Monday, June 27, 2011

$7.2 billion for a new Bay Bridge - and controversy about fabrication and outsourcing

The New York Times is helping stoke the flames of controversy with another article on fabrication. The headline itself serves to heat the flames, "Bridge Comes to San Francisco with a Made-in-China label."

Indeed, fabrication is more efficient. Who gets the contract?

There are many steel fabricators in the U.S., more than 2,500 according the American Institute of Steel Construction.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Growing a Cleantech Business - Washington Clean Technology Alliance Event - June 17th

The Washington Clean Technology Alliance organized an event in Bellevue, Washington on June 17th. More information and registration is available here.

The following sessions are included:

The Washington Clean Technology Alliance with the Cleantech Open present a half day meeting focused on growing cleantech businesses. Includes box lunch.

I. Transforming our Legacy Industries:
-Sustainable Aviation Fuel Network
-Foss' Hybrid Tugboat Initiative

II. Changing the World: Entrepreneurial Case Studies
-Solar Energy: Infinia
-Cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico: Herb Pearse, CEO, EcoTec
-Smart Grid: Chad Maglaque, CEO, Clarian, winner of the GE Ecomagination Challenge

III. Presentation of the Cleantech Open Semi-Finalists including elevator pit by the new class of 2011

IV. The Post-Fukushima Era: Is Nuclear Power a Safe, Green Power Source? Dr. Ken Nash of Washington State University and a panel of respondents including Jim Harding (Harding Consulting) and Pat Schweiger (TerraPower).

The semi-finalists for the Cleantech Open will also be announced. It will be a great opportunity to learn more about the local cleantech community and to learn more about innovation and "hot" topics.

We will be there
. Say hello and let's discuss green building.

Update: We are one of the semi-finalist.

Squeezing Costs, Builders Take a New Look at Prefab

The New York Times published another article on Prefab on June 14.

The Modules at Templetown, a prefab student housing complex in Philadelphia.

The article focuses primarily on the economics of prefab in the commercial sector but doesn't cover residential, even thought many of the same process efficiencies apply. It also doesn't dive into how fabrication is a greener way to build - although that topic is frequently debated elsewhere, and often with very little reference to supportive data.

The 34-story Atlantic Tower project in Brooklyn covered in a previous article is briefly mentioned. Great to see ongoing discussion focused on cost-savings - and even perspectives on how efficiency and change are perceived as threatening by some in the industry. The Mcgraw-Hill SmartMarket Report published on May 11 on Prefabrication and Modularization: Increasing Productivity in the Construction Industry, is based on survery data of people in the industry and makes very clear how quickly fabrication is growing and how desired it is by nearly all sectors.

As a building company we focus on actually building and demonstrating that fabrication is good business and an enabling technology for the industry. The proof is in the buildings we construct.

For those fighting the inevitable, I highly recommend watching this video of a 15-story hotel being assembled in China in two days. The builder of the Atlantic Tower became fascinated by it and is now pushing fabrication in the U.S. Thought-provoking indeed. Watch it below.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ecocities: The future of green development?

The online discussion about large-scale ecocities continues to grow and with more images and videos being released from ongoing projects like Masdar in Abu Dhabi and New Songdo City in South Korea, we can only expect more controversy on the viability of green development at an urban scale.

I discovered this recent working paper on the topic by researchers at Harvard Business School which profiles some of the best-known projects. Unfortunately none of them are in North America.

The Swedes are so forward thinking that they recognize the potential of eco cities as an export product and service. Greentechmedia has an article on this strategy. The featured district is the Stockholm Royal Seaport, a former brownfield industrial area now being transformed into a showcase eco community.

Technology companies like Cisco recognize the potential of integrating a smart grid with green development. Cisco CEO John Chambers is giving his smart grid team an "an almost unlimited budget" for development in projects like New Songdo City.