All posts by westward

Fireplace Tips

Useful Fireplace Tips

This time of year fireplaces across the area are burning—both for additional heat and ambiance. But did you know there are many variables that you control that can impact both the indoor air quality of your home as well as what blows out your chimney?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the best wood to use for your fireplace has been seasoned outside, off the ground and covered, for at least 6 months with a moisture content of 20 percent or lower, and was harvested locally.

The EPA also has the following tips to keep indoor and outdoor air quality safe while using your fireplace:

  • Never start a fire with gasoline, diesel or charcoal starter; use newspaper, dry kindling or natural fire starters;
  • Never burn household trash, including cardboard, plastics, foam, magazines, boxes, and wrapping paper, because they contain chemicals that can be released into your home and the atmosphere (high levels of toxic metals such as barium); and,
  • Fireplaces manufactured after 1992 are much cleaner-burning.

Any smoke that comes from your fireplace is made up of gases and fine particles (PM2.5); the hotter it burns with well-seasoned firewood, the less chance of harmful air pollutants infiltrating your home and outdoor atmosphere.

Curt Campbell PE, Vice President of Engineering & Natural Resources at Westward, is a LEED AP engineer and suggests researching fireplaces when building or retrofitting a home or business, “The U.S. Green Building Council states that fireplaces used for LEED-certified structures must provide doors that close or a solid glass enclosure to minimize gases seeping into occupied space.”

For more useful fire tips, visit

Golden-cheeked Warbler

Golden-cheeked Warbler Remains on Endangered Species List

On February 6, 2019, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks affirmed U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s rejection of a 2016 petition to delist the central Texas bird. Filed by the General Land Office, the delisting petition was prepared by the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Championed by Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush. The petition argued that the species had recovered, citing a 2015 Texas A&M University study concluding the population of warblers is 19 times greater than stated when the species was listed in 1990.

Photo Credit: Greg W. Lasley

Important Updates to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA)

Important Updates to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA)

Westward’s Natural Resources department offers several biological services, including Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) compliance consulting. The MBTA prohibits the take, possession, importation, exportation, transportation, sale, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, purchase, or barter, of migratory birds, bird parts (e.g. feathers), nests, or eggs without a valid Federal permit. U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) is responsible for enforcing the MBTA and has proposed to revise the List of Migratory Birds protected under the MBTA. Based on new taxonomy and natural occurrence evidence, 66 species were added and seven species were removed from the list. These revisions also include changes to scientific and common names that incorporate updates published by the American Ornithological Society. USFWS will be accepting comments and information from concerned parties regarding this proposed rule until January 28, 2019. Give Westward’s Natural Resource team a call if you have questions or concerns regarding the MBTA as it applies to your project.

Certified Consulting Meteorologist (CCM)

Certified Consulting Meteorologist (CCM)

Westward’s Certifications & Affiliations page provides the depth of talent that our company offers from Professional Engineers to Certified Floodplain Managers. Today we highlight another such certification: the Certified Consulting Meteorologist, or CCM. A CCM applicant is rigorously evaluated and the certification is only awarded by the American Meteorological Society to those considered “experts in the application of weather information to a host of practical challenges ranging from specialized forecasts to engineering design support and expert testimony on weather-related court cases.”

Westward’s resident CCM, Dave Knollhoff’s primary focus is submitting air permit applications and conducting air dispersion modeling analyses for industry clients.  If your company or legal situation is in need of a professionally-certified meteorologist, Westward is ready and available to assess the situation and address your needs.