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Laminated timber beams to comply with regulations

The Institute for Timber Construction South Africa (ITC-SA), South Africa’s professional body for the engineered timber construction industry, issues a notice on compliance of laminated timber beams to be used for structural purposes.

NOTE: All laminated timber beams must comply with the minimum requirements outlined in SANS 1460: Laminated Timber. Further to this, all laminated timber beams are to be clearly stamped by the supplier, indicating the grade and the relevant accredited authority.  

It is a requirement in terms of SANS 10163 ‘The Structural use of Timber’ and the National Building Regulations, SANS 10400, that all structural timber comply with the relevant product specification. The only way to demonstrate this is by means of certification by an ISO 17065-accredited certification body or by means of a registered structural engineer. There shall be recorded evidence of controls to support this, i.e. type and classification of structural adhesive and approval certificate of each batch, test results of the MOR (bending stress) and MOE (stiffness), grade classification, and markings, to name a few.

It is the responsibility of architects and engineers to call for certified structural timber, the relevant inspectors to ensure compliance, and design engineers, architects and truss manufacturers to specify products they can trust.

Making use of laminated timber products for structural purposes without the necessary certification and backing amounts to irresponsible business – and building – practice. The ITC-SA urges the trade and public to make use of structural timber from the formal trade and that bears the necessary marks.

Visit www.itc-sa.org/laminated-timber-viable-structural-applications/ to read more about laminated timber’s viability for use in structural applications.

For more information, visit www.itc-sa.org.

Resolute restructuring to assist in growth

PERTH (miningweekly.com) – ASX-listed gold miner Resolute Mining on Wednesday announced a new management structure in an effort to drive innovation, growth, improved communications and value for shareholders. The changes created a number of new roles within six core business functions, with the number of senior executives increasing from three to six.

The key changes has resulted in the appointment of David Kelly in the new position of GM corporate strategy, Paul Henharen as the new GM for project developer and the elevation of the existing position of GM for exploration to a CEO report line. Meanwhile, a new position of GM for people, culture and information has also been created, and a recruitment process for the role has started. Furthermore, the existing position of chief business development officer and GM for human resources and administration have been made redundant, which would result in Peter Venn and Marshall Hestelow leaving the company.

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“Resolute has been a proven gold producer for more than 25 years. Today’s announced restructure is part of an ongoing organisational transformation driven by a new commitment to deliver greater value for shareholders from our operating experience and success,” said MD and CEO John Welborn.

“We operate in a volatile industry with high risk and dynamic pressures. Our management structure will continue to evolve to allow Resolute to be a more agile organisation that can deliver growth and profitability. We will achieve this by applying the best possible skillsets in roles that are clearly defined and aligned to best enable Resolute to achieve its principal purpose; rewarding our shareholders.”

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Source: engineeringnews


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Could this venture-backed zero energy house revolutionize the home building industry?

What if you could buy an affordable Zero Energy home that could be erected on your property in a matter of days, instead of the many months it usually takes to build a home on site? New startup Acre Designs promises to make this idea a reality, and could revolutionize the paleolithic home-building industry with their new, innovative approach to quick and efficient building using a kit home model. After receiving backing by Palo Alto startup incubator Y Combinator, Acre Designs is gearing up to start building Net Zero Energy kit homes throughout the country. They are on a mission to build better, more high-tech homes on a large scale that are both affordable and super energy efficient. And considering that the state of California is mandating all new homes to be Net Zero Energy by 2020, it seems that Acre Designs couldn’t have launched at a better time.

One of the most well-known startup incubators, Y Combinator has been around for a decade now and has been described as “the world’s most powerful startup incubator.” Their backing has the potential to catapult Acre Designs’ groundbreaking housing plans to the national level, and just in time, to meet the 2020 Title 24 demand.

In summer 2015, California revised the Title 24 green building mandate, which now stipulates that all new buildings by 2020 be Net Zero Energy. By 2030 all commercial buildings need to follow suit. With roughly 180,000 new homes being built in California each year, and almost none of them Zero Energy, you can see that there is a tall order to fill here, in the span of just four years. Clearly California needs some green building experts to help rise to this challenge.

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When Acre Design founders (married couple) Jennifer Dickson and Andrew Dickson heard about this new California law, they decided to pack up their lives, their business and their family of four in Kansas City and head to California to try to meet this new aggressive green building mandate.

We covered Acre Designs last year when they were still based in Missouri, and in the process of building a prototype outside of Kansas City. The prototype is now finished and is being lived in and loved by the Griffin family.

The Dicksons were actually originally intending to live in this cute 800 sq ft, prototype net zero energy home with their two young daughters, but the call of Y Combinator and the new 2020 energy mandate was just too irresistible. So, in January 2016, they packed up their family and headed for Palo Alto with a new goal of cranking out affordable, mass-produced Zero Energy homes to meet California’s stringent new goals.

