Posted on Leave a comment

New proposal to support Limerick jobseekers with real jobs

first_imgSinn Féin believes that quality work experience programmes can provide a useful means of enhancing skills and providing a valuable first step into the world of work. They also claim that the current system displaces paid work, depresses wages and facilitates abuse by some employers.Cllr Quinlivan explained that as part of his party’s proposed scheme tailored internships would be developed sector by sector in full co-operation with trade unions and Education and Training Boards. Employers, he said, would be supported to be the best mentors that they can be. Facebook Twitter “We propose an internship scheme that supports jobseekers to attain real quality jobs without limiting the number of proper job vacancies available. Sinn Féin’s proposals maximise decent pay for decent work,” he said. Limerick Artist ‘Willzee’ releases new Music Video – “A Dream of Peace” Print NewsLocal NewsNew proposal to support Limerick jobseekers with real jobsBy Alan Jacques – February 26, 2015 662 Predictions on the future of learning discussed at Limerick Lifelong Learning Festival Limerick Ladies National Football League opener to be streamed live Limerick’s National Camogie League double header to be streamed live TAGSCllr Maurice QuinlivanJobBridgelimerickLimerick jobsSinn Fein center_img WhatsApp by Alan [email protected] up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up Cllr Maurice QuinlivanLIMERICK Sinn Féin councillor Maurice Quinlivan believes his party’s newly launched proposals on internships provide a credible, workable and thoroughly necessary alternative to the “despised” JobBridge scheme.Following the launch of Sinn Féin’s ‘Displacing JobBridge’ strategy for an alternative internship scheme this week, Cllr Quinlivan said that the JobBridge scheme launched by the Fine Gael and Labour Party Government in June 2011, was “an absolute disaster.”“While some individuals may have had a positive experience, it is a scheme that leaves thousands of jobseekers vulnerable to exploitation. It has already reduced the number of real job opportunities available and if it is not closed down now, thousands of new entry level positions that should come into being in the months and years ahead will emerge as unpaid internships instead,” he said.According to the City North councillor, Sinn Féin propose to replace the “one-size-fits-all” JobBridge scheme with a new participant centred model for internships. He also said that he envisages a substantial increase in the range of apprenticeships available.“The model we propose would not displace apprenticeships, paid in-work training or jobs. It would afford those genuinely in need of some work experience with meaningful learning opportunities.” Advertisement Previous articleMunster face Glasgow as Limerick sides meet in #UBLNext articleRattling good tales from The Boneyard bodies Alan Jacqueshttp://www.limerickpost.ie RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Linkedin Vanishing Ireland podcast documenting interviews with people over 70’s, looking for volunteers to share their stories WATCH: “Everyone is fighting so hard to get on” – Pat Ryan on competitive camogie squads Emaillast_img read more

Posted on Leave a comment

Everton manager Roberto Martinez strives for “perfection”

first_imgEverton manager Roberto Martinez is not content with receiving plaudits for the style of his football and will continue to strive for perfection. The attacking talent of Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu, combined with the Spaniard’s insistence his side play the ball out from the back, has made the Toffees one of the most attractive sides to watch in the Premier League. But there are no points awarded for entertainment and Martinez wants to ensure players add substance to their style – especially after last weekend’s chastening experience when they twice led at Bournemouth, on the second occasion with an added time goal, but still ended up drawing 3-3. “As a footballer you want to help your team win at the weekend but at the end of your career you want to be able to look back at special occasions,” said Martinez. “Joe Royle was a proper Everton giant. To achieve that sort of goalscoring record is special and for Rom to be able to reach that is encouraging and a reminder of what a special footballer we have. “I encourage him to keep working hard and make a massive impact in the game and I think he is in the same wave of thinking. “You are not motivated by records you are motivated by winning games and keeping your place in the side.” They shook off that hangover with a midweek victory over Middlesbrough to set up a two-legged Capital One Cup semi-final against Manchester City but, with a month to go before that, the manager has ordered full focus on their league form. “Obviously we want to aim for perfection and perfection is to play well, play exciting and attacking football that our fans enjoy and love and then to get a win at the end of it,” he said. “We are still getting through that important period which is the middle third of the competition and we are striving to push each other to become better and because we have such a young group you feel the improvement is always there. “For the next block of games it is vital the attention goes into the Premier League and solely into the Premier League games as December is the most significant month in terms of competing for 15 points in such a short period of time. “I know our fans have been loving the style and the way we have been playing but we will never stop wanting to improve and getting better and promoting that competition for places. “We want to be an exciting team to watch but, at the end of it, we want to be a team who can win consistently.” Key to that will be the form of Lukaku, who has 10 league goals already this season and with 49 in 99 appearances for the club has a record which almost matches that of the great Joe Royle in his first 100 games. The Belgium international has six in his last five matches and is proving to be well worth the club-record £28million spent to sign him from Chelsea two summers ago. Press Associationlast_img read more

