Downtown Seattle Life Merging Natural Beauty and Cosmopolitan Living

When looking for a place to live, you can not choose a more perfect place than downtown Seattle. A city on the rise, Seattle is fast becoming one of the most important economic hearts of the nation. While Seattle is growing in cosmopolitan appeal, it has still retained its important roots. As the center of the Pacific Northwest, it also is the icon and epitome of Northwest living. This means that the city is still relaxed and eco-friendly. Despite the bustle of downtown life, residents can still find peace and quiet in the surrounding greenery and fresh air.

Set in one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, Seattle has been drawing new residents in flocks. Seattle is nestled between the saltwater of Puget sound to the west and the freshwater of Lake Washington to the east. Just over the water, residents of Seattle are graced with the breathtaking views of the Olympic Mountains. With rich forests within view, combined with the topography of beaches, oceans, lakes and mountains, Seattle is truly one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Living in downtown Seattle is an opportunity that should not be missed. Downtown life is perfect for families and seekers of night-life alike. The true city livers should consider Belltown, which is in the heart of Seattle and has some of the best bars, restaurants and dance clubs around. Living at the base of Capitol Hill means having easy access to Pacific Science Center, Seattle Children's Theater, Key Arena and the Space Needle. Living close to the water means proxies to Pike Place Market, which is a draw for tourists and locals alike. With its market atmosphere and fresh produce, Pike Place is a hot spot for anyone looking for food and fun.

Brand new condos are springing up in downtown Seattle all the time. As the city grows, opportunities for affordable cosmopolitan living become more and more possible. With views of the ocean and the mountains beyond, the highest floors are understandably coveted. Luckily, however, Seattle has slopes and curves uphill away from the water, meaning more people can afford views that would otherwise never be available. There are also many homes and office buildings available directly on or with views of Lake Union, a similarly beautiful body of water to the east. Public beaches along the ocean and areas like Gasworks Park on Lake Union mean the anyone can have direct access to the water for swimming, boating, kayaking, and even fishing. Seattle is redoubtably on of the best places in the nation to spend the fourth of July, as Seattleites enjoy an incredible fireworks display over Lake Union, as well as shooting from the top of the Space Needle. Thousands gather at Gasworks Park on blankets and chairs, and boat owners take their sailboats and yachts directly under the amazing display.

The attitude and friendship of downtown Seattle can not be beat. Locals know that underneath the cement sidewalks and bustling shopping centers, a great heart beats. With the diversity, stunning natural beauty and true big-city living, Seattle is fast becoming one of the most popular destinations for moving families, and seekers of the city life alike.

{ Comments are closed }

Outdoor Shelter – Guide To Choosing A Timber Shelter For Your School

The PTA has a long list of things to buy, and this often includes: summer shade, wet weather timber shelter, parent waiting outdoor shelters and outdoor classrooms. Wherever possible the savvy school will look to combine all these in one substantive unit which, correctly positioned, can cover all categories.

In these circumstances you will require a solid structure, specifically designed for use in schools, which has a properly waterproof roof, and large overhangs to shelter the seating area.


  • Many structures can be installed onto tarmac or a slab base at no extra cost and this provides several advantages;
  • Clean clear hardwearing floor which is not going to be affected by the seasons
  • Ease of access as there is no step or ramp to get into the shelter

If you're considering installation onto grass, please remember that the extra footfall generated by use of the timber shelter will mean the grass area will become damaged and, without adequate levels of light / rain, will be unable to fully recover. This will mean problems with mud in winter and dust in summer. Flooring such as decking would be beneficial. However, this will create a step into the shelter and potentially create the need for a ramp to ensure that the facility offers access for all. Alternately, grass reinforcement could have used to improve wear resistance of the natural floor.


Benching needs to be robust, smooth and at a suitable height for primary aged children while acceptable for adults to use as well. We would suggest 0.50m from the floor. There should be sufficient spaces for a full class of children ie up to 30 pupils – ideally all facing towards the same point for teaching purposes.


A variety of roofing options should be available to you; the primary function being to offer a dry interior. Where Bitumen roofing is offered, look for guarantees to ensure that you are going to get a decent lifespan from the roofing. Bitumen shingle tiles can have an attractive appearance and are available in a variety of colors with some quality manufacturers giving a 15 year manufacturers guarantee.

  • Sedum roofing when first installed.
  • Cedar Shingle roofing
  • Bitumen Shingle roofing

If you wish to use the structure to demonstrate sustainable options in construction then consider either living / sedum roof or cedar shingles.


Look for guarantees on the structure that can give confidence in its lifespan. Where choosing a natural material such as timber ensure that it is treated against rot: ideally pressure impregnated. Timber shelters should be correctly installed to maximize lifespan. Where upright posts are being concreted into the ground, be aware that this can cause a weak at the interface, where accelerated decay might occur. A far better method of installation is to bolt the posts to the ground. A small piece of DPC between post and ground will help prevent water ingress to maximize the life of the upright post.


No one wants to be responsible for purchasing the outdoor shelter that was destroyed in gales! Ask the supplier about wind-lift. Such features as the weight of the structure, inner ceiling design and number and positioning of uprights will all have an impact here. Have structural calculations been done to prove that this is not going to be an issue?

Finishing & Speed ​​of Construction

Any timber product should be factory planned to minimize splintering – especially benches. Any product with upright posts should have the corners “pencil rounded” to soften edges and minimize damage should anyone bump into them. A structure such as this should be indicated in just one or two days.


Make sure that the cost you have been quoted includes delivery and installation. Ensure you have asked about reasonably additional costs.

{ Comments are closed }

Sustainable Building for Education

Sustainable building is now high on the agenda. There is currently social, political, and legislative pressure to ensure that any new school buildings are seen as “sustainable”. This is a part of your drive to be an Eco-School. This includes any Shelters and gazebos, as well as new classrooms.

