Archive for January, 2011

The energy-efficient Mini-B Passive House was unveiled to the public Jan. 15.

Passive House Mini-B is fascinating on two fronts.

First — it’s so little! Mini-B (short for Mini-Bungalow) is an entire cottage in just 300 square feet. You can plop it down in the back yard for a guest house or on a lot in the woods for a vacation hideout.

Yet it’s got living, sleeping, and cooking quarters and even some limited storage space. It’s got high ceilings and huge front windows.

Despite a compact foorprint, Mini-B offers living, cooking and sleeping quarters. The cabinets are spruce.

The other thing that’s fascinating about Mini-B is that it’s a Passive House. It uses about 10 percent of the heating energy of a similar dwelling built by conventional means.

Designer Joe Giampietro, Johnson Braund Design Group, Seattle, showed the newly built prototype off to the public with a grand opening Jan. 15 at the Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Center, also in Seattle.

It garnered a lot of attention, Joe said — more than 100 visitors in three hours, including the Seattle Times. Sixty more showed up to look over the little house at a private showing last weekend.

“The Seattle Times article had people coming by every day to peer in the windows and asking to see the inside,” Joe said. “We had to open the windows to cool off with all the warm bodies heating the house!”

Mini-B’s tiny footprint and huge energy-efficiency is getting attention from other local media including the Seattle Channel, Adventure TV and King 5 TV, Joe said.

The Passive House Institute U.S. pre-certified Mini-B’s energy-saving design before construction began last Spring. Carpentry students at Seattle Central Community College built the prototype Mini-B, supervised by instructor Frank Mestemacher.

A blower door test confirmed the little house’s air-tightness in July. The air-tightness, an important part of that energy-efficiency, comes from the PROSOCO R-GUARD Air & Waterproof Barrier on the structural walls.

R-GUARD products cover the structural wall with a seamless, continuous, durable, breathable barrier that stops costly air leakage through the building envelope.

Air-tightness, combined with heavy insulation — 9-inch styrofoam and blown-in fiberglass insulation — means a little heat goes a long ways. Heat energy loss is small — so are the bills.

Joe, Frank and research scientist Tom Schneider of BEI (Building Envelope Innovations), Seattle, the inventors of the R-GUARD products used, were there for the unveiling, answering questions.

The floor is 1 1/2-inch concrete, treated with PROSOCO’s Consolideck LS (lithium-silicate) Hardener/Densifier. In addition to making the floor more durable, LS is third-party certified by Scientific Certification Systems, Emeryville, Calif., to meet the nation’s highest standards for indoor air-quality.

Consolideck LS (lithium-silicate) hardened, densified and dustproofed Mini-B's exposed concrete floor.

Mini-B features spruce cabinets; Georgia Pacific’s Dens Armor Plus drywall; and low-VOC paints and finishes throughout, Joe said. He plans to sell the house in July, then build additional Mini-Bs for sale.

Photos by Steve Allwine

Passive House Mini-B, designed by Joe Giampietro, built by students at Seattle Central Community College, reduces heat energy use and cost by nearly 90 percent compared to a comparable structure built with traditional methods and materials.

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Yours Truly, decked out as a ref, offers another football to a prospect at our interactive booth game at WOC 2011. photo--Stephen Falls

Before, during and after, World of Concrete always chomps a huge chunk out of my work schedule.

For weeks beforehand, I’m busy writing internal and external communications concerning the show; tradeshow graphics (“Stop Dust Dead” is a favorite); product releases and more. Afterward there’s follow-up on all the contacts we made there, cover letters to go out with the literature prospects requested, and more.

And for the week during, there’s booth set-up, run, and tear-down. The yawning empty space between the last “Green Journey” blog post — Jan. 4 — and this one tells the story pretty well, I think.

I’m pretty much chained to our indoor booth during the show, running an interactive game to lure prospects in to talk with our sales managers. We’ve had some sort of interactive game since 2003, when we found it just about doubled the qualified leads we took home.

I think we’re going to try the booth without the game next year, though, and place a heavier reliance on getting prospects with big-screen TV videos, which have been proving very successful.

This year, we did a football-toss game. Prospects got three tries to toss a foam rubber football through holes in a target. Their prizes, whether they succeeded or not, and once I qualified them, were one of the foam footballs — emblazoned with the PROSOCO and Consolideck logos — and an ALL-EXPENSE PAID conversation WITH A PROSOCO SALES MANAGER! YOU LUCKY DEVIL!

Also had a cheerleader, Laurie Rozanowski, to assist me with running the game. Laurie worked hard, and next to me spent more time working that booth, and working it more actively than anyone on the team — but got mixed reviews.

I heard later that some thought a cheerleader was cheesey, but to my mind it was all in good fun, all G-Rated, and anyway, how do you have football without cheerleaders? Laurie did a good job for us though, and I would hire her again in an instant.

