University of Maryland research meeting

Research

Our research programs generate the knowledge that helps our clients — and markets — move forward.

We believe that research is an integral part of our ability to develop successful and forward-thinking solutions for our clients. Research is used to establish precedence, to develop a full understanding of the issues, to test concepts and, finally, to assess outcomes.

Research & the Built Environment

Our research connects the places and spaces we design with the strategic goals our clients care about. We evaluate the strength of existing evidence and hone key measurement priorities and questions based on clients’ strategic goals. Based on client needs and goals, we engage an appropriate mix of research approaches, which can include ethnography, simulation studies, individual and comparative facility assessments, and validated human outcome measurements. Research findings inform and advance innovative design concepts, as well as document achievement of targeted outcomes. Our expertise includes research design to mitigate bias; qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods approaches; applications of systems and decision science; as well as advanced statistical methods and modeling.

Understanding 21st-Century Challenges

With hundreds of research projects completed and underway, we can provide the resources needed — human labor, technical expertise, equipment and facility space — to support the discovery and development of creative solutions. Our in-house testing facilities include:

  • Applied Research and Engineering Center (AREC) | Claremont, CA, USA
  • Environmental Measurements Operations Center (EMOC) | Nanuet, NY, USA
  • Geotechnical & Construction Materials Testing Laboratory | Paducah, KY, USA
  • Technology Validation Center (Technology Center) | Johnstown, NY, USA

We also collaborate with industry and professional organizations to advance the state of the art and apply new processes or technologies back into the marketplace. Our researchers push the industry forward with published reports, peer-reviewed articles and manuals of practice. Our research programs target the technical issues facing our clients and our industry.

Research Services

Data Analysis

We refine approaches and measures in the research planning process to produce results and inferences with a minimal chance of bias and a high chance of accuracy. We advise our clients on their previously collected data, and recommend how best to achieve maximum benefit based on data sourcing, extent and quality.

Design and Implementation

Many projects present opportunities to conduct valuable research beyond standard facility assessments, and can test the impacts of particular design strategies on a range of outcomes. We provide research design, planning and implementation efforts critical to such hypothesis-driven efforts. Our researchers, at the genesis of the project life cycle, identify organizational questions worthy of hypothesis-driven research.

Facility Evaluation

Our researchers conduct an Existing Facility Assessment (EFA) for master plans and design/construction projects, as well as a Post-Occupancy Evaluation (POE) after projects have been occupied. Our systematic approach to facility evaluation provides a comprehensive perspective on the effects of design decisions and the resulting building performance. We evaluate a range of facility types including healthcare (inpatient and ambulatory environments), workplaces, and educational facilities.

Institutional Review Boards (IRB)

Our researchers guide our research projects through the IRB process as needed. Engagement of human subjects for research purposes and publication of that research requires review and approval of the research plan and protocol by an IRB, along with periodic reporting on progress and results through an IRB continuing review, until the research is completed. The IRB process is intended to protect human subjects from research-associated risks, and to ensure that the potential research benefits outweigh the risks. Since we conduct research that generally entails minimal risk, our research projects can often qualify for Exempt status.

Instrumentation and Surveys

Proper instrumentation is a critical aspect of credible research, and survey and scale development is a science in itself. Our researchers have experience with validity and reliability testing, and provide valuable input and knowledge in the development of research instruments, including survey scales. This vital process produces clear and unbiased data that ultimately fulfill the intended purpose of a study.

Literature and Evidence Reviews

Our research team works with planners and designers to assess the strength and applicability of evidence via literature and evidence reviews. Because we’re passionate about translating evidence to practice, we work to identify, access and summarize research-derived evidence related to specific design questions, outcomes and topics. 

Material Testing

New infrastructure or old, our material testing capabilities can help you decide what to use, where to use it or how to fix it. With a focus on geophysical, geochemical and geotechnical outcomes, we have performed field and laboratory services for over four decades. We are highly regarded for our technical expertise, thoroughness and reliability. Our Geotechnical & Construction Materials Testing Laboratory is accredited through the AASHTO Materials Reference Laboratory and validated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for soils, aggregate, concrete, rock and masonry testing, and our Applied Research and Engineering Center (AREC) specializes in soil and water corrosivity testing.

Water Institute

Our in-house laboratories, various mobile testing capabilities and technical experts create the foundation of our Water Institute. The other layers involve you: utility clients, research organizations, equipment vendors and universities. We believe in moving the industry forward with collaborative projects through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Water Research Foundation and Water Environment & Research Foundation, but we also demonstrate proof of concept at the bench and pilot scale for our municipal clients. Through these applied studies, we tackle water supply and treatment challenges spurred by water availability, financial pressures, regulatory drivers and the desire to protect public health.