Posts Tagged ‘Architecture’

Celebrating Architecture

By Guest

Tis the season for me to wish all of you a joyous and happy National Architecture Week! Yes, April 7-13 is a special time of year we reach out to the industry and the public to join us at the AIA as we celebrate architects and the places they create for us to live, work and play in our communities.

During this week, always held the second week in April to coincide with the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, the nation’s only architect-president (born April 12th), there are nationwide online and offline events, exhibits, lectures, tours, award ceremonies and contests that seek to heighten our awareness of the powerful impact that architecture has on our overall quality of life. You should check out the web site of your local AIA chapter for happenings in your community.

Architect Shortage Ahead?

By Building Experts Team

Architect e1350053154467 300x199 Architect Shortage Ahead?According to a rash of recent articles that might be the case. When the housing market burst in 2008 many architects found themselves out of a job as firms, both large and small, closed their doors or laid off a majority of their workforce. In addition, recent architecture graduate students found the prospective of even a low paying internship daunting, with many exiting the industry within months of graduating.

For those architects who decided to stick it out and weather the economic storm, the last four years have been an uphill battle. Projects have been sparse and far between and many older architects, who younger architects considered their mentors and teachers, decided to “retire early” to avoid the effects of a failing economy. Many industry insiders believe the combination has left a large hole in the growth of the architecture profession, both by the numbers and in terms of skills and experience. Unfortunately, the negative effects may be felt by the industry as early as 2014.

By greeniq

 Energy Efficiency = Output/Input. Or Does It?In the equation of energy efficiency, buildings, whether commercial or residential, tend to represent the subtractive component, using more energy than they produce. But the newest trend to hit green building stands this equation on its head, with net-zero buildings that produce at least as much energy as they consume. The projected “next wave” in green building, net-zero buildings have been mandated in the European Union and are making their way across the pond.

The time seems ripe for net-zero. Buildings in the United States account for approximately 41 percent of primary energy use, with homes accounting for 54 percent and commercial buildings representing 46 percent of that sector. According to, investors have devoted $4 billion to initiating green building efforts over the past 12 years, with North American startups capturing 77 percent of that investment. The stakes are high and the opportunities abound, and a few fledgling projects will soon show the reward.

The Delta Project in Brooklyn is a five-story triangular building that multitasks as a restaurant and bed and breakfast, but will soon serve as the city’s first-ever net-zero solar building. The $700,000 project will use solar panels to produce about 25 percent more electricity than it will consume, with the extra electricity being sold to the local fossil fuel power grid. The building combines energy-generating efforts, such as the solar panels and a roof-mounted wind turbine, with consumption-cutting measures like greening its hot water supply and using energy-saving LED light bulbs. The building is expected to open in September.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the residential Dunedin Project in Pinellas County, Florida, which is slated to lead the way in affordable net-zero energy townhome communities in the United States. The project broke ground this month and will feature 25 LEED-certified townhomes to be priced affordably between $135,000 and $175,000. Part of GE’s Homes Inspired by Ecoimagination program, each home will incorporate products that lower energy use, water consumption and CO2 emissions, simultaneously reducing energy costs. According to the Tampa Bay Times, more than 600 nearby residents who expressed interest in the homes were whittled down to a priority list of 59 “hometown heroes,” including firefighters, police officers, veterans, nurses, teachers and the like.

To cap it off, President Obama’s Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance Executive Order mandates that all federal buildings must achieve net-zero energy usage by 2030. With awareness and investment continuing to grow, net-zero might just add up to be the next big thing.

By Building Experts Team

LB Headshot 199x300 An Architect’s View on the ConventionWith the AIA National Convention kicking off this week, Build IQ had the opportunity to sit down with Design Collective, Inc. Principal and Partner Luis Bernardo, AIA, LEED AP and discuss the Convention, social media and the architecture job market.

Q: The AIA 2012 National Convention and Design Exposition starts on May 17, how many AIA Conventions have you attended?

A: I have attended six over the course of my 25 year career: San Antonio, Miami, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and San Diego.

Q: This year’s theme is “Design Connects.” Why do you attend every year? Is it for the collaboration and networking, education, exhibits, etc.?

A: I attend for the education and exhibits – primarily the education. With how busy traveling for work and life can be, it’s nice to return to a place of learning instead of doing. It almost feels like the Convention gives you an opportunity to rejuvenate. You get to see the latest trends across different typologies and retreat to your roots in architecture and away from the business side of the industry.

Q: Is the Convention an environment where you can discuss business issues with peers and develop solutions that will help the industry in the long-term?

