Michael Green goes way beyond tall wood

Five years ago, when I last interviewed architect Michael Green, he had not yet built a tall wood building. In fact, there were not many of them anywhere, but Michael had just written the book on it with the very long title: THE CASE FOR Tall Wood BUILDINGS: How Mass Timber Offers a Safe, Economical, and Environmentally Friendly Alternative for Tall Building Structures.

interior wood© Ema Peter via V2com

What a remarkable five years it has been. Now wood buildings are going up all over the world, with hundreds more of them on the boards. Michael Green has been busy, speaking in thirty countries, building in cities all over the world.

Michael GreenMichael Green at Tall Wood Symposium/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

He was in the Toronto area recently for the Tall Wood Symposium, reminding the audience that the entire industry is a mess: “Affordability, safety, climate change, environment, practice, all at a level of existential crisis.” If we are going to deal with climate change, “It is all about moving away from carbon intensive building materials and moving to carbon sequestering materials.” However the biggest challenge is not the engineering or the materials- it is us.

The problem is not the science but the challenge of changing peoples opinions about what is possible. The challenge we have is moving from emotion to science. We can build like this, we just have to recalibrate our imaginations.

floor panel© Structurecraft

One of the main benefits of mass timber construction is that it combines a great renewable material with the benefits of prefabrication; panels are cut in the factory and assembled on site. This brings the industry into line with other manufacturing practices. (I bold-face my favorite line in the talk)

The construction industry is broken but not enough that people want to fix it. Construction is the last craft, everything else is built in a factory everything else has been systematized. Designers work in a room and contractors work in the rain. To anyone outside our industry it makes no sense.

It is time to move beyond and change it. As a craft industry we are dealing with weather, timelines, cost, skills, inaccuracies, errors, and every building we do is essentially a prototype. We have to move from individual project thinking to system thinking.

The system thinking is coming faster than we know; new companies like the startup Katerra are investing many millions in building new factories that will turn out Cross-Laminated Timber panels at lower cost and in far less time than conventional buildings. The company is still in stealth mode judging by its website, but we will try to dig up more information in another post.

slide from showFrom seedling to structure with a lot of technology in between/CC BY 2.0

Michael Green notes that we cannot lose sight of sustainability; he envisions tracking timber from seedling to system, end to end with a lot of technology in between to ensure that the wood is grown sustainably and used efficiently.

wood reasonsDBR/Screen capture

By the end of this talk it was clear that Michael Green has moved well beyond just building wood towers, but is thinking about the future of the entire industry, about “Design, construction, policy, markets, ownership, environmental impact.” He is setting up a school to teach about sustainable building (DBR | Design Build Research) and an online version, TOE (Timber Online Education) that is “a platform that can galvanize change in the way we construct our built environment.” He’s a busy guy.

carpentersMichael Green talking to carpentry students/CC BY 2.0

But wait, there’s more. A few of us were invited by Michael Yorke, director of the the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades, and head of Carpenters Local 27, for a tour of the school. Here, Michael Green talked to a classroom full of carpenters in training, off the cuff with no slides, and it was fascinating. When he started drawing a salad on the whiteboard to explain about why wood building is healthier I grabbed my iPhone, hence the abrupt start; Michael does a great explanation of why building with wood is green:

He goes on to explain what CLT is, and why he prefers to build entirely out of wood instead of in composites with concrete or steel.

But if you really want to get your mind blown, Listen to Michael’s vision of the future of wood construction, which he started talking about after the lecture to a student asking why we don’t use more hemp in construction; watching this and you might think he is smoking hemp.


michael green from Lloyd Alter on Vimeo.

He envisions a future where instead of chopping trees into lumber which is then glued or nailed into mass timber, we 3D print it from wood fiber, in the shapes and forms that are most efficient structurally. Then all of the wood fiber will be used and there will be no waste, either on the forest floor or in the building itself. We will not only build using trees, but will build like a tree.

window detailLloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

When I visited architect Susan Jones’ house in Seattle, I was actually most impressed with this- Susan sent drawings from her computer in Seattle to a CNC cutter in Penticton, BC, where they cut a hole for a window imported from Latvia, that fit right in without the shims and the casing and all the stuff that goes into a typical window installation. I thought that this was the future of construction; in fact, Michael has been there, done that. Michael Green shows that we really are just getting started; we are entering a different world.

