As children, playing in the dirt served as a natural pastime for many of us, but with age and responsibilities, playtime has dwindled away. Dig This, the first heavy equipment playground in the United States, now makes it possible for adults to relieve stress, have fun, and relive their early excavation days on a much larger scale.
Construction Materials & Methods
In the past two decades, the environment has become a hot topic across most economic sectors, and the homebuilding industry is no exception. As new technologies continue to emerge and as builders and homeowners continue to adopt environmentally conscious practices, the way that we talk about green products and practices is of ever increasing importance. Not only do homeowners expect builders to build green homes, they also expect builders to be able to explain why and how the home is green. Enter the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and their "Green Guides," which aim to provide guidance on environmental marketing.
The need for secondary steel often arises for heavy items mounted on gypsum board walls and ceilings when the stud framing itself is not structurally sufficient to carry the load. Secondary steel in this case is constructed in line with the stud framing to augment its structural capacity. Coiling doors and ceiling mounted toilet partitions are two examples of when secondary (also commonly termed supplemental or miscellaneous) steel will be required behind or above the gypsum board. Coiling door and ceiling mounted toilet partition fasteners will actually bridge though the gypsum board and fasten directly to the concealed secondary steel.
Organizations and manufacturers have been researching green building materials for years now, inundating the market with a wide spread of green products for sustainably inclined developers and builders. Recently developed products go beyond the reduction of emissions and waste to the elimination of pollutants from the atmosphere. New smog-fighting technologies and products are still in testing, but some will be available for purchase by 2012. With their introduction to the marketplace, however, comes a myriad of questions.
When I began my career in the engineering/construction industry 37 years ago, erosion from construction sites was never a stated concern. None of the huge water treatment plants and wastewater treatment plants I designed had any provisions for preventing erosion or controlling sediment. The streams, lakes, and rivers downstream from my sites no doubt did a lot of natural “settling” and maybe “filtration.”
Over the past few years home improvement and building improvement have taken a dramatic shift toward retrofits with financial benefits. Homeowners and building managers are no longer content with inefficient homes and underperforming assets. Instead, they are looking for multiple ways to lower their expenses. One of many successful strategies has been to decrease water use through the installation of low-flow fixtures. However, the question must be asked: what is the return on investment (ROI) of low-flow fixtures?
As the green building movement begins to hit its stride, geothermal systems are quickly gaining prominence as efficient and attractive choices for projects featuring alternative energy. Although fewer subsidies for geothermal systems are available when compared to solar, the initial investment for the installation of a geothermal system can be lower. This makes a geothermal system’s return on investment (ROI) extremely favorable. It is this financial analysis that may lead to the inclusion of geothermal systems in more building projects as its awareness grows.
In today’s construction world, where green is the future, it pays to know about building techniques that not only count toward a green building rating but can actually reduce up-front costs. One such method is known as Advanced Framing, sometimes called Optimum Value Engineering (OVE). Advanced Framing takes a good hard look at the way we frame buildings and tries to eliminate wood whenever possible without compromising structural integrity. All of these techniques, when properly executed, comply with the International Residential Code (IRC), but you should check local codes before beginning a project.
Reducing paper usage has been one of the most iconic and understandable of the green movement’s mandates. The intricacies of forest management have remained obscure to most of us, however, although forest management is the real key to preserving woodland habitats as well as our wood supply. Most consumers now recognize that it is an eco-friendly choice to look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label on wood products, to guarantee that they are sustainably produced … but what does this label mean, exactly, and is there more to the story of sustainable forestry?
Builders looking for a sustainable, environmentally friendly product may want to consider Accoya® wood, which matches or exceeds the durability and stability of the very best tropical hardwoods. Accoya, made from fast-growing softwoods, was introduced to the North American market in 2008. The process used to make Accoya is called acetylation, which has been studied for over 80 years. Accsys Technologies, the makers of Accoya wood, built its production facility in 2007.
In this second addition of “ROI-Driven Products," we take a look at insulation, which is a big part of a building’s envelope. When insulation is installed correctly, it provides the necessary R-value to meet the thermal demands of the region and the comfort demands of the building’s occupants. With energy prices on the rise, building envelopes have come under more and more scrutiny. Homeowners and business owners alike are now seeing the need to improve the building envelope and increase its overall efficiency.
During times of economic uncertainty, we need to expect more out of every investment. Whether as a homeowner making small improvements or as a business owner making multimillion dollar improvements, we must make highly informed decisions to capitalize on the investment. Buildipedia's new series on ROI (return on investment) driven products looks to provide the information to help make these decisions. This step-by-step approach to a product's cost as well as its ROI will aid both new builds and retrofits. Here we focus on windows and toilets, both of which play big roles in energy and water usage in our buildings and provide different opportunities to reduce expenses.