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2021 Virtual Spring Owners Leadership Conference

2021 Virtual Spring Owners Leadership Conference

Wednesday, May 12, 2021 at 11:30 AM (EDT) to Friday, May 14, 2021 at 5:00 PM (EDT)


Event Details

COAA’s 2021 Virtual Spring Owners Leadership Conference – where Owners can learn, connect, and share.  This 3-day blend of presentations and interactive discussions will also include networking time and even some fun. 




Wednesday, May 12

President's Welcome & Conference Kickoff 

Albert E. Phillips Scholarship Announcement:  Celebrate the 2020 Award recipients with us!

COAA 101: Join us to learn about the rich opportunities COAA has to offer.

Presenter: Craig Whelden
Session Title: Inspirational Leadership in Challenging Times
Session Description: Largely drawn from his three-time national award-winning and #1 international best-selling book, Leadership: The Art of Inspiring People to Be Their Best, Major General Craig Whelden (retired) passes on decades of leadership and life lessons -- both good and bad– told in a compelling and sometimes very personal way. Thousands around the world have heard his inspirational message and have read his book.

Topics to be covered include: 
  • Why COMMUNICATION SKILLS are so critical
  • Why DELEGATION and ACCOUNTABILITY are so important
  • The value (and risks) of GOAL SETTING
  • The importance of TRUST
  • Finding LIFE BALANCE
  • Leaving a LEGACY
About the Presenter:
A master storyteller, General Whelden uses the lessons from his life to convey takeaways on improving a host of life, work, leadership, and interpersonal habits.

Session Sponsored By:


Presenter: Anthony Bango, Chip Lambertson
Session Title: National Preconstruction Experts: Advice to Owners on Market Conditions and More!
Session Description: Please join us as preconstruction and planning experts from leading national construction management firms reflect on how current market conditions impact your capital project planning.  Please bring your questions!

Presenter: Craig Whelden
Session Title: Inspired for More?
Session Description: This is a chance to have all your questions answered and to dive deeper into Craig's life as a Major General.


Virtual Proj
ect Tours

Tour Time

Tour Name Organization Hosting
2:15 - 2:30 pm

MSU's New STEM Project Looks Toward the Future!

.25 LUs AIA Approved
Michigan State University
2:30 - 2:45 pm 
Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center Project

2:45 - 3:00 pm 
Modular Construction Provides New Health Services and Counseling Building at UMBC in Record Time – These are NOT Trailers!
University of Maryland Baltimore County

Presenter: Rita StevensMarySheila McDonaldMartin Kimmel

Session Title: Connecting Your Design to the Organizational MISSION!
Session DescriptionThis interactive session is geared towards helping Owners understand how their Institutional Mission can be the focus of the design of all new facilities, renovations, expansions or upgrade projects and be used to their advantage to boost the brand, attract investment, increase interest in the project and develop a competitive edge in attracting and retaining students. This session will feature case studies of recently completed building projects that show how Mission was the driving factor of the design. Panel members include representatives from Vantage Point Retirement Living and La Salle University.

0.5 LU AIA Approved

Small-Group Roundtable Topics (choose one)

PMIS Value/Implementation - Jack Mumma, Moderator

Net-Zero Sustainability -  John Giovannone, Moderator

Tour Conversations/Follow-up - Mike Kenig, Moderator

D&C Standards Development - Stuart Cullen, Moderator

Small/Minor Project Execution - Jim Beck, Moderator

Application of Lean Principles - John Bechtel, Moderator

Thursday, May 13

Welcome | COAA Cares

Presenter: Ron Torbert
Session Title: After Further Review: Reflections of A Construction Attorney - Turned NFL Referee
Session Description: How does a construction attorney become a NFL referee? Ron will give us insight into his journey.
About the Presenter: Ron Torbert is the former Vice President and General Counsel of Barton Malow Company, a national construction management, design/build and general contracting firm headquartered in Southfield, Michigan. From 2002 until he retired from the practice of law in 2019, Ron was involved in all phases of the construction process at Barton Malow, from negotiating owner contracts, subcontracts and supply agreements; to handling and managing all types and sizes of construction claims in mediation, arbitration and litigation. Ron also provided general business and legal counsel to Barton Malow’s senior leadership. Before joining Barton Malow, Ron was a partner in the Detroit-based Dykema Gossett law firm, specializing in commercial litigation, and Group General Counsel at Allied Signal Automotive.

The Construction Brothers Podcast was started by Eddie and Tyler Campbell.

The brothers are sixth-generation builders who love construction,
architecture, engineering, technology, and trades. 

Eddie and Tyler own a building information modeling business called ABSI, based in Downtown Milledgeville, GA with their dad.


Presenter: Jason Fierko
Session Title: Urban Net Zero: It can be done
Session Description: United Therapeutics’ Unisphere, located in a populated urban area, features approximately 210,000 square feet of office space, virtual laboratories, retail and structured parking. Envisioned as a sustainable laboratory facility, innovative strategies to reduce energy use were incorporated including an earth labyrinth for passive heating and cooling, a geo-exchange system that required changing state regulations, a stormwater heat recovery system, thermal pool and automated natural ventilation, and other strategies. This session will discuss the project team’s robust approach to meeting the net zero goal and will inform the next generation of zero net energy projects. 0.5 LU|HSW AIA Approved

Presenter: Ron Torbert
Session Title:  What's the Call on the Field?
Session Description: A follow-up session with Ron for further questions.  Here’s a chance to ask a contract attorney something when there’s nothing in dispute, or an NFL Referee about your least-favorite rule.


