Cactus juice is the new plastic? Female scientist discovers biodegradable plastic alternative

first_imgiStock(NEW YORK) — Plastic is everywhere — the average American consumes 70,000 pieces of plastic per year, according to the American Chemical Society.The reality is that most plastic doesn’t wind up getting recycled. Much of it ends up in landfills, or worse the ocean, National Geographic reports.One researcher from Mexico says she has a green solution — literally. Sandra Pascoe Ortiz, a chemical engineering professor at the University of the Valley of Atemajac in in Zapopan, Mexico, has developed a plastic made from cactus juice.While it’s still in the beta-testing phase, this alternative plastic solution has a few advantages to traditional petroleum-based plastics, according to Ortiz.Most importantly, it’s easily biodegradable.The plastic alternative takes around 2-3 months to break down in soil and even less time if soaked in water or put in compost — about 7days, according to Oritz. This plastic offers another advantage — it’s non-toxic and edible — which may help mitigate some of the hazards for sea creatures since so much of our plastic winds up in the ocean.It’s also a renewable resource. Leaves harvested from the prickly pear cactus can be cut off and the plant will grow them back over time.So, how does it work?Ortiz says it has to do with some inherent properties in the prickly pear cactus.“The cactus has sugars and gums that give it its characteristic viscosity. This is a natural polymer that can be improved by combining certain substances to give it a similar appearance and properties to those of some petroleum-derived plastics,” Oritz told Good Morning America. The researchers extract the juice from the cactus, mix in some natural additives and pour the liquid onto a flat surface where it dries. The result is a flexible and durable material that resembles petroleum-based plastic.Currently it’s being made as prototypes at Oritz’s lab and the process takes 10 days to make. Extensive research is still needed to test the efficiency and to scale up the production of the plastic alternative, Ortiz said.“Work is being done on the development of applications and the tests that are required to evaluate their performance. If it gets good results, one can now think about a transfer in technology to be used at the industrial level,” she said.Oritz encourages other scientists to develop innovative solutions to combat climate change.“The world can be a better place if we do what we can with what we have to improve it,” Ortiz said. “The environment is damaged, but there is a solution … science is the best way to reverse the effects of climate change in conjunction with what each of us does to take care of our environment … Awareness of what we do with our waste and what we consume is important.” Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Tipp’s National hurling and football league games called off

first_imgAll of this weekend’s Allianz National Hurling and Football League games – including the double header set for Semple Stadium have been called off.Croke Park have announced the news 24 hours earlier than anticipated.Tipp senior footballers were due to take on Louth, while the hurlers were set to meet Cork.The fifth round of Hurling League games will now be played next weekend with quarter-finals moved to St Patrick’s weekend.The semis will be played a week later with the final pushed back to the 31st of March.Round Five of the Football League will be rescheduled for the weekend of March 11th.The decision means there will be football and hurling league for four consecutive weekends.Refixture details will be confirmed by the Central Competitions Control Committee on Monday. Tipperary’s national hurling and football league games have been called off for this weekend.The announcement was made just before lunchtime by Croke Park.last_img read more

