Lessons Learned the Hard Way

first_imgFive years ago, I completed a green remodel of my family’s home. We included green features like solar electric panels, a solar hot water system, recycled lumber, Trex decking, and many other green products. But since the remodeling work was completed, we’ve had years of consistently high propane bills, and I began to question whether my house is actually any greener or more sustainable that the average home.For the past three years, our home has consumed between 1,300 and 1,500 gallons of propane per year. That’s “sustainable,” all right — for the oil industry! I have since learned that while using recycled, reclaimed, and renewable products is a noble green building objective, it’s more important to produce an energy-efficient, durable, healthy building that conserves water. Once that’s done, you can supplement your energy with renewables and fill in with as many green products as you like.An energy auditFrustrated by our high energy bills, we hired Balance Point Home Performance Contractors to test our home and help devise strategies for reducing our energy use. These energy auditors performed a blower-door test to determine shell leakage, used infrared thermography to locate leaks, calculated the required heating and cooling loads according to Manual J from the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), tested the safety of our combustion appliances, and measured the actual efficiency of the heating and cooling systems.When we remodeled our house, we had chosen to install a radiant floor heating system. Although it was more expensive than other heating systems, it was supposed to be more comfortable and more energy efficient. The radiant tubing was installed in the joist bays below our subfloor. The HVAC contractor chose the less-efficient method of hanging the tubing in the bays instead of stapling it up to the subfloor with heat transfer plates. The contractor also connected the tubing to our uninsulated rim joists, which does a great job of radiating heat to the outdoors. I was advised to use foil-backed fiberglass batts underneath the PEX tubing to reflect heat upward. That’s fine, if you want to keep all the critters warm and cozy in your crawl space — because the fiberglass batts leak heat like a sieve.Furthermore, it turns out that our boiler was considerably oversized. According to the Manual J calculations, our peak heating load is 46,000 Btu/h, but somehow we ended up with a 90,000 Btu/h boiler — twice the necessary size.Fixing these problems won’t be cheapNow, we’re facing the need to downsize the boiler, remove the tubing connections from the rim joists, add heat transfer plates in our joist bays, and install rigid foam insulation under our PEX tubing and at the interior of our rim joists. Then I’ll need to air seal the whole assembly. What an incredible waste of more energy — my energy!The solar hot water system with a tankless water heater as backup has never operated effectively. Solar hot water systems will likely be standard practice someday, but for now they are expensive, and most plumbers aren’t experienced in the correct installation of solar equipment.In retrospect, our tankless water heater was a mistake. Some tankless systems are designed for solar backup, but we mistakenly chose a model that was not designed to accept preheated (solar-heated) water. In general, tankless water heaters provide minimal energy savings, cost about three times as much as a storage unit, and actually waste more water than a storage unit due to the delay in firing. They do, however, produce an endless supply of hot water. But, how is that a green selling point in water-challenged California?Stopping air leaksBuilding shell leakage, in my opinion, are responsible for some of the worst energy losses in most homes. Air leaks are caused by builders’ lack of knowledge and poor workmanship. Air leaks into attics can be easily reduced by using spray foam to seal ceiling leaks and by installing an air barrier on the back side of kneewalls. Air sealing roof vent channels and interstitial cavities is not hard work; it just needs to be done. Reducing shell leakage is probably more important, more effective, and less expensive than the majority of green products on the market.With the 50% California rebate we received in 2004, our photovoltaic (PV) system might appear as a grand success. But it will take approximately 15 years for the PV system to repay itself. It might be a fine investment for those with a big budget, but PV should be way down the list when money is limited. We cannot simply buy sustainability; we must achieve sustainability through careful workmanship throughout the building process.On the positive side, we did make some smart green choices. We used structural insulated panels (SIPs) for our addition, and they have a high R-value and perform well. The Loewen casement windows also function well with minimal air leakage. And we love our interior cabinets, trim, and doors, all made from recycled Douglas fir and cherry certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).Indoor air quality must be carefully considered when building a new home or remodeling. Tighter homes require a good mechanical ventilation system. Get fresh, filtered air from clean places, not stale air leakage from crawl spaces and attics. Test your home for radon. Test all gas appliances for combustion safety. Use carbon monoxide detectors, and be careful if your garage is attached to the house. Car exhaust and other toxins can leak into your home when it is under a negative pressure.All new equipment needs to be commissionedFinally, don’t assume that any particular building system or mechanical system will automatically be energy efficient. Regardless of the type of equipment you choose, any system can either perform beautifully or perform pathetically. Be sure that any work you do is tested by a home-performance contractor to be sure it performs to energy efficient, healthy standards. I wish I had known that five years ago.— E. Conrad Welch owns Dovetail Construction and works as a green building consultant.last_img read more

