Sights to See While at AIA 2014

PoetryFoundationWhile there are a myriad of noteworthy buildings and architectural tours in Chicago, we turned to architecture critic for the Chicago Tribune, Blair Kamin, for a curated list of sights to see while in town. A Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, Kamin was a featured speaker at the Architect Live exhibit at the 2014 AIA Expo. His top recommendations include:

  • The Poetry Foundation building by John Ronan Architects
  • The Aqua tower by Studio Gang Architects
  • The Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago by Renzo Piano
  • The Sullivan Center, formerly referred to as the Carson Pirie Scott Building, by Louis Henri Sullivan

Other notable projects underway include plans by legendary film director George Lucas for a Star Wars museum and the Barack Obama presidential library. Seems like we should add another visit to Chicago in our travel plans. What are your favorite buildings in the Windy City?

AIA Trend Alert: Magical Color Technology

Valspar2While it’s the result of innovative technology — not magic — we were definitely wowed by a new mobile app for Valspar paint and architectural coatings. The app allows users to scroll through an infinite color palette to find the perfect hue. If you don’t find a color you like, pick up a node device and scan an item you’d like to match. Then, the app will identify similar colors or Valspar can custom match the color — an ideal solution when architects need to carefully match interior finishes with tile, wall coverings, textiles for furniture. Valspar is also showcasing its color-shifting Kameleon architectural coating. The product features pearlescent colors that appear to shift and morph when viewed from varied angles, creating a dazzling effect for the exterior of commercial buildings.

AIA Trend Alert: Artisan Doors

RusticaThe functionality of residential doors has long been the same — they’re installed on hinges and swing in or out. However, Rustica Hardware is redefining the functionality of doors through a broad selection of “barn doors” with exceptional performance and aesthetics. A newcomer to the AIA Expo, the company had a wide array of sliding track doors on display — from wood to glass to scrap metal —  along with unique, customizable hardware. The Utah-based company uses renewable or recycled USA grown materials, and its products are proudly manufactured in the USA.

Ready for Action: AIA 2014

aia_chicagoOn the eve of the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) annual conference, we’re rearing to go and carefully compiling our “must see” list for day one of the show. We have a full schedule of activities at the CertainTeed booth, so be sure to stop by and say hello. If you aren’t in the Windy City for the big event, we’ll do our best to share interesting insights from the exhibit hall. Drop us a line and we’ll report back to you. In the mean time, here’s what’s on our radar.

  1. Architect magazine is hosting Chicago Tribune architectural critic, Blair Kamin for a live interview session on Thursday at 11 a.m. A Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, Kamin offers a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities of urban development, public spaces and historic preservation.
  1. Bust a move at the YKK booth. The company will debut its “Do the Architect” video, offering a much-needed respite from a long day of strenuous, CEU courses.
  1. Sign the “Down with Decibels” petition to tackle unwanted noise in interior spaces. The petition was designed to rally attendees around the idea that acoustics profoundly impact the way people work, learn and heal in the built environment.
  1. Experience a whole new dimension of upcycling with Rail Yard Studios. The company transforms old railroad ties into coffee tables, bed frames and bookshelves that are design savvy and sustainable.
  1. Get schooled on classroom acoustics. ASSA ABLOY and CertainTeed will host a panel discussion at Learning Lounge #4067 at 1:20 p.m. From concept to installation to real-world testing, this team of experts has a compelling story to share about their work at a Pennsylvania elementary school.
  1. Ready to put your pedometer to the test? Take a walk to one of the many Chicago-area buildings designed by Perkins + Will. Check out their online map to get the scoop on all of the sites to see.

Looking ahead, there’s still two more days of exploration at AIA. What should we see and do next?

 

 

 

Vinyl Siding Webinar: Basics and Beyond

Kelton1By Brian Kirn, CertainTeed Siding

Since its introduction into the marketplace more than 50 years ago, vinyl siding has evolved significantly in terms of aesthetics, durability and sustainability. New manufacturing processes have paved the way for authentic wood grain textures. New technology has delivered dynamic, multi-dimensional color palettes. Recent life cycle analyses reveal strong environmental performance over the life of the product. It’s no wonder that, according to This Old House, vinyl siding continues to capture roughly 30 percent of the U.S. siding market for new homes.

