By James Collins

In the past few years, the State of California has passed Assembly Bill 32: Global Warming Solutions Act (http://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/ab32/ab32.htm), and the Federal Government has attempted to pass House of Representatives 2847: Green Jobs Act of 2007 (http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h110-2847&tab=summary). Within these bills was language that either directly funded green jobs, or mandated a reduced carbon footprint, thereby indirectly requiring companies to invest in creating or purchasing green power. While earlier in this decade it may have seemed like a fad, “going green” its clearly here to stay.

Beyond the goals of environmental responsibility, green spending has escalated to a new “space race” with major global players in the market. As author Thomas Friedman put it in his NY Time Op Ed piece last year, “The New Spudnik” (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/27/opinion/27friedman.html), even China has been forced, albeit out of necessity, to develop “clean-tech” alternatives to their manufacturing methods. As he explains, China’s decision to go green was the modern day equivalent to the Russians sending up Spudnik as a challenge the world to enter the space race. Once China realized that they had no choice but to change their ways, they quickly focused on the opportunity to make money and potentially be the world leader in manufacturing within a new industry. “China’s leaders, mostly engineers, wasted little time debating global warming… they also know that… the demand for clean, renewable power is going to soar as we add an estimated 2.5 billion people to the planet by 2050. In that world, E.T. – or energy technology – will be as big as I.T., and China intends to be a big E.T. player.”

As a manufacturing poweress, China’s ability to apply the ‘Walmart Model’ to green manufacturing poses a threat to the competitive position of the US. In the attached NY Times article by Keith Bradsher, (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/25/business/energy-environment/25solar.html?_r=3&hp) Chinese company Suntech Power Holdings CEO Shi Zhengrong, stated that “to build market share, [Suntech] is selling solar panels on the American market for less than the cost of the materials, assembly and shipping.” On top of this, “Chinese governments at the national, provincial and even local level have been competing with one another to offer solar companies ever more generous subsidies, including free land and cash for research and development. State-owned banks are flooding the industry with loans at considerably lower interest rates than available in Europe or the United States.” Although in a later NY Times article (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/27/business/energy-environment/27panel.html) Dr. Shi later revised his statements to say that the loss was due to administrative costs of running a US based subsidiary, the author suggests that Suntech could be accused of dumping, which is a practice of selling goods in a foreign market at lower than the cost of production. German company Bundesverbandes Solarwirtschaft has already considered taking legal action against China for alleged dumping of solar panels on the German market (http://www.businessgreen.com/business-green/news/2249935/china-gathers-panel-top-solar).

Given the increasing global focus on green energy, we must pay close attention to foreign manufacturers of green equipment and products. Most state and federal green jobs bills, including the Stimulus Bill, are written with “buy American” clauses, which require that the products purchased with government money must be made in the US. As we climb out of this recession and the demand for “clean-tech” within private industry grows, the US companies which manufacture these products must position themselves so that they are competitive in a post government sponsored program era. The US construction industry can play an important role in helping the US stay competitive in this market by reducing the costs of building solar or wind farms. It is equally important for the US to evaluate its relationship with China so that dumping practices don’t negatively impact the role of the US in green manufacturing.

Posted by newresource, filed under Economy, Green Building Materials. Date: November 2, 2010, 3:41 pm | 1 Comment »

By Eric Horn

The concept of quality, factory built assembly line products certainly isn’t new, Henry Ford did an admirable job of bringing the concept into the mainstream in the early 1900’s. In the AEC industry within the United States the concept of “factory built” components has mainly been limited to appliances, cabinets, electrical and HVAC integrated box components. In addition, there has been a tremendous advance in the development of sustainable building materials, energy monitoring and renewables in the recent wave of “green “building technologies. New technologies and ideas that improve quality/safety/schedule/price and reduce the overall embodied carbon content for a project within the built environment will win immediate acceptance within the AEC industry.

So would you rather build a car in a parking lot or in factory? Unfortunately, most of the AEC industry operates under this operating principle. Bring the materials, labor, and equipment to the jobsite and then build the project in the winter and subject yourself to schedule delays, damage to finished product, labor shortages, perceived coordination, dimensional intolerance of finish tolerances, rework, punch lists, lots of CYA paperwork, and extra unnecessary but necessary costs of “building” on a jobsite. Welcome to building a car in a parking lot.

