March 2017 - FastPartitions

Archive for March, 2017

How Smart Building Technology Trends Improve Construction

smart building technology

Technological advancement, environmental concerns and the desire to do things more efficiently, have combined to change the way buildings are constructed. Building design has gone full circle from what was a decade ago, and it’s no longer enough to just build. The trend today is to build smart.

WHAT ARE SMART BUILDINGS?

A smart building is any residential or commercial construction in which automated processes are used in controlling the lighting, security, ventilation, air conditioning, heating and other systems. To achieve such automation, sensors, actuators and microchips are used. They help to integrate lighting, energy meters, water meters, pumps, heating, fire alarms, chiller plants and other infrastructures within the building.

All over the world smart building technology has been proven beneficial. The technology has been successfully applied in a great variety of facilities including: hotels, hospitals, schools, stadiums and many other commercial construction designs.

BENEFITS OF SMART BUILDINGS

At its heart, smart building technology is data management for to improve reliability and performance. Smart building tech helps architects to design the optimal utilization of building space and to achieve maximum energy efficiency.

With easy adaption and many great benefits, it’s no surprise that current trends indicate a bright future for the smart building technology market.

 

 

Apple Park Construction, Tech Leaders Make Huge Strides in Renewable Energy

renewable energy

Clean energy has been an increasingly important topic in the U.S. Recent attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget have created more fuel for the flame of environmental activism.

While there is much confusion and concern, there is still great progress being made. Private sector tech leaders Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple are pushing for 100% clean energy-run operations.

Making headlines and inspiring activists, Apple’s new headquarters, “Apple Park,” has been hailed as the world’s biggest building with all-natural ventilation. By April of this year construction will be complete and over 12,000 members of the Apple crew will be relocated to the 2.8 million square-foot metropolis.

THE WORLD’S LARGEST NATURALLY VENTILATED BUILDING

Over in Cupertino, Calif., Apple Park is massive. It looks like a spaceship with a circular, ring-shaped design and four stories. The new headquarters rests on a 175-acre campus, in the heart of Santa Clara Valley. Apple has taken a miles of unremarkable sprawling asphalt and turned it into a haven of greenery. In addition to earning the global title for ventilation, it’s also clad in the world’s largest panels of curved glass. Apple Park has been envisioned as a capitol of creativity and collaboration, a beautiful alignment with the highly-cultivated Apple culture.

The entire space has been designed to inspire the team while benefiting the environment. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, has described the building as “luminously designed,” to foster creativity. He believes they have achieved the most energy-efficient building of its kind on the planet.

The huge multi-billion dollar building runs on 100% renewable energy. With all of its energy conservation features, they won’t need to use air conditioning or heat for nine months out of the year. As part of its huge renewable energy initiative, Apple Park boasts its own on-site solar installation. It’s 17 megawatts of solar and the largest on-site solar facility in the world.

For those who have done their research, you may be familiar with the Russia Tower skyscraper project that was planned for Moscow. It’s the top result when you search “world’s largest naturally ventilated building.” However, that project has been reported canceled. Also worth noting, the same architectures, London firm Foster + Partners, has designed Apple Park.

Fosters + Partners architecture thrives on environmental performance. The belief that quality of surroundings has a direct influence on quality of life drives their building designs.

In memory of the iconic Apple founder and leader, a Steve Jobs memorial theatre has been constructed on the highest hill overlooking meadows and the main building. It’s a 1,000-seat auditorium created with a futuristic spaceship design. Beautiful 20-foot glass cylinder supports a metallic carbon-fiber roof. The theatre covers 165 feet in diameter. Jobs would have turned 62 on February 24. With a primary placement in the campus, Jobs great legacy will be honored through generations of innovative thinkers.

Some exciting perks for Apple employees include a 100,000 square-foot fitness center, R+D facilities as well as walking and running track amidst the greenery. In line with the all-natural theme of creativity, Apple park scenery features an orchard, meadow and pond.

If you’re ever looking for some additional inspiration, you’re welcome to pop in to the campus whenever. Apple’s new headquarters includes a visitor’s center. There’s a café and store that the public is welcomed to explore.

