Unity Homes: Pushing the Boundaries of Home Building

first_imgAlex is founder of BuildingGreen, Inc. and executive editor of Environmental Building News. In 2012 he founded the Resilient Design Institute. To keep up with Alex’s latest articles and musings, you can sign up for his Twitter feed. Unity Homes launchedBensonwood built a number of houses using this approach and has now launched a new company, Unity Homes, to scale up production and drive costs down through manufacturing efficiency, supply chain development, and continued building systems innovation. Tedd thinks they can eventually roll out more than 100 houses per year from their Walpole facility, and if all goes well, production facilities could be built in other parts of the country with the help of investment capital he’s seeking.“I have long believed that the average American home should have a much higher standard of build quality, durability, and energy performance,” Tedd told me. “In that regard, home building has long been under-performing compared to other industries. In fact, homes have been considered by some to be the most deficient and defect ridden product consumers buy,” he said.Tedd believes that we can do better, arguing that homes are important both for the quality of life they deliver and for helping us achieve environmental sustainability. “They should be leading the way in product quality to provide people with uncompromised energy efficiency and long term security,” he says. “It’s our mission to prove that point with Unity Homes.”In next week’s blog, I’ll get into some of the innovative details and features of Unity Homes — including the impressive per-square-foot pricing they’ve been able to achieve. A few weeks ago I spent a half day with my good friend Tedd Benson learning about his new company Unity Homes. This Walpole, New Hampshire company is on the cutting edge of home building today, with its focus on energy performance, building science, green building, and (relative) affordability.This week I’ll describe some of Tedd’s work that led to the creation of Unity Homes, and next week I’ll go into more detail about this new company and the state-of-the-art green homes that he and his team are cranking out. What’s Different About Unity Homes?Unity Homes Combines Prefab with Energy EfficiencyBensonwood Is Reinventing the HouseThese Superinsulated Homes Were Delivered By TruckA LEED Platinum Modular HomeReinventing the HouseNudging Passive House Concepts into the MainstreamHow to Protect Structural Insulated Panels from DecayEducation Center Wins 2013 Net-Zero PrizeBensonwood HomesDesign for DisassemblyQ&A: Thoughts on the Bensonwood OBPlusWall? Their work with old timber frames — fixing up old ones in the New England homes they renovated and in building their own shop — fueled an interest in this durable and beautiful building system, which was used by our ancestors in Colonial America. Tedd evolved his business to specialize in timber framing, and in 1979 he wrote Building the Timber Frame House: The Revival of a Forgotten Craft, which became the bible of the emerging timber framing movement.A few years later Tedd and a handful of timber framers in the region launched the Timber Framer’s Guild, providing a forum to share ideas and have fun doing it. (I can attest that the early gatherings of the Timber Framers Guild were indeed incredibly fun, and I look forward to returning to their annual conferences later this year — many years after my last participation in the event.)Tedd’s company, renamed Bensonwood, became a leading builder of beautiful custom timber frames, ultimately producing frames for high-end homes and commercial buildings in 49 states. Here’s our listing of the company from our GreenSpec database.One of the largest frames that the company ever built is The Vermont Building on Putney Road in our town of Brattleboro, where one can see their handiwork using massive Douglas fir timbers.center_img RELATED ARTICLES The timber frame revival of the 1970sFor those not familiar with Tedd, he is responsible — more than anyone — for the emergence of the modern timber framing movement some four decades ago. In 1973, initially to save money, Tedd and his brother Steve used timbers salvaged from old barns to build a workshop in Alstead, New Hampshire for the fledgling Benson Woodworking Company that they had launched a year earlier. (Steve died tragically in a car accident in 1974, and Tedd and his wife Christine continued the business.) A shift to lower-cost homesBut Tedd had growing frustration building houses only for the wealthy. He wanted a building system that would reach more of Middle America. In 1991 the company began the long-term process of standardizing home designs and using computer-assisted design (CAD) software to optimize designs.Influenced by Steward Brand, Dutch architect John Habraken, and others, in 1994 Tedd developed the Open-Built platform that allowed easy modification of structures as needs change (a key argument presented in Brand’s book, How Buildings Learn). Design elements of Open-Built included a baseboard raceway that provided access for electrical and data wiring and an accessible ceiling system that could be used for recessed lights, wiring, plumbing, and ducts for heating and ventilation.This work led to a longstanding research collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Open Prototype Initiative, to develop affordable, flexible, high-performance houses. While Tedd had done some of the earliest work with stress-skin panels (a.k.a. SIPs) for enclosing timber frames (working with Winter Panel Corporation in Brattleboro — now Vantem Panels), he eventually shifted away from foam-plastic insulation with his building system.In 2010 in this blog I wrote about Bensonwood’s OBPlusWall system, which is a cellulose-insulated panelized wall and roof system. With this system, Bensonwood achieved an extremely tight, R-35 wall system. A frequent traveler to Europe, Tedd adapted leading technologies and materials from Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and elsewhere for this building system.One of their European technologies that made possible Bensonwood’s building system has been an automated, precision cutting system made by the German company Hundegger. This is referred to as a CNC (computer numerical controlled) machine. Cut lists produced by Bensonwood’s CAD software are transmitted to the Hundegger, and the pieces are cut at precise angles with dogged consistency and accuracy finer than the increments on standard measuring tapes.last_img read more

