Design is as much a science as it is an art. Photo courtesy of CIVE

The method of value engineering, where less expensive materials and methods are used without sacrificing functionality, certainly has its benefits.

While you must weigh the pros and cons of using it in each unique situation, the experts at CIVE are ready to lay out the overall argument for value engineering. The Houston-based, engineering-driven design build firm serves residential, commercial, and industrial markets, and relies on a commitment to excellence in all projects.

Its mantra — "Any engineer can create a design, but true expertise lies in creating designs that would incur the least cost possible, without compromising integrity of the structure" — reinforces that design is as much a science as it is an art.

Why should value engineering be used?
Value engineering allows commercial developers the capability to obtain more value for their design, contracting, and build-outs. This process not only helps provide advantages for the initial construction, but also add value on a longer term basis.

The initial costs of building a structure only accounts for 11 percent of the overall building costs of its life cycle. While that number may seem small, if this capital allocation is done incorrectly it can significantly impact the lifespan and ongoing maintenance costs that building owners can experience.

Value engineering provides great advantages to building owners and ultimately their tenants with a better quality structure. But let's be clear: The objective of value engineering is not to cut costs or to lower standards, but to provide innovative approaches and help identify ways to improve dependability, functionality, and performance.

When should it be used?
The process of value engineering can be applied in areas where a construction team typically experiences delays or excessive costs to help identify and alleviate the problem. The end result is a more efficient process that can reduce waste, rework, and design modifications that can significantly increase a project budget and/or cause schedule delays.

A few of the benefits
The benefits of value engineering are numerous, but in summary they can assist construction projects by:

  • Reducing expenses
  • Minimizing waste
  • Refining the project scope
  • Increasing stakeholder consensus
  • Maintaining budget allocations

Overall, this adds more value to the building owner with more savings over the lifetime of a structure with enhanced functionality. A company well versed in the practice of value engineering can use it to finish a project on time and on budget for their clients.

Implementing value engineering
Here's some good news: value engineering can be done at any part of the commercial construction process. While it would ideally be incorporated into the initial stages, it can be easily adapted to improve a project stage at any point. The design phase allows the architect or engineer to work with the client to come up with required features, functionality, and proposed solutions.

During the planning stage the general contractor and commercial developer come to an agreement on the expected project cost. The third stage of development is the construction phase, when the building takes place and any proposed changes can be included that don't affect the primary function and design of the structure.

Why it works
Unlike most, CIVE identifies value engineering as not merely a tool to cut corners, but a way to truly and effectively deliver engineering excellence by designing to the last inch — without over-designing or jeopardizing integrity of the structure — that can put redundant budget pressures on projects.

CIVE's ability to truly value engineer each of its projects comes with experience and technical expertise, which has saved its clients hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment capital over time.

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Energy giant announces deal retail company to bring EV tech to Houston malls

coming soon

Two Houston-area malls will be getting bp's electric vehicle charging technology thanks to a new global collaboration.

The global energy company will be bringing its global EV charging business, bp pulse, to 75 shopping facilities across the country thanks to a partnership with Simon Malls. Two malls in town — The Galleria and Katy Mills Mall — soon see bp's EV charging Gigahubs. The company will install and operate the chargers at the two area sites.

The deal aims to deliver over 900 ultra-fast charging bays that will support most make and model of EVs with the first locations opening to the public in early 2026. Other Texas locations include Grapevine Mills in Grapevine, and Austin’s Barton Creek Square.

“We’re pleased to complete this deal with Simon and expand our ultra-fast charging network footprint in the U.S.,” Richard Bartlett, CEO of bp pulse, says in a news release. “The Simon portfolio aligns with bp pulse’s strategy to deploy ultra-fast charging across the West Coast, East Coast, Sun Belt and Great Lakes, and we are thrilled to team up with Simon so that EV drivers have a range of retail offerings at their impressive destinations.”

Last month, bp pulse opened a EV charging station at its North American headquarters in Houston. The company plans to continue deployment of additional charging points at high-demand spots like major metropolitan areas, bp-owned properties, and airports, according to bp.

“As a committed long term infrastructure player with a global network of EV charging solutions, bp pulse intends to continue to seek and build transformative industry collaborations in real estate required to scale our network and match the demand of current and future EV drivers,” Sujay Sharma, CEO bp pulse Americas, adds.