TECH LEADERS AND RENEWABLE ENERGY PROGRESSION

Apple Park brings renewable energy into the spotlight in a positive way. With excellent tech leaders like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon pushing forward, others will be inspired to do so as well.

In the future, the servers handling your Google Maps requests and Gmail needs will use only emissions-free energy. Last December Google promised the public that it would serve the planet through its use of renewable energy. At the end of 2016, Google committed to using 100 percent renewable energy for 2017. With all the wind and solar power they’ve been acquiring, they plan to hit their mark.

Earlier this month Amazon announced its commitment to clean energy. They will be installing solar panels in 15 of their fulfillment centers in the U.S. alone. Amazon executives plan to expand that to 50 solar fulfillment centers around the world by 2020.

Right now they have solar panels at fulfillment centers in California, Delaware, Maryland, Nevada and New Jersey with capacity to power 80% of the needed energy. Additionally, Amazon has wind and solar farms in Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia that are powering Amazon Web Services data centers.

Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, said they’re looking for global partnerships. With diversity in portfolios, he believes they can easily attain a win-win scenario with low business costs and savings for their customers.

Social media giant Facebook has also been scoring really well in Greenpeace, earning a “radical improvements in transparency” report. To further their green goals, they have data centers in Clonee, Ireland and Los Lunas, New Mexico being constructed to run entirely on clean energy.

WHY RENEWABLE ENERGY OPERATIONS MAKE SENSE

What’s great about all these tech leaders moving towards renewable energy, it’s more than just an excellent public image. It just makes sense. Renewable energy is getting cheaper and cheaper, providing clear benefits for company’s bottom line. Since 2012, solar energy prices have dropped by 80%. Similarly, wind power has dropped 60 percent. Solar and wind power are starting to compete with natural gas and coal for affordability as well as accessibility. Additionally, clean energy is great for companies managing their future expenses. Wind and solar projects are typically certified on 10 or 20 year contracts.

These leading giant companies are doing their part in helping the world progress in our environmental responsibility. Overall tech companies are making huge progress in clean energy. They have accounted for two-thirds of all corporate renewable deals since 2010. Last year renewable energy investments hit a new record at $286 billion, which has really helped to drive costs down. With cheaper costs and inspiring leaders, renewables are more appealing than ever.

Choosing Music for Your Commercial Restroom

Commercial bathrooms

We are familiar and pleased with the calm and peaceful humming in the elevators – even when there is no voice to the sound. Why not take that comfort and create not just a restroom, but an entertainment abode that is void of worries? Apart from the cold droplets of water rushing down the shower, nerve calming country or rock music should rain down in a commercial restroom.

For commercial space, an appealing and inviting bathroom is important in pleasing your customers and visitors. For entertainment and fun, it is a good idea to spice your restroom and bathroom design up with some song lyrics and make your customers glad they stopped by.

Having music integrated into your commercial restroom can go beyond a place for comfort but a place that creates a charming ambiance. Restaurants, bars, and clubs that are trying to create certain image pipe the music from their dance floors into their bathroom because they don’t want their customers to miss a moment of the fun. But it is recommended that the sound should be kept low for bathroom users.

For public and commercial restrooms such as stadiums, stores, malls and offices, some quiet music will help create a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere. You can include some of the songs listed below or some that you will suit the types of customers you have. Avoid harsh, controversial and offensive lyrics songs. Your commercial bathroom music must appeal to visitors.

Here is a research playlist from a wide range of genres. Some of which are not popular. They were fun to discover and hopefully, you and your customers will find them fun too.

“Bathroom Sink” by Miranda Lambert

This is probably the best song for any restroom. This deep-south country song speaks the thought that run through our minds and head. The whole song revolves around the bathroom sink.   The bathroom sink is where a girl worries and puts on the smile as she forgets the whole worry behind her.

“Mirror in the Bathroom” by English Beat

Judging from the video of this song, it is the best musical tribute to the restroom we found in our search. There were even bathroom partitions in the video.

