The following post is by Alaska Structures:
Every workplace has its upsides and drawbacks. Whether it’s the quality of the coffee in the break room or squabbles over cleanliness of shared areas, navigating the politics and interested parties of an office environment can be taxing. One thing everyone can get behind is energy efficiency and using resources more effectively, but as with every project in the workplace, getting started requires a budget, a manager, and a dedicated team to see it through to completion. Especially if you’re a small business or startup struggling to make ends meet each month, it’s possible to simultaneously improve both your workplace and bottom line with a few smart energy efficiency upgrades and strategies.
Educate Your Employees
Every office has a few key figures who are noticeably wasteful or ignorant to their lack of eco-friendly habits, but they may not be leaving the refrigerator door open or the sink running on purpose. Investing in energy-efficient tools and appliances will only fully pay off if everyone on your team gets behind the initiative. And as anyone who has dealt with HR or employee criticism will tell you, it’s important to consider your approach when implementing energy-efficiency standards and initiatives.
The good news is that going eco-friendly in your office can be fun! Aside from the ideal scenario in which no lights are left on in empty rooms and all computer equipment being shutdown at night, the potential savings is huge. By informing employees of the cost-saving potentials and offering financial rewards in exchange for reaching benchmarks could help engage your employees into action.
Use Power Strips and Smart Lighting
Connected electronics often use “phantom energy,” or energy drawn and used even when the device is switched off. Investing in higher-quality power strips with scheduled on/off times and smart power utilization methods is a great first step, but sometimes the simpler route is just as effective. Have each employee unplug their machines at the end of the day will have a tremendous short and long-term impact on your bottom line. Otherwise, you can retrofit many electronics with smart Wi-Fi plugs to ensure they turn off automatically after regular business hours.
Installing a smart lighting system can also help reduce your energy costs while improving indoor comfort levels in the workplace. Replacing older bulbs with smart Wi-Fi connected models is expensive, but many may even last longer than traditional LEDs – some models claim to last 15 years during regular use.
Invest in New Space
While it’s generally easier to find and relocate to a more energy efficient office environment, some industries call for more specialized real estate to grow and expand their operations. As energy experts tell us, it’s crucial that energy efficiency standards are considered in the very early stages of the project to ensure complete adherence during construction and finalization in new spaces.
Many in the industrial sector have turned to high-performance polyvinyl fabric buildings to help bring down their energy costs and maintain profit margins as their business expands to a new facility. Because modern fabric buildings are low maintenance and quick to assemble, organizations with remote locations, camps, or secondary facilities outside of their headquarters have invested in portable fabric buildings. They’re also a great cost-saving alternative to brick-and-mortar buildings thanks to the natural light and comfort that comes with the energy efficient design and engineering that comes with higher-end fabric structures.
Make a Few Key Upgrades
Studies have shown that laptop computers are nearly 80% more energy-efficient than their desktop counterparts. Not only will switching to laptops help reduce the amount of energy expended in your office, they’ll save room in the workplace and allow your employees the flexibility to jump up and bring their work home or at a nearby coffee shop if so desired.
Finally, swapping out your office’s old refrigerator for a new Energy Star-rated unit will have a near immediate impact on your energy consumption and most importantly, your monthly bill.
There are plenty of strategies employed by business owners to maximize their company’s cost-saving potential and we hope more of an effort to improve energy efficiency across the board begins to catch on in throughout the business world as solutions become more and more affordable for companies of any size.
Alaska Structures has manufactured fabric buildings for industrial and commercial applications around the world since 1975.
The following is an excerpt from Log Cabin Hub by Sarah Woods.
Lots of our fans have been writing us lately asking for the best piece of advice when it comes to building a log cabin home. So we decided to go out and speak with 21 influential log cabin owners, builders, and manufacturers and asked them for their best tips, tricks, and secrets when it comes to building a log cabin.
Some of the 21 are authors and famous log cabin enthusiasts, and some are the world’s oldest log cabin manufacturing companies, but all of them have world-class experience and knowledge when it comes to building log cabins.
