We’re Dreaming of a GREEN Christmas!

Christmas doesn’t have to be a burden on the environment. With a little effort and imagination, we can reduce the environmental impact of the holiday season!

  1. Save energy by skipping on the lights altogether or by picking up efficient LED bulbs instead. Go one better and try a laser projection system with only 3 Watt Power Consumption! LED (Light Emitting Diode) holiday lights use up to 95% less energy than larger, traditional holiday bulbs and last up to 100,000 hours when used indoors. LED holiday lights use .04 watts per bulb, 10 times less than mini bulbs and 100 times less than traditional holiday bulbs. Over a 30-day period, lighting 500 traditional holiday lights will cost you about $18.00 while the same number of LED lights costs only $0.19. As an added bonus, if one of the LED lights burns out the rest of the strand will stay lit.
  2. Turn off tree lights and outdoor house decorative lighting at bedtime. Not only will you save energy but you greatly reduce the risk of a fire.  This can be automated with the user of timers that can be located at any hardware store.
  3. Skip sending a Holiday Card this season and go digital.  There are a number of free emailing services that will help you create, customize and email a card this season.  You can even email digital gift cards and services!
  4. Use environmentally friendly wrapping paper and recycle your bags, boxes and paper.  Choose wrapping paper made using fibers such as hemp, or paper using recycled content. Any non-glossy paper wrapping can be shredded for the compost or added to the recycling bins. Be sure to keep the bows and ribbons for multiple uses, as well as tissue paper, gift bags and boxes. Also, packaging from beverages or food containers should be rinsed and recycled as well.

Mr. Larry Clark of HPAC Magazine took an interesting stab at rewriting the wonderful Bing Crosby classic “White Christmas.”  It may not be the catchiest song in the world but we sure do love green buildings and lifestyle!

I’m dreaming of a green Christmas
Unlike the ones we’ve had before
Where the carbon’s lower and shopping’s slower
As we walk or bike to the store

I’m dreaming of a green Christmas
With every BTU we clean
Make lower energy use routine
And may all your Christmases be green

I’m dreaming of a green Christmas
Let’s do our part for climate change
Think recycle and be more resourceful
Let’s think green as we arrange

I’m dreaming of a green Christmas
With every BTU we clean
Make lower energy use routine
And may all your Christmases be green

Here’s some real holiday cheer: Last week, Congress reauthorized the Energy Efficient Commercial Building tax deduction included in Internal Revenue Code §179D and commonly referred to simply as 179D. It has been extended retroactively to Jan. 1, 2015, and is effective through Dec. 31, 2016. The most significant change to the provisions was the update of referenced ANSI/ASHRAE/IES 90.1, Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, from the 2001 version to the 2007 version for projects completed in 2016.

Wood Fireplace: 9 Tips for Safety and Efficiency

While the fine engineers at BFA enjoy sophisticated HVAC technologies like VRF and ‘smart’ distribution systems it’s still hard to pass up on an old fashion wood burning heat source.  This holiday season, and the colder months to follow, is a great time to bring in some firewood and enjoy some bonding time next to a wood burning fire.  Before you start throwing in wood let’s discuss some guidelines to keep the fireplace burning brightly–and more importunately safely!

1. Only burn dry, cured wood — logs that have been split, stacked, and dried for eight to 12 months. Cover your log pile on top, but leave the sides open for air flow.

Hardwoods such as hickory, white oak, beech, sugar maple, and white ash burn longest, though dry firewood is more important than the species. Less dense woods like spruce or white pine burn well if sufficiently dry, but you’ll need to add more wood to your fire more often, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA).

2. Burn firewood and only firewood! Crates, lumber, construction scraps, painted wood, or other treated wood releases chemicals into your home, compromising air quality. Log starters are fine for getting your wood fireplace going, but they burn very hot; generally only use one at a time.

3. Close the damper when not using your wood fireplace to prevent warm indoor air — and the dollars you’re spending to heat it — from rushing up the chimney.

4. Keep bifold glass doors open when burning a fire to allow heat to get into the room. On a factory-built, prefab wood fireplace with a circulating fan, keep doors closed to prevent unnecessary heat loss.

5. Have a chimney cap installed to prevent objects, rain, and snow from falling into your chimney, and to reduce downdrafts. Caps have side vents so smoke escapes. A chimney sweep usually provides and can install a stainless steel cap, which is better than a galvanized metal one because it won’t rust. Caps cost $50 to $200.

6. Replace a poorly sealing damper to prevent heat loss. A top-mounted damper that also functions as a rain cap provides a tighter closure than a traditional damper for your wood fireplace.

7. Install carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors in your house — near your wood fireplace as well as in bedroom areas.

8. Get your chimney cleaned twice a year if you burn more than three cords of wood annually. A cord is 4 feet high by 4 feet wide by 8 feet long, or the amount that would fill two full-size pickup trucks.

9. To burn a fire safely, build it slowly, adding more wood as it heats. Keep the damper of your wood fireplace completely open to increase draw in the early stages. Burn the fire hot, at least occasionally—with the damper all the way open to help prevent smoke from lingering in the fireplace and creosote from developing.

Downtown Norfolk – Norfolk Reinvented

Bowman, Foster & Associates is a proud Norfolk based company!  We are excited to see the growth of Norfolk and can’t wait for it to finally ‘have it’s moment.’  Check out the great article and video below.

From Distinction HR Magazine (http://distinctionhr.com/2015/11/downtown-norfolk/):

“After years of striving for a comeback, the city’s downtown may finally be having its moment. The number of people living downtown has topped 5,000, which a study years ago pegged as the critical mass needed to sustain retail and restaurants in the city’s core. Figures today put the population at about 5,600.

In the past three years, more than 15 restaurants and bars have opened – or are in the process of opening – on Granby Street alone. Some are a product of turnover, and more are planned.

The main corridor now boasts an impressive array of businesses, including a vinyl record store and a 1920s-themed cocktail and piano bar. Saint Germain makes creative, high-dollar cocktails. Field Guide serves rice bowls at long communal tables, and the Barrel Room serves local craft beers.

The city has built several tiny urban parks in parking spaces scattered through the area. In the evenings, dog walkers fill the sidewalks, and on weekends, visitors bounce from taproom to shop to pub.

This level of activity is expected in hipster-laden Ghent, but not on the city streets next door.

“We’re making downtown sexy again,” says George Homewood, Norfolk’s planning director. “Some of it’s what the city’s doing, a lot of it is what the private market’s doing, but more of it is recognizing there’s a new generation.”