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Bahama Wall Systems Limited is seeking to expand into a niche market in the construction industry, and establish itself with its unique approach to erecting walls for commercial and residential properties.
The company isn't taking the conventional approach, using a model that is environmental friendly and cost efficient, that will also shave a few weeks off any given project.
President of the company Dwight Bain told Guardian Business yesterday that interest about his company has picked up in the past few months, and he views this as a sign that its unique system of building walls is starting to catch on.
"We've seen the number of inquires about our wall system pick up over the past ...
Paint Fair Adds Another Industry Leader To Its Product Offering With The Launch Of Its Distribution Of Acrocrete Products
Freeport, Grand Bahama - Paint Fair adds another industry leader to its product offering with the launch of its distribution of Acrocrete products.
Diversifying The Bahamian Economy: Fact, Fiction and The Real Alternative
A short while ago, I received a flyer promoting some turn-key residential properties that allege to be energy efficient.
The units boasted energy efficient appliances, but beyond that, they were silent. When we talk about efficient or high performing buildings, it is certainly important to ensure that we carefully examine the building envelope.
Although we may not think of them that way, collectively buildings are big consumers of energy.
Indeed according to an article by Alan Macklin published in the August 2011 issue of Modern Building Systems, it is estimated that 40 percent of the world's energy is consumed by buildings, making the management of energy used by buildings a key component in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and frankly reducing the cost of doing business.
This increased emphasis on the performance of buildings worldwide is due in part to legislation.
In fact, in the same article by Macklin he cites the directives by the European Council for 2020 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent, increase the share of renewable energy by 20 percent and improve energy efficiency by 20 percent. The other major factor in this drive is of course money. Because of the rise in energy costs, building management, once the domain of the engineer, has now become a central focus for financial leaders and company CEOs.
The performance of homes is of course just as important to the homeowner who has to grapple with increased spending on energy as well.
Over the years, I have heard numerous persons lament the fact that as hot as it is outside, the inside of their homes is even hotter. This problem can be blamed on poorly sealed, un-insulated homes - a matter that has increasingly been seen as a problem because air-conditioned homes are now commonplace.
From the standpoint of the mechanical engineer, when we look to design an air-conditioning system for a business or home, the projected performance of the building itself is a critical factor in the design process. If we start from the outside, the orientation of the building on the property is important, in that assuming you have sufficient land area to do so, it is better to rotate the building so it is not fully east or west facing but rather experiences sunrise or sunset at an angle.
Avoid the temptation to raze the property before building. Instead, keep some of the trees, as this will reduce future landscaping costs and potentially provide exterior shading to windows.
To improve the performance of your building you need to consider the "R value" of walls and roofs, and to do so, effective insulation is often necessary. The R value refers to the resistance to heat flow and a higher R value indicates greater insulation effectiveness.
I caution you that before you consider insulation, the issue of moisture control should be examined very closely with your architect and builder. It is very important that buildings are properly sealed to prevent the intrusion of moisture.
Walls should be well constructed with all openings properly sealed.
With reference to home construction, for example, the U.S. Department of Energy describes a wall with an R value of 14.6 or higher as having advanced insulation and those with an R value of 11.6 as standard. Windows should be properly sealed all around to avoid leakage and double paned if budget permits, or at the very least tinted to reduce the impact of solar radiation that makes the interior feel warmer. The same rules apply to any glass doors. Interior shading from blinds or sheers, for example, also helps reduce the load on the air-conditioning system.
Consider making your roof a cool roof. According to the Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC), a cool roof reflects (solar reflectance) and emits (thermal emittance) the sun's heat back to the sky instead of transferring it to the building below. Solar reflectance and thermal emittance are measured from 0 to 1 and the higher the number the cooler the roof.
A lot of cool roofs are white and we can relate to this from feeling the difference between wearing white or black clothes.
Many of us are also familiar with Bermuda roofs that are white. However according to the CRRC there are many cool color products that have dark pigments but are highly reflective. They further predict average energy savings on cooling costs can range from 7 percent to 15 percent.
Therefore, with your building envelope designed and making sure it's outfitted with high efficient lighting and appliances, you will be well on your way to achieving a truly energy-efficient building.
Challenge for this week: If planning to build a new office or home, discuss building performance with your architect before plans are drawn.
