Thursday, July 28, 2011

Old is New Again

This morning in the NY Times Home section was an article touting the benefits of restoring old windows.



I can say that my recent trip to the ReStore found them rejecting window donations as they are full to the gill with window after window filling their aisles. Windows can be broken down and the glass and wood re purposed and recycled but in the long run this process is unnecessary.



I have frequently mentioned the ways windows can be reused and repaired to be fully functional and energy efficient. I have neighbors who are doing it themselves at the present and while its labor industrious and expensive they figured even with help or sending them out the cost may be still less than replacing the entire house's windows.



For many restoration projects I only replaced windows for utilitarian purposes or aesthetic ones. I found simply cleaning up the damage was more than enough to sustain a home and maintain a budget.



If you are renovating a home and do find yourself in a pinch with windows that is the time to check salvage yards from your re-store you would be surprised what you will find.. and if that doesn't work there are always ways to find new uses for old windows.



Old Windows Find a Following



By KATIE ZEZIMA

Published: July 27, 2011





BARBARA JONES had one stipulation when she was renovating her 1794 farmhouse: keep the original windows.



“For me, it’s aesthetics,” Ms. Jones said as she opened a white wooden window, the summer sun bouncing off its wavy glass. “Keeping the importance of what you have.”



Old windows have acquired a bad reputation over the last few decades as drafty, inefficient and ecologically suspect: fixtures that should be replaced rather than refurbished.



But over the last decade or so, homeowners like Ms. Jones are becoming more common. Many people are keeping their old windows, fixing what they have in the name of appearance, history and, for some, cost savings, according to architects, preservationists and window restorers.



As the host of “This Old House” and “Ask This Old House” on PBS, Kevin O’Connor has a front-row seat on this shift. Nowadays, he said, when he talks to people about home restoration, windows are the “first and most frequently talked about subject.” Mr. O’Connor and his wife spent years fixing the distinctive windows (some arched, others tiny and on hinges) in an 1894 Queen Anne Victorian in Beverly, Mass., that they owned until recently.



“They were as integral to the house as any other component,” Mr. O’Connor said.



Amy Harrington McAuley, who owns Oculus Fine Carpentry in Portland, Ore., agreed that homeowners with old houses are more focused on saving the windows, but, she added, “Sometimes where they get stumbled is, ‘How do I fix them?’ ”



Ms. McAuley is a speaker this week at the first National Window Preservation Summit in Bledsoe, Ky., where about two dozen people have gathered to help people answer that question by drafting national standards for old-window restoration. Organized by a collaborative of window restorers, the conference is sponsored by, among others, the Preservation Trades Network, a group supporting traditional building trades, and the Kentucky State Historic Preservation Office.



“It needs to be put into a standardized book,” said Duffy Hoffman, one of the drafters and a window restorer in Elkins, W.Va., about basic window-restoration techniques. “You can’t replace the wood. You can’t replace the craftsmanship that was put into it.”



The National Trust for Historic Preservation has also made protecting old windows a priority, devoting a section of its Web site to such topics as making old windows last. The group’s site offers a model letter for individuals to use to urge the United States Senate to pass Home Star, an energy bill that would provide tax benefits to homeowners who make old windows more energy-efficient. (The House passed its own Home Star bill this year.) Homeowners can already receive tax benefits for installing efficient new windows. “We’re just trying to spread the word, so people can make good choices,” said Rebecca Harris, a program officer at the trust, who pointed out that installing new windows in old homes, whose original windows often have unusual shapes, can distort the overall architectural design.



“They don’t automatically have to go to replacement,” Ms. Harris said of homeowners.



Robyn Brothers is one homeowner who regrets doing that. She ripped out the windows of her 1857 Greek Revival home in Marshfield, Mass., replacing them with new thermal-paned ones. Ms. Brothers hoped the replacements would prevent drafts and save money, but she said she paid a “shocking sum” for “not even high-end” windows.



Moreover, “You could hear the traffic more” through the new windows, Ms. Brothers said, and there was also a vague feeling of loss. “It’s really striking when the windows have been replaced,” she said. “It’s like the house loses some of its character, its soul.”



When Ms. Brothers decided to renovate a 1940s home she owns nearby, she insisted on keeping the old windows.



