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Keeping Clean In Healthcare Facilities

When specifying plumbing products, seek a balance between cleanliness, design, and water conservation.

 

Ken Martin, Delta Faucet Co.

 

In any commercial building, promoting cleanliness and proper hygiene through effective handwashing is important. It is crucial in hospitals, extended-care facilities, and other healthcare buildings frequented by patients with compromised immune systems.

In patient rooms, faucets and sinks should be specified to work together to allow proper hygiene. The faucet spout should have a higher, farther reach, placing the water stream in an easier-to-reach location for the users.

This makes the job of specifying faucets and other plumbing products for public restrooms, patient rooms, and other areas an important one. Indeed, specifiers have much to consider when choosing faucets, fixtures, and other products for restrooms or patient rooms. The trend toward warmer, more inviting interiors has increased the demand for faucets with a more residential look, as opposed to an institutional or commercial design. In addition, water conservation has become increasingly important.

Even so, hygiene and proper handwashing devices are of paramount importance in healthcare-facility design and construction.

There are several things a specifier and a building owner should know to promote and maintain cleanliness. In addition to adopting vigorous cleaning schedules, one of the best ways to promote cleanliness is to reduce the need for people to touch surfaces. Automatic doors and light switches not only make life easier, but also limit the need to touch them, helping keep facilities cleaner.

In public restrooms used by visitors, staff, and patients, this may be accomplished by using products with hands-free technology. A variety of touchless flush valves, faucets, soap and towel dispensers, and hand driers has been on the market for some time. These products are quite effective at promoting cleanliness, as they greatly reduce the need for users to touch any surface in the restroom. However, hands-free technology has evolved over the years, resulting in products that work better and help promote proper hygiene.

The first hands-free faucets contained infrared, intensity-based sensing technology, which measured the intensity of light reflected from a user’s hands or body. A problem with this technology, when integrated within a hand-washing station, is that it tends to operate inconsistently. The sensor’s field of vision can be quite narrow, requiring users to move their hands around in an attempt to activate the faucet. Also, the sensors can sometimes be confused by the environment; a user’s light-colored clothing, for example, can cause the faucet to not work properly. Both of these factors can have the effect of discouraging proper hand washing.

Cleaning the faucet itself also can be an issue. Infrared faucets typically have seams and corners that are difficult to clean, particularly around the sensor window.

One solution to these problems is a new kind of hands-free technology that does not use infrared at all, but instead uses capacitance to detect a user’s presence and activate the faucet. Capacitance is the ability of a body to hold an electrical charge. Developed by Delta Faucet Co., Indianapolis, the Proximity sensing technology, in essence, turns the whole faucet into an ultra-sensitive antenna and creates a 3- to 4-inch field around the faucet. When a user’s hands enter the field, the faucet turns on and maintains a steady stream until the hands leave the field, or until a set amount of time expires.

The benefits of this technology are twofold. First, the faucets are easier to operate, thus promoting more effective hand-washing practices. Second, the faucet body has no seams or sensor windows, making cleaning easier and helping to minimize vandalism.

Some faucets, such as a surgeon’s scrub-up faucet, do not have an outlet flow control, but instead have a non-aerated, laminar flow. This eliminates the column of standing water that remains in a faucet once it is turned off.

For flush valves on toilets and urinals, infrared sensing technology had been the industry standard but is subject to the same problems that the faucets exhibited. To address this, Delta introduced H2Optics technology in 2009, which uses the principles of triangulation to calculate a user’s distance from the flush valve. (The same technology is used in the auto-focus feature of digital cameras.) This technology is more accurate than …

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Air Barriers Keep Good Air In, Bad Air Out

Understanding and controlling air flow in the building envelope will maximize energy efficiency.

 

Stanley D. Gatland II, CertainTeed Corp.

 

Unrestricted flow of air against or through a building can have an enormous impact on the building’s temperature and energy efficiency. In cold months, warm air leakage to the exterior, and the thrust of cold winds against the exterior surface of a building, can cause interior temperatures to drop, requiring extra work from the heating system and additional utility bills to keep the interior warm. The same is true with cool air leakage and warm air intrusion in summer months. Like heat flow, air flow has a strong impact on the building envelope.