With so much to think about whilst primarily focused on budget and deadlines, how can you ensure that your school building is really sustainable, and causes minimal impact on the environment through manufacture, construction, life span; and, at the very end of its life, demolition. Our recommendation would be to choose timber for sustainability, and off-site manufacture for budget and speed of delivery.

Timber is the planet's only natural, renewable, recyclable construction material: it has been used in construction for many thousands of years. Now with FSC or PEFC certification you can be confident in its sourcing as well.

In order to keep the focus on the budget at the same time as sustainability, we would suggest you look at off-site manufacture: buildings which are factory prepared prior to delivery to site, and consistently provide large savings on construction costs through reduced build periods and site disruption: systems such as Cabinco's MPL shell buildings. The logs are precision factory engineered and then delivered to site ready for speedy, accurate, construction of an individually designed sustainable building.

The larger the proportion of timber in your new school building, the more chance of a fully recyclable building envelope. Timber does not have to be restricted to just the outer skin which gives the appearance of sustainability, but can extend to the inner walls, floors, windows, doors, roof structure and even the final roofing material through such options as cedar shingles. A solid wood solution.

Checklist for Sustainable Buildings

  • Sustainable sourcing of materials
  • Noise, Odour & dust during construction
  • Waste to landfill during manufacture and construction
  • Maintenance and energy required during use of the building
  • Recyclability after the end of the building's natural life.
  • Overall Carbon Footprint

Carbon Footprint

The carbon footprint is an assessment of the impact of the school building on the environment. It looks at all aspects of the processes involved in delivering your built solution in great detail, and includes such things as the energy used in manufacture, where that energy comes from, whether it is renewable energy; energy used in transportation of materials, including the fuels used; construction phase energy and waste; in service energy consumption; and, finally, end of life energy use – or NOT in the case of timber, which can be reused as fuel.

Research shows that timber buildings have the lowest whole life carbon footprints of all.

{ Comments are closed }

Nursery Building – Guide to Planning a New Nursery

So you have made the decision and are planning on purchasing a new nursery building. Whether this is your route into business, or a development of an existing business, there are a lot of things to think about. Here is a quick guide to some of the points you need to consider.

Size of building

Each additional square meter will have a cost implication; so it is essential that you get the layout of your new nursery building just right. You need to consider not only the numbers of children, staff, and rooms necessary, but also plan them so that there is minimal wasted space. If you choose a building which is individually designed, and unique to your business, then you have an ideal opportunity to do this.

Indoor Play for Nursery Buildings

Perhaps the most obvious, but the first thing to consider is the space allocation you will need. National standards exist for the associated play areas for nursery age groups.

Space standards represent minimum space per child for the whole provision;

England and Wales;

  • Age Group under 2 years – 3.5 sqm
  • Age Group 2 years – 2.5 sqm
  • Age Group 3 – 7 years – 2.3 sqm


  • Age Group under 2 years – 3.7 sqm
  • Age Group 2 years – 2.8 sqm
  • Age Group 3 – 7 years – 2.3 sqm

This area can include space for quiet play or relaxation. It can easily be planned to provide areas dedicated to messy or wet play within the rooms. Provision of water fountains is also popular. Where preferred, layouts can be planned to give access to the wc direct from the main play rooms to minimize interference with staffing levels.

Adequate Storage

As some areas may have more than one function, many nurseries benefit from walk-in storage areas, where play items can be stored between sessions. Planned storage can be particularly important to nurseries who share the main facilities with other community groups. This can be built into the floor plan of a new building and give you neat, organized, storage which will help extend the life of the toys and equipment you provide.

Toilet Facilities

1 wc and hand basin to every 10 children over 2 years. Part M applies, so disability access requires an additional wc Many nurseries are able to use this as their staff facility as well which helps maximize use of space within the new building.

Outdoor Play

Safe outdoor play areas can be secured as part of the new project through considering L or T shaped nursery buildings. Here a partly enclosed area is created by the building shape giving ideal opportunity for covered verandas which offer all weather play. Remember to include outdoor taps for the children's gardening activities

Staffing Ratios

  • 1 member of staff for every 3 children under 2 years of age
  • 1 member of staff for every 4 children aged 2 years
  • 1 member of staff for every 8 children aged 3 to 8 years of age

Office Facilities

A small office will give you the opportunity to have the necessary space and quiet to conduct any meetings (staff / parents / suppliers) and, if positioned next to the main access door, can ensure that you as owner / manager see every person who comes into your promises.


Depending on the type of care you are offering, you will either require a basic food prep area, where you can prepare mid-session snacks and drinks, or a full kitchen, where day care children have their healthy meals prepared. Planning the position of this can help you save space.


A warm, inviting, and safe environment will work for children and parents alike. Choose something that will set your business apart from the norm: like this lovely log building, filled with primary colors to stimulate young minds set against the warmth of the log wall.

Speed ​​of Construction

Especially important if you are replacing an existing childcare building and do not want any interruption to your business. Certain build options, such as off-site manufacture, ensure that a large amount of the construction preparation is carried out prior to arriving on site. This can mean that a complete new nursery building is created in as little as 4 weeks

Disruption during the Build

When you are building your new promises, and hoping to create a positive impression on the community, you want a construction solution that will create interest and enthusiasm. Look out for the Considerate Constructors Scheme: participating companies have a focus on ensuring that they are good neighbors during the build process, which will stand you in good stead with the community when you open for business.


When you have planned out your new building you can start to look at the sustainable options as well. Make sure that your new building demonstrates your commitment to the environment by choosing a building that is constructed from sustainable materials, is energy efficient, and low maintenance during use, and will not be a detriment to the planet when it reaches the end of it its life.

