Peter Yost is a building scientist and regularly blogs at Green Building Advisor. A recent post of his chronicled his adventures dealing with some sort of bio-organic growth on the recently added siding at his home — but just at the south side, not the north.

Mr. Yost’s wife first noticed the issue and began the conversation as follows:

“OK, Mr. Building Scientist, you supposedly worked your moisture magic when you re-sided the house with clapboards[…] But I am looking at little black dots all over the siding. It looks a lot like mold to me.”

You’ll want to read the full post for details, but the Reader’s Digest version is that some species of mold or mildew was relying upon the oil in the oil-based paint as a food source, rather than his wood siding. Here are some of his lessons learned:

  • Keep your eye out for oil-based primer on exterior wood trim and cladding. It’s great to order materials that have been factory-primed, but what they use can make a difference.
  • Beware of potential problems when you install a latex topcoat over an oil-based primer. If you are in any sort of “wet” climate (generally more than 20 inches of precipitation annually), these are probably not a good mix.

Stuart Kaplow posted an update at Green Building Law Update on a settlement between the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and four paint manufacturers over "unsubstantiated" claims regarding paint products marked as free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Per California law, paints sold for residential application must meet stringent requirements regarding VOC content, and as is often the case, other jurisdictions have followed California's lead.

Here's more:

The four companies, Benjamin Moore & Co., Inc., ICP Construction Inc., YOLO Colorhouse, LLC, and Imperial Paints, LLC, have agreed to consent orders that would bar them from making unqualified VOC free and emission free claims.

VOCs are chemical compounds that easily evaporate at room temperatures. All paints emit chemicals during the painting process and while drying. Some of these chemicals can be harmful to the environment and people, especially to sensitive groups such as babies and those suffering from asthma or allergies. Arguably there is no zero VOC paint, but that was not the basis of these complaints.

In these four complaints, the FTC charged each company with making “unsubstantiated” claims that their paints were free of emissions and/or that they contained no VOCs, without any qualification (e.g., after X number of hours). The FTC also charged the companies with facilitating deception by retailers who sold their paint. Additionally, in its complaints against Benjamin Moore and ICP Construction, the FTC alleged that the companies marketed their paint using “Green Promise” and “Eco Assurance” environmental seals, respectively, without disclosing to consumers that they had awarded the seal to their own products.

In the past, several paint manufacturers got busted over misleading claims regarding VOC content because while the white base paints free of any pigment could indeed meet ultra-low VOC requirements, the pigments themselves contained extremely high levels of VOCs. So a contractor trying to comply with state law might inadvertently violate that law if the customer requested any other color besides white.

David Kravets, writing for Ars Technica:

A judge on Thursday declared as unconstitutional a local Wisconsin ordinance mandating that the makers of augmented reality games get special use permits if their mobile apps were to be played in county parks. The law—the nation’s first of its kind—was challenged on First Amendment grounds amid concerns it amounted to a prior restraint of a game maker’s speech. What’s more, the law was seemingly impossible to comply with.

The federal lawsuit was brought by a Southern California company named Candy Lab. The maker of Texas Rope ‘Em—an augmented reality game with features like Pokemon Go—sued Milwaukee County after it adopted an AR ordinance in February in the wake of the Pokemon Gocraze. Because some of its parks were overrun by a deluge of players, the county began requiring AR makers to get a permit before their apps could be used in county parks.

The permitting process also demanded that developers perform the impossible: estimate crowd size, event dates, and the times when mobile gamers would be playing inside county parks. The permits, which cost as much as $1,000, also required that developers describe plans for garbage collection, bathroom use, on-site security, and medical services. Without meeting those requirements, augmented reality publishers would be in violation of the ordinance if they published games that included playtime in Milwaukee County parks.

Central to its position, Milwaukee County tried to argue that Augmented Reality apps were not protected by the First Amendment. Why?

Because according to the county, the game “does not convey any messages or ideas. Unlike books, movies, music, plays and video games—mediums of expression that typically enjoy First Amendment protection—Texas Rope ‘Em has no plot, no storylines, no characters, and no dialogue. All it conveys is a random display of cards and a map.”

This is a preliminary injunction, and ultimately the matter will be determined in trial, currently not calendared until April of next year.

According to NBC Bay Area, the situation for the residents of the Millennium Tower in San Francisco has not improved, and is in fact even more disconcerting than ever before:

The owners could take no solace from the latest data taken in June from the rooftop of the 58-story building. It shows since November, the structure unexpectly tilted two and a half inches more to the west in just the first half of this year.

The data, compiled by the ARUP engineering firm brought in by officials of the nextdoor Transbay transit terminal project, suggest the structure is tilting twice as fast as it had been in earlier ARUP data. It is now listing at least 14 inches toward the massive Salesforce building going up nearby on Mission Street.

The data also show the building has sunk close to 17 inches at its low point, settling about an inch since the problem emerged last year.