Don’t Make Excuses for Not Calling on Your Dream Clients

first_img Essential Reading! Get my 3rd book: Eat Their Lunch “The first ever playbook for B2B salespeople on how to win clients and customers who are already being serviced by your competition.” Buy Now Most of us work in businesses that require us to win clients who are already working with our competitors, something we euphemistically refer to as a “competitive displacement.” It can be difficult to win your dream clients, and you can easily be discouraged by the time and effort it requires of you, especially if you don’t have a strategy for doing so (See my third book, Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away from Your Competition for proven strategies and tactics).Win customers away from your competition. Check out Eat Their LunchThe following four excuses prevent salespeople from putting in the work necessary to displace their competitor and win their dream clients, along with a better, healthier way to think about winning your dream clients.They will never leave their current provider. Never is a very long time. So long, you can’t even imagine it, eternity being incomprehensible. Given a long enough timeline, every one of your dream clients is going to leave their current partner. Over that same timeline, you will lose all of your best clients for one reason or another, many lost through no fault of your own. If you aren’t nurturing relationships, when your dream client is willing to explore change, you won’t know it, now will they know you.They aren’t worth the time or trouble. Some clients are more challenging to win than others. They are more demanding, and they need more time and attention. Some of their demands would stretch you and your company, requiring you to grow. There may be easier prospects to target, and there may be fresh leads you believe are more valuable than your targets. Winning these clients can not only grow your capabilities, but it can also help you differentiate your offering, helping you win other clients.They are only interested in the lowest price and won’t invest. Some prospects in your territory only perceive “lowest price” as value. These prospects give you zero credit for your compelling differentiation, even when your higher price results in lower overall costs, something a lot of clients say they want until you hand them the pricing and a contract. Over time, as circumstances change, some of the price-sensitive prospects will decide they can no longer suffer the failures that inevitably come from the concessions they’ve made by accepting the lowest price, and conclude they need to spend more on their solution.We failed them once, and they’ll never use us again. In the course of my career, I have had several grouchy clients tell me they would never use my company again. So far, that has never proven to be true. Over time, the clients you fail will forgive you (and maybe you will forgive them). The stakeholders who were unhappy with you will move on, leaving their company for another opportunity, replaced by a new decision-maker. Another company will purchase that company and look at all of their partners to ensure they’re getting what they need.You are always going to be prospecting, and the time is going to pass whether you do this work or not. If you want to win your dream client, you will have to put forth the effort, believing that, over time, their circumstances will change, and you will be there to capitalize on the opportunity.last_img read more