We also had an outside booth in the Decorative Concrete section of the Show’s silver lot. There, we had a slab showing off our polished concrete GemTone Stain colors, and our steel-troweled/broom-finished color-hardener/densifier, ColorHard.

Our exhibit there was not without troubles — with WOC sandwiched between two other shows, work on the slab had to proceed before the slab was truly ready. The slab was poured on Friday, and with the show starting Tuesday, work had to begin the next day.

Joe Reardon burnishes our slab before the show. Though he was disappointed by the way it turned out -- due to circumstances beyond anyone's control -- I thought it looked pretty good. photo -- Stephen Falls

This caused moisture problems, which led to a host of other difficulties — experienced by all exhibitors who used slabs in the outdoor lot.

But our Concrete Products Group, led by Joe Reardon, and supported by our partners, including SASE, Rapid Set, SuperAbrasive and others, did a masterful job in getting the slab ready for the show under extremely challenging conditions.

Not sure how the other exhibitors did, but with the amount of talent in the lot there, and everyone’s willingness to to help out, I’m pretty sure we all survived.

“Like with any slab, we faced some challenges,” Joe told me later. “But with a little help from our friends, we turned it into a terrific learning opportunity for everyone at the show.”

Attendance at the show appeared thin compared to years past, even from my limited vantage point. That perception was reinforced by the opinions of visitors to our booth, and by this article in the Las Vegas Business Journal.

Visitors stroll past the Sherwin-Williams booth, just down the main aisle from PROSOCO. Crowds seemed thinner this year than at previous WOC shows. photo--Stephen Falls

In past years, the show topped 90,000 attendees — last year it was down to 55,000. This year, I think everyone was just hoping to match last year. I did hear that the percentage of serious visitors with actual buying authority was up, though.

One thing that never changes with World of Concrete — 55,000 or 100,000 — it’s always an incredible experience, a mighty, multi-color construction carnival, equal blends of academy, circus and family reunion.

If you’re in construction, even if just peripherally, WOC is a must-attend event, at least once. With or without game, I suspect I’ll be back for my 10th consecutive WOC in 2012.

Hope to see you there!


Part family reunion -- Possibly two of the nicest and smartest people in construction, Chicago-area Manufacturer's Reps Jeff (L) and Jim Lucas, of Lucas & Associates, Hammond, Ind., take time to visit with me and smile for the camera. I hadn't seen them since WOC 2010. That's top concrete man Joe Reardon in the background in between Jeff and Jim.

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CALGreen, the nation’s first green building code, went into force Jan. 1 in the world’s eighth-largest economy. PROSOCO’s Regulatory Affairs Director Dwayne Fuhlhage offers this report on how the new code affects specifiers of regulated paints, coatings and sealants.

CALGreen Declarations
by Dwayne Fuhlhage, CHMM
Regulatory Affairs Director

The agencies in charge of implementing CALGreen are gradually putting some meat on its bones.

In the case of the Department of Housing and Community Development, that means putting together certification forms for purposes of determining conformance with CALGreen residential building requirements.

It appears the standard of care for specifying VOC compliant construction materials has gone up a couple of notches. This is an excerpt from the new Declaration Statement form for paints and coatings found in the Pollutant Control Forms section of the website:

The following section shall be completed by a person with overall responsibility for the planning and design portion of the project.
● I certify under penalty of perjury, under the laws of the State of California, the information provided is true and correct.
● I certify that the installed measures, materials, components, or manufactured devices identified on this certificate conform to all applicable codes and regulations, and the installation is consistent with the plans and specifications approved by the enforcing agency.

What does this mean for the architect or architectural specifier? To be honest, there has always been legal responsibility involved in the selection of paints and coatings through enforcement of various AIM VOC regulations.

The difference is that nobody outside of the regulated product manufacturers had to sign certifications like the one above. Even that was generally for poorly enforced reporting obligations.

Also, day-to-day AIM VOC regulation enforcement is spotty at best. Even the largest Air Quality Management District staff in the state has only a handful of field inspectors.

Now, every code official will become the de facto enforcement official for AIM VOC compliance and will drive responsibility back to the general contractor and the architect of record.

If you are specifying regulated paints, coatings and sealants, make sure your vendor can demonstrate knowledge on how the new CARB AIM VOC Suggested Control Measure (SCM) applies to their products.

Category definitions and limits have changed effective January 1. The CARB SCM definitions aren’t consistent with South Coast AQMD’s Rule 1113 definitions, either. This is an important factor if you are doing LEED projects as EQ credit criteria (based on South Coast 2004 Rule 1113 compliance) which won’t necessarily match the CARB SCM conformance criteria as defined in CALGreen.

Check out our new white paper on CALGreen for more information on CALGreen in general and how it impacts coatings and sealants.

Questions? dwayne.fuhlhage@prosoco.com

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