A: Personally, I do not.

Q: Do you benefit from your time with the exhibitors there? If not, how do you learn about new products, technology, building practices, etc. throughout the year?

A: Definitely. The exhibits give you an opportunity for exposure to a broad range of materials, which is helpful now, but was even more vital for my education in my early years. I also think the AIA Convention is the most state-of-the-art convention I have been to. The incorporation of roundtable presentations, almost like lunch and learns, are more informative and effective than the usual exhibitor format. The fact that some will take your information down to follow up and send you the materials instead of tying up your hands holding all those materials is great too.

Q: Tradeshows have become increasingly social. Everyone is creating content. It’s a great place to meet virtual connections, or if you can’t attend, social media has proven to be beneficial for following news and updates in real-time from the show – a virtual experience. Will you be tweeting from the Convention? How are you and your firm using social media for business?

A: I will not be tweeting from the Convention, however I do find certain formats of social media to be useful and appreciate the updates in real-time. I think my personal favorite is the Maryland School of Architecture Planning and Preservation Facebook page. The firm is active on LinkedIn and Facebook and recently put a social media plan in place to incorporate Twitter, YouTube and RSS Feeds onto our new website when it launches.

Q: In general, if you were asked to lead a committee of members who are responsible for improving the Convention experience, what changes would you make?

A: While I fully appreciate and understand the need for continuing education in sustainability, sometimes I feel like the Conventions and Trade Shows are 99% sustainability and only 1% design. As the Principal Designer for the firm, I would appreciate an equal balance with the emphasis returning to design and less on the technical. I feel like I might not be alone in this vein of thought because it seemed as if all the design-oriented classes and sessions sold out this year which I don’t recall happening in past years.

Q: What advice would you give someone who has just graduated with an architecture degree? Can young professionals benefit from the Convention (assuming they can pay for the trip)?

A: I just read in the Washington Post that 50% of graduates are unemployed or underemployed so there is obviously a lot of competition out there. My advice would be to not just send a resume, but make an impression. I understand that’s not easy through paper or email, but with how flooded firms are with resumes you really need to work to make yourself stand apart from the rest. Something as simple as personally addressing a cover letter (with the spelling of the person’s correct!) makes an impact.

Young professionals would absolutely benefit from attending the Convention, in particular the exhibits, and if they have enough money to foot the extra bill, the tours would be beneficial too. More often than not, the architects who designed the project are leading the tours, which would give a young professional an opportunity to ask questions of the people directly responsible for the project and if they were searching for work at the time, bring a resume along, strike up a conversation with the architects and introduce yourself. You’ll make a better impression than any email or cover letter could.

As a Principal Designer for Design Collective, Mr. Bernardo is responsible for the design and management for a variety of projects including urban mixed-use buildings, urban high-rise residential, adaptive use, campus housing, office buildings, and cultural institutions. For every project, he brings both the design creativity and problem solving abilities instrumental in the delivery of a successful, timely project. Many projects completed under his leadership have been published and received national design awards from such prestigious institutions as the AIA, ULI, NCBC, NAHB, and NAHRO. Mr. Bernardo leads the firm’s efforts in presenting to stakeholders, community groups, design review boards, and similar agencies to ensure the project receives all necessary community and local review board approvals. His ability to conceptualize and effectively communicate the myriad of design issues that face every project has proven invaluable to our clients and the firm.

By Social Marketing Team

Ever since our post on 2012 trends in the building industry, the IMRE social marketing team has been loudly trumpeting the importance of taking brand content to the next level. Simply put, online audiences are demanding rich, visually-compelling content from brands on their social media channels. “Man on the street” videos and photos snapped on your mobile phone still have their place, but most brands will begin to see engagement decline on their social channels unless they invest in higher quality content production. It’s a matter of supply and demand: As more brands supply social content, online audiences feel comfortable raising their demands for better quality. (more…)

By Building Experts Team

Why do we love lists? Because they keep on giving, and we have more for you.