Resource Discovery: US Army Educational & Development Intervention Services Newsletters

first_imgU.S. Army Educational & Developmental Intervention Services [Keeping In Touch Newsletters]Did you know that the U.S. Army’s EDIS offers CE credit for reading their Keeping In Touch (KIT) newsletters? These publications are available online and are full of valuable information for providers.The newsletters discuss a theme for a series of months at the end of which readers can take a CE exam online. Upon successful completion of the exam, a non-discipline specific certificate of continuing education contact hours will be provided. Individuals will need to check with their credentialing agency regarding the viability of these credits within their state and/or system.Some of the past topics have been: Early Childhood Mental Health, Autism and the Role of Early Interventionists, Dual Language Learners in Early Intervention, Cultural Competence, and Understanding Depression. You can access the newsletters and archived CE exams by clicking, here.Each newsletters consists of four sections surrounding a theme:A resource article in which a summary of a journal article is providedAn evaluation of data on the topicA consultation corner where experts in the field respond to topic-related questionsA review of a web-based resource that is helpful for providersTo access the newsletters,  click here.We hope that you will find this to be a useful resource.This post was written by Robyn DiPietro-Wells & Michaelene Ostrosky, PhD, members of the MFLN FD Early Intervention team, which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, YouTube, and on LinkedIn.last_img read more

Change Occurs When You Reach Threshold

first_imgThe status quo is a warm bath; it’s soothing and comfortable. Change is a cold shower; it’s surprising, shocking, and uncomfortable.Is it any wonder your dream clients aren’t excited to change? Even when they have good reason to change, they often seek the safety and comfort of the status quo. When things aren’t going well, at least they know the status quo. Change means venturing off into the scary unknown.Do you ever wonder why your clients aren’t interested in change even when the reasons to change are crystal clear to you? Do you wonder why your ideas aren’t compelling?People only seek change when they reach some threshold. Either there is so much dissatisfaction that change becomes the safest path forward, or there is an opportunity so great that it warrants abandoning the status quo (a positive form of dissatisfaction). But until that threshold is met, in one direction or the other, change is unlikely.Building Towards ThresholdIf you want to make the case for your change, you have to help your clients reach threshold.If your client should be dissatisfied, you build to threshold by helping them understand what not changing is costing them now, what it will cost them in the future, and why they can’t afford to stay where they are. On the far end of this continuum is survival; there is nothing so motivating as your own impending doom. Survival is the most serious threshold of all. But losing your competitive advantage, falling behind your competitors, and losing market share can be threshold events, too.You can build to threshold for positive changes, too. Even if things are going well, you can build towards the threshold that brings change by showing your client what is still possible, how change will better position them in the future, and what they are losing by not acting now. Faster growth now, the ability to capitalize on opportunities, or seizing a competitive advantage in the marketplace can all be threshold events. So can even greater profitability.You don’t have to build towards threshold with bold, challenging statements. In fact, making the case this way can often lead to more resistance–it can seem self-serving. You can make the case more effectively with well designed and well placed questions.If you want your product, service, or solution to be compelling, it has to help your clients get to threshold.QuestionsLook at the existing opportunities in your pipeline. Can you identify the threshold that is compelling your client to change?How urgently does your client need to change? What do they lose by holding on to the status quo?Which stakeholders haven’t yet (or won’t easily) reach threshold? How do you make a stronger case for them (or build a stronger case around them)? Essential Reading! Get my 2nd book: The Lost Art of Closing “In The Lost Art of Closing, Anthony proves that the final commitment can actually be one of the easiest parts of the sales process—if you’ve set it up properly with other commitments that have to happen long before the close. The key is to lead customers through a series of necessary steps designed to prevent a purchase stall.” Buy Nowlast_img read more

