OCTABLOG

Four Years After Fukushima, Japan Looks For Answers

Posted by Lee Drever on Mar 13, 2015 11:46:00 AM

It has been four years since Japan was hit with the most powerful earthquake in its recorded history.
Tsunami Devastation
 Octaform customers, Hayashi Trout shared this shot of the devastation in Ongawa, Japan


In March of 2011, just 45 miles east of the Oshika Peninsula of Tohoku, a 9.0 magnitude undersea megathrust earthquake triggered a wave of destruction unlike anything in Japan's recorded memory. The quake and subsequent tsunami washed over coastal ports and towns, claiming over 18,000 lives, destroying over one million buildings and triggering a nuclear meltdown.

Four years later, Japan continues to deal with the aftermath of the disaster. The almost 83,000 residents living closest to the Fukushima nuclear plant were evacuated and radiation levels have kept them from returning home. Cleanup continues and researchers and analysts have now ruled local dairy, produce and seafood to be safe. 

Trout Grow-Out Tanks Are Stocked
  Hayashi Trout stocks the Octaform tanks at their park near Fukushima.

However, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, fears persist. As Wired reports, locals are slow to return to locally grown food even in the face of positive data.

Understandably, these fears are also affecting Japan's energy infrastructure. The Fukushima plant and all 48 of the nation's nuclear facilities have remained closed since the events of 2011, leaving utilities scrambling for energy. Forced to rely heavily on fossil fuels, like coal and natural gas, leaders have worked to find cleaner sources like solar. 

Driven by political and popular will, solar use in Japan has grown dramatically in the last two years. Clean and renewable, it represents an about-face from atomic energy but as the New York Times reports, this may be too good to be true. Utilities are now rejecting solar, complaining that it can't reliably support the demands of the country.

Many argue that the solution, to reducing Japan's now high greenhouse gas emissions, is actually a return to atomic power. The long term effects of the world's worst nuclear meltdown since Chernobyl remain to be seen but the reality is that there have been no fatalities directly linked to the Fukushima accident.

Japan's struggle is a microcosm of our global struggle. 'Answers' are few and far between and, as they are learning, 'solutions' are often trade-offs. 

These issues around sustainability, unfortunately, are easily politicized. It seems tough, however, to take issue with the Portland Cement Association's basic sentiment on the topic:

"We believe the most sustainable building is the one still standing.” David Shepherd, PCA

Each year in the United States alone, more than $35 billion in direct property loss is caused by natural disasters.  States and municipalities are seeking to adopt ordinances that require “green” or “sustainable” construction, yet as the PCA points out, they are overlooking disaster-resistance construction. 

There is now a call for making enhanced resilience of a building’s structure to natural and man-made disasters the first consideration of a green building.  Increased longevity and durability, combined with improved disaster resistance, results in the need for less energy and resources. This is not only the case for repair, removal, disposal and replacement of building materials and contents due to disasters, but for routine maintenance and operations as well. 

Concrete Trout Tanks Under Construction
 Formed and protected with Octaform, Hayashi's aquaculture tanks survived the disaster unscathed.

“Integration of durability and functional resilience into sustainability codes, standards and programs is long overdue,” David Shepherd, director of sustainability for the Portland Cement Association (PCA) said. “Some say the most sustainable structure is the one that isn’t built. We believe the most sustainable building is the one still standing.”

Functionally resilient buildings place less demand on resources and allow communities to provide vital services, even after a natural disaster.  For example, resilient construction allows businesses to continue operations, providing municipalities with a consistent tax base. Emergency recovery, the PCA reminds us, costs money. These funds are often reallocated from other community economic, societal and environmental initiative. The ripples can last for generations.

The question of sustainability is complicated and rife with misinformation, trade-offs and unforseen consequences but building better, it seems, will always be the right choice.

 


 

Topics: Aquaculture, Agriculture, Sustainability, Concrete, Concrete Construction, seismic, disaster, energy, Agri-Food, Renewable Energy

Greenbuild Comes To Europe

Posted by Lee Drever on Nov 28, 2013 1:05:00 PM

Greenbuild

(Washington, D.C.) – The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced last week that Greenbuild for Europe and the Mediterranean region will launch in Verona, Italy in 2014.

