How historic districts hinder energy efficiency, Mandalay Homes' latest smart energy features, the rise of the rich renter, and software for 'entire lifecycle of building process,' and why walking and biking has become dangerous
Katerra Launches Software Platform for ‘Entire Lifecycle of the Building Process’
Katerra recently launched a new suite of technology products for the “entire lifecycle of the building process.” The proprietary software integrates data gathered throughout a building’s supply chain and construction process. Apollo Construct, a project management tool for estimation and scheduling, will be the first application offered.
The Apollo suite will also include Apollo Insight and Apollo Connect, which incorporate visual 3D design feasibility studies and BIM-based budgeting tools. Katerra aims to build its products using open API integration to make use of tools currently used in construction workflows.
The company also announced Katerra Building Platforms system, a method for designing buildings as “manufactured, repeatable products, while still maintaining design configuration options for various clients, regions, and markets.”
High-income Renters now the Fastest-Growing Housing Market Segment
High-income renters are now the fastest-growing segment of the housing population, according to a study by Apartment List. The number of households who earn six-figures and choose to rent has grown 48 percent over the past decade, the study found. Multi-family construction has quadrupled since 2010 and now exceeds pre-recession levels, with most of the activity on the high end.
Many high-earners increasingly value the flexibility of renting and want to live close to high-paying jobs in city centers. Many high earners are locked out of home ownership by the high cost of purchasing a home while managing student loan debt and stricter lending standards.
The rise of high-income renters has been most dramatic in mid-size, growing metropolitan areas, particularly Denver, Austin, and Oklahoma City. Growth in this category has been slower in the largest and most expensive markets, including New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
U.S. Cities Have Become More Dangerous for Bicyclists and Pedestrians
Across the U.S., cities are encouraging residents to walk and bike more, but these activities can be deadly. That’s because roads are still dominated by fast-moving vehicular traffic. Since 2010, cyclist fatalities have increased by 25 percent, and pedestrian deaths have skyrocketed by 45 percent.
Motorists in many cities are able to turn onto streets at intersections where pedestrians are crossing. Most pedestrians and bicyclists are killed or injured while they are obeying the law.
Several measures could reduce the number of deaths. Automobile manufacturers could make vehicles less threatening to pedestrians and bicyclists by reducing the height of front bumpers. Cities could make streets safer with speed limit reductions, traffic calming measures, and better education for all road users.
Smart Energy Home Features Overcome Solar Power Supply/Demand Imbalance
Arizona-based Mandalay Homes introduced a set of smart energy features that includes a well-insulated building shell, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, and on-site solar with battery storage. The iON Series optimizes energy collection, storage, and management to overcome the so-called “duck curve.”
The “duck curve” is an imbalance in supply and demand because daily peak demand occurs in the late afternoon and evening. But, peak energy production from solar electric panels occurs closer to midday. The electric grid has been unable to store the excess electricity from renewable sources for when it’s needed most. The iON Series counteracts this situation with its ability to store energy from peak periods onsite while still being integrated with the grid.
Historic District Watchdogs Hindering Energy Efficiency
Historic districts have been created in some cities to preserve the look of homes that are more than 100 years old. Such is the case in Portland, Maine, where historic district regulations include sightline rules about solar panels and preservation of antique windows. These rules hinder the greening of older homes, according to a critic who installed solar panels on his home a few years ago.
The home is a three-story, flat-roofed building in Portland. Historic district rules meant that the panels had to be installed at a very low angle, about 7 degrees. The low-angled space between the panels and the roof collects snow, which may not melt until spring. That means the solar panels remain covered by snow and may not produce energy during much of the winter.