“She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” by the Beatles

It is never easy to say the inspiration behind the song, this classic song is a perfect song for any restroom settings and more importantly, there is a “bathroom” in the title.

“Dirty Fingernails” by Modest Mouse

This selection falls more on the rock side, this song by Modest Mouse is a reminder of the importance of washing your hands after using the restroom.

Allowing users of your commercial restrooms to feel relaxed and comfortable is important. The combination of clean, efficient bathroom partitions, attractive designs, and cool music play their part in creating an appealing bathroom design.

 

 

Augmented Reality Takes Huge Strides in Real-World Applications

AR tech strides

Back in the 1930s, Science fiction author Stanely Weinbaum was considered a “visionary” for his uncannily modern story about the experience of virtual reality. Weinbaum’s vision included user goggles and holographics for immersive smell, taste and touch. About 30 years later in 1960, Morton Hellig produced a “Telesphere Mask” with stereoscopic 3D, widened vision and a stereo sound component.

Through decades of futuristic experiments, the immersive technology wasn’t catching on. Even in the early 1990s, the consumer market wasn’t ready. The SEGA VR glasses (1993) and Nintendo Virtual Boy (1995) are memorable immersive failures. However, by the end of the 1990s, the Matrix film series hit theaters and brought the concept of a simulated reality into the mainstream.

Ideas for immersive reality have been around for nearly a century, but until now the inventions have received little-to-no attention.

Today immersive reality investments are skyrocketing.

Two years ago, immersive reality investments hit $700 million. Then up to $1.1 billion by the end of 2016. Aside from exciting gaming experiences, extensive real-world uses are being realized. This leads to extensive consumer value, which results in a profitable marketplace.

Real-world applications make up 54.5% of the immersive reality market, according to analysis firm Quid. While VR moves in a more commercial phase for entertainment, AR shows significant potential for practical uses.

What was previously considered “science fiction” is now widely accepted throughout many industries. From uses in cyclist safety and creative design to education and medicine, AR is developing to make our world a better place.

WHAT IS AUGMENTED REALITY AND WHY DOES IT MATTER? 

At its core, AR provides a digital overlay of information into the physical world via smartphone or headset. This allows for designers or researchers to graph out and interactively visualize what isn’t already there.

AR provides many beneficial uses in the world of architecture and design.

The HoloLens glasses along with the DAQRI Smart Helmet show great promise for architect efficiency and for increased safety in construction. Through creating virtual experiences, skilled workers-in-training can practice highly-dangerous scenarios without any real risk. This represents huge leap forward for the construction industry. Construction worker deaths account for one in every five on-the-job deaths, according to OSHA, making it the most dangerous industry in the nation. The majority of these deaths and injuries are a direct result of human error and often within the first year of a worker’s experience. This illustrates the crucial need for safe and effective training. AR can help.

AR tech is also rapidly progressing in other real-world applications such as research, education and medicine.

The healthcare market is ripe for AR and VR uses. While healthcare costs have steadily increased, perhaps AR devices will help to provide better and cheaper medical attention. This is definitely a case for intelligent optimism about our future.

Ideas and practical applications in the medical field are only just being discovered. Some examples include Accuvein, ARnatomy and Vipaar. Here are some examples of ways that AR tech is already playing a significant role in managing and curing illnesses:

Similarly, more helpful AR uses in education are being realized every day. When it comes to various learning styles, each child is unique. However, regardless of the learning style, it’s understood that the more senses which can be used to process information, the better.

Augmented reality helps to improve classroom learning through extensive interaction. Imagine learning about the sky through Google Sky Map (a popular augmented reality app). Suddenly astronomy has become even more interesting, fun and accessible.  The app allows you to identify stars and constellations simply by using the camera on your smartphone.

Do some research, and you’ll find tons of fun new ways to learn with AR. FETCH! Lunch Rush, GeoGoggle, ZooBurst, and Acrossair are just a few examples of kid-friendly AR learning experiences. Again, the tech trend is still extremely fresh in the education industry. But already there are tangible benefits to encourage more interesting and interactive early education experiences.

