Exploding the Myths of Insulating Concrete Form Construction Technology

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The insulating concrete forms (ICF) industry is rampant with inaccurate information. Some have been passed along by industry members, while others represent simple misunderstandings about the technology. Most of these misstatements are made by persons that simply lack the appropriate knowledge behind the information. The toughest part of researching ICFs is not finding the information, but sorting through all of the inaccurate information.

Virtually every aspect of the ICF industry is affected by misstated information, but the most common issues involve discussions of R-Value, waterproofing, and termites and bugs. R-value statements range from R-18 to R-50+. To explode this myth and get a clearer understanding of this myth, you will need a firm understanding of R-value and the difference between PERFORMANCE and TRUE R-values.

Myth 1: R-Value

An R-value is the measure of resistance (R) of heat flow. Heat flow can be resisted by insulating materials such as plastic foams or mineral fibers, or can be slowed by massive dense materials such as thick masonry or concrete. The larger the R-value, the greater the resistance and the better the insulating value.

All building materials transfer heat to some degree. Heat transfer can be measured by any of the following: 1. Conductivity (k); 2. Conductance (c); 3. Transmittance (U); 4. Resistance (R).

The ability of dense materials to retard heat flow depends on their ability to store heat and is measured by specific heat and heat capacity. (BTU per lb. Per degree F; Density lb. Per cu.ft.; Heat Capacity BTU per cu.ft. per degree F)

When it comes to stating R-values in residential construction, the insulation values applied to a wall or ceiling typically refer to the R-value of the insulation material that is installed, not of the wall or ceiling assembly. For example, when a 2×4 stud wall is insulated with R-11 batt type insulation, the builder states that the wall is an R-11. This is not totally accurate and is NOT TRUE since approximately 20% of the wall is not insulated at all. The wood framing and sheathing do have an R-value, but for the sake of making insulation claims, they add very little. The real R-value or PERFORMANCE R-value ends up between R-3 and R-9. Add to this, the fact that the wall is full of penetrations, such as electrical outlets etc. and the fact that the wall itself is basically hollow in nature. This added thought leads to another discussion on air leakage through the wall.

With ICF technology, the TRUE insulation value of the wall is that of the Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) since the EPS provides a continuous insulation plane from the footing to the top plate. The insulation value of the EPS is determined by the density and thickness of the material. Some ICF systems have EPS that is of differing thickness (waffle and post and beam systems) that typically average the thickness of the foam. This is, in my opinion, not an accurate measurement since a bucket with a hole in the bottom doesn’t carry as much water as a solid bucket with a hole at the top. Most ICFs utilize EPS foam that has a density of approximately 1.5 lbs pcf to 2.0 lbs pcf. The insulation values differ only slightly in that range and depending on the testing laboratory, provide R-values between R-4 and R-4.5 per inch of EPS thickness.

The claim that ICF walls are an R-50 started a few years ago after the Insulating Concrete Form Association (ICFA) and several members commissioned CTL Laboratories in Chicago to perform some R-value testing and analysis. The summary of the report basically said that depending on the climate zone, the PERFORMANCE R-values for ICF technology is as high as an R-52 when COMPARED to typical wood frame and batt construction. In order to make the comparison correct, one must insure that the comparison is being done vs. the alternative to ICF on the particular project. On average, the performance R-value is much less than the claimed R-50. Research by the consumer must be done to clarify the comparison for the actual project. In short, ICF will PERFORM at an R-50, but that statement is not accurate as far as an insulation value goes.

For more information on insulation values, green building, and energy efficient building, try these websites for research:Energy Star Program, Concrete Homes. Do a Google search to find others many others. It is worth noting that there are many options for research on the internet and that I neither own nor control any of the suggested research links listed in this article.

Myth 2: Waterproofing

Yes, below grade concrete construction should always be waterproofed and this includes ICF technology. Three options include: dimpled membrane, peel and stick membrane, and roll-on/spray-on products. In some jurisdictions in the US, a combination of dimpled membrane and peel and stick membrane or roll-on/spray-on products must be used to meet local building codes. It is best to consult your local building code officials and your local ICF supplier to ensure that you meet the minimum code requirements and use only products that are compatible with EPS.

Myth 3: Termites and Bugs

According to the ICFA, the International Residential Code has provisions in the IRC to allow for foam to be used below-grade. The IRC stipulates in addition to chemical soil treatment, foam can be used below-grade on the exterior of the wall if one of the following requirements is met:

  1. All interior partition walls and roof trusses are built of a non-combustible material such as steel studs or pressure treated lumber.
  2. An approved method for protecting the foam plastic and structure is used.

Polyguard Underseal(TM) XT Waterproofing Membranes has an evaluation report that shows they are an approved method for protecting foam from termites below-grade. Checkout the Polyguard website for additional Polyguard information. Tip, you may want to install an aluminum termination bar along the top edge (AKA: termite stop-ant stop). One benefit, besides stopping insects, is that the termination bar helps out with screeding stucco, etc. over the foam which you will need to protect the exposed area of foam. Also, don’t run your siding down to the grade. This is just another shortcut for ants, termites, and other insects to get up the wall and start nesting behind your siding.

Remember, these insects don’t eat the foam, but they can burrow through it, especially in search of food. Eliminate the food source and eliminate the problem. Wood products can be totally replaced in your new home. There is no longer any reason to use wood products in areas of the US with high termite infestation. Consider steel framing, AZEK Trimboards and V-Buck for your next project and get the wood out! Although many additional myths exist and continue to thrive, it is important that you remain diligent in your information gathering. As you seek additional information, be sure to work with those that have the heart of a teacher. Seek those that have a passion for the industry and both understand and can explain the issues.

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How Mobile Apps Are Fast Altering The Hospitality Industry

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A consistent challenge for hoteliers and other related tourism business is keeping up with the expectations of customers. Apparently, mobile app technology flared up in the past years as a game-changing development for businesses across different industry verticals to offer high-end customer services. No doubt,hospitality or tourism services too have adopted and embraced the app technology, they have helped businesses in the field to augment customer engagement along with providing great experiences. There are innumerable ways mobile apps impacted hospitality businesses and completely transformed the holidaying experience of avid travellers. Here’s illustrating how do mobile apps are revamping the hospitality businesses and are transforming the travelling experience for people in an incredible way.

Provision of personalised services

People no more have to search the internet to know about great destinations, hotels, resorts, adventure spots and other whereabouts of a place. They can now get every bit of details of their specified destinations, book flight tickets, reserve hotel accommodations and enquire about reasonable holiday packages, all through the apps. Due to the presence of apps, travellers can explore their destinations all alone and no longer has to contact a tourist agent to who will make arrangements for their trip considering the budget.

Up-to-date and detailed information sharing

Apps became a great tool or information hub to the hoteliers who can provide all real-time and accurate information about them to the end customers from any part of the globe. As such, hotels, resorts, restaurants and other attractive amenities at a tourist place can own an app to inform travellers about their services, help them book services in advance, offer seasonal discounts or notify about any events. Thus, mobile apps empowered various players in the hospitality sector to widen the market of their property or services and engage them in an extraordinary manner.

Enhanced communication with customers and develop long-term relations

It’s a great hurdle for every company involved in hospitality to communicate with customers in a way that attracts them to their services. Mobile apps provide the businesses with immediate and an intimate way for interacting with customers throughout their planning for the trip. They allow customers give feedback on any service availed by them, search for tour packages that deemed fit in their pockets prior to their trip, great holiday hotel packages, enquire about the weather, transport and other situations of the tourist places. In other words, apps are a great channel for travel companies to nurture their relations with customers and possibly expand their market with word of mouth promotion through positive reviews social media shares.

Help businesses uplift their customers’ loyalty

Offering specific rewards or loyalty schemes to fetch back old customers or attract more other customers through references are great ways to intensify revenues for hotels and resorts. Apps seemingly empower them to offer loyalty programs to their trustworthy visitors. Apps help business owners recognise their reliable and steady customers, and hence they could target them with push notifications about their offers on the basis of their previous visit history, location, behaviour, user/ family profiles and so forth.

Apart from these lucrative benefits that companies in the hospitality sector can get from mobile apps, there are much more usefulness of mobile apps that can they can leverage from them like reduced paperwork and entries, online receipt of payments, advanced marketing, easy navigation services to travellers and so forth. While adoption of technology became a paramount aspect for every business, a well planned and dedicated mobile app can definitely aid hospitality businesses to magnify their revenue and growth.

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The Fitness Industry Wants You to Stay Fat

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It’s confusing, isn’t it? Well guess what, they want you to be confused, because like the old saying goes, “Confusion sells products.”

If the fitness industry can keep you confused, they can keep you fat. And if they can keep you fat, they can continue to get richer and richer off you.

But you can end your confusion, right here, right now.

There is a very simple reason why you can’t lose the fat and keep it off. Everything the fitness industry has told you up till now is WRONG. Really, you are overweight because you are relying on the wrong information to get fit.

Whether you are being blatantly lied to, or whether you are just being fed the wrong information by friends and family because they believe the lies, you are getting the wrong information, and that is why you are fat.

So let me take a minute, right now, to introduce you to the 5 Truths of Quick and Permanent Fat Loss.

Keep in mind that these five truths will probably contradict everything you’ve ever heard about fitness!

Weight Loss Truth #1: You need to lose fat, not weight. If you do lose any weight with any of the trendy diets and programs out there, you are actually losing water weight, not fat. You aren’t getting any healthier…in fact, you’re actually getting dangerously dehydrated!

Weight Loss Truth #2: A low carb diet won’t actually help you to lose fat in the long run because it will sap your body’s energy and become impossible to stick to. And low fat diets are even worse, because they actually cause you to gain more weight. The only real way to lose fat is to eat the right foods in the right amounts, at the right times. It’s easier than you think!

Weight Loss Truth #3: Long cardio workouts are the worst way to go about losing fat. You can burn five times as much fat doing certain exercises only 45 minutes per week…not per day, per week!

Weight Loss Truth #4: Those celebrity-endorsed boxed food diets are expensive and ineffective. You’ll have to keep paying for months, and buy all your own vegetables. You’ll end up spending hundreds of dollars each month and lose weight very slowly.

Weight Loss Truth #5: Restrictive diets and starving yourself are dangerous and don’t work.

Now that you know these facts, you can see that your weight loss efforts were probably sabotaged before you even started!

But there is a better way.

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Importance Of Data Mining In Today’s Business World

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What is Data Mining? Well, it can be defined as the process of getting hidden information from the piles of databases for analysis purposes. Data Mining is also known as Knowledge Discovery in Databases (KDD). It is nothing but extraction of data from large databases for some specialized work.

Data Mining is largely used in several applications such as understanding consumer research marketing, product analysis, demand and supply analysis, e-commerce, investment trend in stocks & real estates, telecommunications and so on. Data Mining is based on mathematical algorithm and analytical skills to drive the desired results from the huge database collection.

Data Mining has great importance in today’s highly competitive business environment. A new concept of Business Intelligence data mining has evolved now, which is widely used by leading corporate houses to stay ahead of their competitors. Business Intelligence (BI) can help in providing latest information and used for competition analysis, market research, economical trends, consume behavior, industry research, geographical information analysis and so on. Business Intelligence Data Mining helps in decision-making.

Data Mining applications are widely used in direct marketing, health industry, e-commerce, customer relationship management (CRM), FMCG industry, telecommunication industry and financial sector. Data mining is available in various forms like text mining, web mining, audio & video data mining, pictorial data mining, relational databases, and social networks data mining.

Data mining, however, is a crucial process and requires lots of time and patience in collecting desired data due to complexity and of the databases. This could also be possible that you need to look for help from outsourcing companies. These outsourcing companies are specialized in extracting or mining the data, filtering it and then keeping them in order for analysis. Data Mining has been used in different context but is being commonly used for business and organizational needs for analytical purposes

Usually data mining requires lots of manual job such as collecting information, assessing data, using internet to look for more details etc. The second option is to make software that will scan the internet to find relevant details and information. Software option could be the best for data mining as this will save tremendous amount of time and labor. Some of the popular data mining software programs available are Connexor Machines, Free Text Software Technologies, Megaputer Text Analyst, SAS Text Miner, LexiQuest, WordStat, Lextek Profiling Engine.

However, this could be possible that you won’t get appropriate software which will be suitable for your work or finding the suitable programmer would also be difficult or they may charge hefty amount for their services. Even if you are using the best software, you will still need human help in completion of projects. In that case, outsourcing data mining job will be advisable.

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The Future of Github and the Impact of Data Hosting in the Industry

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During June of last year, one of the biggest providers of version control services, Github, was acquired by Microsoft. What repercussions does this entail and how is the future of such services? What can we extrapolate of such decision? To truly understand the questions in matter, we need to focus on what we are storing. Data is vital to every aspect of development, ranging from how we manipulate it, where we store it and who do we entrust our precious information with. Who has access to it, what law protects it from unintended use and what projects may branch out of it. Information has become so critical to us that in order to keep it safe, we have developed mechanisms to keep a tight control on how we collaborate and store it.

Data hosting services are nothing new, we’ve had Rapidshare, Megaupload and other companies all provide data hosting services for years before Github was even a thing. While the services they provide are in essence different, they are all handling and storing data for end users with paid and free hosting paradigms. These free plans were the first step towards the snowball that slowly led the industry to accommodate to newer and different approaches to paid and free repository services.

To show, or not to show?

GitHub has always had a free storage option, but in the past, that free tier was limited to public repositories, where everyone is able to see and fork a copy of your hard work. If you were an aspiring developer who wanted to delve into source control at first, the best affordable option was to make your code public. Even after landing your first developer job, when it comes time to move on or work on a side project, you might not want to have your work out, available for anyone or for your current employer to see and make assumptions out of. A company that in the past held a free Github account for their source code in serious business projects usually had as much credibility as a three dollar bill.

Repercussions

At the end of the day, the deal was almost inevitable, whether it had been Google, Apple or another company within the cloud of conglomerates that could have bought Github. So what does it mean for the world’s biggest crowd-sourced code repository to be bought by the world’s biggest software company? For starters, it means that now Microsoft has the ability to access the repositories of roughly 28 million developers and organizations. Secondly, Github suddenly becomes a standard for future companies that might ever want to start with a source control service. Developers won’t be settling for less than the minimum they obtain for free, and from our perspective, freelance software developers won’t be settling for anything else.

With this being said, the future holds new and exciting plans as these platforms will continue to shift into different pricing plans, now instead of being a nuisance to developers and logistics, they will move to providing different tools along with the hosting service they provide and for one, I am curious of what we will see in the following years as we expect more and more companies adhere to these new plans.

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