SB’s Assessing Sea Wall Damage

first_imgBy John BurtonSEA BRIGHT – The closing of part of Ocean Avenue for the better part of four days late last week has the mayor worried it could have exposed a potentially serious – and expensive – problem for the borough.With last weekend’s nor’easter bringing heavy rain and high winds, state and local law enforcement and local emergency management decided to close the northern portion of Ocean Avenue/ state Highway 36 when it flooded and created a potentially hazardous condition.North shore of Sea Bright.Ocean Avenue, from the entrance of the Capt. Azzolina Memorial Bridge in the north to Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge at the Route 520 intersection, was closed until Monday afternoon.Flooding has been a chronic problem for the small town running between the Atlantic Ocean and the Shrewsbury River. But what seems most troubling about this occurrence is that the road flooding appears to have been caused by breaches in the sea wall, running the length of highway.Last weekend’s storm coincided with higher than normal tides, and that stretch of sea wall is lower than it is in other parts of the town. “Basically, we had waves breaking on the highway for four days,” Mayor Dina Long said.The ocean “was coming through the sea wall, over the top of the sea wall, under the sea wall,” she said.It appears Super Storm Sandy in October caused several breaches in that stretch of sea wall, and its impact became even more apparent with the latest storm.Long was in contact with state Department of Envi­ron­­mental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bob Martin, who assigned a deputy commissioner “to expeditiously analyze the situation and come back with some recommendations,” interim borough administrator Joseph Verruni said.DEP engineers were on site Monday, Long said, along with state Department of Trans­portation (DOT) work crews that cleared debris and a considerable amount of sand that washed onto the roadway.DEP spokesman Bob Considine said Wednesday that the department was “still assessing” the situation.Long said that given the beating that section of wall took from Sandy, “it’s undermined in a couple of places.”The mayor said she would have to wait for the engineers’ report because knowing the extent of the damage and what that means for the long term.“It’s always an issue of who owns the sea wall,” and who is responsible when situations like this arise, Long said.In the past the state contributed most of the cost for repairing it. During the early 1990’s storm damage came with a substantial price tag attached, though Long did not know the cost. When the state took the lead on the repairs, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – which is conducting a beach replenishment project here – took the position it wasn’t its responsibility, Long said.That hasn’t prevented Sea Bright from applying to the corps’ Civil Works Program for assistance in repairing the wall following Sandy. Borough officials also have sought assistance for this and other projects from the Federal Emer­gency Management Agency (FEMA).She said, “We’re not having much luck with FEMA,” with the borough council decision last week to drop out of the agency’s Sheltering and Tem­porary Electric Power (STEP) program for resident assistance, contending it was overly complicated and the agency was slow to act.The sea wall was erected during the 1940s and ran parallel to tracks for the Central Jersey Railroad, which operated a commuter line through the area, Long said her research showed. The cost of the original construction was a three-way split among federal, state and local.The impacted section of Ocean Avenue is structurally sound. “We don’t foresee any issue with the roadway itself,” said DOT spokesman Tim Greeley.Now it’s a matter of waiting for the final analysis and determining how to address it – and hope for clear weather in the interim, Long said.“Obviously, I’m a little nervous about that,” she said.last_img read more

Holy Cross hospital seeking support to grow

first_imgBut critics have worried about the impact on traffic and parking in the community and have called for further studies. The city’s Planning Commission recently modified a conditional-use permit to allow work to proceed, but the decision is being appealed to the City Council. Area Councilman Richard Alarc n has backed more study for the site and the council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee is scheduled to hear the appeals next month. But Carmody and hospital officials estimate that a full environmental study would delay the project at least 18 months and do not believe it will provide any more information than already has been collected. More than $50,000 has been set aside for the public-relations effort, which will emphasize hospital services as well as the need for a neonatal intensive-care unit. Hoping to head off more studies that would stall its $143 million expansion plans, Providence Holy Cross Medical Center launched a public-relations campaign Monday to try to win community support and pressure city officials to give the project final approval. The first full-page advertisements appeared in Monday newspapers and featured former LAPD SWAT Officer Bruce Hunt’s story of how the hospital saved his life after he was injured in an off-duty car crash. “We think we have a message about what we do that we want to get out to the community,” said Kerry Carmody, administrator for the Mission Hills hospital. “We want to educate the public and public officials about the need for the expansion.” Plans for the expansion call for a four-story, 120,000-square-foot addition at 15031 Rinaldi St. It would add 136 beds to the hospital, which now has 254 beds. The campaign also asks supporters to call Alarc n and urge him to change his position. On Monday, Alarc n said he was undeterred. “Holy Cross Hospital is attempting to paint this issue as either being for or against the hospital,” Alarc n said. “But it’s more about ensuring the negative impacts on traffic and the community are mitigated sufficiently. That’s why a full environmental impact report is needed.” Several neighborhood councils also have supported the additional studies, saying that while they support eventual expansion they want to know more about the potential impacts. Tammy Flores, president of the Sylmar Neighborhood Council, said that while she personally believes the hospital should expand now, the Sylmar council backs a more extensive review first. “I’ve had to be in the emergency room recently and I saw how crowded it is,” Flores said. “It must add more pressure on the doctors and nurses. I think if more people saw what was going on, they would realize we need this now.” Carmody said that is the message the hospital will stress. [email protected] (213) 978-0390160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Mountain biking in South Africa