Last week, we covered the 5 best building and sustainability wrap-ups of 2011 around the blogosphere. This week, we tackle the design space. Contractors, architects, designers and remodelers are constantly challenging themselves to create powerfully designed interiors for modern homes, businesses and municipalities alike, a new breed that refuses to view beauty and performance as mutually exclusive. The same rules apply as last week: To know where the industry is going in 2012, you must have a strong grasp of what themes drove 2011. Here’s our picks for the best 5 summaries of 2011′s most important design trends:

  1. Interior Design Magazine’s top 10 of 2011 – Wow. Just wow. The definitive interior design publication highlights their top 10 articles of the year, including 3 “Best of Years” articles for office renovation, fashion retail space and kitchen.
  2. Design Milk’s 2011 year in review: Best of interior design – Let your mind run wild! Design Milk always finds interiors that push the boundaries. Here are their top ones from 2011.
  3. People’s Choice: Top 10 most popular Curbed posts of 2011 - Curbed is a favorite site of ours for keeping a pulse on design, but their editorial team also does a fabulous job of uncovering projects that break from tradition, challenge the status quo and rethink the norm. Their top 10 most viewed posts of 2011 is almost a highlight reel of these types of projects.
  4. Freshome’s 20 most popular projects presented in 2011 – is one of the sites we go to when we want to see truly breathtaking design. Each of these 20 aspirational projects could lay the seed for the next new powerfully designed interior.
  5. BUILDER’S 10 top design trends of 2011 – Amy Albert highlights 10 trends supporting a key overarching theme of 2011: Innovative responses to the shifting priorities brought on by economic conditions and tough times.

OK, your turn: What design trends influenced your work in 2011? What “trends of the day” will continue to inspire you this year?

GreenIntel’s RSS 101

By greeniq

A beginner’s guide to blog readers, web feeds and news aggregators.

Today’s media landscape is constantly evolving, allowing the blogosphere to become more and more of a relevant source of information today, especially in the sustainable building industry. We have countless online resources covering the latest news and trends on sustainable building, green design updates, reviews and recommendations of green building products – but who really has the time to sift through this information overload on a daily basis anymore?

That’s where RSS comes into play. RSS feeds have become common practice among avid blog readers today. Consider it your personal web update delivery service, covering only the content you care about. RSS feeds are a convenient way to manage news and updates from your favorite blogs without ever having to search the web. RSS allows users to preselect the content they would like to receive, allowing early exposure to news, constant updates and of course, time savings.

Ready to get started? In order to receive an RSS Feed, first you’ll need to set up your own blog reader, news aggregator or feed reader. Whatever you call it, your reader will collect the RSS feeds you sign up for every time an update is posted. There are many types of blog readers and aggregators available, each with their ups and downs. Here are some of our top picks to get you started:

GoogleReader1 GreenIntel’s RSS 101

Google Reader – Tried and true, web-based Google Reader lets you subscribe to your favorite blogs and websites so new content is delivered as soon as it’s posted. With the freshest content on top, Google Reader provides streamlined updates in a user-friendly template.

Bloglines GreenIntel’s RSS 101

Bloglines – Known for its organization, speed, and ease of use, Bloglines is another favorite among frequent RSS subscribers. One reviewer commented, “Its like my daily newspaper written by all the websites I like to read.”

feed GreenIntel’s RSS 101

FeedDemon – A Windows compatible desktop feed reader, allowing users to read RSS newsfeeds from hundreds of websites without ever visiting them. FeedDemon can also watch for items in RSS feeds that contain specific keywords of interest to you. An added bonus – If you plan to read your RSS feeds in a place that has no Internet connection, FeedDemon can save all images and links for you so the information remains accessible while you are offline.

NetNewsWire – MAC users have no fear. There are plenty of RSS readers to keep you up to date with your favorite news sources, and NetNewsWire seems to be one of the most popular and fastest out there.

Keeping a pulse on the latest sustainability news can be a daunting challenge with the amount of content available today, so here’s a list of our preferred sustainability blogs for the Architecture and Interior Design Industry to get your RSS library started:




Interior Design – Design Green


Design Milk





Metropolis – POV

A Daily Dose of Architecture

Jetson Green

World Changing




Home Design Find

By Building Experts Team

Today we’re introducing “Social Marketing Stars,” our new series that profiles individuals, companies and other organizations that have found success using, you guessed it, social marketing. We’re going to start with one of the biggest “stars” in our industry – Imad Naffa.

Imad Naffa is a Civil Engineer licensed in three states and specializes in the Building Codes. He has over 25 years experience in the fields of Building, Fire and Accessibility Codes. Imad is founder and president of NAFFA International, Inc., a private Building Code Consulting firm located in Fresno, CA.

Thanks in part to his wife, Imad has capitalized on available social media tools to support the marketing of his expertise, which has helped him realize a significant positive impact on his business during a time when others are fighting to keep their companies afloat.

To what do you credit your social marketing success? How have you attracted so many followers on Twitter and connections on LinkedIn?