In this third installment of Valley Forge, PA-based CertainTeed’s nine-article series on commercial building science, we’ll discuss how to control air leakage, air-pressure differential effects, air flow paths, air barrier systems, fenestration products, and compartmentalization. To learn how to correct the problems caused by air flow in buildings, we must first take a look at what it is and how it works.

The force behind air flow
Air flow occurs only when there is a difference between the exterior and interior of a building. Air will flow from a region of high pressure to one of low pressure-the bigger the difference, the faster the flow. Air-pressure differentials are thus the driving force behind air flow. There are three air-pressure differentials: wind pressure caused by external forces, stack pressure created by warm air rising, and mechanical pressure created by a building’s mechanical systems.

Wind-Pressure Effect: Wind pressure has a significant effect on buildings, as it creates a high positive pressure on the upwind side of the building and a low negative pressure on the downwind side of the building-the taller the building, the higher the pressure. Wind also has a strong influence on the impact of rain on building surfaces. It is essential to combine exterior air barriers with water resistive barriers to prevent rainwater from penetrating the building envelope.

Stack-Pressure Effect: Stack pressure occurs when atmospheric pressure differences exist between the top and bottom of a building due to temperature differences. The stack effect causes infiltration at the bottom and exfiltration at the top of buildings during the heating season. In warm southern climates, the stack effect is lessened due to the short heating season.

Mechanical Effect: The mechanical effect is caused by the HVAC system pressurizing the building. Many designers create systems with a slight positive pressure in the building to reduce the potential for air infiltration. At the veryleast, they try to create a neutral pressure to avoid constant air infiltration.

The next factor to consider is how air flows and what course it takes. There are three types of air flow paths: direct flow, diffuse flow, and channel flow.

Direct Air Flow: Direct air flow can be thought of as a linear path through an assembly. So, for example, a gap under a sliding glass door or a gap that goes straight through the assembly for whatever reason is considered direct air flow.

Diffuse Air Flow: Diffuse air flow happens when air can move through what seems to be a homogeneous material, but is in reality, porous. Concrete block with mortar joints can support diffuse air flow two ways: through the block and through cracks that form in the mortar joints.

Channel Air Flow: The third type of air-flow path, channel air flow, is an indirect path between openings in the building envelope. These openings are often a space hidden from view, where a wall and the roof deck are connected, for example. Such spaces must be blocked.

To restrict these different types of air flow, it is important to employ an efficient air-barrier system. There are a variety of choices in this area.

Types of air barriers
Designing an airtight building envelope is crucial to a building’s performance. Airtight building envelopes help control heat and sound energy, as well as airborne moisture flow and airborne contaminants. They even help to control the spread of fire if cavities are properly blocked. In short, airtight building envelopes create more energy-efficient, healthy buildings, which are more durable and require less maintenance. The best way to …

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Jeweler Shines with Metal Exterior

When Michael Eller chose to house his thriving jewelry store in a newly constructed building, he wanted the exterior to project a positive image that would enhance his reputation.

 

After many years as a successful jeweler, Michael Eller decided to own, rather than rent, space for his Findlay, OH, business. He invested in a 7,500-sq.-ft. building that combines an image-setting mix of metal building systems with conventional construction. The building is large enough initially to serve his needs and includes two, 1,700-sq.-ft. spaces he rents to other merchants. The investment in direct ownership could pay for itself in five years, based on the rent he once paid in a strip center and the revenue from the rental space.

A standing-seam, metal roof system from Butler reflects the positive image the jeweler has established.

Millstream Building Systems Inc., Defiance, OH, was selected to lead the design/build program. The jeweler and the contractor had become acquainted during previous construction and renovation programs. However, this project offered an opportunity to develop a facility specifically tailored to the immediate-and future-needs of the jewelry shop. Eller brought a number of ideas to the planning meetings, including the need for strong curb appeal to reinforce an already strong business identity and the need for interior space with distinctive merchandising character.

Craig Spoon, the designer/builder, combined building systems with traditional materials to achieve Eller’s vision within an affordable budget. The project applied a 65- x 117-ft. single-slope Widespan framing system with the MR-24 standing-seam, metal roof system from Butler Mfg. Co., Kansas City, MO. The absence of interior columns enables Eller to absorb the rented space on either side for any future expansion of his store. Gas-fired/electric-cooled HVAC package units maintain a comfortable environment. Because jewelry stores normally have a high footcandle requirement, the air-conditioning system, equipped with economizers, was sized to operate throughout the year. The system gains added energy efficiency from a roof/ceiling assembly that has a total of 12 in. of insulation. The studwalls incorporate 4 in. of thermal barrier.