The proponents of preserving old windows are trying hard to buck the still-strong belief that new windows are more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly than old ones. They say that preserving old windows means those windows will not be tossed into a landfill, adding to the waste stream, and that old windows are usually made from old-growth wood that can, and often already has, withstood the test of time. New windows, they say, with their many synthetic components, may not be as durable.



Old-window advocates do admit that it is hard for an old window to match the energy efficiency of a new one. But with the right steps it can come very close, said Paul Button, an energy auditor in Manchester, N.H.



For example, Mr. Button recommends installing a boxed cornice, a horizontal box above a window that hides the curtain rod, to help circulate the heat from room radiators around the window area. Also, he said, a good storm window is crucial for maximizing the window’s efficiency.



Mr. Button and others have also noted that the maintenance of old windows that are in decent shape can cost as little as a gallon of paint, while new high-efficiency windows can cost thousands of dollars each.



“Stay on the paint, that’s really all there is to it,” said Steve Quillian, the owner of Wood Window Makeover in Tampa, Fla.



Of course, refurbishing may also require other minor tasks, such as caulking, and some window jobs can be complicated. Lead paint must often be completely removed, for example, and salvaging rotted wood, while possible, often requires the help of a professional.



In some homes, a previous owner may have painted or caulked the windows permanently shut in the hope of blocking drafts; undoing that measure can be tricky. And some windows are in such bad shape that they simply can’t be saved.



At Ms. Jones’s farmhouse, the windows were not in great condition and had to be stripped down to bare wood, cleaned of lead paint and fully refurbished. While she is pleased with the look, the work was costly and the windows can sometimes be hard to operate, which makes her worry about her children opening them in an emergency.



“It’s obviously not a seamless operation,” Ms. Jones said as she tried to get one of the windows to stay open, a tricky procedure involving an original pin-and-groove mechanism.



But to Ms. Jones and others, preserving the character of their homes is worth it.



Joe and Rebecca Titlow bought their red 1721 farmhouse in Bedford, Mass., four years ago, planning to restore it. New windows weren’t even an option; the home is on the National Register of Historic Places.



On a muggy morning this month, the window holes on the ground floor of the Titlow farmhouse were covered with plastic sheets, the windows themselves having been popped out for repair. A crew for “This Old House,” which is planning an episode about the home, was preparing to film for the day.



The previous owner had caulked and painted the windows shut, Ms. Titlow said, and a major goal was to be able to open them. Alison Hardy, the owner of Window Woman of New England, who was refurbishing the windows, said that they were in reasonably good shape for such an old house, but that some wood rot had to be addressed and some paint stripped. She is also repainting the windows and reglazing them with a soybean-oil based putty.



On this day, Ms. Hardy was upstairs, reinstalling a fully refurbished window in its original opening. Its white frame slid up and down easily, just as it presumably had in the early 1700s.



“I’m so excited,” Ms. Titlow said.



For Ms. McAuley, the window restorer in Oregon, the payoff for such intensive work is both making the homeowner happy and restoring a sense of the past.



She put it this way: “You can’t get much closer to history than looking through that glass knowing the people behind you were looking through that same glass, looking at the world.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:



Correction: August 4, 2011





An article last Thursday about renovating old windows described incorrectly part of the changes made to Robyn Brothers’s Greek Revival house in Marshfield, Mass. It was a previous owner — not Ms. Brothers — who ripped out the original windows and replaced them. (Ms. Brothers was dissatisfied with the replacement windows and replaced them, but was unhappy with these second replacements, too. These experiences contributed to her decision to preserve the original windows when she renovated another home she owns nearby.)






Ms.Brothers also reached out to me and sent me the following comment:




Robyn Brothers has long advocated keeping the original windows in an old house. She was forced to replace failing replacement windows in her Greek Revival home. The original windows were replaced in the 90s by a previous owner. Her experience with fogging and outdoor noise further reinforced her convictions. She is currently remodeling another old house and keeping the original windows.







What to Look Out For



WHILE the prospect of refurbishing an old window can be daunting, it is usually not difficult if the window is in decent shape.



“It’s as easy as going outside and mowing the grass,” said Steve Quillian, the owner of Window Wood Makeover, in Tampa, Fla.



Making sure the window has a fresh coat of paint is the most important step, window restorers say, because it ensures that water rolls off the wood and won’t seep in, causing rot.



