IP video raises awareness of wildlife conservation through education, entertainment and endowment

Photo courtesy of American Eagle Foundation.

An IP webcam helps people engage with American Bald Eagles. Photo courtesy of American Eagle Foundation.

“Critter cams,” using Axis Communications IP cameras let viewers share in the daily lives of animals usually hidden in forests, groves or high atop trees. The high-quality streams, often running 24/7 in HDTV-quality, are an important educational tool to protect, preserve and promote awareness of wild animals and the threats they face in a changing environment.

Video plays a significant role in building an emotional bond between people and the animals they view, which can encourage continued donations to support the cause. The video also contributes to scientific discovery and aids in the rehabilitation of injured wildlife – all without disrupting animal habitats.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology: From the treetops to the desktop
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a part of Cornell University, has been actively expanding their Web streaming offerings since 2012. “The ability of birds to captivate and engage people is nearly unlimited,” said Bird Cam Project Leader Charles Eldermire. “However, not everyone has access to their world. Our cams offer an intimate perspective into the everyday lives of birds, providing something at once both ordinary and extraordinary.”

The Cornell Lab has installed Axis network cameras at sites around the country, including  a great blue heron nest in Ithaca, New York and an albatross nest in Kauai, Hawaii. In Ithaca, the great blue heron camera captured previously undocumented courtship and breeding behavior, adding scientific benefits to educational and awareness milestones already achieved.

(Watch the Cornell Lab of Ornithology install Axis cameras at the great blue heron nest here.)

Other critters that you can see online include:

Precast concrete rings create artificial reef structures

image002Wayfarer Environmental Technologies’ OysterBreak artificial reef structures use strategically placed submerged precast concrete rings which employ the oyster’s inherent nature of clustering to fill in the gaps, creating an artificial reef. The system uses stacks of specially designed concrete rings similar in size, shape, and weight to spacer rings used on manhole risers, but featuring anchor lugs and wave openings. Each ring is wet cast using an OysterKrete mix design. OysterKrete, invented by Tyler Ortego is a harsh mixture that results in a hardened concrete that resembles pervious concrete.

These living barriers become structures for shoreline erosion protection. Placed in rows two to three deep, the OysterKrete structure allows tidal water to easily move within the structure, while resisting wave action that causes shoreline erosion. In addition, the oysters ‘breathe’ the sediment and nutrients from the water, enhancing the water quality.

OysterBreak is a proprietary precast concrete system that provides shoreline erosion control using artificial oyster reefs. ORA Technologies, is the inventor of a method of shoreline control which creates semi-artificial reefs using oysters. Ortego has licensed his two inventions to Wayfarer Environmental Technologies, of Hunt Valley, Md. In turn, Wayfarer is using Oldcastle Precast as its exclusive manufacturer.

Contractors add 19,000 jobs in March, jobless rate lowest in seven years

Associated General Contractors of AmericaConstruction employers added 19,000 workers to payrolls in March, bringing industry employment to the highest level since June 2009, while the industry’s unemployment rate dropped to the lowest March level in seven years, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials warned that the pool of available workers is declining rapidly, raising the prospects for significant labor shortages if demand continues to expand.

Construction employment totaled 5,964,000 in March, a gain of 151,000 or 2.6 percent from a year earlier, compared with a rise in total nonfarm employment of 1.7 percent over that period, Simonson noted. Residential building and specialty trade contractors added a combined total of 9,100 workers in March and 103,000 (4.8 percent) over 12 months. Nonresidential construction—building, specialty trades and heavy and civil engineering contractors—grew by 9,900 employees last month and 48,800 (1.3 percent) since March 2013.

The unemployment rate for workers actively looking for jobs and last employed in construction declined from 14.7 percent a year earlier to 11.3 percent last month. Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, noted that the unemployment rate for construction workers had fallen by more than half since March 2010, when it reached 24.9 percent. During that time, the number of unemployed workers who last worked in construction declined by 1.3 million, but industry employment increased by only 445,000.