The split-face block used for the wall construction has an exterior insulation and finish system that achieved the “street presence” sought by the owner. Because local codes limited signage, the diamond shop uses the upper faade as the background for a strong, graphic identity.

Systems construction enabled Millstream to close in the building quickly, despite a late-fall construction start, and to fully complete the project in just six months.

“It was the smartest thing we could have done. We were already the number-one jeweler in Findlay, but the more visible location has helped to increase my sales by 25%. The rental revenue off the leased space finds me paying no more for a building I own than for the space I rented. I’m building equity and have a potential source of retirement income. We even enjoyed some nice depreciation our first year when we were already in a positive cash-flow condition. How could a successful business not afford to do this?” Eller said.…

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Casino’s Curves Incorporate Metal Tracks

To achieve the elaborate curves that give the Cherokee Hotel and Casino its style, contractors depended on

 

More than 11,000 linear ft. of Flex-C Trac from Flex-Ability Concepts, Edmond, OK, was used to create intricate curves and radii at the Cherokee Hotel and Casino in Tulsa, OK. The hotel includes 80,000 sq. ft. of gaming space and was finished in August 2004. The striking interior design features traditional Cherokee symbols while incorporating the art deco style for which Tulsa is famous.

Metal tracks from Flex-Ability Concepts provided the framework for the hotel and casino’s elaborate interior. The photo at left shows how the studwork fits into the Flex-C-Trac system.

The Flex-C Trac system provides an easy way for builders to frame high-quality curves by using a simple, flexible-metal track or plate for use with wood or metal studs. The casino’s elaborate interior was designed to create the look and feel of Las Vegas and includes numerous curved soffits and theme elements that rely heavily on compound radii.

According to subcontractor Billy Tobey, vice president and general manager of Green Country Interiors, Tulsa, “The project was demanding. We were challenged to find a way to save money without sacrificing the integrity of the final appearance. Plus, we were faced with day-to-day design modifications that had to be accommodated within an already-tight schedule. The involvement and expertise of our foremen kept the project on track and helped deliver an absolutely great-looking finished product,” he said.

The general contractor was Tulsa-based The Flintco Companies, the largest Native American-owned construction company in the world, with more than 800 employees nationwide.

The job’s Flex-C Trac distributor was Building Specialties, Broken Arrow, OK. Flex-C Trac is made of 20-gauge, galvanized sheet metal and is available in 2 1/2-, 3 5/8- and 6-in. widths. The 6-in. product is also available in 16 gauge. Flex-C Plate, utilized primarily for residential construction, is also made of 20-gauge galvanized sheet metal and is available in 2 x 4- and 2 x 6-in. widths for wood studs.…

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Case History: Metal panels create high-tech look

The Udvar-Hazy addition to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum uses metal exterior panels to create a high-tech, lightweight look, and perforated interior panels to improve acoustics.

 

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum’s Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center is now home to the world’s premiere collection of historic and rare aircraft and spacecraft. But how did the designers create an architectural aesthetic that adequately reflected the age of spaceflight? The design concept dictated a sleek appearance while the mammoth open area necessary to display several full-sized aircraft demanded an acoustically superior design.

Approximately 118,000 sq. ft. of Centria’s Formawall Dimension Series metal panels were installed on the building’s exterior.

“We wanted this museum to look high-tech and lightweight, and be acoustically friendly-that’s why Centria’s [Moon Township, PA] metal panels were chosen for the project,” explained Walter Urbanek, project architect with HOK architects, Washington. “We are very familiar with Centria’s product line and we knew its metal panels would be a good choice for such a high-profile project.”

Approximately 118,000 sq. ft. of Formawall Dimension Series metal panels were installed on the building’s exterior and finished with bright silver metallic and white coatings. L-21A liner panels, perforated for acoustical purposes, were fastened to the Aeronautical Hangar interior and coated with a soft silver color called Evening Dove. The coating was chosen to help brighten the interior. The same panels were also installed on the interior of the space hangar and coated with Steeple Chase, a dark blue/gray, simulating outer space.