Homeowners should also check the glaze, the puttylike substance that holds the window in the frame. Glaze can crack and peel with age, allowing wind and the elements to penetrate the window.



All paint should be stripped off the jambs; except for weatherstripping, the jambs should remain bare wood because a painted surface makes opening and closing the window difficult.



If the window has a pulley system, remove all paint from the ropes to help them slide easily.



Locks are not just for security; a good one will make the window tight and keep out drafts. If the area around the window is cold, a thick set of curtains can prevent the chill from seeping into the room.



Small areas of wood rot can be easily repaired with epoxy, window restorers say.



If it all seems daunting, there are many people who specialize in historic windows, often with a less-is-more ethos.

Ikea Me This


Thrilled to hear about this recent turn of events in Ikea's only US Factory.

At Ikea’s Only U.S. Factory, Workers Vote to Join Union
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: July 27, 2011

*
Workers in southern Virginia at Ikea’s only factory in the United States voted Wednesday to belong to a union.

Employees at the Swedwood plant in Danville, Va., voted 221-69 to have the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers represent them in collective bargaining, union and plant officials said. The National Labor Relations Board, which oversaw the vote, has not officially released the results.

Bill Street, a union organizer and director of the international’s woodworkers unit, said he was surprised by the margin of victory. He said “everything’s on the table” when union officials sit down with the company once the vote is certified. Ken Brown, site plant manager, said in a statement that the company officials “fully support the right of our co-workers to make this decision.”

The union described working conditions at the Danville plant as akin to those in a developing nation. The 312 workers assemble the utilitarian bookshelves and coffee tables that the Swedish furniture giant sells. Union officials say they have complained of low wages, unsafe working conditions and erratic scheduling.

Ikea said the Virginia plant, in an economically depressed region, operates by the same principles as its 26 Swedwood plants in Europe.


Ikea often touted by Greenies as safe, green and eco friendly need to know that all of that should include your labor force - here and in China. Chow down on those Swedish meatballs - I doubt its organic healthy beef - as like Ikea its not what it appears to be.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Design that is not Passive in the Least

I found this home featured on the NY Times Real Estate page the other day.

Designed with the area's original design in mind yet using Passive House principles this home serves as a reminder of what can be possible when design and efficiency meld seamlessly.

The article does not go into detail about the build specifics the design elements used are consistent with a combination of what defines passive solar and passive house principles - with large southern facing windows & cement flooring as a thermal mass stone cladding, heavy insulation and minimal use of power to heat/cool the home.



This open-plan house is extremely energy-efficient, yet it does not rely on solar panels, wind turbines or geothermal energy. Instead the architect, Dennis Wedlick, applied passive-house techniques, using heavy-duty insulation, virtually air-tight construction and a constant air filter system to heat and cool the home not with technology, but with purposeful design.




The house has a stone exterior with a timber frame, and its aesthetic pays homage to the Dutch barns that once dotted this part of the Hudson Valley. Among the design’s most striking features is a two-story, south-facing wall of glass that offers expansive views across a meadow.




The house has 25-foot blue plaster ceilings, with bow-arch beams of Southern pine that start at the floor and meet at the apex of the roof. At the center of the house is a custom kitchen with beechwood cabinetry, marble countertops, hidden storage and energy-efficient appliances, including an induction oven.




A bathroom and a master suite with a master bath lie behind the kitchen area. To conserve space and provide privacy, rooms are separated by barn-style sliding doors. At the top of an open wood-and-metal staircase is a large loft that overlooks the main living area. Behind this are two more bedrooms, with large windows set into the slanted roof.



The home is for sale and the information can be found in the NY Times Real Estate Section.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bottle-Less


Are you using Bottled Water in your home or business? Consider the source. From the bottling process to the transporting to finally the overall waster - bottled water is not the greatest way to get clean water.

Quench offers freedom from bottled water giving you a clean source in every sense of the word. Their mission in the last 15 years is to rid the planet of bottled water and in turn make the planet a greener one.

Quench doesn't just talk the talk they walk it with a strong sustainable business model and practices that include: Driving fuel-efficient vehicles, offset their minimal emissions by purchasing carbon offsets Carbon Offset (which in turn enables the development of projects that produce alternative forms of energy, such as solar or wind, or support reforestation); all coolers (despite creating none of the waste associated with water jugs)old ultraviolet bulbs and replacement filters are recycled; they also strive to be as paperless as possible in their billing and administrative practices.