Posted on Leave a comment

McGill asks for cool heads as championship begins

first_imgThe Premier County lost out at the death in yesterday’s Lidl National League Division 3 Final Replay against Waterford who claimed the title at the last kick of the game. The Tipp team will get their championship campaign underway next week, and manager Gerry McGill says they will have to get over their disappointment very quickly.last_img

Posted on Leave a comment

Irish firm starts SA wind, solar build

first_img13 November 2012 Ireland’s Mainstream Renewable Power announced this week that it was starting construction on solar and wind power projects in South Africa, in a €500-million (about R5.5-billion) investment under a government programme that has ushered in the country’s first large-scale renewable energy projects. The Dublin-based company is one of 28 independent power producers that signed contracts with the South African government last week, in the first round of a programme that will see an initial 1 400 megawatts of renewable energy being added to South Africa’s energy mix, while bringing an estimated R47-billion in new investment into the country. Mainstream Renewable Power and its partners will build a 138 MW wind farm in Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape, and two 50 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) parks in the Northern Cape – one near De Aar and one at Droogfontein near Kimberley. All three projects are scheduled to be fully operational by mid-2014. “The South African government has shown tremendous vision and foresight in creating this new and sustainable industry for South Africa, firmly placing it on the world map for renewable energy generation,” Mainstream CEO Eddie O’Connor said in a statement on Monday. “Mainstream is fully committed to playing a leading role in the delivery of this vision, to bringing significant socio-economic benefits to the areas in which we’re building the projects, as well as clean, free-fuel energy to South Africa.” According to Mainstream, the projects are expected to generate hundreds of jobs during construction and, once operational, the project revenues are expected to benefit local communities through socio-economic and enterprise development. “The projects are expected to produce 635 GWh of electricity, enough to supply up to 48 000 households and displace approximately 628 000 tons of carbon emissions per year,” the company said. Mainstream won the contract for the three projects as the lead partner in a consortium including US power company Globeleq as the strategic equity partner, Thebe Investment Corporation, local engineering firms Enzani Technologies and Usizo Engineering, as well as local community trusts. The projects are being co-developed with Mainstream’s South African partner, renewable energy developer Genesis Eco-Energy. Old Mutual’s IDEAS Managed Fund is an additional consortium member of the Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm. SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

Posted on Leave a comment

iShack: informal housing ‘gets smart’

first_img31 January 2013 A team of researchers from Stellenbosch University’s (SU) Sustainability Institute have developed an innovative approach to upgrade housing and improve living conditions in informal settlements. The iShack, or improved shack concept, offers a potential solution to South Africa’s housing delivery backlog, increasing urbanisation and the growing number of informal settlements in the country. According to the UN Habitat State of the World’s Cities 2012/2013 report, 62% of the urban population in sub-Saharan Africa lives in slums. Such dwellings are characterised by poor living conditions and inadequate access to infrastructure such as basic energy, sanitation and water services. “Shacks are becoming the new norm – so what can we do today to improve the living conditions of people through energy intervention, lighting, cell phones, communication, upping security?” says Andreas Keller, one of the designers of the iShack. The sustainable housing concept allows people who don’t have brick and mortar houses to upgrade their existing shacks, or install new shacks, by incorporating solar power panels to meet basic energy needs and ecological design principles to make daily living a little bit more comfortable.Solutions for South Africa’s housing challenges In 2011, the National Research Foundation awarded a grant to SU to find ways to upgrade informal settlements, focussing on priority areas such as water, sanitation, food security, waste management, energy and general structural upgrades to shelters. The first iShack was built in October 2011. It drew the attention of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which was so impressed with the idea that it provided grant funding for a pilot project to determine if the improved shack system can be applied at a large scale. Up to 100 shacks will either be newly built or refurbished, and two lucky families are already testing the first prototypes – one new, one refurbished – in the Enkanini Township just outside Stellenbosch. For one of these residents, Nosanjo Plaatjie, a single mother who works as a domestic worker once a week, and her three young children, the brand new iShack has changed their lives. Keller explains that it is important to test how well the iShack design works in new structures, as well as those that are already standing. If you take a quick look at the newly built eco-friendly shelter it doesn’t look that much different from any of the other makeshift wooden or corrugated houses in the area. But on closer inspection, the improvements are significant. Keller says the structural modifications using ecological design principles make the dwelling much more comfortable to live in. The large windows are positioned in such a way to achieve better air circulation and sunlight heating during the day. The sloped roof and overhang shades the structure on hot days, but in the winter months residents can also harness this handy feature to harvest rainwater. Access to power through solar panels Keller says that for communities living without electricity, access to power through the solar panels is one of the biggest benefits. Having electricity means that residents have more disposable income, as they don’t have to spend money on candles and paraffin for lighting and cooking. The iShack prototype is equipped with a photovoltaic solar panel capable of producing enough electricity to power three lights, a mobile phone charger and an outdoor motion detector spotlight, which reduces the risk of crime and helps people feel safer in their homes. Households can access these services on a pay-as-you-go basis, and upgrade the solar infrastructure to run more appliances such as a radio, television or fridge. With electricity residents can also charge their mobile phones at home, a luxury for many people who have to walk long distances to charge their phones elsewhere. Keller explains that a working mobile phone is a lifeline for many South Africans as it enables people to find jobs and earn a better income – as the resident of the second retrofitted iShack prototype discovered. “The man, who relies on casual painting jobs for his weekly income, was able to keep his phone charged and switched on to find more work,” he says. “Mobile phone connectivity is perhaps the greatest example of how the iShack is helping people. We take for granted the ability to be connected all the time.”Using recycled materials “One of the objectives of the project is to use existing materials,” Keller says. This also reduces the overall cost of the iShack. In the pilot houses, the developers have made use of recycled cardboard boxes and old Tetra Pak containers, such as long life milk boxes, for insulation between the exterior zinc surface and the interior. Flame-retardant paint reduces the risk of fires, and inside there are rows of recycled bricks to create a durable floor that can also protect against temperature changes. Keller says one of the most important aspects of the project is training, education and maintenance of solar power systems. Without this, technological interventions in community upgrades often fail. To ensure the iShack concept is successful, local entrepreneurs will receive accredited training in business and engineering principles to help community members maintain the technology in their houses. Technicians will be paid from user fees. “It is important to inform residents about the type of appliances they can use,” he says. “Direct current appliances are more energy efficient and designed to run on solar energy.” “We also have to tell residents about the maintenance of solar panels, because if you don’t clean them often it will reduce their efficiency and the number of solar units you can get out of them.” Keller and his team are also looking to set up energy hubs in the communities where iShacks are built. These facilities will be the base from where trained technicians assist communities and where residents can buy suitable appliances and top up their energy accounts. First published by MediaClubSouthAfrica.com – get free high-resolution photos and professional feature articles from Brand South Africa’s media service.last_img read more