“The perforated liner panels were specified for acoustical purposes because of the numerous ‘hard’ spaces that make up the interiors of the hangar museum,” Urbanek noted. “There aren’t many ‘soft’ spaces to help absorb the noise inside the hangars, so installing insulated panels greatly reduces the reflecting echoes of noise. We specified a high NRC (noise reduction coefficient) and the L-21A panels, resulting in a high-performance acoustical facility.”

With the addition of the Udvar-Hazy Center, a companion facility to the museum’s flagship building on the National Mall in Washington, the National Air and Space Museum can display more history, science, and flight technology. Together, the two facilities will eventually comprise the largest aviation and space museum complex in the world. The facility, which will ultimately contain 760,000 sq. ft. of space, opened to the public on Dec. 15, 2003, as a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the first powered flight by the Wright Brothers.

Located south of the main terminal at Dulles Airport in northern Virginia, the center includes an aviation exhibit hangar housing 82 aircraft, a 164-ft. high observation tower, an IMAX theater, three multimedia classrooms, restaurants, and gift shops. Also included is the McDonnell space hangar, which opened in November 2004 and houses the shuttle Enterprise, which is currently being refurbished.

Named in honor of its major donor, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy, the museum displays more than 200 aircraft and 135 spacecraft including the Dash 80 prototype of the Boeing 707 and the “Enola Gay” B-29 bomber. Visitors are able to walk among the artifacts on the floor and view suspended aircraft from elevated walkways. A series of connected hangars and 21 steel trusses arching 10-stories high is a signature architectural feature of the central aviation hangar.

Hensel Phelps Construction Co., Chantilly, VA, served as the general contractor, and A.C. Dellovade Inc., Canonsburg, PA, as the Centria-certified dealer and installer.…

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Fix Hospital Bed Shortages

The need for acute-care hospital beds will reach critical levels in the near future. Part of the solution lies in making improvements and changes to existing facilities to make workspaces more accommodating and provide patients with more daylight.

 

  1. Alan Whitson, RPA

 

Demand for acute-care beds in U.S. hospitals will grow 46% by 2027, requiring an additional 238,000 beds. According to a 2004 study by Solucient LLC, Evanston, IL, long-term demographic shifts in the U.S. population are driving this growth. Total acute-care admissions are projected to increase by 13 million cases from a 2002 baseline-a 41% increase in the number of national admissions.

Medical institutions can improve their levels of patient care and their
bottom lines by increasing capital expenditures to provide more natural
light for patients and better work areas for employees.

Among the demographic factors contributing to this growth are aging of the baby-boom generation, increasing life expectancy, rising fertility rates, and continued immigration. However, these factors do not affect each market equally. Demand will grow fastest in the Western and Southern states and more slowly in Midwestern and Northeastern states. Yet, even in slower-growing communities, the aging population will prompt a hospitalization growth rate that will outpace growth of the total population.

These growth predictions come at a time when many medical institutions are already experiencing increases in hospitalizations, capacity constraints, and an unprecedented boom in hospital construction and expansion projects. Yet, according to research by the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), Westchester, IL, hospitals are falling behind on capital spending.

On average, capital spending increased 1% per year between 1997 and 2001. In contrast, hospital admissions grew by 7.7% and outpatient visits increased by 19.6% during that period. HFMA also found 41% of hospitals are not investing enough capital to keep ahead of asset depreciation, which could compromise the ability to build or renovate facilities, expand products and services,and/or maintain profitable growth.

Despite the need for more beds, the current surge in hospital construction is being restrained by rising construction costs. According to Gary Collins, an architect with Anshen+Allen, San Francisco, and president of the International Facility Management Association’s (Houston) healthcare council, inflation is a major issue everywhere, but is completely out of control on the West Coast, greatly affecting needed program space and, in some cases, eliminating the entire project. A material shortage due to Hurricane Katrina and a building boom in Japan are also putting pressure on healthcare projects.

There is an ironic twist to this hospital capital-spending deficiency. Medical institutions can improve their levels of patient care and their bottom lines by increasing capital expenditures. In 1984, Roger Ulrich, Texas A&M; Univ., College Station, TX, completed a study of patients recovering from gallbladder surgery. He found that those with views of trees recovered better than those looking at brick walls. In fact, those who could view/interact with nature went home almost a day sooner, had $550 lower costs per case, used fewer heavy medications, had fewer minor complications, and showed better emotional well-being.

