Friday, August 28, 2009

10 Questions to Ask Your Architect

If you are building a new home, hiring an architect for the design and project management of the home can make the whole process go smoothly. Here are 10 questions you will want to ask the architects you interview for your project:

  1. What does the architect see as important issues or considerations in your project? What are the challenges of the project?

  2. How will the architect establish priorities and make decisions?
  3. How busy is the architect?

  4. What sets this architect apart from the rest?

  5. How does the architect establish fees? When will fee payments be expected?
  6. What are the steps in the design process?

  7. How does the architect organize the process?

  8. What does the architect expect you to provide?

  9. If the scope of the project changes later in the project, will there be additional fees? How will these fees be justified?
  10. What services does the architect provide during construction

Bonin Architects & Associates offers full architectural design services, limited drafting services based on your project needs, and optional project management services. Our architectural design services and fees are listed in detail on our website. Give us a call or send an email to tell us about your project and let's discuss how we can work together!

Questions courtesy Boston Society of Architects / AIA

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Are you Living Sustainably?

If you think you’re living sustainably and are up for a little challenge, check out “Consumer Consequences”, an interactive game designed to illustrate the impact of our lifestyles on the Earth. Consumer Consequences is part of American Public Media's™ special series, "Consumed," which explores whether the modern American lifestyle is sustainable in the long run.

Consumer Consequences asks a series of questions about your lifestyle, and as you play, it will show you how many "Earths" of natural resources it would take to sustain all 6.6 billion humans… if everyone lived like you.

The impact of your lifestyle is calculated based on the "ecological footprint" model created by American Public Media’s research partner, Redefining Progress.

Consumer Consequences lets you compare your lifestyle with other players and gives you a chance to modify your choices and reduce your footprint.

Ready to play? Click here

Friday, August 21, 2009

Small Wind Energy Project Opportunities

Economic Climate Opens Door for Small Wind Energy Projects

With utility-scale wind project developers cash-strapped and unable to obtain financing for large wind farms, small wind power project developers see a window of opportunity. by Sarah Lozanova, Contributor Wisconsin, United States []

Very few large-scale wind projects are able to obtain financing under the current economic climate. But falling turbine, steel and labor prices have created the perfect environment for mid-scale wind energy projects to thrive. Although total new installed capacity in 2009 may not rival the impressive 8,900 MW installed in North America in 2008, a golden opportunity exists for smaller wind development.

Small wind projects range in size from 100 kW to 30 MW and typically serve schools, farms, rural villages, businesses and municipal utility companies. Because these type of installations can access funding from various sources, they are less vulnerable to the credit crisis than their large-scale wind farm counterparts.

With the economic crisis taking its toll on wind energy development in 2009, large turbine manufacturers are paying more attention to the mid-scale market, giving smaller projects greater accessibility to utility-grade turbines.

Incentives for Small Wind Project Development

U.S. government support for wind energy through net-metering laws and an extension of the renewable energy production and investment tax credits offers stability to the industry, while stimulus funding provides a boost. In addition to the $1.6 billion in CREBs that is available to state and local governments, municipal utility companies and rural electric cooperatives, some state or local governments also offer grant or rebate programs.

Such incentives make wind projects more attractive, as do lower commodity and labor costs. “We’re already seeing manufacturers come back and say, ‘The steel prices have come down so much that the tower is now $100,000 cheaper,’” says -- Wes Slaymaker, of WES Engineering. “Since the economic collapse in late 2008, steel prices have come down at least 50 percent. The cost of labor has also come down because there are a lot of contractors looking for work.”

While these factors also benefit large wind projects, the financing difficulties that are plaguing the industry now have made it harder for large wind developers to take advantage of them so smaller developers, with greater access to capital, can step right in.

This special window of opportunity for smaller projects will not last forever. Although some encouraging factors will remain, the large-scale wind industry is likely to pick up as soon as liquidity returns to the market.

