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Thursday, 20 December 2012

Holiday Message 2012

Warm Season’s Greetings by fireside with champagne and evergreen trees from Wo-Built & PeapodLife
Image Montage by Wo-Built: Warm Season’s Greetings by fireside with champagne
and evergreen trees from Wo-Built and PeapodLife Building EcoSystems and Technology
Image Credit: MS Office ClipArt: Season’s Greetings

Season’s Greetings from all of us at Wo-Built, Inc.

As we close out another year, we pause to remember everyone who made 2012 such an exciting and prosperous year for Wo-Built.

We worked on some fabulous projects and took major strides forward in our new strategic initiative, PeapodLife Building EcoSystems and Technology.

This year wasn’t without its challenges, but with the help, guidance, patronage and support of our Partners, Clients, Investors, Friends and Family, we came through stronger, wiser, and better prepared for the challenges ahead. Thank you one and all.

If 2012 was any indication, there will be many more people watching and wishing us success, if for no other reason than our social, environmental and economic mission is one they too believe in.

As we head into the New Year, we do so with a renewed sense of passion and commitment to the future of our Company, and all who stand beside and behind us. We will not let you down.

It is therefore with warm hearts that we wish one and all a Very Happy Festive Season and blessings for a prosperous and peaceful New Year.

From all of us to all of you, may you be happy; may you be joyful; may you be at peace.


Martina Ernst
President/CEO
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build
and the Entire Wo-Built & PeapodLife Team

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Building an Addition – Treat Yourself to a True Professional

Make sure Your Contractor isn’t Naughty but Nice. 
Use our List and Check it Twice!, collage by wobuilt.com
Image Collage by Wo-Built: Make sure Your Contractor isn’t Naughty but Nice.;
Use our List and Check it Twice! @wobuilt
Images Credit: MS Office ClipArt: Contractor Pointing, Santa with Christmas List.
Five Things that make a Contractor not Naughty but Nice

Building an addition is no joke. Whether it’s a single-dwelling home, multi-story apartment building, small office, business, or any building at all—no matter where or what it’s being used for—needs the keen eye, sound advice, and proven track record of a professional contractor.

Five things a True Professional Contractor Offers:
  • 1. Experience.
  • 2. References.
  • 3. Consultation.
  • 4. Execution.
  • 5. Integrity.

1. Experience. The contractor should have worked on comparable new builds, additions or major renovations, and be able to explain why their experience is relevant (be weary if all you can get out of a contractor are unsubstantiated claims like “oh sure, we can do that,” and “no problem”).

2. References. The contractor should willingly offer you names and numbers of past clients. Use them. Remember that industry accreditations don’t mean too much these days: contractors pay to get them.

3. Consultation. The right contractor will have a roster of designers, architects, engineers and other professionals on-hand or standing by to look at your project, offer important guidance, advice and related expertise.

4. Execution. The best contractors will give you a realistic estimate and project plan — including contingency plans and built-in cushions for inevitable cost-overruns — and have licensed and accredited tradespeople on-site and performing key tasks. They also visit the site regularly.

5. Integrity. It’s no cliché: the best contractors are nice, not naughty. Integrity makes the difference between an enjoyable and exciting building experience and a potential nightmare. It’s the quality which gives the other four items in this list real teeth.

Stuff happens during renovations of homes: all sorts of problems are discovered behind walls, under floorboards, in the attic, etc. Any contractor who fails to acknowledge these possibilities or does not account for them in their estimate are misquoting on your project. It’s a red flag, plain and simple.

Integrity is so key, because a half-baked contractor, will likely cut corners, fudge inspections, use “cheap” (read: unqualified) labour, and dozens of other tricks and tactics to maximize their profits while appearing to come in “on time and on budget.”

More likely, they will spring unforeseen challenges, problems, regulations, etc. on you, holding you over a barrel with a half-finished project, and start bleeding you dry with unforeseen and unplanned for extra expenses, at the end of the day delivering a sub-par result. But at what price?

Today in Paloma, Italy, four people paid the ultimate price—with their lives.

Image: "Firefighters clear rubble after two buildings collapsed overnight, in Palermo, Italy, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012…Survivors said a top floor had been added illegally onto one of the buildings recently." 
(AP Photo/Francesco Baiamonte, Lapresse) 

If this is not reason enough to think twice before cutting corners on your next building project (starting by choosing the smooth-talking contractor with the “too good to be true” quote), maybe Wikipedia’s partial “List of structural failures and collapses” might help.

