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The construction industry is a constantly evolving/growing sector. The modern-day industry, from design to the construction stage tends to incorporate the aspect of green and sustainability. A green material, what comes to one’s thoughts are plants, greenery, and landscape, but it is much more than that. Green materials are considered environmentally friendly and sustainable to the environment.

As architects, designers, and builders always strive towards change and innovation. With time our planet is susceptible to pollution, global warming, and many hazards. Designers can bring change to the environment and society through the structures designed. Each building design should be sustainable and environmentally friendly concerning building and material.

Construction industry

© C. Dustin

The construction sector is an evolving sector, primarily responsible for 23% of Air pollution, 40% of Water pollution, and 50% of Landfill waste. Materials hold the city together literally and figuratively, but most materials used in the construction industry are harmful to the environment with time. With the flow of time, change and innovation in designs are as important as the whole structure being environmentally conscience. The building is designed to be sustainable and green to the environment.

What are green materials?

© Alexander Abero

A material with a low environmental impact value is considered a green material/product. The implementation of green materials can help reduce carbon footprint and the dangerous effects on the environment. Green building materials can help create a sustainable structures and less hazardous to the environment.

Some of the principal criteria for selecting green materials are as follows;

Some of the green materials that are used in the construction industry are;

Rammed earth

Tucson Mountain Retreat

The dirt under your feet is the most traditional material used for centuries and lasts for a long time. This vernacular green material is affordable, has less carbon footprint, and is efficient hence it is a preferred material then and in years to come. It is used for walls, blocks, foundations, floors, etc. The material construction has also evolved with time.

The primary reasons for choosing rammed earth for construction;


Bamboo Meditation Cathedral

Bamboo is considered the future material of green/sustainable architecture. The versatility of this material is what attracts designers since it can help to implement unique designs. This locally sourced material is grown in many regions across the world. Bamboo can be utilized for building majestic structures that are green and nature friendly. This framing material is applicable for wall frames, roofing, foundation, and window/door frames. Bamboo can be utilized for building large-span forms to modular size forms, which speaks about its versatility.

The primary reasons for choosing bamboo for construction;

Engineered wood

John W Olver Design Building

The primary reasons for choosing engineered wood for construction;

Some of the types of Engineered wood are;

Slate (Type of stone)

© Bing Image

Slate is a metamorphic stone, a naturally found building material used for ages together. It is similar to other stone materials and is known for its sustainable/environment-friendly properties. Slate material has also evolved in terms of applications like roofing, cladding, paving, flooring, landscaping, wall covering, etc. This natural stone has a low environmental impact, hence is the best choice for design construction. Today slate is known for its green credentials as a material. With its versatile properties and aesthetic appearance, it is a desirable material among architects and designers.

The primary reasons for choosing slate/stone for construction;

Fibre Cement

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Fibre cement or Fibre reinforced cement (FRC) is a composite material with sustainable characteristics, a popular green building material. Fibre cement can be made into various custom designs and can be designed to look like other materials like wood.

The components of Fibre cement are;

The materials used to make fibre cement are recyclable and reusable. Fibre cement is utilized for roofing or cladding material. Fibre cement has a high life span hence preferred for construction. Some products of fibre cement are panels, sheets, boards, planks, pipes, etc.

The primary reasons for choosing fibre cement for construction;

Pre-cast concrete

Daniels Building

Pre-cast concrete is formed at the factories/manufacturing place and transported to the construction site. The manufacturing process done off-site is done under controlled temperature and humidity conditions. Pre-cast concrete is much more sustainable in comparison to ordinary concrete. Pre-cast concrete takes a lesser amount of time and energy to produce. It is used for walls, slabs, building façade, roofs, etc.

Some pre-cast structural elements are;

The primary reasons for choosing precast concrete components for construction;

Non-VOC (Volatile organic compound) paint

VOX © Chemoxy International

VOC (Volatile organic compound) is a toxic substance that flies in the air and vaporizes quickly are considered harmful to one’s health and the environment. VOCs are present in paints, cleaning and adhesive products, etc. When VOC is inhaled causes irritation and health issues to the lungs, breathing tracts, etc.

Some of the health issues caused by VOC products;

© opusshutters

Non-VOC paints are considered more than VOC-containing paints due to their sustainable property. Some characteristics say one must avoid VOC paints/adhesives;

Non-VOC paints or paints with lesser traces of VOC are preferred over High VOC content paints due to their less harmful impact. The primary reasons for choosing non-VOC-containing paint for construction;


Modern Office Building

Polyurethane refers to an organic polymer compound, that is used in creating high-performance and lightweight building products. It is available in form of a spray, which is directly sprayed onto the surfaces. After being sprayed on the surface it expands and then hardens to form a layer. The material is primarily used for insulation purposes.