The work of Ulrich and others has led to evidence-based design, which is showing that good design choices can improve medical outcomes, enhance staff satisfaction, and save money. This research offers a solid rationale for spending more money on single-occupancy rooms; larger in-room windows with views of nature; comfortable accommodations for families in patient rooms and waiting areas; energy-saving, environmental-management systems; and amenities such as art and healing gardens.

Leading the research in this area is the Center for Health Design, Concord, CA, a non-profit organization that, in the late 1990s, started the Pebble Project. Currently 34 Pebble Project hospitals are gathering outcome-related data before and after construction of new healthcare facilities.

The Pebble Project’s goal is to uncover and share the best practices in healthcare design. Project partners are finding that good design can have a positive impact on the delivery, experience, and cost of healthcare. Some of the findings to date:

  • Patients are moved, often as many as six times, during a typical visit. Every move increases the risk of error by 75%. At Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis, making improvements in patient room layout and equipment integration has reduced patient transfers 90%.
  • Larger bathrooms reduce patient falls by
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HVAC System Heats, Saves at YMCA

The challenge was to find new ways to meet the HVAC needs for a new YMCA while keeping costs down. An HVAC system, with a custom-manufactured heat-recovery process, achieved both objectives.

 

 

By nature, collaborative efforts between two large organizations can be difficult to manage. When four organizations are involved, many see a recipe for disaster. Not so at the C.W. Avery Family YMCA in Plainfield, IL, which is a shining example of how a school board, hospital, city, and park district can successfully work together to create a 52,000-sq.-ft. facility to serve a community. One of the achievements of this effort is its HVAC system, which meets all expectations, saved on construction costs, and will save money in the long run.

Examples of HVAC savings for the facility range from innovative thinking in maintaining pool temperature and natatorium humidity levels, to nontraditional placement of heating/cooling units and the use of a fabric duct system.

The C.W. Avery Family YMCA’s eight-lane pool features a heat-recovery system from Dectron that maintains the water temperature at 80 F, while also keeping relative humidity at 50% and room temperature at 82 F in the 9,100-sq.-ft. natatorium.

Syed Ahmad, P.E., project engineer with R.L. Millies & Assoc., Munster, IN, and Stephen Doonan, vice president, DeKalb Mechanical, DeKalb, IL, used heat-recovery options and air-distribution designs that afforded smaller and more efficient blower motors; fabric, instead of labor-intensive metal ductwork; and many other innovative HVAC, value-engineering solutions that saved the $10.1-million facility tens of thousands of dollars in construction costs.

Additionally, annual operational savings will add up. For example, a custom-manufactured Dry-O-Tron DS-202 by Dectron Inc., Roswell, GA, uses a heat-recovery process to heat the eight-lane indoor pool’s water to 80 F, while simultaneously keeping the 9,100-sq.-ft. natatorium’s relative humidity and space temperature at a comfortable 50% and 82 F, respectively.

Ahmad estimated that the pool-water heating feature on the dehumidifier cuts energy usage by 20% to 25% when compared with a standard swimming-pool water heater with no heat recovery.

The Avery dehumidifier is also fitted with a factory-installed, natural-gas, back-up boiler by Raypak, Oxnard, CA. Specifying this feature saved thousands of dollars in piping, equipment-placement labor, and mechanical-room space.

The boiler’s rooftop location, along with the dehumidifier, is also safer because the combustion process is removed from interior mechanical rooms where flammable and corrosive pool chemicals are present. “We’ve learned early on that it’s a significant savings and just makes more sense to specify a boiler as part of the factory-engineered, rooftop package unit,” Ahmad said. He has designed several other natatoriums in the past.

The supply of domestic hot water for the entire recreation center is handled with boilers from Lochinvar Corp., Lebanon, TN.

Because Dectron is capable of custom manufacturing, another R.L. Millies energy-saving specification places 3,300-cfm (minimum code) and 16,100-cfm (purge) exhaust fans before the evaporator coil and relies solely on a supply-air fan to re-circulate natatorium air during unoccupied hours, at a significantly reduced energy rate. The exhaust fans operate only during occupied periods, as opposed to a conventional economizer that operates a full sized return fan in conjunction with the 24/7 supply fan.

