Chambers Wants Passage of CLSG Financing Agreement

first_imgSpeaker Chambers (L) in handshake with Mr. Mohammed M. Sherif, head of the delegation of TRANSCO CLSGFor CLSG interconnection projectHouse Speaker Bhofal Chambers says the Legislature will ensure the passage of the additional financing agreement for La Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea (CLSG) interconnection project, submitted for ratification on July 10, 2018, by President George Weah.The amount of the additional financing allotted to Liberia is US$45.3 million. The agreement was signed on December 11, 2017, and comprises a grant of US$22.6 million and a loan of US$22.7 million.Chambers said the Legislature is excited about the electricity project and will support its implementation in full.He said electricity supports education, health, industry, security and the comfort of life, adding, “Liberia needs this project. We will do our best to ratify the agreement.”It can be recalled that in February 2012, the Summit of ECOWAS Heads of States and Government approved the revised ECOWAS Master Plan for the Generation and Transmission of Electric Power, which identifies La Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea (CLSG) Interconnection Project as one of the five priority projects of the West African Power Pool (WAPP) for the sub-region.The objective of the WAPP is to establish a regional electricity market in West Africa through the appropriate development and implementation of key infrastructure so that all ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) member states are given access to economic energy resources.In order to accelerate the implementation of the CLSG interconnection project, WAPP uses a Special Purpose Company as a vehicle of achieving this objective.Accordingly, the four countries duly signed and ratified an International Treaty establishing a Regional Transmission Company (RTC) known as TRANSCO CLSG with the mandate to finance, construct, own, operate and further develop the CLSG transmission interconnection line. TRANSCO CLSG is fully established and has been operational since September 5, 2014, following the appointment of its General Manager and his subsequent assumption into office at its Headquarters in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.The Speaker’s remarks were prompted by a visit from Mr. Mohammed M. Sherif, head of the delegation of TRANSCO CLSG told Speaker Chambers Monday at his Capitol Building in Monrovia that his institution is implementing a contract with West African Power Pool which will bring to reality a true actualization of the availability of significant power supply affecting several counties in Liberia amounting to an additional 120- megawatts of electricity.The TRANSCO CLSG Manager furthered intoned that as the project implementation takes shape ,the first power substation with huge transmission cables running from the Ivory Cost is expected to be commissioned by mid next year in Botota Township Kokoya District, Bong County Central Liberia.Mr. Mohammed however,  inform Speaker Chambers that the success of the project is countenance on Liberia’s part of the bargaining to ratify a grant and credit facility instruments currently before the Legislature so as to acquire the needed funding for the smooth execution of the projects.When the CLSG Interconnection Project is realized, it will interlink the completed WAPP Coastal Transmission Backbone Interconnection Project and the proposed (on-going) OMVG/OMVS Power System Development Projects which are part of the WAPP Priority Projects. It is expected that the on-going Inter-zonal Transmission Hub and the North Core Transmission Projects when completed, will connect the existing robust 330kV transmission corridor in the sub-region to close the ring of the proposed WAPP High Voltage Grid mesh.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Video: Manchester United target saves the day! Worth £32m?

first_imgIt has been widely speculated Louis van Gaal has been looking at Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels and you can see why after his magnificent match-saving clearance from their clash with Hoffenheim.As Sebastian Rudy curled a free kick goalwards, the German skipper tracked back from the wall to produce a spectacular header and heroically deny Markus Gisdol’s men an early second half equaliser.It is clear to see why the Red Devils are interested in one of the best centre-backs in the world and the excellent piece of defending could leave their Dutch boss further enamoured with the World Cup winner.Check out his outstanding clearance above….last_img