Association officials said that one reason the industry is likely to face labor shortages is because of the declining number of secondary-level construction training programs. They urged federal, state and local officials to take steps designed to make it easier for schools, construction firms and local trade associations to establish new training programs for future construction workers.

Walk-in baths earn Arthritis Foundation award

853.1665.l-Liberation_WalkIn_3260.214_LoResAmerican Standard’s line of walk-in baths ― designed for accessible and safe bathing for users with limited mobility ― has received the Arthritis Foundation’s Ease-of-Use Commendation. This award recognizes products that make life easier for people with arthritis and other physical limitations. Products undergo a multi-step testing process conducted by an independent lab of experts in the field of universal product design and evaluation.

The Arthritis Foundation created the Ease-of-Use Commendation Program to encourage manufacturers to design user-friendly products and packaging that could be recommended to the more than 52 million Americans who are affected by some form of arthritis.

Features of American Standards walk-in baths include a low threshold door, sturdy grab bar, ergonomic seat and textured floor that come standard with each model, aimed at reducing the risk of trips, slips and falls in the bathroom. Users can choose from soaking tubs to those equipped with hydro jets to maximize comfort and massaging power, soothing arthritis-related aches and pains, while also improving circulation.

Webinar to address building safety

nibsKeith A. Porter, PE, PhD, a research professor with the University of Colorado at Boulder and a Principal with SPA Risk LLC, will deliver the first in a series of webinars to be held by the National Institute of Building Sciences Multihazard Mitigation Council (MMC). Entitled, “Safe Enough? How the Building Code Protects Our Lives but Not Our Cities,” the webinar will be held Wednesday, April 23, from 12:00 to 1:00 pm EDT.

Conventional wisdom holds that greater seismic resilience of the building stock is impractical; that the public would be unwilling to pay for it; that the public has no proper role in setting seismic performance objectives; and that current seismic provisions encode the proper measures and goals of seismic performance.

However, recent projects cast doubt on these conventionalities. In light of performance expectations for new buildings expressed in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) P-695: Quantification of Building Seismic Performance Factors and embedded in the International Building Code, current design objectives leave open the serious risk that future, large, but not-very-rare, earthquakes would damage enough buildings to displace millions of people and hundreds of thousands of businesses from a major metropolitan area. Such a catastrophe would have a more severe impact than Hurricane Katrina because it could affect larger, and more economically critical, metropolitan areas.

Projects such as the San Francisco Community Action Plan for Seismic Safety (CAPSS) Soft Story Project; the Consortium of Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering (CUREE)-California Institute of Technology (Caltech) Woodframe Project; and the construction of buildings that exceed code-minimum seismic performance at marginal additional cost all suggest that better seismic resilience is practical, affordable and actually desired by the public. The way the public interpreted the 2008 ShakeOut scenario, an earthquake drill hosted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), suggests that Americans think about seismic performance differently than do structural engineers, and they expect better performance than building codes provide.

Dr. Porter will discuss how it is necessary to reconsider how to measure earthquake risk, how to properly balance risk and construction cost, and how to reflect that balance in code objectives.

A licensed professional engineer, Dr. Porter received degrees in civil and structural engineering from University of California, Davis; University of California, Berkeley; and Stanford University. He specializes in second-generation, performance-based earthquake engineering, seismic vulnerability and societal risk from natural disasters. Porter helped lead the MMC’s Mitigation Saves study, which estimated that FEMA’s natural hazard mitigation efforts save $4 per $1 spent. He served as the engineering coordinator for the USGS Science Application for Risk Reduction (SAFRR) scenarios, ShakeOut earthquake scenario, ARkStorm severe winter storm scenario, SAFRR tsunami scenario and the in-progress Haywired earthquake scenario. He also performed risk analysis for the CAPSS Soft Story Project and the CUREE-Caltech Woodframe Project.