ADDITIONAL INDUSTRY USES FOR AUGMENTED REALITY

Augmented Reality differs from Virtual Reality in the partialness of experience. In Virtual Reality, you may be standing in one room, but all of your sense have zoomed you into an entirely different environment. You hear, see and interact with a whole new world. This makes for excellent exhilaration and gaming experience. One man even set up his VR set with a stationary bike to simulate a biking trip through Europe.

Journalism leaders have gotten excited about uses for immersive reality in storytelling. In January the New York Times announced their desire to incorporate AR projects into their real estate and cultural coverage.

In the dangerous world of cycling, AR is here to help. Everysight recently announced Raptor AR sunglasses which provide a wide range of valuable information to cyclist without obstructing road vision. Now riders can safely skim crucial data in an ultra-convenient way.

Many will remember the popular AR game Pokémon Go that gained serious attention last summer. Users were prodded to roam their neighborhoods and cities “catching” Pokémon characters with their phones.

There are many other excellent AR apps that increase daily efficiency and life enjoyment. Despite the drastic AR evolution through the past decade, technicians have barely scratched the surface for its future life incorporation.

WHAT’S THE FUTURE OF AUGMENTED REALITY? 

All this excitement leads us to question: where is all this development headed to?

What can we expect in the future for AR? It helps to analyze trends and cycles from past technology disruptions. Much like the development of cell phones, market projections include smaller and faster versions. But that’s just the beginning of what may unfold in the future.

The cell phone industry was disrupted when phones merged with the internet. AR technology has the beginning of a serious disruption with multiple emerging technologies, such as the Internet of Things, 3D printing and artificial intelligence. It will be exciting to watch its progression as engineers begin to interface, integrate and converge AR with other technologies.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has openly compared AR to smartphones. Though specific plans are secretive, Apple has been investing in AR and developing product prototypes.

Tech companies are pouring investment dollars into AR because of its emerging value. Smart business owners will incorporate immersive tools to become the industry leaders of tomorrow. What now seems like a clunky device, may soon be similar to the sleek and sexy iPhone in your back pocket.

5 Smart Strategies For Bathroom Remodeling

smart strategies

Many people dream of a bathroom with maximum comfort that befits their personal style. However, many settle for less because the budget for such is a nightmare. You can make your dream a reality without spending more than you budget.

The solution is bathroom remodeling. A midrange bathroom remodel is a great investment. Instead of thinking of a new bathroom, why not remodel? You will be glad and joyous that you updated your bathroom.

Here is how to get the bathroom of your dream without straining your pocket:

1.     HAVE A PLAN AND STICK TO IT

Bathroom remodeling leaves no room for improvisation. Before you proceed, think careful about how you will utilize the space, the materials and features you want and most importantly, your budget.

It is that you spend up to six months planning and evaluating before beginning work. Doing this, you have a perfect picture and guideline for your decisions. Once the process begins, stick to the plan, no room for mind changing. Alterations to the initial plan will only add costs and make you spend more than you budgeted. If you are poor at planning, hire a designer. A professional designer will make sure installers and contractors work in an orderly fashion.

2.     STICK TO THE OLD FOOTPRINT

Sticking to the same footprint and installing new plumbing fittings near existing plumbing pipes, save you demolition and reconstruction costs. The dust and debris produced during the remodeling will be reduced too.

3.     PRIORITIZE LIGHTING

While multiple shower heads and heated floors are fabulous additions to a bathroom remodel, few features make a bathroom satisfying than beautiful lightning. Funny enough, lighting installation cost only a fraction of the price of other amenities.

If you plan to shop for bulbs, then you have to pay attention to lumens. Lumens is the amount of light you get from a lightning bulb i.e. the brightness. For this bathroom task, the lightning research center recommends:

4.     CONSIDER VENTILATION

Bathroom ventilation is vital for removing excess humidity that makes bathroom slippery, fogs mirrors and enhances the growth of mold and mildew. Mold control and humidity are important for maintaining a healthy bathroom. Mold remediation is costly plus it can cost you your cabinets and painted finishes.