first_imgThe deputy director of the HSE’s National Ambulance Service will meet the family of Maura Porter (70) who died after being knocked down near her home in Carndonagh on December 30th.The late Maura PorterDonegal Daily first revealed the Inishowen family’s anger at the delay in getting an ambulance to take her to hospital.The late Mrs Porter waited almost 50 minutes for an ambulance to arrive from Letterkenny, 62km away and died in Altnagelvin hospital in Derry several hours later. A HSE spokeswoman confirmed that Dr Cathal O’Donnell would meet the family at their home in Carndonagh this morning, in his capacity as chairman of the incident review team investigating the events surrounding her death.He will meet Ms Porter’s husband Neil, daughter Davina and son Brendan.The family will also appear on an RTE Primetime Special into their mother’s day which will be broadcast tonight.According to the HSE, the first 999 call was received at 5.45pm on December 30th and triaged as a clinical status 1 delta (life-threatening) call. The standards set by the Health Information and Quality Authority state such calls should have a first-responder on-scene within seven minutes and 59 seconds and a patient-carrying ambulance within 18 minutes and 59 seconds.The one ambulance rostered that evening at the Carndonagh base was not available. In March last year the number of ambulances based in Carndonagh was cut from three providing 175 hours a week to two providing 144 hours. Just one is on duty at a time.As Ms Porter lay injured, the nearest first-response paramedic and ambulance were dispatched from Letterkenny and arrived, according to the HSE, 40 and 43 minutes respectively after the first 999 call.Brendan Porter told The Irish Times the family would be asking Dr O’Donnell what ambulance resources were available in the Inishowen peninsula on the day and “and more importantly what resources weren’t available that should have been”.HSE AMBULANCE DIRECTOR TO MEET WITH TRAGIC DONEGAL FAMILY TODAY was last modified: March 25th, 2014 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:AMBULANCESCarndonaghdonegalHSEMaura Porterlast_img read more

Police seek slaying suspect

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! MONTEBELLO – Yvette Sanchez was starting her first day at a new job when she got the call.Her daughter, Darlene Sanchez, was bringing cookies to her younger sister’s school when she got the call.Both women rushed home the morning of Dec. 16. Larry Herrera, Yvette’s boyfriend, had been shot and killed.Herrera, 37, and Yvette Sanchez, 39, had been together for 13 years, and Herrera had helped raise Darlene since she was 5 years old.“He was my best friend,” Yvette Sanchez said Thursday. “Everybody keeps telling me to be strong, but he was my strength, my laughter. I always knew Larry – no matter what – was going to come home, and the bills would be paid and food on the table, no matter what. He wasn’t just some nobody. He was loved by many people.”Montebello police respond-ed to a call in the 1200 block of South Spruce Street at 10 a.m. Dec. 16 and found Herrera shot to death in a driveway across the street from his house.Los Angeles County homicide Detective Rich Lopez said the case is still open, with no suspects in custody.Herrera had a criminal record that was most active in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when he was convicted of possession of controlled substances, battery, and possession of narcotics with the intent to sell.In 2004 he was convicted of driving with a suspended license.“He was in and out of prison when he was younger,” Sanchez said. “But as we got older and the kids got older, he realized that type of life wasn’t going anywhere.”Sanchez said Herrera had gone to a neighbor’s house to ask to borrow his car when he was shot.She said she doesn’t believe the shots were meant for Herrera. But Detective Lopez said he believes they were. He wouldn’t elaborate on why he believes that.Herrera died just before his stepdaughter was to give birth.“He was excited for my baby,” said Darlene Sanchez, 17, who is due to give birth in January.“One time I started craving brownies and Larry went and stood up till 12 a.m. baking brownies and served them to me in bed with milk. He would buy little things for the baby,” she added.Herrera’s funeral will come just two days after Christmas, at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery, Yvette Sanchez said.Anyone with information about the case was asked to call Lopez at (323) 890-5500. 698-0955, Ext. 3026last_img read more


first_imgKarl Lacey believes Donegal need to adapt this season in order to continue their success.Donegal player Karl Lacey feels Donegal have to adapt in order to continue the success they enjoyed under the tenure of Jim McGuinness.Rory Gallagher is the new Donegal manager and replacing Donegal’s most successful ever manager is an unenviable task for the Fermanagh man.Lacey feels not a lot will change under the stewardship of Gallagher, and that Donegal will adopt the same philosophy’s and principles that applied under McGuinness. However, Lacey does feel that when Donegal face opponents who play like they do that they have to have the ability to adapt and change.Lacey told The Irish News, ” I’m sure it’s not going to change too much and every team nearly seems to be going the same way now anyway.“But I do think one thing we need to learn is that teams are starting to play like us so we need to know how to play against that as well.“In other years, teams weren’t playing like us so we could just play our own game. Now we need to be able to play against it as well. “You saw what happened in the All-Ireland final. Kerry played very similar to us and we weren’t able to deal with it so that’s one big lesson that we need to take out of last year and bring it into this year.”Lacey concluded, “People will say, ‘why change if you’re doing things well?’ But as I said, other teams are doing things against you now so you have to adapt and it’s up to us to do the video work and see exactly what other teams are doing and to adapt.Lacey is expected to make his first Donegal appearance of 2015 against Derry in this weekend’s league opener against Derry. “DONEGAL NEED TO ADAPT TO CONTINUE SUCCESS” – KARL LACEY was last modified: January 28th, 2015 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:donegalGAAkarl laceynewsSportlast_img read more