{ Comments are closed }

Simple Homes and Green Construction Ideas

Have you ever dreamed about building a home of your own, only to be awakened to the reality that it would cost a fortune? Perhaps you do not want to drown in a sea of ​​debt. There are ways to build a home of your own without breaking the bank.

For example, one of my relatives, who was visiting us in Texas after moving to Africa as a missionary with Youth With A Mission, got ahold of a book I had bought online, Homework: Handbuilt Shelter , by Lloyd Kahn. He was so inspired by the book that when he returned to Zambia, he bought a parcel of land and built a home out of a mixture of natural and man-made materials for around $ 1500, which is pretty impressive.

But how do you build one in N. America where land prices are so high and materials cost so much? If you do not own a piece of land, it is wise to make your lodging portable so that you can move it as needed. Remember that here we have high prices, but we also have lots of things that people throw away or give away for free. There are also many areas where there are free materials found in nature that you can use.

If you are looking for a simple, affordable structure that is semi-portable, strong, well insulated, wind, water, and weather proof, then the yurt or ger, which is common in central Asia is the best. Most yurts and gers are designed to withstand high winds, freezing weather, rain, and cold. These have become popular in other parts of the world, and there are several places online where one can find instructions on how to build a yurt out of recycled materials, materials from nature, or store-bought materials. These are almost-free structures that any determined person could build.

The teepee of the plains Indians of America is another remarkable design for a portable, green shelter. The American Indians were able to stay warm in these simple structures by building a fire in the middle of the teepee. Be very careful if you build a fire inside a teepee. If the teepee cover is made out of a plastic material, it will melt when you build a fire inside it. Fire dangers and damage can be reduced if the teepee is made out of canvas and natural materials and to reduce smoke, it should be at least 12 'high, and 14-18' is best.

Some of the indigenous tribes in N. America built wikiups to protect them from the elements. For a temporary shelter in emergency, the wikiup can not be beat. These can be made of saplings, sticks, grass, straw, tree branches, and leaves.

Moving on to more stable structures, if you plan to build a permanent, green home, it is wise to first secure the land where the home will sit. The best place to build an affordable, handmade, green home is in a rural area. Look for an area away from major cities and highly populated towns. Building officials in farming and rural areas will be less likely to harass you over your unique home. If you get to know the locals, you may find a farmer or property owner that is willing to sell you a parcel of land. Make sure that all agreements are put on paper and signed by both parties, and that a title to the property registered in your name with the county clerk.

Straw bale houses are a popular method for building a simple, affordable and green home. Straw bales offer great insulation. It is common to place the straw bales on a platform that supports the walls to prevent them from getting wet, and the exterior and interior walls that the bales form can be protected with a stucco or mud plaster. It is important to add structural supports in the walls between the straw bales. Certain municipalities and counties limit the use of this type of construction, so check with the local building authorities before proceeding.

Cob is another method of green building that makes use of a mixture of clay, sand, and straw to form earthen walls. Cob buildings can be made that have unique shapes and character. If you are in a city or highly regulated county, there are building code guidelines and limitations about what you are allowed to do with cob construction.

Some have built their homes underground, such as the earthship. Many green home builders have manipulated and designed the earthen walls around them as a protective shield, as part of an insulation design, and for the “conditioned cave” effect. Properly designed underground construction provides several advantages, including energy savings, security, and less visibility. The only main drawback to underground construction is the possibility for moisture intrusion such as is common in basics. A properly built and located underground home can withstand hurricanes, tornadoes, and even nuclear events. Building underground is also used as a way to hide the true size of a home.

Some have built ceramic domes, using earthbag construction. Nader Khalili, an Iranian-American architect perfected this art, and presented it to the West. Earthbag or Super Adobe construction can be strong, efficient, and useful for budget construction projects.

In addition to these more direct approaches to green building, there are construction products currently being developed that make use of used, recycled, and sustainably produced materials. Some of these materials are better and safer than others. It is wise to fully investigate the production process for these materials before using them to construct your home. Some contain chemicals that may be harmful to your family's health, so doing your homework on the manufacturing process is advised.

Whatever you desire to build, start small today and test your ideas. Remember to plan ahead, get the advice of professionals, and read up as much as possible before committing your time and finances to the project. It would also be wise to befriend several contractors who can give you advice on how to make things go forward without difficulty.

{ Comments are closed }

What Is A Net-Zero Energy Efficient Home?

Energy efficient homebuilders are constantly improving on design and sustainability to offer solutions to consumers that really want the most efficient home on the planet. The balancing act that an green home builder must pull off is not an easy feat: they need to provide a home with the creature comforts we have all come to take for granted and, at the same time, they must also provide a measurably superior alternative in their offerings that the public will appreciate and be able to afford. Value is exceptionally important given our current economic situation in America.

In the past, energy conscious design was exceedingly expensive and, in turn, was not something the average consumer could afford even if they could appreciate the fact that energy saving homes are good for the environment. Now, building homes that are so efficient they can almost power themselves is not only technologically possible, but consumers can obtain these superior products for the same price range as a standard, site built home. While these homes go by many names, manufacturers refer to affordable, efficient homes as “Net-Zero energy efficient homes.”

Net-Zero energy efficiency aims at supplying the total electrical needs of a household. The goal of the Net-Zero home building process is two-fold: first, to supply the total energy needs of a home and second, to do so at the least possible expense. Some critiques of the phrase “Net-Zero energy efficiency” claim that they can achieve the same results of a Net-Zero home by merely adding a large number of solar panels to any home they build. In all fairness, it is true that you can supply all of the electrical needs of a home by adding a lot more solar panels, but this is not nearly as efficient, effective or economic as designing a home and its various components as a system that seeks to reduce energy consumption from as many points of design as possible.