Check out their blog for their weekly tips and if interested in finding out more about Quench and find out out you can get a bottleless water dispensers for your home or business become part of the bottle-less wave.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Inteview Skills or Lack Thereof


Confession time. A few years ago after my divorce I had to shutter the business entity my ex and I had, Redintigrate. It was a small side business for us really that enabled us to buy and sell the houses we lived in while my husband pursued his full time career as a Consultant on the fast track with one of the big five.

The ability to live and work in a remodel project is not one most people come to enjoy but over the years I got used to living in chaos, fixing a property, selling it and moving. Its how I became adept at not only remodeling but project management, design, logistics and well relocating and renovating on a grand scale.

Those skills and efforts I thought were marketable ones that I could take into the workforce for another company or business of similar enterprise; Only this time I would not be actually taking the work "home with me" for a change. Nor would I be putting up the capital as I suspected then in 2005 (the time of my divorce and in turn last house flip) that dark days were coming. I needed secure work and an opportunity to push my talents and skills in a new direction.

One of the businesses I interviewed with was Winans Construction out of Berkeley, California where I was living at the time. Winans' was a family run operation of a husband and wife team whose work was impeccable. They have since sold the business and are retired but Paul writes for Remodeling Online and apparently still teaches/talks in the area.

My interview was one of the first I had post divorce and I was unquestionably nervous. And while it became one of many - indicating not only the problems of what we now see - a drying up employment market - it was also an indicator of what I would find throughout my job search - age and sex discrimination.

The Winan's met me in their office and promptly took me to their dimly lit, cold shop adjacent to the office for the interview. This was after I was subject to a series of phone interviews that bordered on strange to illegal and then a subsequent series of "personality" tests. Later I found out that many Companies are buying them and using them as screening devices rather than actually using good interview skills and techniques. (Of course I also found out that the margin of error was high as well as most who relied on them also seemed to have a revolving door of employees and complaints to accompany them. Its why I never use them nor do any really strongly confident capable managers).

There in the cold dim warehouse space the Winans asked me little about my experience and, again much as a reflections of their earlier phone interviews and tests, a lot about my personal life, my personality and my relationships. Some of that I understand as in Construction/Remodeling sales and project management have more to do with that skill set and less on organizational ability but it bordered on odd. They then got the Receptionist to come in and interview me - which she was clearly unprepared. It was all quite disorganized and later talking to others in the building community not surprising. It was also not surprising they wisely sold out as the boom was ending as their business was likely not going to grow further.

I find it ironic and amusing now to read Paul's absurdly silly write ups in Remodeling Online as they never have to do with building business or developing skills its usually an anecdote or lesson learned about taking time off. Clearly he needs it.

I never speak ill usually of those in business personally. But enough time has passed and I think its important to actually write about some of the interviews and encounters I have had with those in the Construction community to show that some of the reputations are earned - both good and bad. And perhaps from those experiences you too can learn what to do or not in the future..

Next entry the man who insulted me throughout the interview but asked me to come back at 5:30 pm for a "follow up."

A New Alternative


A new light source. For some a new alternative source of energy is available. North American Power is now offering an option to certain customers served by their local utility provider (see their website for specific providers).

North American Power is an energy company founded to help homeowners and businesses take full advantage of deregulated rates by offering their own source of energy via your utility provider and by doing so offer competitive rates while also funding alternative energy sources.

North American Power places community at the center of its mission; helping consumers make smarter energy choices, giving back to local non-profits through an innovative program and in turn creating sustainable income opportunities for the community.

Plus, the NAP Green program offers eco-conscious consumers a variety of choices that positively impact the environment. NAP Green means 100% of your monthly electric use can support the production of cleaner power from renewable resources like wind and water.

Watch the video "The Power of Change" and see if you are ready for a change. Help yourself help others go green and go big. Power Change.


**this entry was sponsored by North American Power***

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Have You Been Greenwashed?



I get a lot of inquiries about what makes a product green or I hear a lot of very standard green dots when talking about products and green build.. the usual Bamboo,Concrete,etc.

Well it takes a lot more to make a product "green" and its why my business is all about "finding your right shade of green". It is a huge color palette with a wide line of products and issues that surround green build and design.

