14 great solutions

Welcome to the third installment of Building Design+Construction’s “Great Solutions,” highlighting 14 innovative technologies and products that you can put to work in your next project.

January 02, 2013 |
This free-form floating ceiling uses aluminum to add drama to healthcare think t

Welcome to the third installment of Building Design+Construction’s “Great Solutions,” highlighting 14 innovative technologies and products that you can put to work in your next project. Readers are encouraged to submit entries for future Great Solutions; if we use yours, you’ll earn a $25 gift certificate, as Corky Bradley, AIA, LEED AP, did for his contribution (see page 26).



Prototype cashes in on energy-neutral trend


PNC Bank has 118 LEED-certified buildings,  more than other any company in the world. In a few months, the bank will open its first net-zero branch, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The 4,900-sf building will be powered by solar PVs, with daylight harvesting linked to solar shading and dimmable light fixtures. Recycled structural and shell materials are locally sourced. The facility will have a quarter-mile garden walking path for use by customers and local residents. Designed by Gensler, the building will use 50% less energy than a typical PNC branch and is expected to produce enough energy to power a 1,600-sf house for a year. The prototype will serve as a model for future PNC branch installations in the U.S.



Big you-know-what fan goes small this time


Touted as “the first small fan that deserves to be called a Big Ass Fan,” Haiku is a 60-inch commercial ceiling fan from the maker of industrial large-diameter, low-speed fans. Unlike most ceiling fans that use low-cost AC motors and require 100 or more watts at top speed, Haiku fans use concealed, cool-running motors for increased energy efficiency. They come in advanced composite materials or hand-finished, laminated bamboo.

The fan won a Red Dot Product Design Award for Interior Design and an Australian International Design Award. It was named a BuildingGreen Top 10 green product for 2013 and was featured in BD+C’s “GreenZone” at Greenbuild in San Francisco.



iPad-like touch screen signage serves as guide for hospital guests


State-of-the-art technology has turned key public areas of St. Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City, Mo., into a virtual iPad-like touch screen experience for patients and visitors. At the center of the signage and wayfinding program is a wall that incorporates photos and video clips that narrate the facility’s nearly 124-year history. Directional kiosks provide visual instructions on how to get from Point A to Point B within the hospital; guests can also print out detailed directions to any part of the hospital. Design firm Forcade Associates, Evanston, Ill., combined the pioneering technology with traditional interior and exterior signage to help patients and visitors navigate through the 1.2 million-sf hospital.



Building’s LEED Platinum journey starts with green building mockups


The J. Craig Venter Institute in La Jolla, Calif., is currently under construction, aiming for LEED Platinum certification. McCarthy Building Companies Inc. has assisted in this endeavor by completing construction and testing of the concrete, wood window, and wood siding building enclosure mockups. The mockups used locally sourced wood and poured-in-place concrete containing 30% fly ash. The high fly ash content contributes two points to the recycled content category for LEED certification.






By-products are given a new life through recycling


Whether using advertising billboards as tarps on construction sites or crafting a banister from a ski lift cable (as shown at left), Colorado-based Repurposed Materials Inc. finds creative ways to reuse waste materials. Conveyer belts, pool covers, wine barrels, and snow fences can all be given a second chance with this economical, eco-friendly solution that gives a second life to by-products and waste materials.




Wind energy, LEED, and BIM are grist for the scholarly mill


Honeywell Building Solutions and Lake Region State College, Devils Lake, N.D., have broken ground on an on-campus 6 MW wind turbine (like the one shown here) that will also act as a teaching tool for the school’s wind energy technician program. LRSC will sell excess power to the local utility, thus enabling the college to cover turbine construction costs within 15 years. When the turbine is ready, students will no longer have to go off campus to get hands-on wind energy training.

InPro Corporation has developed a program to bring sustainable design into the classroom. The School of Green is a one-day education session designed to teach middle and high school students in its home town of Muskego, Wis., about green initiatives that benefit new building construction. Students take a quiz at the beginning of the class to gauge their prior knowledge of green standards and LEED ratings, then take the same quiz at the end to measure what they’ve learned.

In the Boston area, construction manager Tocci Building Companies held a free one-day BIM training symposium for project management, procurement, and facilities staff at Tufts University, in Waltham.

Education programs like these can bind your company more firmly to the communities you serve.



New lift system saves money, backaches for care providers


The Patient Lift Pendant (PLP) is a new combination boom and lift developed by Amico Corp. that increases real estate in the ceiling to allow for installation of additional medical equipment and lighting in patient rooms. The PLP assists with repositioning, turning, and transferring immobilized patients without any lifting by nurses or other hospital staff. It also eliminates the need to install tracks in the ceiling by integrating the patient lift track into the pendant arm. The PLP is capable of utilizing a patient lift motor rated to lift up to 1,000 pounds. A direct power source ensures the lift is always charged and ready for use.