The goal of Net-Zero design should be, then, not to add as many expensive solar panels as required, but to reduce the overall electrical consumption of a home such that the least amount of expensive solar photovoltaic system components need be used.

The reason that many homebuilders are not moving in the direction of improving efficiency is because the research and development costs alone are intense. However, the builders that do not match pace with efficient designers will, in the future, lose market share to more forward thinking homebuilders.

Owning a green home is possible. In fact, you can buy a custom, factory built home now for the same cost of many standard site built homes that you find in common residential tract neighborhoods. In residential tract neighborhoods, you can add an island in your kitchen, but you can not move entourage walls or add to square footage significantly; you buy exactly what the developer offers in standardized plans. Custom, factory built homes differ in that you have far more control over design and the end product. Perform research online about Net-Zero homes and solar homes and you will come to find that there are a number of viable options available at a wide range of prices.

{ Comments are closed }

Save Water On A Landscape Combining Smart Controllers and Good Irrigation Management

Presenting a good, positive image is important to any business, and an attractive, healthy landscape strictly helping how the public views a commercial property. However, maintaining a quality landscape is not cheap since sufficient water needs to be applied by the ventilation system to keep the grass, shrubs and flowers healthy and vibrant. That's why installing smart irrigation controllers can help. These devices provide a great way to reduce irrigation water use, simplify landscape maintenance, and keep a landscape looking great.

Smart controllers lessen water use by collecting and applying information about site conditions (like rain, wind, slope, soil, plant type, and more), and applying the proper amount of water based on those factors to maintain healthy growing conditions. During hot weather plants need more water than during cooler weather. Smart controllers adjust the amount of water used based on these changing conditions. If enough rainfall takes place, rain sensors adjust by lessening the volume of water as needed. If the soil is of a type that absorbs water slowly or the landscape has steep slopes, smart controllers will use that information and run less water, but more frequently, to less water run-off.

A vital point to keep in mind with these types of irrigation controllers is how these devices are programmed. All of the variables (eg, soil type) affect the final amount of time water will run. Adjustments to the initial programming will have to be done to get it right, which is a matter of good management. In fact multiple tweaks are needed since this whole process is as much of an art as it is a science. Simply put this human factor is the most important variable in the programming process.

In order to get the most out of a smart ventilation controller:

Inspect the Irrigation System: Smart controllers work best when the entire ventilation system is working well. Such an inspection will check for leaks, proper water pressure, malfunctioning hardware, and other similar issues that might affect the effectiveness of the complete irrigation system. Repairing problems like these will ensure the controller is able to provide the expected water savings.

Work with a Professional: These controllers are generally only available through irrigation or landscape contractors instead of retail outlets. The Irrigation Association (the umbrella organization for irrigation manufacturers, contractors and suppliers) has compiled a list of professionals who are certified to install “smart” irrigation controllers. To locate an Irrigation Association certified professional, or to confirm the status of any irrigation contractor in your area, please consult this list of Certified Professionals.

With the right combination of hardware, programming and hands on management, these types of irrigation controllers will provide long term, ongoing water savings.

{ Comments are closed }

LED Lighting Tax Aspects of Furniture Chains

The 2008 collapse of the US housing market had a particularly damaging effect on the domestic furniture industry. A virtual freeze on new and existing home purchases resolved in a drastic decline in sales for furniture chains who, prior to the collapse, dominated the industry primarily by selling foreign-made furniture. The furniture industry has largely evolved into an import model where huge warehouses store the furniture that is then sold in retail show rooms. Some major brands use large, warehouse-like structures as their retail facilities. As the economy continues to improve, these companies will be able to realize significant energy cost savings and very large EPAct tax deductions by installing LED lighting in their showrooms along with energy-efficient lighting and heaters in their distribution centers.

Large store showrooms looking to showcase their furniture can use LED's for focused lighting, while huge warehouses that hold the furniture before it reaches retail storefronts can realize tremendously operating cost reductions by installing LED's or other energy-efficient lighting. While each of these building types involves a distinct planning process with different tax implications, LED lighting can drive large tax deductions for all furniture chain facilities.

The Section 179D EPAct Tax Opportunities

Pursant to Energy Policy Act (EPAct) Section 179D, furniture chains making qualifying energy-reducing investments in their new or existing locations can get immediate tax deductions of up to $ 1.80 per square foot.

If the building project does not qualify for the largest EPAct $ 1.80 per square foot immediate tax deduction, there are tax charges of up to $ 0.60 per square foot for the three major building subsystems: lighting, HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) , and the building envelope. The building envelope is every item on the building's exterior perimeter that touches the outside world including roof, walls, insulation, doors, windows and foundation.

Alternative Energy Tax Credits and Grants

Pursuation to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, there are multiple 30% or 10% tax credits available for a variety of alternative energy measures with varying credit termination dates. For example, the 30% solar tax credit and the 10% geothermal heat pump tax credit expire January 1, 2017.

All alternative measures that are eligible for the 30% and 10% tax credits are also eligible for equal cash grants for the three years starting January 1, 2009 and ending December 31, 2011.

Unique 2011 Opportunity: Enhanced Bonus Tax Depreciation

Solar PV and geothermal systems are ordinarily eligible for 5-year MACRS depreciation, but building owners who install these systems after September 8, 2010 through December 31, 2011 can take 100% depreciation tax bonus immediately. Even if building owners miss this 2011 window, they can enjoy a 50% tax depreciation bonus on equipment placed in service from January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012.

