Staying safe while working in construction sites in the heat

Heat during construction operations will put heat stress on workers, whether they’re working indoors or outdoors. Aside from natural causes like sunlight, hot and humid conditions in the workplace are caused by a variety of reasons. Indoors, it can be the numerous machineries, like the electrical utilities, smelters, furnace operations, electrical vaults and boiler rooms. Outdoors, causes of heat include road building, homebuilding, trenching, working on roofs, and excavations. The almost inexhaustible list just shows that management of heat stress is an apparent concern.

In this regard, the Construction Safety Association of Ontario has come up with a guide to managing heat stress during construction.

If left unaddressed, what can heat stress lead to? Some of the common problems are heat rash, sunburn, and heat cramps.

1. Heat Rash

This happens when the environment is hot and humid, thereby plugging the sweat glands. It is characterized by a red bumpy rash with severe itching.  When this occurs, change into dry clothes and stay away from hot environments. It’s also important to rinse the concerned area with cool water.

2. Sunburn

Caused by too much exposure to the sun, sunburn is seen as red, painful blistering or peeling in the skin. If this happens, medical aid must be sought. A skin lotion should also be applied, while avoiding topical anaesthetics.

3. Heat Cramps

When there are painful cramps that occur suddenly in the arms, legs or stomach, the person most likely suffered from heat cramps. It’s serious because it can be a symptom of other danger heat-induced illnesses. When this happens, move the worker to a cooler area, loosen the clothing, and have him/her drink cool salted water with 1 tablespoon of salt for every gallon of water. If severe cramps persist, medical aid must be sought.

4. Fainting

This happens when there’s fluid loss and insufficient water intake. When there’s sudden fainting after two hours of continuous work, weak pulse, and cool moist skin, heat is most probably the cause.  Medical attention must be sought, and the person must be made to lie down.

5. Heat Exhaustion

Characterized by heavy sweating, low blood pressure, tiredness, nausea, extreme thirst, and a body temperature of over 38ºC, heat exhaustion is quite serious. It’s imperative to get medical attention as it can lead to heat stroke. Immediately remove excess clothing and give cool water to drink and spray on the worker.

5. Heat Stroke

This happens when a person has a high body temperature of over 40 ºC, feels confused, acts strangely, has hot or dry skin, a fast pulse, and dizziness. An ambulance must be called immediately. Removal of excess clothing, offering cool water, and spraying the person with cold water are also supplementary measures.


New York Embraces Pre-Fab Construction

Prefabricated Inwood Box Building. Image Credit: Peter Gluck & Partners.

Prefabricated Inwood Box Building. Image Credit: Peter Gluck & Partners.

The popularity of pre-fab construction is catching on in many places—and one of them is no less than what is probably one of the busiest and most populous cities in the world: New York City.

On Broadway Street, there currently is a vacant lot that is hardly recognizable and nothing more than a pile of rocks. In a matter of weeks though, it will be transformed into an apartment building—with seven stories, ten terraces, and fully furnished units, thanks to prefabricated construction methods. Called in the Inwood Project, the apartment costs $13 million and will consist of a combination of 28 apartments. And the best part, which will probably appeal most to New Yorkers, is its 28% lower rental rate than the average. The building will be called Broadway Stack, to pay its respect to its innovative form of architecture. The project will wrap up in 9 months—as opposed to the traditional 16 to 18 months of on-site construction. This also means lowered construction costs by as much as 10 to 20%.

Last year also saw the announcement of the construction of the first residential tower in Brooklyn. On top of that, New York also won the Micro Unit Apartment Building Design Contest, and fittingly chose modular design as its construction of choice.

The negative connotations New Yorkers have with prefab construction are quickly going away. It used to be equated with low-cost housing and mobile homes, but prefab is proving to be more than that. Perceptions are quickly changing, inasmuch as prefab has shown itself capable of coming up with fully functional and aesthetically pleasing designs.

That pre-fab construction is becoming popular in New York just shows how flexible pre-fab buildings are. Now that New York is following suit, it will not be a surprise if every other highly urbanized city focuses on modular construction as well.

