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What happens when construction workers are hungry?

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Instead of sexist catcalls, construction works yell: "I'd like to show you the respect you deserve!" "A woman's place is where she chooses!" "You know what I'd like to see? A society in which the objectification of women makes way for gender-neutral interaction free from assumptions and expectations" in a real-world extension of Snickers' "You're not you when you're hungry" campaign. Check out the YouTube video titled Aussie Builders surprise public with loud empowering statements.

Additional Resource: AdWeek, Construction Workers Yell Messages of Empowerment to Women in Snickers Stunt ... So when you're hungry, you're not a creep?

Building Around Nature - Literally

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Construction is set to begin in April on a highway bypass south of College Station, Texas. But a group of ancient oak trees sits near the site where the road will run. The Texas Department of Transportation ("TxDOT") intended to remove four of the trees, each 200 to 300 years old, which stood in the way of the planned bypass. And the safety of the nearby trees, including a massive 500 year-old oak tree thought to be one of the oldest trees in Texas, could not be guaranteed.

But community outcry has forced the TxDOT to reassess. For nearly 150 years, Regina McCurdy and her family have owned the land on which the ancient oak trees sit. The last 7 of those years, she and her family have been fighting with the TxDOT to save the trees.

It appears their pleas in favor of nature were finally heard. Last week, the TxDOT decided to redesign the road. The new design will use a narrower median to allow the road to be built around the oak trees. According to John Barton, TxDOT Deputy Director, it is an "urban design in a rural setting." Additionally, an arborist will monitor the trees during the construction process to ensure their survival.

Now THAT is sustainable design.

Are You Immune To A Cyber-Attack Or Data Breach?

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Not surprisingly, after the cyber-attacks that occurred at a couple (or perhaps few) large retailers over the holidays there has been much discussion about the need to ramp up efforts to protect against such attacks. According to a Guide entitled Cybersecurity in the Golden State that was recently issued by California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, "[i]n just the first three months of 2013, there were more than one billion Cyberattacks," and "[i]n 2012, 50 percent of all targeted attacks were aimed at businesses with fewer than 2,500 employees." It might surprise you, but according to the Guide, "[s]ecurity threats can be broadly categorized in to the following categories:

1. Social Engineering Scams
2. Network Braches
3. Physical Breaches
4. Mobile Breaches
The Guide is directed at small businesses to assist them in protecting against cyber-attacks and data breaches. It outlines recommendations for "businesses to help protect against and respond to the increasing threat of malware, data breaches and other cyber risks." More specifically, a "cyber-attack" (aka "cyber-warfare" or "cyber-terrorism") is generally understood to include "any type of offensive maneuver employed by individuals or whole organizations that targets computer information systems, infrastructures, computer networks, and/or personal computer devices by various means of malicious acts usually originating from an anonymous source that either steals, alters, or destroys a specified target by hacking into a susceptible system." Examples of cyber-attacks include installing spyware on a personal computer or mobile device.

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Friday Favorites - New TV Show Catches Contractors Off Guard

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Not only is the government out to sting contractors (as noted by G2G's Amy Pierce here), now Hollywood is too. Rima Suqi's New York Times interview, "Getting Contractors to Man Up" (subscription required if you've used up your free articles) notes that SpikeTV has a new show about bad apple contractors. Hosted by Adam Carolla (who you may remember from "Loveline" and "The Man Show"), the show is geared toward helping homeowners who have hired contractors whose work has been sub-par. The show lures unsuspecting contractors to a decoy house on the premise of providing a bid, and then surprises them with a camera crew. The contractors are then offered a choice--fix the work under the show's supervision, return the money they were paid by the homeowner, or face a court battle with the homeowner in which the show will assist the homeowner. Not surprisingly, according to the interview, most contractors choose to finish the job.

"To Catch a Contractor" premieres this Sunday, March 9, at 10 p.m./9 p.m. Central. You can find out more about the show at Spike TV's site here. Am I the only one hoping at least one contractor will choose the court option?

What is the Construction Industry's "Bliss Score"?