 5.     STORAGE IS ESSENTIAL

Bathroom storage is usually a challenge because many don’t think about it until the toilet, sink, and shower are installed. After these installations, there is little space left for storing toilet paper, towels and body products. Here are tips to create storage space;

Artificial Intelligence Continues to Redefine Work and Education

replicate the human brain

Artificial intelligence is gaining widespread momentum at a rapid rate. Machines recently attained voice and image recognition. Think Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa as well as Facebook and Google accounts. It’s fresh. It’s new. And it’s slowly creeping into bigger roles of our everyday lives.

AI can be broadly-described as a computer system designed to interact with the world through capabilities and intelligent behaviors. AI’s developing usefulness is striking, especially in light of some recent successes.

In February 2016, existing artificial networks were considered to be much smaller than the 100,000 neurons in a human brain. However, in March Google’s computer system “AlphaGo” blew the waters for the possibilities of machine learning. It beat the world’s best human, Lee Sedol of South Korea, at the strategy game “Go.”

For fans of 1997 chess-champion Deep Blue, this may seem like a small achievement. However, given the difference in total possible game outcomes (that’s 10120 for chess versus 10761 for Go), the progress is astounding. To put this into perspective, our universe is composed of some 1080 atoms.

Instead of teaching AlphaGo how to play the game, Google programmers built a model brain that learned how to play Go autonomously. Google programmers didn’t explicitly teach AlphaGo the game. You might be asking yourself right about now, “Why the hell is it so important that computers can win board games against Asian men?” It’s not about the game. It’s about the development of AI and the “Neural Network,” modeling the human brain and nervous system. It’s about how we can solve our own problems and develop a better world.

AI constantly grows in ability to improve lives, transform industries and safeguard the planet. With great potential and massive project investments, the World Economic Forum listed AI as a “Top 10 Emerging Technologies of 2016.”

AI trends

NEURAL NETWORK: REPLICATING THE HUMAN BRAIN

Cognitive functions such as learning, problem solving and language use are the current strong suits for AI machinery. As every aspect of learning can be broken down into precise details, we can teach machines to simulate it.

The Neural Network comes up quite a bit in current AI discussions. Engineers are working to replicate the cognitive learning abilities of the human brain. As they get closer to their mission, the world around us will begin to shift.

For starters, millions of jobs will become obsolete. According to a World Economic Forum projection, AI will eliminate 5 million jobs around the world by 2020. For many that prediction may be terrifying. Those who don’t understand the full picture may be shaking in their seats. While many of the current jobs will be eliminated, that doesn’t mean there suddenly won’t be any jobs. What it does mean is that the nature of the jobs will change. In the future, humans will be hired more pointedly based on their ability to work with the robots.

This all leads back to our education system. Computer software skills will become more important. President Obama recognized this and required all U.S. students to be taught computer science. Our early-development teaching programs will begin shifting to accommodate the changing needs of the 21st century humans.

In reflection of the growing workforce needs, Udacity recently announced an Artificial Intelligence Nanodegree program. With industry giants Google, AT&T, Facebook, Salesforce and Cloudera in collaboration, the online program teaches in-demand skills such as data science and machine learning for careers in AI engineering.

Aside from learning to build and work with machines, education of the future will focus further on those qualities that make us uniquely human, such as empathy or creative communication. For example, our ability to facilitate “deeper human” interactions with many different people will become more valuable.

It will be a quite long time before AI engineers learn how to automate human feelings, if that’s even a possibility. For this reason, humans will be always able essential in working with robots to fill in the gaps of conscious awareness. For example, an AI bot working at a marketing firm will be able to identify prospective customers and expedite daily tasks pretty simply. However, they won’t be able to fully process the audience’s attitudes, emotions and preferences, which is essential in building client trust.

Think about baristas and bartenders who provide an almost “therapeutic” human element to making coffee and mixed drinks. While machines could easily be used to make tasty beverages and to give spot-on suggestions, they’ll never be able to recreate the warmth of genuine human interaction. Creative design professionals or the performing arts industry. While neural nets may someday be able to “soften around the edges” in imagery and design, creativity remains one of the most difficult human element to mimic.

