The Conversion of Retail Using the Vertical Farm Method of Indoor Agriculture

When I moved to Puerto Rico, I decided to take the advice of a previous mentor of mine, Pat DiFilipo of Turner Construction. He told me that if I ever had the opportunity to get a Master’s degree, I should. Before I left, I had brunch with my Godmother, who mentioned a colleague of hers who received a degree from Syracuse all online while working. I scoured the internet for the right program and applied to Georgetown’s Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate. After two years and much discipline, I would recommend this program to any person wishing to progress their professional career in Real Estate. Below is my introduction and attached thesis with a proforma model for anyone to use as open-source and the growth of Vertical Agriculture.


Ten years ago, I was enrolled in a critical writing class at my alma mater, Virginia Tech.  The final paper was assigned, and the topic was on anything you felt was essential to be written about.  Two years previous, I had taken a study abroad agricultural trip to Mexico.  We traveled all over the country, seeing plants and animals being produced for production and sale to the United States.  The most surprising thing I noticed was atop a mountain ridge on the Baja peninsula.  There were Israeli-designed greenhouses, as far as the eye could see, growing tomatoes. Most of the Northeastern US’s tomato supply comes from the Baja peninsula.  I could not believe that most of the tomatoes I ate traveled three thousand miles before they got into my pasta sauce.  The other thing that caught my attention was a bucket at an agricultural research institute in Enseñada.  The bucket was filled with water which had koi fish in it.   Pipes shot out of the bucket, which held a net for several tomato plants to grow on. The contraption was an experiment in aquaponics using recycled fish feces to fertilize tomato plants and produce a crop.  After this wildly enlightening experience, I had never thought about where food comes from.  Because of this, I decided to write my paper on the Vertical Farm, a unique outlandish idea of growing produce within a skyscraper in a city center.  My English Professor was not super-impressed by my outlook, but then again, he was not a Master Builder.  Fast forward ten years, the concept of vertical agriculture has grown legs and come out on the scene of real estate.   Multiple startups have started exploring growing produce on roofs or in storage containers in the heart of a metropolis.  The following attachments below will discuss indoor crop farming’s proliferation and its validity as a classification in modern real estate and its contribution to our food source.

WordPress + Procore for Construction Workflows

Procore is the construction industry’s elephant in the room when it comes to CRM systems. It does everything from DCRS, RFIs, Submittals, Schedule, Budget, all the essential construction tools. Sometimes though, Procore has limitations. When it comes to $100M+ projects, there are so many nuances that it is hard to standardize with one platform. Using Procore + WordPress + Formidable can help you prototype quick.  What you need:

Set up your WordPress site and install your plugins.  Get a nice (simple) theme.  If you want to login using the frontend, get a plugin like JupiterCow’s Sewn-in Template Login or something from the WordPress.org Pugins Directory.

Add the WP Login with Procore Plugin, located here: https://github.com/ibuilder/WP-Login-Procore

Install Formidable.  Make a form.  Add form to the front page.  Have fun!

 

A Scheduler has Grit

Grit Virtual is a program that I first encountered at Procore Groundbreak 2019.  It is the ultimate tool that fills the gap in scheduling.  I have spent several years looking into different ways to do collaborative scheduling properly. My favorite building of all time, the empire state building, used linear scheduling to create their schedule format. Techniques of scheduling have not changed, and it’s essential to understand how a Superintendent should properly set up their schedule.esb-1.PNG

Figure 1: Schedule snippet from Building the Empire State by Caroll Willis

When I am talking about schedule, I am not referring to the Gantt chart that most contractors use to track a project. Every project starts with that Gantt chart as a baseline schedule and then requires consistent weekly maintenance of the program. There are three critical elements for a Project Manager or Superintendent to implement to create a proactive schedule environment. The first is your weekly work plan, second is a foreman meeting, and third is the overall schedule update.

The weekly work plan is the manager’s guide to what work will be carried out in a given week. You can use tasks from the baseline schedule to start, but it is also vital to discuss assignments and plan with each Foreman for that week. Below is an example of a table you can use for a weekly work plan:weekly-workplan

Figure 2: Example of a weekly work plan template to be filled out by Foreman.

The Foreman’s meeting ties directly into the weekly work plan and Foreman discussion. This meeting gives a venue for the trades to discuss and collaborate a week to week plan and also take accountability for the tasks they are set out to do. Accountability is a must in major construction if you expect to get something done. As they say, there is no I in Team.

Lastly, using the information from the weekly work plan worksheet gives you a concise worksheet for anybody to use to update the schedule.
If you want to avoid all the paperwork and do it all in a web-based collaborative environment, I highly recommend checking our Grit since it does these base tasks, plus a whole lot more!