first_imgSouth Africa is a treasure trove of exciting routes, discovered and waiting to be uncovered, with weather allowing for cycling at any time of the year.The sport is growing so fast that there are now a number of mountain biking schools to teach you the skills to get the best out of your equipment – and the terrain you move through. (Image: South African Tourism)Brand South Africa ReporterMTB heaven! South Africa is a treasure trove of exciting routes, discovered and waiting to be uncovered, with weather allowing for cycling at any time of the year, all day and just about every day.Around Cape Town there are some great single-track routes on the mountain and in the pine plantations. There are escorted trips on the mountain, around the winelands and in the Cape Point section of the Cape Peninsula National Park.The scenic De Hoop National Park near Swellendam, up the east coast from Cape Town, has dedicated, easy trails. There are a few hardcore trails near Swellendam, and then onto the Garden Route, which is just fantastic.There are four superb, laid-out circular tracks in the Harkerville Forest, ranging from mellow to a hectic red route. And nearby are two long, quite strenuous linear trails, Homtini and Petrus se Brand. Locals and international visitors alike agree that the last 6km of Petrus se Brand is the most fun single track ever.Port Elizabeth also has dedicated trails, including one traversing a green belt which cuts right through the middle of the city. An annual MTB race on the Wild Coast set a precedent for pedaling this fantastic area.KwaZulu-Natal has its share of routes, with many great ones in the Drakensberg and the Midlands.Pietermaritzburg, especially, is blessed with superb options. It hosted the opening round of the UCI Nissan Mountain Bike World Cup in April 2009 and will host an MTB World Cup event for another three years after the success of 2009.The Free State is home to some seriously strenuous trails, and often has competitions. There’s one called the Two Mountains Race, which should give you an idea of what you’d be in for.And Johannesburg has a huge active MTB population, so there are a lot of trails nearby. Many of these urbanites head out to the wonderful trails in Mpumalanga, where you’ll find lots of opportunity to get down and dirty.MOUNTAIN BIKING OPERATORS Active Escapes specialise in providing personalised mountain bike and cycling holidays, to accommodate all level of riders. The offerings range from fully- supported and professionally guided tours to tours in which cyclists are left to themselves, but provided with detailed route information, while logistics, such as accommodation bookings, airport and end-point vehicle transfers are taken care of. Active Escapes offers cycling holidays in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, on the Wild Coast, and in the Drakensberg. Beach and Bush presents short trails at Oribi Gorge on the KwaZulu- Natal south coast, as well as a tour of Durban, which takes participants to the city’s most happening venues.Bendito Ranch is a game farm with self-catering accommodation, situated in Mkopane (Potgietersrus), a malaria free part of Limpopo, with four scenic mountain bike trails and hiking trails totalling a distance of 60km. Fishing, photography safaris, game drives, birdwatching, hunting (in season) and barbeques and breakfast in the bush are also available.Bicycling Magazine has sections on mountain biking and, very usefully, on rides. Explore the rides’ archive for a nice list of possibilities from around South Africa.Cape Mountain Biking Tours features a strong team that provides tours in the Eastern and Western Cape, varying in length from one day to the 11 day tour from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town. Places of interest and interesting experiences are included along the way. A two-day self-ride tour of the Cape Town and the Cape of Good Hope is also available.Clearwater Trails, located near Port Edward in Kwazulu-Natal, offer a marvellous mix of terrain and memorable sightseeing with four custom-built and carefully marked MTB trails which have something to suit all levels and tastes with riding on single and double tracks. All the trail options are set against the alluring backdrop of the Indian Ocean with the longer trails passing through Beaver Creek Coffee Estate and Crags View Wild Care Centre before ending at Clearwater Trail Centre.Cycle Lab is one of South Africa’s leading bicycle shops, with in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape and Limpopo. The Cycle Lab website offers plenty of information on events. The newsletters’archive is a very useful and wide-ranging