We would like to hear how this article has helped you. Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Sonia Brown is principal of Graphite Engineering Ltd and is a registered Professional Engineer
Have you visited China before? Well, I have and I'd like to share my incredible adventure with you. Located in the eastern part of Asia, The People's Republic of China has the second largest economy in the world and is known for The Great Walls, The Forbidden City, and breathtakingly beautiful mountains, rivers and giant pandas. Beijing is the capital of China and is among the most populous cities in the world.
My incredible adventure started in June 2011 with a simple telephone call from Lionel Sands, the director of education who summoned me to a meeting at his office. He informed me that I had been chosen to pursue graduate studies in Shanghai, China at East China Normal University (ECNU) on a full scholarship. The preparations to travel to China occurred quickly and rather hectically. Before I knew it, I was off and after 25 hours of travelling, I arrived in Shanghai. From the minute I arrived at the airport, I was astounded and I knew that my journey was going to be a phenomenal one. The airport was awe-inspiring, with architecture and technological wonders I'd never seen before -- not even in a magazine! Shanghai is proud to own the first maglev link in the world -- trains that magnetically levitate above the tracks, propelled forward by electromagnetic force and reaching speeds up to 500 kilometers per hour.
It's been months since my arrival in China and indeed my life has been tremendously impacted by this incredible journey. As a master's student studying in the Minghan District, I have received a reservoir of knowledge and my daily experiences has impacted my life significantly and taught me valuable, amazing lessons. They've been life-changing in positive ways.
In 2009, Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) ranked China, and more specifically Shanghai students, as receiving the highest scores in the world in Mathematics, science and reading. This major accomplishment comes as no surprise to me primarily because (based on my subjective observations, of course) the people of China are hardworking and ingenious. The majority or all Shanghai students that I've met are disciplined. They are always busy, either completing assignments or studying. They work relentlessly towards perfection and refuse any level of mediocrity. On a regular day, the university's library is overcrowded with students. Recently, I went to the library in an attempt to complete a mid-term paper, but this was impossible as I was unable to find a seat or a table. Students also spend long hours at nights studying and preparing for classes. From my hotel window at ECNU's Faculty Center, I can see the graduate dormitory and always observe students at their desks working, sometimes up to 2 a.m. Such an unprecedented level of dedication and commitment seems to be entrenched and perpetuated throughout their entire culture.
Reiterating the fact that Chinese students are assiduous allows me to share an experience I had after the National Day Holiday. On this holiday, I truly enjoyed myself. I rested. Apparently, I rested for what was to come. Even though there were no classes because of the holiday, the university made up those missed classes on the following Saturday and Sunday. I could not believe that I actually had to attend classes on the weekend! I was told that it's the norm in China to make up classes on the weekend after a public holiday. In The Bahamas, this is definitely not a practice, so that was the first time in my life as a student that I had to make up classes because of a public holiday. I truly believe that The Bahamas can benefit from this practice as the public school curriculum is rather crowded and there is hardly sufficient time on the school calendar to meet all of its demands. Yes, this practice would be very difficult for Bahamians to accept, but over time, it would prove quite beneficial.
Apart from young Chinese students being hard-working, the people also work hard. This is always evident as I move around the Minghan campus and Shanghai.
Presently, I am staying at ECNU's Faculty Center. Major road works are happening right in front of the hotel. During my daily walk to and from the hotel, I am able to see how hard Chinese people work. The men of the road project can be seen toiling very early in the mornings and late at nights, digging, mixing, and laying steel. During the day, men can be seen sweeping trash and mud from the roads and sidewalks. A Kodak moment still resonates in my mind of the day I saw a worker actually wiping a partition which separates or blocks the public from walking close to or near the work site. I was speechless! I thought about my home country, where we were also experiencing major road works. Never in this life would you see any of the Bahamian workers completing some of the various tasks taken on by the Chinese workers.
Even at ECNU, my observations of Chinese workers remain the same. The entire campus of ECNU is well manicured. The workers report to work very early in the morning and they are always sweeping leaves fallen from the trees which line the roads, picking weeds from gardens and cleaning.
