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Weekly Briefing: May 22-26, 2023

Week of May 22, 2023

Supreme Court Further Erodes EPA's Power

  • The Supreme Court limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority over wetlands, stating that the Clean Water Act covers only wetlands with a "continuous surface connection" to navigable waters.

  • The decision overturns a 2006 precedent -- which recognized federal protection for wetlands with a “significant nexus” to such bodies -- and comes less than a year after it curbed the EPA's authority to limit emissions from coal plants.

  • The EPA has interpreted its jurisdiction broadly to include some wetlands that aren’t directly connected to a body of water, an interpretation it says is necessary to protect against water pollution and is consistent with Congress’ intent in passing the landmark environmental protection law.

  • Biden said the administration will “carefully review this decision and use every legal authority we have to protect our Nation’s waters for the people and communities that depend on them.”


OpenAI Warns Over Split with Europe as Regulation Advances

  • OpenAI chief, Sam Altman, has warned that Brussels' efforts to regulate artificial intelligence could lead the maker of ChatGPT to pull its services from the EU, in the starkest sign yet of a growing transatlantic rift over how to control the technology.

  • Speaking to reporters during a visit to London this week, Altman said he had “many concerns” about the EU’s planned AI Act, which was initially designed to deal with specific, high-risk uses of artificial intelligence, including its use in regulated products such as medical equipment or when companies use it in important decisions for granting loans and making hiring decisions.

  • The latest plan would make developers such as OpenAI and Google, partly responsible for how their AI systems are used -- even if they have no control over the particular applications the technology has been embedded in -- and force companies to publish summaries of copyrighted data that had been used to train their AI models, opening the way for artists and others to try to claim compensation for the use of their material.

  • While the law appeared to be targeted at only large systems such as ChatGPT and Google’s Bard chatbot, there was a risk that it “will hit open-source models and non-profit use” of the latest AI, said Alex Engler, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

May 22, 2023

Anser Advisory, a California-based Program Management firm, specializing in consulting services across project, program, and agency construction management, security consulting, enterprise technology management, and training solutions, has acquired Gafcon Digital, the world’s leading software-agnostic systems digital model integrator for building and infrastructure owners. This merger unites Anser Advisory's extensive range of core competencies with Gafcon Digital's cutting-edge digital twin solutions, enabling the seamless implementation of digitalization across the entire building lifecycle to owners of critical infrastructure assets and projects.

EFCG served as the exclusive advisor to Gafcon Digital in its sale to Anser Advisory. We eagerly anticipate the remarkable accomplishments that Anser Advisory and Gafcon Digital will achieve together in 2023 and beyond.


May 22, 2023

SAM Companies (SAM), a Texas-based provider of professional Geospatial and Inspection solutions across the utility, transportation, and broader infrastructure industries,has acquired MTPLS Surveying & Mapping (MTPLS), a Maryland-based professional Geomatics solutions company serving public and private sector clients across the Mid-Atlantic region. The acquisition of MTPLS will help expand SAM's client services and geographic presence, and advances its strategic growth plan, particularly its Unmanned Aerial Mapping, Inspection, and Geospatial capabilities in the utility market.


May 23, 2023

Little Diversified Architectural Consulting (Little), a North Carolina-based transdisciplinary design firm, has acquired Hughes Group Architects, a Virginia-based design firm specializing in Public Safety, Higher Education, K-12 Schools, Recreation and Athletics Facilities, and Commercial Architecture projects. The acquisition of Hughes Group Architects will help to strengthen Little's existing practice areas and will expand its operating footprint within the greater Washington, DC area. Carolyn Rickard-Brideau, Partner and Chief Executive Officer of Little, commented, "We are excited to have the talented people from Hughes Group Architects join us to deepen our bench depth in our community and education sector clients. Our other practices will benefit from their experience as we collaborate to bring our clients design solutions that are focused on their business goals.”


May 25, 2023

Salas O'Brien, a California-based engineering and technical services firm, has acquired Moisture Intrusion Solutions (MIS), a Florida-based third-party consulting, observation, and testing firm which specializes in the waterproofing of the exterior building envelope. As building envelope specialists, MIS will enhance Salas O’Brien’s focus on improving the human experience by designing, constructing, and protecting critical environments. Darin Anderson, Chairman and CEO of Salas O'Brien, noted, "Building envelope expertise is vital in achieving outstanding building performance and resiliency, both of which are key to addressing climate change and achieving decarbonization. MIS and its team of building envelope specialists will be so important in meeting these critical needs for our clients and our world."

Gensler recently announced the recipients of the 2023 Gensler Rising Black Designers Scholarship and Diversity in Design Bursary (UK), in which awarded over $80,000 in scholarships to 22 emerging designers from this year's program. To be considered for either program, students needed to have a letter of recommendation from the dean of their school and submit work representative of their best design skills.

Launched in 2020, the Rising Black Designers Scholarship + Design Challenge helps talented design students overcome the costs associated with higher education by awarding tuition scholarships, micro-scholarships for books and materials, and opportunities for summer internships to underrepresented Black students enrolled in U.S.-based not-for-profit architecture programs. Additionally, Gensler's Diversity in Design Bursary and Prizes -- launched in 2022 -- seeks to help break down the barriers to entering the architectural profession for underrepresented ethnic minority students in the United Kingdom.


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