I think more than anything else, it’s my diversification. Beyond talking about what I do for a living, my expertise; the building, fire and accessibility codes—I started talking and sharing information about subject matter that was of interest to me. Once I did that, the following and interaction with global members exploded.

I have a passion for what I do every day, and have been doing that for the past 25 years. I enjoy talking about it, training, deciphering and engaging with others. Social media allows me to do this even more, in a big way!

I found out that there was a fairly large global audience that was interested in the design, architecture, construction, building regulations and the building codes. These subjects are what I know best. I had a passion for reaching out to explain and share, and it appears that there were plenty of individuals online, especially Twitter, that were willing to engage.

The technical engagements only went so far though. After six months of being on Twitter, I expanded my postings to deal with subjects that were of interest to me. They ranged from social media topics and news, world affairs and global happenings, LEED, green building, Eco topics and much more. These topics had global appeal. I discovered that my followers expanded exponentially within six months once I engaged in topics of interest to me and those that shared a common interest.

Today I find myself having great exchanges with exceptional people on six continents, located in hundreds of cities, dispersed throughout the globe. Not in my wildest dreams, did I think this would be possible!

Did you ever think you would have this many followers and provide as much content as you do?

No. I had no idea that people would be interested in technical topics that I talked about frequently (building codes, building regulations, green, LEED, etc). I always figured that these topics had a small segment of the vast social media audience. The fact is, it’s still relatively a small segment. Participation by architects, engineers, contractors and code officials remains a very small community on social media, but it’s growing!

I realized soon enough, that the large number of followers had to be due to my departure from talking about technical topics only, and diving into numerous topics that I was already interested in and wanted to engage with anyways. I think once I did that, there was no looking back.

How were you introduced to social marketing?

It’s funny. In the beginning (i.e. 18 months ago), I didn’t see a reason for the use of social media. I figured there was no place for business there. All I can remember was watching people talk about what they ate or where they are! At my wife’s insistence, I gave Twitter a shot. It was intimidating in the beginning. A vast ocean of postings and information being exchanged. I didn’t know where to start.

So I simply started following the postings and following people that were talking about subjects I was interested in, such as construction, architecture, engineering and the building codes. Before too long, I figured it out.

Over the past 15 years I developed web-based software and resources to make learning and applying the building codes easier to end users and more interesting by adding multimedia and simplifying the intimating building codes. In the past, people found out about my online offerings by word of mouth and through some advertising. Using social media, especially Twitter, is allowing me to avail my online offering, such as The Building Code Discussions Group (BCDG)- 22,000+ international members-and a number of other building code related resources, to a worldwide audience. The membership on the BCDG has increased by 25% in the last nine months, mainly due to Twitter followers participation.

How has Twitter helped you and your business? How can it help others in the industry?

It sure did. It did’t take long either. The first benefit came through building a bridge of friendship with many professionals in the USA and internationally by discussing building codes and related topics and by posting news and developments taking place related to the building, accessibility/ADA and fire codes. Once that bridge of friendship and level of comfort was established, it became efficient to transmit information and share with a wide audience.

I started getting inquires about my services (i.e. building code consultation). Soon after, I started linking some of the Q&A from the Building Code Discussions Group to my postings on Twitter. That introduced my followers to a myriad of building code related topics that they were interested in. From there many registered as new members on the BCDG. In the last nine months, I’ve seen a 25% increase in paid membership from new members coming directly to our site from Twitter.

In the mean time, I continue to post on code developments, technical links that architects, engineers, builders and code officials can use to stay current with the ever-changing codes and allow me to interact with the smartest people in the business.

What advice do you give to industry professionals who are hesitant to take the first step or don’t see the value in social marketing?

Most professionals are hesitant at first, and for a good reason. Social media may be intimidating and some are not able to see how it can help their business.

The fast is-social media is here to stay.  It’s too big and too efficient for disseminating information quickly, and it’s going to get more prevalent in the days to come.

The newest technologies, code developments, engineering concepts and marketing ideas that professionals can use, trends taking place in our business and much more are talked about every passing minute online.

The smartest people in every discipline you can think about, such as architecture, engineering, construction, code enforcement, legal, green building and related fields are participating in social media today. Many more are joining every day! By following these smart professionals, you will leverage your knowledge and stay competitive.

If a business chooses not to participate, I believe in the long run they will be left behind. To stay relevant, competitive, efficient and knowledgeable, you must keep up with what is happening in the world around you and in your specific area of expertise. Social media provides such an outlet.

Imad Naffa Social Marketing Stars: Imad Naffa Follow Imad on:





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