The Tax Planning Implications for Furniture Chains

Showrooms and EPAct 179D

LED lighting is excellent for presenting furniture because it provides a high-powered, focused beam ideally suited for showroom floors. The shopper is traditionally drawn to the furniture because of the LED's spotlighting effect. For this reason, the Ashley Furniture showroom in Boca Raton, Florida has opened one of the first furniture stores seeking LEED certification for its inclusion of, among other things, LED lighting. Since this store is approximately 100,000 sq. ft. large, it will be eligible for up to $ 60,000 in tax deductions for lighting alone, and potentially greater EPAct deductions for qualifying HVAC equipment and building envelope measures. Indeed, as part of its plan to seek LEED certification, Ashley installed high-performing, low-emitting glass with automatic shades that conserve energy and rooftop solar tubes at its Boca site. A qualified professional can convert Ashley's required LEED energy model into an EPAct tax model.

Warehouse Lighting and EPAct 179D

Building lighting assemblies a large part of furniture warehouse energy use. Most warehouses that have not had a lighting upgrade to energy-efficient lighting in the last 7 or 8 years use earlier generation metal halide or T-12 fluorescent lighting. It is important to realize that effective January 1, 2009, most probe-start metal halide lighting may no longer be manufactured or imported into the United States and, effective July 1, 2010, most T-12 lighting may no longer be manufactured or imported into the United States. This means that warehouses that still have older lighting technology will soon be, or already are, subject to large price increases for replacement lamps and bulbs.

This earlier generation T-12 and metal halide lighting is energy-inefficient compared to today's T-8 and T-5 lighting, and a lighting retrofit can easily cut lighting electricity costs by 40 to 60 percent. In addition to large energy cost reductions from upgrading basic building lighting, most warehouses under lighting retrofits install sensors that completely shut off lighting in portions of the warehouse that are not in use. Previously, many warehouse owners and lighting specialists were related to install sensors because they reduced fluorescent lamp useful life. Today, with improved technology, sensors are available with warranties that protect against reduction in lamp useful life. In the furniture warehouse business, sensors will prove particularly useful because warehouses only need intermittent illumination. Combined with fluorescent, induction or, increasingly, LED lighting, sensors are a vital consideration to any furniture warehouse operator.

Warehouse Heating and EPAct 179D

New, improved commercial heating systems can give energy cost savings of 8 percent or more over the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) 2001 building code standards. There are multiple heater technologies suitable for the furniture warehouse market, including Cambridge direct fired gas heaters, unit heaters, and infrared (eg radiant) heaters. If it can be done, the warehouse heater could mount on an exterior wall to optimize the roof top space for a solar PV roof top system.

Typical Large Furniture Warehouses Obtain Large Tax Deductions

Many large warehouses have made the investments necessary to get the full $ 1.80 per square foot EPAct tax deduction. Since the EPAct tax obligations relate to square footage, a 500,000 square foot furniture warehouse can secure a $ 900,000 EPAct tax deduction.

IKEA's Pioneering Solar Projects

IKEA uses large integrated warehouse / retail facilities to directly sell furniture. The Swedish company has recently announced that it will install solar PV in some of its stores in Colorado, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. By taking advantage of its intense, flat roofops on its facilities, IKEA will be able to generate enough kilowatt-hours to power its own stores' lighting and HVAC needs with energy left over to sell to utilities. Further, they are making the ideal use of their solar investment by installing highly energy-efficient geothermal heating systems and LED lighting. Geothermal typically generates large EPAct 179D tax charges, especially when coupled with LED lighting. As noted above, the geothermal system will also be eligible for a 10% tax credit or grant and very favorable tax depreciation.

The New York Market

New York City has experienced a quicker economic recovery than the rest of the country, and furniture chains are acting now to try to capitalize on the city's momentum. Cleveland-based Arhaus Furniture; Nadeau Corp., a West Coast-based seller of eclectic furnishings; and discount Home Goods, a division within TJX, are all newcomers to the NYC scene and each is hoping to take advantage of the heightened demand than has often forced homeowners and renters into the suburbs to shop for their furniture. With the opening of 20,000 to 40,000 square foot retail centers, these companies have the opportunity to use LED lighting, and, in some locations, solar PV, in their building design to drive down their operating expenses while utilizing large tax incentives.

Furniture Warehouse Tax Incentivized Energy-Efficient Design Process Steps

1. Assemble team including warehouse experts for EPAct tax incentives, utility rebates, lighting, heater, building envelope and solar energy.

2. See if roof is compatible for solar and heater. Obtain proposals for installations of solar installations and any other needed roof / insulation projects and any other needed roof / insulation projects.

3. Obtaining lighting design that replace all inefficient lighting. Compare and contrast costs of fluorescent, induction and LED lighting alternatives.

4. Obtain Cambridge heater or alternative heater proposals, taking into account possible roof designs.

5. Determine utility rebate based on all proposed separate and joined energy-efficient measures. Efficient lighting will cut electric use. Roof, insulation and heater will cut “therms.”

6. Determination tax incentives including EPAct Section 179D tax deduction benefit and solar credit tax deductions. EPAct is based on total project square footage, including mezzanines and pick and pack modules. The 30-percent solar tax credit is based on the total solar material and installation costs.

7. Prepare project proposal detailing project costs, energy savings, utility rebates and tax incentives.

8. Get project approved by building owner.

9. Hire contractors and execute project.

10. Have EPAct tax expert prepare model and tax documentation using IRS approved software.

11. Process utility rebates.

12. Reduce federal and state estimated tax payments to account for expected large EPAct tax deductions and credits.

13. Celebrate tax-enhanced energy-efficient warehouse achievement


US furniture industry supply chain structures are ideally located for LED lighting particularly in showrooms and integrated warehouse show rooms. Since EPAct tax savings relates to square footage, the industry's large facilities drive large tax deductions. The required warehouses are typically large, flat roof structures that are ideal for solar PV Achieving energy reduction enhanced with tax savings will help this very competitive industry accelerate its recovery concurrently with overall economic recovery.