“Greenbuild for Europe and the Mediterranean region is part of the global expansion of the successful Greenbuild Conference & Expo brand,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S.Green Building Council. “USGBC and Hanley Wood entered into a strategic partnership earlier this year with plans to expand the conference and the Greenbuild brand. This new experience will serve as a platform for green building knowledge and shared expertise across continents, while scaling the breadth and reach of global market transformation.”

Other Greenbuild Firsts
 

1st Greenbuild to be hosted outside of the U.S. was Toronto in 2011; 

1st West Coast Greenbuild was Phoenix in 2009;

1st Residential Summit was held in Chicago in 2007;

1st Green Jobs Fair was held in Phoenix in 2009;

1st show was held in Austin, Tex. in 2002 and hosted 4,189 attendees.

Greenbuild is the largest event dedicated to green building education and features extensive educational programming, a vast expo hall, top notch inspirational speakers and the best in-person networking opportunities an event has to offer.

Greenbuild 2013 marks the 12th anniversary of Greenbuild, and the 20th anniversary of USGBC. Greenbuild for the U.S. will be held in November 2014 in New Orleans, in addition to Greenbuild for Europe and the Mediterranean region in Verona, Italy.

"Greenbuild for Europe and the Mediterranean region will be all about green building,” said Rick McConnell, President, Hanley Wood Exhibitions. “Combining the resources of GBC Italia, USGBC, Veronafiere and Hanley Wood to deliver cutting edge education, the conference will feature top speakers in sustainability and combine the live event experience of Veronafiere and Hanley Wood. This indeed is going to be a game changer."

“Green building is not new to Europe and the Mediterranean region. With its rich history in architecture and building design, this area of the world is naturally focused on sustainable buildings,” said Mario Zoccatelli, President of GBC Italia. “LEED, as a global system, provides unique opportunities for us to advance green building in a completely new way. Greenbuild will serve as a mechanism to promote LEED and other green building tools across the continent. We are excited about creating the Greenbuild conference in the European and Mediterranean region.”

“We are honored to have been chosen as host for Greenbuild for Europe and the Mediterranean region,” said Veronafiere’s CEO Giovanni Mantovani. “For over a century, we have been organizing trade shows here in Verona, Italy, and are now considered a leader within the European trade show sector. Veronafiere has a close, longstanding partnership with Hanley Wood and is a member of the Italian GBC. We have recently added Smart Energy Expo, a show focusing on energy efficiency and the white-green economy to our long established fairs in the construction sector, Marmomacc and Samoter. Verona is a beautiful city, with a rich history and culinary tradition, well-connected by air, rail, and highway. We look forward to hosting Greenbuild in 2014.”

Topics: Concrete, Sustainability, Construction

The Most Sustainable Building is the One Still Standing

Posted by Lee Drever on Sep 30, 2011 11:50:00 AM

Association demands that sustainable construction stress durability as well as energy efficiency and other green building requirements.

Each year in the United States alone, more than $35 billion in direct property loss is caused by natural disasters.  Yet, while states and municipalities are seeking to adopt ordinances that require “green” or “sustainable” construction, they are overlooking disaster-resistance construction. 

Tsunami Devastation
 Octaform customers, Hayashi Trout shared this shot of the recent devastation in Ongawa, Japan

There is now a call for making enhanced resilience of a building’s structure to natural and man-made disasters the first consideration of a green building.  Increased longevity and durability, combined with improved disaster resistance, results in the need for less energy and resources. This is not only the case for repair, removal, disposal and replacement of building materials and contents due to disasters, but for routine maintenance and operations as well. 

"We believe the most sustainable building is the one still standing.”

“Integration of durability and functional resilience into sustainability codes, standards and programs is long overdue,” David Shepherd, director of sustainability for the Portland Cement Association (PCA) said. “Some say the most sustainable structure is the one that isn’t built. We believe the most sustainable building is the one still standing.”

