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Press release: New measures to back British shale gas exploration

first_imgThe package includes: Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said: Read the Written Ministerial Statement. Streamlining and improving the regulation process for shale applications to ensure decisions are made in a timely way and developers and local authorities are supported through the process. This will include setting up a Shale Environmental Regulator and new Planning Brokerage Service which would focus exclusively on the planning process and will have no role in the consideration or determination of planning applications. The service will not comment on the merits of a case and will also have no role in the appeals process. Launching a new £1.6 million shale support fund over the next 2 years to build capacity and capability in local authorities dealing with shale applications Holding a consultation on the principle of whether the early stages of shale exploration should be treated as permitted development, and in particular on the circumstances in which this might be appropriate Consulting on the criteria required to trigger the inclusion of shale production projects into the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regimecenter_img British shale gas has the potential to help lower bills and increase the security of the UK’s energy supply while creating high quality jobs in a cutting-edge sector. This package of measures delivers on our manifesto promise to support shale and it will ensure exploration happens in the most environmentally responsible way while making it easier for companies and local communities to work together. A new package of measures to deliver on the government’s manifesto pledge to continue supporting the development of British shale gas was announced today (Thursday 17 May) as part of the modern Industrial Strategy, by Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry and Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government James Brokenshire.last_img read more

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Football hits 1993’s record

first_img9-0. To those Notre Dame alumni who were here during the 1993 football season, this record feels familiar. On Nov. 13, 1993, a 9-0 Fighting Irish team ranked No. 2 in the country defeated No. 1 ranked Florida State at home, 31-24, in the “Game of the Century,” and the No. 1 sign atop Grace Hall lit up the next day. “I’ll never forget after we won the game when that No. 1 lit up,” 1994 alum Steve Camilleri said. “It wasn’t there for very long, but to have that No. 1 light up when you’re a student at Notre Dame, especially during your senior year – It’s really special.” One week later, Boston College dashed the 10-0 Irish’s hopes for an undefeated season on a game-winning field goal in the final seconds of the game, and the No. 1 light went out. “[At the Boston College game] there was a sense of exhaustion I think all around in the student body, in the fans and in the team, because the Florida State game had been such an effort and such an undertaking for everyone,” 1994 alum and University photographer Matt Cashore said. “I think everyone was just a little flat.” As this year’s 9-0 team travels to Chestnut Hill, Mass., to reprise the “Holy War” on Saturday, Camilleri said he expects a different result. “This Notre Dame team that we’re putting on the field Saturday night in Boston is not going to lose to this Boston College team,” Camilleri said. “It’s just not going to happen.” Despite hopes for a win over Boston College this year, Camilleri said he sees a lot of parallels between his senior football season and this one. “I’ve been in the stands at all the home games this year. I was at the game in Chicago when we played Miami, and I just felt a lot like I did back in 1993,” he said. “There’s just a real excitement and an energy that’s as heightened as it’s ever been since 1993.” While previous Notre Dame teams in the late 1980s and early 1990s had been consistently ranked in the top 10, Cashore said students expected the 1993 season to be a “wait and see year.” Quarterback Rick Mirer had just graduated, and promising freshman quarterback Ron Powlus had broken his collarbone before the season began. But senior quarterback Kevin McDougal shone in the second game of the season with a 27-23 win against Michigan, a game Notre Dame was expected to lose, and Cashore said that changed the momentum of the season. “They didn’t expect much out of Kevin McDougal, and the Michigan game was his chance to show what he could do and the team’s chance to show that they were going to exceed expectations,” Cashore said. Many fans also began this season skeptical of the team’s ability and uncertain over who would be taking the snaps. This time sophomore quarterback Everett Golson stepped up to show he could lead the offense, Camilleri said. “The way the team bounced back last weekend against Pittsburgh, they found a way to win,” he said. “Everett Golson found a way to win.” Confident in Golson’s leadership, many fans started looking forward to a national championship as this year’s undefeated record continues, just as in 1993. “Everyone was going ahead booking plane reservations for whatever the bowl game would be for the national championship … and suddenly snapped awake in the fourth quarter [of the Boston College game],” Cashore said. While the loss to Boston College didn’t completely squash the 1993 team’s chances for a national championship, Florida State ended up winning, despite a loss to the Irish earlier in the season. “We felt like we deserved to be the national champion because we beat the team that became the national champion,” Camilleri said. “We were disappointed, but we weren’t disappointed in our team. We were disappointed in how our team got voted. I think some of us still think we were the national champion that year.” Cashore said most students’ reaction to the national championship snub was to say, “We’ll be back.” “There was a sense that … this is a place that will always be in contention for a national championship,” Cashore said. “We certainly didn’t have the sense of, ‘Well, that was the last chance for 20 years to do that.’ … No one foresaw the bad string of almost 20 years that happened.” While the pressure is on for the 2012 team to reclaim the national championship title that was just out of reach for their 1993 counterparts, Camilleri, executive director of the South Bend Center for the Homeless, said win or lose, the two Notre Dame football teams are united by their players’ unique concern for the community. “I’ve been fortunate to get to know some of the players because they volunteer at the Center for the Homeless. … They are just an incredible group,” Camilleri said. “Much like the team I knew in ’93 who were friends of mine, this team is very deeply involved in helping out their surrounding community, and that is one of the best comparisons we can make.” Contact Tori Roeck at [email protected]last_img read more