{ Comments are closed }

Is Energy Efficient Design Really Just a Fad?

Sustainable living is not only a growing business and news trend, it is also the direction home design and construction must move towards as valuable, limited resources becoming incrementally sparse for our growing population. Energy efficiency in the home building industry will remain the focus of some progressive, forward thinking companies, but not all of them. But when will this focus on efficient design become a commonplace reality of modern home design?

The conservation of energy, as part of the design process itself, is not the main focus or even a standard practice in the site built home construction industry or in the manufactured, modular and pre-fabricated home industries. Comparing these two categories of home building, I am confident that if the average consumer compared major site built home companies to the high-end factory built home builders, their ultimate conclusion would be that the factory built home builders put more emphasis on energy efficient design , and have a much more inherently building process, than their site built counterparts. If the future of home construction will be heavily affected by efficient design, why, then, are not more site built and factory built construction companies currently working towards this end?

There are three main reasons why more homebuilders, factory built or otherwise, are not working swiftly towards energy efficient design within every home they build. These reasons are: first, the cost of new design plans that are energy efficient is greater than sticking to standard practices; second, many of these homebuilders do not have the technical aptitude or interest to undertake energy efficient design, and lastly, consumer demand has not reached a fever pitch.

As a homebuilder, it takes a serious commitment of financial and human resources to develop a new product line or commit a company completely towards green design. Those in charge of making these financial decisions must determine if their new energy efficiency design will easily fit within the framework of existing building codes. They must also consider whether or not the commitment to energy efficient design will be rewarded by a consumer base willing to pay for an extremely efficient home. Consumer demand, therefore, is extraordinarily important in making these decisions.

At present, there are two main issues affecting consumer demand: first, education on the benefits and implementation of energy efficiency; and second, the general uncertainty and pessimism that lingers from the recent meltdown in housing thought about by “McMansion” sprawl. in our recovering economy, many consumers are focused on basic necessities, obtaining benefits and features consumers are currently familiar with, and of course the overall price. The purchase price and anticipated resale value of a home is far more important than green design in the minds of many consumers as the notion of never-ending home equity growth has been dashed by the recent debacle with mortgage lending. However, this will most likely change in the future substantially.

Regardless of if economy remains sluggish or worsens, it remains likely that the price of electricity, water and gas will increase. We have seen this in the price of gasoline. Through the economic crisis, gas prices have risen and fallen and, in California, we are still paying over $ 4.00 per gallon. Whereas the price of gasoline peaked at over $ 5.00 a gallon a few years ago, we have not seen the price of gas drop to pre-recession levels. If our economy improves substantially, what incentive do the producers of gasoline, electricity and heating oil have to reduce the price of their commodities? None really. And with a growing population, the scarcity of these resources will always command a higher value in the eyes of commodity owners and producers.

Energy efficient design is really a niche in the home building industry. It is definitely not a standard practice. There is a trend towards energy efficient design because a segment of the population is very concerned about the conservation of energy and sustainability. Green builders must compete to win the attention of this consumer niche. However, over time, considering the scarcity of resources, growing population and lack of any incentive for owners and producers of commodities to reduce their premiums, energy efficiency design will be a standard practice and those home builders that invest the time, energy, and financial resources in to energy efficient design today, will reap significant benefits in the future.

{ Comments are closed }

How Technology Is Really Helping Us Become More Sustainable

I'm a technology lover like many people are. I love my smart phone and laptop and just about anything else that has technology and is useful. Everyone has that inner Geek in them to some level. You might have noticed that technology products have become more efficient in their energy use. Companies brag and advertise about how their product uses less energy and has a longer battery life because they are aware that consumers are looking for that, not necessarily because its “green”, but because it makes sense financially and is more convenient to use. Who would want a product that uses more energy instead of one uses less?

Solar panels area a great examples of how technology has helped us be more sustainable. With the improved technology and with the help of sustainable architects, they have been specified more frequently, have become more efficient, and have also become far cheaper than they used to be. Clear glass can even be used a solar panel with advances in technology. Some cars even have an optional solar panel on the roof that operates a fan when your car is parked in order to prevent it from getting too hot inside. Who would not want that technology and convenience in their car?

One invention that Sustainable Architect is really impressed with is the BloomBox. We are in no way whatsoever affiliated with BloomBox or its manufacturer, however it is the product that we feel is closest to being ready for mass production. A fuel cell of this kind, which can be as small as a stack of DVD cases can actually power a whole house and keep it off the grid, saving the homeowner money and also making them less dependent. When this becomes popular, it could actually be the end for coal-burning power plants, which pollute a tremendous amount. Energy could be provided to homes wherever they are located, independent of their procurement to the electricity grid. We believe that as products like these become more marketable, hundreds of similar products will be developed. This will increase availability, reduce the price and make society as a whole more sustainable. It will also create an incredible amount of job and financial opportunities.

At one point in time, people claimed that we would put a man on the moon and they were mock and ridiculed. With a lot of technology and determination, it happened. If we can put a man on the moon, just imagine what we can do with technology? We can have all of the gadgets, convenience and comfort we want and be very sustainable .

{ Comments are closed }

Ground Source Heat Pumps And Your Homes

If you own a house or are in the market for one, then you should definitely consider ground source heat pumps. To make your house truly green, it is certainly one of your best options. Here is some crucial information about them.

What is a ground source heat pump?

This uses this source of energy to heat and cool a particular region. It accesses the geothermal energy from the ground. To implement this system, the pump is positioned within 10 feet of the surface of the Earth. The temperature range of the area is constantly between 50 ° -61 ° Fahrenheit, (or 10 ° -16 ° Celsius). As a result, the pump is able to heat your house through the wintertime, and cool it through the summertime.