At Log Cabin Hub we asked them to reveal their number 1 piece of advice when it comes to building a log cabin for the first time. Their responses are in, so here’s what you need to know before starting on your log cabin project!
1. Design prudently.
John E. Schroeder, Schroeder Log Home Supply
I would say the most important tip when building a log home is: design prudently. This encompasses: building large overhangs; building the first course of logs at least two feet above ground level; slope the grade away from the house; plan everything you can to keep the sun and the water off the house as much as possible.
These considerations early on will make the maintenance of the home a cinch. It’s when the home is exposed to too much sun that you have to re-stain/re-finish your home much more often. And it’s when the home is exposed to too much moisture that you run into the eventual decay of wood. Plan to keep the sun and the moisture off your wood and your home will last forever.
John E. Schroeder owns Schroeder Log Home Supply, a hardware marketplace for log home supplies and tools.
2. Get the design right.
David S. Mann, Alta Log Homes
Getting the design right is important for the following reasons: It will help you get the house to work better on your land for energy efficiency and future maintenance, as well as make sure it can be built within your budget.
David S. Mann is the CEO of Alta Log Homes who have been building hand-made rustic log cabins since 1971.
3. Build for your lifestyle.
Justin Metz, Brookridge Log & Custom Homes
I believe the single most important tip when building a log cabin home is to build for your lifestyle. Log cabin living can be as unique as the lucky individuals that choose to embrace this style of home building. Whether its ultra rustic – with exposed beams, natural resources (like stone, wood and reclaimed timbers) or ultra contemporary with lots of fixed glass, metal and painted interiors, log home living is a lifestyle that brings a homeowner back to nature.
It is important to focus on the details of the home rather than the square footage. In the past, customers were focused on larger homes- typically above 2000 square feet, while the current trend is for smaller cabins that are well appointed with features that reflect the personalities of their inhabitants.
Justin Metz owns Brookridge Log & Custom Homes who are the authorized dealers of “The Original Lincoln Logs”.
4. Know what you’re getting before making a decision.
Joe Folker, Timberhaven Log Homes
Don’t make your selection of a log home manufacturer based on price alone. Every log home company supplies a different level of completeness and quality standard. Know what you’re getting, via a detailed estimate/quote, before making your decision.
Joe Folker is the owner of Timberhaven Log Homes in Pennsylvania, who provide high-quality kiln-dried logs for your log home.
5. Look for integrity.
Hank Schaffeld, Gold Valley Log Homes
The most important thing that anyone can do when building a log home is to obtain their log home building material package from a company that has a high degree of integrity, who does all they promise from your initial conversation through the completion of your log home.
That means that the material they provide performs as claimed and they not only have the knowledge and personal experience to assist you with guidance beginning with your home design through the construction process and completion of your home, but are able to articulate that information in a way for you to make the right decision to have the home of your dreams.
Hank Schaffeld is founder of Gold Valley Log Homes who provide expert advice in the design and planning process for log cabin homes.
6. Look for reputation, experience and respect.
Tod Parmeter, Golden Eagle Log Homes
Tod Parmeter is the founder and owner of Golden Eagle Log Homes which has been building log homes since 1966.
7. Go with high quality materials.
Jeff Elliot, Coventry Log Homes, Inc.
Always go for the highest quality materials you can afford. It makes a huge difference in the life of the home and in the long run it will actually save money and time.
Jeff Elliot is the owner of Coventry Log Homes, Inc., a family run business specializing in high quality log cabin homes.
8. Keep your logs dry!
Brett Youngstrom, Yellowstone Log Homes
Keep your logs dry! I would suggest that you are certain you are getting dry logs for your home. 20% moisture content is considered green. Kiln dried logs are usually dried to 19%. 12% to 15% is better. With lower moisture content in the logs settling becomes a non-issue. Provisions like settling jacks can be eliminated from the structure with dry logs.
Long roof overhangs, covered decks, and proper landscaping should then be included into the design to keep water off from the logs after they are installed. Roof overhangs should be at least 3 feet. Sprinkler systems should be kept well away from the logs – a malfunctioning sprinkler head can spray logs and go undetected for months.