Important considerations for upgrading or installing new security cameras in your facility

Whether you have a surveillance system in place or are looking to develop a new one, the world of cameras and security equipment can be daunting to those who aren’t experts in the industry. When working properly, a surveillance system can improve your response to crimes or other issues that arise.

“If an organization has an on-site security force and a security monitoring center, a camera system can be used to leverage their capabilities,” says Michael Silva, Principal at Silva Consultants in Covington, WA. “One security officer sitting in a control room can monitor an entire campus with the video system. When used with other systems like motion detection and access control systems, it can really leverage what one security officer can see.”

However, when not installed and operated properly, a surveillance system will be of little help. Awareness of some key issues in video surveillance will ensure that you are keeping your facility safe.

Identifying Vulnerabilities

Silva suggests starting with a security risk assessment that diagnoses a facility’s needs by examining risks and threats. He likens this process to having a physical at the doctor; the assessment is about finding problems and developing solutions to address them. Doing so allows you to determine the overall goals of your security program and identify how personnel, procedures and technology will contribute to achieving these objectives.

Specific areas and strategies need to be made clear from the beginning. Jason Maddox, President of Vulcan Security Systems in Birmingham, AL, first looks to identify the intended scope of the security system a client wants.

“On any building, some basics almost always apply. I like to secure from the inside out, and if you have a high dollar asset, we would like to put a camera on it,” says Maddox. “You want to have ingress and egress points to the building covered. That way you always have timestamped video of who came, who left and when they left. Immediately after that would be your server or mechanical rooms, so you know anytime someone’s coming in or out of there and have a record of it.”

Assessing Video Quality

For more information on Video Quality click here.

Identifying the particular reasons you are installing cameras can prevent any disappointments. A statement of purpose that clearly defines your goals will help you communicate with surveillance professionals, and they can then address any misconceptions before it is too late.

“You need to communicate fully what you want to achieve in writing and let them design a system to meet those stated needs,” explains Silva.

Set Expectations

Silva suggests establishing reasonable goals when you are planning a surveillance system. He explains, “A lot of people view a video surveillance system as a magic bullet, but once they’ve done this underlying planning and identifying what the solution should be, cameras may or may not be the correct solution.”

In fact, Silva contends that cameras have become one of the most misused types of security technology because they make people feel more comfortable merely through their presence. An overstated reason to get surveillance is that they provide a deterrent to crime. Silva notes that just because a person committing a crime sees a camera does not mean they will think rationally and worry about the consequences, so they might not be as much of a deterrent as many believe.

That is not to say that a surveillance system won’t help if something does occur. They can provide video documentation of security incidents that can be helpful when investigating crimes and identifying criminal suspects. In any case, it is important to keep in mind that no system is perfect, and that surveillance cameras – like any other technology – are prone to imperfections.

“Usually the biggest disappointment people have is an expectation that they’re going to be able to clearly see the entire area with crisp, high resolution and positively identify someone who on the screen looks to be about a quarter of an inch tall,” says Silva. “Most commercial video systems don’t do that, and if they do, they do it in a very limited area. One of the most important things you can do is actually define what your goals are.”

As with anything else, surveillance technology is going to cost more as quality increases. Therefore, if money is an object, you should identify where coverage is absolutely necessary.

Even if a surveillance system does not completely deter crime from happening in your facility, it is also important to consider how else a surveillance system might help to benefit your business or organization. Maddox has noticed an increase in facility managers approaching HR, life safety and operational issues like slips and falls and worker’s comp with security cameras. Most importantly, these kinds of considerations can help justify the upfront cost.

However, no matter the application of security cameras, you should know the technological advancements and concerns in the industry.

