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Construction Observer Training Programs

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What is the best way for a construction observer to train? Learning from a professional on site may be ideal, but other good sources of information include public agencies and the documentation they make available.

Columnist David A. Todd, P.E., CPESC, has 37 years of experience in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry and has performed much construction administration during that time. He will answer questions from our readers or from his own practice and will provide answers based on his understanding of the construction process.

U.S. Infrastructure: Stephen Flynn's Edge of Disaster

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I just finished reading Stephen Flynn’s 2007 book "The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation." For those who’ve been interested enough in infrastructure topics to find their way to the Operations Channel, I’d highly recommend this book. Flynn is more of a security expert than he is a construction specialist, but it is exactly this objective perspective which makes his focus on our infrastructure so valuable. He includes infrastructure shortfalls along with Jihadists and pandemics as major threats to our society. He sees our aging infrastructure beyond the bricks and mortar, as reducing our national flexibility, as vulnerable terrorist targets, and as economic liabilities for future generations. These add up to make our declining infrastructure a tangible national security issue that he’s rightly concerned about.

Rebuilding Japan After the Tsunami

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In the past year, we’ve seen many wrenching images of post-tsunami Japan. What has happened since March, and how much hope is there for the affected area’s recovery?

Media coverage was intense following Japan’s Tohoko earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. Despite the scale of this disaster, coverage inevitably shifted to other news stories. The people of eastern Japan still have a long road ahead in the rebuilding and recovery process. How are they faring, nine months later?

Biophilia: Our Affinity for Nature Can Help Us to Transform Our Living Spaces

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What is it that makes a person like a building? Beyond simple differences in individual taste, scientists are identifying biologically based responses that determine our preferences.

Green design can mean many things. Even the most structured green building rating systems reflect this fact. At their most encompassing, rating systems can include far reaching social and cultural goals; at their most pragmatic, these systems still emphasize the importance of environmental quality for the end user. However, this type of imprecise consideration is often overshadowed by components that are more measurable, such as energy-efficient heating and cooling systems or water usage.

The Green Flip

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LEED V3 Provides New Tools.

Many homeowners are running amok trying to sell their homes in a downturned economy. The design/build professional Christopher Prelitz, LEED AP, founder of Prelitz + Partners, owner of New Leaf America, and author of the book Green Made Easy, has been renovating buildings with green features since 1993. An active member of the sustainable building community of Southern California for nearly 20 years, Prelitz says, "If you green it, you will sell it." Perhaps Prelitz's most profitable market is green-ovating homes and flipping them for nice profits. The concept sounds "easy," but doing a green renovation is often seen as such an elephantine task that many walk away from the idea with their eyes dazed over.

A Positive Alternative with Biofuels: A Win–Win for the Construction Industry

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As the construction industry continuously looks for ways to enhance its offerings to companies and clients, its abilities to do more with less and to offer better value by using better technologies will provide real benefit. It’s also rewarding for us drivetrain and energy nerds to see the application of some pretty cool and useful technologies such as biofuels that are morphing from research lab to fuel tank and from start-up enterprise to hyper-clean engine.

The Smith Center for the Performing Arts: Deco in Vegas

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DMSAS designs a new performing arts center that will outlast the $20 in your pocket.

Las Vegas is known for its over-the-top re-creations of period architecture and, in some cases, of entire cities. Where else can you view interpretations of Caesar’s Palace, an ancient Egyptian pyramid, and modern-day New York City? The newest addition to Vegas’s collection of notable architecture is an Art Deco behemoth inspired by the nearby Hoover Dam.

Safety Modifications to Historic Buildings

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The U.S. Post Office and Courthouse in South Bend, IN, designed by N. Roy Shambleau, was completed in 1933. Still in use today by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, it was renamed in 1992 as the Robert A. Grant Federal Building and United States Courthouse. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, meaning that modifications to the exterior are not permitted. Any modifications to the function of the building must occur in such a way that the exterior remains true to its original design.

House of the Month: The Environmentally Conscious Cottage

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In an effort to reduce the environmental impact of a cottage located near federally protected land, David Jameson Architect, Inc., quite literally reduced the building’s footprint. When a Washington, D.C., couple purchased their Church Creek, Maryland, property, it was equipped with an existing cottage, but Hurricane Isabel damaged that structure in 2003, and erecting a new building on the site became controversial.

Green Building Codes

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Do you know the green building code basics? City and state governments continue to adopt new ordinances that support sustainable building, and the new laws require new ways of doing business.

In recent years, more and more municipalities have been adopting green building codes as a strategy to help them to develop in a more sustainable fashion. Green building codes are issued for the purpose of improving public health, safety, and general welfare. They encourage sustainable construction practices in planning and design, energy efficiency, water efficiency and conservation, environmental quality, material conservation and resource efficiency; improvements in these areas have been shown to reduce negative effects and enhance positive environmental impacts.

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