Wisconsin AWWA’s 2016 Project of the Year Award

The Wisconsin Section AWWA Project of the Year Award recognizes excellence in engineering, design, and construction in the Wisconsin drinking water industry.

The 2016 Project of the Year used a unique, yet simple solution to a complex construction coordination problem to save the Utility over a million dollars, as well as the Wisconsin DOT more than 18 months of time, while minimizing the impact to thousands of water utility customers.

When the Wisconsin DOT needed to move the Zoo Freeway 80 feet west and lower it 9 feet, a major water transmission main feeding the west side of Wauwatosa was in the way and had to be moved. The 24-inch transmission main was the main feed to the west service area and having it out of service would result in excessively low pressures throughout the west service area, as well as a serious reduction in fire protection capacity to several major customers.

Developing a project to install a 2,000 gpm temporary booster pumping station remotely located 3 miles north of the impacted highway crossing provided continuous water service to the west side of the City for over a month, allowing the DOT contractor to construct, flush, disinfect, and put the new 24-inch transmission main into service. Use of the DOT construction contract allowed the 24-inch transmission main to be constructed in a third of the time it would have required. GRAEF worked closely with the DOT engineer to site, design, and procure the temporary skid mounted booster pumping station and generator system. This work ensured an efficient installation and effective operation.

Coordinating the project with several state and local agencies resulted in a project that had virtually no impact on water service to the west side of Wauwatosa. The team of Wauwatosa Water Utility and GRAEF worked closely with the DOT to develop the temporary pumping system that resulted in saving Wauwatosa Water Utility $1.25 million and the DOT over 18 months of time.

Work-Life Balance in the A/E/C Industry

By Julie Olson

Balancing work and life isn’t hard to do when you work for a company like GRAEF. An employer that supports a balance of a career, family, hobbies, and health is essential. Finding a balance is decidedly the responsibility of the individual, but the added perk of a supportive employer is sought after in today’s workforce whatever the industry or market.

Collaboration02_Planning Table Nicole and Erik 2014

Maintaining a balance according to personal needs and wants is a goal for many employees. Equally important in the architecture, engineering and construction industry is balancing the needs of our clients, stakeholders and “team members.” Working out timelines, expectations and preferred methods of communications are all great places to start. Discussing these needs will enable you to make independent, fully informed decisions at the right time. After all, that is our focus in the industry: problem solving.

Ideally, one works with a client often enough and close enough that one is in sync with the client’s expectations. Though other aspects of life are not as predictable, anticipating a client’s needs and exceeding their expectations should be second nature. One’s colleagues, manager and other support staff can and are willing and able to help. On can use these outlets from time to time when needed to meet a client’s goals.


One’s family, on the other hand, can be a very different story. From our individual experiences, we all know that things come up at the most inopportune times. Whether work went well or not, shifting into family mode upon arrival at home can sometimes be difficult. This takes practice. Being fully present in one’s family life and keeping up at work are two major life concerns. One way to alleviate the stress of finding a balance is to set schedules for both work and home and stick to those schedules.

Family, career, and health are all essential to a balanced life, and holding a steady balance between them day-to-day can certainly be a struggle. It is an ongoing challenge that is universal, not just in the AEC industry. Surely we all can admit to experiencing this struggle! Having that balance in life with little to no effort on our part is the objective. And so we continue our efforts every day with the support of a great employer.

Incentives – The Catalyst to 100% Energy Independence

By Gino Bernardi

PV Solar

PV Solar


There is no doubt that government subsidies increase the adoption rate of sustainable construction.  Everyone is attracted to “free money.” Some subsidies can significantly affect the financial outlook on projects such as photovoltaic (PV) solar installation. For example, there are some reports of PV solar projects achieving internal rate of returns greater than 20%, which would not have been possible without the subsidy. The most exemplary government subsidy in this regard is Germany’s Feed in Tariff program. Germany’s policies became the status quo of the PV industry. They were so powerful that many financial analysts and economists believe that the financial collapse of the PV manufacturing industry was triggered after Germany began scaling back their Feed in Tariff program in 2010. That is an extreme example of a government subsidy which had such a profound effect on adoption that it created an artificial and unsustainable glut of global PV modules.

From data collected up to 2010, the volume of PV solar capacity in Germany was 17 gigawatts (GW), while Spain’s volume was 3.7 GW (2010 Solar Technologies Market Report). Most surprising, is that Germany’s total level of solar radiation is comparable to that of Alaska. Surely, Germany would not have achieved such a huge level of PV capacity without their popular Feed in Tariff program. All of these facts are important because they clearly demonstrate the power that regulatory action has over adopters of clean technology.

This particular example has shown how incentives do speed up the adoption rate of sustainable technology, but would a slower adoption rate be fast enough without incentives? The answer to that question requires a step back in history at least 10 to 20 years ago.  Sustainability is not a new concept. We have had an understanding of sustainability for quite a long time now. It was once referred to as socio-environmental-economic impact. Furthermore, we have been well aware of the global warming trend (a likely derivative of unsustainable construction) for the last 20 years or so. Yet, 10 – 20 years ago solar panels were more like tech toys for scientists, while the US was spending a huge amount of time, money, and focus on securing unsustainable foreign energy. Developing energy “at home” was not on the priority list.

The result of this lack of regulatory incentives demonstrably led to slower adoption of clean technology relative to today’s adoption rate. Whether it be considered too slow is likely still up to debate by critics on both sides. Personally, I find the improved quality of sustainable technology a major improvement over the past alternatives. I would like to see a future of 100% energy independence and until that day happens, the adoption rate will never be fast enough.

Alabama Crimson Tide

By Joe Pepitone

Aerial View of the University of Alabama’s Newly Designed Track & Field and Practice Facility

Alabama just won a national championship, not only was it back-to-back with last year’s, but it was their 15th championship! Thousands just gathered over the weekend to celebrate with a parade. http://progress.montgomeryadvertiser.com/article/20130120/SPORTS0401/301200031/Alabama-football-Tide-celebrates-title-parade

With an outstanding college football team who is at the top of their game, having the best practice field possible is one of the keys to help them be successful.

Enter in GRAEF…

GRAEF was part of a collaborative design team, along with Davis Architects, Inc., responsible for the design and engineering for the replacement of the natural turf football practice fields at the home of the 2011 NCAA Collegiate football champions, the Alabama Crimson Tide.

University of Alabama’s New Practice Field

The project consisted of the replacement of three practice fields with two full size Bermuda grass practice fields along with offensive and defensive blocking areas, lighting, irrigation and a building addition to the existing training facility.

View of the University of Alabama’s Newly Designed Practice Field

GRAEF provided civil engineering, landscape architecture and irrigation design for the replacement fields. The project construction documents were completed in less than two weeks in order for the project to be constructed prior to football practice sessions which began in late summer. The project was completed in July of 2012.

GRAEF was also a part of a collaborative design team, along with Davis Architects, Inc., responsible for the design and engineering of the University of Alabama’s new NCAA Division I collegiate track and field renovation.

View of the University of Alabama’s Newly Designed Track & Field

The project consisted of replacing and reconfiguring the existing nine lane track, field event areas and infield with a new track and field complex within the Sam Bailey Track and Field Stadium.

University of Alabama Track & Field