Posted on Leave a comment

E15 Rule Sent to White House for Review

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Todd NeeleyDTN Staff ReporterOMAHA (DTN) — The EPA has sent a rule proposing allowance of year-round E15 sales, as well as reforms to the biofuel credits market, to the White House Office of Management and Budget.Review of the rule that now appears on the OMB website, https://www.reginfo.gov/…, could take up to 30 days to complete.Originally, the EPA’s 2019 agenda included releasing the rule in February, with the intent to finalize in time for the summer driving season on June 1. Once the proposed rule is made public, the EPA will launch a public hearing period. The rule also includes proposed reforms to the market for Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINs.There remains considerable doubt about whether the agency can finalize the rule by June 1.Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper said in a statement that time is running out.“RFA is pleased to see that the first official step in the regulatory process to allow year-round E15 is finally being taken, and we agree with President Trump that the RVP (Reid vapor pressure) barrier was always ‘unnecessary’ and ‘ridiculous,’” he said.“But the clock is ticking — there are now just 87 days before the start of the summer driving season and every day counts,” Cooper said. “Retailers, marketers, terminal operators and others in the supply chain are looking for clear signals and assurances from the administration that this barrier will indeed be removed before the summer driving season, as promised by the president. We look forward to the expeditious completion of this rulemaking, putting this onerous red-tape barrier behind us once and for all.”In recent weeks, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said he was doubtful the EPA would complete the rule in time. That was followed by a statement from EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, saying the rule would be completed in time.Following a speech to the ethanol industry at the National Ethanol Conference in Orlando, Florida, on Feb. 13, USDA Deputy Secretary Stephen Censky said his agency had approached EPA and suggested that, if the rule isn’t completed in time, EPA could use discretion in restricting E15 use come June 1.Ethanol and gasoline are both low volatility. When the two fuels are mixed, the volatility spikes, but only at blends just below E10. As more ethanol is blended with gasoline, the vapor pressure decreases, which essentially means E15 reduces vapor pressure.For years, the ethanol industry has called on the EPA to equalize the Reid vapor pressure regulations for E10 and E15 during the summer driving season. Because of those requirements, E15 has largely not been available to some wholesale suppliers and retailers during the summer. The industry has contended that adding 5% more ethanol in the summer would actually reduce tailpipe emissions.Ethanol increases the RVP, which measures the release of volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere. The RVP for gasoline is the lowest, or most stringent, during the summer months when the weather is hot. E10 currently receives an RVP waiver, which keeps the fuel in compliance with RVP requirements year-round. However, E15 is not given the same waiver, so it can’t be sold in the summer.The EPA regulates RVP for gasoline and gasoline-ethanol blended from June 1 to Sept. 15, restricting the retail sale of ethanol blends above E10.Todd Neeley can be reached at [email protected] him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN(SK/AG)© Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Posted on Leave a comment

