When it comes to commercial solar panels, most businesses think of rooftop arrays on warehouses, or panels put out on vacant land that isn’t being used. However, when it comes to generating large amounts of power via commercial solar panels, one of the biggest resources in the U.S. is parking lots. As Urban Land pointed out back in 2011, parking lots are an ideal location for solar panels. They take up a lot of space, they tend to be open to the sky, and they are literally everywhere. It’s no wonder that, at least along the east and west coast, businesses have been installing solar panel carports and canopies with enthusiasm.
Flooding is one of the costliest disasters in the United States, which is why homeowners need flood insurance. However, you should know that FEMA Elevation Certificates are needed when you buy flood insurance and here is why. Insurance claims have averaged almost $2 billion per year from the years 2006 until 2015 when the last statistics were posted. And from 1980 up until 2013, the average cost was over $260 billion in damages.
Who Needs One?
Those who live in a high-risk area typically need an Elevation Certificate when applying for flood insurance. This is so that the premium for flood insurance can be determined properly. Even those in a flood zone who make changes to their home such as a garage to living space conversion or adding a room addition will need an Elevation Certificate so it is not solely for new homeowners.
What Does It Do?
An Elevation Certificate simply determines the elevation of your property. This is important when deciding your insurance premium because the elevation plays an important role in the likelihood of your property being prone to flooding.
How Does It Work?
According to FEMA, “Flood hazard areas identified on the Flood Insurance Rate Map are identified as a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). SFHAs are labeled as Zone A, Zone AO, Zone AH, Zones A1-A30, Zone AE, Zone A99, Zone AR, Zone AR/AE, Zone AR/AO, Zone AR/A1-A30, Zone AR/A, Zone V, Zone VE, and Zones V1-V30. Moderate flood hazard areas, labeled Zone B or Zone X (shaded) are also shown on the FIRM and are the areas between the limits of the base flood and the 0.2-percent-annual-chance (or 500-year) flood.
If your home falls into one of the high risk zones, the Elevation Certificate or EC determines things such as building characteristics, the location of the building, and the flood zone itself. This certificate is used in conjunction with what is called a BFE, which stands for Base Flood Elevation. The Base Flood Elevation works by estimating that there is a one percent chance (at least) that the floodwaters will reach or even exceed the area within a one-year period. For obvious reasons, the more risk you have, the higher the premium may be but the higher your lowest floor is above the Base Flood Elevation, the less the risk you have of flooding and the lower the insurance premium should be.
How Do You Get One?
To get a FEMA Elevation Certificate, there are a few options.
- The Builder or Developer. If the home is already constructed and in a high-risk area, an Elevation Certificate was needed and may be on file so you do not have to get a new one. However, the Elevation Certificate may not be up to date so you should seek out a qualified Land Surveyor.
- The Sellers. If you are buying your home from a seller, check to see if the Elevation Certificate was already granted. In cases where the buyer does not have one, you can always ask for it to be included in the sale. This is also a situation where the EC may not beup to date so please check with a qualified Land Surveyor if it is not.
- Land Surveyor. A Land Surveyor has the ability to supply you with an Elevation Certificate. Getting a qualified Land Surveyor is very importatnt since they will know proper procedures and most likely save you money on your flood policy. premiums.
Deep Energy Retrofits of Existing Structures
High-performance energy systems and building envelopes are not reserved for new construction only. Existing structures are being equipped with energy efficient HVAC systems and retrofit with engineered thermal insulation and vapor envelopes, passive solar shading devices, active solar panels, and water conservation strategies – all in an effort to reduce the energy consumption in existing buildings.
Energy-efficient systems and renewable energy sources are the two common paths used to improve a statistical fact concerning built environments:
“On average, 30% of the energy used in commercial buildings is wasted, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency….one of the top opportunities to improving the energy efficiency is retrofitting of existing buildings.”
Deep energy retrofits – as opposed to conventional energy renovations which focus on simple upgrades of isolated systems, such as lighting or HVAC systems – will approach the whole building and its overall poor performance ratings. Many building systems are addressed at once for a much greater savings in energy consumption, increased occupant comfort, and reduction in green house emissions.
Laser scanning of existing structures is used to accurately capture hidden building elements and attain dimensional data as the first step to creating a building information model (BIM). With a 3D BIM model of the retrofit project’s interior, exterior and surrounding site, energy modeling tools are then used to simulate the thermal properties of the building envelope, visualize interior heat loss and gains, emulate the position and the effect of the sun for solar shading strategies, and as a tool to improve overall building performance.
Laser scanning is a land surveying software solution that facilitates the engineering and construction phases of architects, engineers, and construction. This as-built tool replaces traditional building and land surveying methods by using hand-held laser measuring devices, photogrammetry, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), to capture and analyze building data in real time. Elevations, sections, floor plans, and complete 3D models are converted to 2D drawings, 3D models, or BIM-compatible formats.
This virtual capture of the environment becomes an important part of the planning process for deep energy retrofits, land development, urban landscape planning, and in the new construction process. Using Bluetooth technology, PC tablets, and reflectorless instrumentation – highly detailed and very precise building or land surveys are quickly accomplished – all in the digital (or virtual) realm. The end-use can beapplied to solve a number of structural and architectural documentation needs, including:
- General Arrangement Plans
- Street Scenes
- Scaled Floor Plans
- Internal Elevations
- Roof Plans
- Facade Measurements
- As-Built Checking
- Field Clash Detection
Laser Scanning and Point Cloud Data
Point cloud technology utilizes high-definition CT laser technology to scan multiple perspectives of the physical environment. The resulting image consists of millions of data points capturing the targeted image in a 3D coordinate system, or point cloud. The raw point cloud data is automatically converted to real-world structural elements and terrain features to generate accurate geometric data of building interiors and exteriors, topographies and urban landscapes, and even manufactured items such as pipes, and machinery.
Industry consensus supports the efficiency of using scanning to produce point cloud data to augment 3D modeling (and especially BIM applications). The once fragmented space that existed between retrofitting of existing structures and utilizing advanced modeling technologies are removed with 3D laser scanning services. This virtual, digitization of environments allows real-time, concurrent workflow to share information between field and engineering office. With laser scanning-to-BIM, all of a project’s stakeholders can access an integrated project database for engineering analysis and building performance studies – connecting existing infrastructures with analytical modeling and visualization technology for installation of deep energy retrofits.
When selecting a prospective house or patch of land, most people are easily enticed by the usual factors like location, size, price and even structural design. But acquiring a property means that you need to be mindful of even the tiniest details. Otherwise, you might face unexpected conflicts or the value of your new property may be badly affected later on.
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A Civil Engineer often carries out the design of construction projects such as land development, subsurface sewage disposal systems (septic systems) or house building. Instinctively, since the design is not as tangible as the construction itself, people tend to try to save money on that part in order to keep more for the actual construction. As a rule of thumb, the design part of a project consists of approximately 5-20% of the budget while the actual construction uses the rest of the budget.
If you are planning to acquire real estate or do some site improvements, you obviously have a lot to think about such as budget, location, and design. One of the most important papers you can own is your land survey. Having a proper ALTA survey done on your land could help you get peace of mind about your investment.
A proper water management system is one of the keys to success of any construction projects. That is why it is a big challenge for any projects to be designed with a sustainable stormwater management solution.
=In the construction industry, development projects usually require the knowledge and understanding of civil engineering and architecture. These are important disciplines that deal with the process of creating structures, such as buildings, airports, churches and houses.
Both professions have critical functions that are essential in any construction job and they rely on one-another to accomplish a given task. Continue reading “What is the Difference between Civil Engineering and Architecture?”