According to Building Enclosure Online:

Texas-based Priest & Associates Consulting, LLC., through an engineering evaluation, determined that current code-evaluated exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS) adhered to DensElement Barrier System are compliant with NFPA 285. According to their evaluation, it can safely replace exterior gypsum sheathing in current code-evaluated EIFS designs.

Brent Paugh, President of Georgia-Pacific Gypsum, says the acknowledgement speaks to the strength of the DensElement Barrier System: “This kind of recognition is a tremendous advancement for an important product,” he said. “And with the increased use of continuous insulation across all climate zones, NFPA 285 compliance is essential to ensure the safety of building occupants.”

What’s the big deal? This means that there is yet another substrate option that designers can opt for when implementing an EIFS barrier system for higher performing exterior cladding.

Gypsum-based sheathing is often used as a substrate for barrier-based EIFS exterior assemblies. The problem, in my experience, is that standard gypsum board products are extremely vulnerable to water and moisture intrusion. The whole point of the building’s envelope is to protect vulnerable interior materials such as gypsum wallboard from exposure to weather. So the idea of placing gypsum on the exterior of a building has always seemed counterintuitive to me.

The DensElement Barrier System is a versatile product that, unlike standard gypsum board, is water resistant, serves as a proper air barrier when properly installed, resists flame spread, and may reduce labor costs.

While I refuse to endorse any particular building product, I applaud the innovation.

Adele Peters, writing for Fast Company:

At a construction site on Google’s new Bay View campus–a few miles from its headquarters in Mountain View, on NASA-owned land near the San Francisco Bay–cranes lift tubing high in the air and drop it into holes that descend 80 feet into the ground. It’s a step that will allow three new office buildings to heat and cool themselves without fossil fuels, setting apart from nearly all existing offices, which use enormous amounts of energy to manage the temperature in their spaces.

The system uses geothermal heat pumps, relying on the steady 65-degree temperature of the ground to absorb and reject heat. Excess heat from the buildings can also be sent into the ground to be stored until it’s needed.

[…]

It’s one piece of an overall design for the campus that aims for LEED Platinum certification, the highest level possible in the sustainability rating system for buildings. Outside, 20 acres of open space will be planted with native species. Stormwater will be collected and treated for reuse in on-site ponds. (Materials will be vetted through Google’s healthy materials requirements.) The windows–which fill the space with natural light–are treated with a pattern that helps birds avoid crashing into the glass. The windows can also automatically shade themselves and darken at night to reduce light pollution. Electricity use, as in other Google campuses, will be offset by renewable energy. By using heat pumps, the company will reduce its carbon footprint even further.

Kudos to Google for making sustainability, resilience and building performance such high priorities in their building program. By the numbers:

  • Heat pumps will provide 95% of cooling for the buildings, the other 5% will be made up by a cooling tower
  • Ground temperature at the site tends to stay around 65 degrees, but by concentrating heat from the pumps, the interior temperature can be raised
  • 2,500 of 4,500 of the piles supporting the foundation will serve a dual purpose as “energy piles”
  • To pull this feat off will require 69 miles of tubing, making it the largest heat pump system in North America

According to Catalin Cimpanu of Bleeping Computer:

Since mid-September, a new IoT botnet has grown to massive proportions. Codenamed IoT_reaper (Reaper for this article), researchers estimate its current size at nearly two million infected devices.

According to researchers, the botnet is mainly made up of IP-based security cameras, network video recorders (NVRs), and digital video recorders (DVRs).

Researchers from Chinese security firm Qihoo 360 Netlab and Israeli security firm Check Point have spotted and analyzed the botnet as it continued to grow during the past month.

The way the virus works is that it scans the internet for unmatched devices and then forcibly takes control of the device. Once enough devices are added to the attacker’s command-and-control infrastructure, the devices can then be used to perform coordinated Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on targeted servers and networks.

Almost exactly one year before researchers discovered the Reaper IoT botnet the Mirai botnet was discovered, which took down most of the internet for much of Europe and North America.

Since job site cameras, connected to the internet, are fairly ubiquitous throughout the construction industry, it is possible that some construction projects are already inadvertently part of the Reaper botnet.

How about that for a risk that few project managers have considered?

Researchers at Stanford are pleased to report the following:

Thousands of miles of buried optical fibers crisscross California’s San Francisco Bay Area delivering high-speed internet and HD video to homes and businesses.

Biondo Biondi, a professor of geophysics at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, dreams of turning that dense network into an inexpensive “billion sensors” observatory for continuously monitoring and studying earthquakes.