The State of Our Union

first_imgHard data types vs. big vision typesOne could say that Team Martins are the more absolute, hard data, fact-driven, number-crunching, “precision-in-thought-and-speech” types, and that Team Jacobs are the more theoretical, comprehensive, observational, big vision, “what-if and sort-of” types. Both are great. Both are equally valued and both are necessary. Both make the world go round. In fact, most of us are not only one or the other, but rather we fall somewhere along that verdant spectrum. And just because we may lean heavily toward Team Jacob it does not mean we do not like Team Martin, or vice versa. To the contrary, many of our very best friends and most valued work colleagues are on the other team.Let’s go back to the book. Below I am going to cite examples and explain my OK-I-admit-it-Team-Jacob self. I am not doing this to “fight back” against Martin. I am doing it to explain Team Jacob’s point of view — to translate, if you will. Here we go:When Martin calls Jacob out for saying foam and PVC are toxic, he is disregarding the fact that Jacob is considering the entirety of foam and PVC — from cradle to grave, from the people who live near the factories that make it, to the guys who have to install it, to the homeowners who live in it. Martin is considering what we know about foam and PVC now, but he is not considering what we will know about it in the future as our scientific knowledge evolves. Jacob is.When Martin scolds Jacob for not mentioning lead and asbestos, he is ignoring the fact that Jacob respects his readers’ intelligence and knows that everyone knows about lead and asbestos. Everyone. It is starting point. And perhaps Jacob could have put a great sentence in about how PVC and foam may one day prove to be our generation’s asbestos and lead.When Martin suggests that Jacob is trying to redefine what R-value means when he makes the statement that “R-value is dynamic … in response to different conditions,” he misses the point that everyone reading understands what the writer means, and that no one — no one — assumes that Jacob is saying that the absolute value of R is up for discussion. It’s as if Jacob wrote a dietary book and said that the calories that you need are variable based on how much you exercise. No one would think that Jacob meant that the definition of what a calorie is was being discussed.When Jacob writes about optimizing U-value for windows, anyone who has ever had a client gets what he means. You have to weigh the pros and cons of many factors and not just go for the best U-value every time. Yes, you are always trying to get the best U-value that you can, but you have to consider a lot of variables: overall costs, SHGC (change that and you change the U-value), operational needs (fixed, casement or double hung? Each has implications on what U-value you can achieve), and obviously size (frame-to-glass ratio changes everything.) There are a hell of a lot of decisions that go into optimization of window U-values on a job. Homes with vinyl siding and foam insulationIf we simply look at the best-known building tutorials in our small world, we have Joe Lstiburek’s Builder’s Guides. If you look at these books, the examples shown are of vinyl-sided homes with fiberglass or foam insulation. (And I know, these books have evolved in the last years — I am probably out-of-date on my critique.) I know why the Builder’s Guides have these examples; they are the results of Building Science Corporation being hired to test mass production housing and its building systems. And God knows what we would do without Joe’s guidance.I get it. But do we really want to send the message that building vinyl-sided boxes of foam is the best way to go? Or even that it is in the top ten best ways to go? Yes, of course, for affordability‘s sake this may be a valid direction, but there are so many other ways to skin the cat! This is a clear example of Team Martin getting the loudest microphone because of data, data, data!But shouldn’t the public be getting the full array of the information in all of its broad-side-of-the-elephant inclusiveness? And shouldn’t we be learning the full menu of options with which to build?Can you imagine that post-apocalyptic future that we all have anxiety attacks about in the middle of the night? Can you see yourself – a survivor! Yet you are unable to teach your children how to build anything of significance with what nature gave you, because no one ever wrote a book about anything but Foam and PVC. And fast-forward to your grandchildren wandering the devastated yet resilient earth 200 years in the future. All is nature except the endless dust storms of blowing open- and closed-cell foam that will never break down.We need to be all-inclusive and we need to respect nature, design, life cycles, the health, welfare and happiness of humans, along with that of the whole planet. We need to think it all through. Big picture.Yes, we vitally need the data. And, yes, we vitally need to be accurate and to speak accurately. But we need these to be a part of the whole. Just like “optimizing the U-value of windows,” we have to weigh a lot of factors before just saying that the most efficient option is the only way to go. An elephant in the roomWhat this led me to realize is that we have always had a version of Team Martin and Team Jacob, though as a group we do not discuss it. I cannot call it a battle; there aren’t really sides. But there is a “there” there. Many of us feel it in subtle ways. This sort of undiscussed rift in our very small and congenial sustainable building world. An elephant in the room, so to speak.What is this “indefinable something” of which I speak? Well, it is Big Picture, and it has everything to do with what we are doing and what message we are sending. It can be described as the difference between focusing on energy use and data in building versus focusing on a much more broad approach to sustainability in building. One can observe it in our industry’s obsession with Passive House.One can see it when we go to conferences such as NESEA and the sessions that are numbers- and data-based are given a great deal of cred, while sessions that are design- and theory-based are treated as non-rigorous calendar fillers. And one can see it when we read a book critique that is given strongly from the viewpoint of the highly specific lens of data and energy, and not at all from an overall understanding of sustainable building theories and practicalities. We need a mission statementWhich leads me to Part II. What are we doing? What is our mission?Buildings themselves are extremely complex and involve a lot of different parts and features. Within the sustainable building industry there are so many aspects upon which one might focus: Energy use, sustainability, design, materials, embodied energy, square footage, longevity, maintenance, air quality, occupant health, resiliency, carbon footprint, and the ever present bottom line. There are also issues of energy production, manufacturing, shipping, and the health and