Tag Archives: building

Moving towards 100% thermal insulation for homes

A home profiled in Wired has six very interesting zero-carbon elements, but it’s the last two that fascinate me – thick walls and ultra-efficient windows. Thick walls mean “two 8-inch-thick concrete layers that protect the interior from outside temperature fluctuations. On hot days, the concrete absorbs and retains heat, keeping rooms cool; at night it slowly releases that heat to maintain steady temps around the clock.”

And the windows, “three coats of glazing give these windows more than twice the thermal resistance of standard double-paned glass.”

Both focus on the thermal energy efficiency of a home. With the goal of completely insulating a home – no heat lost or gained, no cool air lost or gained. Several homes are being built with the goal of 100% efficiency and that completely alters how a home functions. Things like the heat created by our 98.6 degree bodies become important. Facing a home in the sun (cold climates) or away from (hot climates) becomes essential.

And a lot of this can be accomplished with simple building materials, like concrete walls – which can easily be incorporated in building new homes. And the more complicated materials, like nanotech windows discussed in the article, can be placed on existing homes:

There’s some revolutionary nanotechnology that’s about to go into the glass—different kinds of coatings that make them five to 10 times more energy-efficient than double-paned windows. These windows are as energy-efficient as walls.

With these improvements the energy costs of heating and cooling should plummet, and traditional heaters and HVACs can be downsized or turned off for weeks at a time.

 

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Tony Hsieh: Delivering Happiness to Downtown Las Vegas

Beyond the casinos, past the clubs, over the glittering, multi-million dollar hotels that light up the Las Vegas Strip, beat the quiet drums of innovation and progress. Change is afoot.

Las Vegas is on the verge of a renaissance, thanks, in part, to the fantastical vision and persuasive passion of Zappos CEO and Delivering Happiness author, Tony Hsieh.

Credit Marc Burckhardt

What began as a relocation project, moving the online shoe and apparel shop headquarters from its Henderson location to downtown Las Vegas, has blossomed into a revitalization project, breathing new life into an area all too often described as seedy and run-down.

By the end of 2013, Zappos will take over downtown’s old City Hall building, which will receive a major renovation to accommodate 2,000 of its employees (the Henderson office is home to approximately 1,200), and several blocks of surrounding real estate have been procured to round out the “Zappos campus,” serving as a spark plug to the surrounding area.

It’s all part of Hsieh’s vision to make downtown Las Vegas a vital community — attracting families, urban dwellers, and business owners — to not only visit, but to live and thrive, with art galleries, yoga studios, coffee shops, book stores, sporting events and charter schools.

Hsieh is investing $350 million into the Downtown Project, with $200 million in real estate development, including residential, $50 million for small business investment, $50 million for education, and $50 million for start-up investments, in companies who are already in Las Vegas or are willing to relocate to downtown.

The start-up investment is a ripe opportunity for seedling companies looking for the right environment to get off the ground. Besides providing a lower cost of living, compared to many start-up hubs, the Downtown Project offers access to mentors, space and peers.

When I asked Zach Ware, who oversees campus, urban, and start-up development, about the strategy to attract start-ups and compete against fertile start-up grounds like Palo Alto, San Francisco and Seattle, he explained:

We’re less about comparisons and more about creating something new. Most cities have their fair share of incubation programs and other formal ways to accelerate learning and happiness. We see an opportunity to create a form of an incubator in an entire city, but without the formalities. So if you consider the elements that make up an incubator (proximity to mentors, proximity to others like you, access to capital and space) we think those things can be more organically scaled if they are a part of a city. 

Taking a cue from the edicts in Triumph of the City, the project aims to make downtown Las Vegas a great place to eat, meet, work, live, learn, and play.

After witnessing first-hand the kind of company Tony Hsieh has built with Zappos — during my recent headquarters tour, one senior woman commented, “Boy, would I have loved to work here when I was young” — I have no doubt the project will be a success. In fact, it’s the only Vegas bet I’ll make.

Hello, Silicon Beach – the burgeoning tech scene in Los Angeles

What could be better than beautiful weather, beaches, and your favorite scrappy start-up?

Two cities in Los Angeles are slowly becoming hubs of technology, Santa Monica and Venice.