How is a ground source heat pump constructed?

The process is quite basic. First, polyethylene or copper piping is positioned underneath the ground. The next step is to use a refrigerant to fill the piping. The heat pump moves the fluid through the piping. As that happens the ground waves or cools it, causing the temperature in your house to stabilize through the process of direct exchange.

What are its main types?

The two main varieties are water-to-water transfer, and water-to-air transfer. Water-to-water systems are like standard boilers, and involve the heating of water pipes that exist in a building. Meanwhile, water-to-air pumps function like standard air-conditioners. They function by using the ground source heat pump's heating and cooling parts, to change the air's temperature via ventilation.

What is its environmental impact?

That is a crucial question if you are a current or future homeowner. One of the most noteworthy benefits is that it is a fantastic method for going green. For instance, because no chemicals or fuel is needed for the heating or cooling process – the impact on the environment is almost zilch. In fact, research shows that an “average” home can save 5,500 tons of carbon emissions, by choosing ground source heat pump systems.

How expensive is this?

The answer is somewhat complicated. In fact, the initial cost of the actual ground source heat pump is somewhat pricey. However, the operational costs are much lower compared to different HVAC systems. Basically, the cost of the system's power will determine the amount of savings that you can enjoy by using it. Those costs differ throughout the world. That said the operating costs are generally low enough that they can quickly compensate for the high initial costs of the system.

Are there ways to reduce the start-up costs?

In fact, many governments through the world offer subsidies for homeowners who install such systems within a particular timeframe.

Can this become a DIY project?

Typically, it will not be, due to the amount of skills, and the types of tools needed to install them. So it is advisable to be on the safe side and have a trained professional handle the installation.

These questions show why a ground source heat pump is definitely worth considering for your home.

{ Comments are closed }

Home Systems: Active Vs Passive Solar Heating Systems

Are you interested in using a solar heating system? If so, then you will have several options. One of the main ones is whether to choose an active or passive system.

What are Active Solar Heating Systems?

This type of system involves harnessing and storing (in the form of heat) solar energy. It uses fans and other objects to dispense heat that has been harnessed. Solar cells constructed of silicon are the most common type of solar heat collectors. Typically, the cells are contained on solar panels, which are located on the roof of a home.

What are its main types?

There are two primary types. Their difference lies in the material that captures and moves the heat that is located in the solar collector. Usually the material is a gas or a liquid. For instance, an air-based system usually involves transpired air collectors or air room heaters. On the other hand, liquid-based systems typically involve water (or antifreeze) to capture and move heat.

How much power does it provide?

Usually the purpose of such systems is to heat up to three-fourths of a home's interior. When more solar energy than a house needs is produced, the homeowner could then sell excess power back to his or her local utility company. Also, it is advisable to heat both the air and water in your home, so your system can function through the entire year.

What Are Passive Solar Heating Systems?

This type of system is a low-technology method of capturing solar energy. It functions by directly capturing the sun's warmth, and then retaining it within the house for the function of heating. This is mainly achieved through methods such as quality insulation and windows. This type of system can lower your current heating costs, or even replace your home's current system.

What are its components?

Windows are the primary components of such systems. The goal is to maximize the amount of sunlight and heat that one can collect during the daytime. Typically, the windows consist of a special variety of glass that absorbs as much heat as possible-and then keeps it indoors for a maximum amount of time.

Beside windows, another common component of Passive Solar Heating Systems are trombes, which are a special type of wall. There is a pane of glass in front of the wall. The mission is for the space between the glass and wall to collect heat. Another method is to paint the concrete walls black, so they will absorb sunlight more.

What are its benefits?

This is generally an ideal option when you are looking for a solar heating system for a new home. The reason is that Passive Solar Heating systems are based on factors such as the location of the windows in the home, the location of the building itself, the amount of insulation in the building, and so on. These issues can be quite challenging to change within existing homes-and especially the location of the home!

After learning the basics of Active and Passive Solar Heating Systems, it is time to determine which one is best for you.

{ Comments are closed }

Is Your Property Green?

Everyone is talking about “green”, and you are probably inspired to “green” your property to follow the latest trend in the market. Making your property “green” is good for the value of your property due to the increasing drive towards this direction, and even if it is not for value adding, making your property “green” is also a good investment for your own health and well -being.

So, how do you “green” your home? Your home may already be 20 years old, and you are not going to restructure the whole house, more so if your house is actually an apartment. You can not simply tear down the walls or anything, as it will affect the whole block of apartment. What can you do?


We are not just talking about having a beautiful garden or putting a lot of potted plants around your balcony. We are talking about the sprinkler systems. You may wish to turn them on if the sprinklers are in your garden, so that you may check for any over sprays. Apartments have no problem about this because you are probably watering your plants manually. However, for sprinklers, you should replace the older technology sprinkler heads with water conserving sprinkler heads. If you can, get one with a timer and a weather sensor. That way, your sprinkler will not need to activate itself when it is raining.


You will want to ensure that the paint you use has low chemical emissions, especially for VOCs and formaldehyde. Long term exposure to VOCs and formaldehyde potentially cause cancer and leukemia. Most paint manufacturers now may have manufactured paints without VOCs now, but you can not be too sure about paintings in your older home. Also, if you are considering repainting, get a paint which includes anti-bacterial and anti-fungi properties. These are more for your health consideration, because anti-bacterial and anti-fungi will help to avoid unnecessary health problems for your household.