10 months agoAC Milan coach Gattuso: My brief is to qualify for the Champions League

first_imgAC Milan coach Gattuso: My brief is to qualify for the Champions Leagueby Carlos Volcano10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveAC Milan coach Rino Gattuso admits his brief is to qualify for the Champions League.Gattuso admits their midweek draw with Bologna was a setback.He said, “We could’ve strengthened our grip on fourth at Bologna but didn’t. We played like schoolboys and didn’t play.“We weren’t good technically, whereas they all sat back. I worry about the heads of my players as we’ve struggled in our last few games.“Since my first day here, the club have asked me to qualify for the Champions League. It’s difficult, but we’re fourth at the moment.“We must make as little mistakes as possible, but there’s no problem on my part. I’m not thinking about being hunted.“I’m calm and I just think about working. The exit from Europe was a blow and we all expected more at Bologna, but we must analyse the situation with clarity and only think about working to improve.“I have to keep improving the team. Everything else is just hot air for me.” About the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

10 months agoHuddersfield join race for Liverpool striker Dominic Solanke

first_imgHuddersfield join race for Liverpool striker Dominic Solankeby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveHuddersfield Town have joined the race for Liverpool striker Dominic Solanke.Sky Sports says Huddersfield will battle Crystal Palace to snap up Liverpool forward Solanke.The Terriers were keen on the 21-year-old earlier this season and want to sign him on loan.But Palace, who sit 14th in the Premier League table, will challenge Town for the signature of Solanke, who is yet to make an appearance for the Reds this term. Rangers boss Steven Gerrard is also watching developments. TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img

10 months agoChelsea manager Sarri: Italy must do more to eradicate racism

first_imgAbout the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your say Chelsea manager Sarri: Italy must do more to eradicate racismby Freddie Taylor10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveChelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has called on Italy to fix their racism problem following the alleged racist abuse of Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly at the San Siro.Koulibaly alleged received the abuse during Wednesday’s loss to Inter Milan, before being sent off after two quick yellow cards.Sarri sympathises with his former player and wants his homeland to do more to fix the problem.”You know in Italy there are some problems in football, especially for Naples,” Sarri said.”When I was there we stopped two matches; one against Lazio in Rome, one against Sampdoria in Genoa.”I’m really very sorry for Kalidou because he is a wonderful man. I’m sorry for him, but I think in Italy we can do something more for this problem.” last_img read more

10 months agoPhilippe Sandler delighted with Man City debut

first_imgPhilippe Sandler delighted with Man City debutby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the lovePhilippe Sandler was delighted to make his debut for Manchester City in yesterday’s FA Cup win over Rotherham.The Dutch defender, who was played at centre-half, featured as a second-half substitute for the 7-0 thumping.Sandler said, “I always play there. Honestly, I have never been in the midfield. Why now? I stood there during the training session. Sending passes. Since I’ve been here, I try to develop as a central defender. “Vincent Kompany helps me enormously. I learn a lot from him. “I do not know if I will get another chance again soon. I especially want to be completely fit first.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img