source of information.Day Trippers is based in Cape Town. They offer a nice variety of escorted, vehicle-supported rides, including day tours, which take in the Cape Peninsula, the Winelands, Table Mountain, whale watching at Hermanus, and township tours; extended tours, ranging from five to 150 people, and from five days to 28 days; Epic trippers allows cyclists access to parts of the Cape Epic route, while training rides for the epic itself are on offer. Other destinations avalable include the Cedarberg, the Garden Route and the Karoo.The Dirtopia website includes a section on the Dirtopia Trail Centre, which is based on Delvera farm (R44 between Stellenbosch & the N1). It was created to provide active travellers with hiking and mountain bike trail information as well as serve as a base for permit sales for a range of trails in the Klapmutskop Conservancy. There is also a section for the Dirtopia MTB Festival, as well as other events.Downhill Adventures offer sandboarding, kiteboarding, surfing, and mountain biking. The MTB rides include in and around Cape Town, the Winelands, the Tokai Forest, the Table Mountain, and the Cape Point Nature Reserve. There are over 100 bikes for rent, including hi-spec 27-gear Giants.Drifters offers overland tours in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Kenya, Malawi, Zanzibar, Kenya, and Uganda. They also offer a six-day, five-night hiking and cycling holiday on the Wild Coast, which starts from Port St Johns.Eastern Cape Mountain Biking is a website that covers the Eastern Cape’s mountain bike options impeccably. It features nicely-detailed accounts of many routes, training rides, and many other articles of interest that ensure comprehensive coverage of the region and the sport. Encounter South Africa offers some suggestions on MTB routes to try around South Africa.Escape Cycle Tours offers tours throughout South Africa, including in the Mapungubwe World Heritage Site, a six-day pre-Argus Tour, cycling in the Magaliesberg, Lesotho MTB rides, the KZN Midlands Meander route, the Cape Winelands, the Kruger National Park, the Mashatu Cycle Tour, a 12-day tour from Stellenbosch to Port Elizabeth, a tour from Knysna to Gordon’s Bay, a three-day Johannesburg to Durban trip, the Lindani tour, the Namaqualand Daisy tour, and Maluti Spring tour, as well as cycling in Soweto, and a combo cycling and surfing tour.EveryTrail in South Africa includes a nice list of races and routes, which take place throughout South Africa. The website includes a little info on every suggested route and race.Giba Gorge, near Pinetown in KwaZulu-Natal, offers a number of superb trails for mountain bikers of various skills levels – from easy to expert. There is also a BMX track, free style dirt jumps, a Cyclelab bike shop, a coffee shop, conference centre, bar, and camping facilities.iRideAfrica offers both mountain bike holidays and road cycling tours. Their “Ride Shuttle” is also available for lifts to top jumps, downhill tracks or bike parks around Cape Town. There are a number of tour options and a Blog to keep up with the latest iRideAfrica happenings.The Johannesburg Mountain Biking Club does not have a home base, but through contact between its members, rides are undertaken on most Sundays at various locations around the city, with different lengths, difficulty and technical challenges offered. Visitors are welcome to join in JMBC rides at a cost of R20.Lebanon MTB Trails is located in the heart of the Elgin Valley in the Western Cape, an hour’s drive from Cape Town and 30 minutes from Hermanus. There are four well marked trails that meander through some stunning terrain and everyone from beginners to experienced riders is catered for, with the trails ranging from 5.8km to 25km in distance. Accommodation is available at Oak Lane Cottages, where the trails start and end.Linx Africa: Mountain Bike Trails in South Africa features a list of towns that have MTB trails. Click on a town and you’re taken to a description of trails in the area, with telephone, fax, and e-mail info for enquiries and bookings.Live2Ride offers rentals, trails, and guided tours. They operate in the Western Cape and visit among others, Langebaan, Fossil Park, Saldanha, Koringsberg, and Aurora. Tours include the West Coast Tour, the Garden Route Tour, and the Odyssey Tour, which takes place in Botswana.Makadas Adventures is a mountain bike event company based in the Western Cape. It offers challenging mountain bike events, mostly in the Klein Karoo area. The company’s stated goal is to bring back the fun and adventure to mountain biking, which it does by featuring a wide variety of events – from extreme to simple fun