The Passive House Building Standard requires an integrated design process. By Michelle Apigian

With its laser focus on exceptional energy reduction, the Passive House Building Standard is the world’s most energy efficient. Applicable to all building types and uses, it not only dramatically reduces utility bills, operating costs and our carbon footprint, but its natural byproduct is buildings that are far more durable, phenomenally comfortable and healthy to be in, and highly resilient. Just as important, this superior quality and performance does not require a comparable increase in cost. What it does require is an integrated design process committed to a holistic approach toward building envelope and systems. It also encourages a partnership between designer and builder and a return to the craft of building, where attention to detail and pride of quality are truly valued.  

ICON Architecture is just completing the largest Passive House project in Massachusetts, and one of the first of its scale New England. The Distillery was conceived as a demonstration project intended to set a replicable standard for high-quality, low-carbon development. This infill development in South Boston, Mass., will ultimately provide 65 new artist live-work units that enhance an existing, vibrant artist and business community in an adjacent historic distillery mill. The first phase, expected to be completed at the end of 2016, includes 28 units with parking, new commercial space, a roof deck and a large shared courtyard. 

In his 2016 State of the State address, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that his theme for the year is “Built to Lead.” Cuomo adopted this theme in recognition of New York’s heritage as a standard bearer throughout U.S. history, the progress the state has made in the past five years, and New York’s capacity to lead the nation in addressing some of today’s most pressing challenges. 

For the past four years, MasterCraft Builder Group of St. Johns County, Fla., has used its holiday spirit to have a lot of fun, while also raise money for local charities with its Clays for a Cause event, a sporting clay shoot. The 2015 event was the largest in the company’s history, and raised $21,000. 

The event began in 2012, which was the company’s first full year in operation. Foregoing a holiday party for employees, MasterCraft invited all employees and business partners to shoot sporting clays and enjoy an afternoon of camaraderie and charity. One hundred percent of the money raised is donated to several local charities.

The Las Vegas Strip is well known for its lights and glamour, but area residents and visitors know that nearby Fremont Street has its own set of charms in downtown Las Vegas (DTLV). In fact, developers are seeing all the potential in the area, demonstrated by the Wolff Company’s partnership with 901 Fremont LLC, an affiliate of Downtown Project, which has plans to develop a groundbreaking mixed-use multifamily project on 1.3 acres in DTLV. The proposed five-story, podium-style building, currently being dubbed Fremont & 9th, will include 231 units as well as 15,000 square feet of retail space along Fremont Street. It will be the first of its kind in the emerging Fremont East area, which is being revitalized with the help of many investments and initiatives by Downtown Project and its founder, Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Inc.  

With construction in New York City at an all-time high, the New York County District Attorney’s office earlier this year announced what it termed a new Construction Fraud Task Force. In an Aug.5 announcement, accompanied by a press conference by District Attorney Cyrus Vance, the office said the purpose of the task force was “to identify and prosecute citywide corruption and fraud in the construction industry.” 

Along with the announcement, the DA issued a press release regarding the task force’s first two prosecutions. Both indictments sprung from the same accident at a construction site in Manhattan where a worker died as a result of an earthen wall collapse. 

The continued growth of sustainable energy technology, eco-friendly building materials and smart structure automation has necessitated upgrades and complex improvements to the electrical infrastructure of today’s homes and buildings. Smart structures, which are characterized by a high degree of automation and various interconnected systems, typically rely on sophisticated energy collection methods. While these design models have included upgrades to increase resiliency from disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes and flooding, lightning is often overlooked as a significant weather threat – even though lightning hits the earth more than 100 times a second. 

While much of the national economy has improved since the depths of the Great Recession of 2007, many sectors across the U.S. have not been that fortunate – especially the construction industry, where new housing starts have been inconsistent from market to market. With these challenging business conditions coupled with rising tax rates and limited deduction options, builders need to do what they can to improve cash flow by effectively managing their tax burdens and leveraging any available tax incentives. 

Here are some tips to help construction managers navigate the choppy waters of the industry.

Once only used by architects and design engineers, recent advances in 3-D modeling technology now allow construction trades to build constructible models that can streamline internal processes and collaboration to improve efficiency and productivity throughout the project life cycle. 

What is a Constructible Model? Is it BIM?

While constructible models are BIM, not all Building Information Models are constructible. The difference between design models and constructible models is the level of accuracy, development and detail present in the model. To be useful to the construction team, a 3-D project model must be constructible. That means it includes accurate, actionable geometry and data that self-perform contractors and specialist subcontractors can use to bid, plan and execute their portion of the project.

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