Friday, March 04, 2011

Solid Foundation for Marino Custom Homes

              LEBANON, OHIO – In the Village of Indian Hill outside of Cincinnati, builder Pete Marino is doing something fairly unusual in today’s challenging economic marketplace --- he’s building a spec home.  And, it’s not a small house. He’s constructing a one-million-dollar-plus custom home.

             “We’re feeling much better about this market in 2011 than we did several years ago,” says Marino, managing partner of Marino Custom Homes, LLC. “We saw an increase in sales in 2010 over 2009 that has pushed us forwards into new development projects. As long as we build sensibly we believe there will be buyers for our high-end custom homes.”

             For Marino, building “sensibly” means starting with a solid, energy-efficient R-5 foundation system from Superior Walls of the Tri-State. Custom-made to the exact specifications of a home, the damp-proof precast concrete foundation can be set in place by a certified crew in less than 12 hours, creating a fast start for a home’s construction process.

             “I’ve had good experiences with Superior Walls foundations in the past which led me to using one on this custom home in Indian Hill,” says Marino. “We’re confident that the homebuyers will see the value in having added living space in their basement area afforded by the Superior Walls foundation. That space can be transformed into a game room, home office or entertainment area to maximize the livability of the entire house.”

             The individually-created Superior Walls R-5 panels include built-in openings for windows and doors. Pre-engineered access for wiring or small plumbing elements along with smart stud facing for easy drywall installation are included and help speed up the installation process.

            The first and only insulated precast concrete wall system to earn the Green Approved Product designation by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Research Center, Superior Walls products use up to 70 percent less concrete in a new home than conventional foundations. Stud facings eliminate the need for additional wood framing prior to interior finishing. Using fewer materials helps reduce the carbon footprint of the new home’s construction process.

           “We specialize in creating LEED certified homes,” says Marino. “When we use the R-5 foundation system, we can earn up to 10 points on our project toward a National Green Building Certification.”

            The Green Approved Products Certificate #00071 provides builders the following points for the use of Superior Walls foundation systems:

  • Practice 601.2 – 3 points – Structural systems/advanced framing techniques optimize material usage.
  • Practice 601.5 (1-3) – 4 points – Precut/preassembled components, panelized, or precast assemblies are utilized for a minimum of 90% of floor, wall, and/or roof system.
  • Practice 607.1 – 3 points – Products containing fewer materials are used to achieve the same end-use requirements as conventional products.
  • Practice 701.4.3.1 (1) – Mandatory – Insulation is installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions or local code. Mandatory for certification.

           “We anticipate this Indian Hill home will be finished by July,” says Marino. “Then we’re going to start working on additional new homes in our area. I’m counting on the sensible products we use and high quality of building construction to continue helping our sales rise throughout 2011 and well into 2012.”

          For more information on Marino Custom Homes, LLC visit For information on Superior Walls of the Tri-State, visit

Call for Public Debate on Wind Power After Misleading Industry Release on Bird Deaths

(Washington, D.C., March 3, 2011) American Bird Conservancy (ABC), the nation’s leading bird conservation group, today called for a public debate on the wind industry’s impact on birds. The call followed a March 1 press statement by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) that asserted that wind power is not a significant threat to birds, and cited data that erroneously suggests that bird mortality from wind power will be fraction of the real projected toll.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has estimated  that approximately  440,000 birds are already being killed each year by wind turbines, yet AWEA continues to assert that the death toll is less than one quarter of this.  More importantly, the industry association ignores the fact that wind development is currently a tiny fraction of that proposed for 2030 when it is anticipated to kill a minimum of one million birds annually, and likely many more.

“It is unfortunate that, rather than owning up to, solving, or at least mitigating for impacts to birds from wind farm installations, the industry’s lobbyists spin outdated and misleading information, and try to conceal the inconvenient truth that wind energy has significant bird impacts that need to be addressed.  Instead of asserting that they are the good guys merely because they are not as bad as coal, they should be looking at how they can get their own environmental house in better order,” said Michael Parr, Vice President of American Bird Conservancy.

“The wind industry is in danger of alienating its greatest environmental advocates by continuing to deny there is a problem with birds. What they should be doing is working constructively with groups like ABC to make the small siting and operational changes needed to minimize bird impacts. ABC is in favor of bird-smart wind, yet industry groups are opposed to even voluntary guidelines to help reduce bird impacts. This does not look like a green industry right now” he added. “It is irresponsible of the wind industry to dismiss what is widely accepted to be in the millions of bird deaths by 2030 as insignificant.”