The primary reasons for choosing polyurethane for construction;

Some other green materials used for construction;

Green materials are the new future of materials that help create a sustainable/green environment and future. Green materials have a good impact on a building and environment by improving air quality, reducing building maintenance and repair, energy conservation, etc.

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How To Increase Productivity In Construction With Iot?

IoT for construction focuses on connecting any gadget to the internet. It can connect to any other internet−connected device. IoT is a huge network of many interconnected gadgets and people that share information about their surroundings. There are numerous gadgets of different sizes and forms connected to these enormous networks, including self−driving cars and other vehicles, smart microwaves, and workout equipment.

IoT devices create a network of interconnected physical items. Embedded systems with sensors, software, and other technologies are present in these devices. It facilitates data exchange across the internet with other devices and systems.

With improvements in machine learning, analytics, and extensive data storage in the cloud. Businesses can learn more specific information about the users’ and market’s needs, making selections for more accurate customers.

Benefits of Using IoT in Construction

Productivity, safety, and site operations are the three areas where IoT implementation will pay off as standards are raised across construction sites, and businesses are compelled to adapt to meet shifting consumer needs.

Productivity − The biggest problem now facing the construction sector is productivity. The expansion of IoT in construction is driven by the growing need to prevent project delays. Companies must stay on schedule since delays also increase the budget in a sector where deadlines are everything. By tracking supplies and equipment, IoT−enabled sensors can help businesses stay on schedule and improve routine processes like scheduling and inspections. Platforms for digital management keep an eye on workers and equipment. Managers can acquire links to quality control sheets as well as the location and setup of equipment by seeing and navigating a virtual map in real time.

Security and Safety − Every construction site places a high focus on safety. Productivity will never succeed without healthy workers and a secure workplace. Fortunately, IoT−enabled tags with sensors may monitor a piece of machinery on a site dashboard for possible concerns, such as air quality, or receive alerts when a worker approaches a piece of equipment too closely. By accessing real−time data, workers can take preventative action and avert a potentially hazardous scenario.

IoT −enabled tags are additionally utilized to lower site theft. These tags eliminate the need for ongoing monitoring by making equipment more accessible to track and monitor. In addition, with the theft of construction equipment and the rising cost of materials, they can help construction companies save hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

Site Operation Management − Power and gasoline usage are two items that cost more at a building site compared to others. By actively managing costs through asset monitoring and management in real−time, IoT devices like fuel or load sensors may assist businesses. To increase productivity and reduce expenses, managers can schedule, turn on and off, and idle equipment day and night. They can also assess the condition of the equipment to identify potential problems and determine whether stock or condition is low−functioning.

Rework and Reduce Waste − Many construction companies are looking for ways to reduce their environmental effect by adopting and incorporating sustainable practices into their current processes. Managers can avoid landfills for a large portion of this garbage by using reasonable data applications. Instead, a fraction of these resources can be used for new, beneficial purposes.

Construction managers can use IoT technology and data to manage waste more sustainably or less wastefully. IoT can assist in discovering wasted fuel, water, and electricity use in addition to minimizing physical waste, which enhances sustainability and financial control.

Rework is another factor in waste in the building sector, and both work and materials are wasted when jobs are not finished correctly. Work tasks are being streamlined, improved, and costly rework is being avoided thanks to new IoT developments.

Report Build−Up − Reporting in the construction sector is a crucial tool for informing clients, developers, contractors, and other interested parties about essential project information. Report compilation is a time−consuming yet vital activity. Managers in charge of reporting must keep detailed records of specifics, including project stages, process definitions, essential metrics and events, and other relevant information.

Increase Productivity in Construction with IoT

Building Information Modeling (BIM) − BIM makes it possible for architects, engineers, and contractors to collaborate and communicate more efficiently. Building information modeling is quickly emerging as one of the most critical developments in construction technology due to its considerable cost, safety, and efficiency benefits.

Augmented Reality (AR) − With augmented reality (AR), workers can operate in dangerous areas more safely.

The construction sector can benefit from AR in the following five ways.