Technological Considerations

In the past, analog systems dominated the market, providing systems connected by separate coaxial cables that run from individual cameras to a central recording switch. More recently, IP technology has taken over surveillance, reducing the number of cables – especially in systems covering a number of cameras and buildings. For those looking to add or modify their existing analog system, the good news is that they are not obsolete, but the direction of the industry is and has been unequivocally IP-centered.

“The industry has done a pretty good job of maximizing what they can get out of existing coax cable; it’s basically given the analog systems an extended life. But at the end of the day, it’s still an old technology,” says Maddox. “If someone’s going new, then we’re almost always going to recommend IP because it’s newer, you can get better resolution and do more with it. But the industry as a whole has done a good job extending the life of analog systems.”

If you are looking to develop an IP system, all you need is a network cable connection, which is often accomplished with fiber optics.

“If we’re doing a multi-building campus, we’ll run a single fiber optic cable from each of the buildings to the central building,” says Silva. “At the end of that fiber optic cable in each building, we’ll install one or more network switches. These switches will allow us to connect all of the security devices in those buildings. You need connectivity between buildings, which in most cases, you will have. Security devices can communicate over a segmented portion of the enterprise’s regular network (VLAN) or a separate dedicated network just for security devices can be provided.”

In addition to the sheer convenience of an IP system compared to an analog one, video and image quality are improving.

“You’re inherently capped at right around 2 megapixels for analog, but with IP the world’s really your playground as far as the resolution,” says Maddox. “Higher and higher megapixel resolution cameras are coming out every day.”

Bandwidth and data storage are two of the main areas the industry is looking to enhance. Balancing these two areas with the highest possible video quality can be a challenge under a budget, but solutions continue to become less expensive.

“If your whole system is recording within the building, bandwidth is usually not a problem,” explains Silva. “The other main factor is how much disk space you need to store it. With these newer cameras, you need much more storage, but the cost of storage is going down significantly. In the commercial realm, it still costs money for good storage, but if you want to spend the money, you can get super high-resolution cameras that pump out a lot of data, and you can make that work with high-capacity drives.”

Lighting and Indoor Cameras

Because of advancing camera technology, video quality continues to improve. In indoor settings, users will usually be able to get the best out of their cameras because the conditions inside best facilitate the technology.

“Indoor cameras are pretty basic because in most cases, unless the camera is looking at a door or a window, the lighting is pretty constant inside,” says Silva. “Generally, it’s much easier to do camera installations inside.”

Consistent lighting indoors helps with video quality, and cameras ultimately require less light than it takes for humans to see. Consequently, you can often get away with using a less expensive camera and expect good results.

“You can be guaranteed good video quality indoors probably 90% of the time,” explains Silva. “Outdoors, it is a little more iffy. You can get just as good video, but you have to do a lot of careful planning. You have the elements to worry about – weather, rain, snow, sleet and freezing. Cameras outdoors are usually more expensive, and you have to give a lot more thought to what kind of camera to use and where you’re placing them.”

Weathering the Outdoor Elements

Outdoor surveillance is frequently more difficult because of the variables that affect light quality, which include cloud coverage, darkness, bright lights shining directly into the lens and uneven lighting.

“When you’re talking about an outdoor arrangement, you have a whole different set of conditions because the lighting level outside is constantly changing from super bright sunlight in the middle of the day to a huge variation of lighting conditions,” says Silva.

For example, an outdoor camera on a bright, sunny day can give you a clear, crisp image of a parking lot. However, during the winter, heavy rain or at night, that camera will not be able to provide the same level of picture quality. That is not to say that the camera is unusable in those conditions, but it is important to know that there will be some difference. Lighting solutions can be a productive way to bridge this gap.

“You need to have decent lighting to get decent video,” notes Maddox. “The camera manufacturers are doing a great job when they claim the little light or no light cameras, but you still need decent light if you’re not using infrared or supplemental lighting.”

When you do have lighting within an outdoor space, you need to be aware of the light sources that might interfere with the cameras. For example, the bright headlights in a parking facility might prevent the camera from capturing vital information like a license plate number.