A “Pod” is an assembly line, factory built room that is delivered to the jobsite in its final finished condition; much like a factory built car is delivered to a car dealership. The most popular forms of pods within the AEC industry are bathrooms and kitchens. The POD concept has been alive and well in Europe and Asia for over 20 Years. Although the US AEC industry has embraced some forms of factory Built assembly ( modular classrooms, mobile homes) the industry as a whole has been slow to adapt to the idea of factory built units in the larger built environments of student housing, hospitality, healthcare, military and high rise residential projects. To meet the demand for the ever pressing need for greater predictability, efficiency and schedule reliability in construction, a high tech, easily deployable and dependable response is required. PODS offer an industry proven solution that meets market demands and design conditions for today’s competitive building market.

Traditional means and methods of field finish construction for bathrooms and kitchens are compromised with dimensional trade intolerance, multiple punch lists, schedule and material delays and the huge inefficiencies of multiple trades working in a single area. As discussed in the previous “Build a car in a parking lot” analogy these means and methods lead to project delays and cost overruns. By Utilizing Pods provides practical, integrated solutions to the many challenges associated with field-built construction. See the attached article from Balfour Beatty who recently completed a student housing village that utilized factory Built POD bathrooms. Quote from Balfour Beatty Superintendent,” To help us deliver this project on time, we prefabricated nearly all of the 716 bathrooms. These factory built units saved us substantial time, reduced tons on on-site waste, and will significantly shorten the time to punch out the whole project”

With BuildPods factory built and building integrated PODs, every aspect of the building process can be automated in a factory environment. It is far easier to plan the work and the sequencing of materials in assembly line labor fashion in a factory built environment rather than the open and unpredictable confines of a project jobsite. BuildPods utilizes a quality-controlled, and fully integrated manufacturing process which insures the highest level of quality and dimensional consistency and accuracy.

For Owners/Architects/General Contractors:

With PODS, you get a factory-built, quality-controlled, tested and finished room delivered to your jobsite. Every pod project is completed based on the OWNERS/ARCHITECTS design and finish specifications. Taking this into consideration, each Pod is constructed with the highest level of dimensional consistency allowing for complete integration into the building design. Pod designs are optimized and integrated into the Architects design to insure there is no compromise of loss of interior floor space. Field hook ups to the Building MEPS spine are plug and play and take only a fraction of time to complete in comparison to traditional field build construction; think of hooking up a giant dishwasher. Since the pod is delivered with exposed studs on the exterior side of the pod, there is no change to traditional wall close up and plumbing testing. No matter the type of project ( housing, hospitality, healthcare) taking the rooms with the highest concentration of finish surfaces ( usually kitchens and bathrooms) out of the critical path will improve the overall schedule and put more focus of the building structure, skin and MEPS system schedule components. How much time saved will vary by project type and will translate into real $ saved on general conditions, worker parking, trade coordination, material escalation, punch lists, etc.

The math is simple and the benefits are clear. PODs offers a higher quality product at competitive prices in a shorter, PREDICABLE time frame than traditional field built Construction.

At Buildpods LP BuildPods integrated system approach for factory built rooms is ideally suited to meet the following traditional and emerging projects with repetitive “Pod” elements:

· Housing( Student, Senior, Affordable, Luxury- Pod bathrooms & Kitchens)

· Healthcare ( patient rooms, patient bathrooms, exam rooms)

· Hospitality ( guest bathrooms)

· Military Housing ( BEQ, residential base housing- overseas and domestic)

BuildPods is one of 3 leading manufacturer of factory built rooms in the United States approved by Turner Construction and Procurement. We differentiate ourselves from our competitors by using a fully integrated approach to incorporating the POD into the architecture without compromise in floor space and/or functionality of space. Whenever possible, we employ sustainable materials and processes that will contribute to 11 achievable LEED credits offered by the USGBC. The combined result of an integrated approach and a sustainable process is predictability in quality, cost, safety and schedule. Fragmented on-site construction of the rooms is eliminated and replaced with a 100% completed room ready for job-site fit up.

BuildPods is advancing the United States built environment with and innovative and integrated approach to sustainable building that provides dramatic cost savings, faster delivery and improved quality.