Based in Idaho, the Youngstrom family owns Yellowstone Log Homes (http://www.yellowstoneloghomes.com/) who, since 1962, have shipped over 10,000 log cabin kits around the world.
9. Air-dried logs are superior to kiln dried logs.
Mark Long, Old Virginia Log Homes
Air-dried logs are superior to kiln dried logs. When logs are air dried correctly, typically 6-8 months, they acclimatize to the atmosphere. Meaning the moisture content in the log evens out to what it would be like when it is used in a log structure. So you get minimal movement in the home and no need for adjustments on a regular basis. Yes, there will be pops and checking, but that is normal.
Kiln dried logs are just that, the logs are put into a kiln and dried. Once the logs are removed from the kiln and placed in the atmosphere they swell up with moisture. If they are cut and put into your home at this point, there will be issues as the logs acclimate and begin to shrink. This is why many companies are now selling maintenance packages.
Mark Long is a log cabin designer from Old Virginia Log Homes.
10. Log dryness is critical.
David Gordon, Katahdin Cedar Log Homes
Before starting the purchasing process talk with past customers and see what their total experience was. Visit a couple of homes from the companies that you are considering – make sure that these are independent of the corporation. Be sure to look over the completed product and see how much the logs have settled and shrunk over the first couple of years. Dryness of the logs provided in the package is probably the single most critical factor when selecting a company.
David Gordon is Chief Executive Officer at Maine’s largest white cedar mill – Katahdin Cedar Log Homes.
11. Vertical wall shrinkage is a very important factor.
Jeff Jones, log cabin owner
The one thing I wish I’d considered before building my log home was the difference between manufactured logs or naturally harvested logs. Having now built three log homes, the vertical wall shrinkage is a very important factor, which isn’t really talked about. Sealing between manufactured logs is much easier. Also with naturally harvested logs chinking becomes more of a maintenance issue.
Jeff Jones is a log cabin owner in America.
12. Purchase a quality log wall building system.
Dorie Workman, Appalachian Log Structures
The single most important advice for building a log home is purchasing a quality log wall building system. The log wall is what makes the home sustainable for many years, so it is imperative that the logs have been grade stamped, pressure treated for wood digesting insects and decay, and designed for settling.
Dorie Workman is Vice President of Appalachian Log Structures in West Virginia. (http://www.applog.com/)
13. Find a reputable builder.
Ron Silliboy, Ward Cedar Log Homes
We think the most important tip is to find a reputable builder. Finding a builder for your new log home can be an overwhelming task and is one of the most important decisions when building your new log home. Homeowners put a lot of time in researching their dream home they want to build and they should invest the time in finding a builder to assure their log home investment is built correctly.
Ron Silliboy is head of corporate sales at Ward Cedar Log Homes who are America’s first manufacturer of log cabins.
14. Know the true turnkey cost.
Drew Prochazka, Beaver Mountain Log & Cedar Homes
Don’t buy a log home package/kit without knowing the true turnkey cost and that you have the ability to fund the entire project. All too often we hear of people who bought from company X and can’t finish their home for what the company said it would cost. There are so many variables in building a home that the customer really needs to sit down with the log home producer and the builder together to get firm costs before buying a kit.
Drew Prochazka is a business manager for Beaver Mountain Log & Cedar Homes who build premium log homes.
15. You are building a home, not just a log shell.
Stephanie Johnson, Precision Craft Log & Timber Homes
First of all, there is no single tip that will magically make your project a success. Especially when you consider that every person has their own unique goals and building parameters. But I can say that after interacting with thousands of potential homebuilders over the last 25+ years, the most common bit of advice we could give is to remember that you are building a home, not just a log shell. Make sure that you keep this in mind through every stage. From determining realistic turnkey costs to setting building schedules. Make sure you account for everything and try to keep from making assumptions.
Stephanie Johnson is a marketing officer at PFB Custom Homes who are log cabin designers and builders.
16. Protect your home from the elements.
Doug, log cabin owner
For me, I would say that the #1 most important tip is properly protecting your home from the elements (Water/rain/snow, termites, everything else). Now, this is true for every home built in the world, sure. But, log homes and cabins can incur damage from these elements far easier than traditional housing.
