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China’s Ghost Cities and Malls

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With all the current reporting that China may be in freefall, I thought it appropriate to refresh this report from 2011. China was trying to game the world into believing they had a robust economy as indicated by their increased auto production and crazy construction projects. The results were predicted: large parking lots to mothball their cars and cities few could afford to rent and shopping malls with few retailers.


This excellent reporting provides shocking visuals and commentary exposing the issues people, and the government, are faced with by China forcing lifestyles on the population. If there is any lesson to be learned here, it illustrates the fact that if you build it, they will not necessarily come. Or perhaps in these instances… if you build it, they can not necessarily come!

Is China’s rapid and forced development of new cities and infrastructure, with little or no demand, a poor decision to increase GDP? Is it deepening social divisions?

h/t Wizbang:

What happens when a government focuses on infrastructure projects and nothing else? In one case, you get Chinese Ghost Towns! This is what happens when you ignore real market pressures, and focus on just building crap that nobody can afford. This could happen here. Make no mistake, this could be the United States.  Continue Reading →

LEED Green Associate Test Prep Resources

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“Whether or not you’ve taken or are planning to take a LEED Green Associate test prep course, the following steps are essential for preparing to ace the exam.”

Over the past several years many have written advice on preparing for LEED exams, including here on this website. However, few sources provide a more professional service, with unequaled content, to aspiring or practicing LEED professionals than LEEDuser. Continue Reading →

Environmental Release of Mercury from Broken Compact Fluorescent Lamps

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WARNING: Mercury vapor released from broken compact fluorescent light bulbs can exceed safe exposure levels!

One of the websites I visit frequently is Watts Up with That? – commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology and recent news. The site is hosted by Anthony Watts, a former television meteorologist who spent 25 years on the air and also operates a weather technology and content business.

Perhaps it’s coincidence that I ran across his 06 July, 2011 article, Gee, ya think? Proof of what many have said for years, that provides his analysis of a study by Mary Ann Liebert reported in Environmental Engineering Science. Coincidence because I was recently challenged when I mentioned to several of my piers the potential health issues caused by mercury contained in Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs).

In summary, the study states:

However, the TCLP results do not fully reflect the potential hazards of CFLs because the CFLs continuously release Hg vapor once broken. The emission can last weeks even months and the total amount of Hg that can be released in vapor from new CFLs can often exceed 1.0 mg. Since vapor Hg can be readily inhaled by people, rapid removal of broken CFLs and sufficient ventilation of rooms by fresh air are critical to prevent people from potential harms. Effective packaging for preventing the breakage of CFLs and retaining the Hg vapor from broken CFLs is another way to reduce exposure to Hg in transportation, handling, and storage.  Continue Reading →

LEED 2012: Update #1

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According to LEEDuser , USGBC has pushed back the second comment period on LEED 2012 to later in July.

Per the USGBC website:


1st Public Comment has closed: Period was open Nov. 8 through Jan. 19, 2011

2nd Public Comment: Open July 2011

Additional public comment periods will be held as needed.

Rating system ballot: Projected for Aug. 1 – 31, 2012

Rating system release: Projected for Nov. 7, 2012 Continue Reading →

Green Demolition: Building Green from the Ground Up

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via The Green Economy Post: Green Demolition: Building Green from the Ground Up – A Vital Side of Sustainable Development

The conventional way to bring down a building is the good ol’ wrecking ball. The building is collapsed into a huge pile of rubble and then transferred to commingled debris dumpsters. All materials are lumped together, many of which take several generations to decompose. Steel – 100 years. Aluminum – 300 years. Plastic – 450 years. Glass never decomposes. Then there is the hazardous waste – – who knows that harm is lurking there. Regardless, this conventional, commingled trash heap isn’t going anywhere soon because, no matter the nature of the material, it is all going to the same place – landfill.

There is a better way.

Thankfully, the easy alternative is “green” site preparation. Sure it takes a little more planning and coordination but really it just comes down to thoughtful deconstruction, site-sorting, and mindful demolition. With some foresight and creativity, landfill becomes the last option for site preparation by-products. Instead, the life cycle of the by-products is extended… and everyone wins… and you might even get a tax break for your green efforts.

This life-cycle extension is at the core of one facet of sustainability that we strive to practice in all we do… cradle to cradle construction. The materials that are “born” to build one structure are recaptured via mindful demolition and “reborn” by reuse or recycling.