While we can continue learning how to work with robots, they can also be excellent teachers for us. Pearson, the world’s largest education company released the proposal, “Intelligence Unleashed: An argument for AI in education.” They imagine several practical ways AI robots could integrate in the learning environments. The top four ideas include:

Yes, the discussion of a robotic “lifelong learning companion” has been broached. What used to be your child’s “imaginary friend” could become a brilliant feedback loop that would “learn” how you learn, what you know, and what interests you.

FUTURE AI: CURING CANCER AND SOLVING ENVIRONMENTAL CRISES

What’s really amazing is that if we recreate the greatest minds in our current world, imagine what that could mean for big picture problems such as curing diseases and solving climate change?

For many AI companies, this is the goal. Technicians are not simply trying to entertain with board games or clear up repetitive office tasks. They’re trying to improve our planet by solving complex problems with artificial intelligence. While there’s still ways to go, the future is promising.

Investment in AI has accelerated from $282 million in 2011 to $2.4 billion in 2015. In 2016 an additional $1.5 has been invested into over 200 AI-focused companies.  Some familiar companies racing to the top of AI development include: Alphabet’s DeepMind, GoogleBrain, Microsoft’s many projects, Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) and IBM’s Watson.

Artificial intelligence is bubbling towards “artificial general intelligence” (AGI), which means they can perform any task a human is capable of. At this point it’s safe to assume AGI will improve until it becomes “smarter than the smartest human on earth,” according to Elon Musk. Then it’s only a matter of time before it replicates itself. As we teach robots to learn and think like humans, there’s no telling what we’ll be able to accomplish together.

 

4 Exciting, Luxurious Bathroom Technologies

luxurious shower tech

As the world around you modernizes, why not make some comforting changes to your home? In your home, the bathroom is the ultimate place of peace and comfort. The bathroom gives you much-needed alone time to refresh and rejuvenate.

With the technological advances available, why not have a little fun and make your personal life more luxurious? Check out these exciting innovative bathroom additions that will take your morning experience to the next level.

1. All- Inclusive, High-Tech Toilet: When it comes to pampering, what better place than your toilet? This tech-savvy potty has all the extra perks that you never knew you always wanted. When the winter months roll in and your bare skin in exposed, the last thing you want to sit on is a cold toilet seat.

Well, say goodbye to that uncomfortable experience. We solved that problem and more. With this MH Connect+ Toilet by Toto, you’ll enjoy a heated seat, warm water washing and warm air drying, pre-misting system, automatic deodorizer, night light, user memory and even a personal remote control!

In addition to all that, you don’t even have to clean it! This high-tech toilet utilizes a self-cleaning electrolyzed water and disinfectant to wash up before and after each use. Say goodbye to your Cinderella days scrubbing dirty toilets on your hands and knees.

2. Dance-In-The-Rain Shower Ceiling Panel: Dancing in the rain has always been a romantic gesture in our minds. It doesn’t happen often and typically we’re too worried about our nice clothes getting wet to enjoy the sentiment. Say goodbye to all that nonsense and enjoy the romance in the comfort of your own shower!

In efforts to make our lives more magical, the Real Rain Shower by Kohler pours “rain” all over you at a slow-building pace through 775 nozzles. There’s a reservoir that literally holds water in your ceiling.

The “Real Rain Shower” is a 19”x19” ceiling-mounted panel that flows water at two gallons per minute. The drops are meant to imitate a rain shower in both size and intensity. Enjoy the pitter-patter of a warm shower storm and bring back the sentimental magic.

3. Sing-In-The-Rain Shower head Speaker: If you’re passionate about your karaoke shower time, this is the bathroom tech addition for you. Singing in the rain was never easier than with this Moxie Wireless Speaker Showerhead by Kohler. The technology used for your Bluetooth wireless speaker meets a shower head base in this wonderful design.

