Tower Pulls Drinking Water Out of Thin Air

Warka Water towers. Source: Smithsoianmag.com

People in the Ethiopia area are spending 40 billion hours per year trying to figure out how to collect clean drinking water.  This is a huge ongoing problem for the people that live in these areas because they are not able to get enough drinking water to survive. Well now there is a new solution to a problem that affects nearly one billion people in Africa:  Warka Water towers.  These inexpensive, about $500 USD, 30 foot tall vase looking structures can provide up to 25 gallons of clean drinking water per day.  The concept of producing clean drinking water is not a new technology, it is just improved tremendously.  The structure is made up of a biodegradable material and can be easily cleaned by one person.  In Africa there sometimes can be a 50 degree temperature change from day time to night time.  With that huge fluctuation the towers are built to collect the condensation in the mesh materials inside the towers and that is what produces the clean drinking water.  There are a few questions about the Warka Water towers like, if the towers can hold up in the sometimes extreme outside conditions.  Arturo Vittori, the inventor of these products, believes that the towers will hold up very well because they are built with a strong mesh material that is also biodegradable.  With that design it ensures that the towers will produce consistent clean drinking water for the people in the area.

Source: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/this-tower-pulls-drinking-water-out-of-thin-air-180950399/?no-ist

The Eiffel Tower goes Green!

Installing the turbines. Image: Urban Green Energy

In today’s society, the new concept people are striving for is green energy. Green energy is simply using the natural resources to create energy without the offset of pollution and waste… and now the majestic Eiffel Tower has made the jump and gone green! This recognizable worldwide icon has been equipped with wind turbines suspended 400 feet above the ground. These turbines were placed on the second level so they can capture the most possible wind to maximize the energy output. These two turbines were installed the old fashion way by using ropes and pulley systems while a team of people guided them all the way up. The whole installation process was relatively simple one as the installation team contracted for this project had previous experience working on the Tower; however, with that said the team still dealt with a few problems. One of those was being able to get the sixteen foot blades for the turbine up to the second level where the turbines would be placed. This became difficult because the workers had to deal with a pretty small range of room all the way up. The other problem the company dealt with was figuring out the proper way to secure the wind turbine to the tower because they were not building on a conventional building. Instead of the contractors using concrete to secure the motors, they built a steel foundation that was required to absorb any vibrations that may occur. With all the construction completed in February 2015, the turbines produce a small percentage of power needed to operate the tower, this is an excellent way to get more people around the world informed and involved in sustainable energy.

Source: https://www.asme.org/engineering-topics/articles/energy/eiffel-tower-goes-green

Seattle will require big building ‘tune-ups’

“This week the Seattle City Council passed legislation requiring an inspection of energy and water systems every five years in commercial buildings 50,000 square feet or larger.”

This is a huge step forward to help with the growing concern of climate pollution! Keeping facilities in a higher performing and optimized state will reduce their power usage and, not only provide the building with reduced facility operating cost, help lower their carbon foot print. Seattle is setting a huge presidence with this move and even making sure it’s followed by a strict fine: “There are fines for property owners who don’t comply, ranging from $5,000 to 20,000, depending on the size of the building.”  This could have quite an impact on the A/E/C industry to follow–definitely something we will be following closely.

Read more at King5 news: http://www.king5.com/news/seattle-require-big-building-tune-ups/87738402

Top Emerging Trends Impacting HVAC&R Industry for Next 5 Years

LONDON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Technavio’s latest report on the global air conditioning market provides an analysis on the most important trends expected to impact the market outlook from 2016-2020. Technavio defines an emerging trend as a factor that has the potential to significantly impact the market and contribute to its growth or decline.

The top four emerging trends driving the global air conditioning market according to Technavio research analysts are:

  • Increased popularity of smart thermostats
  • Rapid adoption of inverter ACs
  • Demand for integrated systems
  • Introduction of air purifying technology

Increased popularity of smart thermostats

Smart thermostats such as Nest and Ecobee3 have witnessed increased popularity in both residential and commercial markets. These thermostats allow the monitoring of temperatures at home and in commercial spaces from mobile devices and PCs. The thermostats monitor humidity and temperature and alter cooling cycles, resulting in energy- and money-saving opportunities. These thermostats are further advancing in terms of technology.

“Tado launched the Smart AC Control in early 2015, a device that turns remote-controlled air conditioners into smart devices. This device works with over 85% of ACs globally, is connected through WIFI, and controls ACs using infrared technology. This is expected to maximize the efficiency of ACs and have a positive influence on the global air conditioning market,” says Abhay Sinha, a lead research analyst at Technavio for the home, kitchen, and large appliances industry.

