Eight Useful Apps for Builders

apps; Eight Useful Apps for Builders

Builders today have a plethora of helpful apps to choose from.

Eight Useful Apps for Builders

Builders and subcontractors can now manage most, if not all of of their business from their smart phones and/or tablets. Here are a few of the most useful apps.

Home Builder Pro Calcs ($4.99, iPad and iPhone)

This app has more than 350 calculators built in, including loans, pricing, and travel costs; concrete and paving calculators; electrical; floors, walls, and ceilings; foundation work; framing, including siding, joists, studs, stairs; HVAC, including insulation, air conditioning, and airflow; hours estimates for carpentry, concrete, doors and windows, finishes, roofing, and site work; landscape and yard; masonry work; 24 area, volume, and angle calculators for a variety of shapes; 26 different unit conversions; 22 calculators for roof framing and roofing; and wood and materials.

Read more here.

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Multi-Family Passive Houses a Potential Boon for Australia

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Multi-family Passive Houses could serve densely populated Australian cities well.

Multi-Family Passive Houses a Potential Boon for Australia

According to research by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), “energy use in buildings is responsible for 26 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and is the primary cause of peak energy demand on the electricity network.”

Furthermore, on particularly hot days, air conditioners in Australia can consume as much as 22 per cent of all the electricity generated across the nation.

Australia is one of the worlds’ most urbanised nations, with 89 per cent of residents living in cities. The stringent Passive House standard, though not yet much of a factor in Australia, offers the potential for multi-family housing that serves the continued demand for urban housing while drastically reducing energy consumption.

Read more here.

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Making Roofs More Functional with BIPV-T Systems

PV roof photo: Making Roofs More Functional with BIPV-T Systems

New roof technology can provide shelter, electricity, and heat from a single roofing system.

Making Roofs More Functional with BIPV-T Systems

The days of underutilised, single-purpose roofs appear to be fading. New roof technology can provide shelter, electricity, and heat from a single roofing system.

Called a building integrated photovoltaic-thermal (BIPV-T) system, the new technology integrates painted standing-seam steel roof panels with thin-film photovoltaic panels and makes use of the sealed chamber between them for thermal energy.

BlueScope Steel and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) have recently installed Australia’s first prototype BIPV-T system at a home in Glebe. ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the roofing system was designed specifically for Australia’s climate and building environments to ensure the PV systems were durable and robust. The companies are developing the systems for commercial sales.

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Designing Resilient Places

photo: http://sourceable.net/designing-resilient-places/

Improved building designs can improve the performance, functionality, and resilience of buildings when disasters hit.

Designing Resilient Places

Cities around the world face a variety of natural disasters, including floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, heat waves, cyclones, and tornadoes.

In addition to the suffering inflicted by the storms themselves, the built environment’s design and construction shortcomings also cause avoidable problems. Fortunately, improved building designs can improve the performance, functionality, and resilience of buildings when disasters hit.

In an urban context, improving the resilience of buildings requires a holistic approach along with various infrastructure improvements. In other words, improving each building is necessary, but won’t sufficiently address the issues that people and cities will face as sea levels rise, for example, if hurricanes grow stronger and more frequent and cities become more dense and urbanized.

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Post-Disaster Housing Prototype Goes Online

image; NYC Post-Disaster Housing Prototype Goes Online

Post-Disaster Housing Prototype Goes Online

In urban areas, natural disasters can be doubly destructive. Not only do earthquakes, flooding, and hurricanes destroy people’s homes, the dense urban fabric offers few sites for temporary housing such as government-supplied trailers for temporary housing, where people could live while their homes are rebuilt.

New York City has begun an experiment to address the housing issue with what they call “Urban Interim Housing,” a concept that aims to house displaced residents in their neighbourhoods, or as close by as possible. Helping residents to stay in their neighbourhoods lets them maintain jobs, friendships and attendance in school and church, for example, while also giving them an opportunity to help to rebuild their neighbourhoods.