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Here Comes The FXFL …New developmental league launching in fall

first_imgIn this Oct. 4, 2009, file photo, Chicago Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris (91) celebrate with Charles Tillman, left, after an interception during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Chicago. Former NFL players Tommie Harris and Eric Bassey are the first owners of a team in the new FXFL developmental league, which plans to launch in October as a developmental league, with no NFL affiliation but with lots of intriguing ideas. Harris and Bassey will own the Austin franchise, with other teams to be located in the New York and Boston areas; Omaha, Nebraska; Portland, Oregon; and a city in Florida yet to be determined. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)NEW YORK (AP) — Six teams, 40-man rosters, limited salaries — and perhaps no punts, kickoffs or extra-point placements.A home for players who can’t crack the big time to hone their skills for another shot at the NFL. Maybe even a place for collegians not yet eligible for the NFL to grow their games.The Fall Experimental Football League plans to launch in October as a developmental league, with no NFL affiliation but with lots of intriguing ideas.“Given the current Division I landscape in football and the collective bargaining agreement the NFL has with the union, there is more than ever a need for another platform out there,” says Brian Woods, the FXFL commissioner. “A platform like for basketball and baseball players.“Pro football has nothing. The NFL has the practice squad, but it does not develop players because they don’t get into games. You don’t develop if you aren’t getting on the field.”In this image released by the Fall Experimental Football League shows the league’s logo. (AP Photo/Fall Experimental Football League)Woods, an attorney who played at Mississippi and coached as a graduate assistant at Iowa State, wouldn’t mind having a tie-in with the big boys, but that’s not immediately on the agenda. The FXFL will field teams in the New York and Boston areas; Austin, Texas; Portland, Oregon; Omaha, Nebraska; and in Florida. No city has been announced for the Florida franchise.Former NFL players Tommie Harris, a three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle, and Eric Bassey have purchased the Austin franchise.In this Aug. 1, 2008, file photo, St. Louis Rams cornerback Eric Bassey takes part in drills during NFL football training camp at Concordia University in Mequon, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)The teams will play six games this fall in minor league baseball stadiums, with an emphasis on gaining experience. The main idea is to advance the talents of players, coaches, officials and front office executives, something NFL football operations chief Troy Vincent said in April his league is looking into for the future.“Our long-term goal is to establish a partnership with the NFL,” Woods says, “and we feel can do that on many platforms. It would give them a way to work with younger players that they don’t currently have. We can help them train prospective NFL officials — in the NBA, every referee entering the league (in recent years) comes from NBA Developmental League.“We can be a testing ground for proposed rules, too.”That’s where the FXFL’s creation gets particularly noteworthy. The status quo, on and off the field, will not necessarily apply.The league is contemplating eliminating the kicking game, which might take away excitement with no kickoff or punt returns, but add fan enthusiasm for extra points, which would be a required 2-point conversion.“We’ll get a chance to experiment,” says Bassey, a former Rams defensive back, “and doing a little bit of everything here.”That would include looking at college underclassmen and even high school players, a no-no for the NFL.Mainly, the core of FXFL players will be no more than two years removed from their college careers, with the majority coming from that year’s draft class. That would include players cut in training camp or those who never even got a look from the NFL.That approach would not impact the NCAA, and the league says it won’t actively recruit players who are still enrolled. But Woods explains that some players could come from the ranks the NFL doesn’t touch.“We are not ruling out the possibility of working with players who have hardships,” he said. “We’ll look at it on case-by-case basis. There might even be a situation for a player right out of high school who might not want to go to college.”The FXFL has a television deal in the works, Woods said, but details have not been released. Games will be played on weeknights, mostly Wednesdays, although the league is considering some Friday night contests in its Northeast locations where high school football is not overwhelmingly popular.To enhance local interest, the league will give each team territorial rights, so the Austin franchise has first shot at players from Texas, for example.Salaries will be $1,000 a week for the players. Coaches will draw from a pool of around $110,000 for the staff.Woods and the team owners will work on setting up host families for the players, similar to what minor league baseball and hockey do. That saves on costs, but also makes the players more a part of the community.“This league will provide the opportunity for players who otherwise might not get it,” Bassey says. “There’s those 100-150 players who don’t get drafted and this would be a perfect opportunity for them. We’re talking about extremely good athletes, and we will set up a platform for those guys to get an opportunity to prove themselves.“Sometimes they are not ready to play at that pace of the NFL when they get out of school. Maybe they just need that one year or two years that we can provide. Or the environment in college might not have been a proper forum for them.”last_img read more