7 days ago​Leeds look to increasing capacity at Elland Road to 50,000

first_imgTagsEnglish ChampionshipAbout the authorIan FerrisShare the loveHave your say ​Leeds look to increasing capacity at Elland Road to 50,000by Ian Ferris7 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveLeeds United are planning to expand Elland Road stadium to 50,000 if they get promoted to the Premier League, reports, www.sportspromedia.com/.The announcement was made by the club’s managing director, Angus Kinnear, during a civic reception to mark the team’s 100th anniversary.The planned extension will take place on the West Stand, matching the East Stand in terms of height, with Kinnear wanting the venue to “compete with other stadiums in the Premier League and in Europe.”But any move to take Elland Road’s capacity from just over 37,000 to 50,000 is dependent on a top-flight return for Leeds, according to the Yorkshire Post’s Graham Smyth.Last season, they had the second highest average attendance in the Championship with 34,033, second only to eventual playoff winners Aston Villa. last_img read more

Forecast calls for 500 fewer wells this year despite higher global oil

first_imgCALGARY – The head of Canada’s largest drilling company says he’s not surprised that a Canadian drilling forecast is being chopped despite higher global oil prices so far this year.Kevin Neveu, CEO of Precision Drilling Corp., said Tuesday his company is in the process of moving an idle drilling rig from the Deep Basin of northwestern Alberta to Pennsylvania, where it is expected to find work drilling natural gas wells in the Marcellus Basin.In the past two years, Precision has authorized the building of two new rigs in the U.S. but none in Canada, he said, because demand hasn’t justified it.“Oil prices are not too bad — and when you throw in the exchange rate, they’re actually probably OK — but a lot of our Canadian customers are still quite gassy in their production and rely on natural gas sales to fund a lot of their programs,” said Neveu.“With (Alberta) AECO prices so tight, it’s just really tough for a lot of our customers.”The Petroleum Services Association of Canada said Tuesday it is cutting its 2018 Canadian drilling forecast by 500 wells to 6,900 oil and gas wells, 200 fewer than were drilled in 2017, and nearly seven per cent less than its April forecast for 7,400 this year.“In general terms, revenue numbers for our sector are up year over year but we note that several publicly traded Canadian service companies are reporting minimal improvement in the quality of bottom line earnings; many are sitting at near breakeven or are still in negative territory,” PSAC CEO Tom Whalen said.“This is not sustainable from a business continuity and competitiveness perspective. It’s also a compounding symptom of the sector’s lack of attractiveness for investment.”Producers are drilling longer wells but the number of wells is down by 200 through six months of 2018 compared with the same period of 2017, PSAC reported.Benchmark New York oil prices averaged US$67.91 per barrel in the second quarter ended June 30, up from US$48.33 in the same period of 2017, but Alberta natural prices fell to C$1.20 per million British thermal units from C$2.69.Whalen says Canadian companies aren’t able to gain from higher world crude prices because pipeline capacity is inadequate to take products to market, resulting in higher-than-usual price discounts for western Canadian oil.Meanwhile, natural gas prices continue to languish thanks to both gathering pipeline constraints in B.C. and Alberta and competition from burgeoning U.S. shale gas plays.Precision reported last week it had 78 rigs operating from its fleet of 103 in the United States as of June 30 but only 60 from its larger fleet of 136 in Canada.U.S. operations have recovered to about 80 per cent of their peak 2014 activity but Canadian operations remain at less than 40 per cent, Neveu said.Earlier this year, Calgary-based Akita Drilling Ltd. and Trinidad Drilling Ltd. each announced they would move rigs from Western Canada to West Texas at the invitation of producer customers.Follow @HealingSlowly on Twitter.Companies in this article: (TSX:PD, TSX:AKT, TSX:TDG)last_img read more