Doug is a log cabin owner in Georgia – United States.
17. Maximize heat efficiency.
Taylor L. Applewhite, log cabin builder and owner
Taylor L. Applewhite has built his own log cabin and has been featured in log cabin magazines and books.
18. Location, location, location.
Ruskee, log cabin owner
The most important thing is location, location, location! It took me many homes to figure that one out and it’s probably THE most important thing. Will my cabin face south? What’s the average temperature in the middle of winter? Is there a hill to block the winds? If there are high winds, where are the trees going to fall? How deep is the well-water? Like I said: location, location, location.
Ruskee is a log cabin owner in the United States.
19. Be friendly to your neighbors!
Billy Rioux, Billy Rioux Adventurer
Billy Rioux is a log cabin owner in Canada and an enthusiast with a YouTube channel where he documents his adventures.
20. Pay attention to the details.
Janet Wilson, log cabin owner
The biggest mistake I made when building my cabin was to apply the caulk to seal the logs before applying the first coat of staining. As I used an oil based caulk the stain didn’t stick very well to it and it gave an unpleasant finish. My advice would be to always apply a first coat of stain before caulking or chinking your cabin the future.
Janet Wilson a log cabin enthusiast and owner in America.
21. Understand the topic.
Janet Woods, Log Cabin Hub
The most common piece of guidance I give to people when considering building a log cabin is to really understand the topic. Buy some books, watch some YouTube videos and read some blogs on log cabins to better your knowledge to make sure you avoid common mistakes. Once you are knowledgeable on log cabins then you have a much better chance of getting the design and build right!
Janet Woods is author of Log Cabin Hub, an online community to share log cabin advice and tips.
So that’s it! 21 log cabin owners, builders, and manufacturers have shared their best tips, tricks, and secrets for making your log cabin project a success.
We really hope you have found insights and tips that you can now use and apply when building your log cabin home.
CO2 is a known indoor pollutant affecting performance in the workplace, at school, and even at the gym. Extreme levels of CO2 can lead to death, particularly in enclosed spaces such as laboratories, some hospital rooms, and breweries. CO2 can have a number of effects on home and workplace health and safety.
Controlling CO2 can also improve building energy efficiency, saving costs by up to 80%, and is even considered in the scoring of Green Star Ratings in building design.
Here, we outline 7 reasons why you should be measuring carbon dioxide levels inside buildings.
1. CO2 can kill you
Outside air has a CO2 concentration around 400 ppm and each human breath contains around 30,000ppm. As CO2 concentration around you increases, symptoms begin by causing panting, followed by tremors and loss of consciousness, and finally death.
CO2 can be hazardous in one of two ways: by displacing oxygen in the blood or as acting as a toxin.
2. CO2 can decrease productivity
In the office and classroom, elevated levels of CO2, in the range between 1,000 ppm and 2,500 ppm, have been found to decrease concentration, increase headaches, decrease performance, and increase rates of absenteeism. Generally, CO2 concentrations as low as 1,000ppm can lead to poor decision-making performance.
Although CO2 is not the only factor, elevated levels can lead to that feeling of lethargy and tiredness often associated with office workers. Studies have shown that lethargy induced by elevated CO2 can decrease performance by up to 10% for adults and over 20% for school children.
3. CO2 can increase rapidly in poorly ventilated rooms
In surveys of school classrooms in California and Texas, average CO2 concentrations were above 1,000 ppm, many exceeded 2,000 ppm, and in 21% of Texas classrooms peak CO2 concentration exceeded 3,000 ppm. Such high levels of CO2 could have a particularly adverse effect on concentration during exam periods.
Generally, where large numbers of people gather then CO2 will increase rapidly and lead to poor indoor air quality and pollution. In offices, this could be meeting rooms where a number of staff gather for extended periods in confined spaces.
Other places, such as gyms, shopping centers, cafes with soft drink vending machines, or libraries, are increasingly being recognized as indoor environments with elevated CO2 leading to poorer performance.
4. Some locations have naturally high CO2 levels and need to be monitored
There are certain locations where indoor CO2 in an enclosed room or area can potentially reach extreme and life threatening levels.