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Mahomes throws 6 TDs, Chiefs hold off Steelers 42-37

first_imgPITTSBURGH (AP) — Patrick Mahomes tied a franchise record with six touchdown passes and the Kansas City Chiefs put on an impressive offensive display in a 42-37 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) plays in the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright) The 22-year-old Mahomes finished 23 of 28 for 326 yards in his third career start as the Chiefs (2-0) won in Pittsburgh for the first time since 1986. Mahomes has 10 touchdown passes through two weeks, the most ever by a quarterback through two games in NFL history.Trevor Kelce caught seven passes for 109 yards and two scores. Tyreek Hill, Chris Conley, Kareem Hunt and Demarcus Robinson also hauled in touchdown passes as the Chiefs recovered in the second half after blowing an early 21-pont lead.Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger shook off an achy right elbow that limited him in practice during the week, completing 39 of 60 passes for 452 yards and three touchdowns. The 36-year-old also leapt into the end zone for a 3-yard score with 1:59 to go that got the Steelers (0-1-1) within five.Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, right, makes a catch for a touchdown in front of Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Kendall Fuller (23) in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)Rather than attempt an onside kick, Pittsburgh sent it deep. Two runs by Hunt gave Kansas City a big first down and Steelers linebacker Tyler Matakevich was flagged for roughing the punter as the Chiefs ended a six-game losing streak in Pittsburgh.It might be the first of several turnarounds by the Chiefs, who made the surprising decision trade away veteran Alex Smith in the offseason and place the franchise in the hands of untested but strong-armed Mahomes.So far, so very, very good.A week after throwing for four scores in a victory over the Chargers, Mahomes picked up right where he left off. He needed just 13 minutes to toss three touchdowns as the Chiefs built a quick 21-0 lead, the last one a flip in the flat to Hunt in which the running back walked through a tackle by rookie safety Terrell Edmunds and into the end zone.The Steelers received the break they needed to get back into the game when a Roethlisberger fumble that resulted in a Kansas City touchdown was waved off due to a defensive penalty. Pittsburgh reeled off touchdowns on its next three possessions to pull even at the break.The Steelers stalled a bit in the second half. Mahomes did not.A nifty toe-tap by Robinson in the back of the end zone put Kansas City up 35-28 with 3:15 left in the third quarter and Kansas City’s next possession ended with Mahomes getting the ball to Hill, who darted 29 yards to the end zone.center_img STATS AND MORE STATSThe six touchdown passes by Mahomes tied the most ever allowed by the Steelers in franchise history. Buffalo Bills Hall of Famer Jim Kelly threw six against Pittsburgh in 1991. … Pittsburgh tight end Jesse James set a career-high with 138 yards receiving. … Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown caught nine passes for 67 yards, becoming the fastest player in NFL history to cross the 750-career reception total (117 games). … Roethlisberger moved past John Elway and into seventh for career passing yards. … The Chiefs scored six touchdowns and had just 27:49 time of possession. Their longest scoring drive lasted just 3:57. … Mahomes’ six scores tied Len Dawson’s franchise mark set in 1964 against Denver when the Chiefs played in the American Football League.INJURIESChiefs: Get well Eric Berry. The veteran safety remains out with a sore heel and Kansas City’s defensive backfield hasn’t exactly stepped up in his absence. The Chiefs have allowed 870 yards in the air through two games. Part of the blame — if that’s the word — can be placed on opponents playing catch-up after getting buried early by Mahomes and company.Steelers: Pittsburgh’s secondary badly missed cornerback Joe Haden, who sat out with a strained right hamstring. There appeared to be communication issues all over the place early on, particularly when it came to finding a way to guard Kelce.UP NEXTChiefs: Welcome San Francisco to Arrowhead Stadium in their 2018 home opener next Sunday.Steelers: Head to Tampa Bay for a Monday night meeting with the Buccaneers on Sept. 24.___More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFLlast_img read more

