AEC Pros

No Shortage of (Natural) Gas

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I envision that somewhere, in our national array of large facility operators, there must be a seasoned fuel manager, armed with sharp pencils, finely tuned spreadsheets, and two red telephones, each linked to a fuel oil and a natural gas distributor, respectively.  I imagine him or her sitting at a dimly lit desk, deep in a warm mechanical room, alongside a huge array of quietly humming dual-fuel boilers.  A small computer screen on the desk is scrolling the latest fuel commodity prices.

Predictive vs. Preventive Maintenance Concepts

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The traditional concept of “preventive maintenance” applies to maintenance on a piece of machinery based on its quantifiable use, or the passage of a set amount of time.  A good common example of preventive maintenance is changing the engine oil in your car every 3,000 miles or 3 months, as many automobile owners’ manuals may suggest.  “Predictive maintenance” is an attempt to refine maintenance activities to only those times when they are functionally necessary, based on data collection, analysis, and (negative) trend determination from an established “healthy” base level.

Here's To Unchopping Your Christmas Tree This Year

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National reporter Ted Anthony wrote "Analysis: Climate 'debate' pits loud vs. louder" yesterday for The Associated Press about the international debates encircling the climate change in Copenhagen. As experts present scientific data, the public pounds back with rebuttals via the UN's web portal called, "Add your voice to the Climate Petition." In short, Anthony suggests the experts' voices should take precedence over the general public's voice that is, in his opinion, based on information that is anything but scientific.

Maybe we should realize that we do not live in a world that is purely scientific? It would be naive to miss the fact that scientists do interpret data via their biased lens, just as easily as the "perceived uninformed public opinion" can validate natural occurrences with their own personal experiences.

Moving on, is it really worth it to debate now whether or not our planet is showing us signs of its weariness? Do we need to continue to justify our exorbitant use of natural resources? Even one little home / life change can help all of us to achieve the goal of "use less, waste less."

Human nature does not live on facts and data alone. We are passionate, compassionate, and are all capable of using our intuition to make advanced thoughtful conclusions, thus the difference between human and robot.

So, why not use all of our senses to wage a war on global change?

After all, that is what the famous architect Maya Lin did in her video about rainforest deforestation. Take a look.

Investigating The Perfect Wall

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There are many things an exterior wall should do.  Among the most significant performance requirements is environmental separation; "it needs to keep the outside out and the inside in," according to Joseph Lstiburek, Ph.D., P.Eng. It also must be safe and structurally sound, and it has to look good. Structural engineers do a good job of keeping structures from falling down.  Building codes do a good job of ensuring that buildings are safe.  Architects do a good job of making buildings look good.  Where we most often fail is in the environmental separation.

Developing a Green Building Momentum

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The tables have turned as owners are coming to architects requesting a LEED Certified building, reports Bruce S. Fowle, FAIA and LEED AP of FX FOWLE. Furthermore, “According to FMI Management Consultant’s 2008 U.S. Construction Overview, construction industry stakeholders are increasingly recognizing green building capabilities as "good" — and as a necessary part of a firm's best practices. Green building is no longer a niche sector,” reports HGTV in their News Trends article Construction Industry: Green Building is Good.

Learning from Copenhagen

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Climate change is a topic that, unlike the polar ice caps, won’t be disappearing from the newspapers, televisions and websites that deliver our news. It’s no surprise then that the Copenhagen Climate Conference is the center of attention this week. As world leaders meet to debate the rate of climate change and the degree to which it should be controlled, design professionals continue to lead the way in implementing methods for reducing the effects of building construction and operation on our planet’s resources.

Pervious Pavement

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(As previously published in Modern Contractor Solutions.) Pervious pavement is a green, sustainable strategy that can assist in lowering stormwater runoff, naturally decreasing automobile pollutants, recharging the water table supply and moderating the heat island effect. Similar to other complex construction systems, in order for the sustainable pavement to perform as it was designed, it needs to be installed with precision and maintained with diligence. To drain water effectively on any given site, different geographical areas require special adjustments to the technology as well.

Stimulating U.S. Infrastructure Jobs - An Opinion

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In today’s news there’s talk of a new federal government jobs stimulation program, with a cost between $75 billion and $125 billion. This new jobs program would be funded in theory from recaptured amounts totaling nearly $200 billion, originally programmed under the 2008 Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Approximately $50 billion of the new jobs program would be targeted for U.S. infrastructure projects, i.e., roads, bridges, and water projects. As’s U.S. infrastructure watchdog, this particular aspect of the news caught my attention Tuesday.

Green Elevator Strategies

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Eco-friendly inventions now enable elevators to operate with much less energy, use less building square footage by eliminating traditional elevator utility rooms, and incorporate eco-sensitive finish materials. Likewise, green strategies for eco-modernizations are also available to renovate traditional elevators. Yet beyond new green technologies and renovations, an elevator itself is an important green tool.

Keeping Weather in Mind

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To maintain a project's schedule, productivity, and ultimately, profitability, it is imperative that the job foreman and the office project manager and/or estimator are aware of weather and site conditions.  During this time of the year, material delivery becomes an extremely important part of maintaining project schedules and minimizing surprises.

Specifiers tend to create their products based on what manufacturers tell them.  This is not a bad idea; after all, no one has the time to research all the products used on site.  Manufacturers will indicate that their materials need to be pre-conditioned to the interior temperature for a period of time, usually 24 hours prior to installation.  The standard temperature is typically between 55 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.