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.

Retrofit Magazine shared the following major construction safety news announcement:

The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHSB) has voted to adopt the Iron Workers (IW) safety standard updates for reinforcing steel and post-tensioning activities. California is the first state-approved OSHA plan to work with the IW to reform existing safety standards. The IW Safety and Health Department has been working with the IW Department of Reinforcing Steel and industry stakeholders such as the Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute (CRSI), National Association of Reinforcing Steel Contractors (NARSC), Post-Tensioning Institute (PTI)and the Western Steel Council (WSC) to reform existing standards since 2010.

In 2013, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) updated its A10.9 Concrete and Masonry standard to reflect reforms the IW Safety and Health Department and the industry stakeholders proposed. As part of the 2017 ZERO Incident Campaign commissioned by the IW General President Eric Dean, the IW Safety and Health Department is pursuing updates to the 1971 federal OSHA standard to prevent incidents and fatalities. It continues to pursue new reinforcing steel and post-tensioning standards in other state-approved OSHA plans throughout the country.

Iron Workers International is applying pressure to update federal safety guidelines that date back to the early 70s, that it feels are outdated. Accordingly, the organization cites a direct relationship between lax safety regulations/enforcement and injuries.

Specifically, the 1971 OSHA standards fail to address modern methods of steel reinforcement erection and post-tensioning.

The new California safety standards are due to go in effect beginning in January of 2018.

[Via: Construction Dive]

Shane Hedmond, at Construction Junkie, recently shared the following:

Just last week, an Encino, California man was sentenced to 6 months in county jail and 18-months of supervised release after an excavation collapse killed one of his employees, according to the Ventura County Star.  The project manager, who was acting as an unlicensed contractor at the time, faced a prison term of up to 4 years. The man was officially charged with involuntary manslaughter and causing the death of an employee from violating a health or safety standard in July of this year.

On the one hand, stories involving serious injury and/or death from construction job site mishaps are seemingly increasing, not decreasing as one would expect from all the hype around safety in the industry. On the other hand, this story is unique in that in the many cases I’ve been involved in where a construction worker has been injured or killed on site, it is rare for there to be any real personal accountability.

Construction is still very dangerous work, despite decades of a “Safety First” mentality. I really appreciate Hedmond’s closing paragraph on the topic:

Bottom line is: if you’re a supervisor, you should never allow your employees to work in an unsafe excavation and if you’re an employee, you should never think you’re safe in an excavation that is not sloped, shored, or benched. 2016 saw a sharp spike in the amount of trench collapse deaths, more than doubling that of 2015, so there’s still plenty that needs to be done . There are plenty of tools and resources availablethat explain how to dig a safe excavation, as well.

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.

 

Concrete is a really amazing building product that provides strength and protection, particularly when reinforced with steel, or when combined with various admixtures. Unfortunately, concrete is extremely costly to produce in terms of its environmental impact.

By some accounts, concrete production results in the release of a ton of carbon, for every ton of concrete. For that reason, researchers are constantly looking at ways to improve concrete’s sustainability while still benefitting from its contribution to more resilient structures and assemblies.

To that end, researchers at the University of British Colombia have developed a novel new cementitious concrete-like product that has some amazing properties. ArchDaily’s Patrick Lynch has more:

Called EDCC (eco-friendly ductile cementitious composite), the material is engineered at the molecular level to react similarly to steel – with high strength, ductility and malleability. When sprayed onto the surface of traditionally poured interior concrete walls, it reinforces against seismic intensities as high as the magnitude 9.0-9.1 earthquake that hit Tohoku, Japan in 2011.

“We sprayed a number of walls with a 10 millimetre-thick layer of EDCC, which is sufficient to reinforce most interior walls against seismic shocks,” says Salman Soleimani-Dashtaki, a PhD candidate in the department of civil engineering at UBC. “Then we subjected them to Tohoku-level quakes and other types and intensities of earthquakes—and we couldn’t break them.”

Combining cement, polymer-based fibers, fly ash and other industrial additives, EDCC is also surprisingly environmentally-sustainable – nearly 70 percent of the cement required in traditional formulas is replaced with fly ash, a prevalent industrial waste product.

Here’s a video:

Television, unless it is available to stream via Hulu, Netflix or HBO Go, isn’t something I watch much of. CBS apparently aired an impressive program highlighting the impact of the skilled labor shortage on the construction industry, and the resulting impact on the rest of our economy and infrastructure.

Here’s an excerpt:

America’s economy has a growing labor crisis — a shortage of skilled construction workers. These men and women — carpenters, plumbers, electricians and masons — put a roof over your head. They’re getting harder and harder to find, at a time when — with two devastating mainland storms in the past month — they’ve never been more needed.

“Over the last four years, we’ve seen rising rates of open jobs,” said Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Homebuilders. “In other words, there’s a help wanted sign put out by the builder or the remodeler, and they simply can’t fill it.”

Where does the shortage come from? In short, the “Great Recession” had a lot to do with it:

The 2008 recession hit on homeowners, and homebuilders, hard. More than 1.5 million residential construction workers left the industry. Some changed careers; others simply retired. Many immigrant workers went home and never came back because of tougher immigration laws.

Of those 1.5 million workers that left the industry, reportedly on about half have returned.

Here’s video:

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.”

 

San Diego’s Building Industry Association played host to an outstanding and dynamic presentation earlier this morning on the topic of energy and the 2016 California building codes that went into effect at the beginning of this year.

The panelists included a great mix of building professionals and thought leaders that don’t merely speculate on the impact of green building — they live it:

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