“In areas like parking lots, there are issues with lighting that typically make the design much more challenging,” says Silva. “Different cameras have different abilities to work in different lighting conditions, so in your written goals, you would state, ‘This is the parking lot. These are the light levels that are in the parking lot. Here’s what we want to achieve.’ Then, let the consultant or the vendor come up with the appropriate cameras.”

Planning and setting realistic expectations, like any other part in the surveillance process, will help you get the most out of your system.

Establishing a Surveillance Policy

The advent of new surveillance equipment in a facility often ushers in a series of questions and expectations about use of the camera footage from occupants and even other nearby facilities. If clear guidelines remain unstated, requests for use outside of the intended purposes of the system can generate conflict.

Thus, when installing a new surveillance system or updating an existing one, it is a good idea to institute a written policy that will specifically outline what purposes the cameras will and will not serve. In this policy, you should be sure to address the basic functions of the system and answer questions of access to the video.

Some important areas that should be addressed include:

  • Intended purposes of the surveillance system
  • Proprietary rights of video
  • Personnel who have access to video
  • Proper channels to obtain video
  • Areas that are and are not covered by cameras
  • Cameras are only placed in appropriate locations
  • Basic operations of cameras
  • Details of archival video footage
  • Covert cameras that may be in use

Are You Ready to Rent to Millennials?

by  –

There are 75 million of them; people born between 1980 and 2000. That’s roughly 25% of the U.S. population. Millennials, like all of us are looking for a great place that is safe, convenient, and affordable.

But millennials have their own set of desires, and even requirements when looking for a new apartment home. And they have their own way of locating those apartments.

The question is: are you ready to market and lease to this largest segment of the population? Here are a few tips for reaching and renting to millennials:

· Make sure your rental ads are where millennials can find them. This includes the ability to access ads, including photos and floor plans from the Internet or on a mobile phone.
· Make sure you’re proactive on any public ratings issues that may appear. Millennials, more than any other group rely on the opinion of others. If there are issues, make sure you respond to them promptly, and note that response where it can be viewed by potential renters.
· Ramp up your social media presence. Don’t underestimate the value that millennials place on a solid social media presence, such as an active Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account.
· Speaking of Facebook, be sure to create a Facebook page for your properties if you don’t already have one; and more importantly, keep posts fresh and timely. Facebook remains a popular forum for millennials, where they can easily access additional information and even download an application.
· Make sure you list amenities such as free Wi-Fi, Leed-certified appliances, in-unit washers and dryers, electric car charging stations, bike racks and bike storage. Being pet-friendly doesn’t hurt either.
· If your properties are convenient to public transportation, be sure to mention that in your ads. Millennials are much more likely to use public transportation than their older counterpart and will see this as a definite plus.
· Fitness centers and coffee shops also top the list of amenities that millennials want. While space can be an issue for fitness centers, as an option, you can offer a discount to area gyms if desired. And millennials aren’t the only ones that would like an onsite coffee shop. Offering coffee and quick snacks would appeal to just about any demographic.

While marketing to millennials can seem tricky, in the end, millennials, like generations before them, simply want a place that they can call their own.

HOA Homefront: Exclusive use common areas – what you might not know

by Kelly G. Richardson –

Many condominium buyers do not understand what they bought until long after becoming an owner.

Condominiums consist of two elements: A separate interest, called the unit, and an undivided equal share in everything else, called common area. However, there are usually also hybrid areas, called “exclusive use common areas,” devoted to the exclusive use or benefit of a single condominium, Yet they are still a common area.

Here are seven oft-unknown aspects about this aspect of California condominiums.

Exclusive use common areas are not defined by written or oral statements or even contracts. Regardless of what a neighbor, a Realtor or even a purchase contract may say, exclusive use common areas are defined by written and recorded documents. Exclusive use common area is defined normally in condominium plans, CC&Rs and Civil Code 4145.