Rapid adoption of inverter ACs

Inverter-type ACs reduce energy consumption by about 30% and are not as expensive to install compared to central air conditioning units, for which their adoption is increasing. They are incorporated with a variable speed compressor that switches off upon attaining the desired temperature and switches on when the temperature changes. In comparison to window air conditioners, they are cheaper to run by 30%-50% and occupy less space.

Japan has the highest ratio of inverter-type products, covering residential ACs. In Latin America and Europe, these products are gaining widespread popularity, and vendors such as Daikin are expanding their lineups to cater to this demand. Vendors have also introduced other features such as sleep-state technology, wherein a sensor detects when users fall asleep and controls the temperature settings for better comfort.

Demand for integrated systems

HVAC controls and building systems have become more integrated, driving demand among end-users who seek the benefits of streamlined systems such as lighting and access controls. This allows higher energy efficiency in managing building systems as it allows control from one interface. These systems facilitate the elimination of redundancy in systems and provide better occupant comfort, owing to better management. For instance, access controls integrated with HVAC controls allows the use of a single platform to monitor cooling and alter the cooling based on the number of people in the air conditioned environment. These systems have already gained popularity in commercial offices, and they are also gaining popularity in hotels, healthcare facilities, schools, and retail stores.

Introduction of air purifying technology

“Rising concerns related to the inhalation of polluted air have driven vendors to introduce separate air purifying technologies. Many vendors have integrated air purification systems in their air conditioners, eliminating the need to purchase a separate one. They contain multi-layered filtration and active technologies that rid the air of impurities,” says Abhay.

Panasonic has integrated Nanoe-G technology into its ACs, which makes air hygienic by neutralizing bacteria, viruses, and allergens through the release of small water molecules that have hydroxyl radicals. Daikin also introduced an air purifier that uses streamer discharge technology to remove unpleasant odors and allergens such as mites, mold, and pollen. This trend helps provide value-added benefits to consumers and differentiates vendors’ products in the intensely competitive global air conditioning market.

Lions, tigers, and… phony engineers? OH MY!

Last month Fox News reported a ‘wrecking ball’ of a story after 2 phony engineers who posed as licensed professionals and used stolen software to draw up engineering and architectural plans for homes, apartments, commercial properties and strip malls in at least 56 Southern California cities beginning in 2003, according to police. Neither had the training, expertise or credentials to vouch for the safety of the building plans, and authorities are only now grasping the scope of the problem.

That’s terrifying stuff!  Take a read of the full article located here.

As a shameless self promotion to our company, and our partnering architectural, structural and civil firms, we’re happy to have multiple engineers, available in all trades, and all are registered in multiple states and abroad!

Grab a piece of history – original water pump gauge from the Empire State Building to be Auctioned!

The fine folks at Andre & Veronika’s Antiques & Collectibles will auctioning a water pump gauge that was part of the original plumbing system from the Empire State Building.  In less than a month from now, February 21st at 6:30 PM EST to be exact, you’ll have the chance to own the old grubby gauge from the 1930’s.  Well, I don’t think anyone would call it pretty but what an interesting piece of history.  We’re excited for the bidding to began!  It would make a great addition to our conference room renovation.

empirestategauge

2016: Just the beginning of the Solar boom!

Last year, 2015, was a record year for solar energy.  In fact, a new solar system was activated every 1.6 minutes in quarter three of 2015, up from every 2.5 minutes in 2014.  Throughout the first three quarters of this year, 30 percent of all new electric generating capacity brought on-line in the U.S. came from solar, according to a report dated December 9th from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

America’s solar boom is far from busting. In fact, solar will quadruple in size from just over 24 GW of total capacity to nearly 100 GW by 2020. By that point, there will be enough solar installed to power 20 million American homes.

New Solar Era

Sustained growth for one of America’s newest and most cutting-edge industries was solidified last week when Congress passed a bipartisan spending bill. This seemingly routine legislation is historic because it brings the solar industry to the forefront of the conversation about American energy.

Instead of the ITC dropping down to 10 percent for commercial users and zero for residential users at the end of 2016, Congress took action that will help solar drive America toward its clean energy future.

The bill included modifications to the tax code that extended both the residential and commercial sections of the solar investment tax credit (ITC). Specifically, there is a long-term extension for both residential and commercial solar users with a gradual phase down over the next five years, as well as a permanent 10 percent tax credit for commercial users.

ITC Extension and Phase Down Schedule

  • 2017—30 percent
  • 2018—30 percent
  • 2019—30 percent
  • 2020—26 percent
  • 2021—22 percent
  • 2022 and beyond—permanent 10 percent for commercial credit

For the first time, the legislation also allows for users to claim the credit as soon as construction of their projects begin, as long as the projects are placed in service by Dec. 31, 2023.

Source and additional information can be located at http://www.seia.org/

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.”