4 Influential Technologies in Green Construction


Norsteel Roof.

This year is clearly the best time to seriously consider green construction for your home. With tax breaks, lowered electricity costs, and an overall better indoor quality, there is every reason to favour of green construction. But the question is: how should you start? Here are four of the most important technologies in green construction today.

Cool roofs

Cool roofs serve the purpose of reflecting the sun’s rays and prevent them from reaching inside the building. In addition, it prevents the cool or warm air from inside the building from escaping through the roof. The reflecting surface of the cool roof (like the shell of a Norsteel Building) can cut down the intensity of the temperature from the outside by as much as 50 degrees.

But more importantly, cool roofs can save heating and cooling costs

Storm Water Management

Another innovation in green construction, storm water management directs water runoff into a plants and soil that would not only absorb but also purify the storm water.

Solar Power

Gone are the days when huge solar panels are required to generate this nonrenewable source of energy. Today, there are passive solar power sources that are capable of generating solar energy by strategically placing the solar home design in the windows. With this, solar energy is absorbed into the house to warm the home.

An active solar source, on the other hand, absorbs the sun’s radiation and transform it for electricity consumption or to warm water/air.

Smart Appliances

Appliances have never been smarter—you can save a lot of energy with electricity-saving refrigerators, washing machines, and dishwashers that are capable of delivering real-time data on power use. This function allows the appliance to adjust and optimize its operations to utilize as little electricity as possible.

Some even have computer systems integrated in them—an LG refrigerator, for instance, is capable of making an inventory of the refrigerated food to take note of expiration dates. With features like this, you can maximize the space inside the refrigerator and ultimately save on electricity costs.

Zero Energy Home

Without a doubt, the zero energy home is the ideal in green construction. The essence of net zero homes is its self-sustaining capability; it has renewable energy sources built into it, allowing the house to power itself.

Canada Builds One of the World’s Largest Radio Telescopes

Satellite. Image Source: Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory.

Satellite. Image Source: Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory.

Canada is making construction headlines as it prepares to build one of the largest radio telescopes in the world, and the largest in the country. The telescope will span full-sized NHL hockey rinks.

The radio telescope is known as the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity-Mapping Experiment (CHIME) is the first telescope of its kind to be built in Canada in 30 years and will stand in Penticton, BC, in the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO). This is, according to astrophysicist Gary Hinshaw, the best location for this project.

The experiment will cost $11 million, but according to lead investigator Kris Sigurdson, this is a small price to pay for understanding why the universe is expanding. With the radio telescope, scientists hope to make a three-dimensional picture of the universe.

The telescope will have a 100 meter by 100 meter collecting area with 2,560 low-noise receivers. Within five years, twenty five percent (25%) of the universe will be mapped by the telescope in a complex process that starts with the collection of the signals and its digital sampling at a rate of one billion times per second.

The expansion of the universe at a rapid rate has been noted in the 1920s by astronomer Edwin Hubble back in the 1920s. Until now, no scientific research had backed these claims. The goal of the telescope is to find out what is responsible for this accelerated expansion of the universe.

Funding for the project will come from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and will gather scientists from McGill University, the University of Toronto, and the University of British Columbia.

With the radio telescope project, once again, Canada proves itself as a world-class leader in construction.


Military Buildings Benefit from Green Construction

The Pentagon. Image Credit: David B. Gleason from Chicago, IL via Wikipedia.

The Pentagon. Image Credit: David B. Gleason from Chicago, IL via Wikipedia.

The US Department of Defense has released an independent study on the energy efficiency and green standards for military construction, and highlighted that LEED certified high performing play a crucial role in strengthening national security.

Since using LEED, taxpayer money required to fund projects has been reduced because of lower operational costs, including reduced water and energy bills. The mechanisms and standards of LEED has allowed for water to be saved, waste to be reduced, and environmental well-being to be improved.

