November 29, 2011
November 17, 2011
Radiant air or forced air floors are those in which heated air is pumped through a network of pipes and then heat is transferred via infra red radiation. Two disadvantages of radiant air floors is that air cannot hold large amounts of heat compared to other sources like water and they are usually not cost-effective. As many of us have noticed, the price of energy has been slowly increasing and may continue to do so. Most radiant air floors require a system such as a heater that requires electricity or fuel in order to keep the air warm. If the price of electricity keeps increasing so will your bill.
Electric radiant floors are floors in which electric cable or mats are built into the flooring system. Energy in the form of heat is passed through conductivity to the cable and then it’s dissipated through infra red radiation to other objects. Again, one of the big disadvantages of electric radiant floors is the high cost of electricity. Such system would only be cost-effective if it were to be installed in an area with significant thermal mass. Material with significant thermal masses, such as a thick concrete slab, can store large amount of heat and stay warm for some time. The heat stored in the slab helps warm up the space.
The most cost effective, most common, and one of the more efficient systems are hot water or hydronic radiant floors. Hydronic radiant floors are floors in which a network of pipes is placed within a flooring system and hot water is pumped through the pipes to keep the space warm. They usually require little electricity and water can also be heated with a wide variety of energy sources including standard gas or oil boilers and solar water heaters, all which have high energy efficiency. The temperature in each room can be controlled by adjusting the flow of hot and cold water as you would do with your shower. Although hydronic systems cost more up front than standard forced air systems, they are usually more efficient and last up to several years longer.
September 30, 2011
Green design or otherwise known as sustainable design originated from ancient Greek, Roman, and Chinese in 500 BCE. The evolution of sustainable design focuses on the position of the sun. Houses where designed in ways that the sunlight during summer was diffused light and during the winter direct light. This caused the practice of solar architecture to be popular among the citizens of each region. Current sustainable design is a form of building or design using your resources of the location as well as the materials to the environments advantage. The practice of solar architecture continued with the Romans, who similarly had deforested much of their native Italian Peninsula by the first century BCE. The Roman heliocaminus, literally solar furnace, functioned with the same aspects of the earlier Greek houses. The numerous public baths were oriented to the south. Roman architects added glass to windows to allow for the passage of light and to conserve interior heat as it could not escape. The Romans also used greenhouses to grow crops all year long and to cultivate the exotic plants coming from the far corners of the Empire. The green houses supplied the kitchen of the emperor and everyone in the town during the year.
The ancient architects have left more than just buildings. After the epic industrial revolution era buildings were design to ornate the streets of the world. Ever since than much of the green house affects has cause the 21th century population to rethink the idea of building and retrieve to the roots and ideology of architecture from ancient Roman, Greek, and Chinese. For example the state of California has implemented to their most current building codes to in force sustainable design. The influence that ancient architects left are use to benefit the environment and the population. Today, energy efficiency, appropriate technology, land restoration, and ecologically sustainable energy and waste systems are recognized considerations or options to construction, architecture and design. Currently in the United States the LEED building rating system rates the structures on their environmental sustainability.
September 14, 2011
If you’re a homeowner dealing with pest control problems and you just can’t seem to find an inexpensive but at the same time effective way to get rid of your problem, you might consider using Borate/Borax/ or Boric Acid Powders as they are often referred. A Borate is simply a material made from or that contains a form of Boron, a natural element mined from the earth. Borate insecticide formulas can come in bait formulas containing feed attractants, dry powders, liquid forms, or as injection gels for treating wood. As an insecticide, Borates act as stomach poisons for ants, cockroaches, silverfish and termites, and as abrasive to the insect’s exoskeleton. Depending on the application and the formula used, something that depends on the manufacturer of choice, Borates can terminate pest in several ways. For example, powders stick to insect’s bodies and when they groom themselves they then ingest the poison, which causes death 3 to 10 days later due to starvation and dehydration. Keep in mind that it is important to select the correct borate pesticide for the intended pests or area to be treated.
What makes Borates a better choice for pest control than other conventional methods such as aerosols? The EPA considers Borates as a moderate toxic due to acute effects including oral and dermal toxicity, and eye and skin irritation. It has classified Borates as a “group E” carcinogen, indicating that it shows “evidence of noncarcinogenicity” for humans. On the other hand some aerosols are highly toxic and can contain several carcinogens, substance that tends to produce cancer. The EPA also conducted an assessment of a boric acid pilot pest control program conducted at the U.S Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland and found that boric acid was both more economical and more effective than monthly spray treatments. Another option for homeowners might be to call a professional that specializes in pest control. A drawback of hiring a pest control expert is that service fees tend to be expensive, something not many owners can afford. One of the disadvantages of Borates is its non crop herbicidal use which may harm endangered or threatened plants, reason why it needs to be applied strategically. Unlike aerosols which have to be sprayed constantly, some Borates can be effective even 8 to 10 months after if they are used properly. Over all experts agree that careful application offers a safe and effective alternative without the indoor air problems associated with sprays.
August 24, 2011
What is concrete? For those who are not very familiar with the construction industry, concrete is a composite material made from aggregate, water, cement and other additives. Various kinds of additives can be added into concrete in order to change its properties depending on the required specifications of the project. Concrete is usually reinforced with some kind of material such as fibers, metal caging, or re-bar in order to improve its compressive and tensile strength. Concrete is considered a great construction material due to its properties such as strength, durability, and it’s resistance to deterioration and damage. It can also be a great insulator, buffer sound, and its color can be altered to control heat absorption in order to heat or cool indoor spaces. One of the great advantages of concrete in the construction industry is its low viscosity which allows it to take various ranges of shapes and finishes, depending on the client’s preference.
Concrete serves several applications in the construction industry. It can be used for architectural purposes in order to create an aesthetically pleasing finish, it is used as a concrete overlay or white topping (pavement repair), or it can be used in streets, intersections, and driveways where large carrying loads are required. Concrete can also be used to construct walls where the sound of the outdoor environment is a consideration, such as an office building or public libraries. Although many of us might not notice the many applications of concrete, it is one of the most important materials on earth and the most widely used substance next to water.
Most of us may wonder how can concrete be sustainable. For starters, even though it’s usually considered an expensive construction material, concrete is usually a better construction material than asphalt or wood. Concrete usually has a longer service life than asphalt or wood and it usually requires less maintenance. Old concrete can also be recycled into new aggregate to create new concrete mixtures without losing much strength. On the other hand, wood can also be recycled but it loses a considerable amount of strength during the process. Many of the materials that would end up in our landfills, such as blast furnace slag, recycled polystyrene, and fly ash, can be used instead to make concrete, thus reducing waste in our landfills. Other waste products such as scrap tires and kiln dust are used to fuel the manufacture of cement. Some experts believe concrete can also help reduce global warming by regulating ambient temperatures since dark colored concrete tends to absorb heat while lighter colors absorb less heat.