Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Color style for 2009 draws inspiration from both nature and nurture.
PQI has released a short video to demonstrate these exciting design directions, which highlight the 2009 color trends.
Monday, September 29, 2008
London-based banking major Barclays Bank created history in May when it took space at Cee Jay House, a landmark office complex in Worli, for Rs 725 a square foot (sq ft) per month.
The building owned by Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel is fully occupied with the likes of the now-bankrupt Lehman Brothers, Credit Suisse and Societe Generale, among others.
The developers are building 80,000 sq ft of space next to Cee Jay House, and leading brokers said they are getting enquiries for Rs 300-350 per sq ft.
Though property developer Indiabulls Real Estate is leasing office space at One Indiabulls Centre, an upcoming commercial complex at Lower Parel, at Rs 325 per sq ft per month and closed deals with big companies for Rs 275 per sq ft as anchor tenants, property brokers said they are now getting queries for Rs 200-225 a sq ft, 40 per cent less than the quoted price.
Commercial rentals in Mumbai are beginning to crack and deals for office space have slowed over 30 per cent in the last three months. Leading property brokers and consultants in Mumbai say things will be worse with prospective tenants asking for a 50 per cent cut in rates.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Art Nouveau was an international art movement during the late 1800’s that focused on decorative arts such as glass work, interior design and jewelery, along with other departures from tradition in design, painting and sculpture. The movement was characterized by an elaborate ornate style of flowing curvilinear forms that frequently depicted leaves and flowers.
Although Art Nouveau took on distinctly localized tendencies as its geographic spread increased some general characteristics are indicative of the form. A description published in Pan magazine of Hermann Obrist’s wall-hanging Cyclamen (1894) described it as “sudden violent curves generated by the crack of a whip”, and this description became well-known during the early spread of Art Nouveau. Subsequently, not only did the work itself become better-known as The Whiplash, but the term “whiplash” is frequently applied to the characteristic curves employed by Art Nouveau artists. Such decorative “whiplash” motifs, formed by dynamic, undulating, and flowing lines in a syncopated rhythm, are found throughout the architecture, painting, sculpture and other forms of Art Nouveau design.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Global banks and brokerages have had to write off an estimated $512 billion in subprime losses so far, with the largest hits taken by Citigroup ($55.1 billion) and Merrill Lynch ($52.2 billion).
According to housing experts , about $4 billion has been pumped into the Indian real estate market by FIIs and venture capital funds. "Another $12 to $14 billion was to flow in within the next 18 months. This will not come anymore,'' said Pranay Vakil, chairman of Knight Frank India, a global property consultancy firm.
The collapse of Lehman Brothers, the most recent of the big names crashing, will have a tremendous effect on the already floundering property market in
Lehman Brothers Real Estate Partners had given Rs 740 crore to Unitech Ltd, for its mixed use development project in
According to him, longterm sentiments are bad and it will only worsen. Sources said several builders have started taking loans from private money lenders at high interest rates of 30% to 40%.
Anuj Puri, chairman and country head of Jones Lang Lasalle Meghraj said this is not the end of the global financial crisis. "A lot more will come out, which will have a negative impact on the property market,'' he said. Puri observed that in Tier 2 cities prices have already dropped by 15% to 20%. However, there has still been no price adjustment in
"Developers are expecting business to pick up during Diwali . But it is unlikely to happen anytime soon. As it is, developers are facing a liquidity crunch. The big ones are using their own capital they made when the market was booming for the past four years,'' added Puri. However, he said that none of the builders had gone belly up.
Vakil of Knight Frank said builders are still holding on to their prices, and unless they lower the prices, demand for flats will not open up. "At lower prices, volumes will improve ,'' he added.
TOI has learnt that in Borivli east, a developer who was quoting Rs 7,300 a sq ft in his residential project, recently slashed the price down to Rs 6,300 a sq ft. "He sold about 35 flats during the Ganpati festival itself,'' said a broker.
A property expert, not wishing to be identified, said the recent collapse of banks like Lehman Brothers and other big financial institutions, will render thousands of employees jobless in
Akshaya Kumar, CEO of Park Lane Property Advisors said the global crisis will see money dry up even further. "The developers will be strangulated further,'' he predicted.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Wind is the fastest growing energy source in the world, and in the
While critics of wind power point to a price discrepancy, noting that construction costs for wind-powered generators can run double those of fossil fuel plants, supporters counter that once wind facilities are constructed, there are no fuel costs, because wind, of course, is free. Likewise, they say that since maintenance is considered minimal, wind-power costs are competitive.