Some simple factors in determining if a product or manufacturer is Greenwashing you ask these questions:

Green by Association: is it still the same product but now swathed in green terminology. My favorite is a car dealer who markets himself as "carbon neutral

Lack of Specifics:
When something claims to be "environmentally" sound ask what makes it so. The devil is in the details and finding out if something is good for the environment it might be a good idea to find out what environment its actually good in. Something that works in Colorado or under certain circumstances and situations may not be the right one in your situation.

Devil is in Details
. Are they making substantial claims but have no evidence to support them. If a product is recycled how much of it is and has it been certified as such.


The Logic is Missing: A product that is good for the environment and can last 20 years is amazing. Eco friendly is just that ecological and it means in turn natural or organic. As a result neither have long shelf lives or should have warranties that are beyond the actual life of the product.


What is the Life Cycle:
When something is touted as green but its manufacturing process is anything but then it overlooks an important aspect of what it means to be green. Bamboo is often the most notorious. Sure its highly sustainable but its also shipped from China, poorly harvested, glued with chemicals and the workers may be also highly underpaid in the process. Not very green I'm afraid. The alternative is true as well. Things that may be less than green - such as Formica - may have a business such as Wilsonart committed to manufacturing in an Eco friendly fashion that lends to its green label.


Bait and Switch
: A business that has one product in its line that is labeled "green" while the rest of them and the business itself is notoriously not. Oil companies are infamous for this. And the worst part is they frequently charge more for the green product.

Rallying Behind a Lower Standard: finding a third party certification that is industry based -one with lower standards and less rigor. Who is really behind that label? A non profit or the business itself. The lumber industry is the number one perpetrator of this at this time.


Manipulators: These are either businesses that inadvertently bend the truth about their green practices - Ikea comes to mind here - but have good intentions by making a product that is on the surface green or they outright lie about their products intentionally.

Greenwashing is very easy to buy into as we want to find ourselves on the right side but we also have to be practical, affordable and logical. But if you are truly interested in going green make sure you know what it means and how you define it - and then make sure the businesses you do business with define it on the same terms

Land of the Pharaohs.





The last few weeks the New York Times is "reviewing" current Architecture in the Chinese provinces. As China has become the world’s great incubator of architectural ideas: the place where architects are free to explore some of their most outlandish fantasies.

Many Architects finding their work and funding dried up in response to the economy they are finding welcome arms in China. Many articles also have been dedicated to many ex-pats who are either relocating or just returning from their travels and work in China. Of course they are finding endless funding and opportunity to expand their creativity and visions - and endless laborers working at slave wages. Reminiscent at some level of the day of the Pharaohs who built their Pyramids and visions with abandon to mark their empire.

So what is significant about this immense growth of Architecture in China and what does it mean for China? Building great centers and theatres in anticipation of great business and opportunity or in fact building great centers for ghosts - for if they build it will they come? Well given Asia's immense growth in wealth the past decade I assume their own Oligarchs will establish new centers of business and opportunity in a nation still finding a blend of what it means to be both Capitalist and Communist in nature.


First was the Vanke Center. The Vanke Center, a vast office, hotel and exhibition complex on the edge of this bustling city of nine million in the Pearl River Delta. The design of Steven Holl,the Vanke Center is a surreal hybrid — part building, part landscape, part infrastructure. It demonstrates what can happen when talented architects are allowed to practice their craft uninhibited by creative restrictions (or, to be fair, by the high labor costs of most developed societies).

The Vanke is undoubtedly a magnificent structure, sustainable and elegant in scope but an 11 acre part located 45 minutes from an urban city in what is a soulless suburban sprawl of the province.

There is no mention of the long term goals of the structure which possesses a large hotel and office space but again in this growing Country that is a matter for later.


The next is the new Guangzhou Opera House designed by Zaha Hadidis. A gorgeous structure that demonstrates China's undergoing cultural growing pains and whose architectural monuments are mostly being built by unskilled migrant labor, the opera’s construction was racked with problems and the quality of some of it is abysmal. It is also a magnificent example of how a single building can redeem a moribund urban environment.

But as for the poor construction, many of the 75,000 exterior stone panels were so shoddily made that they are already being replaced. Some plasterwork in the lobbies looks as if it was done by an untrained worker who had never picked up a trowel before. (At one point someone obviously tried to cover up a random piece of pipe that sticks out of a lobby wall by slathering it in more plaster.) But to Architecture lovers all of this is not important for again if you build it they will come. They the millions of peasants I am sure who cannot afford the price of a ticket but hey.

