Recertified As A B Corp

by Don Friedman on March 23, 2017

Old Structures Engineering has been recertified as a B Corp, a process that takes place every two years. This was our first recertification and my overall feeling is that it’s nice to know that our original certification wasn’t a fluke.

There were two interesting aspects to taking the B Assessment for the second time. The first is that we were randomly selected – as are one out of ten companies being certified – for a detailed examination of our data. It took some extra work but it also turned up some interesting facts. (For example, in 2016, 57% of our billings were for projects where the building in question has been designated as a landmark by a government agency. I did not realize that percentage was so high, since a lot of projects are on old-but-not-designated buildings.) Also, the people we dealt with from B Lab were so pleasant that it felt less like an audit than it did like taking an internet personality quiz.

The second interesting moment came when i realized that, as a small professional services firm based in New York, there were a lot of aspects of the Benefit concept that are unobtainable for us. With the exception of our office manager, all of our employees are engineers, so we’re hiring from a limited pool of candidates. After payroll, rent, and taxes, our biggest expense by far is insurance for professional liability and health. Since there’s no such thing as an independently-owned neighborhood professional-liability insurance company, we have no choice but to deal with big publicly-owned corporations. Since we rent roughly one percent of a large building, we have little control over how environmentally-friendly our office is. None of these issues is absolute – we have tried to keep the staff diverse, we have used local and independent companies for services when we can, and we have an office that is, to the best of our ability, greenish – but the situation is not ideal.

The situation is not ideal but it is also perfectly okay. Of the more than two thousand certified B Corps, only a very few are professional-services firms in New York. The questions on the assessment are designed to cover a wide range of companies and not every goal represented by a question is going to be obtainable to everyone. Beyond that, we now know which areas we should (and can) focus on to improve our company. And that knowledge is, ultimately, the most important result of taking the assessment.


March 8, 2017

The last I heard, there were still a few seats available for this week’s symposium at the Skyscraper Museum, titled The Rise of the Skyscraper City: ​All the Tall Buildings in Manhattan, 1874-1900.​ All of the information is at the link, but here it is anyway: Thursday, 5PM to 6PM, Carol Willis will give a tour […]

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March 5, 2017

Old Structures is now on Instagram. The image-centric nature of Instagram means that the posts there won’t exactly follow this blog, but they will parallel it most of the time. Besides, there was no way here to fit in the picture of me in a pink hard hat. Also, the picture above has nothing to […]

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The Uptown Acropolis

January 6, 2017

Audubon Terrace, photo credit to NewYorkDolls: There is, by an accident of history and over-optimistic planning, a miniature acropolis at Broadway and 155th Street, called Audubon Terrace. Had New York developed as London did – a wide-spread low-rise city of roughly uniform density – Audubon Terrace might have become the true cultural center it was […]

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Our New Home

December 13, 2016

This Friday, we’ll be moving the office to 90 Broad Street. The move itself is about five blocks, which is nothing much, but the new space is significantly larger. Anyone who’s ever had a meeting at our old office will greatly appreciate that we will now have a proper conference room, rather than a fishbowl […]

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Mona Abdelfatah Is A PE

August 24, 2016

Mona Abdelfatah recently passed the professional engineering exam and is now a licensed PE in New York State. She received an undergraduate degree from UC San Diego in Structural Engineering and had a couple of years of experience with renovation and new construction projects before coming to Old Structures in 2011. At OSE, she has […]

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More Communication

August 13, 2016

Old Structures now has a Twitter account: Old Structures. For now, it’s going to be mostly links to our blog updates, but that’s not so bad because if you have a Twitter account, following us there will be the easiest way to find our new posts. Of course, this post itself is being linked on Twitter, […]

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Best for NYC: The Best for NYC

May 10, 2016

The conclusion of the 2015 Best for NYC Campaign was held last Tuesday at the New York Academy of Sciences. Old Structures was there and we were a finalist in the campaign. Our congratulations to the honorees and to all of the participants. I started blogging about the Best for NYC Campaign last September, so it’s probably […]

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Lucy Moses Award: The Coignet Stone Company Building

May 6, 2016

The 2015 Lucy Moses Award that I want to talk about the most is the Coignet Stone Company Building. The Piros Residence is nice, but it’s one rowhosue among many; St. Paul’s Chapel is nice, but it’s famous and has been well maintained. The Coignet Stone building, on the other hand is odd enough to […]

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Lucy Moses Award: St. Paul’s Chapel

May 5, 2016

The Lucy Moses Award for the work at St. Paul’s Chapel actually encompasses a number of linked projects. The exterior masonry was restored in several phases, including the front and rear porches and the facades in general, the roof and spire were reclad, and the surrounding churchyard was upgraded. Old Structures worked on several portions […]

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