To access the webinar, “Safe Enough? How the Building Code Protects Our Lives but Not Our Cities,” sign in on April 23 at 11:45 EDT and select the “Enter as a guest” option to join in. For audio, call 800-689-7800 and enter code 430588. Don’t be late. Only the first 125 participants will be admitted.

Sealy to Receive Ronald H. Brown Standards Leadership Award

nibsNational Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) Past Chairman Jimmy W. Sealy, FAIA, has been selected by the U.S. Celebration of World Standards Day Planning Committee to be the 2014 recipient of the prestigious Ronald H. Brown Standards Leadership Award. Sealy will be honored by members of the U.S. standards and conformance community during the U.S. Celebration of World Standards Day, to be held Thursday, October 23, 2014, at the Fairmont Washington in Washington, D.C.

Named for the late U.S. Secretary of Commerce, the Brown award recognizes demonstrated leadership in promoting the important role of standardization in eliminating global barriers to trade. The award is presented at the U.S. Celebration of World Standards Day, an annual event which honors the U.S. standards and conformity assessment community and recognizes its efforts to promote American competitiveness in a global marketplace, safeguard the environment and improve the quality of life for workers and consumers around the world.

As the Administrating Organization of this year’s celebration, NIBS nominated Sealy for his important, long-standing contributions to the development of the nation’s building codes and related standards, among other work. He has been active in the codes and standards community since 1972 and worked with all of the model code organizations. He has served on the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Fire Council, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Codes and Standards Advisory Committee, and the AIA committee for accessibility, among many other groups, and is currently the chair of the NIBS Building Seismic Safety Council Board of Direction. Mr. Sealy is a recipient of multiple industry awards, including the Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI) Alton T. Riddick Award; the NIBS Member Award and the Mortimer M. Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award; as well as the International Code Council (ICC) Bobby J. Fowler Award, which is the building code administration profession’s highest honor.

Celebrated annually, World Standards Day pays tribute to the thousands of volunteers around the world who participate in standardization activities, and helps to raise awareness of the role that standards play in addressing national and global priorities. The event has been held since 1970 and is recognized in nations around the globe. U.S. activities are organized annually by a planning committee consisting of representatives from across the standards and conformity assessment community. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC)’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) co-chair the event each year.

More information about the U.S. Celebration of World Standards Day 2014 is available atwww.wsd-us.org.

Daintree, LG reduce wireless LED lighting control overhead

p-LED-LG2Daintree Networks and LG Electronics USA recently announced that they have created a fully integrated LED lighting solution with wireless control for commercial settings. The jointly-developed system embeds wireless communication capability directly into LED drivers used in LG LED lighting fixtures, enabling seamless interaction with Daintree’s ControlScope™ networked wireless control solution. Initial LG products with wireless drivers include LED troffer fixtures and retrofit kits. The resulting joint solution is expected to yield significant savings for users, both in up-front costs and in energy efficiency following installation, benefiting also from the market-leading efficacy of LG LED troffers.

Using wireless LED drivers eliminates both the expense and installation challenges associated with using a separate wireless adapter, which was required for granular wireless control of overhead troffers in commercial and industrial buildings. Daintree estimates that, with the LG-Daintree solution, companies can expect to save up to 85 percent per fixture in equipment and labor for installing wireless communication and improve energy efficiency by up to 90 percent.

Innovative method for implementing green construction code proposed

nibsRepresentatives from across the building industry, including code officials, building owners, manufacturers, designers and energy efficiency advocates, have come together under the leadership of the National Institute of Building Sciences to develop a new approach to meeting energy efficiency requirements. This “Outcome-based Pathway,” which the group submitted as a proposed code change to the International Green Construction Code (IgCC), appears in the monograph of IgCC proposed changes that the International Code Council released this past Friday, March 15, for public review.