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Best Children’s Picture Books of 2013

first_imgFacebook14Tweet0Pin0 Submitted by Timberland Regional LibraryTimberland Regional Library staff select the best of the best at annual gatheringLast Thursday Timberland Regional Library (TRL) staff gathered, as they do each December, to peruse many of the year’s best picture books for children. From them, they named TRL’s choice of illustrator of the most distinguished picture book published this year in the United States.Twenty-four participants examined 70 books that were either nominated by staff throughout the library system, or received starred reviews, or both. Then five groups selected three finalists each. “Energy was high and defense of each of the 15 finalists was tough,” said Ellen Duffy, TRL Youth Services Coordinator.In the end, Aaron Becker’s “Journey” was voted the winner. The book follows a lonely girl on an elaborate flight of fancy in a wondrously illustrated, wordless picture book about self-determination and unexpected friendship. Here is the full list of winners and finalists:Winner:JOURNEY, Aaron Becker, author & illustrator, (Candlewick Press)Honor Books:MR. TIGER GOES WILD, Peter Brown, author & illustrator (Little, Brown)THE STORY OF FISH & SNAIL, Deborah Freedman, author & illustrator (Viking)THE DARK, Lemony Snicket, author; Jon Klassen, illustrator (Little, Brown)The other finalists:ODD DUCK, Cecil Castellucci & Sara Varon, co-illustrators & authors (First Second)HANK FINDS AN EGG, Rebecca Dudley, illustrator & author (Peter Pauper)PAPA’S MECHANICAL FISH, Candace Fleming, author; Boris Kulikov, illustrator (Farrar, Straus Giroux)CHU’S DAY, Neil Gaiman, author; Adam Rex, illustrator (Harper)FROG SONG, Brenda Guiberson, author; Gennady Spirin, illustrator (Henry Holt)HOW TO BE A CAT, Nikki McClure, author & illustrator (Abrams Appleseed)THE TORTOISE & THE HARE, Jerry Pinkney, author & illustrator (Little, Brown)THE WATERMELON SEED, Greg Pizzoli, author & illustrator (Hyperion)BUGS IN MY HAIR! David Shannon, author & illustrator (Blue Sky Press)WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING, Eileen Spinelli, author; David A. Johnson, illustrator (Eerdmans)BLUEBIRD, Bob Staake, author & illustrator (Schwartz & Wade)TRL staff try to predict the winners and honor books for the Randolph Caldecott Medal awards that are announced each January at the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Conference. The medal goes to the artist of the most distinguished picture book for children published in the United States during the preceding year.Library staff used the same criteria as the judges for the Caldecott Medal:Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed;Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept;Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept;Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures;Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.“Now we’ll wait with bated breath until the actual Caldecott winner and honor books are announced,” said Duffy, “Will one of our titles be included?”Numerous other booklists compiled by TRL staff for all ages are to be found at www.TRL.org.last_img read more