To help architectural and building professionals stay up to speed on the latest developments in vinyl siding, we’re hosting a free online webinar, “Vinyl Siding: the Basics and Beyond” on Wednesday, June 18 from 3-4 p.m. EDT.

Specifically, the course will cover the:

  • Manufacturing process for vinyl siding
  • Use of vinyl siding styles to create architectural elements
  • Energy efficiency of insulated vinyl siding
  • Key environmental benefits of selecting vinyl siding as a contribution to sustainable design
  • Top tips and considerations for the installation of vinyl siding

Whether you are working with vinyl siding for the first time or have been using it for years, we encourage you to join us. Of course, questions and comments are always welcome — here on the blog and as part of the webinar.

 

MERV: Friend or Foe?

Simply put, the answer is both.

Between the impact of LEED and a more informed consumer base, healthy indoor environments are top of mind — and rightfully so. The average person spends 90 percent of their time indoors. And, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air pollutant levels can be 2 to 5 times higher than those outdoor — all the more reason to have clean, pollutant-free air at work and at home.

One of the solutions used to tackle pollutants indoors are Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV-rated air filters. With ratings from 1 to 20, these filters are installed in heating and cooling equipment. The higher the rating; the greater percentage of particles are captured on each pass. For example, MERV 1-4 is designed to filter cockroaches and debris, while MERV 17-20 is designed to capture extremely minute particles, including smoke and viruses.

Given the incredible filtering capacity of a MERV 17-20, why not make this the standard? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Your MERV-rated filter needs to be compatible with your HVAC system. If not, particles will clog the filer and airflow will slow down, requiring your HVAC systems fans and motor to work harder. The end result is that these fans and motor will burn out more quickly, putting a strain on maintenance budgets.

The lesson here is that before you jump on the bandwagon for high-rated MERV filters, be certain to consult an HVAC professional. Also, consider other complementary products and solutions that contribute to healthier indoor air quality, such as formaldehyde-scavenging drywall or low-VOC carpet and paint. Of course, you are always encouraged to chat with the CertainTeed team of building scientists as well — just drop us a note below.

Thermal Control in Building Envelopes

Like so many things we encounter in our lives when it comes to thermal comfort in a building, it is not a one-size-fits-all scenario.  That is why it is so important to understand the thermal performance of materials but also their water vapor and air resistance properties and how they will interact in the wall assembly.

Whether specifying materials for a new construction or for a renovation it is important to have a thorough understanding of how all the components in a wall assembly will play together to get the desired outcomes for the building.

Indoor comfort is critical for human health and performance and so starting with a space that has been designed for optimal thermal performance is crucial.

Join me on Tuesday, June 3 at noon for a deep dive into Thermal Control in Building Envelopes.  After this 90 minute free webinar you will be able to:

  • Describe the three modes of heat transfer
  • Understand the thermal properties of building materials
  • Describe how to calculate the thermal performance of insulated wall assemblies
  • Describe how to insulate different types of wall assemblies
  • Describe ways to increase the thermal performance and moisture durability of roofing assemblies
  • Understand the thermal performance attributes of fenestration products – windows, curtain walls, and doors
  • Understand how thermal control in building envelopes can help earn points in the LEED rating systems

This course is GBCI approved and AIA approved for 1.5 LU.  Remember to bring your questions!

 

Don’t Confuse Product R-value with Assembly R-value

Martin Holliday

Martin Holliday

In his Blog, Musings of an Energy Nerd , in the Green Building Advisor Martin Holliday, who has been in the industry for a very long time, revisits an old topic regarding the performance claims of a certain type of insulation that we call bubble wrap. The performance claims are greatly misunderstood by most people due to the ignorance of even semi-professionals to the specifics upon which these claims are based.