events. Their trails vary from year to year to keep things interesting and new routes are added as farmers open up their trails.Mankele Mountain Biking is located right in the heart of Mpumalanga and features tropical forests, open grass lands, rivers, dams, ravines, mountains and breathtaking views. It’s a superb venue for riders of all abilities, with numerous trails of varying lengths and technical tests. It also offers accommodation as well as other exciting activities.Mountain Biking Africa operates on the beautiful Garden Route. They offer from half- to 13-day tours. These include three different Outeniqua Mountain tours; the Ostrich Tour; the Knysna Experience; Steady Eddie’s Mountain Madness, which was originally designed as a Cape Epic training camp; Steady Eddie’s Buffalo Hills, a slightly easier version of Mountain Madness; and a 13-day tour of Botswana. Bikes are available for hire.Mountain Biking South Africa offer tailor-made mountain trips – with budgetary options of basic, medium, or exclusive – in the Eastern and Western Cape where there are countless breaktaking (literally and figuratively) routes to be explored. They operate out of the beautiful Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route.MTBiker is loaded with a wide variety of information, including on tracks all around the country, which are submitted by mountain bikers themselves. There is also a forum, a blog, events calendar, classifieds, general news and news on equipment.MTB Online features information on trails, races, clubs, shops, products, and holidays. There are reviews and information about maintenance, riding skills, and news. Trails may also be searched by province and links to cycling-related blogs are provided.MTBSA.CO.ZA features a race calendar; a list of MTB clubs; info on trails, which is available by clicking on towns, and other fun stuff. MTBROUTES.CO.ZA lists routes in the different provinces, with an overview, fast facts about each route, and the level of difficulty. It also lists events and has articles on other adventure sports too. The Oak Valley Mountain Biking Experience, located on the Oak Valley Wine Estate, offers three mountain bike routes, including the 14-kilometre Green Route for the family, a 21-kilometre Red Route for stronger riders, and the 25- kilometre Black Route for more advanced riders. The scenery is outstanding and the routes include a lot of singletrack.Olifants Camp – Kruger National Park trails are offered in the north of the world famous game reserve. Up to six people at a time can be accommodated , with two qualified and armed field guides leading the way. The Olifants Camp supplies mountain bikes, backpacks, water bottles, helmets and snacks. Three trail options are available. Outeniqua Biking Trails offer tailor-made tours and trails, ranging from half-a-day to multi-day tours on the picturesque Garden Route. Bikes are also available for hire. Groups of from four to six people, aged 18 to 55 years, are the norm. All guides are SATOUR registered and experienced cyclists.Paarl MTB presents rides in Franschoek and its surrounds. There are 24 choices of routes, ranging from 19 kilometres in length to 134 kilometres. Extensive information on each route is available, including maps and gradients.The Pedal Power Association is the largest cycling association in South Africa and includes over 16 000 paid members. Its website offers a section on mountain biking that includes news, a calendar, and a number of routes in the Western Cape, which is where the Pedal Power Association has its offices.The thehubsa.co.za is South Africa’s leading cycling forum. It is always busy with many visitors and it’s a place where social cyclists are able to interact with the country’s top pros. It’s also the place to go for breaking news in South African cycling.The Cycle Travel Company is located in Johannesburg and is proudly affiliated with South African Tour de France cyclist Robbir Hunter. They offer tours not only throughout South Africa, but throughout the world. Both mountain bikers and road cyclists are catered for. In addition, multi sport tour options, including horse riding and golf, are offered.Treadmag is a magazine that focuses exclusively on mountain biking, delivering content that is relevant to South Africa, as well as being entertaining and informative. Find out where to get it under the list of stockists on the website.Xcape Biking Tours provides guided one-day or multi-day cycle trips for MTB, downhill and road cyclists of reasonable fitness. They arrange travel, accomodation, meals and onwards journeys. They also host training camps.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