Experts say it’s relatively easy to harness the energy in wind- essentially you put a rotor on top of a tall tower, the wind blows the rotor, which is connected to a shaft, which drives an electrical generator to produce electricity. The American Wind Energy Association forecasts 6 percent of all homeowners in the
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Casa Milà Barcelona, or la Pedrera, by Antoni Gaudí is an apartment building with wavy walls.
The final secular design of the Spanish surrealist Antoni Gaudí, Casa Milà Barcelona is an apartment building with a fanciful aura. Wavy walls made of rough-chipped stone suggest fossilized ocean waves. Doors and windows look like they are dug out of sand. A comical array of chimney stacks dances across the roof.
This unique building is widely but unofficially known as La Pedrera (the Quarry). In 1984, UNESCO classified Casa Milà as a World Heritage site. Today, Casa Milà is used for cultural expositions.
Monday, September 22, 2008
This page provides a quick history of architecture in the Western world, from prehistoric megaliths to modernist skyscrapers. Follow the links to find articles and photos for each period and style. Please note that architecture is a fluid art. Architectural styles do not start and stop at precise times, and the dates listed here are approximate.
Architecture in Prehistoric Times1
Before recorded history, humans constructed stone circles, megaliths, and other structures.
3000 BC to 337 BC In ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, civilizations built enormous temples and shrines.
Early Christian and Medieval 3
373 to 500 AD. European architecture moved from the rectangular basilica forms to the classically inspired Byzantine style.
500 to 1200 AD As Rome spread across Europe, heavier, stocky Romanesque architecture with rounded arches emerged.
1200 to 1400 AD Innovative builders created the great cathedrals of Europe.
1400 to 1600 AD A return to classical ideas ushered an "age of "awakening" in Italy, France, and England.
1600 to 1700 AD In Italy, the Baroque style is reflected in opulent and dramatic churches with irregular shapes and extravagant ornamentation. In France, the highly ornamented Baroque style combines with Classical restraint. Russian aristorcrats were impressed by Versailles in France, and incorporated Baroque ideas in the building of St. Petersburg. Elements of the elaborate Baroque style are found throughout Europe.
1650 to 1790 AD During the last phase of the Baroque period, builders constructed elegant white buildings with sweeping curves.
American Colonial Architecture9
1600 to 1780 AD European settlers in the New World borrowed ideas from their homelands to create their own breed of architecture.
1720 to 1800 AD Georgian was a stately, symmetrical style that dominated in Great Britain and Ireland and influenced building styles in the American colonies.
Neoclassical / Federalist / Idealist11
1750 to 1880 AD A renewed interest in ideas of Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio inspired a return of classical shapes in Europe, Great Britain and the United States.
Greek Revival Architecture12
1790 to 1850 AD These classical buildings and homes often feature columns, pediments and other details inspired by Greek forms. Antebellum homes in the American south were often built in the Greek Revival style.
1840 to 1900 AD Industrialization brought many innovations in architecture. Victorian styles include Gothic Revival, Italianate, Stick, Eastlake, Queen Anne, Romanesque and Second Empire.
Arts and Crafts Movement in Architecture14
1860 to 1900 AD Arts and Crafts was a late 19th-century backlash against the forces of industrialization. The Arts and Crafts movement revived an interest in handicrafts and sought a spiritual connection with the surrounding environment, both natural and manmade. The Craftsman Bungalow evolved from the Arts and Crafts movement.
Art Nouveau Architecture15
1890 to 1914 AD Known as the New Style, Art Nouveau was first expressed in fabrics and graphic design. The style spread to architecture and furniture in the 1890s. Art Nouveau buildings often have asymmetrical shapes, arches and decorative surfaces with curved, plant-like designs.
Art Deco Architecture16
1925 to 1935 AD Zigzag patterns and vertical lines create dramatic effect on jazz-age, Art Deco buildings.
20th Century Trends in Architecture17
1900 to Present. The century has seen dramatic changes and astonishing diversity. Twentieth century trends include Art Moderne and the Bauhaus school coined by Walter Gropius, Deconstructivism, Formalism, Modernism, Structuralism, and Postmodernism.