FiveThirtyEights College Football Playoff Forecast

Which teams are most likely to make college football’s first-ever four-team playoff? And which have the best chance of coming away with the national title?The quick answer is the obvious one: The Alabama Crimson Tide lead the way on both counts. They’re No. 1 in the playoff selection committee’s current rankings and No. 1 according to most computer systems, including ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI). Alabama is no stranger to postseason success, having won the national title in 2009, 2011 and 2012.But it won’t be easy for Alabama, or anyone else. To win the national title, the Crimson Tide may need to prevail in four very challenging football games — against arch-rival Auburn on Nov. 29, in the SEC Championship on Dec. 6, and then in the national semifinal and championship games. Alabama is more likely than any other team to win the title, but its chances are still only about 28 percent.That number comes from a new model we’ve developed that simulates the rest of the college football season and considers how subsequent games might affect the playoff committee’s rankings. The model is speculative: Statistical models are grounded in history and there’s zero history to go by when it comes to the college football playoff. But we hope to have some fun with it over the next few weeks and use this season as a guide for how to improve it in future years.The key characteristics of the model are that it’s iterative and probabilistic.1In contrast to our usual 10,000-word manifesto when launching a new forecasting model, I’m only going to provide a brief description of it for now. We’ll circle back later on with more detail. By iterative, I mean that it simulates the rest of the college season one game and one week at a time instead of jumping directly from the current playoff committee standings to national championship chances. By probabilistic, I mean that it hopes to account for the considerable uncertainty in the playoff picture, both in terms of how the games will turn out and in how the humans on the selection committee might react to them.Games are simulated using ESPN’s Football Power Index. To take one example, FPI has USC with about a 40 percent chance of upsetting UCLA in the game they’ll play Saturday in Pasadena, California.The next question is how the teams’ standings in the playoff rankings might change given the possible outcomes on the field. We’ve principally used the historic record of the Coaches Poll for guidance. The simulations account for the fact that some wins and losses matter more than others.Let’s say that USC wins. It’s currently ranked No. 19 in the playoff committee’s rankings. On average in the Coaches Poll, teams ranked in that position have moved up to only No. 17 or No. 16 after a win.Our model sees more upside potential for USC, however. A victory for the Trojans would come in what is technically a road game for them (a few freeways away from their campus in Los Angeles). More importantly, it would come against a higher-ranked opponent in UCLA. Historically — and quite reasonably — human raters have given more credit to wins like those, so our simulation would have USC moving up to No. 15 or No. 14 on average if it wins instead. But there’s considerable uncertainty in the outcome. We have USC moving as high as No. 10, or even into the high single digits, in some simulations; in other cases, a number of other teams ranked near it in the standings might have impressive wins also, and USC would barely move up at all.The simulations also account for the potential margin of victory in each game. Voters in the coaches and media polls have mostly looked at wins and losses, but our research suggests they give a little bit more credit to especially lopsided victories or especially close ones.USC, although an interesting case for the model, is almost no threat to win the national championship no matter the scoreline in Pasadena. Even if it beats UCLA this week and Notre Dame next week — and wins the tiebreaker for the Pac-12 title and then wins that game against Oregon as well, it will be coming from too far behind. Our simulation gives the Trojans only a 0.2 percent chance of making the playoff.Other teams have a more credible chance of contending. Take Mississippi State. On the positive side for the Bulldogs, four teams will get into the playoff and they’re currently ranked No. 4. But Mississippi State has more downside than upside scenarios. It will almost certainly be out if it loses against No. 8 Mississippi — a game in which FPI has the Rebels favored. And even if Mississippi State wins that game, it won’t advance to the SEC Championship unless Alabama loses to Auburn. If Alabama wins, the Bulldogs would be denied another chance to impress the committee. Thus, our simulation has Mississippi State with just a 27 percent chance of making the playoff.These permutations can get complicated, which is why it helps to take things