Students ride bicycles everywhere and therefore hundreds of bicycles are parked along the streets and on sidewalks, in front or near the canteens, classrooms and other university buildings, including the library. One morning, as I was hurriedly walking to class, I saw two female workers tending to the bicycles. After the students parked their bicycles, these women organized or lined up the bicycles properly. It was an unbelievable sight!
Additionally, it has been my experience that Chinese people work hard daily, using whatever means necessary to survive. Presently, there are a myriad of street vendors selling a variety of products such as clothes, food, fruits and vegetables. What I like about the produce vendors in particular is that they sell whatever is harvested at that time and they have the produce in abundance. Undeniably, Chinese people are hard-working and I have learnt much from them during my stay here.
Ugliness rears its head
Even though I have learnt so much from the Chinese people since arriving in Shanghai, I would be remiss if I don't share an unfavorable experience I had during my first week here. I accompanied two friends via bus to go to a store to purchase school supplies. As usual, the bus was crowded. When we arrived at our stop we tried to get off. However, I found it difficult to navigate through the crowd as a loop on my jeans had apparently hooked onto a gentleman's bag or hand (or so I believed at the time). Normally, the incoming passengers would wait until those coming off disembark. However, at this stop there were lots of people trying to get on the bus. I immediately started pulling away to free myself, as my friends were already off the bus. Luckily, I was able to do so and rushed off the bus. I thought nothing about it and we proceeded to the store to purchase the items. However, when I got to the cashier and attempted to pay for my goods, an uneasy feeling overtook me. I froze with fear! I reached deep into my pocket and my wallet was gone! I had been robbed! In a state of panic, I searched both pockets and then alerted my friends, who helped me search for my wallet. By this time, I was trembling, shivering as if I was in a blistering cold. I could not believe it. Why? I asked myself. Why? Today, this experience still lingers with me and has taught me a valuable lesson about being careful as I journey about Shanghai, no matter how much I trust the people.
Acts of honesty
Undeniably, the people are trustworthy. Despite the fact that I was robbed, I can undoubtedly say that Chinese people are the most honest and self-disciplined people I have ever met. Their acts of honesty can be seen daily. For example, when I go to the print shop and students come in and print their documents, if the worker is busy and the students need to leave, before walking out they will count their copies and rest down the money for it. Some will even rest the coins on the copying machine, then leave. This brings to mind another incredible example of the honesty of Chinese people. Could you imagine walking onto a public bus, with the driver nowhere in sight, and swiping your transportation card or dropping your fare (two RMB) into the box? Time after time, when I'm seated on a bus waiting for it to leave the bus terminal, I am usually busy watching the honesty of the Chinese riders as they board and pay even when the bus driver is not on the bus. It's not a guarantee that such acts of honesty would happen in other countries. Unbelievable!
I have had the opportunity to travel to many countries and have experienced using various modes of transportation. China has the best transportation system. It's unique in nature. I admire the transportation system in China primarily because there is one transportation card -- a card that you can use to get on and off the metro, catch a bus and even catch a taxi. The use of a single transportation card can be quite beneficial to the Bahamas, for jitneys, taxis and even mailboats.
People use bicycles as a mode of transportation because it's inexpensive and fast, among other reasons. There are also lots of cars, buses and people on the streets and everyone drives so close together, almost on top of each other. This at times, appears hectic, as if everyone is in a mad rush, and I'm always worried that they will hit each other or cause a traffic accident. However, there is extreme order and control in what seems to an outsider to be disorder.
Which mode of transportation do I like best? The metro line. The metro in Shanghai surpasses any other systems I've used before. It is well organized and convenient, although rather crowded. Getting on and off the train demands agility and precision of movement. It's a little off-putting that people stare at me when I get on and off, as if I am from another planet. Some gawk and exchange comments while others just burst out into laughter. As the world is moving towards globalization and is promoting multicultural societies, I can only hope that Chinese people will become more informed about and exposed to people of color, and learn appropriate ways of responding to the sight of people who look different from them.
Another enjoyable aspect of my journey to China has been my exposure to the rich culture of Shanghai. China has a rich cultural heritage. I have experienced several aspects of this heritage on visits to a number of heritage homes and gardens, including the home, garden and temple of Confucius. Along with my classmates, I was honored to attend the anniversary ceremony at Confucius' Temple. Thousands of people from all over the world attended this ceremony, which was conducted in the rain. It was a day of reflection for the Chinese people. During the visit, I attended an opera and got a firsthand look at the talents of Chinese people.