Friday, September 19, 2008
For the first time in the country, a state government, Haryana, has announced that real estate brokering services will have to be undertaken by licensed professionals. As a leading industry watcher puts it: “Real estate agents have been acknowledged as important links in the supply chain of real estate.”
The biggest benefit of mandating registration of brokers in Haryana is that there is some accountability built into the system. The early attempts at training real estate agents started in the late 1990s when the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (Hudco), through its training wing Housing Settlement Management Institute (HSMI), ran a real estate training course. Key parameters were identified and training imparted. Today, those trained realtors have formed an association — ACRI.
So what does registration of brokers do and who benefits? The primary beneficiary of the initiative is the consumer. Government agencies such as the National Housing Bank have been trying to find the formula to get brokers together. Explains Shashi Kant, president, Association of Accredited Realtors of India (ACRI), “This is a good initiative as it will tell the user that a credible set of people are working on the brokerage of the real estate transaction.”
So what are the specific skills required to service a customer? “When selecting a broker a customer has to ensure that the broker is familiar with the ground rules of the state or city and the trends of property development,” explains a urban finance specialist. The agent is the consumer’s first interface with the market and a licence will ensure a minimum level of credibility. As the authority which operates and liaises between the owner/developer and the user/.buyer, he should know what to recommend.
This is based on what clearances are required before a property can be transacted and what sanctions to be received. Recently, a developer had started selling a project with the tag NoC approved. Effectively this meant that the developer had received the No Objection Certificate from the authority to start applying for licences to build on that particular piece of land. As a first time buyer this may not strike the user, but the agent then becomes the authority to vet the jargon and ensure that the property is worth investing in.
He should know all the details of the property document, including the legal no encumbrances and building and development permits. He also needs to understand the carpet and super area formats, the loading by each developer as well as the locality profile so that he can advise buyers of the relative merits and demerits of the investment. As the most visible point of contact for a buyer, he should also be able to advise the buyer on whether the property is legally suited to secure home loans. This makes it imperative for him to understand financial advice as well as municipal charges and transaction costs. He also needs a working knowledge of the basic structural sufficiency norms for the area of operations as well.
Keeping this in mind the NAREDCO certificate course, a collaborative initiative of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University (GGSIPU), NAREDCO and HSMI of HUDCO targets real estate agents, property brokers, sales persons, commercial and customer care executives and sales and home loan agents working any where in India.
According to NAREDCO, transactions in the real estate market are primarily linked through sales persons and brokers. Brokerage activities relate to selling, leasing, renting, managing, lending, soliciting and negotiating in return for compensation. Property transactions over the years have become very specialised and complex. Therefore, it is necessary for brokers and sales persons to acquire specialised knowledge of property laws and market operations.
NAREDCO has even evolved a code of conduct to regulate real estate brokers. According to Sunil Aggarwal, CEO of SARE Capital, a real estate-linked private equity fund, “This code of conduct and regulatory mechanism protects not only the consumer but the broker as well. The minute a broker or brokerage firm can formally get the deal signed off by the seller, the buyer and the adviser, the entire process protects all the parties.
However, not everyone is happy. According to a leading consultant from
In the absence of such regulation, agents have been going for self-regulation as in the case of ACRI, National Association of Realtors of India and various small broker bodies. They insist on their members having PAN numbers and sales tax numbers so that some level of checks are maintained.
Self regulation or state imposed, the consumer today is demanding some authentication of the realtors who advise them on the biggest purchase of their lives. Can a right formula emerge?
Thursday, September 18, 2008
After being hailed as the richest Indian in the world and the wealthiest in the UK, it has now emerged that India-born steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal resides on Britain's most expensive street.
In a list of Britain's costliest streets, the top slot has been grabbed by Kensignton Palace Gardens, popularly known as Billionaire's Row, where Mittal family has purchased three houses and was once home to late Princess of Wales Diana.
As per a ranking of Britain's 20 highest value streets, compiled by property website Zoopla, London's Kensington Palace Gardens is top-ranked with an average house price of about 41.4 million pounds, while Compton Avenue in Hamstead, North London, has come as the distant second with an average price of 7.5 million pounds.
All the 20 costliest streets in Britain are in London.