First-half latest: Everton 0 Chelsea 0 – Chelsea make steady start

first_imgChelsea made a steady start to a feisty FA Cup quarter-final lacking early chances.Everton played a high-tempo pressing game from the start, but Chelsea stayed solid defensively and Kenedy had the best opportunity.The Brazilian shot over after a fine run and clever interchange of passes with Pedro.Diego Costa, starting up front despite a hip injury which saw him come off in the Champions League defeat against Paris St-Germain, was booked early on following a tussle with Gareth Barry.Eden Hazard was left out of the squad but captain John Terry was included on the bench following injury.Everton: Robles; Coleman, Funes Mori, Jagielka, Baines; Cleverley, Barry; Lennon, McCarthy, Barkley; Lukaku.Subs: Howard, Stones, Niasse, Besic, Osman, Deulofeu, Kone.Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovic, Kenedy; Mikel, Matic; Willian, Fabregas, Pedro; Costa. Subs: Begovic, Baba, Terry, Loftus-Cheek, Oscar, Traore, Remy.Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

California Whale Fossils: Transitional Forms?

first_img(Visited 37 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Several fossil whale parts found in a southern California canyon are being called transitional forms in whale evolution.The article on Science NOW doesn’t say “transitional” in the headline or first half of the story, but the RSS feed subtitle says, “Road project reveals transitional forms to modern toothless whales.”  The word “transitional” only appears once in the article, and that without certainty: “Thus, they aren’t ancestral to any of the living whales, but they could represent transitional steps on the way to the toothless mysticetes [baleen whales].”What was actually found tells a more convoluted story.  Some 30 partial whale fossils were found in a Laguna Canyon road cut, including four newly-identified species of “toothed baleen whale—a type of whale that scientists thought had gone extinct 5 million years earlier.”Also found were fossils of sharks and other ocean dwellers.  None of the others were called transitional forms.  Some other statements in the article cast doubt on the evolutionary implications of the whale fossils:“The four new toothed baleen whale species were also four huge surprises….”These three, along with the fourth new species, which is of a different genus, represent the last known occurrence of aetiocetes, a family of mysticetes that coexisted with early baleen whales. Thus, they aren’t ancestral to any of the living whales, but they could represent transitional steps on the way to the toothless mysticetes.“Three of the fossils belong to the genus Morawanocetus, which is familiar to paleontologists studying whale fossils from Japan, but hadn’t been seen before in California.”  [No evolution there; and it is obvious that whales can swim long distances.]“The fourth new species—dubbed ‘Willy’—has its own surprises, Rivin says. Although modern baleen whales are giants, that’s a fairly recent development (in the last 10 million years). But Willy was considerably bigger than the three Morawanocetus fossils.” [This seems to be a case of downward evolution and early appearance of giantism.]“The new fossils are a potentially exciting find, says paleobiologist Nick Pyenson of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. Although it’s not yet clear what Rivin’s team has got and what the fossils will reveal about early baleen whale evolution, he says, ‘I’ll be excited to see what they come up with.’”In sum, it appears that the 30 fossils show already-familiar types of whales, an early giant, and an extinction that wasn’t as early as expected.  If this is “potentially exciting” only, and is not clear what it “will reveal about early baleen whale evolution,” there is really nothing new here to support the theory of whale evolution.They got us up for this?  Come on.  Finding whale fossils is always exciting, but finding whale evolution is only “potentially exciting” to believers in the Grand Darwinian Myth, because it’s always in future tense.  An unrealized potential is a frustrating thing.  You are potentially rich.  You are potentially famous.  When and if those things become actual, then it will be time to get excited.last_img read more