What Exactly Is a Low-Load Home?

first_imgI found out last month that the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) is working on a new design manual.  You certainly know of some of their other manuals:  Manual J, Manual S, Manual D, Manual T… maybe even Manual P. They have quite a few others as well (H, Zr…) but now they’re working on one that will address a part of the market we encounter more and more often.  And that would be low-load homes.ACCA put out a call for volunteers to work on the manual in the spring of this year.  (Applications were due in April, so it’s too late to apply now.)  The objectives of the new manual, at least as specified in the call for volunteers, are:Defining low-load homes’ characteristics (i.e., low infiltration, sealed-combustion appliances, ducts in conditioned space, low CFM exhaust fans, etc.).Resolving ventilation requirements (for occupant health and safety) while maintaining moisture control.Addressing ancillary dehumidification equipment for humid locations.Offering air distribution strategies for occupant comfort; especially problematic when a 2,000 square foot home (and larger) may only need one-ton of air conditioning (hence, only 400 cfm of total airflow is available). 1,500 square feet per ton of coolingAt the ASHRAE conference in Houston, I spoke with someone who’s on the task force and was told they’re defining a low-load home as a house that has a house-size-to-load ratio of 1,500 square feet per ton or greater.  That sounds about right to me.  At the low end, that means a 2,000 square foot house would need only about 16,000 BTU per hour of heating or cooling capacity. That’s an air conditioner or heat pump smaller than 1.5 ton!And that’s just the starting point for low-load homes.  We’ve done load calculations for homes that are in the 2,500 to 3,000 square feet per ton range.  (See my 2016 article with data from our results.)  Here we’re talking about a 2,000 square foot home that needs less than a ton of cooling. As the objectives above point out, heating or cooling 2,000 square feet with 400 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of air flow is a challenge.This is an important issue because manufacturers have been slow to make low-capacity equipment for low-load homes.  Yeah, I know what some of you are thinking:  Why should manufacturers make smaller equipment since low-load homes are just a tiny niche in the larger market?Condos and apartments have low loadsAh, but that’s not really true.  Low-load homes may be a tiny niche among single-family detached homes but not when you get to multifamily homes (apartments and condos).  Because of all the adiabatic walls, floors, and ceilings (i.e. parts of the building enclosure with no temperature difference and thus no heat flow across them), many multifamily dwelling units hit that low-load threshold of 1,500 s.f./ton simply by meeting code. And to make it even worse, they’re smaller and thus need smaller equipment — even when they’re not that efficient.Back in 2012, Professor John Straube gave a full-day presentation on mechanical systems for low-load homes at Building Science Corporation’s Experts’ Session.  He’s a Canadian and gave only a number for heating, but he defined a low-load home as one having a peak heating load of 15,000 to 30,000 BTU/hour. Most code-compliant multifamily dwellings would be there or lower.Homes meeting the Passive House standard have low loads, tooPassive House is the ultimate low-load home program.  They’re all about increasing the insulation and airtightness while decreasing the heat transfer through thermal bridges.  Their requirements result in homes with heating and cooling loads in the range of 2,500 to 3,000 s.f./ton.The German Passivhaus program’s peak heating load limit is 3.2 BTU/hour/s.f. Converting to s.f./(12,000 BTU/hour) yields 3,750 s.f./ton. (One ton of heating or cooling equals 12,000 BTU per hour.)  I believe the PHI peak cooling load is the same with an allowance for dehumidification. PHIUS peak load limits vary by location (since they believe one size does not fit all).  Peak heating load thresholds vary from less than 2 BTU/hour/s.f. to about 7 BTU/hour/s.f. Those numbers convert to 1,700 s.f./ton to 6,000 s.f./ton.The PHIUS peak cooling loads are specified two ways.  There’s one limit for the Passive House calculations and a different limit for the Manual J calculations.  In Anchorage, Alaska, for example, those numbers are 2.6 BTU/hour/s.f. (4,615 s.f./ton) and 3.7 BTU/hour/s.f. (3,243 s.f./ton) respectively.  In Scottsdale, Arizona, the numbers are 7.9 BTU/hour/s.f. (1,519 s.f./ton) and 11.3 BTU/hour/s.f. (1,062 s.f./ton).Here in the Atlanta area, the numbers are 4.8 BTU/hour/s.f. (2,500 s.f./ton) and 6.9 BTU/hour/s.f. (1,739 s.f./ton). (Here’s the link to the PHIUS map should you want to check it out.)Heating and cooling with minisplit heat pumpsIn our HVAC design work at Energy Vanguard, our clients often end up going with something other than conventional equipment for the homes with really low loads.  Ducted and ductless minisplit heat pumps, mostly Mitsubishi, are the standard choice in those cases. (Disclosure: Mitsubishi is an advertiser in the Energy Vanguard Blog.)In the world of green building, we talk about low-load homes a lot.  We know it’s possible.  We’ve been proving it for a long time now.  But we’ve been a small niche in the market.  With the pressures of improving energy codes, accelerating climate change, and increasing multifamily construction, low-load homes are making their presence known.  That the HVAC contractors’ trade association, ACCA, is working on a low-load homes manual proves it. Allison Bailes of Decatur, Georgia, is a speaker, writer, building science consultant, and the author of the Energy Vanguard Blog. You can follow him on Twitter at @EnergyVanguard. RELATED ARTICLESChoosing HVAC Equipment for an Energy-Efficient HomeHeating a Tight, Well-Insulated HouseHeating Options for a Small HomeFinally, a Right-Sized FurnaceUsing a Tankless Water Heater for Space Heat Will Minisplits Replace Forced-Air Heating and Cooling Systems?Just Two Minisplits Heat and Cool the Whole HouseMechanical Systems for Low-Load Buildingslast_img read more