Laboratories and hospitals may have enclosed or poorly ventilated locations where CO2 cylinders are stored or used and may potentially have harmful levels of atmospheric CO2.
In manufacturing, spaces where CO2 is regularly used are also potential areas of harmful levels of CO2. Breweries can be extremely hazardous. Pockets of high CO2 can form in tanks and cellars and can quickly lead to death. Even bars, clubs and pubs, where CO2 cylinders are stored in a room, are increasingly required to monitor CO2 levels for workplace safety.
Using CO2 sensors for ventilation control can assist in these cases. However, other systems with audible and visual alarms may warn workers and occupants of dangerous levels of CO2.
5. Monitoring CO2 for energy efficiency
Facility managers are increasingly turning towards monitoring CO2 for Demand Controlled Ventilation (DVC). Ventilation units can automatically set air intake based on maximum occupancy rate of a room, office or classroom. However, occupancy is often intermittent and unpredictable and may lead to over-ventilation and energy inefficiencies. Monitoring CO2 levels and automating ventilation to intake air at pre-defined CO2 levels, such as 800ppm, will increase ventilation when it is actually needed.
One study found that monitoring CO2 for DVC saved between 5 and 80% on energy costs compared with a fixed ventilation strategy.
Other technologies to monitor occupancy level may not be as efficient as monitoring CO2 levels. For example, humidity set points, which can vary widely, change slowly and not directly reflect occupancy. Another method is to use a presence detector sensor, or PIR. This method is used widely to automatically turn on lights when a person enters a room, but this method does not detect how many occupants there are in a room. Measuring CO2, on the other hand, can determine the presence of an occupant and the number of occupants as the rate of change in CO2 levels will be higher with more occupants.
6. Improving your green building score
The Green Building Council of Australia scores up to 2 points if CO2 levels are maintained below 800ppm or 700ppm respectively. This move recognizes the relevance of optimal CO2 level for occupancy comfort and productivity.
The United States Green Building Council scores up to 2 points for indoor air quality assessment.
7. The novelty factor
Most people would not have a clue what the CO2 levels in their room are, what they should be, and how they change throughout the day with various factors. Monitoring CO2 levels with a data logger showing real-time CO2 levels is interesting. Informing your guests that you are controlling the ventilation in your building with a CO2 detector will certainly raise a few eyebrows!
CO2 technology, installation, and maintenance
There are two types of CO2 sensors.
The first is a simple detector that has either voltage or 4.20mA output that can run back to a BMS. These detectors are ideal where multiple units need to be installed and operated by a single BMS.
The second type is a transmitter. These detectors can connect directly into an HVAC unit to control ventilation. This type is ideal where only one sensor is needed.
Other types can additionally measure temperature and humidity providing a complete monitoring solution.
For more information on CO2 measurement devices, check out the Daphic Scientific Environmental Research & Monitoring Equipment site. http://www.edaphic.com.au/why-you-need-to-measure-co2-inside-buildings/
A work or learning place designed for optimal productivity leads to better performance and, ultimately, is better for the bottom line. Monitoring and controlling CO2 levels is one approach to a healthier workplace environment.
The following post is an excerpt from Mainland Aggregates Blog
Urban gardens or apartments have limited space available, but you can still grow flowers, herbs and vegetables, if you decide to set up a vertical garden.
Setting up a vertical garden may take a lot of work, but don’t get discouraged. The fruits and veggies of your labor will be well worth the effort.
You have two options when deciding to build a vertical garden:
- You can call in a specialist, like a botanist, an urban greening specialist or a bio wall designer, which will make your job very, very easy. He will do all the planning and the work and you will just have to take care of the wall afterwards.
- Or you can do it yourself. A successful garden is earned through a trial and error process. There are books that can teach you, but experience will be your best professor.
Here is a list of books that will help you through the whole process: Books to Check Out
Things to consider:
- What do you want to grow?
Flower, vegetable, herb, or fruit?
For more information on what grows best in vertical gardens, check out What Should You Grow?
- How much time, money and labor will this take?
