Lloyd Alter on some of the difficult tradeoffs inherent in green building

Once again, some thought provoking writing from longtime sustainable architect and Treehugger columnist Lloyd Alter: The best way to have our buildings use less energy is to insulate them really well. But for a long time, I have also been writing about the problems of insulating with plastic foam, even writing that Polystyrene insulation doesn’t … Continue reading Lloyd Alter on some of the difficult tradeoffs inherent in green building

Rare manslaughter conviction handed down to construction project manager for safety lapse

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 … Continue reading Rare manslaughter conviction handed down to construction project manager for safety lapse

Tracking the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire through its plumbing and sewage infrastructure

Annalee Newitz wrote an awesome piece for Ars Technica on a subject that most people would probably not care much about: Ancient Rome’s plumbing and sewage system: The ancient Roman plumbing system was a legendary achievement in civil engineering, bringing fresh water to urbanites from hundreds of kilometers away. Wealthy Romans had hot and cold … Continue reading Tracking the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire through its plumbing and sewage infrastructure

A reminder of just how much progress the AEC industry has made with regards to safety

Just a few short months ago, in May, two construction workers were killed due to unsafe working conditions at a site in Navi Mumbai, a suburb of sorts to the Sai Mannat business hub in India. While the deaths should have prompted outrage and collective demand for improving safety conditions, that’s just not the way … Continue reading A reminder of just how much progress the AEC industry has made with regards to safety

Tracing the history of air conditioning’s impact on occupant health and comfort

Patrick Sisson, writing for Curbed, wrote a wonderful article: How air conditioning shaped modern architecture — and changed our climate. He states: Air conditioning enabled our great modernist buildings to rise, but it’s also fueled today’s energy and environmental crisis. AC helped create a new building typology, one that environmentally conscious architects and designers are … Continue reading Tracing the history of air conditioning’s impact on occupant health and comfort

Does skyscraper sway contribute to “sick building syndrome” symptoms?

Upper floors in skyscrapers have incredible views, but with those views comes the occasional unnerving sensation that the building is swaying in the wind. The Ladders’ Jane Burnett writes: In a University of Exeter statement on the study, Dr Antony Darby, Head of Civil Engineering at the University of Bath, commented on how well people tolerate … Continue reading Does skyscraper sway contribute to “sick building syndrome” symptoms?

Minnesota may require building owners to register cooling towers to combat Legionnaires’ outbreaks

Legionnaires’ Disease is a pneumonia-like affliction that affects a minority of people exposed to the Legionella pneumophila bacteria. It was first identified when 221 people attending a reunion for members of the American Legion that took place around the nation’s bicentennial in 1976 fell ill. Sadly, 34 of those people lost their lives and it wasn’t until January, 1977 when the cause of the mysterious illness was discovered.

After a recent outbreak in Hopkins, Minnesota which left one person dead and 23 sick, scientists were able to utilize DNA-sequencing to conclusively determine that the cause was a cooling tower at a manufacturing center. Those infected breathed in air in which Legionella had become aerosolized as a result of the cooling tower. What’s particularly frightening is that this cooling tower is less than 3 years old and exhibited no indication of defective construction. Continue reading “Minnesota may require building owners to register cooling towers to combat Legionnaires’ outbreaks”

Faulty Geothermal Heating and Cooling System contributes to mold at historic Twain Museum

Apparently, the Hartford, CT Mark Twain House & Museum contains an amazing collection of artifacts collected by Samuel Clemens throughout his life. Sadly, however, much of that collection has been threatened by mold growth caused by a faulty HVAC system. According to Susan Dunne of the Hartford Courant: In November 2015, mold was found in … Continue reading Faulty Geothermal Heating and Cooling System contributes to mold at historic Twain Museum

Research shows clear correlation between green buildings and occupant health

Green buildings do in fact have a measurable impact on both occupant health, as well as quality of life measures such as sleep. Damian Carrington, writing for The Guardian reports on a recent study supported by a gift from United Technologies to the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: Continue reading “Research shows clear correlation between green buildings and occupant health”