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The Impact of Ebola in Liberia and Its Post Recovery Challenges

first_imgSalutation/ Introduction:Thank you Dr. Contis for your kind introduction.  The people of Liberia are grateful for the work your organization has conducted to strengthen Liberia’s health care system and the support of the American people as Liberia struggles to recover from the devastating impact of Ebola.Thank you Dr. Betancourt, The Universal Peace Federation and The Washington Times for the invitation and the opportunity to inform members of the global community about the health and development challenges that Liberia and the neighboring countries of Guinea and Sierra Leone are struggling to overcome.Congressman Williams, on behalf of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the government and people of Liberia,  we thank the United States and your generous support through the deployment of U.S. military personnel from your Congressional district to construct 17 (100-bed containment units), as well as the other work US military personnel are doing to strengthen the health infrastructure in Liberia. We are also profoundly indebted to the private sector, the public health community, and humanitarian organizations for their assistance. Distinguished invited guests,Liberia has come a long way; a small country on the West Coast of Africa, just about the size of the State of Ohio. Founded by freed American slaves in 1822, Liberia continues to enjoy a historic relations with the United States. In fact, the United States remains the most important development partner of Liberia.Since March 2014, nearly every hour the media has reported increasingly grim details about the fierce threat and devastating impact of Ebola.  The World Health Organization has estimated that Ebola will affect 1.4 million lives, if proper corrective measures were not instituted.  While we do not doubt the WHO estimate, we do know that the impact of the disease is not just measured in human lives.  The Ebola outbreak has a variety of consequences – and unfortunately – all of them are grim – and some of them will even be felt by those participating in this forum.One of my most important concerns as Liberia’s diplomatic representative to the United States is that we must control the panic factor to prevent Liberia from becoming forever dependent on the donor community and to encourage the private sector to not lose faith in our ability to be investment worthy.Prior to the outbreak of Ebola, there were only 50 medical doctors in Liberia, a few dentists and one psychiatrist for the entire population of 4.1 million people.  A 14-year-civil war destroyed the country and devastated its infrastructure and claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people, displaced about one million of its citizens. The country experienced a huge brain drain. Therefore, when the deadly Ebola virus hit Liberia, our system was overwhelmed and could not contain the virus and stop its spread.The Ebola virus disease has claimed the lives of 2,800 people, including 131 healthcare workers, leaving about 3,000 orphans behind and about 5,000 currently infected.  We applaud the support of the United States and the international community, and should like to report of a recent decline in the outbreak of new cases. We, however, like to reiterate that much more is needed to be done to eradicate the virus.Therefore, a compelling case can be made for an accelerated international response to eliminate Ebola by working with us to rebuild our health infrastructure, provide critical supplies and health services (including the further development  of a vaccine), and as important – by investing in systems and sectors to ensure economic stability and security for Liberia and the region.Friends of Liberia and our dear partners, since the end of the civil war, Liberia has been making steady progress towards economic resurgence. Liberia was beginning to be regarded as a post-conflict success story in Africa, consolidating its peace and democracy.  Political stability created the enabling environment for foreign investment in iron ore, maritime, rubber industry, tourism, and construction of ocean front resorts, as well as, infrastructure (particularly telecommunications and energy).Unfortunately, Ebola – and its wide ranging multi-sector impact, has plunged Liberia into limbo, both in terms of economic development and geo-political insecurity.  