Obama’s trashy Karoo treasures

first_imgMagpie’s chandelier called Princess, which currently hangs in the Obama family’s private quarters in the White House. (Image: Sean Daniel) Sean Daniel and Richard Panaino are two of the bright sparks driving the Magpie Arts Collective. In their laps is one of their Blomme (Afrikaans for flowers), which are made from plastic bottle tops and discarded wine containers. (Image: Nicky Rehbock) MEDIA CONTACTS • Magpie Arts Collective 27 Van Riebeeck St Barrydale 6750, South Africa +27 28 572 1997 RELATED ARTICLES • Plastic-bag billboard a world first • E-waste pilot project delivers • Using waste to save the worldNicky RehbockWho would have thought that strings of plastic bottle tops and recycled trinkets gathered from the dusty streets of a Karoo village would one day hang in the Obama family’s private quarters of the White House … ?But they do – although not in isolation. This intriguing assortment is interwoven with shimmering glass beads and delicate crystal drops and encircled by rings of flickering candles to form not one, but two magnificent chandeliers.• See our gallery for more magnificent chandelier imagesThe creative force behind these objets d’art is Magpie Arts Collective – a partnership of four friends based in the hamlet of Barrydale, two-and-a-half hours’ drive from Cape Town.Magpie specialises in ornate light fittings, home décor and jewellery crafted from, among other things, recycled glass bottles, yoghurt containers, plastic, dog food cans, mosaic, bits of mirror, toys, charms and copper wire.Over the past two years four of their chandeliers have been snapped up by Anthropologie, a high-end chain in the US which sells clothes, accessories and home furnishings, and recently they’ve caught the attention of Michael Smith, a celebrity Los Angeles-based decorator tasked with redoing the Obama residence.Smith spied the almost 2m-high, Regency-inspired pieces at an Anthropologie store in New York and promptly bought two for the White House revamp.The decorator’s high-profile clientele includes filmmaker Steven Spielberg, actors Dustin Hoffman and Michelle Pfeiffer, model Cindy Crawford and media giant Rupert Murdoch.After being hired by the Obamas Smith said, “The family’s casual style, their interest in bringing 20th century American artists to the forefront and utilising affordable brands and products will serve as our guiding principles as we make the residence feel like their home.”Building the Magpie nestThe arts collective was formed 11 years ago in the bohemian suburb of Observatory in Cape Town. Friends Shane Petzer, a social worker and entrepreneur, and Scott Hart, a fashion designer, owned a house there with a particular zany style.“Lifestyle magazine House and Leisure heard about our home and decided to feature it in one of their editions,” Petzer recalls.“The journalist thought our chandeliers and light fittings were fabulous and said they would be commercially viable – not long after that the Magpie showroom was born in a tiny venue nearby and was used as a manufacturing base for home fineware and lighting apparel.“Because the article referred to us as the ‘Magpies’ of Observatory, we thought it was an apt name for our studio.”He adds: “We have always loved shiny things, things that catch and play with light – sparkle and throw light into all sorts of directions – that’s the excitement of chandeliers – they are extrapolations of our sparkly ideals of fantasy and ideals.“Our Magpie chandeliers are nests of ideas, borrowings and findings, clashing and complementing, shiny and matt – rather like life – they showcase a picture.”In 2005 fine artist Sean Daniel and Richard Panaino, who was in the film industry at the time, joined forces with Petzer and Hart and they moved their studio east to Barrydale, an area known for its wine and fruit and conveniently situated along Route 62 – a picturesque tourist byway that meanders between Cape Town and the Garden Route.Today Daniel and Hart concentrate on design and manufacturing, Petzer oversees the social responsibility aspect of the business and Panaino handles Magpie’s administration and marketing.Talking rubbishPetzer says they have always used a lot of recycled and re-purposed materials in their work, but since moving to Barrydale and seeing the vast amounts of litter and pollution in the area, they’ve upped their recycling drive.“We now have a collection bin on our veranda and basically people in the village bring us all their recyclable bits. Tins, plastic, all that sort of thing. Once they’ve been cleaned, we use them to make up bespoke pieces, which we send all over the world. Those little doppies [bottle tops] in the chandeliers, those are literally pieces that have come off the streets of Barrydale.“It’s quite funny that we’re turning trash into art and selling it to America,” he says, laughing. “There’s Barrydale dust in the White House.”As for inspirations, Petzer says they draw on the work of two rather eccentric Karoo artists: the reclusive Helen Martins who created of the now world-famous Owl House, and outsider artist Outa Lappies who is best known for his lighuisies – lanterns crafted from scrap metal and colourful shards of old glass, which he sells to local and foreign tourists.