In June, Mittal reportedly purchased a 70-million- pound house for his daughter Vanisha in this street -- close after a world record 117-million-pound mansion bought for his son Aditya and the third for the family in the same area.
About four years ago, Mittal had purchased his first house on the Billionaire's Row for 57 million pounds.
The combined value of the three properties owned by Mittal family on this street is said to be valued at about 440 million pounds -- nearly 200 million pounds more than the amount paid for these properties over a period of four years.
The street has been home to a number of celebrities even before Mittals came to London. Late Princess Diana once lived in this street in the Central London and its current residents include Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich.
Kensington Palace Gardens is a private avenue lined with trees and dotted with foreign embassies.
In May 2008, Mittal purchased a lavish property near Israeli Embassy for a world record 117 million pounds from hedge fund tycoon Noam Gottesman. This property is said to be inhabited by Aditya Mittal, Mittal's son and group CFO of ArcelorMittal, along with his wife Megha and two daughters.
Mittal's latest acquisition on this street was formerly a Philippines Embassy and is being furnished for Vanisha, also a board member of ArcelorMittal.
Mittal owes much of his over USD 50 billion fortune to his stake in ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest steelmaker valued at over 100 billion dollars.
n the latest list of costliest streets of Britain, compiled by Zoopla, Kensington Palace Gardens and Compton Avenue are followed by Courtenay Avenue, Chelsea Square, Manresa Road, Ilchester Place, Spaniards Close, Elm Walk, Essex Villas and Gilston Road in the top ten.
Others in the top-20 list include Carlyle Square, Kensington Square, Eldon Road, Mulberry Walk, Cottesmore Gardens, Victoria Road, Earls Terrace, Winnington Road, Ingram Avenue and Albert Place ranked last with a price tag of over 4.5 milion pounds.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
During a drive of four hours from Bangalore, India's hub of information technology, one seems to slip gently back in time. The landscape gradually changes as we move through groves of coconut and banana trees. Past rocky outcrops scattered with temples, and with the coffee-growing hills of Chikmanglur on the horizon, one reaches Halebid — the site of the ancient city of Dwarasamudra, the 12th- and 13th-century capital of the Hoysala empire. Repeated invasions have left few traces of the once flourishing city, now known as Halebeedu or "the ruined city." One survivor is the Hoysaleswara Temple, built in the mid-12th century. It is set among ancient trees and verdant lawns and gleams like a gem in the afternoon light.
The temple has a high, wide, star-shaped plinth, and a wall treatment of strong horizontal bands of sculpture. It keeps the structure firmly grounded, seeming to defy long-gone invaders and the elements, even though the "shikhara," or superstructure, has been lost. Inside, the temple consists of a pillared hall with two twin sanctuaries. Both are faced by open pavilions, each housing a majestic polished stone Nandi bull. The interior of the temple is softly illuminated by daylight filtering through perforated screens on the eastern walls. The hall has highly polished, lathe-turned stone pillars, with capitals supporting brackets intricately carved with figures from Hindu mythology.
On the outside, continuous horizontal bands of ornamental borders, moldings, and canopied statues run around the temple walls, in accordance with the tenets of the "Vastu Shastra." Scenes from religious epics, legends, and the Hindu pantheon are recorded in detailed, high-relief carvings. For over a century, according to legend, generations of sculptors expressed their ingenuity, skills, and religious consciousness. Every panel has a story to tell in colorful detail.
(via Architecture Week.)
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
The term luxury has been completely abused in today’s context. Until two years ago, from a sari to an apartment to food was said to be minimalist with complete disregard for or a lack of understanding about whether what they portrayed was actually minimal or not. The same is now happening with luxury. It has become a hollow term.
Luxury was reintroduced into the international design world after years of it being dominated by minimalist style. It came as a sorbet to clean the palate of minimalism. It allowed people to see that they were able to reintroduce elements of design, such as ornamentation, back into their design ethos.
Luxury was meant to give people a chance to reinterpret their ethos in a more individual way than minimalism allowed. It led to a real loss of inhibition. But now, instead of moving beyond that transition point to a new design idea, everyone just throws their designs under the luxury blanket without even understanding what that term means.