So that’s bad news, but so is the fact that the County Assessor’s office has already knocked up to $300,000 off the assessed value of many units in the building.

This story is long from being resolved, that’s for sure.

Building Enclosure Online shared the following:

After pioneering the use of virtual design in construction, Mortenson Construction has developed a first-of-its-kind augmented reality (AR) mobile app to help the University of Washington community “see” the future CSE2 computer science building – well before its doors open to students in January of 2019. Similar to the popular Pokémon Go, users can either point their smartphones at the construction site on campus – or at a printed handout if off campus – to experience a life-like digital representation of the future CSE2 building.

According to the article (which requires subscription to read, unfortunately), Mortenson developed the app in-house. I think what impresses me the most about the capabilities of this kind of technology is how engaging it becomes for stakeholders.

Back when I was working on the Pfizer Global Research & Development campus project in La Jolla, there came a point where the entire project was threatened due to changes to the company’s capital plan. One of the pieces of collateral that I used to help save the project (and 1,500 jobs in the process), was a 3D flythrough of the the campus. Once stakeholders could see themselves in the project, and could experience what it would be like to actually work in such a space, the green light came rather easily.

That was 15 years ago. The cost for doing something similar today would be about 2% of what we paid back then.

Admittedly, this is a little strange, but clearly could be a practical measure in certain parts of the world.

Dahir Insaat Corporation is a Turkish company that specializes in pre-fab cast-in-place construction buildings ranging in size from a small cottage to an entire apartment block.

The company also has developed a design concept for an “earthquake safety bed” design to quickly (perhaps almost violently) swallow the bed’s occupant whole within an industrial strength steel shell in the event of an earthquake or building collapse.

Rather than try to explain the concept any further, here is a video:

Both inside the industry and externally, there is an almost urgent message heralding the massive disruption already taking place in the world of design and construction.

The latest entrant in the race to proclaim the end of the construction industry as we know it is none other than McKinsey & Company. Historically a management consulting firm that uses both qualitative and quantitative methods for evaluating business performance, the firm has numerous clients in both the public and private sector after more than 90 years of existence. (more…)

Friday is here, and this video seems like the perfect end to this week:

I first noticed this video in a post by Mike Wehner at Boy Genius Report:

As someone who spends much of his work day trying to sift through gadget rumors and staring wide-eyed at photos taken hundreds of millions of miles away from Earth, I’m not the kind of guy who passes judgment on what anyone does for a living. That being said, I have to assume an industry trade show for something as straightforward and utilitarian as construction equipment would be a pretty dull and boring affair. But how wrong I have been.

This footage, smuggled out of some magical fairy tale land where 18-ton bucket loaders prance around like unicorns (or, slightly less interestingly, a Chinese industrial trade show) reveals just how exciting earth-moving machines can be.

While I would like to pretend that this sort of thing happens all the time at construction trade shows, sadly that is not the case. Here’s hoping this trend makes its way to US events in the near future…

Solar panels leveraging photovoltaic (PV) technology to convert sunlight into electricity are notoriously inefficient. According to research by the International Energy Agency, one way to improve PV efficiency is through the implementation of Statistical Performance Monitoring combined with some advanced machine-learning.

In their report, the researchers identified 4 different methodologies for improving solar panel efficiency, all of which depend on constant monitoring:

The first system for residential solar analytics was developed in Australia, where solar irradiation data is made available free of charge by the government. This system comprises a simple energy meter installed on the PV system feed into the electrical power‐distribution box that collects data. Using statistical analysis, the data on generated electricity is compared to an expected generation profile from the irradiation data and system configuration. The system owner has access to real‐ time electricity generation data and fault diagnosis that identifies issues and what to check if performance was not as expected.

The second system uses machine learning to predict next day’s hourly production by small residential systems for aggregation into virtual neighborhood power plants for the benefit of grid managers. This system requires only inverter data feed to the system server. The algorithms work on the inverter feed and meteorological prediction extracted from commercially available meteorological servers. No irradiation data or system configuration data is required. Applying these algorithms on yesterday’s weather history, as opposed to weather predictions, produces an immediate indication of system health. Tracking daily system health, which is simplified to qualitative ratings from A to F, enables even the smallest system to positively ascertain that the system is performing as expected or that a service call should be made.

Fault prediction is the topic of the third system described in this report, which is also based on machine‐learning algorithms. Clustering statistical methods are used to predict future faults that will affect power production. This system requires only an inverter data feed and access to historical meteorological data extracted from commercially available meteorological servers. No irradiation data or system configuration data is required. This system has proven so far to predict future 9 loss due to faults, though work continues to classify the specific fault that will occur in order to enable the owner to undertake appropriate preemptive corrective action.

The fourth method is only theoretical it seems, and involves “application of artificial neural networks.” That’s a topic for another time…