With 60 angled nozzles this shower head pushes out water at 2.5 gallons per minute. If you need to recharge or reposition the speaker element, this water-resistant piece can easily pop out and back in. The battery-life will play up to seven hours of music from the Bluetooth connection of your smartphone, tablet or computer from up to 32 feet away.

4. Cozy Toes NuHeat Floor Heater: On a chilly morning in a Chicago bathroom, you creep out of your bed and tip-toe barefooted to the bathroom shower. It’s freezing and from the tips of your toes, you’re shivering. Shiver no more, with this Nuheat Signature Thermostat and Shower Floor Heating System.

This is the first Wi-Fi enabled floor heater that solves the bathroom floor shivers. It has a 3.5” screen with 320×480 pixels. The touchscreen thermostat works with tile and stone flooring, heating up to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Like the shower head speaker, the floor heater will also connect to your mobile smart phone or web browser.

EPA, National Clean Energy Progression Over Nearly 50 Years

clean energy progression

For nearly half a century, the Environmental Protection Agency has worked to protect human and environmental health. The EPA has been the driving force behind environmental regulations such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Clean Power Plan. In 2010 alone, over 160,000 people in the U.S. didn’t die from air pollution as a result of their efforts.

Along with our new president has come a change in national priorities. The EPA has entered the political spotlight with talk of reduction and even abolition. The agency is like a deer caught in the headlights, forced to redefine its value.

It’s clear that President Trump does not hold the EPA in as great esteem as President Obama did.

Myron Ebell, who has led President Trump’s EPA transition team, has indicated that climate education might be withdrawn from the EPA along with 10% of their federal funding.

Despite the declining political opinion of the EPA, a recent Reuters study revealed that over 60% of Americans would like to see an increase in the agency’s power. Only 19% wanted to see it “weakened or eliminated.”

THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

The EPA works to decrease national pollutant emissions such as lead, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. Since their founding in 1970, the EPA has successfully decreased the national average by 70%. Along with their overall accomplishments, the EPA has implemented three acts to help with different environmental sectors: air, water, and power plants.

The Clean Air Act has been cutting pollution for over 45 years, all while the economy has been steadily growing. While the GDP has been rising, the aggregate national emissions of the six most common pollutants has dropped by 70%. Its programs have successfully decreased levels of toxic air pollutants such as particles, ozone, lead, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide.

The CAA has also made great progress in cleaning the mess of mobility emissions. They managed to phase out lead usage in motor vehicle gasoline. This significantly cleaned up the airborne pollution which has been a widespread health concern. In lowering the air pollution, our environmental ecosystems are healthier. That includes plants, long-term forest health, soil nutrients, and other food chain toxins, such as fish and aquatic life forms.

The Clean Water Act has worked to regulate the discharge of pollutants into the water since its founding in1972. While protecting our nation’s water might sound like common sense, it hasn’t always been so. Implementing tough pollutant standards was original and radical at the time of its origin.

Through the CWA billions of dollars have been allocated to construct and upgrade publicly-run sewage-treatments around the nation. The CWA has also made great progress in preventing industrial pipes from dropping its waste into the water. In 1969 before the CWA started cleaning up, one river (the Cuyahoga) had literally burst into flames. Though not all U.S. waters are fishable or swimmable, at least they’re not flammable.

Less than two years ago President Obama and the EPA announced the Clean Power Plan. This was a huge step in history towards climate change. While the others focus on air and water, the CPP directs its efforts to reduce carbon pollution from power plants.

Power plants are currently the nation’s largest source of carbon pollution. Fossil fuel-fired power plants release 31% of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. The CPP was the first ever set of national standards that addressed this issue.

The CPP was propelled into action by some record-breaking hot years. In 2014 we experienced the hottest year ever recorded. In the 21st century we’ve already witnessed 14 of the 15 hottest years in history. Many environmental scientists believe this is a direct result of excessive CO2 emissions. For this reason, the CPP provides crucial strategies to clean up our environment.