Don’t let history repeat itself on your next building project. Give yourself the gift of peace of mind. Get a professional contractor to do the work right the first time.


Attila Lendvai
VP of Strategic Development
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build




Thursday, 13 December 2012

Build a Better Lifestyle: Start Sprouting

Build a Better Lifestyle: Start Sprouting, collage by wobuilt.com
Image Collage by Wo-Built: Build a Better Lifestyle: Start Sprouting:
Three Tablespoons Baby Mung Beans in Sprout Grower, 0 hrs to 36 hrs
Images Source: SproutGrowers.com

Tony Hornick's Sprouter: Two tray container with a wired-mesh stand to spread seeds. Cover is a dome shaped to provide condensation. The bottom tray is for the water and for stand to rest.

Sprouts have been called nature’s healthiest food. Why? Sprouts are alive.

"Sprouts are said to be rich in digestible energy, bioavailable vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins, and phytochemicals, as these are necessary for a germinating plant to grow."
~ wikipedia.org: Sprouting


youtube.com: Cathy Nesbitt talks about Tony Hornick’s Sprout Grower
"As a bonus Cathy (from Cathy's Crawly Composters http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z56ySwKAdzk) shows us her friend Tony Hornick's Sprout Grower. This is a simple item that germinates sprouts from seeds. These sprouts contain multi-vitamins as they are pure concentrated nutrition..."
Published by tdotgardner84 on Aug 10, 2012

Four Steps to Sprouting with Tony Hornick's Sprout Grower:
  • 1. Planting
  • 2. Watering
  • 3. Weeding (not really)
  • 4. Harvesting
See a complete step by step process on Tony’s Fast and Easy Sprout Grower website.

And what does all this have to do with PeapodLife? In the event that someone would ever have to survive only on what they were capable of growing in their own home, the addition of sprouts to their PeapodLife Building EcoSystem would provide vital energy, vitamins, minerals and fibre.

Of course, like any nutritional choice, it’s best to consume sprouts in moderation. And, like any agricultural or food preparation process, it is important to learn the correct technique to avoid the potential risks of over-consumption or inappropriate preparation and storage. For instance, sprouting in jars is not recommended, and potentially toxic. The best option is to purchase a dedicated sprouting device. PeapodLife recommends Tony Hornick’s Sprout Grower because it is inexpensive, easy to use, and its customers are always eager to give positive testimonials to better health and a lifestyle with regular use.

Building better nutrition begins in the home; and sprouting is the perfect companion to PeapodLife.

Attila Lendvai
VP of Strategic Development
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Why Go Green with Plants?

Indoor Landscapes: Interior Plants, Office Landscaping, image montage by wobuilt.comImage Montage by Wo-Built: Indoor Landscapes
Image Credits: Travels with Zen-Aida +
Plantscape - Interior Plant Service, Indoor Office Landscaping

The Benefits of Indoor Garden Living Spaces

I have rediscovered my love for plants, or shall I say, my passion for making my home and office overflow with plants.

They seem to be multiplying (each time I go to the local garden center some seems to find themselves in my cart on the way out); they are on desks, tables, window sills, hanging from the ceiling etc.

Frankly they are starting to be in the way of everyone, but somehow we all accommodate the plants. So they are shifted about a bit, the work space is adjusted, the mountain of paper is redistributed around the plants and what does it matter that the floor is being utilized to the maximum.

Everyone loves being around the plants, they bring life into the space, especially at this time of year. The cold, grey and dreary time, the winter time, the short day time. The blooming Christmas cactus is a real treat to look at. We like our medicinal Aloe Vera plant, we do not just have ornamental plants, such as our Revolutions Croton (love the decorative curly leaves).

So what you say, they have a lot of plants. Why write this in a post? Quite frankly, who cares?

We all should care. Studies have shown that plants are beneficial to our moods. There is even a term for this: the biophilia hypothesis. According to Wikipedia the hypothesis suggests that there is an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems. Biophilia means the love of life or living systems and was popularized by Harvard University myrmecologist and conservationist E.O. Wilson.

The need for connections with living systems is deeply rooted in our nature. As we have lost the day to day interaction with plants (we spend most of our time in enclosed buildings), it is becoming very important that nature is brought back into buildings. We have a solution in our PeapodLife concept.