Map shows location of a 3-mile, figure-8 loop of optical fibers installed beneath the Stanford campus as part of the fiber optic seismic observatory. Over the past year, Biondi’s group has shown that it’s possible to convert the jiggles of perturbed optical fiber strands into information about the direction and magnitude of seismic events.

In other words, our existing fiber optic infrastructure(s) can be utilized as an advanced seismographic monitoring network increasing both the quantity and quality of data available to researchers. The ultimate goal for this specific team is the development and implementation of a Bay-area wide mesh network for monitoring seismic activity in realtime.

Once again, the incredibly brilliant minds at Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH Zurich) have announced innovative processes and materials for a better built environment. Phys.org has the story:

Researchers from ETH Zurich have built a prototype of an ultra-thin, curved concrete roof using innovative digital design and fabrication methods. The tested novel formwork system will be used in an actual construction project for the first time next year.

A prototype for an ultra-thin, sinuous concrete roof using innovative design and fabrication methods has been designed and built by researchers from the ETH Zürich. The shell is part of a roof-top apartment unit called HiLo that is planned to be built next year on the NEST, the living lab building of Empa and Eawag in Dübendorf. The penthouse will provide living and work space for guest faculty of Empa. Researchers led by Philippe Block, Professor of Architecture and Structures, and Arno Schlüter, Professor of Architecture and Building Systems, want to put the new lightweight construction to the test and combine it with intelligent and adaptive building systems.

The self-supporting, doubly curved shell roof has multiple layers: the heating and cooling coils and the insulation are installed over the inner concrete layer. A second, exterior layer of the concrete sandwich structure encloses the roof, onto which thin-film photovoltaic cells are installed. Eventually, thanks to the technology and an adaptive solar façade, the residential unit is expected to generate more energy than it consumes.

Here is a video of the new ultra-thin concrete roof:

Previously, ETH Zurich was featured here on AECforensics.com for their innovative combination of robots and 3D printing. That project also involved some really advanced applications of specialized concrete.

[via ConstructionJunkie]

Lloyd Alter, writing for Treehugger:

According to Jacob Atalla of KB Home, “The best way to predict the future is to make it.” So he and others in the building industry often build model concept homes to test out ideas. Michele Lerner of the Washington Post talks to a few people in the industry to get a sense of what’s coming next.

“When we imagine the home of the future and look at innovations, it’s important to answer two questions,” said Matt Power, editor in chief of Green Builder media in South Portland, Maine. “Just like you ask yourself about relationships, you should ask, ‘Does this make your life better?’ And if the answer is yes, then ask yourself from an ethical point of view, ‘Does this reduce my impact on the Earth?’ ”

Alas, when you look at what they are actually proposing, it doesn’t have a lot to do with reducing impact on the earth. They pay lip service to energy consumption, but it is all about adding stuff.

As always, Alter has exposed the raw nerve of the building industry that ultimately holds progress up for the entirety of civilization: complacency.

Cramming more gadgets and features into the home only results in planned obsolescence, and yet more crap to eventually make its way to a landfill.

We can, and should do better as an industry.

 

Papyrus is distinctive as typefaces go, and as a result, highly recognizable. For typeface designers, that seems like the ultimate accomplishment. Unless, as in the case of Papyrus and Comic Sans before it, the typeface becomes so prevalent that it loses its luster.

I will go one step farther, and state for the record, that I believe Helvetica has suffered the same fate. It is a great font, but it is too common.  (more…)

Socrates is alleged to have asked the possibly rhetorical question, “Is the unexamined life worth living?” One might ask the same question of data — Is unexamined data worth storing?

Procore, purveyors of fine construction software, recently touched on the topic of the value of data analysis on their Jobsite blog. Duane Craig identifies “5 ways your data gives you value:”

  1. “Data captures detail. Data can tell you the who, what, when, and wheres of a construction project and bring anything else important to your attention.”
  2. “Using data to draw comparisons applies to nearly every business function and every aspect of a construction project.”
  3. “An important way to get value from your data is by distinguishing what is important from what isn’t. Weigh the value of different pieces of data. This is an ongoing process because sometimes what is unimportant today, becomes very important tomorrow.”
  4. “Your data holds the answers to many pressing business and project problems. These are all problems that require decisions to resolve them. Data supplies the necessary raw material for making better decisions that work well and quickly.”
  5. “The data that you collect, compare, assess, and use to make better decisions ultimately helps you understand. It helps you to understand the business world you operate in, as well as the project world where you spend so much time.”