Exclusive use is not only balconies and patios. Private patios and balconies are normally characterized as exclusive use common area, but exclusive use areas usually include far more than that. Per Civil Code 4145, unless the governing documents say otherwise, exclusive use common areas include “shutters, awnings, window boxes, doorsteps, stoops, porches, balconies, patios, exterior doors, door frames, and hardware incident thereto, screens and windows or other fixtures designed to serve a single separate interest, but located outside the boundaries of the separate interest”. Common examples of exclusive use equipment would be air conditioning or water heater equipment serving single units.

It’s not your property. Exclusive use area is for the use by occupants of a single residence, but it is still common area, meaning it is owned by the entire association. The user does not own it any more than any other of the association members.

The HOA can tell me what to do with my area. Unfortunately, many condominium owners mistakenly believe that, since only they use the balcony, that the association cannot control how they use it. Exclusive use common area is still common area, and falls under the control of the association. Carefully check the association rules and use restrictions before closing escrow. One may want to know what one can and cannot do with the balcony or patio area.

Exclusive use is still the HOA responsibility for repairs, and this has not changed. Civil Code 4775 was amended this year to confirm that unless the CC&Rs say otherwise, the association repairs exclusive use areas and the homeowner maintains them. The technical change in the law did nothing but confirm the long-time mainstream legal interpretation, so associations continue to be responsible for repairing exclusive use areas unless the CC&Rs state otherwise.

The board cannot allocate maintenance and repair responsibility for exclusive use. Pursuant to Civil 4775, only the CC&Rs can reallocate repair and maintenance responsibilities. So, a board might pass a new rule saying that, for example, homeowners must repair their own balconies – but in the current law that change would be ineffective. Repair and maintenance responsibilities other than stated in Civil 4775 may only be allocated under the CC&Rs, which are amended by vote of the membership and not the board.

With some narrow exceptions, boards cannot give away exclusive use area. Civil Code 4600 does not allow common area to be redesignated as exclusive use area unless over 67 percent of all members vote to approve that change.

Formalize These Four Policies in Your High-Rise Association Right Now

High-rise living appeals to many people for the wealth of amenities, concierge-level services, convenient location and unique culture. But with this lifestyle comes unique challenges. Close quarters and the need for residents to exercise mutual respect can sometimes lead to friction and conflict. This is when formal policies need to come into play.

“Part of the draw for high-rise living is the diverse cultural experience of an urban neighborhood,” said Andrew Schlegel, CMCA, EVP at FirstService Residential Urban Management Division. “But bringing together a diverse group of people introduces an array of varying opinions, lifestyles and ways of conducting oneself. This can be a great thing, but to prevent the potential negative effects of natural differences, specific policies are a necessity for the association.”

Well-crafted community rules are a tool for creating harmony among residents. The challenge is creating policies and enforcing them in a fair and polite way. Many of the major issues residents face in a diverse high-rise community are complex. Your association may benefit from the help of a good high-rise management company in dealing with many of them. A solid company not only has experience, but also a vast knowledge of the law and a sense for what works best for residents.

Keeping that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the areas where concrete policies can help create order within a high-rise building.

1. Smoking – Yes? No? Restricted?
The hazards of smoking are undeniable. It’s the leading cause of preventable death throughout the U.S. and Canada. But increased fire risks create even more immediate danger for residents living in a high-rise building. That, among other reasons, is why so many buildings are going smoke free…a step you may want to consider if you haven’t already done so.

But how do you get there without potentially upsetting residents? Just take it step-by-step:

A) Form a committee to explore the issue (include owners and board members), and review public health data and research from medical professionals.

B) Seek feedback from your residents via a simple online survey. Ask them how they feel about a smoke-free environment and if they’ve experienced second-hand smoke. Ask them if they’ve seen cigarette butts or burn marks in common areas.

C) Review your governing documents to see what it takes to officially implement this policy, and communicate it clearly to your residents. You can read more tips on how to implement this type of policy here.

2. Pets – Yes or No? Some? What kinds? How big?
There’s a pet for every kind of person, but not every pet is viable for high-rise living. If there are no pet guidelines in your governing documents, draft clear policies that define what types of pets are acceptable, including animal types, size and weight.