Safety Instruction

Project Information in Real Time

Team Work

Project Management

Project Modification

Virtual Reality (VR)

Users can engage with a virtual environment created by VR to replicate real−world situations. By overcoming long−standing problems, virtual reality (VR) technology is revolutionizing the construction industry. The virtual reality inside the building is the following stage of 3D modeling. The project is thoroughly modeled virtually, much like 3D modeling. It entirely submerges the user in the virtual environment instead of 3D modeling.

Here are five ways that virtual reality will boost productivity in the building sector.

Less onsite visits

Eliminate issues before they arise.

Enhance the customer experiences

Improved Training and Safety

Improved Partnership

Drones − Drone cameras check buildings and structures for faults or damages that can cause mishaps or injuries. They can fly through confined locations that would be challenging for humans to maneuver around under remote control. The time it takes to inspect a whole building can be cut in half thanks to this.

The Internet of Things (IoT) − Using technologically based tools and equipment to enable optimal resource utilization with proper technological planning, regulated costs, and reduced risks is the sole objective of IoT in the construction sector.

Here are five ways IoT may boost productivity in the building sector.

Monitoring project progress

Keeping an eye on the building site

Ensuring the safety of employees

Remote management of personnel and equipment

Facilitating the administration of daily tasks


Through the solutions above, the IoT can raise productivity and safety levels, but they scratch the surface of what it is capable of. Construction companies have access to alternative, equally impressive technologies, even though increased machine control, improved periodic maintenance, and improved performance tracking are all promising.

How To “Green Up” Your Devices

Greening Your PC

1. Turn off your speakers when you’re not using them. One day I noticed that everything I put on my subwoofer got warm. This indicates that even while I don’t listen to music, there is electrical resistance going on in the hardware (hence the heat). If you’ve got a 5W set of cheap speakers, you might not make much of a difference, but if you have a 200W surround sound system with five satellite speakers, you’d end up saving enough money to buy yourself a new set every year by turning them off when you’re not listening to anything. There are exceptions where your system might automatically switch off until it is needed, but you’ll have to read your instruction manual for that, and there’s no chance you will have this feature if you use analog sound output.

2. Let’s state the obvious: Switch your PC and monitors off when you’re not using them. Set up both so that they go to sleep after a certain amount of idle time.

3. Game less. Gaming causes your graphics card’s GPU to fire up and suck more juice from your power supply. This may require as much as 400 watts of extra power, especially if you’re bridging multiple cards together. Instead of gaming, do something more productive!

5. Pay attention to your hardware purchases, particularly those of the CPU and graphics card. Without sacrificing too much in terms of performance, watch for CPUs and GPUs that consume less electricity. In their spec sheets, there should be a category there for idle and maximum power consumption. Base your decision on both, then throw performance into the equation and compare what you must.

6. Need to browse the web for the latest scoop on some celebrity? Whip out the tablet or your smartphone. Those use up much less electricity to perform this task than the monstrous desktop PC in your study. Plus, you can walk around with your tablet or smartphone looking all stylish!

Greening Your Other Devices

The average smartphone uses around six to eight watts of continuous power per hour. Your average tablet doesn’t use much more than this. So, you can’t expect massive savings from greening these devices up. In a dollars-and-cents analysis, a smartphone will cost you under a dollar per year to keep charging. The one reason why you would want to minimize power consumption is to get as much life out of your battery as you can. These devices guzzle down battery power in one or two days (tablets may even last as little as ten hours). Given these distressing numbers, let’s see how you can get the most out of one charging cycle:

2. Turn your phone off before you go to bed at night. Keeping the phone on 24/7 is something we’ve been used to since the Nokia 3310 days. But phones have changed phenomenally and battery life suffers as a result of it. Who wants to answer the phone in the middle of the night anyway? If you’ve got a land line and you don’t have emergencies to attend to at night (such as getting called into the hospital to look after patients) then people can still reach you and you can have a sound sleep. Do this also for your tablet.

3. Turn Wi-Fi off when you go out. Your phone or tablet keeps a list of public Wi-Fi networks that are in your area and is constantly looking for them even if you aren’t telling it to. If you connect to one of them automatically and the signal is poor, your phone will struggle to broadcast its information to the access point. This will drain your battery badly.

Miguel Leiva-Gomez

Miguel has been a business growth and technology expert for more than a decade and has written software for even longer. From his little castle in Romania, he presents cold and analytical perspectives to things that affect the tech world.

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Of The New Ipods, A Bluetooth, Wearable Nano Is The One To Watch

We’ve been hearing so much about the new iPhone 5 that it has all but drowned out any talk of the iPods, which are traditionally released at the September Apple event as well. There hasn’t been any definitive word, but I expect them to get an update as well before the holiday shopping season.