R.L. Millies’ configuration specification, which was overseen and facilitated with Dectron by manufacturer’s representative, Imbert Corp., Niles, IL, is capable of introducing 100% outside air to purge the space effectively during super-chlorination periods. Splitting the two exhaust fans makes the dehumidifier more efficient with both net-sensible cooling and fan operation. In comparison with conventional economizer operation, the resultant annual energy savings from the 9,100-sq.-ft. natatorium’s dehumidifier is more than $40,000.

Further energy efficiency comes from Ahmad’s specification of Dectron’s Smart Saver heat recovery coil option. The Smart Saver extracts heat from the exhaust air stream to preheat the outdoor air, thus requiring less energy for make-up air heating.

R.L. Millies’ energy-efficient design began as pre-design meetings with the project architect, Clifford A. Bender, A.I.A., director of architecture, Healy, Bender & Assoc., Naperville, IL, and general contractor, Nicholas & Associates, Mt. Prospect, IL. The synergy between the HVAC design and the architecture assured the building orientation of windows on the South, West, and East sides to promote more solar gain in the winter and less in the …

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Surveillance, Security System Installed at Beau Rivage

When Beau Rivage Resort & Casino reopened in Biloxi, MS, more than a new surveillance and security system came online-the area’s economy also got a boost.

 

The reopened Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, MI, boasts 1,200 video surveillance cameras; an audio playback messaging system; and an emergency, call-station system.

Rebuilding lives after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina encompasses many aspects. Toward the top of the list is restoring the economy that was a victim of the disaster. Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, now relocated in Biloxi, MS, is the largest gaming resort in the city. With its doors now reopened, it provides many jobs for the area’s residents.

Part of the reopening project was a video surveillance and security system supplied by North American Video (NAV), Brick, NJ. “Restoring the gaming industry to its pre-Katrina state is crucial to the economy of the city of Biloxi. The Beau Rivage will help stimulate the economy, put people back to work, and re-establish tourism in the area,” said Cynthia Freschi, president, NAV.

The video surveillance and security system includes more than 1,200 video-surveillance cameras integrated in an enterprise solution along with a new two new matrix-switching systems. NAV has also furnished and installed all alarms on the grounds; an audio playback messaging system; and a new emergency, call-station system for the parking garage. Also new to the system is a state-of-the-art, point-of-sale interface to the closed-circuit television system.

“NAV was an integral part of the team rebuilding Beau Rivage,” said Anne Mockler, director of surveillance, Beau Rivage. “It was a remarkable installation given the time frame. It took a tremendous amount of manpower from both NAV and Honeywell, Morristown, NJ, to get us where we needed to be to open. The support has been incredible.”…

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How to Build an Eco House

Building an eco-house does not mean to renounce comfort or to take a step back in the past. A house made with respect for the environment means health, wellbeing, financial independence and durability. A natural home means protecting nature, health and future.

Advantages of eco houses

Currently, more and more people are looking to move in a home that is friendly with the environment, because of the obvious advantages compared with classical houses. An eco-house is partially or integrally made from recyclable or natural materials, from the structure to walls and finishing. Even since the project phase, you have to consider the land type where you are building, the position of the sun throughout the day or the wind direction.

The most common material used is wood, but just because you are building a wooden house does not mean you are building an eco-home. In the last centuries, people preferred the ‘modern materials’ such as concrete, glass and iron. In the past years, building concepts tend to go back to origins, people preferring original and energy-efficient houses. Moreover, these are sometimes more resistant than traditional buildings.

Principles to consider when building an eco-house

An eco-house should improve the quality of interior air by its design. It is an important aspect, as it comes with effects on our health and mood. A green home must ensure a humidity of 30%-50% throughout the year, enough for the air not to feel dry, but also to avoid extreme humidity that helps the creation of molds.

Materials for building can even be found around the house. It is possible to use straws, bamboo or special type of argyle bricks, reducing the costs. As we are talking about natural materials, you can be sure you are preserving the health of everyone living in the house.

  1. Efficiency and ergonomic

The walls made of natural materials come with a high coefficient of thermal insulation. Such a house is warm during the winter and cold during the summer. Temperature is constant for a longer period, meaning you can save up to 75% of the costs to heat or cool the house.

  1. Resistant

Natural materials, contrary to the beliefs of some ‘specialists’, are more resistant to earthquakes and fire. The majority of materials used are flexible, or they simply don’t burn. If you are able to choose an optimal combination of such materials (like walls made of straws and covered with argyle), we can have a house resistant to all the common known disasters and accidents.