The Institute’s Consultative Council highlighted the “Outcome-Based Pathway” in its 2010 Moving Forward Report submitted to the President of the United States. The approach focuses specifically on the actual energy used in the building. The report notes:

The building community needs a better baseline of actual building performance against which to measure progress. More importantly, the application and use of prescriptive criteria must be eliminated in favor of stated performance goals or expected outcomes (although, after setting those goals or outcomes, prescriptive guidance to achieve them can be developed).1

The industry group specifically focused on an outcome-based approach to address a number of challenges facing the building industry:

  • Code departments have limited resources available to enforce building codes (particularly energy codes, which are not usually seen as a life safety issue).
  • Energy use is highly measurable, yet current code pathways anticipate results from designs; they do not assess actual building performance.
  • Designers do not have the flexibility to use some of the latest technologies or practices to achieve energy efficiency requirements.
  • Not all energy-saving strategies, such as building orientation, are effectively captured in codes.
  • Energy efficiency goals increasingly rely on reductions in energy use at the systems level, but the IECC has primarily focused on a component approach.
  • A growing percentage of energy uses associated with buildings are not currently covered within the existing code framework (i.e., plug loads).

The proposed code change will be heard by the IgCC Energy/Water Committee during the International Code Council’s Committee Action Hearings, to be held this April 27 through May 4, in Memphis, Tennessee.

In addition to the Institute, a number of organizations, including the New Buildings Institute, The Institute for Market Transformation and the Colorado Chapter of the International Code Council, support the proposal.

View the proposal, a section-by-section summary and reasoning statement. For questions, or to provide additional organizational support for the proposal, contact Ryan Colker.

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1. Moving Forward: Findings and Recommendations from the Consultative Council. National Institute of Building Sciences 2010 Annual Report to the President of the Unite States, 2010. 43-49.

USDA announces partnership to promote the use of wood

usdaUnited States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently announced a $1 million U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service program to provide training for architects, engineers and builders in the use of advanced wood materials. The Wood Products Council’s WoodWorks initiative will be a partner in this program.

The program is part of the president’s goal of preserving the role of forests in mitigating climate change and meets an objective of the recently-signed 2014 Farm Bill to create rural jobs. In particular, it will create a new Made-in-Rural America export investment initiative, whose goal is helping rural businesses and leaders gain new customers and develop new markets, both at home and abroad.

Using wood from sustainably managed forests helps keep carbon out of the atmosphere because wood products require less fossil fuels to manufacture than other major building materials, resulting in less greenhouse gas emissions, and because wood continues to store carbon absorbed from the atmosphere while the tree was growing. In the case of buildings, this carbon remains stored for the lifetime of the structure—or longer if the wood is reclaimed and re-used or manufactured into other products.

To encourage further advancement, the announcement also includes plans for a prize competition to design and build wood high-rise demonstration projects.

Solatube International donates daylighting to educational facilities

solatubeResearch has shown that students benefit tremendously in daylit environments. For example, a study by Heschong Mahone Group for Pacific Gas & Electric Co. tested 21,000 in three states and found those in classrooms with the most daylighting progressed 20 percent faster on math tests and 26 percent faster on reading tests in one year than those with the least. A California Energy Commission study found a 21 percent improvement in learning between those with least daylighting to those with the most.

To support increased daylight in education, Solatube International, is continuing its highly successful program to donate Solatube Daylighting Systems to qualifying schools and colleges in 2014. The program is for PreK-12 school districts and higher education institutions interested in adding daylight to their facilities, up to 10 units per organization. Nineteen of these projects were completed in 2013.

One campus that is already benefiting from Solatube’s 2014 “Operation Textbook” program is Kirkwood Community College. Students and faculty working on the SHEP (Sustainable Housing for Education Project) located at the Iowa Sustainable Village on the Kirkwood Community College campus are demonstrating the latest in sustainable design and construction. The design for the SHEP has been developed by students within the Architecture, Interior Design and Construction Management departments. These same students along with many others at the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, campus have spent the fall and spring semesters building the SHEP with a completion date of May 2014.

Designers or facility managers interested in Solatube International’s “Operation Textbook” program for donated Solatube units can email commsales@solatube.com for more information.