“Outsider artists function in mediums that are not conventional and they deal with issues that are not your run-of-the-mill, preconceived artistic ideas. For example, Outa Lappies always says, ‘if you work with your hands you’ll never be hungry’ – we love that message and the bearing it has on our work,” he adds.Designing pieces is not a “cut-and-dried” process, according to Petzer. “It seems that as commissions come in, we find ourselves using up the materials that we have in the storage bins in ways that we never thought possible. It’s always a surprise and fascinating to see how people’s trash, becomes people’s art. Sometimes we produce pieces from the studio and display them in the gallery and it sells!“Other times we might be following a specific brief from a client to do something, like build a chandelier or even help a client build a booth at a conference or trade show to sell their products. In those situations we stay true to our philosophy and incorporate re-purposed materials in the design and execution of that product.“Each chandelier is unique – some take a few weeks to build, while others take months. They vary in price from a few hundred to a few thousand rand. The chandeliers that Anthropologie buys from us take about four weeks to build. Some pieces have only unfolded and manifested into real objects many years after we first created them – different members of Magpie work on the pieces and they grow over time … we like the idea of the product to nestle in our minds,” he adds.Community outreachMagpie has a strong social conscience, using art to highlight pertinent issues in their community. “One of our focus areas is, of course, recycling and environmental issues, but we also take a strong interest in unemployment, HIV/Aids, TB and alcoholism, which are all rife in our community – particularly among Barrydale’s farmworkers,” Daniel says.Small enterprises are often pressed to respond to social issues around them, but many don’t know how to do this – to link social responses and concerns to their enterprise’s activities. This is the area in which Petzer helps Magpie shine.He’s an Ashoka Fellow, belonging to an international body of 1 800 social entrepreneurs and social change activists, and has worked tirelessly as an HIV/Aids activist for 22 years. He’s also one of the founders of the South African Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce, better known as Sweat.“The social responsibility framework of Magpie works as part of our marketing strategy, and helps to showcase good practice for other small and micro enterprises,” Petzer says.Rooi Doppies is one of the team’s initiatives that gives support to non-governmental organisations in Barrydale. The name is Afrikaans slang for “red lids”, which are used to seal cheap bottles of wine sold in the district. Dop also means to be watchful, as in ek hou jou dop, which suits the project, as it means “I am watching over you”.Through Rooi Doppies a soup kitchen has been set up to feed the poor, and assistance provided to an afterschool project called Net Vir Pret (an Afrikaans phrase meaning “just for fun”), which encourages children to do their own recycling drive.“They pick up plastic bottles lying around and clean them. We then show the children how to cut the plastic to look like flowers and let them do a bit of painting with water-based paint,” Daniel adds.These painted plastic cut-outs are then assembled into elaborate balls with a bulb in the middle and sold as funky lighting. The proceeds from the sales are ploughed back into Net Vir Pret.Then there is an income-generation project for semi-skilled and unemployed residents in Barrydale. There are currently seven participants and they make catchy light bulb covers out of beads, knitted copper wire and fronds of plastic. Magpie then buys the product back from them to sell in their studio.“This project is in stark contrast to employment. We teach skills and independence along the lines of Outa Lappies’ saying that if you work with your hands you’ll never be hungry,” Daniel says.The participants work from home and do as little or as much as they want. “The bulb work is ideal because it doesn’t take up a lot of space and can be done by someone living in a shack. It also requires very little energy so people living with HIV or TB can also participate.”Christmas timeTo show its appreciation for the community’s support, Magpie builds an elaborate eco-Christmas tree each year in the town centre and puts on an exhibition of its work. This is followed by a well-supported fancy dress party that draws crowds from as far as Cape Town and Johannesburg.In 2007 and 2008 then Cape Town mayor Helen Zille commissioned the team to design similar Christmas tree installations and these were displayed in the city’s civic centre.After creating masterpieces for mayors and presidents, what do the four “Magpies” see for the future?“We have come from an idea born on a kitchen table to this great stage. We think we have the right combination now to make us a winning team,” Petzer says.“In the future we are keen to see ourselves become leaders in our field – in today’s business world it only means one thing: go global, act local. If you continue to plug and pursue your dream, you will succeed.“After 11 years of producing chandeliers and engaging in craft we are not about to down tools – if anything, we are keen to take up more challenges!”• Do you have any queries or comments about this article? Email Nicky Rehbock at nickyr@mediaclubsouthafrica.comlast_img read more