Luxury is not just a price point; it’s not just a brand. Luxury is something that is not necessarily accessible, nor should it be. But people are doing the tackiest apartments with air conditioners stuck on the wall, straight-lined furniture, a few accessories—and calling it luxury. The worst part about it is that two years ago, the same design would have been called minimal. It’s just a buzzword people use to recycle the same poorly designed products, but packaged in a new term in an attempt to trick people into buying it. And people do because we’ve failed to create a strong design dialogue that helps explain terminology.
Before buying something labelled luxury or before labelling something luxury consider a few key points:
Does it fit your idea of beauty?
Is the quality truly impeccable?
Will it withstand the test of time?
Is it unique and worth waiting for?
Monday, September 15, 2008
In an early chapter of his interesting new book, Symmetry: A Journey Into the Patterns of Nature, Marcus du Sautoy describes a visit to the
Du Sautoy's book is about mathematics, but his excursion to the
Symmetros is a Greek word, and ancient Greek architecture used symmetry as a basic organizing principle. As did Roman, Roman-esque, and Renaissance. Indeed, it is hard to think of any architectural tradition, Western or non-Western, that does not include symmetry. Symmetry is something that Islamic mosques, Chinese pagodas, Hindu temples, Shinto shrines, and Gothic cathedrals have in common.
Architectural Modernism thumbed its nose at tradition and firmly avoided symmetry. Being symmetrical was considered as retrograde as being, well, decorated. All exemplary Modernist buildings celebrated asymmetry: The wings of Walter Gropius' Bauhaus shoot off in different directions; the columns of Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion are symmetrical, but you can hardly tell, thanks to the randomly spaced walls; nothing in Frank Lloyd Wright's pinwheeling Falling water mirrors anything else; and Le Corbusier's Ronchamps dispenses with traditional church geometry altogether. The facades of Philip Johnson's Glass House are rare instances of Modernist symmetry, although all the elements of the interior—kitchen counter, storage wall, and brick cylinder containing the bathroom—are carefully located off-center.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
“Interest rates are linked to inflation. If inflation is controlled, interest rates can also be contained. In the past two weeks, we have seen from the data coming out that inflation has marginally tapered off. If the trend continues, it would mean that the peak has come already.
I think, with oil and commodity prices tapering off and food prices stagnating, we have peaked already,” said Mr Parekh. However, he added that there were some who believed that there would be one more round of interest-rate hikes.
Delivering the keynote address at the Ficci summit on real estate on Wednesday, Mr Parekh said that slowdown in the real estate market — a long overdue adjustment — was needed, and this, to some extent, has already happened. He pointed out that the real estate industry was still not out of the woods. “I do foresee some more pain in the real estate market in
Mr Parekh also had a suggestion to industry for avoiding situations like the one witnessed in Singur. According to Mr Parekh, the main problem in such cases is that land acquisition is done at fair value, but subsequently when project plans are announced, the value of that land escalates and then the original sellers feel cheated or disgruntled with their compensation.
“It is difficult to find outright solutions, but experience shows that the need of the hour is transparency in such land dealings, clearer land titles and making those losing their land stakeholders in the project.
Offering them equity in the project will give them long-term economic benefits, rather than leaving them with the fear of being displaced and then subsequently becoming the grist for someone else’s battle,” said Mr Parekh.
The doyen of the country’s housing finance industry was also critical of the move to extend higher floor-space index (FSI) for redevelopment projects in
The state government has been allowed to grant builders increased development rights as an incentive for redevelopment. According to Mr Parekh, higher FSI will result in building within five feet of one another. “Where is the open space? Where is the water? and how will the sewage system work?” said Mr Parekh.
He pointed out that some of the old structures had hundreds of dwelling units. And for rehousing, there was not enough space for redevelopment after everyone is rehoused.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Dubai – where else?! (TGW) – Timelinks, a Dubai-based environmental design firm, has revealed concept renderings of a giant eco pyramid, named Ziggurat, with the official unveiling set for the Cityscape Dubai event October 6-9 this year.
Ziggurat will be 4000 feet high and would be capable of housing one million people – even better, it will only take up 2.3 square kilometers and will be carbon neutral.
The pyramid will utilize natural energy resources including wind power and steam power to achieve this. The building will also have an extremely efficient public transportation system that goes both horizontally and vertically. Timelinks has patented the designs for the structure.