The most recent entry is the CCTV Headquarters designed by Rem Koolhaas. The project from the onset has been plagued with problems the initial one being in 2003 he was pilloried by Western journalists for glorifying a propaganda organ of the Chinese government. Subsequent fires, prosecutions for shoddy construction and finally an accusation that the design evoked pornography it has lead the NY Times to declare the CCTV headquarters may be the greatest work of architecture built in this century.

I am glad to know that design is alive and well and the ideas that great buildings can bring great things - think the Chrysler Building in New York City - that define a tremendous growth and push in a Country's growth - I look back on that as a time of ignorance. Today we know better and to build such structures without truly understanding the importance of true qualified and talented labor NEEDED to build it one might just as well be a Pharaoh in Egypt.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Who Creates Jobs?


Much is said about "job creators" a mix of uber wealthy who must be protected from the evil tax cuts and a mythical unicorn whose existence is debated but nonetheless revered.

Well job creators are not tooth fairies who arrive magically with their wand leaving a job under every pillow in exchange for a tax credit.

The largest job creators are Small Business. The Small Business Administration says small businesses, defined as companies with fewer than 500 workers, employ about half of the workers in the private sector. But the SBA also defines a "small business" as one generating under 50 million a year in revenue.. but well...

They found A]almost 2/3 or 64%—of small-business executives surveyed said they weren't expecting to add to their payrolls in the next year and another 12% planned to cut jobs.

More than half of the small-business executives in the June 27-30 survey cited economic uncertainty as the main reason for holding back on hiring. About a third blamed lack of sales, while just 7% pointed to problems getting credit.

Many of the executives surveyed were gloomy about the economy's prospects. About 41% see the business climate getting worse over the next two years, compared with 29% who expect the climate to improve.

The modest hiring plans of small businesses don't make up for the job losses in the past year, when some 29% let go workers, far outpacing the numbers that now plan to hire.

What creates jobs - DEMAND. What creates demand - JOBS. With a continue redlining of staffing needs, a minimal wage increase for the average employee (2% this past year most eaten by inflation compared to the astronomical wage packages of CEO's) and the fear and uncertainty of their long term employment our Economy does not have a rosy picture in the future. Our economy is driven by consumer demand and purchasing power and has not been a manufacturing exporting one for quite some time. And with the drive across the globe also declining those industries relying on overseas exports expect them to feel the pinch sooner vs later.

And this mindset of fewer jobs is not tied to any one Congress or Presidency but has been in the pipeline for years. A Kauffman study found that new businesses generate fewer jobs in its origins and over its lifetime.

Companies established in 2009 could employ one million fewer people than historic norm

Kauffman Foundation suggests that the country faces a far more fundamental employment challenge that pre-dates the recession by many years: A long-term trend that the researchers call a slow jobs "leak."

Starting Smaller; Staying Smaller: America’s Slow Leak in Job Creation said its analysis of government data shows that since the middle of the last decade and perhaps longer, the growth path and survival rate of new businesses means they are generating fewer and fewer new jobs. The cohort of new firms that started in 2009, for example, is on course to contribute one million fewer jobs in the next decade than historical averages would suggest.

"While the recession certainly deepened the jobs deficit, the U.S. economy stopped producing enough new jobs well before the downturn," said Robert Litan, Kauffman Foundation vice president of research and policy and study co-author. "Historically, startups are the key to long-term employment growth, and they have been hiring fewer people for the last several years. We won’t fix our core unemployment problem in the United States until young businesses get back on track."


The study draws on data sources indicating a decline in the number of new "employer businesses," those that create jobs for workers other than the owner. Citing data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the study found that the number of new employer businesses has fallen 27 percent since 2006. When including new employer businesses and newly self-employed workers, the level of startups has held steady or even edged up since the recession; however, that encouraging sign is somewhat misleading because firms that support only the self-employed owner do not scale to generate the new jobs needed to support overall economic growth.

The study also examined young companies' size at birth, jobs created and survival patterns of new firms. They found that historically, new firms in the United States have generated about 3 million new jobs every year, but that recent cohorts have performed much worse, creating only 2.3 million jobs in 2009. At the level of individual businesses, one data series (BLS establishment data) showed that in the 1990s new establishments opened their doors with about 7.5 jobs on average, compared to 4.9 jobs today.