The key here is communication – you’ll want to ensure all residents know the rules so they can comply. Remember that there will be common-sense exceptions, such as grandfathering in non-compliant pets. Also, keep in mind that federal law requires that all service animals be accommodated, at no cost to the owner. For a full discussion, read our pet policy article.

3. Flooring – No one wants to hear their neighbors.
Most problems with a neighbor probably boil down to a single word: noise. While you can address this issue with ordinances regarding quiet hours and music/television volumes, real conflicts arise when the problem is the flooring itself.

Some flooring materials make every step sound like a thunderclap, which can make life unbearable for people living downstairs. So what to do? If your governing documents or architectural guidelines don’t already address this, draft a policy that clearly outlines which types of flooring are acceptable and which ones aren’t.

Board members who would like to establish an effective flooring policy should lean on the expertise of architects and acousticians who can go beyond defining acceptable flooring types. These experts lend real knowledge in terms of how the floor should be constructed to minimize sound. Additionally, your new policy should include details about the construction approval process and who can complete the work. Most associations require that unit modifications be performed by a licensed and insured contractor. (Refer to your association’s governing documents for specifics.)

Clearly communicate the new rules to your residents, and you’re on your way to having a flooring policy that keeps the building quiet and fellow neighbors happy. For a deeper dive into how to implement a comprehensive flooring policy, check out this article.

4. Short-Term Rentals – Yes? No? On a limited basis?
The “sharing” economy is growing, but allowing owners to rent their units on a daily or weekly basis through online sites like Airbnb might not always be a good fit for your high-rise community.

Short-term renters are not subject to the vetting that long-term residents of the community undergo. They may be unaware of fire safety codes and other rules in the community that keep everyone safe, and that can be dangerous in an emergency. On the other hand, unit owners living in popular vacation areas might want to have the option to rent their space while they’re not at home. Not only can this generate extra income for the unit owner, but it can also increase property values by making the property more marketable to those looking to make income from their unit. Consider surveying your residents and then implementing the right short-term rental policy for your community.

If your community chooses to ban short-term rentals, don’t be afraid to enforce compliance with penalties. Likewise, create procedures that prevent unauthorized people from entering the premises, and document those instances when they occur. As with all policies, open communication with residents is the key to successful implementation. You can find out more about the sharing economy and how to address this growing trend by downloading our white paper.

Bedbugs Still a Constant Risk

It’s almost inevitable this difficult-to-detect pest will find its way into at least one of your buildings over time. Here’s how to eradicate the problem before an infestation takes hold.

Bedbugs are flat and round, but very tiny. Adults are about 2 millimeters to 3 millimeters in length and brown in color, but they can appear reddish if they’ve fed recently.
© Rollins Inc.Bedbugs are flat and round, but very tiny. Adults are about 2 millimeters to 3 millimeters in length and brown in color, but they can appear reddish if they’ve fed recently.

Bedbugs are a growing issue in the United States and are showing no signs of slowing down. When you consider that the insects were practically nonexistent 20 to 30 years ago, it’s even more shocking to see where we are today.

In 2015, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) conducted a survey of pest management professionals that found that 99.6% of pest professionals had treated for bedbugs in the past year.

While this staggering figure speaks for itself in terms of the prevalence of bedbugs, the survey also looked at where pest professionals are most likely to find the bugs. Not surprisingly, apartments and condominiums ranked at the top of the list.

Beating out single-family homes and hotels/motels on the list, apartments and condominiums, unfortunately, make great homes for bedbugs because of the insects’ behaviors, habits, and preferences.

Why They Like Us
Bedbugs are considered a “human” pest because they’re attracted to the heat that emanates from our bodies, our natural body odors, and the carbon dioxide we emit. They feed on our blood primarily, although they will feed on any warm-blooded host. That said, bedbugs can most often be found in areas where humans are present.

These bloodsuckers are one of the pest world’s best hitchhikers. Even though they seek our body heat when it’s time to feed, the bugs don’t like to remain on our bodies for long periods of time. Instead, they prefer to hide out on our clothes or in our luggage, traveling from place to place before settling into a new home.