The issues with wind go far beyond mortality caused by the turbine blades alone, and include impacts from the power lines that bring wind-generated electricity to the grid and habitat loss from the footprint of the wind farms and associated roads and structures. Power lines are a particular threat for species such as the endangered Whooping Crane and other large birds that are at risk from collisions with the lines. About 20,000 square miles of habitat will be likely lost in the 2030 build-out – larger than the combined areas of New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island - which threatens birds such as the Greater Sage-Grouse and other species in the West.

“ABC supports the concept of wind energy. With just a few reasonable bird-smart accommodations, we could realize the enormous green potential that is waiting to be fully tapped, and we would be happy to work with industry toward that end.  But AWEA is doing both the public and those members of the wind industry who are trying to do the right thing a great disservice by concealing the full spectrum of bird impacts. We believe a public debate would help the nation decide what is myth and what is fact,” Parr said.

The wind industry receives huge taxpayer subsidies, yet continues to harm birds in violation of two major environmental laws – the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

American Bird Conservancy ( conserves native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats while building capacity of the bird conservation movement. ABC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization.

Thursday, March 03, 2011


Access to Services, Student Interaction, and Sustainability are Highlights of Campus Master Plan

March 3, 2011 (New York, NY) Top international design and architecture firm Perkins Eastman is pleased to announce that EE&K, a Perkins Eastman company, has completed the master plan for the William Rainey Harper College campus in Palatine, IL. The plan, completed under the joint venture of EE&K/Graywood, will serve as a roadmap for the community college to provide a 21st century campus that will enhance student success.  The plan was presented at the Innovations 2011 Conference in San Diego, CA on February 28.

“21st century community colleges must design campus environments that promote the best use of students’ time and provide numerous opportunities for social and intellectual engagement,” says Sean O’Donnell AIA, LEED AP, principal-in-charge of the project.

Community colleges are playing an increasingly critical role in preparing students of all ages and education levels for a fiercely competitive workforce. In Harper’s case, the master plan calls for a new campus configuration that would establish a more welcoming arrival to the campus. Additionally, access to student services and the importance of student/ faculty interaction are stressed. Accordingly, the master plan creates the new student center as a focal point, which would cluster student services together at the heart of the campus where students, faculty, and staff can interact on a daily basis.

“We are pleased more people than ever are coming to Harper,” says Dr. Kenneth Ender, President of Harper College. He adds, “We want to make sure our facilities can accommodate additional growth and support 21st century learning.”

Developed in close consultation with Harper College key stakeholders, EEK/Graywood’s recommendations go beyond the bounds of a typical master planning effort to address real challenges while linking each recommendation to Harper’s larger goal in becoming a leader in sustainability. The plan recommends making Harper’s campus greener over the next ten years by making the campus more compact, retrofitting buildings to use energy more efficiently, creating a bike trail around the campus, constructing green roofs, and using native landscaping in parking lots to limit water runoff.

About Perkins Eastman
Perkins Eastman is among the top architecture and design firms in the world. The firm prides itself on inventive and compassionate design that enhances the quality of the human experience. Because of its depth and range, Perkins Eastman takes on assignments from niche buildings to complex projects that enrich whole communities. The firm’s practice areas include education, housing, healthcare, senior living, corporate interiors, cultural institutions, public sector facilities, retail, office buildings, and urban design. In 2010, Perkins Eastman announced it would merge with Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects (EE&K), significantly strengthening both practices with an international total of nearly 600 employees. Perkins Eastman provides award-winning design through its domestic offices in New York, NY; Boston, MA; Arlington, VA; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Oakland, CA; Pittsburgh, PA; and Stamford, CT; and internationally in Dubai, UAE; Guayaquil, Ecuador; Mumbai, India; Shanghai, China; and Toronto, Canada.  

This message is sent by Perkins Eastman Architects, PC, and/or its Affiliates, and is intended exclusively for the persons to which it is addressed. This communication may contain information that is privileged or confidential. If you are not the named addressee, you are not authorized to read, print, retain, copy or disseminate any part of this message.

AIA Selects 6 Communities for Community Assistance Program to Promote Long-term Sustainability

For immediate release:
Washington, D.C., March 2011 – The American Institute of Architects (AIA) today announced it has selected 6 communities throughout the country to receive technical assistance under the Sustainable Design Assessment Team (SDAT) program in 2011. The communities selected are Shelburne, Vt., Apple Valley, Mn., Pikes Peak Region, Co., Southwest DeKalb County, Ga., Bastrop, Tx., and Santa Rosa, Ca.