There are several considerations when it comes to the floors. If you have marble floors or whatever hard flooring, there is less problems for you. However, if your flooring is carpeted, most of the time you might need to replace your carpet with an eco-friendly alternative. In the market, there are carpets made from recycled plastic bottles, with less gas emissions and cost about the same as your typical carpet. You may also replace your typical carpet pad with a hypoallergenic soy carpet pad for that extra “green” to your flooring.

Electrical Appliances

A lot has been said about the new regulations for electrical appliances, and manufacturers are working hard to obtain the Energy Star labels for their products. Aside from the label, do also check the age and who the manufacturer is, especially for your refrigerator, washing machine, dishwasher and dryer. Chances are, these electrical appliances are eating up your electricity and footing you an expensive bill due to their age. If you can only afford to change a few of the appliances at home, save enough to start with these few basic ones, starting from your refrigerator, washing machine and dishwasher. Once you start with these three, your electricity bill would have become so much less and you will be able to save your cash for the others. Do remember that any appliance which requires heat such as iron and your water heater are the appliance which will swallow a lot of electricity. Any older appliance will also be more dangerous for the fire safety of your home. Just take the chance to replace the older appliances to minimize the possibility of fire hazard.


Have you replaced your light bulbs with eco-friendly ones? There are a lot of new light bulbs now which consumes less electricity. It may also be the use of lovely LED lights which can be rather decorative and inexpensive, to replace those heavy-duty outdoor lighting that you had used in the past. For fluorescent tubes, look at the T level on the tube. If the tube T level says T10 or T12, take the initiative to change these to T5 to T8 instead. You will get the same light output, with 70% savings on your electricity bills.


Finally, check the plumbing of your house. Check your water faucets, sinks and shower heads for aerators. You will also need to check the water heater for exposed pipes. Another thing that you need to check is your flush system.

Chances are, older flush systems are using a lot of water and using a single flush system. New flush systems have two systems, one which releases only half of the whole bucket of water when you flush, and another for a full flush. You will save a lot of water for a small investment.

{ Comments are closed }

Sustainable Architect – Making the World a Better Place to Live, One Structure at a Time

We hear the phrase sustainable architecture thrown around, but what is it? What are we sustaining? Is “GREEN” related? What are the benefits of it? What does a sustainable architect do? I wish the answer was simple, and indeed it is.

Sustainable means to build or develop in a way that will let us keep doing it for a long period of time without adverse effects. If we overuse a material that is in short supply, it could cause us irreparable problems. For example, if our construction is heavily dependent on materials that use large amounts of water in their manufacturing and are being made in a region with a short supply of water, that could be a problem. If we design a tropical garden that requires constant and large amounts of water for it's upkeep in a desert environment, that could also be a big problem.

Now that we have an ideal of what the problems are, lets take a look at how we can adjust the way we do things to be sustainable. Sustainable is not a concept that deals with individual aspects, but rather in a holistic way. If it makes common sense, it is generally sustainable. If you live in an area where masonry products are readily produced and available from local resources, it would probably make sense to use it in construction. It would also make sense to use local plants and groundcover materials instead of having them transported from China to the US. It would also make sense to use the local climate to your advantage. If you live in a cold climate, then maximizing natural solar heating through light would make sense. If you live in a very hot environment, then shading from hot sunlight would make sense to use in order to cool the structure and provide comfort and energy savings.

Sustainable also involves urban planning. Ask yourself: Would it make more sense to build a structure in a already developed area with existing roads and utilities, or sometimes even re-use an existing structure of start from scratch? Certainly most people with a functioning brain would say that starting with something is better then starting with nothing, yet we are commonly seeing communities of so called “cookie cutter” homes which are obligly artificial and lifeless. If the development would focus on making the best with what already exists, re-using or adapting existing structures and neighborhoods, certainly the results would be amazing.

{ Comments are closed }

Tips on Sustainable Architecture

One of the breakthrough concepts which emerged from the green construction is the idea of ​​sustainable architecture. This simply means using Eco-friendly techniques and materials in the architectural field. The green building and green living techniques aims to create as little waste as possible. Sustainable architecture also promotes the use of clean and renewable energy with the use of building materials that do not damage the earth's environment.

Sustainable architecture focuses large on how energy will be used to provide the much needed power for the entire structure being built. To effectively conserve energy, the building must have an excellent insulation. Shutters, shades and awning are widely used in green building because these require no electricity for its operation and yet, they can be used as passive building coolers. Passive solar energy which is collected from windows which are strategically located is valuable in conserving energy as well. In terms of using renewable energy, solar panels can be used to capture energy from the sun. Solar energy can be used in providing energy for the home or structures.

Air source heat pumps absorb heat from cold outside air, and it delivers it inside the building or the house. These work like air conditioners in reverse. On the other hand, geothermal heat pumps can also use the warmth from underground to provide heat to a home or a building.

When it comes to sustainable building, the proponents and experts recommend some earth-friendly materials like coconut, concrete, harvested wood, rock, bamboo, linoleum, sheep wool, clay, cork, vermiculite, straw and other natural-based objects. One of the most important components of sustainable architecture is the use of recycled materials such as glass, lumber and denim. You may also reuse doors, windows, flooring and other recycled architectural components to build a sustainable structure. In addition to these, cellulose insulation, lumbers treated with Boric acid, and organic or milk-based paints are used to complete a green building. These materials do not damage the environment to the same extent as the non-Eco-friendly materials.

Another important component of sustainable architecture is waste management. The proponents of green construction require construction companies to design and build their structures based on an Eco-friendly method. The focus is on-site waste management especially in terms of solid waste, construction waste, and all the by-products of the construction process. Composting and off-site recycling are taken into consideration when carrying out green building. This is also done to ensure that the health of the people working in the site and on the surrounding communities is protected from all the harmful effects of the wastes.

{ Comments are closed }