For Coders

If you are a coder, and want to experiment with Primavera XER Viewers, for me here: https://github.com/ibuilder/PHPSchedule

Field Tools for the Mobile Superintendent

Hardhat: Smart Helmet: Daqri

 

THOR_DVT_Animated_Exploded_00000

Gloves: Ironclad Touchscreen Work Glove

Safety Vest

USA: ML Kishigo S5000

S5000-Front-orange-761

Europe: Cresto 1142

cresto1142.jpg

Additional Tools

Knife: SOG Escape

Multi-tool: Leatherman Skeletool

Flashlight: NEBO CSI Tactical Flashlight/Laser

Measuring Tape: Bosch GLM 35 Laser Measure, 120-Feet

Hand Sanitizer: Honolulu Sun

 

Procore Digital Plan Kiosk

Procore is a really great tool to help manage your construction project.  It offers an all in one solution to connect all parties to the field and office.  A traditional plan table is not really needed if your project uses Procore.  Digital plan tables or ePlan tables are becoming more and more popular.   Using Procore and a wireless connection, you can build a virtual plan table easily with a touch screen and ChromeOS powered device.  What if I told you that we could do it for under $1000 which is cheaper than purchasing a full set of printed plans.


chromebit-touch

Hardware

Here is what you are going to need to set up your virtual plan table:

Total: $988

*Note:  for major commerical use, purchasing a touchscreen or overglass touch film may be more durable.


Set Up Kiosk & Install Procore

First, hang your TV on the wall or mount in your wooden plan table.  Plug in the Asus Chromebit.   You may need a bluetooth keybord and mouse for set up purposes until you enable the virtual keyboard.  If your touch screen is USB powered, you may need to purchase USB cable to connect into your touchscreen.  Once set up, login, adjust setting to your liking and visit “chrome://flags/” to your liking.

Go to the Google Web Store and type in Procore or click here.  Last put your chromebit into kiosk mode and make Procore the default app.  Voila!  Login to Procore and have fun with your virtual plan table!


Real Life Example

I implemented this on my project and it works great.  I used a Elo Touchscreen with Chromebit and USB 2 Male A-B cable.  Here is what it looks like:

ff86d642-19d5-445f-a7c3-bb32748d8b08

Coder’s Corner

If you want to customize the web app to be for your project and company branded, the super simple source code is located on my GitHub.

Bridgit for Punchlist Review

My favorite punch list app to date is Bridgit Closeout.  Started by two awesome women Mallorie Brodie and Lauren Lake, there app is everything a Superintendent needs to maintain dynamic open items lists and punch lists.  Here’s a quick look at some screenshots of the app:

They are even giving back to the community by researching and publishing and eBook on recent tech trends in the construction industry.  You can read the ebook below:

Bridgit Construction Tech Trends 2017

If you are looking for a stellar item tracker for your project, I suggest looking into Bridgit Closeout!

Lump Sum vs. T+M

Change orders on a construction site are pretty common because nobody is perfect and something is always missed.  A change order is anything over and above a contractors’ base contract value.  Any problem that occurs on a site can always be fixed with one of three things: money, time, or sacrificed quality.  This is also known as the triple constraints triangle:

tripleconstraints

When a change order does occur, it’s usually fashioned in one of two ways: Lump Sum or Time and Material.  Majority of requests for pricing will be in the Lump Sum category since it allows for proper planning time and a definitive cost estimate to be tracked in a budget.


Lump Sum

 Lump sum is usually the cheaper safer bet because the party paying for the change will have a not to exceed value.  For example: if XYZ Contracting received a drawing updated from Joe Architect which contained 4 added walls, XYZ contracting would have to get a proposal from his drywall contractor to build the additional walls.  Schedule impacts may also occur in this form of lump sum work.


Time and Material

T&M work is a bit different and is usually a much faster way to get a project done.  when a general contractor instructs a subcontractor to perform change order work, the work should be tracked on ticket with labor time and material use clearly calculated.  Below is the workflow which illustrates this approval process:

Tm

T+M is usually a quicker way to proceed than lump sum, but there is no cap on the value of the task.  This type of change is helpful when you need to get something done fast after getting approval from the owner.


Conclusion

Whichever type of change occurs on your project, it’s important to remember to be fair about your requests.  Some people abuse the change order process and it’s in place because people make mistakes and change their mind.  Change orders will occur on every project site because nobody is perfect.  Leveraging technology and lean practices for project management help to minimize risk and reduce the chance of a change order.

Maintaining a 2D Current Set with Bluebeam! (Part 1)

Whenever we start a new project, the conversation of maintaining a current set of documents always comes up.  Back in the day, we used to slip sheet RFIs and new sheets into one huge paper set of current drawings.  This method though time tested, sort of draconic in our current age of technology.  There are a lot of ways to maintain a current set electronically nowadays.  To name a few: Fieldlens, FieldWire, PlanGrid, and Bluebeam.  All have their benefits, but my personal favorite is Bluebeam!  The price is right and it’s much more intuitive for a construction team.  Just a note before we start, you are going to need Bluebeam eXtreme 2015 or higher to do this.  What we will be going over:

  1. Matching digital labels to page labels
  2. OCR a PDF
  3. Splitting a multi-page PDF
  4. Creating a project
  5. Creating a set
  6. Working in Sets
    • Slipsheeting
    • Hyperlinking
    • Checking In/Out

Matching Digital Labels to Page Labels

So, you just received a set from your design team and it’s one giant PDF file.  Open your file in Bluebeam Revu.  Open the tab on the left and hit the layers tab.  Hit create page labels:

create_page_labels

And you’ll see a screen like this:

create_page_label_popup

Select your drawing region (Usually bottom right corner):

label_region

Hit “OK” and let the magic bar process your multi-page PDF.  You should see the labels in your left menu bar correspond to the labels in the region selected on your sheet.