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Cool Roofs Mitigate Urban Heat Islands and Climate Change

photo of city roofs: Cool Roofs Mitigate Urban Heat Islands and Climate Change

Cool roofs—both white and green— can counteract the urban heat island effect.

 

Cool Roofs Mitigate Urban Heat Islands and Climate Change

Both urban expansion and climate change are expected to raise the temperature of cities and the built environment.

A new report, Urban adaptation can roll back warming of emerging megapolitan regions, published in Proceedings of the Journal of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that cool roofs and green roofs can counteract both processes. The report was authored by Matei Georgescu of Arizona State University and Philip E. Morefield, Britta G. Bierwagen, and Christopher P. Weaver of the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Read more here.

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A Simpler Approach to Better Buildings

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Is there a simpler way to a high-performance building?

 

A Simpler Approach to Better Buildings

Building rating systems such as Green Star, LEED, and Passive House are here to stay, but many builders and home owners have grown frustrated at their cost and complexity.

 Would it be possible to improve the performance, quality, and sustainability of more homes with a simpler, more streamlined, and cheaper building standard?

As Allison Bailes, accredited energy consultant and writer, asked in his blog, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could list just a handful of measures that a home builder has to achieve to build a Pretty Good House?”

Read more here.

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Pavement or Parks?

parklet image; Pavement or Parks?

Cities such as Vancouver, B.C., Los Angeles, and San Francisco, now allow conversion of parking spaces to parklets.

Pavement or Parks?

In some overpaved cities, people are turning parking spaces and underused streets into useful places for people such as parklets, plazas, and bicycle parking.

Getting official approval to do so, however, has often been a slog through the bureaucratic mud. Interested groups or individuals might have to navigate the byzantine processes in departments of planning, transportation, public works, and so on.

To help expedite the creation of more people-friendly places, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s People St program has streamlined the process by assembling a “kit of parts” for pre-approved projects. The People St program requires a community partner to spearhead each project in order to identify needed projects, build community support, raise funds, install the infrastructure, and maintain the project. Community partners may include non-profits, Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), Community Benefit Districts (CBDs), or other organizations that will oversee the management, maintenance, and operation of each project.

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Greener Concrete Through Low-Tech and Hi-Tech Methods

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Concrete can be made with plant fibers such as hemp in place of aggregates.

 

Greener Concrete Through Low-Tech and Hi-Tech Methods

Concrete is one of the most widely used construction materials worldwide. It’s essential for countless infrastructure projects, from buildings to bridges to streets.

Its manufacture is also a huge source of CO2 emissions — about 5 per cent of the total emissions worldwide — and requires large-scale mining operations to obtain the raw materials. Typically, concrete is made of Portland cement, water, and aggregates. Changes to the common mixture offer the potential to reduce the amount of cement and aggregate needed, and to offset the production of CO2.

Bio-crete and hempcrete

Bio-crete and hempcrete are both similar to traditional concrete, but replace the aggregates with plant fibre such as hemp fibre or rice husks, and use lime in place of Portland cement. The resulting material lacks concrete’s compressive strength and so requires structural framing.

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Evolving Green Building Standards Improve Performance

Evolving Green Building Standards Improve Performance

LEED, Green Globes, Green Star are evolving with each update.

Evolving Green Building Standards Improve Performance

Green Star, LEED, and Passive House U.S. standards are undergoing – or have recently undergone – substantial revisions and are racking up more evidence of their efficacy.

The Green Star – Design & As Built rating tool draft credits, for example, were recently released by the Green Building Council of Australia for industry and public comment. According to GBCA chief executive Romilly Madew, the draft credits are a major milestone in the evolution of the Green Star program.

A major goal for this revision, Madew explained, was to “reduce the cost of compliance and certification and encourage innovation and world leadership in the delivery of buildings that are more sustainable and better for people too.”

Read more here.

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