Houston space tech company reaches major milestone for engine technology

fired up

A Houston company that's creating the next generation of space exploration technology is celebrating a new milestone of one of its technologies.

Intuitive Machines reports that its VR900 completed a full-duration hot-fire test, qualifying it for its IM-2 lunar mission. With the qualification, the company says its VR3500, an engine designed for larger cargo class landers, also advances in development.

The engine technology is designed, 3D-printed, and tested all at Intuitive Machines' Houston facility, which opened in the Houston Spaceport last year.

Intuitive Machines CEO Steve Altemus says in a news release that the company's goal was to lead the way in scalable deep space engines as the industry heads toward lunar missions.

“This validated engine design meets current mission demand and paves the way for our VR3500 engine for cargo delivery such as lunar terrain vehicles, human spaceflight cargo resupply, and other infrastructure delivery," Altemus continues. "We believe we’re in a prime position to build on our successful development and apply that technology toward current contracts and future lunar requirements for infrastructure delivery.”

Earlier this year, Intuitive Machines was one of one of three companies selected for a $30 million NASA contract for the initial phase of developing a rover for U.S. astronauts to traverse the moon’s surface.

Another Houston company has seen success with its engine testing. In March, Venus Aerospace announced that it's successfully ran the first long-duration engine test of their Rotating Detonation Rocket Engine in partnership with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.

Houston is the most stressed out city in Texas, report finds

deep breaths

Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but a new report by WalletHub shows Houston residents are far more stressed out than any other city in Texas.

Houston ranked No. 18 out of 182 of the largest U.S. cities based on work, financial, family-related, and health and safety stress, according to WalletHub's "Most & Least Stressed Cities in America (2024)" report. 39 relevant metrics were considered in the report, including each city's job security, the share of households behind on bills within the last 12 months, divorce rates, crime rates, among others.

Houston was ranked the most stressed out city in Texas, but it's still far less stressed than many other U.S. cities. Cleveland, Ohio took first place as the most stressed city in America, followed by Detroit, Michigan (No. 2), Baltimore, Maryland (No. 3), Memphis, Tennessee (No. 4), and Gulfport, Mississippi (No. 5).

Out of the four main categories, Houstonians are struggling the most with work-related stress, ranking No. 13 nationally. The report found Houston has the No. 1 highest traffic congestion rate out of all cities in the report. But at least Houston drivers are solidly average, as maintained by a separate Forbes study comparing the worst drivers in America.

Houston workers can rejoice that they live in a city with a generally high level of guaranteed employment, as the city ranked No. 151 in the job security comparison. The city ranked No. 16 nationwide in the metric for the highest average weekly hours worked.

Houston fared best in the financial stress category, coming in at No. 72 nationally, showing that Houstonians aren't as worried about pinching pennies when it comes to maintaining a good quality of life. The city ranked No. 39 in the comparison of highest poverty rates.

Here's how WalletHub quantified Houston's stress levels:

  • No. 17 – Health and safety stress rank (overall)
  • No. 36 – Family stress rank (overall)
  • No. 63 – Unemployment rates
  • No. 81 – Percentage of adults in fair/poor health
  • No. 95 – Divorce rate
  • No. 96 – Percentage of adults with inadequate sleep

WalletHub analyst Cassandra Happe said in the report that living in particularly arduous cities can play a big role in how stressed a person is, especially when considering uncontrollable circumstances like family problems or work-related issues.

"Cities with high crime rates, weak economies, less effective public health and congested transportation systems naturally lead to elevated stress levels for residents," Happe said.

Happe advised that residents considering a move to a place like Houston should consider how the city's quality of life will impact their mental health, not just their financial wellbeing.

Other Texas cities that ranked among the top 100 most stressed cities in the U.S. are:

  • No. 20 – San Antonio
  • No. 38 – Laredo
  • No. 41 – Dallas
  • No. 47 – Corpus Christi
  • No. 61 – El Paso
  • No. 68 – Fort Worth
  • No. 71 – Brownsville
  • No. 75 – Arlington
  • No. 78 – Grand Prairie
  • No. 88 – Garland
The full report and its methodology can be found on wallethub.com

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.