Construction Materials & Methods

Case Study: BGSU Roof Replacement

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Having provided 43 years of service, the Ice Arena at Bowling Green State University is a popular venue on campus that serves the BGSU students and faculty as well as the local municipal community. Currently operated by The Department of Recreation and Wellness, the Ice Arena was originally designed in 1965 and contains the main ice sheet, sized at 200’ X 85’. It also houses a studio ice sheet that is 80’ X 40’ and a curling ice sheet at 150’ X 57’, as well as a lounge and other supporting facilities.

How Can We Avoid Greenwashing?

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Barbara McHatton speaks about her experiences avoiding what we are now calling the Greenwashing affect. We want to knowledgeably see past skewed claims to find those products that are legitimately green.

Confused about what makes a green building product “green”?

So am I.

With all of the labels out there touting “green” and “environmentally friendly” products, it’s no wonder we’re so mystified. If a product is manufactured using recycled materials, it’s considered green—if it saves energy, it’s considered green—if it is manufactured using non-toxic materials, it’s considered green.


Dig It: Mean Green Machines

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The Caterpillar 938H

Caterpillar presents a new H-Series Medium Wheel Loader 938H available with enhanced performance, greater versatility, ease of service checks and an engine that is built to be better for the environment. An overview of the specific upgrades include: a new axle system, a larger holding capacity bucket, easier access for regular maintenance checks, an innovative engine that passes US EPA Tier III emissions standards from the 1990 Clean Air Act, better functionality for the operator, a larger variety of working tools available, provisions to keep the engine free of clogging debris, ergonomic improvements for the operator’s seat and gears, and increased power controls for the operator.

The Aesthetic of Rust: Weathering Steel

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Weathering steel, more commonly referred to by the U.S. Steel tradename Cor-Ten™, is a group of steel alloys that develop a stable oxidation requiring no additional coating. Upon exposure to normal environmental stresses, it acquires a dense, dark brown colored barrier layer that protects it from further oxidation.

Many people like the natural appearance and simple maintenance that weathering steel fabrications provide. In addition to being used in structural framing, roofing and siding panels, weathering steel is often used for decorative fabrications, including signage and sculptures.

Let the Daylight In

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There are two different ways to harness the power of solar energy: active solar systems and passive solar systems. Solar panels and other solar energy collectors are considered active systems. Generally, their purpose is to collect, store and distribute solar energy to heat water or air inside a building. The term ‘passive solar’ refers to the process of constructing and orienting a building to take advantage of sunlight as a source of light and heat without the use of solar equipment. The goal, aside from the healthy benefits of natural light, is to reduce overall dependence upon mechanical systems.

A Linear Waste Disposal System On A Finite Planet?

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Annie Leonard, an activist and filmmaker from Seattle, Washington, finally got fed up with observing how her trash, whether recycled or dumped, completed a linear waste disposal system. So, Annie asked herself:

Hmm, if we continue to follow the waste process of extraction, production, distribution, consumption, disposal, we will most certainly deplete society of all of its natural resources that took billions of years to create underneath Earth's crust.

Leonard created a program that includes a website, blog, video, and data to support her efforts to stop the current Story of Stuff we experience in the U.S. and abroad today.

2010 NAHB International Builders' Show, Jan 19-22

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If you have an opportunity to attend the 2010 NAHB International Builders' Show in Las Vegas this year, please make sure to stop by the Portland Cement Association's (PCA) booth. Rightly so, they are promoting the 40 different ways concrete can be used to build sustainable homes.

PCA's press release states, "Recent research by McGraw-Hill indicates that 70 percent of buyers would be inclined to purchase a green home versus a conventional home in a down market.  With new techniques and products introduced at what seems like a daily basis, builders can rely on concrete for straightforward solutions for today’s green building demands."

If in Vegas, stop by booth #N2431 for more information. Registration for new attendees is only $100 for full registration. Don't forget to tell us about your experience.

Rammed Earth

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Based on historical precedence, rammed earth is becoming a widely accepted practice. Dave Nedrow, who was interviewed for the article Maximizing the Sun's Heat, is a freelance designer formally educated in architecture and is currently pursuing licensure. He offers us some of his research about a highly insulative wall construction with low embodied energy.

Architects and builders are often challenged to look for innovative and cutting edge building technology when considering their choices for materials and types of construction. This investigation often produces interesting and stunning results, and the Modern period in architecture could be partially defined by this. However, let us not forget about historical vernacular styles and methods of construction, specifically that of rammed earth. The continents of Africa and Asia have both housed civilizations utilizing rammed earth as a building material, dating as far back as 2000 BC, and it has continued to be used through to today. Although arguably less technologically advanced, and possibly once considered “low brow”, rammed earth construction offers us new possibilities. As society advances, our use of materials continues to evolve. Historically, earthen bricks were made and stacked to generate the walls.

Drawing a Line in the Sand

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Joshua Lloyd, LEED AP and blogger of Symbiotic Home, explains a bit of the process by which he selects green building materials.

As a working architect with several years of experience of project management for green buildings, I believe that the sooner you can draw a line in the sand that defines your green objectives, the more likely your building will achieve sustainability success. Let's take materials for an example. While materials are the most visible features of a green building, they are often the most publicized features of green buildings as well. When choosing green materials, we should research the data and then be able to answer why we chose this material and how it fits into the sustainability of the project.



Light Gauge Metal Stud Framing

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Planning and Best Practices

The light gauge metal stud framing phase of a project significantly impacts several other trades. It is no secret that good planning and practices will achieve higher production rates and a level of quality that meets the project's specifications. Planning and layout should be the responsibility of the project foreman; however, everyone should be involved with preparing the work flow. While actual layout is underway, other production items should also be thought through.

Mitigating Elevator Noise in Multifamily Residential Buildings

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Today’s modern mid rise and high rise luxury condominiums and apartment buildings offer numerous amenities to attract potential owners. They can offer spectacular vistas through floor to ceiling walls of glass, high end finishes on the floor, gourmet style kitchens with all the modern features one could ever want, and a master bedroom suite that offers a tranquil and quiet place to escape. In these building types, elevators become a necessary component for vertical circulation to access the floors. For those residences that are adjacent to the elevator equipment room or the elevator hoistway, the noise and vibration caused by the operation of the elevator can be a potential source of sound intrusion. Because today’s buildings are constructed with lightweight materials, and because there is a need to generate maximum useable square footage, sound transmission issues are compounded. All this combined can result in unsatisfactory living conditions for tens of thousands who live in condominiums or apartments.

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.

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