Quit the process of building a car in a parking lot; contact us today and find out how BuildPods can enhance your project. We will be releasing our state of the art design manual in the coming weeks to assist the AEC community on evaluation POD concept from design, sustainability through construction and cost evaluation- look for it to stay linked to one of the most innovative ideas to hit our industry in decades.

www.buildpods.com

Posted by newresource, filed under Factory-Built Bathrooms. Date: November 2, 2010, 3:18 pm | No Comments »

November 1, 2010

By Eric Horn

As we witnessed this evening, our beloved band of misfits, freaks, old guys and knuckleheads have brought a World Series Championship to the City of San Francisco. Yes it was one for the ages, really one for multiple generations of baseball fans in the bay area. It was one of the best-played World Series of Baseball ever.

1954-2010 pretty amazing stuff; still baseball but with some subtle changes:

In ’54 it was cut your hair; shave your beard, drink lots of milk, first black & white TVs released for commercial use, water to quench thirst; no trainers; no tech

In’10 it is don’t cut your hair, dye your beard with shoe polish ( combine it with a Mohawk), some even say let Timmy smoke , HDTV & lots of personal grooming required to be on the big screen; G2 to quench thirst; motion capture training; Phiten energy necklaces; lots of tech.

Sacred to the ages have been the love of the game and the inspiration of a winning team to all of those involved. Yea, sometimes the chips are down, but it usually takes the dedication, drive and determination of one or a couple of team members to inspire and motivate the team to a win. It’s something we preach and practice at work, at home and with our kids – we all know it to be true; really cool to witness it.

Using today’s technology and the innate human traits to take a chance on an opportunity, defy logic and play aggressively inspires others to WIN. Baseball and our business, the business the developing, designing and constructing the built environment have this in common. For those of you that were fortunate enough to witness game 2 of the World Series, to be there during the game and in the streets of San Francisco afterward, the atmosphere was electric and intoxicating in more ways than one. Irrational exuberance was a term that came to mind. That evening there was no great recession, zero unemployment in our industry and 50 tower cranes in the city; working; building great buildings.

I am pretty certain that by the Giants winning the World Series won’t solve the current ills our building industry; sure there are some short term economic benefits for the city and the surrounding businesses; but we still have a long ways to go. We all know this; I don’t need to recite the facts and figures here; too depressing.

While we are whale shit low in all of this, we need to learn from the gifts the Giant’s have given us. Remember the adrenaline rush of building and how to get there.

  1. Play aggressively (that’s right, “Play” like the Kaiser Permanente commercial recommends). Business is game; we are all gamers.
  2. Reap the benefits of Technology for our AEC business band of misfits. Our industry continues to be starved for innovation, R&D; really tough to spend money on it right now; but it needs to happen. Huge advances in energy use/monitoring, renewable energy and modular construction methods continue to lead the way. Not bad to be located in the Heart of Silicon Valley either. Just like the Giants used motion capture technology to improve their athletic skills, we should continue do the same by applying technologies/processes for other industries to our AEC arena.
  3. Remember your Team: Just like the Giants; there is not one company that is a band of superstars. Weather you are the owner, general manager, coach marquee player, bench player or even a bat boy you need to focus on the task at hand, balance your energy (no need to wear the Phiten energy necklace- its all in your head) which will ultimately inspire others around you to do the same; we all know that its contagious. The thrill of victory is just around the corner; we just need to make it happen.
  4. Embrace Change/Innovation: Many consider Bruce Bochy as an artesian of change/innovation. Through his quiet, stealth, quick & decisive leadership he constantly changed his line up, listened to his players, knew his competition and used some pretty innovative tactics to ASSIST all his players to perform well to focus and compliment the team’s efforts. The main change in our industry has been obvious, not enough work. A pretty tough change to overcome, adapting and innovating during this time period has been tough, but we have been made smarter in the process. For those of thus that have embraced this fact, you will find that it helped your business become leaner, more competitive and innovative; a great spot to be in preparation for the thrill of many future victories.

http://sports.tmcnet.com/applications/articles/113058-giants-early-tech-adopters-now-reaping-benefits.htm

Posted by newresource, filed under Economy. Date: November 2, 2010, 3:12 pm | No Comments »