Instagram Now Lets You Tag Friends, Brands And Selfies (Of Course)

first_imgIf you’ve got a lot of selfies, your tapping finger is in for a major workout. Today, Instagram pushed version 3.5 of its app to the iOS App Store and Google Play — and it’s a big one for brands and users alike. Instagram 3.5 adds the ability to tag other Instagrammers in the photos you take. Unlike Facebook, where photo tagging has been routine for years, Instagram devotees have relied on a bare-bones system of @tags in the comments section below photos to give other users the heads-up that a given image is relevant to them.I asked an Instagram rep if the new tagging feature is a play for making more money off mobile use — a revenue stream Facebook has square in its crosshairs. The company denies it: “At this time Instagram isn’t focused on monetization. [Instagram] rolled out this new feature because it was a missing piece to let people tell their stories… and to make it easier to add people and things to photos.”According to Instagram’s business blog:Photos of You also gives people a new way to explore photos of your business or brand. People can now add their favorite band to their concert photos from last night, the clothing brand they’re currently wearing or the coffee roaster who brews their morning cup of coffee. As a business or brand, Photos of You gives you a new way to curate and share the photos that best showcase your brand your brand[sic] as documented by your biggest fans.Instagram’s Biggest Update In, Well, As Long As We Can Remember  Related Posts Tags:#apps#Instagram#photo sharing#social media#social networks Instagram hasn’t made many major overhauls to its winning formula since launching in October 2010. Over the course of the last year, the app has trickled in a few new photo filters, a map view and a web interface, but not too much has changed — even after the great Instagram ToS debacle of last December.Considering the level of loyalty that the company enjoys — particularly when compared to peers like its oft-disdained parent company — not tinkering with its recipe is smart. But, happily, so is this update.Since version 3.5 was a simultaneous launch across platforms, Android and iPhone users eager to get their tag on can download the new app now. Update 3.5 also boasts improvements to image quality for photos uploaded on Android 4.0 and above (a relief for any Instagrammers who wonder why those Android photos never look quite right). Once you’ve got it downloaded, a pop-up will point to the new section, which lives on the far-right profile button (click the little image that looks like a driver’s license).In the profile view, you’ll be greeted with a very Facebook-like silhouette of a person, again on the far right. This “photos of you” section compiles exactly that, though it will remain private until May 16 to give you time to pick your best selfie angles and curate accordingly.  Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verificationcenter_img taylor hatmaker Why Brands Should Be Taking NotesWhile other recent feature tweaks haven’t shaken things up too much for Instagram, version 3.5 has all the trappings of a game-changer. Users will be pleased to have photos taken of them heaped into one neat little memory pile, while brands should be thrilled with their higher visibility on the young advertising platform. With photo tagging enabled, Instagram’s platform should provide some unique perspectives on brand reach and the demographics of who is engaging and why. Plenty of brands have launched heavy-handed hashtag campaigns in an effort to figure out what makes Instagram users — ahem, potential customers — tick. Now, with the tagging feature, Instagram users will have a natural incentive to tag not just the “who”, but the “what” and “where,” too. Which should, in turn, spur more businesses to rev up their Instagramming.But just remember, brands: Keep it real. An awkward hashtag is a fate worse than a grainy, Hefe-filtered selfie. The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Auditlast_img read more

Video: Jordan Brand Has Signed Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey, Baylor’s Corey Coleman

first_imgJalen Ramsey celebrating with a Florida State teammate.CHESTNUT HILL, MA – SEPTEMBER 28: P.J. Williams #26 of the Florida State Seminoles celebrates his interception with Jalen Ramsey #13 against the Boston College Eagles in the second half at Alumni Stadium on September 28, 2013 in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)Jordan Brand may have started on the hardwood but the company has inked an impressive lineup of NFL players in recent years. Two players who will hear their names called tonight just became the latest to join the Jordan family. Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey, a potential top-five pick, and Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman have signed with Jordan. Their arrival was announced with this very cool hype video.Jalen Ramsey and Corey Coleman were grinding all season. Now, they join the @jumpman23 family. #WEAREJORDAN https://t.co/BAihKNGQvl— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) April 28, 2016Other Jordan NFL players have included Andre Johnson, Dez Bryant, Charles Woodson, Dwight Freeney and others.last_img read more