You can see this press release online here:

The AIA also announced that the City of New Orleans had also been selected to receive technical assistance under the Design Assistance Team program, a project that will occur in conjunction with the commencement of the AIA’s annual convention in New Orleans in May.

The SDAT program represents a significant institutional investment by the AIA in public service work to assist communities in developing policy frameworks and long term sustainability plans. Since 2005, the AIA has provided technical assistance to 47 communities across more than 30 states.

“As the SDAT program has evolved, communities all over the country have embraced and implemented the detailed solutions for neighborhood revitalization, transportation infrastructure challenges and economic development that our volunteer teams have provided after conducting background research and an intensive design and planning charette,” said Erin Simmons, director, AIA Design Assistance.

The collaborative SDAT brings together architects and other professionals assembled from across the country to provide a roadmap for communities seeking to improve their sustainability – as defined by a community’s ability to meet the environmental, economic, and social equity needs of today without reducing the ability of future generations to meet their needs.  The SDAT will work with local stakeholders to help the community create a plan for its sustainable future. To provide the most objective assessment, team members volunteer their time and expertise and are selected from areas outside the project communities.

“This year’s SDAT recipients present a full range of community types and geographic settings, from urban and suburban settings to rural communities,” said Simmons. “Each of these jurisdictions has demonstrated a unique commitment to building civic partnerships and engaging the community in a vision for a more sustainable future.”

SDAT program elements

The communities were selected after submitting an application to the Center for Communities by Design outlining the economic, environmental, and social equity challenges facing their region. The SDAT community assistance program provides the selected communities with these components:

·         Preliminary/scoping visit

·         Three-day visit from a multidisciplinary team

·         A report highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the community with regards to sustainability, along with the opportunities and obstacles to change

·         Consultations after the three-day visit (typically by phone or email)

·         To learn more about the AIA Center for Communities by Design or the SDAT program visit:


About the AIA Center for Communities by Design
The Center for Communities by Design is the clearinghouse for the American Institute of Architects' many activities—from promoting sustainable design to leading design based technical assistance projects in communities—that influence the quality of life in our nation's communities. The center is a nonpartisan forum that provides information, develops policy, creates partnerships, and assists in advocacy efforts to facilitate discussions of community design and inform choices for neighborhoods, cities, regions, and the nation.

About The American Institute of Architects
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit


Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The City of Beverly Hills Goes Solar

Solar Dedication Event held on March 1 for the Main Library, Police Station and Civic Center Parking Carport Structure

March 1 (Beverly Hills, CA) – The solar dedication and ribbon-cutting event for the new solar installations serving the city of Beverly Hills was on held March 1 at Room 280A of the City Hall at 455 Rexford Drive, Beverly Hills.

Multiple public buildings in the City of Beverly Hills Civic Center Complex will soon be generating clean power via a solar system thanks to the expertise of installer Sun Light & Power. Particulate attention was given to analyzing the city’s budget, energy loads and the newest programs offered by Southern California Edison in order to create the most savings from the available space.  The approximately 450 kW DC system design that was chosen is comprised of over 1,600 Suntech modules and will be mounted on three separate structures: the main library, police station and the Civic Center parking carport structure.  The installation sites include retrofits for the library and police station arrays and a new steel structure for the Civic Center parking garage.


Beverly Hills chooses solar modules that will be recycled

Working with Sun Light & Power, the City of Beverly Hills chose Suntech modules for these buildings for good, green reasons.  Suntech recently opened a manufacturing facility in Arizona, 

which provides for American jobs and significantly reduces the module transportation footprint.  


Unlike some solar modules, Suntech modules are made without Cadmium.  Perhaps even more significantly, Suntech is making a focused effort to insure that their modules do not become a toxic or hazardous waste burden at the end of their 25 + years productive life cycle.  Unlike some solar modules, Suntech modules do not contain any Cadmium.  Rather than disposal into our overburdened landfills, Suntech has developed a Recycling Program with a 100% take back policy.  At the end of the system’s useful life Suntech will take back the modules at any of their U.S. warehouses.


Offsetting 453 metric tons of CO2 while reducing the

Civic Center’s operating costs


The system is expected to produce approximately 630,272 kWh of electricity every year.  That is electricity the City will not have to buy, so those other funds can be used for other civic projects.  In addition it will offset approximately 453 metric tons of CO2 equal to the emissions of 87 cars or the electricity for 40 average homes. 