The iPod classic wasn’t upgraded last year and wasn’t on the keynote slide (below) where Steve Jobs said “we’ve got All-new designs for every model” which kind of makes it feel dead to me.

You can still buy classics in their 2 year old form a year later but with iCloud kicking into gear, I think Apple’s chances of killing it this year are better than keeping it around. More awesome/unlikely would be giving it Wifi and turning out a big HDD wireless media hub like the Seagate GoFlex Satellite.

But where I think there will be real innovation, however, will be the iPod nano…


Most importantly, it dropped the scroll-wheel based OS that came from Apple’s original purchase of PortalPlayer many moons ago. The new Nano OS is now a new touch-screen based OS that is a spinoff of iOS. This is the first generation of the product. There is a lot of room to innovate the nano.

First take a look at what the competition is doing. Sony released the ‘LiveView’ accessory at about the same time as the nano was released. You’ve probably never heard of it but it is an impressive technology demonstration:

A more compelling platform may be the WIMM Android platform which is a full fledged, stand-alone device which includes not only Bluetooth but Wifi:

LiveView connects to Sony’s phones via Bluetooth. Interestingly, Apple announced support for the ultra-low power Bluetooth 4.0 spec in its latest MacBook Airs and Minis and is now a heavyweight on the Bluetooth spec board of directors. It would be surprising if Apple didn’t bring that same low power Bluetooth 4 to iOS devices next month.

With it will come an easy, low power way to sync iPod nanos and iOS devices (and sure, Macs and AppleTVs which also conveniently have inactive Bluetooth). You could get social feeds, email alerts, text messages, iMessages and everything else that Apple channels through its alerts notifications.

iPod nanos were finding their way onto people’s wrists before they were even released so a Nano-watch tie up makes a lot of sense. Perhaps Apple makes a ‘wrist mount’? A Bike mount? A steering wheel mount? A necklace?

Communication with iOS Devices – making it an iOS accessory – would be huge. With low powered Bluetooth, your songs and picture albums sync automatically. The pedometer app never needs to be plugged in. You could even theoretically stream video to your tiny Nano screen.

Speaking of video, that leaked case from earlier this year had a camera. I don’t know how to rectify that, especially on the back side but there it is. Perhaps this isn’t a camera hole after all and is for something else like charging.

Perhaps most importantly, you could also lose the 8GB or 16GB of storage and go with something more modest like 2GB of local storage which would make the device smaller and cheaper (offsetting extra wireless parts costs). Dropping this thing to $100 would be huge.

Sure the screen is small – perhaps Apple throws some more pixels at the situation. 320×240 would be better for video.

But with 200 million iOS devices becoming almost ubiquitous among Apple users, turning the Nano into an iOS accessory (like the AppleTV) seems like a good long term strategy.



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How To Change The Background In Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams, like Zoom, allows you to make video calls among devices and hold virtual meetings. The app is particularly useful for remote teams to hold meetings when co-workers are spread across different locations.

The background effects in Microsoft Teams allow you to remove the distractions of what’s happening around you in a video call and present a professional image. Plus, the feature helps others in the meeting focus on what you’re saying, not the strange object behind your shoulder.

Table of Contents

Whether you want an office environment, a tastefully decorated room, or a silly background, we’ll show you how to change the background in Teams.

How to Change the Background on a Computer or Mobile Device

You can change the background in a Teams meeting before joining or during the meeting. Teams lets you blur, select a pre-made image like a tranquil park or upload a custom image like your company logo as your background. You should know that changing your background may not hide sensitive information like your name or phone number from other people in the call or meeting.

How to Change the Background on a Computer

If you have a Windows PC or Mac, use the steps below to change the background on your computer.

How to Change the Background Before a Meeting Starts

You can change the background in Teams before a meeting starts to avoid interruptions.

Select Background filters just below the video image in the same window while choosing your audio and video settings.

You’ll see the background options on the right side of the screen.

Select Blur to subtly conceal everything around you.

You can also select a pre-made image from the ones provided.

Select Add new and then choose the image (JPG, PNG or BMP) you want to upload from your computer to upload a custom image of your choice.

How to Change the Background in Teams During a Meeting

Follow the steps below to change the background if you’ve already joined a meeting. 

Select More actions from the meeting controls.

Select Apply background effects.

Select Blur or choose a pre-made image to replace your background.

Select Add new and upload a custom PNG, JPG or BMP image file from your computer.