College towns feel pinch from rental sites like Airbnb

first_imgCAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Time was when renting an apartment in one of this college town’s funky triple-deckers or two-family homes wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg.Now, renting in Cambridge can feel like that — something critics say is made tougher by short-term rental websites like Airbnb, through which property owners can make more money renting out apartments or homes by the night instead of a yearlong lease.The debate over services like Airbnb — often criticized for essentially turning apartments into hotel rooms, putting upward pressure on housing costs and driving out longer-term tenants who can’t afford rising rents — has raged for years in major cities. But it is also keenly felt in event-heavy college towns, particularly ones that also are tourist destinations or are near them, like Cambridge, next to Boston.Jennifer McConnell, a high school Spanish teacher who rents out rooms in her Cambridge brownstone through Airbnb, said she’d otherwise have trouble covering her expenses.“It’s been a game changer both financially, because it’s allowed me to stay in my home, but also emotionally because it’s filled up my home with guests,” said McConnell, whose guests included a woman from Germany who stayed for seven weeks while taking a graduate course at Harvard.Short-term rentals have caused enough concern in Cambridge that the city council last month approved new regulations requiring people offering short-term rentals to live in the same building and undergo an inspection once every five years.Picturesque Boulder, home to the University of Colorado, last year began requiring property owners to have a license to rent to visitors. Evanston, Illinois, a Chicago suburb that is home to Northwestern University, also has beefed up rules on rentals of less than 30 days.Massachusetts Lodging Association President Paul Sacco hailed the Cambridge rules, saying they’re needed to prevent “illegal hotels” in the city.Airbnb said it is not to blame for spiking housing costs. Only a small percentage of the Cambridge housing stock — about 140 homes or apartments — are rented through its website for more than 172 nights a year, it said. That’s Airbnb’s estimate for someone who is effectively doing short-term rental as a business.Interest in renting rooms through Airbnb often jumps during graduation or a big football game, said Will Burns, public policy director for Airbnb.Visiting scholars and families of college students also fill rooms. In Cambridge, an annual rowing event on the Charles River also creates demand.In the past 12 months, Airbnb said, there have been 90,000 guest arrivals in Cambridge through its service in the city of about 110,000.Kirsten Rulf, a 36-year-old research fellow at Harvard Law School, said she used Airbnb for two weeks in August 2015 before finding permanent housing. The small, furnished room in a larger apartment cost her $1,500 for 14 nights, she said.“For me that was the best option, because hotels are super expensive, especially in August,” said Rulf, who hails from Mendig, Germany.A tour of Airbnb’s website reveals how much of a draw colleges are — at least according to those trying to rent out rooms.“Perfect spot to visit MIT, Harvard, BU (Boston University),” reads one ad. “The house is within walking distance to the Princeton University Campus,” reads another ad. A third boasts, “Great ‘shotgun’ style apartment on a nice street in New Haven which is a short ( 5min) walk to Yale.”Some institutions, including Boston’s Emerson College, have even busted students for trying to rent out dorm rooms.An agreement on graduate housing at Yale University states that while students are allowed to have guests for short visits, “Guests who pay rent and/or guests found through Airbnb or similar arrangements are prohibited.”In Cambridge, the median rent has soared to a daunting $3,000 a month, according to real estate data provider Zillow. In Boston, which sees its population swell every September when students flock back, the median rent is $2,700.According to Zillow, the median monthly rent in Evanston is nearly $1,700. The rent in Ithaca, New York — hub of the touristy Finger Lakes region and home to Cornell University — is about $1,600, according to the real estate firm Trulia.A 2014 report by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman found “private short-term rentals displaced long-term housing in thousands of apartments” in New York City.McConnell, the Cambridge resident who opens her home to Airbnb clients, said she’s OK with the city’s regulations but isn’t thrilled about the inspections. She said she also doesn’t fault Airbnb for the city’s soaring housing and rental costs.“The middle class person has a hard time finding a place,” she said. “I don’t blame that on Airbnb. People couldn’t afford to rent those places anyway.”last_img read more

Victoriabased AggregateIQ Data Services denies link to Facebook data scandal

first_imgVANCOUVER – A small Victoria, B.C.-based tech firm has found itself mired in a privacy scandal unfolding in Europe as it faces accusations that it played a role in influencing Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.AggregateIQ Data Services Ltd. is a digital advertising, web and software development company, according to its website.Whistleblowers claim the company is connected to efforts to circumvent election finance rules during the Brexit referendum and played an outsized role in the eventual win for the “leave” side.They say that VoteLeave violated the spending limit rules by donating 625,000 pounds (about C$1.1 million) to the pro-Brexit student group BeLeave, then sending the money directly to AggregateIQ.One of the whistleblowers, Christopher Wylie, claims he helped found AggregateIQ while he worked for SCL, which is the parent company of Cambridge Analytica. Wylie also alleges that Cambridge Analytica used data harvested from more than 50-million Facebook users to help U.S. President Donald Trump win the 2016 election.Wylie told the digital, culture, media and sport committee of the U.K. Parliament that he “absolutely” believed AggregateIQ drew on Cambridge Analytica’s databases for its work on the official Vote Leave campaign.“I think it is incredibly reasonable to say that AIQ played a very significant role in Leave winning,” he said.The campaign appears to have previously verified the company’s role in its success.“Without a doubt, the Vote Leave campaign owes a great deal of its success to the work of AggregateIQ. We couldn’t have done it without them,” reads a quote from Dominic Cummings, a Vote Leave campaign director, on a cached version of AggregateIQ’s website.AggregateIQ did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment and its listed office line went unanswered and did not connect to a voicemail service.The company denies any connection to Cambridge Analytica in a statement posted on its website on March 24 and said it works in full legal and regulatory compliance in the jurisdictions where it operates.“AggregateIQ has never been and is not a part of Cambridge Analytica or SCL”, reads the statement, adding that it never entered into a contract with Cambridge Analytica or employed Wylie.“It has never knowingly been involved in any illegal activity,” it said. “All work AggregateIQ does for each client is kept separate from every other client.”However, a cached version of SCL’s website shows it once listed a Canadian office located in Victoria. The phone number listed leads to Zackary Massingham, AggregateIQ’s president since 2011, according to his LinkedIn page. He did not respond to a voicemail left at that number.AggregateIQ’s website also previously included a statement defending the company against allegations it used Cambridge Analytica’s Facebook data.The company said it “has never managed, nor did we ever have access to, any Facebook data or database allegedly obtained improperly by Cambridge Analytica.” That statement has since been removed from the website.— With files from the Associated PressFollow @AleksSagan on Twitter.last_img read more