Once completed this system will significantly reduce the City’s Civic Center’s operating costs and will be a visible example of civic fiscal and environmental responsibility.  A Data Acquisition System will track and report production.  A monitor will be mounted in the library or in city hall to show what the system is producing at the moment, daily, weekly, yearly, and over its lifetime.  The monitor will become a valuable educational tool for interested citizens.

About Sun Light & Power

Sun Light & Power is a design/build solar firm based in Berkeley, CA with 34 years of leadership in alternative energy systems and innovative designs for homes and businesses. The company is committed to creating living environments that serve people's intrinsic needs, supporting the human spirit and preserving the planet’s resources for future generations.


Founded in 1976 by Gary Gerber (who is also the 2008-2011 President of the California Solar Energy Industries Association - CALSEIA), Sun Light & Power is the first renewable energy contractor to be certified by the Alameda County Green Business Program, and among the first in the nation to qualify as a B Corporation.


The company’s professional staff includes specialists in engineering, system installation, project management, electrical system design, financing and contract administration, including: 5 Professional Engineers, 7 LEED AP Green Building professionals, 3 Electrical Contractors  (C-10) and 7 NABCEP Certified Professionals.  Sun Light & Power is licensed as both a General Contractor (B) and Solar Contractor (C-46).


More information is available at:

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

New MI children?s Hospital Highlights Natural Environment

Helen DeVos Children's Hospital new facility promotes family-friendly environment, highlights the natural environment

Wausau, Wis. -- The new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital by Spectrum Health has dramatically altered the skyline on Michigan Street's "Medical Mile" in Grand Rapids, and announced its intention to transform health care for children. Sharing this vision, the children of Rich and Helen DeVos plus more than 6,000 donors contributed to the $286 million facility.

Opened on January 11, 2011, this state-of-the-art facility encompasses 440,000 square feet of dedicated, pediatric operation rooms, a pediatric emergency department and pediatric radiology department. The new 206-bed, 14-story hospital nearly quadruples the size of its predecessor to serve more than one million children throughout Michigan.

Designed to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED® Rating System™ criteria, this healing environment highlights natural elements such as land, sky, sun and water. Like undulating, gentle waves, the exterior's metal panels interweave and shimmer in blue and silver. Architectural Metals Inc. of Portland, Mich., manufactured the custom-fabricated panel system and Linetec finished the material in large, continuous sections at its factory in Wausau, Wis.

"There were 746 individual 'wave' panels on the project ranging from 5- to 10-feet long and 6-inches to 6-feet tall. The waves were made from 3/8-inch-thick aluminum plate," recalled Chad Comps, vice president of Architectural Metals Inc. "As I compared finishing suppliers, Linetec was recommended as the 'best of the best.' After an on-site tour of the facility, I could tell why [they] have a great reputation. Everyone there, from the plant floor to the vice president, really cared about doing a quality job for the customer."

"Finishing the material in our shop allows us to ensure consistent color, optimal performance and environmentally-responsible application," explained Linetec's senior marketing specialist, Tammy Schroeder, LEED® Green Associate.

Linetec's finishing facility safely and efficiently captures and destroys the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in liquid solvent-based paints. "VOCs can be of special concern to projects pursuing sustainable, green design goals and to health care facilities with sensitive medical equipment and patients with compromised immune systems," emphasized Schroeder. "We use specialized equipment to safely capture 100% of the VOCs released in the painting process, and to destroy these captured VOCs with 98.5% efficiency at the factory - before the materials' arrival to the building site."

Linetec finished and shipped the aluminum panels in scheduled phases to Architectural Glass and Metals, Inc. of Byron Center, Mich.. The field team installed approximately 50,000 square feet of finished panels and integrated aluminum louvers as part of the hospital's overall, high-performance, unitized, aluminum curtainwall system.

Wolverine Building Group of Grand Rapids, Mich., served as the project's construction manager. Wolverine's vice president Bruce Burgess praised the many members of the building team: "It is a huge success. The Helen DeVos Children's Hospital is a beautiful facility and the quality and pride taken by all of the trades is exceptional."

Adding his appreciation, Comps shared, "A special thanks to Rob Seils who went above and beyond the level of customer service expected. Working with Linetec was a very enjoyable experience from beginning to end. The finished product looks great and when I need a finisher again, I will look to Linetec for another enjoyable experience."

Community-wide gratitude and recognition was shared at the January opening of the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. "Today, we celebrate a new era in children's health care for the region that begins with the opening of the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital on 1-11-11," said Helen DeVos Children's Hospital's president Bob Connors, M.D. "Our 20-year dream has come true: a hospital dedicated exclusively to children's health, transforming pediatric medical and surgical care for children in Michigan and beyond."