What the end result is that new businesses have been adding jobs at a slower pace than earlier ones and even when they do well and grow, but that growth hasn't made up for lower employment levels at inception.

"Not only are these businesses starting out smaller than their predecessors, they are staying smaller," said E.J. Reedy, Kauffman Research Fellow and study co-author. "Cohorts of businesses rarely add jobs in the aggregate as they age. A cohort’s initial level of employment is likely the maximum number of jobs it will provide over its lifetime. Thus, falling contributions of jobs at new businesses will be felt in the U.S. economy for years."


The researchers said that rather than focusing on discrete events such as the opening of a new manufacturing plant or relocation of a large business to a local community, policymakers must recognize that the long-term jobs outlook will be driven by the collective decisions of young and small businesses whose changing employment patterns are hard to identify or influence. They also warned against the false hope that growth in the number of self-employed workers can resolve the U.S. employment shortfall.

"We need to find a way to start more employer businesses, ensure that they are larger and nurture their growth," Litan said.

Who creates jobs - not the mythical Unicorn but real people with real businesses and employees. And the survey by the Chamber mentioned NOTHING about taxes, cuts or even regulation as reasons they are not hiring. Perhaps that should answer the question.

Green Roads Meet Headwinds



Frequently I have shared blogs with Software Advice and in regards to my many posts regarding infrastructure they sent along some of their current roadblocks to what it means to go big and go green.



There is no question we face an immense crisis with our infrastructure and since it needs upgrading there is no better time to do it in the most eco friendly and sustainable fashion. Good for the budget and good for the environment can be mutually inclusive.



Every year, the United States paves roughly 32,000 lane miles of road. Building each lane mile of road requires 25,000 tons of crushed stone and emits 1,200 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. At Software Advice, a resource for


"Our roads are everywhere. Anywhere you turn, you’re automatically on a road. We can’t get away from them. We step outside of our house and we’re on a road. If we go to a National Park, we take a road. People don’t realize this but [building roads] is one of the highest impact things we do.” – Shane Stathert, Think Green Roads



Luckily, some innovative ideas have cropped up to minimize the environmental - and economic - impacts of building our roads. These ideas range from using old rubber tires as road filler to incorporating recycled glass into the asphalt base. Even more innovative is the use of hot in-place recycling, a technique that recycles asphalt to repave a road on location. But these green methods are only used a fraction of the time that conventional methods are used.



With so many great ideas buzzing around us, we couldn’t help but wonder why all of these innovative green methods aren’t getting the attention, and use, they deserve. After digging into the road construction industry a bit, we realized that it’s actually contractors that are holding us back.



Here’s how they’re blocking the path to green road construction. A while back, contractors negotiated a special contract stipulation, known as “cost-plus” pricing, into the road construction bidding process. It was developed to keep contractors from having to deal with the variable price of asphalt. Cost-plus pricing stipulates that contractors are to be paid for their labor plus the cost of the asphalt for every job. As a result, contractors that use more asphalt on a project make more money.



This creates a disincentive for contractors to use eco-friendly methods of construction that require less asphalt. With no incentive to use greener methods of roads construction, these innovative ideas aren’t given a fair shake in the bidding process. Thus, green road construction is caught at an impasse. To read more about contractors are standing the way of road construction, visit my blog at: Green Roads Construction:
Are Contractors Our Roadblock?





by Derek Singleton

ERP Analyst, Software Advice

Jul 07, 2011



Stadiums Go Green


Recently I toured McKinstry, a full service Engineering/Mechanical firm specializing in energy solutions. They were just finishing up managing the solar panel installation and comprehensive resource conservation project for Qwest Field and Event Center. To refresh memories, McKinstry was toured by then Candidate, Obama, and mentioned specifically for its focus on renewable and green building techniques.

In May 2011, both the Seattle Seahawks, First & Goal Inc. (FGI) and Sounders Football Club announced the installation of an enormous solar array on the roof of the vast Qwest Field Event Center, which seats 72,000 people. The solar installation covers over 2.5 acres, spreading across 80 percent of the Event Center roof. The project consists of 3,750 thin-film solar panels manufactured in the U.S. by Solyndra.