Presenter: Michael Gustafson
Session Title: Delivering the Value of BIM to Owners with the Digital Twin Revolution
Session Description: Digital Twins are the latest buzzword in the AEC industry. This technology can make it remarkably easy for owners to specify data requirements, project teams to capture the necessary data, and owners to commission facilities with a Digital Twin. As an owner are you looking to have greater insights into your facility's performance and operations? Digital Twins are simply the next step in the digital transformation of your business.

This session will help you cut through the hype, understand the value of a Digital Twin, what is required to create one, and how you can leverage your existing data to create a Digital Twin. We’ll also discuss how to integrate with new and existing systems to connect the digital model to the operational and performance data of its physical counterpart unlocking the true value of a Digital Twin. 0.5 LU AIA Approved

Presenter: Marc Clinch
Session Title: Reducing Operational Costs with High-Performance Buildings
Session DescriptionThe presenter will provide the "why" of reducing operational costs, share case studies, terminology and de-mystify the details. While this presentation will focus on school projects, high performance building criteria can be successfully applied to all building types. 0.5 LU AIA Approved


Presenters: Jane Briggs, Chip Merrill, Ted Trester, Richard William Fredlund AIA, LEED AP, Oscar A. Perez, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Heather Gayle Holdridge, LEED Fellow

Session Title: Strategies for Achieving Sustainability and Wellness Goals on Institutional Buildings at Shady Grove
Session Description: This session will compare and contrast sustainable and wellness design from the perspective of both the client and design team through a case study of the Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Building at The Universities at Shady Grove. Despite different perspectives, an integrated team was able to achieve the project’s ambitious sustainability and wellness goals within budget constraints, through biophilic design solutions, alternative funding methods, and forward-thinking sustainable strategies. Attendees will come away with ideas and suggestions that they can apply to their institutional projects with similar aspirations. 0.5 LU|HSW AIA Approved

Presenter: Kamaria HakeemDr. George EishenhofferHunter Nezat, Raman Varma
Session Title: Zebrafish: I Have to Build What?
Session Description:  This session will discuss the process of providing justification and scope creation for the expansion of vivarium space for marine animals at MD Anderson. During this presentation details on planning, design, and execution of the construction process will be discussed and reviewed for lessons learned.

Presenters will include scientific researcher to present why Zebrafish are important; Architect to present design challenges and how they were resolved; General Contractor to present on construction issues and how they were resolved; Project Manager to present on managing the entire process, impacts of COVID19 and lessons learned. 0.5 LU|HSW AIA Approved

Friday, May 14

Presenter: Steve Jones, Charlie Dunn
Session Title:
Modular and Prefab: Improve Project Performance While Achieving Aesthetic and Functional Objectives
Session Description:  
More and more owners are realizing the benefits to their projects of utilizing prefabricated assemblies and modular components. This panel session will begin with research from Dodge Data & Analytics on the use of prefab and modular in the US construction industry. Then Ray Boff from DPR Construction will explain how his firm is successfully implementing these approaches to improve time, cost and quality performance for owners. And finally, an owner (education or health care) will share their direct experience to help others understand how to avoid pitfalls and maximize benefits. 0.5 LU|HSW AIA Approved


Presenters: Adam Ugliuzza
Session Title: ASTM E2813 BECx: Sound Interesting, You Bet!
Session Description: While commissioning of many building systems has been around for many years, Building Enclosure Commissioning (BECx), specifically ASTM E2813, is relatively newer to the design and construction industry.  This presentation will provide an overview of the practice of BECx and its benefits with real-world case studies!  What is expected for high-performance buildings today?  Each stage of the BECx process will be thoroughly described including the typical deliverables produced (e.g. BECx Plan/Record, BECx specifications examples, design peer reviews, construction observation, functional performance testing, etc.).  0.5 LU AIA Approved

Presenter: Cris Farrar
Session Title: The Contract: Make it Right
Session Description: You needn’t be a lawyer to understand construction contracts and you needn’t attend law school to improve your approach to risk management.  In a reprisal of a popular session from past COAA conferences, this brief session will illustrate the unintended consequences of contract language. 

Concurrent Thought Leadership Sessions

Tony Rinella, Janice Do
Session Title: Meetings | Virtual, In Person, or Hybrid … There HAS To Be a Better Way!
Session Description: We’ve all gained confidence over the past year with virtual platforms, but we now face a new set of challenges as portions of the workforce slowly emerge from hibernation and return to the traditional workplace.  Hybrid gatherings – with some attending virtually and others being face to face – will likely become prevalent, bringing a slightly different dynamic.

Honestly, though, did you love most meetings before COVID-19 anyway?  What can we do to improve the effectiveness of meetings, regardless of platform or setting?  Can we make them more satisfying and productive?

The facilitators of this session say YES and invite you to participate in a discussion of what’s worked and what hasn’t … best practices for great meetings … and ways to define meetings as successful or not. 0.5 LU AIA Approved

Presenters: Jay BowmanEric Thomas
Session Title: Trust Matters:  We’ve Got Data To Prove It, So Let’s Discuss
Session Description:  Trust is central to the construction industry, but difficult to quantify until now.  To understand how trust is created and the outcomes it can produce, Autodesk partnered with FMI Corporation on an industry study, “Trust Matters: The High Cost of Low Trust,” which explored trust within construction industry organizations and project teams.

In this session, our facilitators will briefly review the study’s findings before leading an interactive discussion with attendees.  What does trust look like to you … how can you measure it … and how do you increase it within your organization and project teams? 0.5 LU AIA Approved

Small-Group Roundtable Topics (choose one)

Project Delivery - John Zahor, Moderator

BIM Challenges/Adoption - Stuart Cullen, Moderator

Project Handover and Turnover - Mike Kenig, Moderator

COVID: A Reflection - Jack Mumma, Moderator

AE/CM Selection - Jim Beck, Moderator

Project Defect Resolution - John Bechtel, Moderator