wellness of everyone along that chain. And there are the ever-enigmatic and ephemeral issues of happiness, beauty, and appropriateness.Which is the most important? Obviously, this is a rhetorical question.Like the blind men who encounter an elephant, many of us seem to focus on one specific aspect of the sustainable building “elephant.” In our world, the elephant’s trunk would be “energy.” It is the most obvious and intriguing part of the elephant, and it is so hard to resist. It is always nosing into exciting things like the bottom line, policy, and big industry. It is trumpeted by the stock market and by the media. Everyone is willing to talk about energy. For engineers and data wonks, it is the mother lode. It is a lifetime of calculations, challenges, and experiments. It is the opportunity to pin point accurate results and make firm statements with precise numerical evidence. It is the chance to understand what we are doing. Fantastic. But the result is that so often we have buildings that are pure elephant trunk. What about the rest of the elephant?Many of us want the whole damn elephant. Many of us see the whole picture and find all parts valid. Many equally valid. Yes, of course, we have LEED, the Living Building Challenge, the 475 team, and the bubbling “Pretty Good House” movement, among others. And these approaches are (sometimes) respected in our industry, but if you think about it — they usually get thrown in the back seat. All too often, these other approaches are ignored or discounted as fluffiness or “Yeah, I guess we can include that too.”’ RELATED ARTICLES Building Science Information for BuildersLow-Road Buildings Are Homeowner-FriendlyNostalgia for the Hippie Building HeydayStraw-Bale WallsWhat is Comfort?All About Embodied Energy We shouldn’t focus on energy aloneThis is where the writer’s book shines (back to the book and the book review). Essential Building Science is trying to talk about the whole elephant. The writer is a person who cares, who assumes he is talking to people who care and addressing the wide range of things in our industry that one can — and should — care about. He is trying to ensure that we don’t miss the point and that we don’t focus only on energy use to the detriment of almost everything else in the end.In looking for introductory yet comprehensive books on how to approach sustainable building, there are not a lot. As some of my colleagues have noted, “What else have we got?” There are others, for sure, and if one looks through Martin’s previous reviews, one can see that he generally dismisses natural building and most references to toxins. I get it, most builders do not build “natural houses,” and the issues of toxicity are not yet fully determined. However, can we just ignore these things? We speak different languagesIs Martin doing this to be evil? No of course not. Is he correct? Yes, he is correct if you read the comments in only one light. He is a self-professed Energy Nerd. However, if you read the comments from the Team Jacob perspective, Martin is wrong on most counts. Or at least completely misunderstood by all of Team Jacob. Fascinating. We speak different languages.It reminds me of the time that I was waiting on a job site with my mechanical engineer. It was a frigid cold day and we were outside waiting for an owner to appear. In a state of pure frozen hell, I turned to my friend the engineer and said “Wow, my feet! I can feel that cold seeping right into my bones.” He looked at me quizzically for a moment and then he said (without an ounce of humor) “You mean you can feel the heat leaving your body through your feet?” Sigh. Yes. Yes, that is precisely what I mean, my bad.When I say, “I feel the cold seeping into my bones,” everybody instantly and thoroughly understands what I am saying. When my friend the engineer says, “I can feel the heat leaving my body through my feet,” nobody has a visceral understanding of what he is talking about. After a moment’s thought the listener might acknowledge that the engineer is correct. But, in hearing the sentence, the listener does not feel that feeling of frostbitten feet, nor do the listener’s toes become numb in empathy. The listener does not care.This is perhaps the oldest shout-out to scientists and engineers throughout history, but: “Speak English.” Just because Team Martin folk try to outdo each other in how precise they can be in language, it does not mean that they are getting the message across any better. In fact, a lot of the time this is the very reason their message is ignored. And does it mean that Team Jacob is weak-minded, because we speak a more ubiquitously understood language? No. In fact (news flash!) we think it makes us smarter — on a higher plane — because we are also nerds but we have the ability to translate our understanding for others to then understand. Yes, this is deep semantics, but it is actually important. Is it really productive to dismantle and disregard an entire well-thought-out, valuable, and very accessible book because the reviewer only accepts one language pattern. I started to write this as a commentary regarding Martin Holladay’s review of Jacob Rascusin’s new book, Essential Building Science. But in doing so I realized that the direction of Martin’s critique opens the door to issues that I think our community really needs to discuss. So, I worked a little harder at putting my thoughts into some sort of logical and comprehensive order. Of course these are only my opinion.The bottom line of this realization is that, as a group, we may want to consider two goals:1. What are we doing? Should we have a mission statement? Something that guides all of our work and something that we can all use as a litmus test to check in on ourselves and our industry as a whole. Doctors have the Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm. Maybe ours could have a similar intention, but perhaps we could define it more thoroughly.2. What message are we sending? This would include both the message we send out to the world and the messages we send to each other. This would entail having a basic awareness of our public face and this would involve monitoring the way in which we speak to each other — within our industry — as parts of the whole.But why does any of it matter? I believe it matters because we are at crossroads. Because I was just at the U.N. Convention on Climate Change at which most of the world was trying desperately to enact the Paris 2015 accord. And because we have a new president who is most likely going to significantly change our lives and try to dismantle the way we do what we do and how we do it. This is important. We need to step up our game now. What we do and the message we send are vitally important right now. The limitations of the Passive House approachMeanwhile Passive House seems like the prize bull. Yes, Passive House is a dream come true. It is quantifiable, provable, accountable, and the basis for some fantastically competitive good fun for building geeks everywhere. It is also a flag we can wave to the rest of the world — a world that has always misunderstood and doubted what we do. A world that has always asked, “Yes, yes, but where is the data?”We can now show the world — with clean, hard evidence — that we can make houses that need almost no energy to heat and cool. The data is so impressive that any naysayer cannot disagree. But, Passive House obsesses over one thing: energy. It disregards everything else: occupant health, sustainability of materials, the embodied energy of products and systems, user experience, nature, texture, maintenance, resiliency and life cycle.We can’t just address the elephant’s trunk. We need to integrate energy use with the big picture and not let energy use hose down the sustainability of the planet with its powerful schnozzola. A holistic approachBasically I am describing the word “holistic,” but I feel I can’t use this Team-Jacob word because I believe that as soon as many of my readers see it on the page they will stop reading and discount this as a bunch of cow (or rather, elephant) poop. But we do need to think holistically about what we are doing. Can we really just keep plowing ahead — following the elephant’s trunk — to score the big energy goal!? Meanwhile we may be trampling the beautiful planet that we are trying to save.So, what are we doing? What is our big message? Our elevator speech? Our guiding light? How will the world know us? Since we ourselves are so variable, I would guess that our message will have many aspects and may not fit into one sentence. However, I, for one, would hope that our message is something along the lines of:We, the sustainable building industry, strive to study the way buildings are built, continually evolve our technologies, materials, and methods of building, teach and lead the same, as to ever advance our industry toward the ultimate goal of having the least harmful effect on the planet and perhaps one day of actually creating a symbiotic relationship between buildings and the earth that in turn will heal, nurture, and energize the planet. We will do this through relentless testing, analysis, and growth in all aspects of our work including:Building energy and its influence on the earth and our economy.The choice of energy we use and its impact on environment and civilizations.The assessment of and adherence to health and safety regulations.The impacts of our building standards on human well-being.The study of the embodied energy of all products and methods.The longevity and life cycles of our buildings.Opportunities to recycle and regenerate materials and energy.Opportunities to allow people and buildings to be maximally resilient.Occupant happiness and appropriateness of buildings for occupants.The ability for our buildings to calm, inspire, and guide.The relationship of our buildings to the earth and the cycles of nature.The relationship of humans to the earth through their interaction with built space.If we are going to move forward as an industry and lead, then we cannot be pulled around by the elephant’s trunk. We need to think it through first. We have to look at things up close and from dizzying heights. While we each may focus on our individual specialties, we still have to check ourselves against a higher set of standards and make sure we are not doing more harm than good.We have to present findings to the public that live up to our broader intentional goals. Let us state a mission that we can all stand behind, and let us all stand together with mutual respect and appreciation while working to uphold that mission. What message are we sending?What we do is perhaps obvious but I would say “undiscussed.” I am going to address that later in this piece. For now I want to talk about the message we are sending. In order to send a clear message to the world, we have to understand each other and speak clearly among ourselves. Reading Martin’s review of Jacobs’s book drove this point home for me. If we cannot speak clearly and respectfully to each other within our own industry, then we will not be able to send a clear message out.Basically (a bit of background), in the review of the book Martin points to a number of errors that he finds with Jacob’s book. However if one looks closely, most of the errors — as written by Martin — could, themselves, be considered misleading or perhaps erroneous. I find that they detract from the point of the book and completely diminish the overall message and intention of the book.Martin could have written a review that said something along the lines of “Wow, we have a new comprehensive and introductory book on building science and it really covers the wide range of applications available in our industry. Yes, there may be a few minor errors that might have been caught by a better editor, but overall, it does a great job covering a ton of ground in a clear and accessible manner.”But he did not. He chose another route. Fine. It’s just one review. However, it is the very way that Martin chose to review the book that got me thinking. Could I say Martin was wrong? No.But actually — yes, yes, I could. It turns out that it all depends on your point of view and the type of person you are. I spoke to colleagues and friends about it, and I started to see a very familiar pattern. Sides started to emerge. Teams, if you will. I’m just going to go ahead and say it: “Team Martin” and “Team Jacob.” We need to act as a teamOur community is full of a wide variety of people. Builders, designers, architects, engineers, inspectors, raters, vendors, policymakers, homeowners, and building operators, etc. Each of us has a different background and a different point of view. As we step forward into our unknown future, we need to act as a team. Support each other. Value each other’s skill set and incorporate all into a cohesive mission.When considering the future, I usually revert to Star Trek. In Star Trek Next Generation, for example, all members of the team are equally respected and included in decision making — including Counselor Troi, the touchy-feely psychologist type. After the team has gathered for a mission, the effects of any proposed actions are thoroughly considered by the whole team — with equal merit — before the landing party is allowed to set foot on a new planet and interact with its civilizations. We need our energy guys, we need our engineers and builders, but we need the rest of the team as well in order to ensure the most effective and well thought out approach and outcome. We need to be careful and respectful in how we talk to each other. Elizabeth DiSalvo founded Trillium Architects in Norwalk, Connecticut. DiSalvo is a graduate of Columbia University with a masters of Advanced Architectural Design and of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a five year Bachelor of Architecture and Building Science (1989). Elizabeth has been a registered architect since 1993. She is a member of the AIA, NESEA and the USCGB and has been on the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Green Building Council. In April 2011, GBA published a review of her blog.last_img read more