In 2013, Liberia was among the top 10 countries with the highest GDP growth rate. Its GDP was expected to grow by 5.9% in 2014, but the expected gain has been reversed to 2.5%.In addition to the enormous and tragic loss of human life, the Ebola epidemic is having devastating effects on the Liberian economy in a variety of essential sectors by halting trade, hurting agriculture and scaring investors. For example:a) Agriculture accounts for 39% of Liberia’s GDP. Disruptions from the outbreak will result in diminishing yields of Liberia’s staple food, such as rice and cassava. Prices of these commodities are already increasing exponentially. Such shocks will push inflation to 13% from 7% prior to the Ebola outbreak.b) Mining activity, which constitutes 14% of the economy is decreasing. China Union and ArcelorMittal are scaling down iron ore mining. c) Fiscal revenues will decline as limited economic activity reduces revenues from taxes, tariffs and custom duties. At the same time, to resolve the crisis and meet health and security needs of the people, government expenditure will increase, with a short-term fiscal impact of $93 million or 4.7% of GDP.Dear friends of Liberia,I have come here therefore, to gain the support that is essential to redevelop Liberia and restore its future.  Liberians are a resilient people – with help they can make it happen. While our immediate focus is on the eradication of the Ebola virus disease, we are equally concerned about post-Ebola recovery programs.These are the reasons that international aid must be sustained and new investment made for the growth and survival of Liberia:Ebola has made Liberia and the region vulnerable to bio-terrorism.  We have witnessed how bio-terrorism has undermined the security in other parts of the world.The Liberian family, ordinarily strong, responsible, and vibrant, has broken down.  Wage earners have lost their lives.  Children with no extended family are orphaned.  International human traffickers are preying on those women and children without the capacity to maintain themselves or lack of access to the few services currently available to assist them with this life transition.The infrastructure, particularly electricity, is not reliable and operates only a few hours each day, at a rate of 54 cents per kilo watt hour; perhaps, the highest in the world. Investment in solar energy to reduce the strain on the country’s power grid is essential in order to adequately support the containment units being built and restore Liberia’s business community. It is critical that Liberia and its neighboring countries develop the capacity to prevent future epidemics.  Failure to implement a comprehensive strategy to provide effective prevention mechanisms and life saving care not only helps to reduce deaths but ensures the confidence of the population that their government values human life and their family and the prosperity of the country.With continued help from the United States, people like you, and the donor community, frustration and civil disobedience and outside agitation will be stemmed.           Finally, ladies and gentlemen, friends of Liberia, the take away message today is that:We are not asking you to feel sorry for Liberia or to view it as a “basket case”.  We are asking you to believe in Liberia and value its history as an important U.S. allyWe are asking you to realize that unless the Ebola virus gets under control, the country is vulnerable for violence and discontent – and if that in fact occurs the country is destined for generations of poverty and will be ripe for crisis.If just every third person in this room is willing to contribute even one box of medical gloves, and companies take a risk with us to invest in Liberia’s private sector, the next time I address you I will be presenting a positive, encouraging report on Liberia’s resurgence.           Thank you for being concerned enough about this crisis to attend today. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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My Forays Into Multifamily Affordable Housing