Tending a vertical garden may require a lot of time from you. Harvest amounts depend on the square footage of your garden.One grower in California produced 500lbs worth of greens in one year from a 5 by 20 foot section. She grew vegetables and herbs such as tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchinis, basil and lettuce.This grower spent 8 hours initially to prepare her growing space. Another 30 minutes of daily hand watering for a few weeks, until her plants were large enough to use the irrigation system. And for the rest of the season, she spent 1-1/2 hours each week tying, tending and finally harvesting her vegetables.
- Where will you set it up?
– Determine whether the vertical garden will be inside your house, or outside on the garden, lawn, terrace, or balcony.
– How long does the sun shine on your location? Plants need as much sunlight as possible, so if your terrace doesn’t get much direct sunlight, you might not have the results you hoped for.
– If you choose a location near a window, you may want to consider pest control.
You will be building racks to support the plants, which will lean or attach to the wall.
– Think about the irrigation system you need to put in place and how you can set that up in relation to the water pipes inside the house. Make sure not to flood your neighbors.
- How much will it cost? Most vertical gardens are inexpensive. There are several types you can try, such as PVC, wood, metal or plastic, but none of them are pricy.An outside vertical garden can cost somewhere between $50 and $300. Inside gardens will be more expensive because you’ll need to waterproof the area.A DIY garden will always be cheaper than one designed and erected by a specialist. Don’t be afraid to do it yourself. It’s not too difficult.
Building your Vertical Garden:
- Build the Frame
A vertical garden is made of three layers, closely attached together – the frame, the plastic sheeting, and the fabric. You will want to build the structure before you hang it, which will make it easier for you take down.The frame can be built with PVC pipes which are sturdier, lighter and less expensive than metal. You can build the frame yourself, using ¾ inch PVC pipes, elbows and four-way joints. Tools and kits may be available at your hardware store.Alternately, you could use a system of wooden stacked vertical garden planters. But wood may not be the best choice because it requires pressure treating for water protection and may still rot.
- Add the Plastic Sheeting
Use expanded PVC sheets, which will act a back-up for the layer of fabric, and which is easy to attach. If you are installing on wood wall instead of a PVC, you will need to ventilate behind the wall.
- Add the Fabric
Carefully attach the fabric firmly to the frame, as this is the actual layer in which your plants will be seeded and grow and which will hold the water they need.We recommend felt carpet padding, but you can use any material that holds water and doesn’t rot.To build it:
– You will need two layers of fabric.
– Attach the layers directly to the frame with galvanized screws of stainless-steel staples.
– Make sure the layers are pulled so they don’t have any wrinkles or creases.
– Attach it firmly so that it can hold the weight of vegetables and water.
- Add the Irrigation System
It’s not possible to water vertical gardens manually like with horizontal gardens. You will need an irrigation system that will keep the fabric and the plants moist at all times.We recommend calling in a plumber or specialist for this step. Even if you’ve chosen to do this project yourself, we recommend bringing in an expert so that you don’t parch your plants or flood your house.Some water will leak at the bottom of the vertical wall. You can add more plants below the structure to capture the excess water.
- Add a fertilizer injector
A fertilizer injector will sprinkler liquid fertilizer on your plants all year long. It will make this process more time-efficient and spare you some manual labor.
- Work on the design
You’ll want to think about the appearance of your wall before you start planting. Here you have endless possibilities. If you are growing decorative plants or flowers, it will be easy to give your vertical garden any shape you want, just keep in mind vegetables are heavy.
- Plant your plants
With a sharp knife, make a small horizontal cut in the fabric of the installation.
Thoroughly clean the plants root of any soil or debris in order to keep the roots from rotting. Insert the plant into the slit you just made.
With staples, attach the fabric to the plastic back, in a not too tight, but close semi-circle, in order to create a stable and protective envelope around the plant.
And that’s it!
Pick your own red ripe tomatoes from the vine for salad, make a strawberry pie with your own fresh fruit, or read a book in the shade of your flowery, natural wall. A vertical garden is a rewarding return to nature in the middle of the crowded city.
Check out this DIY video from PopScreen on How to build a Patrick Blanc style vertical garden: