Posts tagged ‘Industry News’

September 13, 2017, 9:00 am

Designing For The Students of Today

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According to School Planning & Management magazine, there’s a direct connection between students’ physical environment and their academic achievement. An environment that encourages collaborative and individual learning has become the standard for today’s schools. As educators are working to encourage these types of learning within the classroom, so can architects with facility design and selection of mechanical systems.

Architects are challenged to design environments that include a combination of flexible spaces, such as open and private classrooms, as well as individual and collaborative study rooms. Architects often include design elements that evoke a feeling of openness for students, such as glass or natural lighting. These design elements, among others, allow students to see and interact with their surroundings, creating visual and social connectivity.

Architects also can consider highly efficient mechanical systems for the facility. Over the course of a school day, occupancy levels within a space vary, and such extremes can make it difficult to keep a space comfortable for students. Therefore, an HVAC system that meets a student’s comfort needs can enhance the educational experience. HVAC systems, such as Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) technology, maximize square footage while offering the individual control, zoning capabilities and quiet operation necessary for an educational facility.

With flexible spaces and efficient mechanical equipment, architects are able to design the ideal educational environment for today’s students. At Mitsubishi Electric, we support architects’ plans for these applications. Learn more about applying smart technologies in our most recent White Paper, “Variable Refrigerant Flow: A Versatile HVAC Solution for K-12 Educational Facilities.”

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August 9, 2017, 9:00 am

The Trend Toward Green

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Every year, it seems, there’s a new green rating program for homes. A long but still incomplete list includes: DOE Zero Energy Ready Home, EarthCraft, ENERGY STAR®, GreenStar, HERS®, LEED® for Homes, Living Building Challenge™, National Green Building Standard™ and Passive House. In short, builders and homeowners are going green.

Recent studies corroborate this trend. In 2016, McGraw Hill surveyed 116 builders regarding their green building practices. Over a third of those builders completed green projects, which accounted for more than 60 percent of their business. By 2018, the percentage of green projects completed by those builders is expected to rise to 90 percent. Over the same period, just 16 percent of builders are expected not to embrace green building.

The U.S. Green Building Council has attempted to understand why builders and homeowners have sustainability in mind. The top reasons driving this upswing in green building include strong market demand, homeowner cost savings, health, building codes and property values. There doesn’t appear to be one single reason the market is going green, but there is a theme among the reasons: to build and live sustainably.

It helps that green building goes hand-in-hand with advancing technology and decreasing footprints. We’re in an era of high expectations when it comes to convenience, which ultimately means that technology – and often-smart technology – must be integrated throughout a space. It’s also an era of smaller houses as homeowners look to control costs, locate themselves more centrally and live meaningfully. The result is that builders are tasked with providing homes that meet all of the market’s previous demands, but that are also contemporary when it comes to technology and footprint.

Fortunately, builders have tools at their disposal to solve this challenge. Manufacturers are offering mobile apps, products and even entire mechanical systems that help builders create homes they can stand by, and homes people want.

If you want to read more about the continual rise in sustainable building and living, check out our Builder newsletter here.

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July 26, 2017, 9:00 am

Specifying VRF for Multifamily Projects

With many people moving into cities, and with many others moving into walkable communities in the suburbs, multifamily projects are booming. Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) technology is a smart fit for this application, and is more relevant than ever given the current market demands and trends.

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Learn more about applying VRF to multifamily applications in our White Paper, “VRF Zoning: An Ideal HVAC Solution for Multifamily Applications.”

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June 28, 2017, 9:00 am

The Implications of an Aging Population on Facility Managers

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Facility managers know every demographic and societal shift has its effect. When populations flocked to the suburbs, the demand for downtown multifamily facilities decreased while the demand for offices and retail centers with parking facilities increased. Recently, the purchasing power of millennials has made all things tech and green popular. As our society grow older, we will see another shift again.

According to leading U.S. demographer, John Maketa, “One baby boomer is retiring in this country every eight seconds.” The U.S. census bureau estimates that by 2050, the number of Americans over 65 will be double what it was in 2010, reaching 88.5 million people. And the number of Americans over 85 will triple, reaching 19 million. Everyone will need comfortable, safe places to live, work and play.

When it comes to housing, many members of our aging population will seek out multifamily buildings for the sake of convenience and community. Facility managers suddenly catering to older tenants will adjust to this population’s needs by developing a hyper-focus on physically safe spaces without losing focus on smooth day-to-day operation. That means reliable mechanical systems enabling healthy spaces will be more important than ever.

Outside of the home, commercial and public spaces will need to be managed with the aging in mind. Hospitality, workplace, healthcare and retail spaces will all need to be accessible, for example, by featuring wider hallways and doorways. Beyond being accessible, these spaces will also need to provide reliable, trouble-free comfort.

Ultimately, facility managers can be a voice for the aging, urging building owners or HOA boards to go beyond requirements. Separate entrances that accommodate this population can be stigmatizing, for example, as can systems focused on just a few individuals, like personal air purifiers. Facility managers can help ensure that a facility is welcoming to an aging populace. It’s a responsibility and an opportunity, and it’s one that will only feel more urgent as our population ages.

To read more about building livable communities, check out the most recent Facility Management newsletter here.

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June 7, 2017, 9:00 am

The Rise of Livable Communities

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For years now, builders have been focused on the aging population and their housing needs. That’s a wise move. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2050 there will be an estimated 88.5 million Americans over the age of 65 and 19 million over the age of 85. The sheer size of this group has created demands that builders have worked hard to meet. An additional challenge is how this population’s demands have shifted and evolved over the years.

One shift was revealed by a recent AARP Public Policy Institute survey. Many survey respondents expressed a desire for their home to be in a “livable community.” Livable communities are designed to be safe and vibrant environments that address issues such as land use, housing and transportation ‒ all relevant to aging in place. Typically, these environments allow the elderly to access public transportation, retail stores and even green spaces.

The actual homes within a livable community speak to these same needs. To keep their housing convenient, cost-friendly and worry-free, this generation asks for compact, maintenance-free spaces. This is where selecting smart cooling and heating solutions can make a difference. Certain mechanical systems offer a smaller footprint, increased energy efficiency and user-friendliness for this population.

Livable communities by definition are more than houses or apartments; they include commercial spaces like grocery stores, retail and restaurants. Builders may not be responsible for the design and construction of these commercial spaces, but may have the opportunity to partner with other professionals who are responsible. Ideally, these partners will share the builder’s vision of creating truly livable communities. That collaboration and synergy will produce the communities of the future.

Here at Mitsubishi Electric, we want to support builders’ plans for these vibrant, livable communities. On our webpages, you’ll learn about our smart, flexible technologies that support this important work.

To read more about building livable communities, check out the most recent Builder newsletter here.

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May 10, 2017, 9:00 am

In Our Ever-changing World of Design, What’s Next?

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We have all seen how buildings change with the times. When there are more cars, more parking garages are created. As people move back into cities, mixed-use developments soar. As a new building material or mechanical system becomes popular, the industry quickly adopts it. The perennial question, then, is: What’s next?

In 2017, a recognizable answer is 3D-printed buildings. We’ve previously discussed how the industry has been excited about buildings that can be created at any time in any place. Another increasingly recognizable idea we’ve covered is green retrofitting – the practice of renovating old properties to be green instead of tearing them down and building new.

From here, it seems the industry is becoming more playful and resourceful. Dutch company Wikkelhouse makes fully functional homes out of 24 layers of cardboard wrapped around a mold. The houses are designed to last at least 50 years and are fully customizable.

Meanwhile, architects like Italy’s Stefano Boeri are designing “vertical forests.” These tall buildings feature ample trees and bushes; they’re planted on every floor, on all sides of the building. The idea is to improve air quality and tackle urban sprawl.

Here in the U.S., we’re also seeing a trend toward doing more with less. New York City recently received its first micro-unit apartment building, with units as small as 260 square feet. Washington, D.C., recently got its first pod hotel. The spaces are designed to be minimalist, but still livable and satisfying.

From an HVAC perspective, we’re curious about it all. Smaller spaces need smaller, more flexible HVAC solutions. Green buildings need super-efficient mechanical systems. Even cardboard homes need cooling and heating! We’re excited to think about how our zoned and VRF technologies can be applied to even the most creative projects. Because it seems that no matter what comes next, Mitsubishi Electric has an HVAC solution.

