Buildings Buzz

Where did all the carpet go?

I have a rich friend.  Just one really.  Whenever I ride in his car, I love the sound the doors make when they close. Unlike the tinny “clank” when the doors of my elegantly rusty SUV slam, his doors have a deep, reassuring, “clomp” sound.  Inside, you are cocooned, secure, padded, and hermetically sealed. More and more often, our buildings are “sealed” like my friend’s car and that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Modern building techniques and materials have given us an almost airtight environment to live and work in, which means the dust we generate or track in from outside, stays inside.  It’s no surprise that allergies in developed countries are on the rise.  When I was a kid allergies were a rarity but nowadays we’re all clamoring for the Benadryl, Claritin, or something like it. Because of this, hard surface floors in homes and businesses are increasingly commonplace, while carpet sales decline.  Hard surface fl ...

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A Breath of Fresh Air: Why and How to Improve Indoor Air Quality

When we think of poor air quality today, the term often conjures images of sputtering exhaust pipes and inefficient vehicles, factory smoke stacks and heavy layers of smog. But in addition to these visible outdoor pollutants, it’s also increasingly important to consider indoor air quality – and how often-invisible agents can affect the health and well-being of building occupants. According to the EPA, levels of indoor air pollutants may be two to five times – and occasionally more than 100 times – higher than outdoor levels. (Before you draw a gasp at that statistic, pause to consider what you might be breathing in!) The issue of poor indoor air quality has received significant attention lately, especially in K-12 academic environments. Poor ventilation, mold and dust – along with fumes and chemicals from paints, cleaning agents, furnishings and other building materials – can all degrade indoor air quality. Results can include the triggering or worsening of allergies and c ...

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It’s a bit like throwing a firecracker

We can all remember holding a lit firecracker in our hand just before we threw it into the air. What we did in those few seconds had a profound effect on the outcome immediately or, if the throw didn’t go as planned, the activities of the next few minutes or hours as we tended to our blast injury. Those first few seconds counted.   Workers who receive or come across suspicious packages in their workplace are much like you holding that firecracker in the few seconds before the throw. Their ability to recognize a problem and take the correct actions in the first few minutes will directly affect the outcomes in the minutes and hours to follow.   Since the terrible events of 9/11 government offices, postal facilities, universities and commercial buildings – many of them housing both public and private sector critical infrastructure, have been the targets of an element of society that attempts to instil fear or terrorize the law abiding staff and occupants of these facilities. Potential ...

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A Cost-Effective Solution for Ensuring High Acoustic Performance in New Multi-Family Buildings

Multi-family buildings offer many advantages to their occupants over single-family homes. Unfortunately, acoustical privacy is often not one of those advantages.  If you have ever lived in an apartment, condo or townhouse, at some point you have likely questioned if your walls were purposely constructed thin, or if your fellow neighbors were simply that loud. Add to this, an increasing number of residences now have home entertainment systems with large-screen televisions and surround sound stereo systems that are capable of producing higher volumes; it is as important as ever to ensure acoustic comfort.   Though the issue of noise is nothing new, specifiers and other design/construction professionals must be able to control the sound within a living unit or, at the very least, mitigate its transmission into adjoining spaces. Today's buyers expect a certain level of quality and consider a quiet unit as a must-have feature. As a result, when sound control is not a priority in the design and ...

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Going Green Makes Cents

A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimated that the U.S. building sector could cut energy use by one-third through energy efficiency improvements saving $170 billion per year by 2030.

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