Your Browser is Now a Web Server: Opera Includes Opera Unite in Opera 10.10

first_imgWhy Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Related Posts Tags:#Browsers#news#NYT#web Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketcenter_img frederic lardinois Opera just announced the release of Opera 10.10. This latest version of Opera’s desktop browser now includes Opera Unite, the company’s browser-based web server. With Unite, users can share photos, music, notes, websites, forums and calendars – but unlike standard web apps, these apps are hosted on the user’s computer. When Opera first talked about Unite, it claimed that this service would “reinvent the web.” This resulted in a lot of hype before the announcement and the inevitable backlash right afterward. When we tested the first alpha version of Opera with the built-in Unite feature, however, we came away quite impressed.As usual, this latest version of Opera is available for a wide variety of operating systems, including Windows, OSX, FreeBSD, Solaris and Linux.Your Browser is Now Also a Server Opera Unite allows you to easily turn your desktop into a web server and run a number of web services like photo-sharing, file-sharing, a web server, and an online media player right from your machine and access all of these services from anywhere. While this gives you control over your media, it also means that your data is only available online as long as your computer is running. Starting a Unite server takes seconds (though you need an Opera account to make this work). Opera will assign an address to your computer based on your username. Users can choose if they want to protect their applications with passwords or if they want to make them available to anybody on the net.Nothing New Besides UniteBesides Opera Unite, this latest version doesn’t sport any major new features. With features like Opera Turbo, bookmark syncing, and the sleek new visual tabs design that Opera introduced in the last update, Opera 10 does have a lot of things going for it. In our tests this morning, the browser was stable and fast. Even though we didn’t run any benchmarks, Opera 10 felt just as fast as any other modern browser.For more information about Opera Unite, also have a look at our more in-depth review of the service and the apps that Opera includes by default. A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…last_img read more

