Construction Materials & Methods

Universal Design Living Laboratory

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After a bicycle accident left her paralyzed 12 years ago, Rosemarie Rossetti realized that the two-story home she shared with her husband, Mark Leder, would never be able to fully accommodate her needs. Rossetti and Leder began to look into design options for a new home, and soon their personal project evolved into a mission to research, design, and build a home that would serve as an educational resource for the building industry as well as for consumers. The product of their campaign is the Universal Design Living Laboratory (UDLL), a National Demonstration Home in Columbus, Ohio, that seeks to incorporate three different design movements: universal design, green building (targeting LEED for Homes certification), and healthful, chemical-free products.

Green Roofing Options

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As our world becomes more urbanized, and our cities continue to grow, we are replacing the natural environment with buildings, pavement, and asphalt. This causes a phenomenon called urban heat island effect, in which the proximity of urban buildings makes cities several degrees warmer than rural areas. We are starting to realize that we need to counteract this harmful effect and that cooling the roof is one of the best ways of doing so. Many roofing options will accomplish the goal of combating urban heat island effect, including reflective roofs and roof gardens.

Going Green: Sustainable Finishes

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The number of green design materials available has exploded in recent years. Products that used to be offered in limited colors or designs are now as varied as their traditional counterparts. Because of consumer demand, sustainable painting, flooring, and countertop products that might have been less durable and expensive in the past are now stronger, longer-lasting, and often more affordable.

Considerations for Building Green

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A growing number of people have become aware of and even begun to measure their personal, ecological footprint on the planet. Others are concerned about healthy living and working spaces free of toxins. Some people simply see greening their properties as an effective cost-cutting measure or wise investment.

Structural Insulated Panels vs. Conventional Framing

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The all-inclusive, load-bearing design of structural insulated panels (SIPs) offers an energy-efficient, quiet alternative to conventional wood framing methods. In recent years, SIPs have increasingly grown in popularity as builders strive to provide more durable products, use more environmentally sustainable building methods, and reduce costs. According to AMA Research, SIPs are now the fastest growing new building method on the market.

Straw Bale Construction

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As we continue to search for ways to make our homes more energy-efficient, some are finding that reverting to old methods is opening new doors. One such old building practice that is catching on across the nation is straw bale construction.

A New Color for Water?

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Interested in lowering water resource costs, wastewater costs, and being able to use water during periods of restricted use? If so, consider installing a greywater system. Greywater systems are plumbing systems that recycle wastewater collected from washing fixtures such as showers, tubs, and sinks. The wastewater is filtered so that it is able to be used in non-potable (i.e., do not drink it!) applications such as irrigation and flushing a toilet.

LECA Masonry

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Light Expanded Clay Aggregate (LECA) masonry block, which was used in the construction of the Landskrona Townhouse, is a low embodied energy material, is relatively inexpensive, is lightwieght, has a high insulation R-value, and is made by heating the materials to 1200 degrees Celsius in a rotary kiln. The origins of LECA and other aggregates such as Gravelite, Perlite, and Rocklite can be traced back to the invention of Haydite (invented for the construction of the USS Selma) in 1917 in Kansas City, Missouri. In Europe, LECA block was first used in Denmark, Germany, Holland, and the U.K.

Demolition Best Practices

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Demolition projects can range from small, simple jobs to complicated undertakings that require sophisticated and detailed planning. Site conditions can vary significantly, and there is always a degree of imprecision to the wrecking of the building itself. For typical building demolition and site improvements the most common procedure is to use heavy mechanical equipment such as wrecking balls, excavation hoes, grapples, pulverizers, crushers, and hydraulic breakers and shears. Several factors need to be considered prior to and during demolition, including the scheduling of demolition activities, protecting the site (especially important with occupied structures), and dealing with hazardous materials.

New Rules for New Masonry-Construction Cleaning

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For New-Construction Clean-Down of Contemporary Masonry Buildings

Cleaning today’s relatively new concrete masonries, like simulated stone and concrete brick, is different from cleaning clay masonry. Clay masonry can usually withstand the more aggressive cleaners needed to dissolve hardened mortar smears. But even clay masonries now vary enough in type to take particular procedures and products.

Guardrails: Design Criteria, Building Codes, & Installation

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Designing and Installing a Safe System
Almost every commercial and public building, whether it is an office building, sports arena, place of worship, or school building, contains a guardrail system. Guardrail systems are installed to provide safety and protection for the building occupants and are placed at or near the outer edges, of flights of stairs, ramps, landings, platforms, balconies and accessible areas of roofs. They will also be found at the perimeter edge of any opening or accessible surface, such as an open­ing for a stairway, or at a location where operating conditions require limited access to a designated area in order to guard against accidental falls.

Extruded Polystyrene (XPS): Improved Wall Performance

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A building's wall system must constantly fight the invasion of rain, air, vapor and thermal attacks.The wall's ability to provide a barrier to each of these elements relies upon the use of appropriate materials, installed in the correct sequence.  There is no such thing as a perfect wall system; however, a wall system that performs with greater efficiency using new efficient materials is achievable.

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