Opinion: Blacklisting rule will force many contractors to abandon federal marketplace

The following post is by Wendy Novak, President, Associate Builders and Contractors of Western Washington

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and Associated General Contractor (AGC) are strongly opposed to the flawed Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces final rule, commonly referred to as “blacklisting.” Released in August by the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council, the rule, which was accompanied by a guidance document from the U.S. Department of Labor and a White House amendment to Executive Order 13673, will increase costs for taxpayers, threaten the livelihood of millions of Americans who work for responsible federal contractors and cripple the federal procurement process with needless uncertainty, delays and litigation.

ABC leadership is concerned that the flawed blacklisting final rule will create a murky and needlessly subjective procurement process that will result in fewer qualified and responsible contractors bidding on federal contracts. Upon initial review, it appears that rather than working toward improving the federal government’s existing suspension and debarment system, the administration has finalized a proposal that is duplicative and cumbersome and will result in less competition for taxpayer-funded contracts. The final rule fails to address key concerns raised by ABC, AGC, and other stakeholders during the comment period that would boost small business participation and promote awarding contracts based on merit to responsible firms that can deliver the highest quality product at the best price.

In a media release, AGC leadership asserted: “we have worked so hard to make sure the federal government has a clear-cut and fairly-administered suspension and debarment program to deal with the extremely small number of federal contractors that do not operate in good faith.  However, this new Obama administration rule is a step in the wrong direction when it comes to weeding out the very few unfair and unscrupulous federal contractors.”

In addition to the already substantial consequences firms currently face, this new measure permits unelected federal bureaucrats to make arbitrary decisions about which other firms will be singled out for punishment.  Even worse, this new rule gives those same federal officials broad latitude to impose separate and inconsistent consequences on those firms.  Such subjective criteria opens the door to punishing federal contractors based on which political, social or labor causes they support, instead of their safety performance or treatment of workers.

“ABC supports a level and transparent playing field for federal contractors and believes unethical firms should be held accountable,” said ABC Vice President of Regulatory, Labor & State Affairs Ben Brubeck. “However, our initial concerns regarding the proposal’s stripping of due process rights while also adding unwarranted uncertainty by empowering bureaucrats to subjectively pick winners and losers in the federal contracting marketplace remain. ABC will continue to explore every available avenue, including the judicial system, to protect taxpayers, contractors and their employees, whose livelihoods rely on a fair procurement system, from this overreaching policy.”

ABC will explore all possible legislative and legal measures for undoing this deeply troubling and unnecessary new federal mandate.  More information is available abc.org Newsline.

Posted in Construction, DJC, Government, Opinion, Politics | 1 Comment

PARK(ING) DAY PLUS+ starts today!

PARK(ing) Day Plus+ has expanded to two days and 50 parks!  What is there to see? Which projects you’ll visit? Check out the full project list and map below to see where the pop-up parks are in your neighborhood.

Friday, September 16 and Saturday, September 17 from 10 AM – 7 PM.

If you’d like to stay up-to-date on the installations throughout the city, @seattledot will be live-tweeting the event on Twitter.  Also, be sure to use #parkingdaySEA for your own photos.


MG2putt putt golf!

Have fun in the parks!

Posted in Events, Neighborhoods, Parks and open space, Seattle lifestyle | Leave a comment

OK Ice Cube!

While Design In Public‘s Block Party may be over, the Olson Kundig Ice Cube is still working its magic in Occidental Park.  The 10-ton ice cube showcases the stages of the natural water cycle as it evaporates and melts. “It offers a cool respite to visitors and scatters ambient sunlight and colors throughout the park. The pure water form of the cube will gradually erode in the summer sun, marking the passage of time as its waters slowly return to the sea.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2016, 2:03 pm.

Friday, September 9, 2016, 1:00 pm.

Check out more photos on Instagram #ok_icecube.

For more information on Design In Public events, check out their Events Calendar. The festival runs through September 23.