As a result, bedbugs are tough to detect. It’s almost inevitable they’ll find their way into one of your buildings over time, and once inside, they can move from unit to unit. And they can live for up to a year without a meal, so they’re not going to disappear on their own.

That’s why the key to helping mitigate the chances of a bedbug infestation is to conduct regular, proactive inspections and contact a pest management professional as soon as you suspect bedbugs may be present. This can be difficult in multifamily buildings because it requires residents to conduct inspections on their own. However, most pest management companies will be more than happy to have a professional come out and conduct an educational program for residents and staff.

How to Detect the Presence of Bedbugs
Some easy steps can help residents detect signs of bedbugs:

• Cracks and crevices around beds and other resting areas are the most likely places to find bedbugs. This means mattress seams, sheets, and furniture are all likely locations for bedbugs. Make sure to check these spots on a weekly basis.

• Bedbugs are flat and round, but very tiny. Adults are about 2 millimeters to 3 millimeters in length and brown in color, but they can appear reddish if they’ve fed recently. Remove any bedbugs you find immediately.

• When moving from place to place, bedbugs will defecate and leave behind small, rust-colored ink stains that can be seen with the naked eye. Look closely for these marks when conducting an inspection.

• Generally nocturnal in nature, bedbugs usually feed at night once they sense a host is asleep. This makes it tough to prevent bites, but if you wake up with small red bumps on your skin, it might be time to call in a professional.

• If bedbugs are reproducing, you may be able to find clear skin casings lying around from developing nymphs. You might also smell a musty, sweet odor. If you discover these signs, don’t try to resolve the issue on your own, as the indicators show that bedbugs are already reproducing in your building.

• Whatever you do, don’t bring in secondhand furniture. Often, there are bedbugs already living on such pieces that will be happy to have a new home—your units.

Once you suspect signs of bedbugs, it’s important to take action immediately. There are a few different options for treating them, but the recommended technique differs depending on the exact needs and circumstances of your building.

The upper echelon of bedbug detection, however, comes in the form of a canine inspection. Because dogs have an incredibly keen sense of smell, when trained they can accurately point their handlers to the areas where bedbugs are present. Indeed, dogs are the fastest and most accurate detectors of bedbugs.

Although bedbugs can certainly be a risk to the reputation of your business, being aware of the potential signs and actively working to spot them—and resolve issues proactively—can make a world of difference.

You can hang your chair on the wall if it’s an Ollie

by Lloyd Alter

Dog with Ollie

© RockPaperRobot

Folding chairs are pretty common, and are often wobbly and pretty uncomfortable. That’s a shame, because they make a lot of sense if you live in small spaces. The Shakers, an American religious sect, used to hang their chairs on the walls when they were finished with them, to make room for other functions. You can also do that with the Ollie Chair and it won’t stick out; inventor Jessica Banks describes it as “a shape-shifting seat that unfurls with a flourish and retracts with a simple pull of a string.”


It is rather clever actually- the tambour back (a flexible slatted wood on fabric back) and folding aluminum base work with origami techniques, and fold flat to under two and a quarter inches. They claim “That’s thinner than the bagel you had for breakfast” but clearly bagels are bigger in Brooklyn, mine was only an inch and a half this morning.

Ollie pair© Ollie Chair

Jessica Banks, CEO of RockPaperRobot told us in an email:

The Ollie Chair is more experience than object. Our goal was to design a chair that was an invitation to sit and stay as much as it gave license to get up and go…because possessions should provide both comfort and freedom.


And as you can see in the Kickstarter video, people do get up and go, using it in the subway and Times Square. Jessica notes that she is CEO of a woman-run company that is..

..an engineering and design firm that is rousing the sleepy and technology-resistant furniture industry. Their transformable furnishings address the demands that current physical, cultural, and technological shifts are imposing on commercial and residential spaces. As designers and technologists, the team integrates aesthetics and robotics into decor to enhance versatility and functionality without subscribing to the sterile appearance of sci-fi lore: think Charles Eames’s and Judy Jetson’s wedding registry. Aligning time-honored craftsmanship with progressive engineering, RPR invents the furniture of the future.