UNITED STATE PROGRESS IN SUSTAINABLE ENERGY

Aside from the efforts of the EPA, our national renewable energy efforts have made great headway as well. As the second-largest clean energy investor, the U.S. hit $44.1 billion in 2015. That encompasses the efforts of both public and private sectors.

In efforts to provide up-to-date national energy market statistics, a national factbook has been released. The Bloomberg New Energy Finance compiled data for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy to create the 2017 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook. Natural gas and renewable energy generation has gone up from 38% to nearly 50% in the last 5 years.

To top it off, our household energy spending has hit a record-breaking low in 2016. With a significant drop, the average household now spends less than 4% of annual incomes towards energy expenditure.

PRIVATE SECTOR EFFORTS, COMPANY INITIATIVES

In addition to our national efforts, many big businesses are creating mission statements with the goal to use 100% renewable energy. Starting this year, the sprawling data centers and offices of Google will use 100% renewable energy. Google’s recent wind and power investment will account for all their global electricity needs.

The tech giants of Apple and Facebook have also been running the race to 100% clean energy. Apple was able to hit 93% in 2015. Several well-known companies have followed suit in green energy initiatives. They’re ready to get in on the wave rolling through the nation.

Each renewable investment and green energy company initiative represents a milestone in the journey to a cleaner environment. As more and more business leaders join the wave, the sustainable energy momentum grows.

 

5 Reporting Tips To Prove Construction Claims

track reports

Construction projects are huge. There are often many details to consider. Many expectations need to be met. Keeping track of each moving piece can be difficult, and it’s rarely a foolproof process.

When things go awry and money is involved, thorough construction claims are necessary. In order to justify claims for more time or money, keep comprehensive records. Below are five key elements to track in your daily construction reports.

 

CORRESPONDENCE FILES

Don’t play a game of “he said, she said.” Instead, keep thorough files of written correspondence. Think emails, texts and paperwork. Be sure to keep additional copies and organized files accessible. All memoranda to and from DOT or subcontractors are especially important.

Consider utilizing collaboration technologies such as Slack Software or the popular construction app Raken. This will save you from sorting through messy piles of handwritten documentation.

 

ALL DOCUMENTATION

When you’re in court or heated discussion, evidence is key. Bring more fuel you bring to the battle, and you’ll be more capable of proving your case.

  1. Meeting Minutes: If there’s a meeting to account for, note what happens. Track important decisions made, attendees, representatives, and all relevant matters.
  2. Subcontractor and Supplier Files: Keep an organized trail of paperwork with any agreements between your subcontractors and suppliers. This will help to clear up miscommunication and hold each party accountable.
  3. Job Cost Records: Know your budgets thoroughly. Make sure all costs are understood before contracts are signed. If any pricing changes, be sure to provide justifying evidence.
  4. Miscellaneous Evidence: Think charts and accident reports. Always expect the unexpected. When it happens, document it.

 

PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS

Clear details are the name of the game in construction. That’s why blueprints are so important. All amendments, details, clarifications, and owner options are needed here. All relevant charts and graphs are important as well.

 

SCHEDULES

There are often multiple phases, especially for larger projects. Note details of the timeline. Know who and what is needed at each stage. Include all the updates, agreements and paperwork in daily reports.

 

JOB PHOTOS AND VIDEOS

All additional evidence you can gather is more fuel to your fire. A picture is worth a thousand words, and video evidence is even better. For this reason, it’s a great idea to install a construction camera. With many high-pixel options available, it would be a worthwhile addition to your project site. Choose from several affordable choices on the market.

track construction reports

Be picky about who’s on your team. Dependable teamwork is crucial when projects unfold. Consider how you feel about each new team member and notice your initial instincts. This helps to building trustworthy relationships.

Set the example with great communication, and know that respect is key. Show respect, and others will follow. Make all paperwork processes as easy as possible. Always be dependable to pay full amounts on time, and you’ll establish solid rapport.

Ideally, a mutually beneficial relationship unfolds between all parties. Aim to keep everyone happy and provide satisfactory results. However, problems inevitably arise. Thorough reporting will help.  Avoid costly confusion and discontent with and prepare for possible construction claims.