SkillsUSA sponsor donates steel framing products

sklllsusaClarkDietrich Building Systems is again sponsoring the SkillsUSA Championships, a one-day event that pits the nation’s top technical students against each other in 99 different trade, technical and leadership fields. ClarkDietrich will support the carpentry competition through a donation of its ProSTUD(R) Drywall Framing System and RedHeader RO(™) Rough Opening System.

This SkillsUSA Championships is part of the annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference, taking place June 23-27th in Kansas City, MO. As part of the competition, nearly 75 participants will frame walls using wood and steel studs, cut and install rafters, as well as, install fascia board, sheathing and or exterior siding and trim. Contestants will be judged on accuracy, ability to read and interpret blueprints, workmanship, safety and the proper use of tools, equipment and materials.

SkillsUSA helps establish industry standards for job skill training in the classroom and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Labor. The organization serves more than 300,000 students and instructors annually. The organization has 13,000 school chapters in 54 state and territorial associations.

LG Electronics selected for DOE tech program

lg-electronicsHVAC manufacturer LG Electronics is partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on a new program designed to accelerate adoption of cutting-edge energy-saving technologies for commercial buildings. The technology is called variable refrigerant flow (VRF), and is being used in new commercial air systems. LG’s Multi V IV system uses VRF technology and brings a new level of energy efficiency, performance and flexibility to U.S. commercial office buildings, schools, hotels and hospitals.

Using the DOE TPEx program, product evaluators and purchasers can access a centralized, web-based portal for finding and sharing energy performance data for commercial building technologies such as VRF systems. This will allow them to quickly and easily identify best-in-class technologies and data for assessing their energy saving impact on a building.

Technology evaluators can leverage the raw data contained in the Technology Performance Exchange to greatly reduce the time required to evaluate technology performance and improve the quality of their assessments. Energy-saving products will thus be able to penetrate the marketplace more quickly than ever before.

LG has chosen to start work on the TPEx project by providing DOE the performance attributes of its VRF systems. With the TPEx, builders can better assess LG’s product performance, conduct financial analyses with greater confidence, and compete more effectively for limited organizational capital resources by presenting robust energy savings and payback analysis’ for approval, McNamara explained.

Meeting demand for energy-saving HVAC technology

The fourth generation in LG’s popular Multi V series uses industry-leading VRF technology that delivers significant benefits versus traditional HVAC systems, enabling improved energy efficiency by allowing occupants to choose whether to cool or heat only the zones in use. LG Multi V IV systems, whether Heat Recovery or Heat Pump systems, build on the success of the LG Multi V III, as LG’s flagship commercial HVAC system in the United States, where demand for high-performance, energy-saving HVAC technology continues to grow.

Among its many benefits, the LG Multi V IV offers users a more compact footprint and is lighter in weight than other models currently on the market. Equally significant, the new Multi V IV model allows for a wider heating and cooling operating range than its competitors and a wider range than thought possible.

LG VRF systems are engineered to significantly reduce the costs often associated with traditional HVAC products. Typical systems include large duct work, distribution fans, water pumps, water piping, cooling towers and complex controls. The LG VRF system eliminates these huge initial costs and lowers lifecycle costs. Multi V IV effectively eliminates efficiency losses experienced by current HVAC systems and provides more sustainable energy benefits. Multi V IV will help building designers achieve as many as 16 LEED* points.

Key VRF differentiators for builders and architects

The LG Multi V IV delivers a number of key differentiators to architects, commercial contractors and building owners, including:

  • Enhanced Energy Efficiency – New compressor design and optimized heat exchanger contribute to enhanced AHRI certified efficiency of up to 28.2 IEER.
  • AHRI 1230 Certification – Multi V IV is performance-certified. This ensures building owners receive verified ratings which comply with national energy codes.
  • LG Inverter Scroll – A high side shell innovation offers a more compact size for the same capacity output with greater reliability in cold climates.
  • Low Ambient Heating – Heating operating range down to -25F which provides greater comfort and saves on installation and operating costs for additional systems.
  • HiPORTM – High Pressure Oil Return removes efficiency losses and Smart Oil return eliminates timed oil recovery cycles.
  • Greater Elevation Difference – Owners can reach extra zones with an enhanced reach of 131 feet indoor unit to indoor unit and 360 feet elevation between outdoor and indoor units. This allows for more effective piping on one system and saves on installation.
  • Compact and Lighter – More indoor zones, less outdoor space. When space or access is at a premium, this equates to significant cost advantages for the owner on large projects.

LG Multi V IV systems are available now in the United States. Additional information about these current systems can be found online at www.LG-VRF.com.

Firestone Names 2014 Partner in Quality Award Winners

East Richland Elementary School, Olney, IL  Contractor:  Industrial Contracting  System:  CladGard SA, UC-14Firestone Building Products recently recognized 189 firms across the United States, Canada and Mexico with its 2014 Partner in Quality Award. The annual award honors an elite group of Firestone Building Products Red Shield(tm) Licensed Roofing Contractors for a high level of craftsmanship and the skillset required for superior roofing installations.

Firestone Building Products Red Shield Licensed Roofing Contractors are required to complete extensive product installation training. As a testament to their expertise, projects are backed by the Firestone Building Products Red Shield(tm) Warranty. Depending on the commercial roofing system, terms of the warranty can range from five years to 30 years.