Posted on Leave a comment

How To Not Look Stupid

first_img Essential Reading! Get my 3rd book: Eat Their Lunch “The first ever playbook for B2B salespeople on how to win clients and customers who are already being serviced by your competition.” Buy Now “I don’t want to look stupid.”Some salespeople are afraid to call their dream clients because they believe that they may be asked a question to which they lack the answer. They are afraid that by not knowing the answer that they will lose their credibility. In their worse fear, instead of being perceived as a value creator, they may be perceived as a time waster.Like all fears, there is some real danger in looking stupid. But if you have to know the answer to any and every question your dream client may ask of you, you are always going to fear being stupid. The whole of human knowledge doubles every five years, and there is no way to keep up. The different questions that may be asked of you are limitless, and there is no way to anticipate or prepare for every question.Fortunately, there are ways to not “look stupid.”You Don’t Know EverythingFirst, don’t pretend to know everything. If you really want to avoid looking stupid, don’t answer questions for which you don’t know the answers. Nothing will ruin your credibility more than speaking about something you don’t know.If you don’t want to be exposed as a time-wasting salesperson, then don’t pretend to be an expert in areas you don’t know.You Are the ConductorSecond, when you are asked a question to which you don’t know the answer, say this, “That’s a great question. I don’t have an answer for you now, but I am going to get with my team here and get our best thinking on that. I’ll call you back this afternoon and tell you how we would answer that question and what we might suggest.”The longer you work in one company or one industry, the more you gain the situational knowledge you need to answer your client’s questions. But you never have to know the answer to every question you might be asked.As a salesperson, you orchestrate results. That means you are the conductor, not first violin. You are always allowed to lean our your subject matter and technical experts to serve your clients. Being resourceful enough to know how and where to get the answers your clients need is as important as developing situational knowledge. What do you do when you don’t know the answer to a question your client asks?How do you exercise your resourcefulness in helping your clients solve their biggest challenges?Where do you go to get help answering your client’s questions?last_img read more