Although 2009 may be a year to survive for some players in the wind industry, it presents a golden opportunity for the mid-scale market. Time will tell if this opening will result in a boom in this segment of the industry. “If this opportunity for smaller projects is successful, we will start seeing the turbines ordered this year for projects to be installed later in the year or in 2010,” says Slaymaker. “It sounds like there are a number of small to mid-size projects working towards turbine purchase right now.”

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Log & Timber Home Show - Hartford, CT

Timber homes are popular green homes. Make plans to join us at the Log & Timber Home Show in Hartford, CT this October!

Bonin Architects & Associates
Booth #514

Connecticut Expo Center
Hartford, CT
October 16-18, 2009

Click for additional information, including show times, directions, and discounted tickets
Discounted Home Show Tickets

Friday, August 14, 2009

Congressman Hodes NH Clean Economy Expo

Bonin Architects & Associates is proud to be participating in the Clean Economy Expo to be held Monday, August 24th in Concord, NH. Clean energy businesses from all over the state will be on hand to demonstrate how they are creating New Hampshire jobs and helping produce clean, local energy.

The Clean Economy Expo is sponsored by Congressman Paul Hodes, and cosponsored by the American Federation of Labor - Congress of Industrial
Organizations (AFL-CIO), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and Repower America.

Federal, State, and Regional leaders will be available to discuss current initiatives and opportunities.

NH Clean Economy Expo
Monday, August 24, 2009
10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
IBEW Hall,
48 Airport Road,
Concord, NH 03301


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Structural Insulated Panels in a Green Home

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) are helping homeowners cut their heating bills in half.

SIP panels, sometimes known as stress skin panels, are made of an insulating foam core with OSB (oriented strand board) bonded to either side. There are three types of foam cores – EPS (expanded polystyrene), XPS (extruded polystyrene), and urethane (either polyisocyanurate or polyurethane), ranging in R-Values from 13 to 40 (R-value refers to a materials ability to resist transferring heat), far above conventional wall construction with fiberglass or cellulose insulation.

Panels are typically installed vertically on the home walls. Panel connections are fastened with splines or cams and then expanding foam insulation is sprayed directly into the remaining space, sealing the connection and creating a continuous thermal insulating wall for the home. (In a timber frame or post and beam home, the panels are wrapped around the exterior of the timber frame.)

Panel wall R-Values differ according to insulation type and thickness, but all are superior when compared to conventional construction. Walls made of 2x material with fiberglass or cellulose insulation have a reduction in R-Value at every stud, but panel walls form a continuous thermal envelope with no reduction in R-Values. This means increased energy efficiency, lower heating and cooling costs and a drastic reduction in drafts in the home.

If reducing your energy costs by close to 50% isn’t enough, SIPs provide other benefits; a healthy living environment, reduced construction site waste, design flexibility, fast installation and reduced labor costs, a finish-ready exterior and superior strength to meet wind and snow loads.

For an estimate on building a green home with structural insulated panels, give us a call or send an email describing your project.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Green Floor Finishes

Because of the harmful side effects of solvent-based interior stains and finishes, manufacturers have dramatically reduced the amount of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) their products offgas over the past several years. As a result, there are now quite a few water-based solvents available, qualifying for LEED points in the EQ Credit 4.2: Low-Emitting Materials: Paints & Coatings category.

If you are building a new home and are looking for a green interior floor finish, here are a couple of products available. These have low VOC levels, are made from natural materials, are biodegradable, and are exceptionally durable.

BioShield Paint has floor oils and sealants that are solvent-free and low-VOC, low odor.

High Solid Floor Oil: solvent-free finish

  • Protective wood-enhancing finish, dries to a satin-matte sheen
  • Resists staining from water, milk, juice, beer, and wine within a certain time frame
  • Made with linseed oil, tung oil, linseed stand oil, silicic acid, beeswax, candelilla wax, lead-free dryer

Hard Oil #9: low-VOC, low-odor hard oil

  • Breathable and elastic coating with superior water-resistant characteristics
  • Deeply penetrating finish for high-moisture and high-traffic areas
  • Suitable for hardwood and softwood floors
  • Made with linseed oil, tung oil, colophonium resin, castor stand oil, isoaliphatics, lead-free dryers, and oximes