper currently has 15 LEED certified employees on staff, with 30 projects achieving LEED certification. Realizing a gap in assessment for and recognition of sustainability in infrastructure projects, the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) and the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design partnered to create the Envision Certification in 2010. Since then, 38 projects have earned Envision Certification. While Envision does not yet have the same mass exposure as LEED, the exponential increase in project certifications over the past two years (4 projects in 2015, 14 in 2016, and 14 in 2017 as of July) indicates Envision Certification is gaining market appeal. In March 2016, Harper added our first Envision Certified Professional to our team when Anne-Marie Moehring, a member of our Environmental Systems Division (ESD), earned her credentials to become one of the first Envision Certified Professionals (ENV SP) in South Carolina. 

A unique element of Envision is its holistic approach to projects. Evaluation occurs across 60 criteria in five main areas: Quality of Life, Leadership, Resource Allocation, Natural World and Climate and Risk. These categories underscore the Envision Rating System’s emphasis on all areas of the project. Quality of Life and Leadership explore how the project, and project team, interact with the surrounding community while the remaining three areas assess how the project impacts, and plans for, environmental factors. The nature of the evaluation demands communication among the Owner, Design Team, Contractor, Subcontractors, Key Stakeholders and a myriad of other teammates. Only those projects that are truly collaborative can earn Envision Certification.

A collaborative approach is extremely beneficial to Owners, Design Teams and Contractors as they plan for, and implement, infrastructure improvements. These projects, particularly in water and wastewater treatment, are often viewed as intrusive or ugly by the local community because function and budget typically trump elegance. Furthermore, the direct benefits to the community are not as tangible as a retail center or even a park. However, by including the neighborhood association, community leaders, and others impacted by the project throughout the design and planning process, project teams are seeing a direct correlation between community buy-in and easier project approval processes.

Team receiving sustainability award

Harper Corporation VP Bryan Royal (right), presents the Silver Envision Certification to Seneca Light & Water’s Bob Faires (left) and Steve Fletcher (middle).

One example of the success of this collaborative process in South Carolina is the City of Seneca’s Water Treatment Plant (WTP) on Lake Keowee. Bob Faires, Director of Utilities for Seneca Light & Water, said,

“We found the collaborative process beneficial throughout the project. From the beginning of the design to the grand opening, we actively engaged the community to develop a water treatment plant we are all very proud of.” 

Located on a prominent peninsula in the picturesque lake and at the back of a neighborhood, the WTP had been a point of contention among members of the community for several years. When plans for significant upgrades were announced, the City of Seneca and their design and construction partners saw an opportunity to reduce the tension over the plant by increasing community involvement in the upgrades. As the project progressed, the Project Team remained in constant communication with Key Stakeholders and general members of the public, letting them know about design elements as well as opportunities to participate in the project. Local subcontractors and suppliers provided a significant amount of the labor for the project, a positive impact on the local economy, and members of the neighborhood association were even invited to the tearing down of a particularly contentious bulk chemical tank. Throughout the project, the Owner, Design Team and Contractor used elements of the Envision framework to shape conversations and inform decisions with regard to sustainability and collaboration. Bryan Royal, Harper’s Vice President, Environmental Systems Division, said,

The Project Team chose to pursue Envision certification for the Seneca WTP toward the end of the project when we realized how closely the design and construction methods aligned with Envision’s purpose. Sustainable construction methods not only provided the City of Seneca with an environmentally-friendly facility, but also saved time and money throughout the project. Collaborating with local stakeholders allowed certain aspects of the project to move forward and gave the community a finished product they are proud to live and play next to.”

In the end, the community received a treatment plant of which they are proud and the project itself earned Silver Envision Certification, the first Silver Certification in the Carolinas.

Sustainable Water Treatment Plant

City of Seneca’s Water Treatment Plant on Lake Keowee.

Harper Construction Career Day at Rudolph Gordon

Harper is currently constructing the expansion of the new Rudolph Gordon K-8 school located in Simpsonville, SC. Due to the growth of Rudolph Gordon’s projects-based learning environment, the construction includes a 12,000 SF addition to the existing elementary school and a new 140,000 SF facility to host the addition of fifth through eighth grade classrooms with two major labs and improvements to the athletic fields. As the general contractor for this project, Harper was asked to sponsor a Construction Career Day at the school. This was an easy yes for Harper. With our passion to give back to our community, our project team stepped up quickly to promote the Career Day and provide all the essentials to make the kids smile.

When a Harper employee asked fourth grader Malachi what he thought about the new construction, he said,

“I’m excited about the gym. I saw it in the computer model, and it looked really cool and big.”

On May 19th, 14 Harper volunteers visited the school to host its career day. With four stations focusing on engineering, drone photography, safety, and surveying, the Harper team engaged students of all ages. Greenville County Schools Project Manager, Doug Cadenhead complimented Harper’s efforts and said,

“It was a thrill for me to walk through the parking lot and see how enthralled the children were with the large array of equipment on-hand just for them. It was also gratifying to see all the young men from your arena interacting so well with the kids.”

 

Not only did we share our story with different career stations, but four Harper employees conducted two presentations to the 4th and 5th grade students detailing the construction process, our technology use and what educational paths one would follow to become a construction professional.

We enjoyed our time with the students at Rudolph Gordon, and we very much appreciate every employee that put forth the time and effort to make this day memorable for the children.

Doug also mentioned our gift to each child,

“The hardhats for every child was a great touch…I bet many of them will still have that hardhat many years from now.”

 

Harper Volunteers: Sam Ligon, John Harper IV, Jason DeFronzo, Zach Pruitt, Regina Gay, Steve Foushee, David Fey, Lucy Zeiger, Kyle Snipes, Kaitlyn DeShields, Brady Coker, Luke Seder, Jeremiah Sexton

Team Harper Participates in 10th Annual Wheels for Meals Charity Ride

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Team Harper’s cycling team participated in the 10th Annual Wheels for Meals Charity Ride event on April 30th.  This is the tenth year in a row that the ‘Harper Family’ joined in this event to raise support for Meals on Wheels of Greenville County.

This is a major fundraising effort for this excellent organization.  Meals on Wheels serves approximately 3,800 clients every year.  The 10th Annual Wheels for Meals Charity Ride raised over $129,500 to benefit their home-bound neighbors here in Greenville County.  The Harper Corporation had nineteen cyclists participate in this important event, along with three rest stop volunteers.  Five of these riders were Harper employees, including our Chairman, Doug Harper.  It is a tribute to the strong relationships we have built over the years that the other fourteen riders were not employees, but were friends whom we work with and work for!

Team Harper raised $10,964 in the 2016 event.  In the past ten years in this event, Team Harper has raised $111,319 for Meals on Wheels!
In other words, the dedication and hard work of the many participants will allow Meals on Wheels of Greenville to deliver over 28,000 hot meals and personal visits to our community!

Many thanks to those who cycled, donated to support those riders, and volunteered to feed and water cyclists at the rest stops, for your hard work and generosity.

Harper Employee Riders: Doug Harper, Charlie Anderson, Andy Hall, George Fulton, and Frank Tucker

Harper Friends: Louis Redmond, John Algary, Joni Algary, Denise Hudson, Jeff Hudson, JN Strausbaugh, David Wright, Jim Hearn, Rip Major, Tim Halbert, Russ Davis, Alex Masoti, Brian Young, and Ron Petrie

Volunteers: Rick Richardson, Carol Burger, and Tom Fuduric

 

 

 

 

 

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