Posted on Leave a comment

Pakistan: In the shadow of soldiers

first_imgSupporters at a rally held by Imran Khan in Islamabad. ReutersAlmost 15 years ago, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was ousted in a dramatic military coup. In the vicious cycle of dj vu politics the country has become notorious for, that fear has returned to haunt Sharif. The generals, it,Supporters at a rally held by Imran Khan in Islamabad. ReutersAlmost 15 years ago, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was ousted in a dramatic military coup. In the vicious cycle of dj vu politics the country has become notorious for, that fear has returned to haunt Sharif. The generals, it seems, are in the process of destabilising a thrice-elected prime minister, if not stage yet another coup and grab power.But this time around, their nefarious designs are not being executed by the men in uniform. Instead, it is being done through the muftis widely believed to be sponsored by General Headquarters (GHQ), Rawalpindi. Over the last few weeks, two groups of protesters have been camping out in the capital Islamabad demanding that Sharif should step down. Since August 14-Pakistan’s 68th independence day- tens of thousands of people, most of them youngsters, have descended on Islamabad to listen to the daily calls of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan for Sharif to resign.”You must get rid of these oppressors, otherwise they will keep humiliating you as slaves,” Khan, the former playboy who led Pakistan to its only cricket World Cup victory in 1992, appeals to his supporters gathered in front of Parliament House. As Khan takes a pause, the jubilant girls and boys shout, “Go Nawaz go”, and sing and dance to the tune of patriotic and Sufi songs. Shortly afterwards, and just a few yards away, firebrand cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri stands on a bullet-and-bomb-proof container to address a separate crowd. “We will not go home till these corrupt rulers step down,” he tells the crowd made up of followers of the Sufi branch of Islam.advertisementNawaz Sharif during a meeting with army chief General Raheel Sharif.To intensify pressure on him, the two opponents of Sharif have now merged their rallies and address the protesters from the same rostrum. This came after the parliament threw its weight behind Sharif and urged him to defy calls from Khan and Qadri. Khan has been complaining of massive vote rigging in last year’s elections in which his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf stood third behind Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League and Asif Ali Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party. But he hardened his position recently and started demanding the resignation of Sharif after his government failed to order a probe into the rigging allegations.Separately, Qadri has been demanding drastic reform of election rules to end what he says is the monopoly of a handful of families, including Sharif’s, on politics. He now also wants Sharif and his brother, Shahbaz, the chief minister of Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province and political nerve centre, to be shown the door after 14 of his supporters were killed in clashes with police in Lahore in June, just days before he returned from his adopted country, Canada. The crisis has paralysed the government. Since the unrest erupted, the embattled Sharif and his ministers have been running from pillar to post to save their 14-month government.Political stability is a rare commodity in Pakistan and the military has been in power for most of its 67-year history. Even when the generals were not in power, they meddled in policies to undermine civilian governments and maintain their sway on key security and foreign policies.Nawaz Sharif during a meeting with army chief General Raheel Sharif.This time too the army is the usual suspect and many Pakistanis believe the generals are manoeuvring the protesting leaders to check Sharif’s increasing efforts to assert civilian authority. Such doubts were reinforced when the estranged President of Tehreek-e-Insaaf, Javed Hashmi, revealed that Khan has been telling his top aides that the army and its powerful spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), are supporting him in his standoff with Sharif. “I don’t know who planned this (protest). Only the planners would know but the names of the army and ISI are being brought into disrepute,” Hashmi said on August 31. The army has denied the claim.The government initially asked the military to act as a facilitator to end the crisis but the army apparently backed off after the opposition slammed the government that such a role would once again formalise a role in politics for the generals. “We respect the army but we don’t like it to interfere in politics. It’s not their job,” said Zahid Khan, a lawmaker from the ethnic Pashtun nationalist Awami National Party.Despite the army’s denials, the criticism over its perceived role continues. “They could not have done it without the support of the (military) establishment,” says retired general Talat Masood. Moreover, the military’s reluctance to stop the protesters from provocative advances towards key government installations such as parliament and the prime minister’s house, has also raised questions about its impartiality in the crisis.advertisementThe latter march sparked clashes in which three people were killed and scores injured. In a further provocation on September 1, the protesters stormed the state broadcaster, PTV, and forced it off air for nearly an hour. They voluntarily vacated the buildings and started shouting “long live Pak army” when troops moved in. The incident was an eerie replay of the takeover of PTV by the troops on October 12, 1999, when the military toppled Sharif and General Pervez Musharraf took power.Instead of denouncing provocations by the protesters, the army warned the government against using force, drawing scathing criticism from the media. “It is as if the army is unaware- rather, unwilling-to acknowledge the constitutional scheme of things: it is the government that is supposed to give orders to the army, not the other way around,” Dawn said in a hard-hitting editorial on September 2. “Would the army allow even a handful of peaceful protesters to gather outside GHQ for a few hours?” the newspaper questioned.Observers say Sharif’s attempts to assert authority annoyed the generals, who orchestrated the crisis to check the expanding civilian clout. Sharif, who had crossed swords with army chiefs in his earlier stints in power as well, had handpicked General Raheel Sharif-no relation-as army chief in November. But friction developed within months.Sharif’s decision to put Musharraf on trial for treason didn’t go down well with the army chief, who wanted the former president, who toppled Sharif’s first government in 1999, to be let off after his indictment by a lower court. The military was also angered by Sharif’s efforts to assert his authority in the formulation of major foreign policy matters, which it has traditionally handled- Sharif visited India for Narendra Modi’s inauguration against the army’s advice-as well as his delay in approving a military offensive against the Taliban. Sharif’s government also upset the army by siding with Geo in its tiff with ISI chief Lt-General Zaheer-ul-Islam, who was accused by the media group in April of trying to get its main anchor, Hamid Mir, killed.Analysts say the crisis may fizzle out in the wake of parliament’s backing for Sharif and waning support for the protests. But it is certain to undermine the government. There are reports that the army had asked it to stop meddling in key security-related policies after the latter sought its help to wriggle out of this crisis.Sharif is on a weak wicket also because of his government’s poor performance. He won the elections after promising to overturn an economic meltdown and fix chronic energy crisis. His government got a $6.6 billion loan from the IMF to avert a balance of payments crisis but has so far been reluctant to introduce much-needed structural reforms such as broadening of the tax base to include big landlords. Sharif had promised to mitigate the acute power shortages but many areas still face 8-10 hour cuts daily, badly hurting the economy. His opponents also accuse him of promoting nepotism as at least 18 members of his extended family hold government positions in Punjab and at the Centre.advertisementThe government dismissed reports of the military pressuring it on security policies. “No such arrangement is being discussed,” Sharif’s close aide and minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said. Even if Sharif survives this round, analysts say he may face more such turmoil. “He is considerably weakened and its impact will be seen in all spheres. He can reclaim lost ground if he survives but let’s see if he can complete his term,” says Masood.To read more, get your copy of India Today here.last_img read more