Moulded expanded polystyrene (EPS) is an air-filled, closed-cell, rigid foam plastic that does not contain any hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) or hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) as blowing agents. The closed-cell structure of EPS insulation provides constant thermal resistance, is dimensionally stable and non-corrosive, provides excellent mechanical properties, and can be recycled where facilities exist.
An international design revolution is incorporating both traditional and new concepts to create bioclimatic sustainable architecture. Building energy reduction is a key goal for new and renovation projects designed to these principles, but it must be balanced against occupant well-being and the desire for fresh air and natural light. Exterior walls are being transformed from relatively simple climate defensive mechanisms to more active membranes. Innovative hybrid second-skin designs incorporating shading systems are being used on award-winning projects around the world, and these concepts could be applied to a much broader range of buildings.
With the continued evolution of the construction world, coupled with the increasingly complex nature of building projects, disputes between the various parties will inevitably arise. While the parties may resort to litigation or some other form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), an expert is frequently called on to assist the trier of fact.
Everyone has heard the old adage “silence is golden,” but just as with lighting and temperature, the comfort zone for the volume of sound is actually not zero. In fact, if the background sound level in a space is too low, conversations and noise can easily be heard, even from a great distance, impacting speech privacy and disrupting one’s concentration. Many organizations use a sound masking system to maintain an appropriate ambient sound level in their facilities, which is typically between 42 and 48 decibels (dB) in commercial interiors.
Pressure is mounting on architects and designers to create practical and sustainable projects. Clients want beauty and ease of maintenance from long-lasting products, but within a limited budget. Thoughtful design and the use of proper materials, like recycled rubber flooring, can help ensure this model is achieved. Whether it is a commercial, institutional, government, industrial, or residential building, the premise of design starts with the needs of the end-user.
In October, Canada will host the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC’s) Greenbuild show for the first time when the event comes to Toronto. Given the country’s burgeoning community of sustainability advocates, it seems fitting there will be a dedicated stream of educational sessions highlighting Canadian projects and strategies. Greenbuild 2011’s theme is “next”—as in, what are the next big leaps for sustainable design? To help ascertain the answer, the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) appointed this author to chair a team to work through a three-stage selection process established by USGBC to evaluate the abstracts.
Designing for high indoor air quality (IAQ) in both new construction and remodelling projects has become a primary objective of design professionals. This concern is due to the substantial impact indoor air has on the health and comfort of building occupants; recent studies compound the issue, revealing how much time the average person actually spends inside of homes and buildings.
For more than a decade, urban renewal has seen the renovation of former manufacturing facilities into trendy loft-style offices, condominiums, and apartments. Most of these buildings belong to the ‘brick and timber beam’ vernacular constructed in the first half of the 20th century. Many constraints govern the design of any building, but a renovation involves the most significant—the building already exists. These brick-and-beam buildings vary widely in terms of construction quality, materials, past performance, and ongoing durability.
In the last 10 to 12 years, the benefits of sustainable design and green building practices have proven effective in increasing the efficiency of energy, water, and materials use. Buildings designed by these standards also produce less carbon emission, which reduces environmental impact. Additionally, people who live and work in green buildings tend to be healthier and more productive.
Recent technological advances have made it practical to deliver concentrated sunlight deep inside buildings. This new approach to energy-efficient lighting means almost all areas of a building can be illuminated whenever the sun shines without requiring any increase in floor-to-floor height or large expanses of glazing. As a result, core sunlighting has the potential to significantly influence how the building industry optimizes green building designs.