Via :: Inhabitat
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Cass Gilbert Birth:
May 17, 1934
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, 1878-1879
- 1900: Broadway Chambers Building, New York City
- 1902: Essex County Courthouse, Newark, New Jersey
- 1904: Festival Hall and Art Building, St. Louis, Missouri
- 1905: , St. Paul
- 1907: US Custom House
- 1913: F.W. Woolworth Company Building, New York City
- 1915: Completed the Arkansas State Capitol Building
- 1917: Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, Ohio
- 1921: Detroit Public Library
- 1926: Plans for George Washington Bridge, New York
- 1928: New York Life Insurance Building
- 1935: U.S. Supreme Court Building, Washington D.C.
- "In conducting business (especially for the office) never forget that the greatest danger arises from cocksure pride."
- "Beware of over-confidence; especially in matters of structure."
- "It is only the young and callow and ignorant that admire rashness. Think before you speak. Know your subject."
Although Cass Gilbert's name is rarely mentioned today, he exercised enormous influence on the development of architecture in the United States. He is perhaps best known for his gothic skyscraper, the Woolworth Building, which was the world's tallest building at the time. Combining modern technologies with historic ideas, Gilbert designed numerous public buildings, including the state capitols of Minnesota, West Virginia, and Arkansas. He was consulting architect for the George Washington Bridge, which crosses the Hudson River in upper Manhattan, New York City.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Monday, September 8, 2008
The planning and urban design policies of the British followed certain principles – a. their perceptions of the nature of the Indian city, b. the fear of further revolts along the lines of the Mutiny of 1857, c. Haussmann’s plan for Paris which had become so popular in Europe and which advocated cutting through and demolishing old city centres to make space for new construction and boulevards, and d. planning techniques already in use for Britain’s industrial cities.
In the main the effort was to physically and socially separate the Europeans from the indigenous populace – the so-called ‘White’ and ‘Black’ towns of
The economic boom of the later half of the 19th century translated into frenetic building activity in
In addition to major urban design schemes, it was the civil lines and the cantonments which remain today a major evidence of 19th century British presence, and which in turn have influenced much middle-class housing development in modern
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
Below is a sampling of green building practices.
* Start by selecting a site well suited to take advantage of mass transit.
* Protect and retain existing landscaping and natural features. Select plants that have low water and pesticide needs, and generate minimum plant trimmings. Use compost and mulches. This will save water and time.
* Recycled content paving materials, furnishings, and mulches help close the recycling loop.
Most buildings can reach energy efficiency levels far beyond California Title 24 standards, yet most only strive to meet the standard. It is reasonable to strive for 40 percent less energy than Title 24 standards. The following strategies contribute to this goal.
* Passive design strategies can dramatically affect building energy performance. These measures include building shape and orientation, passive solar design, and the use of natural lighting.
* Develop strategies to provide natural lighting. Studies have shown that it has a positive impact on productivity and well being.
* Install high-efficiency lighting systems with advanced lighting controls. Include motion sensors tied to dimmable lighting controls. Task lighting reduces general overhead light levels.
* Use a properly sized and energy-efficient heat/cooling system in conjunction with a thermally efficient building shell. Maximize light colors for roofing and wall finish materials; install high R-value wall and ceiling insulation; and use minimal glass on east and west exposures.
* Minimize the electric loads from lighting, equipment, and appliances.
* Consider alternative energy sources such as photovoltaics and fuel cells that are now available in new products and applications. Renewable energy sources provide a great symbol of emerging technologies for the future.
* Computer modeling is an extremely useful tool in optimizing design of electrical and mechanical systems and the building shell.
* Select sustainable construction materials and products by evaluating several characteristics such as reused and recycled content, zero or low off gassing of harmful air emissions, zero or low toxicity, sustainably harvested materials, high recyclability, durability, longevity, and local production. Such products promote resource conservation and efficiency. Using recycled-content products also helps develop markets for recycled materials that are being diverted from California's landfills, as mandated by the Integrated Waste Management Act.
* Use dimensional planning and other material efficiency strategies. These strategies reduce the amount of building materials needed and cut construction costs. For example, design rooms on 4-foot multiples to conform to standard-sized wallboard and plywood sheets.
* Reuse and recycle construction and demolition materials. For example, using inert demolition materials as a base course for a parking lot keeps materials out of landfills and costs less.