first_imgAfter a decades-long career in high-end, single-family renovation and construction, and a relatively new business providing consulting and certification services for the same market, I recently became involved in several multifamily projects. Starting with National Green Building Standard (NGBS) certification on a market-rate apartment building that was completed in 2010, I am now in the early stages of LEED certification for several affordable projects throughout the southeast.First off, let me say that it is very exciting to see how much affordable housing is being built to green home standards. It appears to me that between various incentives available, and housing authorities recognizing how sustainable building can positively affect the long-term value of their properties, that high-performance housing is well entrenched in this sector. This is reinforced by current statistics from LEED for Homes showing that over 50% of their certified units are in the affordable sector.So What’s The Problem?For those of you who follow my other posts on this site under the Green Curmudgeon banner, you must be thinking, “when will he start whining about something?” Patience, gentle readers, we will get there soon enough.It is always been interesting to me to compare different projects and how they score in various rating systems. Since most green building programs provide significant incentives for density and location in walkable communities, multifamily urban projects tend to start out with a point advantage over less dense, more remote projects.The NGBS project was a 282-unit, eight-story concrete and steel-framed building. Since I was brought in fairly late in the process (just before insulation, actually), there were challenges in obtaining the certification. Budgeted for fiberglass batt insulation, we spent many weeks training, inspecting, and retraining their installers to aim for Grade 1 installation quality.Now anyone who has read my recent post on batt insulation knows, I am not a fan of batts, regardless off what they are made out of, and my experience with recent projects has done nothing to change my opinion.A Recurring ProblemThe same problem came up recently on another project, this one 100 units of affordable duplex gut renovations in Macon, Georgia, home of The Allman Brothers and Little Richard, among notables. This project, known as Felton Homes is an interesting project, consisting of a neighborhood of slab-on-grade, solid brick 1940s era buildings that are being gutted, slightly expanded, and completely remodeled.All the homes are planned to be certified as Energy Star, EarthCraft House, and LEED for Homes. Although I submitted my proposal for LEED certification months before, I was not brought in to start the process until the first building was just about ready for insulation, which leads to the first concern.The existing brick walls are being coated with 1½” of high-density spray foam between furring strips on both the interior and exterior, and the roofs will have low-density spray foam applied to create conditioned attics — both very good decisions. But here’s the rub — for some reason, they specified fiberglass batt insulation in the new exterior wall sections, of which there are very few. And to add to the problem, these walls are framed with metal studs, providing an excellent thermal bridge in the walls.Our first site inspection led to removal of every batt (thankfully not too many in this case) to point out gaps and compressions, and extended discussions with the project team about proper installation. Of course, the cost to upgrade to a spray or blown-in product came it too high to change, but they are still in negotiations on that subject. This is an example where a generally very well designed and specified project could have been even better had energy and green building consultants brought in early in the design process rather than as an afterthought.Anticipating a problemOn yet another project, 18 affordable townhomes in Chattanooga, Tennessee, also scheduled for LEED certification by myself and Abe Kruger of Kruger Sustainability Group, we were brought in towards the end of the design process, just as documents were being released for bids.In our discussions with the architect, we expressed our concerns with batt insulation, but they made it into the specs. Now, as construction is just getting ready to start, we are in discussions with the contractor and his insulation subcontractor about Grade 1 installation. While this quality was written into the specifications, it appears that the installer doesn’t really understand what it takes to achieve it, we are advising them to anticipate having to remove and reinstall most, if not all, of the batts for the first few buildings unit they get it right, and we are urging them to upgrade to a blown or spray product. It will be interesting to see how this resolves itself.Wasted Breath and Good DecisionsSometimes I feel like I am wasting a lot of breath going over the issues with batt installation with project teams, but in the case of Felton Homes, the day after we left the job site, I was copied on an e-mail from the project manager, directing his supervisor to remove the batts and install spray foam on the first two units in order to get ready to hang drywall. When the added cost of the spray foam was weighed against schedule delays, it came out the winner. Once I clearly communicated to the project team how difficult it would be to get Grade 1 quality, they made a good field decision.Interestingly, Grade 1 insulation is not a specific requirement of LEED for Homes, while it is necessary to achieve EarthCraft House Platinum level certification.Overall, I am heartened by the amount of high-performance affordable housing currently under construction and renovation. I appreciate the opportunity to work on these projects, offer my expertise, and help make them as efficient as possible, all while working within budget constraints. I’m looking forward to seeing upcoming projects break ground, and, hopefully, work on many more in the future.Closing moteAn introduction is in order: Carl Seville, GBA’s Green Curmudgeon, joins Amy and Peter on the Green Communities blog. Welcome aboard, Carl!last_img read more