To qualify, winners had to:

  • Install four warranted Firestone Building Products roofs in each of the past five years.
  • Maintain at least 1 million square feet of Firestone Building Products roofs under warranty.
  • Achieve an annual Quality Incidence Rating (QIR) of 1.5 or less (QIR measures each contractor’s performance based on warranty repair incidences per million square feet under warranty).

As part of the program, winners can participate in the Firestone Building Products Community Service Program which makes them eligible for a $1,000 annual credit to donate labor and materials for community roofing projects.

Visit the Firestone Building Products website for a complete listing of Partner in Quality Award Winners.

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:

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.

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.

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.

PNNL and PPG to develop dynamically responsive IR window coating

pnnlThe Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and PPG have been awarded up to $750,000 to design a coating that can “switch” from a solar IR-reflecting state to a solar IR-transmitting state while maintaining high levels of daylight transmittance in either condition. PPG will provide an additional $78,000 in cost-sharing.

The development of such a coating would represent a major advance compared to current thermochromic window technology, which involves coatings that darken and block visible light when exposed to high volumes of IR energy, and existing electrochromic window technology, which relies on external power sources such as electricity to balance tinting and light transmittance.

The new PPG/PNNL coating technology also has the potential to be inexpensive, which will help ensure that dynamically responsive IR windows are an economical option for use in residential and commercial retrofit applications.

The two-year project is designed to develop dynamically responsive IR window coatings on a laboratory scale. If development is successful, the product could be scaled up and potentially commercialized within several years. PPG also collaborated recently with PNNL to develop and study waste-heat recovery technologies to save energy in the glass manufacturing process.

DOE awards PPG $2.1 million to help automate PV manufacturing

ppgThe U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded PPG Industries’ industrial coatings business $2.1 million award to help design and pilot a rapid photovoltaic (PV) module assembly process that uses automation to eliminate time and labor from the current assembly process.

PPG will use the funding, delivered through the DOE’s SunShot Initiative, to develop liquid encapsulants that will enable PV modules to be manufactured without the need for capital-intensive laminators. PPG will match each dollar committed by the DOE, resulting in a total public-private investment of approximately $4.3 million in the project.

PPG is partnering with Flextronics International, Inc., a leading global solar module manufacturer, to design and test a pilot line at Flextronics’ Milpitas, Calif., facility that will produce 60- and 72-cell modules. PPG and Flextronics expect to increase module throughput by a factor of four at half the capital expense of the existing process.

The SunShot Initiative, which is funded through the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), seeks to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by the end of the decade. The PPG award is part of a $13 million investment in five projects to strengthen domestic solar manufacturing and speed commercialization of efficient, affordable PV and concentrating solar power technologies.

Collaboration key to vacuum-insulated curtainwall construction

In an effort to provide better-performing building envelopes, a collaborative effort has led to the first successful testing of a vacuum-insulated high-performance thermal curtainwall system. Working closely with Dow Corning Corporation and Guardian Industries Corp., BISEM-USA recently completed independent testing of the BISEM Vacuum Wall system.

This is the first structurally glazed unitized curtainwall in North America using vacuum insulation technology to undergo industry-recognized and accepted independent performance testing for air and water resistance, and structural, seismic and thermal performance. The system was tested in accordance with AAMA 501, as published by the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA). Completion of the commercial testing provides the proof necessary to ensure that architects can specify this solution with confidence.

The collaboration began when Dow Corning Sales Representative Chris Combs introduced the new Dow Corning Architectural Insulation Module – featuring Dow Corning Vacuum Insulation Panel (VIP) technology – to Bagatelos, an accomplished curtainwall assembler and integrator and longtime user of Dow Corning brand products. Bagatelos immediately saw the potential.

With the Dow Corning insulation technology selected for the wall spandrel, Bagatelos looked to Guardian Industries for suitable complementary vision glass options. Guardian Industries – one of the world’s largest manufacturers of float, coated and fabricated glass for the commercial, residential and automotive markets – developed a prototype for the system that combined its vacuum-insulated glass product with SunGuard SuperNeutral 68 Low-E glass coating to meet the challenging requirements of commercial high-performance wall installations. While the vacuum-insulated glass product is currently under development, Guardian has plans to commercialize it in the future.

With the latest technologies from Dow Corning and Guardian, BISEM developed the new curtainwall with a system approach, providing outstanding thermal performance and also meeting industry established performance criteria for air and water resistance, and structural and seismic performance.

The BISEM Vacuum Wall system brings together the Dow Corning and Guardian products, along with frame, gasketing and thermal break. It features removable rigid components with good thermal properties. The test chamber walls also utilized Dow Corning DefendAir 200 liquid-applied silicone air and weather barrier on wall substrates, along with the Dow Corning Silicone Transition System to ensure a weathertight transition between the curtainwall and the surrounding chamber wall substrates, allowing the test specimen to be readily isolated.

BISEM contracted with an independent testing facility, Architectural Testing, Inc., to conduct performance testing on the BISEM Vacuum Wall system mockup. Actual structural tests and validated thermal modeling confirmed that the curtainwall would remain in place on the building for both specifically prescribed and overload conditions, without over deflecting, while also providing a complete envelope that defends against air and water infiltration and can meet stringent thermal performance goals.

According to Chris Dolan, director of commercial glass marketing for Guardian Industries, collaboratively designing and testing with technologies backed by proven, warranted performance led to a fully integrated solution. Successful completion of this high-performance curtainwall is a testament to the potential for energy-efficient façades and glass systems – and the potential of collaborative projects.