Google's master plan development, rising sales for smart home devices, and new legislation protecting homeowners
Building Code Officials Should Vet Building Product Evaluation Methods
In order to ensure that specified building products comply with codes and standards, building code officials should take into account the credentials of accrediting bodies, says Shahin Moinian, P.E., the president of ICC Evaluation Service. First, code officials should make sure that the evaluation service provider is accredited with a scope of accreditation pertaining to the products they have evaluated. In addition, the evaluation service provider should be verified to be accredited and in good standing.
One important indicator is for the provider to be accredited to ISO/IEC 17065, the international standard for certification bodies. Code officials should also review the evaluation reports published by evaluation service providers to ensure that the report is published to a standard or criteria (not a collection of unspecified documents and opinions).
The report should also relate to the product and use of such products for the installation in question. “Code officials should look for the ICC-ES marking on building and plumbing products for peace of mind when approving products,” Moinian says.
Google Gets Approval on Master Plan for High-Density Residential/Office Development
The Mountain View, Calif., City Council recently approved the master plan for a high-density residential and office development near the site of Google's new Charleston East campus. The plan calls for 9,850 homes and apartments and almost 4 million sf of office and retail space.
The plan addresses the great need for housing in Silicon Valley. A recent report said the region has seen jobs increase by 367,000 between 2010 and 2015, but only 57,000 new homes were built during that time.
The city council required that 70% of the new residential units be studios and one-bedroom apartments, with 20% of those being affordable. Both Google employees and those not affiliated with the company will be able to live in the development.
Air-Source Heat Pumps Can Save Energy and Money Even in Cold Climates
Air-source heat pumps (ASHPs), commonly used across the southern parts of the country with mild winters, can now be effective sources of heat even in cold regions such as New England and the upper Midwest. The Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships found that when entire heating units are replaced in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, the annual savings from an ASHP can be over $450 compared to electric resistance heaters or over $900 when compared to oil systems.
Consumers should look for the ENERGY STAR label when choosing an ASHP. In colder climates, homeowners should focus on getting the highest heating season performance factor (HSPF) possible. When used in a well-insulated home, properly sized ASHPs can offer similar performance with lower up-front costs to ground-source heat pumps GSHPs.
Falling Prices Boosting Sales of Smart Home Devices
Market research groups are noting increased sales of smart home technology. Part of the reason is that prices have fallen, and researchers expect demand to pick up further as prices continue to dip.
The growing popularity of smart speakers and digital assistants such as Echo’s Alexa are also fueling growth of smart home gadgets. The voice-controlled technology makes smart home products easier to control. There are concerns over privacy for things like smart cameras and door locks, so smart lights are tending to be more popular so far.
Seventy-Eight Contractors Charged With Construction Fraud in Florida
Officials in Hillsborough County, Fla., arrested and charged 78 contractors for operating without a license during a three-month investigation that was part of a Homeland Security Division Construction Fraud Unit initiative. Working undercover, law enforcement agents posed as customers who wanted construction work done.
Some states have recently enacted laws to help eliminate fraudulent practices among unlicensed contractors. Kansas created a law that requires roofing contractors to register with the state. And Kentucky passed a bill to help protect homeowners from contractors who damage a roof further to increase the job's scope.