Standards and Risk

Standards engender productivity. They reduce waste, improve communication, and reduce risks. By not counting the full social, environmental and financial cost of their projects, the engineering and architecture community is unnecessarily increasing the financial risk of their firms and of their, and their clients’, infrastructure projects. Making comprehensive cost benefit analysis part of infrastructure planning and design is a way of being transparent about environmental and societal risks that may become financial risks.

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Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) firms love standards (and acronyms). For good reason. Standards are guidelines designed to improve productivity by reducing re-work and facilitating information sharing through the exchange of documents.

Standards can be set as goals or can develop as best practices. Economists are less enamored with standards but nonetheless cost benefit analysis has been around for over a hundred years with little…

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