Since 1996, BV’s Land Services and Acquisitions group has provided start-to-finish site acquisition services for national telecommunications carriers, guiding our clients through the complexities of real estate site audits, title, leasing, right-of-way, zoning, and permitting issues.
As BV’s Sustainable-by-Design initiative* was gaining traction in 2020, the group volunteered to ideate and pilot sustainability procedures that could be integrated into the group’s standard operating procedures and project execution manuals.
“The culture of our clients and partners is shifting rapidly so they are a lot more accepting of new processes, especially when it is so easy to see the time savings, increased accuracy and other sustainable benefits,” said Mary Kreps, Program Manager, Land Services and Acquisitions Group, Telecommunications at Black & Veatch. “We have only just started piloting the program, with early encouraging results that tell us there is so much more that we can do with our clients.”
One of the major successes was incorporating electric signature and agreement processes to replace hard copies of lease execution, enabling the team to begin tracking and quantifying the time, cost and carbon savings of the new system. Across the six leases routed and executed in the pilot, it reduced the processing time for our clients by 15 days on average. There was an average cost saving of $103 per document, while 340 sheets of paper, 30 couriered envelopes, 116 driven miles, and 115 personnel-hours were also saved.
While facing COVID-19 working restrictions, the team also embraced site work reduction initiatives as ways to also save ‘wind shield’ miles and improve the efficiency of the processes overall. GPS tools were used for candidate selection of small cell sites so that pre-screening and data gathering could be conducted through one site visit compared to two, previously; this reduced the team’s time submitting Site Candidate Information Packages to the client.
“What’s great about land services work is that you work with such a diverse group of professionals – planners, paralegals, attorneys, project managers, construction professionals, environmental specialists, engineers, property owners, government officials as well as the cell carriers and tower companies. While the engineers used the field tools during the pilot, over time – given how easy they are to learn – we could find further resource, time and travel efficiencies through exploring roles across the whole team. We can see many more ways to improve.”
More new ideas and procedures continue in 2021. There are plans to use geospatial data more extensively in identifying candidates for small cell and new build sites, integrate 360 degree camera technology and remote notaries, and further extend electric signature and agreement processes.
*Black & Veatch – as of its corporate sustainability program – believes how it delivers innovation in sustainable infrastructure is as important as what we deliver. While BV currently already incorporates principles of sustainability into much of the work we execute, the goal of the Sustainable-by-Design program is to establish a set of high-level principles that address different phases of a project’s delivery and that can be applied across all BV future project work.