Additionally, I have visited two Confucius schools and a teaching college with over 40,000 student teachers. I have learnt much about Chinese culture and how the people preserve their cultural heritage gardens.
Several weeks ago, my classmates and I visited a Heritage Garden in Suzhou. We were amazed at how well-organized the ancient garden was, with its winding river paths, lovely houses, and lush green plants. While walking through the garden with its tranquil atmosphere, I felt free and absolutely relaxed.
As an international master's student, I am busy. However, I am excited, because I know that I am receiving significant information in my classes, seminars, conferences, and school visits that will assist me greatly in my career as an educational leader upon my return to The Bahamas.
Classes are everyday and are demanding. All of my professors are well qualified and trained and have a vast reservoir of knowledge that they impart to us daily. My experience at ECNU has been most rewarding. I am grateful to The People's Republic of China, ECNU and the Department of Education for affording me this opportunity to pursue an International Master's Degree in Educational Leadership and Policy.
Each day I garner much knowledge and insights from my professors, my colleagues (from 18 world countries), Chinese friends, other students and the Chinese people. My life has been immensely impacted and I have learnt some valuable lessons -- how to love and appreciate my family, how to appreciate and nurture my own culture, being able to speak two or more languages and the importance of hard work, discipline and education. In the words of Confucius, "I am not one who was born in the possession of knowledge; I am one who is fond of antiquity and earnest in seeking it there".
I think most of us, if given the opportunity to put an end to electricity bills, would jump at the chance to do so. And the option of constructing a net-zero building presents an opportunity to do just that.
The term net-zero energy, when referring to buildings, typically describes a building that over the course of a year produces as much energy as it consumes and has zero carbon emissions over this same period. The only thing that would top this is energy plus buildings that produce more energy than the building requires - and this excess energy can be sold to the utility.
In my practice, I have had consumers come to me with a building already designed by an architect and they then wish to have a discussion about having the building services (air-conditioning, lighting and plumbing) designed so they can go off grid, so to speak.
For a net-zero building to be cost effective, the planning needs to start before either architect or engineer puts pen to paper, as it is possible to make any building net zero but it is not always practical. For net zero to make financial sense, the building envelope (walls, roof, windows and doors) need to be high performing in concert with highly efficient building systems in regards to the water supply, lighting and air-conditioning. None of the above matters unless the building occupants who control the plug and process loads have a mindset of energy awareness, and are prepared to shift their behavior to promote best practices in energy conservation.
A June 2011 article in the Journal of the American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) highlights the need to maximize the use of many building design aspects to achieve this objective. The article discusses the need to optimize building orientation, high-performance windows, low-density lighting that is dimmable, super efficient air-conditioning systems, the use of day lighting, landscaping that enables shading and a highly insulated building envelope. The main area that we consistently fall down on, provided we get everything else right, is ongoing operation and maintenance to keep the building performing at a high standard. It is of course expected that some form of renewable energy would be used such as solar or wind generation.
It is understood by professionals in the industry that this move toward constructing net-zero buildings is a byproduct of standards developed as a result of the oil crisis in the 1970s. Public interest has remained steady in recent years due to sustained high oil prices.
The construction of net-zero energy and energy plus buildings needs to be a part of the overall plan to help us use energy more responsibly. I look forward to seeing the day when the first commercial, net-zero energy building is constructed in The Bahamas.
Are you constructing a net zero or energy plus building? If so tell us about it. Send questions or comments to email@example.com.
Sonia Brown is Principal of Graphite Engineering Ltd. and is a registered professional engineer.
LONDON, England - Four years ago in Beijing, China, The Bahamas was represented by 25 athletes in four sporting disciplines at the Olympics. This year at the Games of the 30th Olympiad here in London, there are 26 Bahamian athletes in just two sporting disciplines.
Twenty-five of these athletes are from track and field; and there's one swimmer, Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace.
Whereas Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) President Wellington Miller is disappointed that the variety of participation has diminished, he is optimistic that they are on the right track heading into the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This current administration of the BOC came into office just prior to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The London Olympics presented the first real test for this current administration of the BOC.