Note: The new background you choose will apply in all your calls and meetings until you turn it off or change it again.

How to Turn Off Background Effects in Teams

Follow the steps below if you want to turn off the background effects in Teams.

Select the no background icon (circle within a rectangle)

Select Preview to see how your background looks without the effect. If satisfied, select Apply.

Note: If you’re a Linux user or use Teams via an optimized virtual desktop infrastructure, you won’t be able to use the background feature.

Change the Background in Teams on Android or iOS Devices

Here’s how to change the background from your Android device or iPhone.

How to Change the Background Before a Meeting Starts

Here’s how to do it on your mobile device.

Tap Background effects at the upper side of the screen, while setting up your audio and video preferences.

The background options will appear just below your picture.

Tap Blur to subtly conceal everything behind you.

You can also choose one of the available images.

Tap Add (+) to upload a custom PG, PNG or BMP image file from your device. 

Tap Done at the top to apply the background to your meeting.

How to Change the Background During a Meeting

Here’s how you can change the background during a meeting or call.

Tap More options from the call or meeting controls.

Tap Background effects and select a background or upload a custom image to be your background.

To turn off background effects just  tap on the no background icon (circle within a rectangle) to remove the virtual background.

Hide Your Mess During Meetings

When on a video call or meeting, you want to focus on the task at hand without worrying about whether other participants can see the mess behind you. With the background effects feature in Teams, you can add some professionalism or a little fun to video calls. 

Microsoft’s New Surface 3 Is A $499 Atom

Microsoft is introducing the Surface 3 to the tablet family and best of all it’s the cheapest Surface you’ll find, price starts at $499. The new Surface 3 is powered by a 64-bit Intel Atom x7 (Cherry Trail) processor and it’s a tablet aimed to non-pro users, such as students, regular users, and all those who find the $799 starting price for a Surface Pro 3 a little in the expensive side.

The Surface 3 isn’t very powerful, but it gets the work done. The new tablet features a system-on-a-chip (SoC), Quad-core Atom  x7-Z8700 processor (2MB Cache, 1.6GHz with Intel Burst technology up to 2.4GHz), 2GB of RAM (up to 4GB), and 64GB of SSD storage (up to 128GB). The display is a 10.8-inch 1920 x 1280 ClearType HD with a 3:2 aspect ratio.

The new Surface 3 includes a full-size USB 3.0 port, Mini DisplayPort, microSD slot, Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0, and unlike the Surface Pro 3, the new tablet features a Micro USB charging port that works with the Surface charger or any generic USB phone charger.

Microsoft will make available a Wi-Fi only and a 4G LTE version of the tablet, which initially will be available later this year through T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless in the United State.

Unlike the Surface RT and Surface 2, the Surface 3 runs an x86 processor, and not an ARM-based chip, which means that this tablet ditches Windows RT completely and users will be able to work with Windows apps and Windows Desktop apps. The tablet comes pre-loaded with Windows 8.1 and it will be upgradable free to Windows 10, when it releases later this summer.

Microsoft is also including one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal free, which is valued at $70.

The downside is that Surface 3 introduces a new screen size, which is different to all the previous Surface tablet screen sizes and it means that existing Type and Touch Covers, and docking stations won’t work with Surface 3.

Of course, Surface 3 will has its own Type covers in Bright Blue Cyan, Blue Navy, Purple, Black, Red, and new Bright Red. Each cover will have a price tag of $129.99. 

Surface 3 features a three-position kickstand, but it doesn’t feature a full rotation hinge like the one found in Surface Pro 3.

Now the pen from Surface Pro 3 is compatible with the Surface 3, but Microsoft will also be making available four pen colors: silver, blue, black, and red. Each pen will cost $49.99.

You can pre-order the new Surface 3 starting today, March 31, in the Microsoft Store in the following markets: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Luxembourg, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States. Microsoft will begin shipping the tablet on May 5.

Seeing that you’ll have to buy a few accessories to get the full Surface 3 experience, let see how much you’ll be actually spending to run Windows apps and Windows Desktop apps. The starting price is $499, then you need to add $129.99 for the Type Cover, $49.99 for one of the pens, and $199.99 for the Surface 3 Docking Station. So, you’re looking at $879 before taxes and without adding the Microsoft Complete Extended Service Plan for Surface that cost $99 (recommended). If you need the Surface Mini DisplayPort HDMI AV Adapter, it will cost you an extra $39.99 and the 13-watt Power Supply charger designed for Surface 3 costs $39.99.

Source Microsoft

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