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Everything you need to know about BMD and the industry.

Vaccinating Against Design and Construction Risk: A COGENCE Alliance Momentum Recap

Last month, COGENCE Alliance hosted a four-day conference, attended by owners, affiliates, construction managers, trades, engineers, and architects. David Scott presented and other BMD team members hosted breakout discussions on how to “vaccinate against design and construction risk.” Groups discussed new and developing risks, how to mitigate those risks, and qualities of those who best adjusted to the new and developing risks.

Aggregated Risks in 2019. In 2019, COGENCE gathered information from the six industry segments (owners, affiliates, construction managers, trades, engineers, and architects) to first identify risks from each discrete group’s perspective. Next, COGENCE ranked the identified risks to determine which risks were most significant. Finally, COGENCE worked together across industry segments to identify habits to help mitigate risks and improve projects. The ten greatest risks aggregated across industry segments included: (1) communication; (2) contracts; (3) leadership; (4) schedule; (5) budget; (6) team members; (7) changes; (8) financial; (9) quality; and (10) due diligence.

Changing Risks with COVID-19. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, some of the risks identified by the various industry segments in 2019 quickly changed. Reports from breakout rooms indicated that new and different risks were resultant of the pandemic. For example, industry segments identified new risks associated with an elevated standard of care with heightened expectations and design for occupant safety, as well as new safety and sanitation protocols. Other risks included those related to cybersecurity due to increased remote work, as well as the evolution and need (or lack thereof) for space, such as physical offices.

New Risks with COVID-19. The breakout rooms also discussed how existing risks had morphed. For example, communication, the greatest risk identified pre-pandemic, posited new challenges including Zoom fatigue, complex logistics with site visits, as well as an increase in difficulty to collaborate due to a loss of “serendipitous” communications. Other changes to existing risks included budgetary concerns, particularly relating to the cost of PPE, HVAC improvements, and WELL certifications.

Mitigating New and Changing Risks. To address the new and developing risks, the breakout rooms discussed how to mitigate certain risks, which included more frontend planning, running through project stress tests (e.g. check technology and remote access), and developing more robust onboarding protocols to integrate new team members. Other mitigation plans revolved around communication, specifically ensuring consistent communication, standardizing how teams communicate (email, videoconference, phone call, text), following up after meetings, and identifying issues early and often.

Adapting to New and Changing Risks. The breakout rooms concluded by discussing those who have been most effective in adapting to the new and developing risks of the pandemic. Groups identified that those who demonstrate care and concern for their team members, as well as those willing to seek information and consequently learn and adapt had best weathered the new challenges in design and construction.

If you have questions or need more information regarding design and construction risk, please contact Construction Law Member David Scott at dmscott@bmdllc.com (614.246.7514).

Protections Under Federal and Ohio Law for Bona Fide Prospective Purchasers of Contaminated Property

Most industrial/commercial property developers are generally aware of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”), often also referred to as “Superfund”. CERCLA, a United Stated federal law administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, was created, in part, because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized that environmental cleanup could help promote reuse or redevelopment of contaminated, potentially contaminated, and formerly contaminated properties, helping revitalize communities that may have been adversely affected by the presence of the contaminated properties. Commercial property developers should be aware that CERCLA provides for some important liability limitations for landowners that own contaminated property impacted by materials hazardous to the environment. It can also assist with landowners concerned about the potential liabilities stemming from the presence of contamination to which they have not contributed. In particular, CERCLA provides important liability limitations for landowners that qualify as (1) bona fide prospective purchasers (BFPPS), (2) contiguous property owners, or (3) innocent landowners.

Puerto Rico Is Open For Business

Puerto Rico has the highest vaccination in the nation. More than 73% of the total population is fully vaccinated. The U.S. national average is just over 57%. The ports opened in June 2020 and San Juan held it first live concert this past summer. It is important to remember that Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory and there is no need for visas, the banking systems is almost identical to the mainland and the Island uses the U.S. postal service and U.S. dollar as its currency. There are thousands of flights from the U.S. to Puerto Rico daily and all main airlines fly to the Island.

Ohio Medical Board Changes Telemedicine Rules

A SCMS News Article by Scott Sandrock.

The Rising Threat from Insiders – Get Your House in Order

As its name implies, an ‘Insider Threat’ originates inside an organization. An ‘insider’ is any person who has or had authorized access to or knowledge of an organization’s resources, including personnel, facilities, information, equipment, networks, and systems. ‘Insider threat’ can manifest from malicious, complacent, negligent or unintentional acts that negatively affect the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of the organization, its data, personnel, or facilities. Certainly, ‘Insider Threat’ can be an activity by a bad actor employee, but can also arise from an inadvertent or unknowing action inside an organization (such as an employee who unintentionally opens a phishing email or clicks on a malicious link).

In Cybersecurity– A Good Offense is the Best Defense

2021 has been a watershed moment for cybersecurity incidents as cybercrime has become a frequent headline and cyber criminals have thrived on unsuspecting and/or unprepared businesses and institutions. For example, the Solar Winds attack exposed sensitive data from top companies like Microsoft as well government agencies[1] and the Colonial Pipeline attack substantially disrupted the petroleum supply chain[2]. We have seen an almost 20% increase in data breaches and attacks since last year.