Additional info: https://www.bluebeam.com/us/bluebeam-university/pdf-tutorials/revu-11/page-labels.pdf

OCR a PDF

OCR or Optical Character Recognition converts a scacnned or image format pdf into a readable text file.  Bluebeam eXtreme has a really awesome OCR feature.  This is important for hyperlinking your drawing set.  If you do not have eXtreme, there are a lot of free tools out there that can help.  Google even created an open source library named Tesseract which handles OCR.  To use a free OCR program, check a few out on GitHub.

To use Bluebeam eXtreme, go to Document > OCR, this screen will popup:

ocr_beam

Select your settings (Language, pages, etc.) and hit “OK” and you’re PDF is now readable!

Additional Info: http://www.bluebeam.com/us/bluebeam-university/pdf-tutorials/revu-12/ocr.pdf

Splitting a multi-page PDF

Now that you’ve gotten your pages all set up, it’s time to split up your giant PDF to make it more manageable.  Go to Document > Pages > Split Document.  Select Top Level Bookmarks, fill out the additional settings, and hit “OK.”  Check your folder and make sure the files are split up to your preference.

Additional Info: https://www.bluebeam.com/us/bluebeam-university/pdf-tutorials/revu-12/split-document.pdf

Conclusion

In the next part, I’ll dive more into how to use sets and explain Bluebeam Studio Prime.  Bluebeam is very powerful and it’s one of the most affordable tools out there.  Maintaining a current set through Bluebeam is a skill that every builder should know.

Exoskeleton to help demo workers

One of the toughest things during the construction process is the demolition process.  At Madison Square Garden there was 24/7 demolition going on stressing out workers to their limit and creating unsafe conditions.  Using tools to help alleviate stress brings down risk of incidents and injuries.  This tool is pretty neat for that:

Made by EksoBionics, it’s perfect for any demo, concrete, or other construction worker who needs to do demo.

NYC Construction Superintendent License

In July 2016, NYC enacted a new rule for construction superintendent’s (RC3301-02) mandating that all construction sites labelled “minor buildings” (10 stories or less) have a licensed construction superintendent on site.  This is really a great thing for New York since licensed superintendents can be the competent safety person similar to site safety coordinators or site safety managers, but on smaller construction sites.  Hopefully helping to cut down injuries and incidents on jobsites.

To get a license, you need to meet a few requirements set forth by the DOB; They are listed in detail on the supplemental investigative questionnaire found on the NYC DOB Super’s License site:  Applying to be a Construction Superintendent.  Once you’ve filled out the questionnaire and chosen your path, you can begin to fill out the forms.  Start with the LIC3, LIC4, and LIC34 (if required).  It is super important to make sure you type in all fields.  If you can avoid it, do not leave anything blank and do not use pen to fill out the forms.  The DOB will not let you fill in anything while at your appointment, so type it all into the editable PDF.  Next move would be to have your supervisors fill out an notarize the employment verification forms.  Almost everything has to be notarized so make sure you fill out all the fields and get them notarized.  Also, fill out the child support form, even if you do not have children.

Take a trip to the nearest social security office, pay a small fee, and get a copy of your earnings report.  This verifies the employment verification form.  Finally, get your additional supplemental information together including:

  • Social Security Card and Driver’s License
  • OSHA 10 or 30
  • SSM 8-HR or 40HR
  • A personal bill for proof of residence
  • Professional Engineer or Architect License
  • Professional Safety Certification paperwork

Email your LIC3 to AConstructionSuper@buildings.nyc.gov and wait for an appointment.  Once approved, visit the DOB at 280 Broadway, New York, NY 10007.  Visit the sixth floor and wait until your number is called.   Make sure you have your paperwork organized in this order and notarized:

  • Email verification of approved appointment
  • Supplemental Investigative Questionnaire
  • LIC3
  • LIC4
  • LIC34 (if applicable)
  • Employment Verification Forms
  • SSC Earnings Report
  • Safety Forms and Certifications
  • Other information (Child Support Form, Social Security Card, etc)

Once you’ve received your license, you can now be put on a project’s PW2.  The title brings great responsibilities, so make sure you know them well.  Part of the daily duties of being a construction superintendent is keeping a daily log.  The best way from my experience is to use the pre-made Construction & Maintenance Daily Log Book: Blue Expanded edition by Safety Meeting Outlines, Inc.  The double page per day gives you enough space to keep track of a 65 story building!  Make sure you learn and can competently conduct all the duties of a Construction Superintendent outlined in RCNY 3301-02 before you put yourself down on any paperwork as the responsible person.  Good luck and congrats on pursuing a career as a construction superintendent.