Habitat’s New Net-Zero House in Minneapolis

first_imgTwin Cities Habitat for Humanity in Minneapolis has built its first net-zero energy project, a single-family house in the city’s north end that was designed by architecture students at the University of Minnesota.According to Matt Haugen, communications manager for the Habitat chapter, the house is part of Green Homes North, a redevelopment initiative in a part of the city especially hard hit by the real estate collapse several years ago. There, the city is working with five developers, including Habitat, to build 100 energy-efficient homes.Since the launch of the project, Habitat has built five or six homes in the area to LEED Silver standards. Habitat did not seek LEED certification for the houses because the process was too arduous, Haugen said, but the experience proved to be good practice for taking construction to the next level. Volunteers started working on the net-zero house in May 2013 and wrapped up their work in November.The house was designed by architecture students at the University of Minnesota working under the direction of instructors Lucas Alm and Daniel Handeen. Together, they developed plans for the house over the course of a semester.The Minneapolis project is one of a number of net-zero or Passivhaus homes that Habitat chapters around the country have built in the last several years. Although super efficient designs still represent a tiny fraction of Habitat’s efforts to provide affordable housing, they are popping up all over the place. Panelized construction speeds work on siteThe two-story, 1,618-square-foot house is built on an urban infill lot of 0.11 acre, according to a blog describing the project. Students used Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) energy modeling software and built full-scale mockups for some details, such as window openings in the 16-inch thick walls. There are three bedrooms, 1 1/2 baths, and an additional 816 square feet of unfinished space in the basement. There’s also an unattached garage behind the house.Above-grade walls are built with panelized 2×6 framing sections assembled at a Habitat facility elsewhere in Minneapolis and trucked to the site. Wall cavities are filled with fiberglass batt insulation, and walls are covered with 8 inches of extruded polystyrene insulation, donated by Dow, for a total R-value of about 58, according to designers.Below-grade walls are insulated to R-38, with R-20 at the slab edge and R-30 beneath the slab, all with XPS. Rim joists are sealed with 6 inches of polyurethane spray foam insulation, and all wood-to-wood connections are sealed with caulk. The roof is framed with raised-heel trusses and insulated with 24 inches of blown-in cellulose, for an R-value of about 75.Other features:Heating and cooling are provided by two Mitsubishi ductless minisplit heat pumps, with one head per floor.Domestic hot water comes from three roof-mounted flat-plate solar thermal collectors. Designers said the drain-back system eliminates heat loss when the sun isn’t shining. The system will provide an estimated 80% of the family’s hot water needs.Solar electricity is provided by a 5.7-kilowatt system that includes thirty 190-watt panels manufactured by TenK Solar. The PV panels are mounted on the garage roof.Triple-paned windows are manufactured by Richlin. The units have foam-filled PVC frames and spaces between the panes of glass are filled with krypton. Windows have a U-value of 0.13 and a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.22.Water-conserving fixtures include toilets that use 1.28 gallons per flush, 1.5 gallon per minute (gpm) bathroom faucets, and 1.5 gpm showerheads.Whole-house ventilation is provided by a Zehnder heat-recovery ventilator (HRV). Transfer grilles and fans circulate air between rooms even when doors are closed, designers said. Fresh air is delivered to the bedrooms and the living room; stale air is exhausted from the kitchen and bathrooms.Exterior paneling is a mix of cementitious panels and boards mounted in a rainscreen assemblyTotal project costs were $213,000, which included the cost of solar equipment and the land, plus the value of in-kind donations but not the estimated 6,000 hours of volunteer labor that went into construction, Handeen said.Airtightness was tested at 1.28 air changes per hour at a pressure difference of 50 pascals, and the house has a HERS rating of 4. The idea is to make energy efficiency more affordableThe two instructors who led the design efforts, Dan Handeen and Lucas Alm, cut their teeth on the University of Minnesota’s entry in the 2009 Solar Decathlon, a competition for college students sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.“We both were really struck by the massive investment that went into the Solar Decathlon competition, both time-wise and monetarily,” Handeen said by phone. The experience was a motivator to find local partners as well as less expensive means of achieving the same ends.A design for the house started percolating in a seminar of 26 students and wrapped up in in a graduate-level studio of 13 students (two of the students were involved in both parts of the process). Work took place over a single semester.“We did really encourage the students to work in teams and play on each other’s strengths,” Handeen said. “Not only did they get a chance to work on a real world project but they get a chance to work in a real world team fashion. Unlike many of the projects in architecture school where you’re just a lone designer doing it from start to finish, they had to learn how to work together.Added Alm: “It was a neat way to involve a lot of students at a lot of levels.”Alm, a practicing architect as well as instructor, said he’s tried pursuing projects of this kind with clients in the past, but often runs into a roadblock because of costs.“I think the Passivhaus community is confronting this quite a bit now, too,” he said. “It’s like at a certain point this affordability piece starts to make things a little more unobtainable. That’s why it’s great for Dan and I to have these opportunities to test things out and see if they work.”In the end, says Handeen, one key to keeping costs down is by limiting the size of the house.“The other thing is how we educate the building and buying public about the value of what they can’t see, such as HVAC and envelope,” he said by email. “People are generally very distracted by finishes and fixtures, rather than seeing how else they could invest the same money that would provide them better cash flow down the line. We really have yet to figure out first-cost optimization in this climate. At current energy prices and current mortgage rates it’s difficult to make it pencil out.”center_img The future at Minneapolis Habitat? Hard to sayThe process was rewarding for the students who designed the house, and the family that now lives in it was “over the moon” to be selected. But a net-zero project is a big step up.“This was kind of a ‘let’s do it once and see what we learned’ project,” Haugen said. “We’ll go forward with that. I think right after the process we were thinking, ‘Oh, man, that was a big climb,’ and I think it will be a while before we take on something this much out of comfort zone again.“But we know this is the direction we’re going in terms of we need to make sure that all of our homes are as efficient as possible. The idea behind Habitat is that you create a home that is sustainable for a family both from an environmental standpoint but more importantly from an economic standpoint.”last_img read more