One of their main goals is to foster feeder systems in each of the Olympic sports so that the development of the athletes is sustained, and for their progress to be continuous.
"I think a feeder system is very important, for all of the sporting federations," said Miller.
"If you look at this year's team, quite a number of them are young athletes, and in the Bahamas Olympic Committee, that's the direction we are headed in. Not to say that we are trying to phase out the veterans completely, because as you can see in the case of Chandra and Debbie, they still have a lot to offer, but it has to be a gradual process.
"The right programs and the ability to get our coaches more technically sound and certified would definitely put us on the right track."
There's no doubt that the young athletes represent the future of sports in The Bahamas. Half of the 26-member team in London, is under the age of 25.
The BOC gets a substantial amount of money each Olympic period through the Olympic Solidarity Fund which is dispersed worldwide. Those funds go toward the sustainable development of young athletes in the various sporting disciplines.
A number of young Bahamians have benefitted from the program whether through scholarships, or just funds to assist in their development. A couple of Bahamian boxers, Valentino Knowles and Carl Hield, have also benefited from the program, but unlike some of their counterparts, they failed to qualify for this year's Olympic team.
Miller, himself a former boxer, said that he was disappointed that they were unable to qualify Olympians in that discipline this year, but added that he expects that sporting discipline to flourish moving forward and to have representation for The Bahamas at the 2016 Olympics.
"Boxing was very disappointing because I was really looking to have two boxers qualified for these Olympics," said Miller.
"When you look at Valentino, he is rated in the top two in the Americas in his weight class and Carl is rated in the top five. I think it's just a matter of them getting over-confident this year and never fully realizing their potential. Those kinds of things happen sometimes in boxing, and in sports on the whole."
Miller and BOC Secretary General Romell "Fish" Knowles were out to support Vanderpool-Wallace Wednesday night in her effort to make the women's 100-meter (m) Free final. She fell just short, finishing 10th overall.
A leading aviation executive says the Ministry of Tourism's plan to rebrand the Family Islands, give them logos and push marketing for those destinations is a good one.
But according to Randy Butler, the CEO of SkyBahamas, he doesn't see how domestic carriers stand to benefit.
He said taxes and fees are off the map, and the government must help local airlines turn a profit if they want them to play a role in funneling tourists to these far flung destinations.
In fact, he claimed fees and taxes are now outpacing fuel costs.
"They make it so much more expensive to travel here to the Family Islands," he told Guardian Business.
"If you look at what JetBlue charges to travel to the U.S. to Nassau, for example, and how much it costs for a 12-minute trip to Andros, it can't compare. It doesn't make sense."
This week, at Caribbean Marketplace 2012, Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, the minister of tourism, said domestic carriers stand to benefit from the new rebranding campaign. He called the program "a real opportunity for domestic carriers".
Wallace told the crowd The Bahamas has barely scratched the surface of what it has to offer tourists. He explained that while Nassau is one of the largest tourism hubs in the world, it represents only two percent of the country's land mass.
As part of the initiative, the Ministry of Tourism will launch a new website and provide a seamless transfer and one-time price for passengers to immediately connect in Nassau to Family Island locations.
"How in the world can domestic carriers play an effective role?" Butler asked. "Our costs are more. And most of these costs are driven by fees and taxes the government has put in place."
The SkyBahamas CEO also pointed to Bahamasair, a rival domestic carrier, and said this airline is heavily subsidized by the government. He insisted that, for the program to work and benefit the islands, there must be a level playing field.
"We have not been at the table. We are not in the conversation," he told Guardian Business. "You tell me you'll bring them to Nassau ... then are you going to provide incentives for us to take them the rest of the way?"
As a first step, Butler recommended a reduction or shift in the method of taxation against domestic carriers. Some fees, he explained, should not be implemented at all - such as security fees. He said many airports on the Family Islands don't have security systems or x-ray machines, making the tax unnecessary.
He also felt the government should stop providing so many opportunities for foreign carriers to fly direct to Family Island locations.
"You want us to participate, but then you encourage others to go direct to these destinations," he added. "We don't fit."
NASSAU, Bahamas – Proposed legislation to upgrade the communications sector will give the Bahamas the competitive edge it needs, Minister of Tourism, Senator Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace said. “Efficient communications systems are fundamental to a modern society and to modern commerce,” he said.