Best for NYC: Best Practices

by Don Friedman on December 17, 2015

Part of the B Corp movement in general is the inclusion of a company’s community as a stakeholder. This is explicit in the Best for NYC Challenge, with the somewhat atypical community of New York City as the center of the campaign. Those of us working in small businesses have little choice but to think locally, as our employees, clients, and suppliers are nearby; when people in a large national or international corporation look at community they are looking at multiple communities that may have wildly different histories, present conditions, and values.

The expertise of Old Structures is the combined expertise of our people. Most of it has been developed working in New York and the nearby towns and cities. Much of that expertise is transferable to old buildings in general; some of it is transferable to locations with specific building types. The structural form of New York nineteenth-century rowhouses, for example, is similar to that of rowhouses in Boston and Philadelphia, among other places. (We have worked on similar rowhouses in those two cities, as well as Jersey City, Newark, and other smaller cities.)

An interesting historical question is what are the geographic boundaries of the structural forms in old New York buildings? Or, put another way, what are the geographic boundaries of our expertise? In rough terms, it’s cities and towns in the northeast portion of the country. Or, since the Mets were in the World Series this year for the first time since 2000 and since at least a few of us in the office are fans, we work [OSE core] on various types of old buildings that are common in “pre-expansion America”: the cities that had major-league teams before the move to California in 1958 and expansion in 1962. By coincidence – and I’m pretty sure that it is nothing but coincidence – building structure becomes effectively modern, and therefore outside of our sweet spot for projects at just about the same time that major-league baseball escaped its long geographic confinement to spread across the country.

As engineers, we have a number of communities, in part defined by which building code we use. The five boroughs of New York City is the core for us, and the B Impact Assessment allows us to go quite a bit further and still consider it “local,” but we have community of a kind farther than that.

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