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Search on for 3 workers trapped in coal mine

first_imgSearch operations continued on Thursday at an opencast coal mine of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) in Odisha’s Talcher where three workers are feared trapped.A 30-member National Disaster Response Force team is trying to trace the workers under massive heaps of coal and debris. Rescue operations have been affected due to intermittent rain.Mound collapseThe accident had taken place around 11 p.m. on Tuesday when a portion of an earthen mound caved in and trapped several workers. While nine persons were rescued, one body was recovered. The public sector firm had said that labourers working on the night shift at Bharatpur opencast mine in Talcher Coalfields had come under a dump slide due to a strata failure. MCL (Technical/Operations) director O.P. Singh said sincere efforts were being made to trace the trapped workers.The incident was also raised in the State Assembly with Senior Congress leader Narasingha Mishra saying that the MCL authorities should be taken to task for their laxity, apart from giving adequate compensation to the kin of the victims.last_img read more

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Rental agencies struggle with screenings as security concerns rise

first_imgMonday’s deadly rental van rampage in Toronto shows how quickly a vehicle can be turned into a weapon, but rental agencies are finding few clear options to prevent their property from involvement in such violent acts.The urgency to find solutions is increasing, however.The attack in Toronto that left at least 10 people dead and several injured is only the latest of a spate of vehicle attacks — including one in Edmonton last September — that have security experts grappling with solutions.Efforts are further along in Europe, which has seen a rash of vehicle attacks across the continent. In the U.K., vehicle rental companies were asked to conduct tougher background checks following two separate van attacks in London last June.But rental agencies are still limited in how well they can screen customers, said Toby Poston, director of communications at the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association.“Members aren’t experts at profiling customers,” said Poston.“People don’t come into rental branches wearing camo gear and stab vests and with that sort of glint in their eye. Quite often, these people just present themselves like any normal person.”The British association is, however, looking to better co-ordinate with law and security officials to make it easier to share data. Poston said rental agencies wouldn’t have access to terror watchlists or the like, but could potentially feed information to authorities for better monitoring.Member companies are also looking to potentially institute other record searches like credit and criminal background checks, but even then there is no clear way to determine that a vehicle shouldn’t be rented, said Poston.“You have to remember that a criminal record is not always reason enough to not rent someone a vehicle. And you have to be careful from a discrimination point of view.”The accused in the Toronto van attack, Alek Minassian, did not even raise any red flags during a brief stint in the Canadian Armed Forces last year, a military source told The Canadian Press.Toronto police said he rented the van from a Ryder rental location north of the city. The company said Tuesday it was fully co-operating with authorities, but declined to comment on its current security policies.The Associated Canadian Car Rental Operators said government officials have yet to reach out to try to co-ordinate data sharing.But any such efforts would be complicated, said vice president of government relations Craig Hirota.“It’s challenging, how do you use that information so that it doesn’t infringe on existing rights of the individual and rights to privacy?”The RCMP’s National Critical Infrastructure Team has been in contact with industry and sends out relevant information, Hirota added.“We are in the loop with local and federal law enforcement when there are bulletins.”He said the rental industry has long been concerned with fraudulent and criminal activity with rentals, but there are limited options for screenings.“Vehicle rental agencies have been concerned with people doing bad things with rental cars since the inception of the industry. Obviously if there was a way to tell a renter was going to do something prohibited with your vehicle, we’d love to have that.”The U.K. rental association is looking to security models elsewhere, including the New York Police Department’s Operation Nexus program that facilitates reporting of suspicious business encounters.It is also considering the establishment of a national accreditation scheme that could include training and formalizing policies such as no cash rentals. Companies also generally require business accounts for customers wanting to rent larger trucks, said Poston.Elsewhere in Europe, Italy has implemented a real-time notification scheme with rental operators and a similar one is being developed in Belgium. Sweden is looking to introduce geofence technology that could connect with a vehicle’s on-board computer and limit its speed to a safe level.The ease of carrying out such attacks, and the difficulties in detecting them are part of the reason for their rise, said Jeremy Littlewood, an assistant professor at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.“It’s easy to replicate if someone gets that into their head,” said Littlewood.Littlewood also questioned the effectiveness of background checks. He pointed out that Alek Minassian, now charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder for Monday’s attack, was not known to police.“So far, police authorities are saying this person was not known to us. And so even if we had a database, our individual in this case is not going to show up from the police side.”Even when perpetrators are known it is still difficult to stop an attack, said Littlewood, noting that Martin Couture-Rouleau was reported to be under RCMP surveillance when in 2014 he used a vehicle in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., to hit two members of the Canadian Armed Forces, leaving one dead.Prevention has instead focused on more cement barriers, and heavy trucks at intersections for major events, but there’s no way to fully prevent this sort of attack entirely, said Littlewood.“We have to recognize the limits of what can be done here, and the reality is we have to accept there are going to be some risks, and we can never entirely make ourselves into a zero-risk world.”last_img read more

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