Acre Design’s prefabricated kit homes can be assembled in a matter of days, using wall units called “structural insulated panels(SIPs) that snap together on site like LEGOs. Their first test home was just completed in December in Missouri at 860 square ft, with a 300 square ft loft. New homeowners Mark and Tammy Griffin had the farmhouse style one bedroom/one bathroom home built on their 40 acre family property.

The prototype Griffin home in Missouri is designed to be powered entirely by the sun – for electricity, heating and daylight. The house is oriented towards the sun, with south-facing windows soaking up sunshine to heat and light the home, and a radiant heating in the floor provides additional heating when needed. The home also utilizes geothermal heating and a Heat Recovery Ventilator and Mini Split to heat and cool the air. When photovoltaic solar panels are added to the home later this year, it will be fully net-zero, meaning that the Griffins will never have to deal with paying energy bills again.

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Acre Designs is currently offering two different design options to their clients; Series A (the pitched-roof ‘Modern Farmhouse’ style home, with two stories, similar to the Griffin home), and Series B (a single-story, butterfly roof style ranch house that has a more midcentury modern flavor to it). Both designs come in three different size footprints/plans; a 1200 sqft 2 bedroom home ($400K), 1500 sqft 3 bedroom home ($450K), and a 1800 sqft 4 bedroom home ($500K). We know many readers will look at these prices and ask, incredulously, “what is affordable about this”? The answer to this question is to consider the long-term value for the cost.

Until this option, Net Zero Energy homes have typically been very expensive, custom-built homes. Acre Designs is attempting to provide high end, precision-built, zero-energy homes, complete with solar panels, at about the same price it costs to build a cheap, leaky, inefficient stick-built house. And they’re also betting that economies of scale will help them lower the costs in a few years when they’re able to scale up their production. With Acre Designs prefabricated homes, you’re paying a little more up front for a quality product that saves money in the long term with no energy bills, and continual home repairs. Acre Design home prices include construction, appliances, and a photovoltaic solar system, and they’re also implementing a “Sleep-on-It” program: they’ll help finance a home if the owner plans to rent it out at least 50 days per year.

The first “Sleep-on-It” home will be built for a couple in Cannon Beach, Oregon. The couple will be listing the home on AirBnB for most of the year, so those interested in testing out an Acre Designs home will be able to do so right by the ocean.

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Source: inhabitat


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World’s first solar-powered hydrogen development takes homes 100% off-grid

An innovative off-grid housing development in Chiang Mai, Thailand has set a new milestone in the journey towards greener and more sustainable living. Developed by CNX Construction and owned by Sebastian-Justus Schmidt, the Phi Suea House is powered entirely by a solar-hydrogen system — a world’s first for energy storage of its size. The solar-powered hydrogen storage system provides 24-hour, year-round access to clean energy, even during periods of bad weather.

The 100% self-sustaining Phi Suea House development comprises a variety of buildings, from a workshop to guesthouses, but only five of the buildings and two water features—a large fishpond waterfall and a 400-square-meter swimming pool with a well pump—require electricity. Each structure is topped with solar panels and comes with its own inverters. All the electricity is fed into a central energy storage system that collects and then distributes the electricity based on demand. The project includes 86kW of photovoltaics that provide an average daily power production of 326.8kWh, an amount that surpasses the Phi Suea House’s monthly 6,000kWh energy demand.

Excess solar energy produced during the day is used to power anion exchange membrane electrolysers that split water into its constituent elements. While oxygen is released into the air, the hydrogen gas is stored in tanks. At night, fuel cells convert hydrogen back into electricity. The round-trip efficiency is near 50%. Hydrogen energy storage boasts several advantages over typical batteries including larger storage, zero unwanted byproducts, and a long storage life. However, the Phi Suea House project is also equipped with two 2,000-Ah, 48V lead-acid battery banks as a buffer and backup, though they are usually not discharged more than 10% in a single cycle.

Smart energy-efficient design helps reduce the Phi Suea House’s energy demands as well. Aerate concrete walls, double-glazed windows, natural ventilation, green walls, smart ceiling fans, and sun path analysis reduce the homes’ dependence on air conditioning, however, there are VRF air conditioning units installed as backups. Solar hot water systems heat the water without need for electricity. Rainwater is collected and treated onsite for reuse as irrigation. A KNX Automation system also helps boost energy savings; energy performance data will be collected and used for research at Nanyang Technical University in Singapore.

“Everyone should do something to live in a better world,” says Sebastian-Justus Schmidt. “Our family is now doing our part – leaving the world a greener place while gaining and sharing knowledge. This is without a doubt worth all efforts. We aim to have the lowest ecological footprint possible – especially as a foreigner in another country.”

Source: inhabitat


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