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Selecting furnishings for educational environments can be challenging. It’s not uncommon for a school’s union lounge to be overflowing with students draped across chairs, couches and floors while a university official tours prospective students, and his or her parents, within same the space.

The American Institute of Architects has announced that the Architecture Billings Index has entered into the positive zone for the third month in a row.  The ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending and can be used as an indicator of construction activity.


Energy Secretary Steven Chu has announced that the Department of Energy will be supporting 142 small businesses across the nation on research projects.  The wide range of projects includes wind turbine development, chemical free approaches to killing bacteria in power plant cooling water, and improving nanomaterials.


Chick-fil-A has received LEED Gold certification at its Fort Worth, TX location.  The first Gold-certified restaurant in Fort Worth, the location has inspired the company to plan four more LEED designed restaurants in 2012.


Secretary Chu has detailed President Barack Obama's $27.2 billion fiscal year 2013 budget request for the Energy Department. Requests focus on job creation, clean energy, national security, and innovation.


The EPA has issued final standards regarding emissions of polyvinyl chloride and copolymers (PVC).  These standards take an aggressive approach targeting air quality and citizen health in areas where thee facilities are located.


It sounds stranger than fiction, but University of Manchester mathematicians have developed the theory behind an invisibility cloak for buildings that could be used to protect key structures such as nuclear power plants, government facilities, and electric pylons from natural disasters such as earthquakes as well as terrorist attacks.


The field of 14 startups participating in the America’s Next Top Energy Innovator challenge has been narrowed down to the three winners.  Americans chose the top innovators by casting nearly half a million votes online from January to February, with an expert panel conducting a separate review on the potential economic and societal contributions from the startup companies.


The EPA has recognized two DoD facilities with the Energy Star Combined Heat and Power (CHP) award for utilizing CHP technology to generate clean, efficient, and reliable thermal energy.  The U.S. Army Garrison Fort Bragg, NC, and the U.S. Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, CA, were both presented with the award.


Scientists at the University of Cambridge have developed a hybrid solar cell that could increase the maximum efficiency of solar panels by 25% or more.  The research detailing these potential energy gains was published today in Nano Letters.


The U.S Department of Labor has released a comprehensive guide to assist women in finding and keeping green jobs.  Why Green is Your Color: A Woman’s Guide to a Sustainable Career launched today and is available in its entirety for free in both PDF and HTML form on the Department of Labor website at


Green electricity technology may be getting a significant boost from another green source: Plants.  Barry D. Bruce, professor of biochemistry at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is adding new meaning to the term “power plant.”  Bruce and a team of researchers have developed a system that utilizes the photosynthetic process to produce inexpensive and efficient green energy.


In the facility manager’s ideal world, every building would be built like a fortress to withstand any emergency.  In reality, construction costs can be significant and engineers “build to code.”   Meeting minimal safety codes can result in situations that provide minimum comfort and protection when disaster strikes.


Electric vehicle owners and enthusiasts can now utilize GreenCharge on their iOS devices.  GreenChagre allows users to view battery data in real time and calculate and share the monetary benefits gleaned from electric vehicle usage.  GreenCharge launches today on all applicable iOS platforms.


Researchers at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, are developing a low-cost smart paint that can detect faults at the microscopic level in structures such as wind turbines, mines, and bridges before any damage occur.

Disaster stories in construction abound: unfinished homes and buildings, blown budgets, lawsuits and contractors fleeing the state. True story: a potential client came to me after receiving an anonymous packet on their front doorstep after they had hired a contractor, containing 200 pages of his nefarious crimes: his restraining orders, lawsuits and judgments

While many industry veterans continue to ride out the recession, Caterpillar Inc. has posted a record increase in sales and revenues for 2011 – Their largest percentage increase in any year since 1947.  Caterpillar has stated a figure of $60.138 billion, an increase of 41% from $42.588 billion in 2010.  How did they do it?  The percentage increase was largely driven by demand for products and services outside the United States.

As facility managers and building owners plunge into the New Year, green and sustainable trends can be analyzed to help lay out an effective plan for 2012.  Even if you’re not planning sustainable redesigns or developments for your properties this year, it can be valuable to keep up with the green world.

In the south, there may not be months of ice and snow, but there is still a transitional period from winter to spring. Turf and other plant material are coming out of the shorter, cooler days and need attention. Check out these tips to maintain your facility’s landscape during these months.


Before you know it, spring will be here, and the best way to get a jump on spring landscape maintenance is to start planning now. Check out these tips for your facility or building on two important landscape maintenance components: mulching and pruning.

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