The bubble wrap claim of an R-value of 8 is usually based upon its performance in an assembly not as a material by itself. They do not usually describe the assembly in which this rating is achieved when they state that performance. These products have a radiant barrier component to them and if you attend my webinars where we discuss heat flow, air flow and moisture flow – this is one of three modes of heat flow – you know that radiant barriers only work when installed adjacent to an air space. When you look at a project where they say that the product has a R-value of 8 they may have failed to mention that it was installed over spacers over a 2 inch air space when it was tested. You may not have that same scenario in your assembly.

In his article, Martin provides examples of claims that have been proven false. What was insightful to me regarding these claims is that the false claims are being repeated or made by the big box retailers who carry significant weight with consumers and DIYers. This is problematic because claims being made by a large influencer means consumers are being misled and installing a product that they think is an R-8 material when it is really an R-1 material. When their energy bills skyrocket, they are forced to redo the work and pay again to make it right.

The manufacturers have been held accountable for false claims, but who is monitoring or holding accountable, outside of Martin, when false claims or misleading information is being given to consumers at a retailer?

That is one of the reasons that using a professional contractor or installer is money well spent.

The Risks of Poor Acoustics in Healthcare Settings

CTC_Gyptone_Big_Curve_yellow_818x474Longer hospital stays, higher readmission rates, unnecessary medical errors, high stress among staff — these are just a few of the consequences of unwanted noise in healthcare settings. It is estimated that ambient noise levels in healthcare facilities have dramatically increased since 1972. In a UK survey conducted by the National Health Service, 40 percent of hospital patients cited noise was a major annoyance during their stay—outranking other factors such as cleanliness, quality of food, privacy and amount of staff. Additionally, new research indicates that the risk of a heart attack increases when measured noise levels exceed 65 decibels.

The good news? There are solutions. Join me on Wednesday, May 21 at 2 p.m. EST for a one-hour webinar dedicated to improving acoustics in healthcare settings. You can register for free here and earn AIA and USGBC credit.

Specifically, the Ceilings in the Healthcare Segment course will cover:

  • How evidence-based design is driving healthcare facility construction
  • Strategies for optimizing indoor environments for the best patient outcomes
  • The role of sound attenuation in protecting patient privacy
  • LEED® for Healthcare as it relates to ceilings and acoustics
  • Facility Guidelines Institute guidelines for ceilings in healthcare environments

The simple truth is that there is no excuse for poor acoustics in healthcare settings. Solutions for better acoustical control not only exist but are in reach — however, we need to ban together to truly make a difference for patients and hospital staff alike. To that end, we recently launched the “Down with Decibels” campaign and encourage you to join the movement.

 

 

 

Home Remodeling Month: A Time to Shine

Home-Remodeling-Projects-wpckiPinterest, Houzz, Facebook, Twitter — each and every day I see amazing home transformations that delight and inspire. I’m constantly in awe of the skill and craftsmanship behind these remodeling projects. And, while smaller scale projects are suitable for ambitious DIYers, there’s something to be said for hiring a professional remodeler and getting the job done right.

Both the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) issue a rally cry during the month of May to recognize the work of professional remodelers and encourage homeowners to tackle a long-awaited renovation or needed repair.

Coined “National Home Remodeling Month,” both NAHB and NARI offer a host of resources to help remodelers shine and boost their bottom line. From logos, to social media posts to press release templates, there’s a myriad of tools that remodelers can use in their local markets. All of these promotional materials offer a unique way for remodelers to sharpen their competitive edge.

Also, this is a great time for remodelers to revisit the annual Cost vs. Value Report published by Hanley Wood and share this valuable information with their customers. The report outlines the remodeling projects that result in the greatest return on investment. For example, here’s a rundown of a few high-ranking projects from the most recent report:

Type of Project Return on Investment
Entry Door Replacement 96.6%
Deck Addition 87.4%
Garage Door Replacement 83.7%
Attic Bedroom 83.4%
Vinyl Siding Replacement 78.2%

Overall, remodelers bring curb appeal, comfort and value to our homes and that’s certainly something to honor and recognize during the month of May. Do you have an interesting remodeling project currently underway? If so, share you story here!