Deconstruction has two distinct phases. First is the soft-strip where the structural interior and exterior are scoured for reusable and recyclable materials. Reuse should always be the paramount goal, whether the materials are to be reused on-site as part of the new project or integrated somewhere off-site. During this phase, items like reclaimed wood, brick, and rock and reusable or recyclable fixtures and furniture are extracted. By the time this first phase is complete, there should be nothing much left but the structural envelope i.e, walls, roof, and foundation and supporting members. Continue Reading →

Green Groups Blast U.N. Climate Panel for Alarmism

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via Forbes: Green Groups Blast U.N. Climate Panel for Alarmism

If you haven’t yet heard, hell froze over last week. Oddly enough, this is likely to be bad news for a warming planet.

Last Monday, more than 125 environmental groups sent a scathing letter to Rajendra Pachauri, the Nobel prize-winning head of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the institutional nerve center within the United Nations’ global-warming juggernaut.

The letter accused the IPCC of taking climate change ‘too’ seriously. In particular, the letter argued that the IPCC had no authority to sponsor a small meeting of climate scientists taking place tomorrow in Lima, Peru. The meeting will consider so-called “geo-engineering” options for responding to worst-case scenarios of catastrophic climate change.

By attacking the IPCC for responding to the risks of climate change too aggressively, the letter marks a major pivot in the politics of climate change, which have officially crossed into the twilight zone. Continue Reading →

Autodesk Revit Products for BIM-Enabled Sustainable Design

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View this free screencast and learn how to use Autodesk® Revit® software to improve your sustainable design process and increase ROI.

There are five (5) tabs on the left side of the video viewer for indivdual segments: Introduction, Site Selection, Energy Analysis, Lighting Analysis and Conclusion

Cyberbullying: New Problems, New Tactics

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One of the prime areas of focus on this website is providing environmental education for our children. In doing so, we would be remiss if we did not provide alarms to both children and parents concerning internet safety. KidsHealth, the most-visited site on the Web for information about health, behavior, and development from before birth through the teen years, recently posted a short article that addresses the disturbing and sometimes tragic effects associated with cyberbullying.

Bullying is an old problem that remains difficult to bring under control, in part because technology offers new ways for kids to pick on one another. Indeed, cyberbullying can extend the reach and power of some of the worst bullies, subjecting kids to taunts from beyond their own schools and neighborhoods.

Because many kids are reluctant to report being bullied, even to their parents, it’s impossible to know just how many are affected. But it’s estimated that one third of teens have been victims of some form of online bullying. Yet they often don’t realize it happens to so many of their peers, adding to their sense of isolation.

As the pressure builds, victims can experience anxiety, depression, and other stress-related disorders. As recent well-publicized cases have shown, some kids and teens ended their lives to escape bullying. Experts say that kids who are bullied — and the bullies themselves — are at an elevated risk for suicidal thoughts, attempts, and completed suicides.

Parents are often desperate to help when their kids are bullied. It’s hard enough to combat the typical schoolyard thug — so what can be done about the sometimes anonymous tormentors who strike from behind a computer screen? Continue Reading →

The dangers of bone-headed beliefs

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From The Sydney Morning Herald, The Dangers of bone-headed beliefs

Surely it’s time for climate-change deniers to have their opinions forcibly tattooed on their bodies…so their grandchildren could say, ”Really? You were one of the ones who tried to stop the world doing something? And why exactly was that, granddad?”

Continue Reading →

How Much Cloud for Construction?

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According to the recent article at Constructech, How Much Cloud for Construction? , the cloud has created much buzz in construction these days with many in the market still looking for answers. As with any technology investment, a good rule of thumb with the cloud is to take it in small steps. When it comes to cloud computing in construction, the question isn’t so much should you take to it, but rather what is the right amount? Information technology managers in construction are struggling with the tongue-in-cheek “fully vs. partially cloudy” dilemma regarding which construction technology applications are indeed best suited for the cloud.

The debate has been generating much discussion on Constructech‘s own LinkedIn group lately, where many believe it comes down to the decision of which applications to take to the cloud, and which to leave in the standard delivery model.

“Programs that sync data in the background are a perfect fit,” says Morrow. “Data that is fetched via realtime requests may or may not present more of an issue. As a general rule, the more unique the software/data is to your specific business the more cloud resistant it might be. Start with services that every business uses. Get a comfort level, and then move to industry-specific software, (and) save any custom ‘in-house’ software for last.” Continue Reading →

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