one week at a time. What might the playoff committee standings look like after this Saturday’s games, for instance? The heat map you see below reflects our model’s effort to account for all the possibilities:The top four probably won’t look much different when the playoff committee releases its new standings on Tuesday. They all have fairly easy marks: Alabama will play a Division I-AA opponent, Western Carolina. No. 2 Oregon is at home against 2-8 Colorado. No. 3 Florida State is heavily favored at home against Boston College. And Mississippi State is also at home, playing Vanderbilt, the worst team in the SEC.There’s more action outside the top four. I already mentioned the high-leverage game in Pasadena. If you look carefully at the chart, you’ll see that USC’s probability distribution is bimodal. In other words, it probably won’t stay at No. 19, where it is now. If it beats UCLA, it could gain several positions in the rankings; if it loses, it will have taken its fourth loss and might be knocked out of the top 25 entirely.USC’s opponent, UCLA, also has a lot on the line. UCLA would need a lot of help, but it still has an outside chance — our model puts it at 8 percent — of making the playoff. Beating both USC and Stanford would give UCLA an entry into the Pac-12 championship game. If it beat Oregon then, and a team or two ahead of it endures a loss, it could get in.We might compare the Trojans against their Hellenic-themed rivals, the Michigan State Spartans. Not that MSU, already having lost twice, had much chance to begin with (it pains me to say that as an East Lansing High School alum). But the Spartans are a good example of a team that just doesn’t have enough opportunities to impress committee voters even under its best-case outcomes. MSU’s only remaining scheduled games are against unranked Rutgers and Penn State — and it will only make the Big Ten Championship game if it wins twice and Ohio State loses twice.The Georgia Bulldogs, by comparison, despite being just one position ahead of Michigan State in the rankings, have a better hand to play. They’ll make the SEC Championship if Missouri loses either of its remaining games. If Georgia makes the conference title game and beats Alabama, it would give committee members a lot to think about.Here’s how our model sees the potential lay of the land on Dec. 7, when the selection committee will release its final rankings:As you can see, playing out three weeks’ worth of games increases the uncertainty a great deal as compared to just this coming weekend’s outcomes. No team is more than 75 percent certain to make the playoff.Florida State, despite being undefeated and No. 1 in the Coaches Poll, is not all that well positioned. The selection committee has it at No. 3, which implies that a loss would probably knock it out of contention. FPI, along with other computer systems, is not high on the Seminoles, who have won by middling margins against a so-so schedule.Oregon’s position is better. The Ducks will probably have to win out also, but they’ve already survived the tougher parts of their schedule. Oregon has been good enough, in fact, to make duck-hunting an appealing proposition; UCLA’s outside shot of making the playoff relies upon the possibility of beating it in the Pac-12 Championship.Our simulation also accounts for what might happen beyond Dec. 7. Here are the teams most likely to win the national championship, according to our model:A few teams might be overlooked in the title hunt. Although none of its teams ranks in the top four now, the Big 12 is more likely than not to advance one team (TCU or Baylor) into the playoff. Ohio State’s position as a potential one-loss winner of a major conference will start to look better if any teams ahead of it slip. Ole Miss is a longshot to make the playoff — it will have to beat Mississippi State and perhaps hope that Alabama loses also so that it can get into the SEC Championship — but it’s at the top of the pecking order as far as two-loss teams go.There’s still a lot that these simulations aren’t accounting for. There’s no mechanism in the model to account for head-to-head results even though the committee has said it will consider them if the standings are otherwise close. That potentially works to the benefit of Alabama, which might finish close to Mississippi State in the standings if it loses to Auburn or in the SEC Championship, but which beat the Bulldogs in Tuscaloosa last week.The selection committee may also place more emphasis on conference championships than the simulations do. But we have no evidence yet for how that might play out — nor for how resistant the committee might be to choosing two or more teams from the same conference. We hope you’ll join us as we sort through the scenarios.CORRECTION (Nov. 22, 3:20 p.m.): An earlier version of this article misstated the division in which Western Carolina plays. It is not Division II, but the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-AA. read more