In 1993, Helen DeVos Children's Hospital first opened and has grown steadily to meet the community's needs. Each year 7,600 children are admitted for inpatient care, 9,000 surgeries are performed and 39,000 children are treated in the emergency department. More than 190,000 outpatient visits to pediatric specialists occur annually. A team of more than 150 pediatric physicians in 40 pediatric specialties works with nurses, therapists and allied health specialists who have devoted their careers to caring for children. As a teaching hospital, training the next generation of pediatric experts is performed in collaboration with the Michigan State College of Human Medicine.

"Today culminates a vision turned reality as we celebrate a new home for children's health care that will house programs and services that are among the best in the country," said Richard C. Breon, president and CEO of Spectrum Health. "This facility brings together physicians, researchers and staff whose entire focus is taking care of children and their families. Spectrum Health is proud to offer these services in West Michigan."

Some of the hospital's services, features and accomplishments include:
*A dedicated, pediatric emergency department caring for more than 100 children each day
*Six operating rooms, a heart catheterization laboratory and a pediatric radiology department
*One of the largest children's cancer and blood disorders programs in the nation, with more than 700 patient visits monthly, and West Michigan's only blood and bone marrow transplantation program
*The only pediatric radiology department in West Michigan, with nearly 75,000 visits a year
*The only extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine in West Michigan for life-saving treatment of babies with acute lung disease
*The nation's 10th largest neonatal center, with more than 1,200 babies admitted each year
*Spacious, 330-square-foot, private patient rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and accommodations for parents to stay overnight
*Quiet spaces throughout the building and a chapel for all faiths
*Special amenities for families such as laundry and kitchenette facilities, overnight rooms for those in crisis situations, a computer lab and a resource library

In addition to the pediatric specialists and medical equipment in the hospital, the new building also caters to the non-medical needs of a child. An outdoor garden is accessible through the main lobby restaurant, which features fresh salads, pizza cooked in a stone-hearth oven, and locally-made ice cream. Areas for play and entertainment throughout the building also add to the child-friendly environment.

The hospital is filled with more than 1,500 pieces of artwork made by more than 8,000 children and teens throughout Michigan. LaFontsee Galleries of Grand Rapids coordinated the art project to create a warm, welcoming environment for children of all ages.

"It is such a joy to see the completion of the new children's hospital as a place that provides exceptional health care for children and a comfortable stay for them and their families," said the hospital's namesake, Helen DeVos. "I've been able to see first-hand, when my grandchildren and I visit patients, the quality of care and compassion that the staff consistently provide, and I'm thrilled the new facility will provide such a supportive environment."

"Helen DeVos Children's Hospital is a regional resource and a destination that families travel to from all directions to get care for their ill or injured children," concluded Matt Van Vranken, executive vice president, Spectrum Health System, and president, Spectrum Health Systems Hospital Group. "The children's hospital already serves most of the counties in Michigan because of our specialists and the programs we have pioneered. Spectrum Health, along with the entire community, has made a significant investment in children's health care for generations to come."

Helen DeVos Children's Hospital by Spectrum Health; 100 Michigan St. NE, Grand Rapids, Mich.
* Owner: Spectrum Health Systems; Grand Rapids, Mich.
* Architects:
- Jonathan Bailey Design, LLC; Dallas
- Rockwell Group; New York
* Consulting Architect, MEP Engineer of Record: URS Corporation; New York
* General contractor: Turner Construction Company; Detroit
* Construction Management: Wolverine Building Group; Grand Rapids, Mich.
* Specialty contractor – glazing and metal panels: Architectural Glass and Metals, Inc.; Byron Center, Mich.
* Metal panel system - manufacturer: Architectural Metals Inc.; Portland, Mich.
* Metal panel system – finisher: Linetec; Wausau, Wis.
* Photographer: Eric De Witt, Lucid Architecture; Zeeland, Mich.

Learn more about Linetec and its finishing services at or calling 888-717-1472. Linetec will be exhibiting in booth #2230 at the AIA 2011 National Convention and Design Exposition.

Linetec is one of the nation’s largest paint and anodize finishers, and the largest independent architectural finisher. Located in Wisconsin, the company serves customers across the country through a national trucking network and offers 500,000-square-feet of capacity for finishing such products as aluminum windows, wall systems, doors, hardware and other architectural metal components, as well as automotive, marine and manufactured consumer goods.

Linetec's media contact: Heather West, 612-724-8760,