  1. Eco-friendly appliances

A green house isn’t complete without putting thought into the home and kitchen appliances that it will house. What’s the point in building a eco-friendly home and then using energy inefficient appliances or appliances that have a high carbon footprint? This footprint could be during use or in the manufacturing process. Carefully review energy ratings and manuals to ensure you buy only certified low energy use appliances like microwaves, fridge, etc.

  1. Cheap

As a green house is made of durable materials, the costs of building are covered in the long term. If we are able to find construction materials in nature, those will be cheaper and easier to build. Using solar or wind energy will save more money on the long term. Plus, considering the interest of more and more families for these types of constructions, it will be a lot easier to sell your home for a good price after a while.

 

 …

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Windows Help Preserve Historic Campuses

Carefully designed windows can bring modern energy savings, while remaining true to historic campus character.

 

John Lewis, American Architectural Manufacturers

 

Despite the general downturn in construction that began in 2007, one of the comparatively healthier commercial window market segments in 2008 was the construction or renovation of educational facilities. This has been spurred by an increasing focus on the infrastructure, the availability of grant funds, and demographic trends. Specific to the fenestration industry, some window manufacturers have fared relatively well by specializing in the niche market of historic reproduction windows.

The decision to renovate an historic structure or build new is usually more than a simple cost-benefit analysis.

Renovate or rebuild?

The question arises when contemplating the modernization of educational facilities on a campus or in a community whether to build new or to renovate an older structure. In the case of historic buildings, the decision is often more complicated and involves more than a simple cost-benefit analysis.

Constance E. Beaumont, of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Washington, has said, “Too many schools are casually condemned by biases that favor new construction, by school facility assessments that reflect little expertise in the rehabilitation of older buildings, and by ignorance of basic techniques for helping older buildings meet modern codes and program requirements.

“Too often, ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act], fire safety, and other important requirements are used as an excuse to demolish a valued school when in fact these requirements frequently can be met at a reasonable cost,” she continued. “Too often, smaller, community-centered schools that have held neighborhoods together for decades are destroyed without competent evaluations of their potential for continued use through modernization.”

After World War II, school construction entered a period of fine workmanship and use of quality materials, with ornamental details in stone, terra cotta, and tile that characterized the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Preservation maximizes the use of these existing materials and infrastructure, reduces waste, and preserves historic character. Even in a new-construction situation, a building’s proximity to other historically significant structures is often the driving force behind design and component selection for the new construction.

Weighing the pros and cons takes historical preservation knowledge, experience, and creativity. Few building committees, boards of regents, trustees, or school-board members have the technical expertise to properly compare the merits of renovation with those of new construction. Many of the architects and planning firms they retain to advise them can be unfamiliar with renovation techniques, or may simply be biased in favor of new construction.

All cost factors may not be adequately assessed in a cursory or biased cost-benefit comparison. For example, as much as 25% of the cost of new construction lies in preparing the site, laying the building foundation, installing utilities, and creating road-work access. Another 25% goes toward the building structure-its framing, walls, and roof. With a historic building, those components are already in place. If the historic building is planned for demolition, there will be costs to demolish it, abate hazardous materials, and dispose of debris (often 4% to 5% of the overall replacement costs).

Challenges of historic renovation

Perhaps the biggest challenge is maintaining the integrity of historic buildings while incorporating energy-saving measures and meeting accessibility and fire-code compliance mandates. These are requirements that can often conflict.

Codes: While preserving a building’s historic aesthetics often dictates all other elements of the project, it must also meet applicable building codes regarding accessibility and fire safety.

However, building codes are generally written with new construction in mind and often rule out older building materials and methods, even though the latter may result in buildings as safe as those constructed with new materials and methods. Cost-benefit studies often rigidly interpret code compliance, incorrectly declaring a building unsafe or cost prohibitive to retrofit.

In truth, the codes have some flexibility and offer the potential for waivers. Historic designation could make the project eligible for alternative building-code requirements that facilitate upgrades and open the door to additional funding sources.

The 2006 ICC International Existing Building Code (IEBC) is an alternative that contains requirements for improving and upgrading existing buildings to conserve resources and building history, while achieving appropriate levels of safety.

The …

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