The mandate for green construction in government buildings, including military buildings, is pursuant to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which requires federal agencies to be certified under a green building certification system, such as LEED.

In 2010, the Department of Defense required that all major repair and renovation projects and newly constructed buildings to be LEED-certified. In 2012, the DOD submitted a report to the Congress detailing the energy-efficiency standards and sustainability standards for major renovation and military construction, including a cost-benefit analysis and return on investment by using a green building certification system.

The report highlighted an investment approach, where the green innovations will prolong the lifetime of the DOD’s construction. This approach will also take into account factors in type of building, geographic conditions, water utilities, and energy prices.

With the new Pentagon installations, not only are energy efficiency and water conservation the immediate effects, but also the overall improvement of the morale of the building occupants—the military personnel.

The categorically positive results of the study just show how pressing and relevant green construction is both in the public and private sector. Even in matters concerning national security, the benefits of a green building are apparent.

Reports State that Building Green is Hitting a Record High

The worldwide economy may be struggling, but the demand for green buildings are at an all-time high, according to studies conducted by McGraw-Hill Construction (MGH) and Turner Construction.

Sustainability Dashboard Tools LLC CEO Stephen Ashkin credits this to the institutionalization of sustainability. This is precisely what the public demands: organizations that have an admirable policy on sustainability and make a deliberate effort to contribute to the lessening of environmental degradation. Organizations that report on their green efforts tend to have a more positive public perception. Because of the institutionalization of sustainability in corporate practices, corporations have taken it upon themselves to integrate it into their corporate practice.

But this is not the only reason why companies are keen on adopting green policies. The top reason is that a green building decreases building and operating costs.

Another reason is the increased productivity of employees, because of the improved indoor air quality (IAQ). The protection of building users also serve as a compelling reason for building owners to shift to green buildings. Askin states that “U.S. executives are no longer going Green just because they think it is the right thing to do. Today, the bread-and-butter issues like protecting [building user] health, enhanced worker productivity, and lowering operating costs, are center stage when it comes to why organizations want to be Green and more sustainable.”

From $10 billion in 2005, the worldwide growth of green building construction has escalated to $85 billion in just 7 years. This shows the mainstream appeal of green buildings in the construction industry. It might very well be the future of the entire industry.

The rising number of LEED certification, however, is going on the opposite direction, with corporations seeking LEED certification down from 61% in 2008 to less than 50% today. Does this mean that LEED is about to fade away? Probably not, according to Ashkin, as it will mostly likely remain as the standard as to whether or not a building deserves to be called a green building.

4 Reasons Why 2013 is the Best Year for You to Construct a Green Building


Insulation inside a Norsteel building. Image Credit: Norsteel.

If you have not yet joined the rest of the world in putting up a green building, you can make that big step this year. There are four reasons why you should finally shift to erecting a green building this year:

1. The extra costs are worth it.
Sure, the construction phase of a green building might cost a little more than a site-built building. But in the long run, the operational and maintenance costs of a green building are significantly less than a regular building. Since a green building consumes less energy when heating and cooling, you do not have to worry as much about electricity expenses. Also, a green building requires less repair and servicing expenses.

2. You can green your existing building.
You do not have to go as far as bring down your entire building just to have a green building. Greening existing buildings has never been easier. In fact, LEED created a new category for it: the LEED for Existing Buildings Operation and Maintenance (LEED O+M). This is also the fastest growing category in the LEED Rating System.

3. There is an increasing number of new products for your green building.
Gone are the days when looking for materials for a green building that will require you to import from other countries or compete with other building owners for their limited supply. This year is marked by innovations in facility management, wireless control, building automation, and other new engineering materials that will make it virtually effortless to procure products for your green building. For example, Norsteel can help you green your building through accessories such as insulation to conserve heat.

4. Your government will most likely give you incentives.
If your government does not give you incentives for green buildings just yet, expect your lawmakers to have on their agenda. For example, under the administration of United States President re-elect Barack Obama, green buildings are given several tax incentives and credits which have encouraged building owners to make the shift. Many other countries have also followed suit.