Functionally resilient buildings place less demand on resources and allow communities to provide vital services, even after a natural disaster.  For example, resilient construction allows businesses to continue operations, providing municipalities with a consistent tax base.  Further community economic, societal and environmental benefits occur when cities are not required to reallocated resources for emergency recovery.

A resilient building is not limited to one that is operational after a natural disaster, but also one that can withstand the hardship of the passing years.  The Brookings Institution projects that by 2030, the U.S. will have demolished and replaced 82 billion square feet of its current building stock, or nearly one-third of  existing buildings, largely because the vast majority of them weren't designed and built to last any longer. Robust, functionally resilient buildings arefrequently reused and even re-purposed when downtowns are renovated.

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To allow local governments to adopt green building codes that address high performance as well as conventional sustainable features, the PCA and the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IIBHS). have developed High Performance Building Requirements for Sustainability 2.0.  The criteria are written in mandatory language that amends and appends the International Code CouncilInternational Building Code.  The provisions are generic and do not specify one specific material over another. 

PCA and IIBHS have aligned the provisions with the concepts of both the Whole Building Design Guide and High Performance Building Council.  Enacting and enforcing these provisions provides the basis for designers and owners to obtain certification as a US Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for New Construction.

Learn more about the High Performance Building Requirements for Sustainability at Booth #1245N at the 2011 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo.

 

Topics: Concrete, seismic, Sustainability, disaster, Concrete Construction

Hot temperatures bring major concerns for dairy farmers

Posted by Christina Florencio on Jul 25, 2011 1:44:00 PM

heifers enjoy cooler temperatureWisconsin's demand for electricity has been high last week due to an intense heat wave that was experienced state wide.  Power use in many parts of the state even set records.

The heat has taken a toll on Wisconsin’s dairy farmers when milk production slowed down dramatically.  According to a study conducted by the University of Nebraska’s Animal Science Department, on the “Effects of Summer Climactic Conditions on the Body Temperature in Beef Cows”, indicators of heat stress in cattle include elevated rectal body temperature and an increase in respiration rate.  The mean body temperature of cows is 101.4 degrees F  to 101.5 degrees F. 

Heat stress can delay puberty in heifers, can cause anestrous in cows, depress estrus activity, induce abortions, and increase prenatal mortality.  Effects of heat stress on fertility are prominent when occurring at or near the time of estrus (the period of maximum sexual receptivity of a heifer).  
(Photo: wwarby)

Wisconsin dairy farmer Bill Averbeck milks about 240 cows in Fond du Lac. He says a few days of sweltering heat led to a 7 percent dip in milk output.  Rick Roden is an Ozaukee County dairy farmer with about 400 cows. Roden states that the intense heat can leave cows susceptible to bacterial infections on their udders.

Most beef cows and heifers are bred in late spring through midsummer when environmental conditions may cause heat stress and affect reproductive performance.   In cow-calf production systems, reproductive performance is essential to the success and profitability of the enterprise. 

Dairy parlor built with Octaform wallsPleasant Valley Colony controls temperature by building with Octaform Finished Forming System.

Wisconsin dairy farmers are glad to see temperatures returning to manageable levels this week.  The heat has started t move eastward, however the damage it has caused local farmers and their herd has been a detriment to the state’s dairy industry. 

Did you know that building with concrete is one of the best ways to create a stable climate temperature for livestock?  

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Topics: Agriculture, barns, dairy farmers, cows, heifers, Concrete, heat stress, Animal Science Department

Check out this Bioreactor in Modern Contractor Magazine!

Posted by Lee Drever on Feb 22, 2011 3:27:00 PM

Our full-page ad in Modern Contractor this month features The Town of Taber, Alberta's Bioreactor built with Octaform's finished forming system.
Pick up a copy at Con Expo next month.

Octaform Bio Reactor resized 600

Topics: Bioreactor, Fermenter, Versatile, Con Expo, Concrete, Modern Contractor, Waste, Water, Design, Build