Headquartered in Fremont, California, Solyndra designs and manufactures photovoltaic systems, comprised of panels and mounts, for the commercial rooftop market. Using proprietary cylindrical modules and thin film technology, Solyndra’s light-weight, non-penetrating systems are designed to provide simple and easy installations at a low cost.

The unique technology captures both direct and reflected sunlight as each panel is comprised of many tubes, each with a 360-degree cylindrical surface. The facility is also equipped with a “cool roof” that conserves energy by reducing heat absorption through the roof, lowering building cooling costs.

In addition to the solar installation, Qwest Field hopes to cut energy and water use throughout the complex by installing mechanical system upgrades, high-efficiency lighting and ultra-low flow water fixtures, all of which support the facility’s commitment to sustainability. Qwest Field managed the upfront financial investment and implemented these upgrades with help from rebates provided by Seattle's two main utilities, Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities.

And on that note another stadium has made some eco friendly improvements.

Rite-Hite’s high volume, low speed (HVLS) fans have been installed outside of the Arizona Diamondbacks stadium, Chase Field, for the MLB’s All-Star game festivities, to be held July 12.

To go along with the stadium’s new APS Solar Pavilion, a structure that will generate 75 kilowatts of solar power and offer additional shade to game-goers, Rite-Hite’s original Revolution HVLS Fans will be installed outside the stadium as an additional, energy-efficient means to keep baseball fans cool.

Rite-Hite’s fans provide the most air movement of any HVLS fans, and their design moves air up to 85 feet from the fan’s center in all directions, making them energy-efficient and great for large-space building environments. Their unique Propell-Aire™ blade design ensures consistent temperatures from ceiling to floor, eliminating any energy-robbing cold or hot zones. Take a look their site to see the varying environments their fans have been put use.

Green Codes


I just read this in ED+C online magazine and it gives me great hope that a move toward an ICC of Building Codes for Green Build is fast approaching.

As a partial critic of LEED simply because of their increasing dominance and therefore monopoly on Certification process I would prefer a wider program that offers in turn wider influence and participation. It will encourage further participation and involvement and reduce costs and needless additions to buildings that have no purpose other than to acquire points.

New "Green Codes" Gain Momentum
By Jeffrey R. King , LEED AP

The State of Maryland recently passed legislation enabling local jurisdictions to adopt the International Green Construction Code (also known as the Green Code) as a requirement for new construction in that state, to be effective as of March 2012. This follows the previous adoption of the Green Code by the State of Rhode Island, the cities of Richland, Washington. and Ft. Collins, Colorado, as well as local governments in the State of New Hampshire.

What is the IGCC?

The Green Code is intended to serve as a model, enforceable building code in contract to voluntary rating systems, such as LEED. The primary organization behind the development of the Green Code is the International Codes Commission (ICC), a nonprofit membership association that has developed numerous building codes (known as I-Codes) which are applicable to the construction of residential and commercial buildings. The ICC is widely accepted as a leader in this field as evidenced by the fact that I-Codes have been adopted by all 50 states and many federal agencies. Other participants in the process of developing the Green Code are the AIA, ASTM, ASHRAE, USGBC and IES. With the broad participation of such well-established players in the construction industry, it is anticipated that the Green Code will have considerable acceptance and impact in building circles.

Green Code vs. LEED

The Green Code is not intended to compete with or replace LEED or similar green building rating organizations, but instead will complement the efforts of such organizations by providing a baseline mandatory building code. In fact, the USGBC has been one of the leading sponsors of and participants in the process of developing the Green Code.

Status of Green Code

The public process of developing the Green Code began in March of 2010 with the issuance of Version 1.0. Since then, there have been a series of comment periods, public hearings, amendments and releases of revised versions of the Green Code. The final public comment deadline is set for August 12, 2011, the final action hearing is scheduled for November 2-6, 2011 and the anticipated publication date is March of 2012.

Potential Impact of Green Code

The prospect of the wide-spread adoption of an enforceable green building code is seen by many in the construction industry as having the potential to fundamentally change the focus of sustainability in the United States. A statement issued by the AIA predicted that the Green Code could be the biggest development to hit the architectural profession in the last 50 years. Considering the potential impact of the Green Code and the rapidly approaching publication date, you can expect to see more and more commentary and discussion of this major development in the sustainability arena.