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April 19, 2017, 9:00 am

The Green Retrofit Takeover

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It’s no secret that we’ve seen an increased demand for commercial buildings that are environmentally conscious and able to conserve energy. Building owners and managers have quickly learned that going green can attract more, higher-paying tenants. A majority of this demand is being met by high-performance buildings, but there are not enough new construction projects to satisfy the market. To fully meet these demands, the industry has turned to green retrofits.

The green retrofitting trend is good news for the industry. The National Institute of Building Sciences recently found that retrofitting an existing building can oftentimes be more cost effective than building a new green facility. There’s also been talk about the long-term benefits of green retrofitting. According to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), “Owners of green buildings reported that their return on investment improved by 19.2% on average for existing building green projects” compared to just “9.9% on average for new projects.” Other benefits include reduced operating costs and environmental impact, and an increased market value. Green retrofitted buildings also tend to have a longer lifespan and contribute to a comfortable environment for tenants – especially since tenants now want features such as rooftop gardens and use of recycled material for interior finishes and furnishings.

Green retrofitting can also play an important role in facilities where the occupant experience is paramount. These renovated buildings feature improved indoor air quality and upgraded accessibility and security. The USGBC reported the following about how retrofitting can improve tenant health: “Building retrofits which improved the indoor environment of a building resulted in reductions of: communicable respiratory diseases of 9-20%; allergies and asthma of 18-25%; and non-specific health and discomfort effects of 20-50%.”

It’s an exciting time to become involved in green retrofit projects. From now until 2023, the USGBC predicts that commercial building owners and managers will invest an estimated $960 billion globally on green retrofitting. At Mitsubishi Electric, we have welcomed green retrofitting with open arms and our products are a strong fit for this application. For example, our efficient Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) technology helped Stack House Apartments renovate their facility to be a showcase of sustainability. And, like Stack House Apartments, we look forward to a greener future.

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April 5, 2017, 9:00 am

Specifying With Thermal Comfort in Mind

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Want to read more industry news? Click here to see our archive of newsletters for engineers, architects, facility managers and builders. You’ll also have a chance to subscribe to one or more newsletters.

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March 21, 2017, 9:00 am

How VRF Addresses Educational Facilities’ IAQ Challenges

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As VRF has continued to innovate and improve, it has evolved from being a good solution for educational facilities to the solution. Read more in our K-12 Educational Facilities White Paper.

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February 21, 2017, 9:00 am

The Trend Toward Socially Conscious Multifamily Facilities

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The multifamily sector is seeing an amenities arms race. Residents want more and more, and the desired amenities now branch beyond obvious offerings like concierge services and rooftop terraces. Many new amenities are designed to draw in socially conscious tenants.

Building Design + Construction magazine recently named some popular new amenities. Among them were bike storage and car-sharing services – amenities that help tenants live a more socially responsible lifestyle. Likewise when it comes to new technology, tenants want amenities that help them (and the broader community) live sustainably, like advanced controls for HVAC and lighting systems.

Some tenants are socially conscious enough that they’re taking it a step further and signing so-called “green leases.” Green Building & Design magazine notes that in Boston’s Allston Green District, residents must sign a Green Declaration. In doing so, they commit to activities like minimizing energy and water usage, recycling and using public transit – the idea being that not only must the building be green, but so must its tenants. That might sound like a tall order, but finding tenants was no problem for this neighborhood: every unit was preleased before the building was completed.

Of course, not all tenants are ready for a green lease. Some just want to live in a building with green practices – particularly recycling. A recent National Multifamily Housing Council survey found that 80 percent of tenants consider recycling a “top lease decision factor,” and are willing to pay more in rent for that amenity.

This trend toward social consciousness may seem intimidating, but facility managers can rest assured that even small steps can make a difference. For example, a simple recycling program can help attract the new – and large – generation of socially conscious tenants. And those facility managers who can push broader green programs – they’ll be in good company!

Want to read more industry news? Click here to see our archive of newsletters written for architects, engineers, facility managers and builders. You’ll also have a chance to subscribe to one or more newsletters.

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