Posted in Architecture, Events, Neighborhoods, Parks and open space, Seattle lifestyle | Leave a comment

This weekend! Design In Public’s Block Party: Map the Square

The designers are setting up for Seattle Design Festival’s Block Party: Map the Square street fair.  If today’s sneak peak is any indication, it’s going to be full of great design!

Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 10 and 11, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Occidental Park at 117 S. Washington St.

The Block Party is free, with design demonstrations, activities, workshops, exhibits, and tours as well as installations from the SDF Rumble, designed and built by teams of local designers, community groups and contractors.

The Seattle Urban Air Market will be open Saturday, Sept. 10.

Olson Kundig’s #OK_ICECUBE

The fair celebrates the ways design affects people’s lives, and kicks off the Seattle Design Festival, which runs Sept. 10-23 at venues across the city.

Come down to Pioneer Square this weekend and check it out!

Recently in the DJC: Block Party design street fair in Sept.
Visit Design In Public and Shop at the Urban Air Market.

Posted in DJC, Events, Neighborhoods, Seattle lifestyle | Leave a comment

Why choose Living Building Certification?

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The following post is by Jordan Sullivan, PCL Construction Services, Inc.

Bullitt Center photo by Nic Lehoux

 

 

 

 

Dear Seattle Residents and Developers,

In an effort to encourage sustainable development needed to reach the long-term goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, the City of Seattle introduced the Living Building Pilot Program (LBPP) as part of its Climate Action Plan.

The LBPP gives developers incentives to pursue the Living Building Challenge (LBC) Certification.  This rigorous sustainable building standard evaluates and recognizes the highest achievement of sustainability, proctored by the International Living Future Institute.

The LBC evaluates building design, construction, and performance based on seven categories: Place, Water, Energy, Health & Happiness, Materials, Equity, and Beauty.  In exchange for achieving certification, developers are granted departures from city codes which include, but are not limited to increased structure height, floor area ratio, and residential density.

Worldwide, there are 300+ registered projects pursuing the LBC related certifications, including the Net-Zero Energy Certification, and the Partial LBC Certification, known as Petal Certification.  We can look in our own backyard to see the benefits that pursuing the Living Building Challenge can provide.  The Bullitt Center is a six-story commercial office building in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

The Bullitt Center produces more energy than it uses, is highly water efficient, is comprised of building materials that are free from toxic chemicals (many conventional building materials off-gas carcinogens and other harmful vapors), and was constructed with FSC-certified wood, sustainably sourced from forests that are responsibly managed.

A common barometer for gauging building performance is the Energy Use Intensity (EUI) metric, which measures relative energy use in annual kBTU per building square footage.  For example, The Bullitt Center’s EUI is 12-16 depending on the tenant, which compares to a 60 EUI for typical office buildings.  Through the dramatic energy efficient performance achieved at the Bullitt Center, the owner has seen substantial long-term cost savings on building operations.  This is just one example of how holding development to a high standard isn’t only feasible, but it’s financially and environmentally beneficial.

On June 13, 2016, Seattle City Council decided, by unanimous vote, to extend the LBPP for one more year. The LBPP is supported by a number of construction industry leaders, including Unico, Vulcan and the Seattle 2030 District, key players in moving the market towards carbon neutrality to meet Seattle’s climate goals.

To find out how you can enroll your project in the LBPP, visit the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections website.  Now is the time to capitalize on program incentives and bring your project to a higher standard.  Let’s continue to be industry leaders and build for a better future!

Sincerely,

Jordan Sullivan – PCL Construction Services, Inc.
Mark Chen – Turner Construction Company
Colm Otten, LEED AP BD+C – Nyssa Consulting
Sean Augustino, EIT – Integrated Design Engineers
Taylor Massey, LEED AP BD+C – LMN Architects

Posted in Architecture, Building Green, Construction, Engineering, Planning | Leave a comment