TZL 1422 (web)


ON THE MOVE GOVERNOR ROY COOPER APPOINTS NATALIE MACDONALD TO NORTH CAROLINA BUILDING CODE COUNCIL Dewberry, a privately held professional services firm, has announced that Natalie MacDonald, PE, has been appointed by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to the North Carolina Building Code Council. She was appointed alongside four other individuals in the building industry. MacDonald, who has four years of experience, is a mechanical engineer in Dewberry’s Raleigh, North Carolina, office where she works on heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) distribution, chilled water, and hot water systems. She has worked on a variety of building types, including, K-12, higher education, healthcare, and government facilities. MacDonald serves as the president for the Triangle chapter of the American

Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air- Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), and previously served as vice president and Chapter Technology Transfer Committee chair. “Natalie has made such an impact on the engineering industry in her short time since graduating from North Carolina State University,” says Dewberry Senior Vice President Shepard Hockaday. “Her dedication to advancingwomen and girls in STEM, contributing to professional organizations, and volunteering her time to young engineers are just a few examples of her commitment to the industry and her community. We’re thrilled for Natalie as she takes on this additional role of supporting North Carolina through her involvement with the North Carolina Building Code Council.”

MacDonald earned her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from North Carolina State University (2017). She was named a Woman to Watch in HVAC in 2020 by Engineered Systems Magazine and has held many leadership positions since joining ASHRAE in 2017. Dewberry is a leading, market-facing firm with a proven history of providing professional services to a wide variety of public- and private-sector clients. Recognized for combining unsurpassed commitment to client service with deep subject matter expertise, Dewberry is dedicated to solving clients’ most complex challenges and transforming their communities. Established in 1956, Dewberry is headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, with more than 50 locations and more than 2,000 professionals nationwide.

If you’re convinced, then you might wonder where to start. I recommend these steps: 1. Assign a taskmaster. Someone needs to drive the discussion or decision-making for areas of focus, methods for creating tools, sharing tasks, etc. 2. Establish rules for creating, checking, and updating your tools. Place them in a shared location where they can be accessed and updated. Determine how to indicate version history, record changes, etc. Determine how they are vetted and approved. 3. Start with areas of life-safety and potential litigation. This could include jobsite safety, common code requirements, quality control reviews, etc. 4. Shift focus to areas of highest use or need. Which tools will be used frequently and provide the biggest gains in efficiency? Create or update these first for the most impact. 5. Consider one-off or less common areas of need, if you can maintain the necessary quality control over the development of these tools. 6. Continue to engage your people and revisit the process. This is an evolving task that should improve over time, but it will require the “buy-in” of your staff. 7. Focus on more important things and enjoy the returns on your investment. Matthew Poling is an associate with BASE, based out of its Florida office. Connect with him on LinkedIn and contact him at

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to software and many other design or construction tools. If you’re frequently “reinventing the wheel,” a standardized process of creating and reviewing tools could save you time and lead to fewer errors. For example, years ago I noticed that our engineers would often start from scratch when they began a certain type of analysis model. Other times, they would generate a template from a previous project. In the first case, time was wasted by applying our custom settings for definitions, printing, etc. In the second case, there was less transparency over which settings were carried over. As a result, I created a template file that has since saved many dozens of hours of work, with the added benefit of standardizing our inputs for better control over the process. In the past, I’ve heard criticism of over-standardization. It often came from people who, in the same breath, might have touted the advantages of the slide-rule, nostalgic for “the way we’ve always done it.” Fear of your people turning into non-thinking automatons is inaccurate and misses the point. First, our industry is getting more complicated every year. Provided they are not “black boxes,” tools that are done well can actually provide valuable instruction, while helping to reduce mistakes. Second, tools created for the most repetitive tasks empower your people to focus on bigger picture items, coordinate more, and do extensive quality control. “Often overlooked, the simple checklist is a proven tool for better outcomes, which is why they are used extensively in medicine and aviation.”

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