In the spread out landscape of Los Angeles these two cities are adjacent close-knit urban areas, with ample office space, coffee shops, restaurants, and apartments. But, not the typical high-rise or pre-fab buildings, these are old school one-story remodeled spaces.

Think fun, diverse, and in some places gritty (i.e. hipster).

Recently, both held town hall meetings with local companies and government officials to strategize growth:

Santa Monica devoted much of its annual State of the City address to promoting the tech community, with Mayor Richard Bloom declaring: “Today we are not just Santa Monica, but Silicon Beach and the Tech Coast.” (In an unofficial vote later, hundreds in attendance overwhelmingly threw their support to the Silicon Beach name.)

“Our technology-qualified workforce, creative workplaces and leading broadband infrastructure will keep our economy well-positioned for future growth,” Bloom said.

After the mayor’s address and a short video touting the rise of tech companies in Santa Monica, Jason Nazar, who is chief executive and co-founder of local start-up Docstoc.com, moderated a panel of people connected to the tech scene.

via LA Times – Technology

Silicon Beach is spreading to Venice.

The quirky beach-side community drew hundreds of attendees to a packed town hall meeting dubbed The Emergence of Silicon Beach.

Executives from Google, local start-ups Viddy and Mogreet, and accelerator Amplify were on hand for a panel moderated by Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who repeatedly told audience members that they were witnessing a “Venicessance.” Nearly two dozen tech companies set up booths to tout their products and ideas to about 400 attendees.

“Ten years ago, it was very hard,” James Citron said. “You had to fly up to San Francisco and do the Sand Hill Road dance, for those of you who know the venture capital world. Now they’re coming down here looking for great companies, so that’s a big fundamental change.”

via LA Times – Tech Now

 

It also helps that Google Los Angeles has set-up shop in the, Frank Gehry-designed, Binoculars Building in Venice.

For more on the start-ups in the area, including who’s hiring, Los Angeles Times reporter, Andrea Chang, has been doing a great job covering all of the start-ups in Silicon Beach.

Here are a few of them:

Downtown Santa Monica, the 3rd Street Promenade

 

//Photos – majunznk, …love maegan

San Diego – becoming the country’s biotechnology corridor

It’s interesting how San Diego is positioning itself as the country’s greatest biotech corridor:

San Diego is in the midst of yet another big building boom…which involves some of the city’s biggest interconnected industries — science, medicine, biotechnology and engineering.

At least nine major structures are nearing completion, under way, or soon to start. The projects will cost at least $785 million to build, and will provide the region with about 1.1 million square feet of research, office, manufacturing and conference space.

“We went through a long period of consolidation (in biotech), but now the vacant space is pretty much filling up,” said Joseph Panetta, president of Biocom, an industry trade group. “We’re beginning to see an investment in facilities, and a willingness to growth these industries.”

The focus of each building:

  • Biopharmaceuticals
  • Innovative therapeutics
  • Biomedical research
  • Genomic research
  • Structural and materials engineering
  • Clinical and translational research
  • Planetarium
  • Ocean research
  • Marine ecosystem sensing

More details at UT San Diego

1 World Trade Center – tallest building in NYC and most expensive in the world

One World Trade Center hit a milestone at the end of January when it passed the 90th floor and became the most expensive building in the world.

Now, with construction passing the 93rd floor, it’ll soon hit another milestone: in the next few weeks, it will pass the Empire State Building to become the tallest building in NYC.

Eventually, the 104-story tower will be taller than 1776 feet (including spire and antennae). “It’s a statement of fortitude and determination and the absolute best of mankind.” The tower’s three-level observation deck on the 100th, 101st and 102nd floor—around 1,269 feet up—is projected to be open to the public by early 2014.

Gothamist also has a video that takes place around 1,200 feet up.

 

Photos from @WTCProgress:

Great Night Shot of 1 WTC - taken tonight, Dec 12, 2011
For today, check out the morning fog from the 84th floor of T1 - overlooking Jersey and downtown NYC.
1WTC - 80th Floor Looking East. Hello Brooklyn!
Looking up the Western facade of 1 WTC, Feb 1, 2012