Apartment building stacks up four stories in four days


The SoMa Studios is a 23-unit apartment building in San Francisco’s trendy SoMa (South of Market) district, built at a Sacramento factory in just three months and assembled on site in four days—a fraction of the estimated 13 months to build the same project using traditional construction. Developer Panoramic Interests, Berkeley, Calif., partnered with green modular builder ZETA to create the urban infill complex, which the Modular Building Institute says is the first of its kind in the U.S. The LEED Platinum building offers 300-sf “micro-unit” studios to overcome the housing crunch for Bay Area urban singles, such as those who work at Twitter’s nearby HQ; typical studio units run 450-500 sf. Green features include solar hot water heating, recycled materials, natural light, and high-performance windows.





Public water bottle refill stations encourage residents to ditch disposable bottles


Manly, N.S.W., a northern suburb of Sydney, wanted to reduce the amount of waste from plastic water bottles by encouraging residents to reuse water bottles. The Manly Council Filtered Water Sustainability Initiative led to the installation of Aquafil filtered water refill stations with Culligan water filtration systems in public places. The refill stations can display advertisements and feature an optional drinking fountain attachment. The idea is spreading: Corky Bradley, AIA, LEED AP, Senior Associate with RB+B Architects, Fort Collins, Colo., photographed this unit on a beach in Tauranga, New Zealand.






Innovative consumer research spans time and technology


Technology, social media, and the passing of time all influence the ways in which consumers interact with retail brands. In the latest research from WD Partners, Dublin, Ohio, the buying trends of Millennials and Boomers were analyzed to determine what brands can do to retain customer loyalty in the digital age and across generations. The reports also address specific demographic groups, such as the Hispanic Millennial. From clothing and entertainment brands to grocery stores, WD Partners’ studies establish the architecture firm as a thought leader in retail design. Is there such a study in your firm’s future?





Window assembly units can weather the storm


Proglaze ETA from Tremco is a pre-engineered transition assembly for windows and walls, designed to absorb thermal movement and wind loading stresses. It is composed of aluminum and silicone materials that are mechanically attached to windows to ensure a tight, secure seal. The Camp Pendleton Replacement Naval Hospital at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, in San Diego, chose Proglaze ETA, as the facility required a window system that was energy efficient, while in compliance with California’s seismic safety standards. It also had to control air and moisture infiltration to protect patients from mold and mildew. Proglaze ETA was named one of BuildingGreen’s Top 10 green products for 2013.




Suspension technology uses aluminum to add drama to healthcare think tank


In 2011, the Building Team of SmithGroupJJR and DeMaria Building Company set out to recreate an old structure on Henry Ford Health System’s main hospital campus, in Detroit, into an innovation center, with the aim of integrating the building’s architectural heritage with the new innovation zone. The result: a new free-form, floating ceiling system, designed in partnership with Armstrong World Industries. A Revit 3D model was utilized to develop the suspension system, which is shaped into a folded plane and formed using articulated pieces. Aluminum extrusions replaced wood when the latter proved too heavy for use in the ceiling installation.



New firm practices the art and science of architectural measurement


“We measure difficult subjects” is the tagline of architectural metrology business Glapin Milphrey LLC, a startup company that provides architectural measurement services to AEC professionals looking to improve their BIM workflows. Formed earlier this year, Glapin Milphrey is the brainchild of architect Doug Brinley, who has developed workflow processes for digitally measuring 3D spaces and converting the spatial information for direct transfer to modeling applications. Based in Seattle, Glapin Milphrey’s spatial datasets are purely electronic and are collected using reflectorless, robotic  electronic distance measuring technology.




Israeli inventor gears up to introduce world to cardboard bikes


OK, we’ll admit it, this one looks a bit off target in a building-oriented magazine. But consider what Izhar Gafni, an amateur cycling enthusiast from Israel, has accomplished: the development of a prototype bicycle made almost entirely of cardboard. Using folding principles similar to origami, Gafni spent years developing a bicycle formed with specially cut and treated cardboard that could support the weight of a rider. After the shape is formed, a proprietary blend of materials is applied to strengthen the cardboard and make it waterproof and fireproof before being painted. The brake mechanism and wheel and pedal bearings are made from recycled parts that are free of metal. The tires come from reconstituted rubber. The bicycle weighs 20 pounds and uses about $9 worth of materials.

What’s next, an office tower made from paper towels? You tell us. +

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