* Require plans for managing materials through deconstruction, demolition, and construction.
* Design with adequate space to facilitate recycling collection and to incorporate a solid waste management program that prevents waste generation.
* Design for dual plumbing to use recycled water for toilet flushing or a gray water system that recovers rainwater or other nonpotable water for site irrigation.
* Minimize wastewater by using ultra low-flush toilets, low-flow shower heads, and other water conserving fixtures.
* Use recirculating systems for centralized hot water distribution.
* Install point-of-use hot water heating systems for more distant locations.
* Use a water budget approach that schedules irrigation using the California Irrigation Management Information System data for landscaping.
* Meter the landscape separately from buildings. Use micro-irrigation (which excludes sprinklers and high-pressure sprayers) to supply water in nonturf areas.
* Use state-of-the-art irrigation controllers and self-closing nozzles on hoses.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Surface temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere were warmer over the last 10 years than any time during the last 1,300 years, according to a study.
If climate scientists include the somewhat controversial data derived from tree-ring records, the warming is anomalous (deviating from the normal or common order) for at least 1,700 years. "Some have argued that tree-ring data is unacceptable for this type of study," said Michael Mann, associate professor of meteorology and geosciences and director of Penn State's Earth System Science Centre.
"Now we can eliminate tree rings and still have enough data from other so-called 'proxies' to derive a long-term Northern Hemisphere temperature record." The proxies used by the researchers included information from marine and lake sediment cores, ice cores, coral cores and tree rings. "We looked at a much expanded database and our methods are more sophisticated than those used previously," said Mann.
The researchers noted that "conclusions are less definitive for the Southern Hemisphere and globe, which we attribute to larger uncertainties arising from the sparser available proxy data in the Southern Hemisphere". The research team included Mann, Ray Bradley, university distinguished professor, geosciences and director of Climate System Research Centre at the University of Massachusetts; Malcolm Hughes, regents' professor, and Fenbiao Ni, research associate at the Laboratory of Tree Ring Research, University of Arizona; Zhihua Zhang and Sonya Miller, research associates, meteorology, Penn State; and Scott Rutherford, assistant professor of environmental sciences at Roger Williams University.
Results of this study without tree-ring data show that for the Northern Hemisphere, the last 10 years are unusually warm for not just the past 1,000 as reported in the 1990s paper and others, but for at least another 300 years going back to about A.D. 700 without using tree-ring data.
The same conclusion holds back to A.D. 300 if the researchers include tree-ring data. "Ten years ago, we could not simply eliminate all the tree-ring data from our network because we did not have enough other proxy climate records to piece together a reliable global record," said Mann. "With the considerably expanded networks of data now available, we can indeed obtain a reliable long-term record without using tree rings," he added.
The new study shows that, with caveats, tree-ring data can be used, but that even without including that data, it is clear that the anomalous nature of recent warmth, which most scientists believe to be a result of human impacts on climate, is a reality. These findings were published on Tuesday's online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences .
(via Times of India.)
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Green building skeptics sometimes argue that it's difficult or even impossible to build green without paying a big cost premium. But real-world examples show that you can complete a LEED-certified green building project for an average of 2 percent more in upfront costs, and sometimes even below standard market construction costs. Plus, any extra first costs you pay can be recovered through faster lease-up rates, rental premiums and increased market valuation. And by making experienced green building professionals a part of your team and learning to control costs, you can escape paying any green premium at all as early as your second green building project.
A 2004 study by Davis Langdon Adamson, a construction cost-planning and management company, found that the first costs of constructing a sustainable building tend to match or only slightly exceed those of comparable non-green buildings. The study, Costing Green: A Comprehensive Cost Database and Budgeting Methodology (click here to see the report, in pdf), measured the square-foot construction costs of 61 buildings seeking certification under the LEED green building rating system against those of buildings of similar type that did not aim for sustainability. Taking into account a range of construction factors including climate, location, market conditions and local standards, the study found that for many of the green projects, pursuing LEED certification had little or no budgetary impact.
The study's findings also underline that incorporating and integrating green features into a project early is critical to the success of any green building project. "It is the choices made during design which will ultimately determine whether a building can be sustainable, not the budget set," the report concluded.