Wimbledon 2011: Federer-Nadal to continue their rivalry for years

first_imgNick Bollettieri is a much sought after man even today. Just a month short of 80, the supreme tennis guru is at Wimbledon in a different capacity – a columnist plus expert.Tennis guru Nick BollettieriBut that has not stopped the celebrated coach from giving interviews. On Wednesday, in an exclusive chat with MAIL TODAY, Bollettieri spoke on a wide range of tennis issues.Even as tennis lovers debate who is the best men’s player and who will win the ladies singles title, Bollettieri is sure the best of the Williams sisters is not yet over. “I have no hesitation Venus and Serena can go the full distance as this is Wimbledon and they love this place so much,” he said.As one who has shaped the careers of several stars from Boris Becker to Andre Agassi and Monica Seles to Maria Sharapova, the tennis guru had one quick point to make. “When Boris used to win at Wimbledon, he would tell me he doesn’t want to leave the place till the end of the fortnight. With so much of unpredictability in women’s tennis, one Williams can still pull it off,” says Bollettieri.So where does that leave Li Na, the Chinese sensation. Bollettieri’s eyes lit up. “Li Na is indeed exciting and her win at the French Open was big. She has almost no weakness in her game and all the strokes are there in her repertoire.She is a tremendous player and loves to hit the ball on the rise,” rattled off the coach.advertisementIn between the interview, Bollettieri also takes business calls, as he runs the busiest tennis academy (NBTA) in Florida.”I have been doing so many interviews today with the London TV channels and now I have an Indian mediaman waiting for me. I am a celebrity I guess!” he said on the phone before returning for the debate on what’s the depth in men’s tennis.Bollettieri’s eyes sparkle when you talk of Federer, Sampras and Nadal. He has been a great fan of Sampras’ serve and volley style. “I mean today you have four guys at the top who can win the men’s title. Between Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray, anyone can win. But you have to look at a guy like del Potro. He is big and tough,” says Bollettieri.Bollettieri says with conviction there is not going to be a change of guard in men’s tennis so soon.”Look at the way Federer has preserved himself. His serve and that backhand and his cool, everything is in place. He has a great coach in Paul Annacone who I have coached. With this kind of a technique Roger is going to be around for a long time,” says Bollettieri.So what’s that one factor which makes Federer even harder to beat. “I have no doubt in saying Federer has no off-court stuff and no night clubs to distract him. He has an excellent support and family and if he stays this way, he can win for another four years,” says Bollettieri.”The same goes for Nadal. He doesn’t hang out late, though his training methods are different. He is going to give it a 110 per cent in training come what may, and that’s even if he is returning after a break. I can tell you one thing, Nadal doesn’t burn the candle at two ends,” says the tennis guru.So who is the best? “Sampras’s serve and volley was really good.But if he was to stay back against Federer, then it would be tough to win. As for Federer, he has the serve and the fluid motions in his game. Add to that his backhand, you know it,” says Bollettieri.Still guessing?For more news on India, click here.For more news on Business, click here.For more news on Movies, click here.For more news on Sports, click here.last_img read more

Parupalli Kashyap, Sameer Verma, HS Prannoy reach US Open quarter-finals

first_imgIndian shuttlers Parupalli Kashyap, Sameer Verma and HS Prannoy advanced to the quarter-finals of the men’s singles competition at the USD 120,000 US Open Grand Prix Gold here.Kashyap crossed the second round after his opponent Hungary’s Gergely Krausz retired midway in the second game with the scoreline reading 21-18, 17-6 in favour of the Indian.The Commonwealth Games champion then defeated Sri Lanka’s Niluka Karunaratne, seeded 16th, 21-19, 21-10 in the pre-quarters match on the same day.Kashyap will next face compatriot and fifth seed Sameer Verma, who notched up victories over Croatia’s Zvonimir Durkinjak and Brazil’s Ygor Coelho.Sameer, who is making a comeback after recovering from a shoulder injury, had to fight hard to get the better off Zvonimir 21-19, 25-27, 21-15 in the first match. He then saw off ninth seed Ygor 18-21, 21-14, 21-18.Second seed HS Prannoy, meanwhile, brushed aside Ireland’s Joshua Magee 21-13, 21-17 before staving off a challenge from Netherlands’ Mark Caljouw, seeded 12th, 21-8, 14-21, 21-16 in 48 minutes.Prannoy will face eighth seed Kanta Tsuneyama of Japan next.Among other Indians in fray, third seeds Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy defeated Indonesian combo of Hendra Tandjaya and Androw Yunanto 21-16, 21-9 to set up a clash with seventh seeded Japanese Hiroki Okamura and Masayuki Onodera.It was however curtains for Harsheel Dani, Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli, Rituparna Das in singles event.Vietnam’s Tien Minh Nguyen ended Harsheel’s stay with a 27-25, 21-9 win, while Sri Krishna lost 11-21, 10-21 to fifth seed Jang Mi Lee of Korea. Rituparna suffered a 15-21, 20-22 loss to seventh seed Natalia Koch Rohde of Denmark.advertisementMen’s doubles pair of Francis Alwin and Tarun Kona fought hard before losing 19-21, 21-9, 14-21 to seventh seed Hiroki Okamura and Masayuki Onodera of Japan.Women’s doubles pair of Meghana Jakkampudi and Poorvisha S Ram also bowed out with a 18-21, 9-21 loss to seventh seeds Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara of Japan.Mixed doubles pair of Manu and Maneesha also suffered a 16-21, 12-21 loss to fourth seeded Malaysian combo of Goh Soon Huat and Shevon Jemie Lai.last_img read more