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Recently I've come across a number of articles reporting on what I will refer to as the "bliss" factor for employees, measuring, for example, happiness with their current career path, with the city in which they work, etc. happy.jpgCareerBliss has published a number of bliss lists, evaluating what it considers to be the "key factors" which affect work happiness, including, for example: "one's relationship with their boss and co-workers, their work environment, job resources, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, company reputation, their daily tasks, and job control over the work that they do on a daily basis" to come up with an overall "bliss rating" or "bliss score." A number of you with careers in the construction industry have reported that you are blissfully happy.

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Notre Dame Announces $400 Million Project That Includes Premium Seating In The House Rockne Built

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On January 29, 2014, The Observer, a student-run, daily print and online newspaper serving Notre Dame and St. Mary's, reported that Notre Dame "is hoping to begin massive construction of Notre Dame Stadium after the conclusion of the 2014 football season," after interviewing University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. It confirmed that the "Notre Dame Board of Trustees has endorsed a plan to build three buildings totaling 750,000 square feet that will surround the Stadium." The "Campus Crossroads Project" is expected to cost $400 millions, and to take 33 months to construct from start to finish. President Jenkins confirmed that, ideally, the University would make the decision to go ahead with the project in August and start building after Notre Dame's home finale against Louisville in November.

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Pay Now ... Or Pay Later: $3.5 Million For 700 Steelworkers (And Their Attorneys)

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January 8, 2014, Judge Jon S. Tigar, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, in Cordy v. USS-Posco Industries, et al., 2014 BL 4209, N.D. Cal., No. 3:12-cv-00553, granted preliminary approval of the amended settlement agreement between approximately 700 steelworkers and their employer for $3.5 million to settle claims that the company failed to pay its hourly employees for, among other things, time spent donning and doffing protective gear and denying them meal and rest periods. Steelworker.jpgThe amended settlement agreement also provides for injunctive relief, including requiring the employer to confirm that it is "routinely maintaining records of the actual hours worked by its employees" and that "employee wage statements contain all information required under California law."

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Wind Farms - Not Just Green Energy?

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On December 12, 2013, in its article titled For Major Cities, Offshore Wind Farms Could Provide Both Electricity And Hurricane Protection, The Huffington Post reported on Stanford University's recent presentation at the American Geophysical Union fall meeting on the feasibility of building "tens of thousands of wind power turbines off the shores of some of America's cities most vulnerable to extreme weather to reduce wind speeds and lessening sever storm surges." wind turbine.jpgReportedly, Stanford civil and environmental engineering professor Mark Z. Jacobson and his research team "concluded that the wind turbines could have sapped Katrina of so much energy that wind speeds would have been reduced by up to 50 percent at landfall and the hurricane's storm surge could have been reduced by about 72 percent." In addition, it "would have generated 0.45 terawatts of wind power."

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SPI Solar Starts 2014 With A $28.5 Million Cash Infusion

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UPDATE: The Sacramento Bee, SPI Solar and KDC Solar Announce Joint Ownership of Mountain Creek Project (Feb. 21, 2014)

On January 8, 2014, SPI Solar announced that it has "executed agreements with KDC Solar and China Development Bank (CDB) to provide immediate financing for the previously announced Imclone [solar power] project," securing its receipt of a $28.5 million cash payment, enabling it to remove $28.5 million of the Imclone project construction loan liability from its balance sheet, and paving the way for it to obtain funding for other solar projects. SPI Solar is a self-proclaimed "global turnkey [vertically integrated] developer and EPC contractor for large-scale solar energy facilities." SPI Solar's completed solar projects include the Staples Center and Nokia Theater located in Los Angeles, California, Aerojet located in Folsom, California, and Twentieth Century Fox Motion Picture Studios located in Los Angeles.

Other Sources: The Wall Street Journal; pv tech; The Sacramento Bee

New York Times Article Spotlights "Solar Power Craze on Wall St." ... Others Are Weighing In As Well

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In their article Solar Power Craze on Wall St. Propels Start-Up, authors Diane Cardwell and Julie Creswelljan remark on the "solar power craze that is sweeping Wall Street," acknowledging the companies "riding a wave of exuberance over the industry." "The broad stock market is coming off its best year since 1997 -- the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose nearly 30 percent in 2013 -- and the shares of many young companies have leaped from one high to another." They note that "[d]epending on whom you talk to, the rise of SolarCity and similar companies is either a sure sign that solar power is finally having its day or that yet another mania has gripped the markets." Their article also touches on some of the growing pains felt by the industry. Others in the industry are weighing in as well on investing in solar in 2014, see additional sources below.

Additional Sources: The New York Times, Solar Power Craze on Wall St. Propels Start-Up (Jan. 3, 2014); Seeking Alphae, The Pros Pick 4 Solar Stocks For Energy Investments (Jan 2, 2014); TopStockAnalysts, The Best Solar Investment Of 2014 (Jan. 6, 2014); Forbes, The Riskiness Of Renewable Energy Investments (Jan. 8, 2014); pv magazine, Deutsche Bank Expects Solar Gold in 2014 (Jan. 8, 2014); The Globe and Mail, Solar Energy Stocks Riding A Hot Streak (Jan. 8, 2014); DailyFinance, Should You Stay Away From Solar Stocks in 2014 (Jan. 12, 2014); The Huffington Post, California More Than Doubles Solar Energy In 2013 (Jan. 13, 2014)

Court Issues Statement of Decision on Public Nuisance Claim, Ordering $1.1 Billion Lead Paint Contamination Abatement Program

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Thirteen years after the complaint was filed, on Monday, December 16, 2013, California Superior Court Judge James P. Kleinberg, in People of the State of California v. Atlantic Richfield Co. et al., Santa Clara Superior Court Case No. 1-00-cv-788657, issued a proposed statement of decision (SOD) after a 23-day bench trial premised on an "alleged public nuisance created by lead paint manufactured or sold by five Defendants in ten jurisdictions in California." SOD p. 1. The sole cause of action remaining in the fourth amended complaint (Complaint) was for a public nuisance stemming from sales of lead paint and pigments that were alleged to have contributed to the contamination of private homes and apartment buildings and risked residents' health. The remedy sought was abatement of the public nuisance within the prosecuting entities' jurisdictions. In the SOD, Judge Kleinberg found for the People and against ConAgra Grocery Products LLC (ConAgra), NL Industries Inc. (NL) and Sherwin-Williams Co. (SW) and dismissed the other two defendants.

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Breaking News: SF-Oakland Bay Bridge to Open After Labor Day Weekend Closure, Sept. 3

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On Thursday, August 15, the three-member Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee voted to open the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge September 3, as originally planned. On July 8, it had been announced that the bridge opening would have to be delayed beyond the originally planned Labor Day weekend because they didn't expect the failed bolt retrofit work to be completed until mid-December. Days later, hope was rekindled that a short-fix could be implemented quickly to address the failure of nearly one-third of the 96 bolts that secure earthquake shock absorbers known as shear keys to the deck when they were tightened in March. The August 15 decision followed a ruling by the Federal Highway Transportation Administration that an interim fix to address the bolt failures that occurred in March would allow the new span to open safely while the defective bolts are being retrofitted.

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Ygrene and Johnson Controls Celebrate Nation's Largest PACE Energy Upgrade Project

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Ygrene Energy Fund and Johnson Controls recently announced that they will help Seattle-based Metzler Real Estate cut energy use and utility bills at Sacramento's Metro Center Corporate Park by $140,000 annually, a 27% decrease. The Metro Center facilities are located at 2700-2720 Gateway Oaks Drive and are comprised of 4 buildings, totaling approximately 250,000 square feet. KN1A7051.JPG

Photo © Ygrene Energy Fund, All Rights Reserved - Creative Commons.

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Turner Construction Company to Build New Sacramento Kings Arena

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UPDATE: Sacramento Business Journal, Sacramento Kings, Turner Construction plan contractor outreach meetings for arena (Feb. 27, 2014)

On July 30, it was announced that the Sacramento Kings ownership group has hired Turner Construction Company to build the planned arena at Downtown Plaza. Turner Construction Company has a number of stadium projects on its resume. KingsArenaII.jpg
The Sacramento Kings ownership group are also reportedly in the process of interviewing architectural firms to help design the new arena.

Photo © October 8, 2006, Michelle - creative commons.

G2G Friday Favorites - Demolition Edition

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  • Demolition of "The Coop," a 113-year-old building on Michigan State University's campus, was delayed after a fire broke out on the building's roof this week.