In addition, in order to accurately evaluate the impact of green building on your budget, it's important to look beyond first costs. Increasingly, architects and procurement specialists are using "life-cycle assessments" (LCA) to evaluate and quantify the economic and environmental costs and benefits of materials and products over their lives. LCA analysis methods are becoming more standardized and tools such as LCie are emerging to provide comparable product-level evaluations.
Click here for links to LCA analysis resources »
Monday, September 1, 2008
How badly is the EMI (equated monthly instalment) of your home loan messing up your budget? Over the last four years, the interest rate on home loans has risen from the bottom of about 7.75 per cent in 2004 to about 12.75 per cent now for existing customers. During the initial period of the rise, your lender bank or housing finance company (HFC) increased the loan tenure, till it went up to the end of your expected working life. Then it started bumping up the EMIs. Your total interest burden would have more than doubled from what it was in 2004 unless you have already prepaid substantial chunks of your principal.
This larger loan burden comes at a time when rising prices are putting pressure on your budget anyway. To cap inflation, the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have been tightening the screws on liquidity. The RBI has increased the cash reserve ratio (the amount banks set aside with the RBI) and the repo rate (the rate at which banks borrow from the RBI), sucking out cash. So, banks are having to pay higher interest on deposits to bring in cash. To make money on these higher-cost funds, they have had to hike lending rates. This has pushed up the overall interest rates.
The biggest impact of this increase is on home loans. Those who took fixed rate loans have been guarded against this since the rate is likely to be reviewed after five years or so. However, those who took floating rate loans have borne the brunt of the rate hike, seeing their repayment tenures and EMIs shooting up.
While there have been reports of suicides over inability to repay home loans in the
To find a way out, you have to understand how interest rates are set. Banks calculate their own cost of funds from various sources. Above that, they fix the prime lending rate (PLR), a rate at which they lend money to their best or least risky customers. Normally, all banks also fix a benchmark PLR (BPLR). All loans are linked to the BPLR. When interest rises, the PLR and the BPLR increase. This, in turn, pushes up the rates for the floating home loan buyers, since the rate of interest they pay is linked to the BPLR. Then comes the increase in loan tenure and, subsequently, EMIs.
Longer tenure, higher EMIs. Take the case of a 30-year-old who had taken a Rs 30-lakh home loan in 2004. At an interest rate of 7.75 per cent per annum then, he was supposed to pay an EMI of Rs 24,628 for 240 months to repay his loan. Typically, most banks provide a loan tenure of up to 240 months. The total interest outgo over this period would have been Rs 29 lakh. So, the total cost of his home would have been Rs 59 lakh. By 2006, when interest moved to 9.5 per cent on the same loan, on the same EMI, the tenure was pushed to 26.61 years. A 1.75 per cent increase in the interest rate pushing up the tenure by 8.61 years!
Higher interest outgo. Today the same loan runs on an interest rate of 12.75 per cent. Over the last four years, the bulk of what he has been repaying as EMI is interest. So, he still has an outstanding principal of Rs 27 lakh to repay and his EMI is up to Rs 29,774. This is what the situation is: a loan, originally for 240 months with an EMI of Rs 24,628, gets rolled into one for 319 months with an EMI of Rs 29,774. The horror story does not end there. On the outstanding principal of Rs 27 lakh now, the total interest burden for 26.61 years is a whopping Rs 68 lakh, and the total cost of the Rs 30-lakh home has become Rs 98 lakh, including Rs 3 lakh that has already been paid.
Higher total cost. Every time the interest rate goes up by 0.25 percentage points, the repayment period gets longer. For instance, on a loan at 9 per cent, if the original repayment tenure was 240 months, a 0.25 percentage point increase after, say, a year lengthens the remaining payback period by 11 months to 239 months. A 1 percentage point increase prolongs the tenure by 60 months, taking the total tenure to about 288 months (see With Every Hike). With the loan amount constant, more the number of EMIs you pay, the higher the interest cost, and, therefore, the total cost of your home.
Typically, for a buyer, it is difficult to look at his home in a clinical sort of way. The emotions and other intangibles play a strong role. He’ll usually try to cut back on everything else to retain the house, even if its cost has gone way above what he was looking at when he bought it. Even though he doesn’t, strictly speaking, own the home yet, in his mind he does. Thus, selling is not really an option. So, what can he do to reduce the financial pressure?