Forensic Engineering

Aug. 4, 2003
Utter the words Forensic Engineering, and you’re bound to catch people’s attention. Never before has the word “forensic” been applied to the buildings industry, but times are changing, as are the titles of specialized consultants performing diagnostic analysis to determine what went wrong, why it went wrong, and how it should be fixed. In May, Forensic Engineering Specialist Nick Fioravante shared the answers to some of these questions. His answers are sure to spark your interest.Q: Nick, just what is Forensic Engineering?A: In the simplest terms, Forensic Engineering is solving building problems. We come in and identify the root cause of the issue that people are experiencing.Q: How much does it cost to use the services of a Forensic Engineer?A: They vary on the complexity of the project, but they are relatively minor. Typical engagement would start somewhere in the three to five thousand [dollar] range.Q: What are some of the problems you’ve encountered as a Forensic Engineer?A: I like to say, we cover every problem, from the roof to ground water. We have every discipline here in the engineering group – structural, architectural, mechanical, electrical, fire protection, plumbing, environmental – so you name an issue, we’ve come across it. Q: What might be some signs that it’s time to call in a Forensic Engineer?A: You would call us when you’re experiencing premature failures – failures of equipment, building systems, or building components prior to their expected lifetime. In today’s environment, you really need to look at the value of the asset and how you’re maintaining that value and extending it and getting the most out of it. If it starts failing early in its life cycle, there is something else going on. You don’t want your doctor to treat your symptoms; you want your doctor to treat the root cause – that’s what we’re doing. Your cooling tower failed. We’re not going to give you a new cooling tower. We’re going to figure out why it failed early and what you should do to prevent this in the future. And maybe it’s not completely failed; maybe we can recover it.        Jana J. Madsen, Senior Editor ([email protected])


About ‘Green’: Did You Know?

A report prepared by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) says that design, construction, and operation of the more than 76 million residential and nearly 5 million commercial buildings account for 20 percent of the economy and more than 40 percent of energy consumption, pollution, and waste.SOURCE: (WWW.USGBC.ORG)A report by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) noted that 20 to 30 percent of commercial buildings suffer from indoor air quality problems.SOURCE: (WWW.ENERGY.STATE.OR.US)The amount of facility space registered to certify as green by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has doubled to more than 100 million square feet in the past three years.SOURCE: (WWW.USGBC.ORG)        Leah B. Garris, Editorial Coordinator ([email protected])On With the ShowsSomerset, NJ based-Philips Lighting Co. has announced its Innovations Roadshow 2003, a seminar series on sustainable lighting and design that is accredited by the American Institute of Architects. This year’s series features the impact of sustainable lighting on the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Environmental & Energy Design (LEED) program. Visit (’s World Workplace will be held October 19-21, 2003, at the Dallas Convention Center. More info is available at ( the June 2003 article, “A Star Reborn,” Buildings identified the Los Angeles City Hall as being 38 stories. The building is actually 28 stories. In the same article, the project’s structural engineer was identified as Nabih Youssef & Associates. We were later notified that AC Martin Partners was the structural engineer for the Los Angeles City Hall project, and Nabih Youssef & Associates was the seismic specialty consultant.In the June 2003 article, “Going Back into History,” Buildings identified the William S. James State Office Building as being located in both Baltimore and Annapolis, MD. The building is actually located in Annapolis, MD.

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