We have written several articles about the PeapodLife concept and how it is beneficial for the indoor environment and we would like to invite you to review previous articles:

Martina Ernst
President/CEO
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Masdar City – the Sustainable Community

Image Montage by Wo-Built: Masdar City Master Plan & Actual Masdar Institute Building in Masdar City
Images Credit/Source: Masdar - A Mubadala Company: Masdar City Image Downloads

Masdar City – the Sustainable Community is not just for Dreamers anymore.
Sadly, it’s just not for Torontonians yet either.

Let’s face it, Canadians are safe. We don’t like rocking the boat—at home or abroad—and we certainly don’t make a big deal about being the first, the best, the most, etc. Sure, we may like it when by some fortuitous accident we find ourselves on top or ahead of the curve, but we generally don’t hunger for it like some other places in the world — notaboy our neighbours to the South. And certainly, if Research in Motion (RIM) or Nortel are any indication, we are absolutely terrible at maintaining our technological edge, if ever we do acquire it.

It’s unfortunate that residents of Canada, Torontonians for instance, are nowhere nearer to living in a truly sustainable community. No, that accolade goes to Masdar City in the United Arab Emirates. A project whose mission is:
"To advance renewable energy and sustainable technologies through education, research and development, investment, commercialization and adaptation."
Source: Masdar - A Mubadala Company: About Us

The following Masdar City promotional video says it all.

Masdar City is the world's first sustainable city - it's taking shape in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Uploaded by Hayes Thompson on Jan 18, 2010

A List of Masdar City Values reads like the philosophy of PeapodLife Building EcoSystems & Technology:
  1. Agility – The ability to switch from one technology to another but retain a sound footing based on a balance of best value and state of the art know-how.
  2. Commercial Viability – To ensure the widespread adoption of any sustainability technologies, they must be made commercially viable. While some environmentalists may be anti-capitalist, we feel rewarding investors for investing in people, planet and profits is a perfectly acceptable strategy for building a better world built on social, environmental, economic values (SEE-V).
  3. Sustainability – There is simply no point in embarking on a new system or course of action unless we consider all known factors—and best guesses as to what lies down the road—to ensure it will perform as needed for decades to come.
  4. Grounded in Reality – Dreaming is for bedtime, science fiction and video games. Doing is for those able to ground their imagination in the roots of what is achievable today: financially, technologically, socially, environmentally, et al. Deep down we are all dreamers, but the key to being a successful dreamer is remembering Lao Tzu’s wisdom: “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

So do these values translate to Canada? PeapodLife says: absolutely! As for the “vast distances” we have to travel in this country, Masdar is incorporating two ultra-modern, ultra-high-tech approaches to transit, both imported from Europe: Personal Rapid Transit for in-town personalized subterranean transport, and the Superbus (from the Netherlands), for high-speed transport between cities.

Superbus, a new clean energy public transport vehicle, visited Masdar city in Abu Dhabi.
Uploaded by Masdar VideosChannel on Apr 21, 2011

It’s such a shame that Canada has seven important factors in common with UAE, but not the political will nor entrepreneurial drive to pursue our own version of Masdar.

The seven characteristics Canada and UAE have in common are as follows:
  1. Canada and UAE are wealthy countries with oil revenues.
  2. Canada and UAE with climatic extremes (cold and hot).
  3. Canada and UAE have lots of available development land.
  4. Canada and UAE seem to share a fundamental concern for the environment and long-term sustainability.
  5. Canada and UAE are in close proximity (and economic relationship) with economic superpowers.
  6. Canada and UAE are known around the world as a “land of possibility / opportunity”
  7. Canada and UAE are both cosmopolitan nations; active destinations for both tourism and investment.

But whereas UAE is looking to the future and the impending oil crisis—and with a project like Masdar City is moving preemptively to reinvent itself for the new energy economy—what is Canada doing? Attracting direct foreign investment to develop a wealth of as-yet unexploited natural resources. For shame!

Well, we at Wo-Built and PeapodLife won’t stand for it. It may be an uphill battle ahead, but we are ready to bring our vision for sustainable buildings and indoor ecosystems to Canada and the world, and join the likes of Masdar City and others trying to not just dream or talk, but act.

Attila Lendvai
VP of Strategic Development
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

Thursday, 29 November 2012

It Takes A Village To Build A Village

It takes a village to build a village, collage, by wobuilt.com
Collage: It Takes a Village!

It Takes A Village...: Part 2

It Takes A Village To Build A Village

So how does all this pertain to idea, "it takes a village to build a village"? And why should we care? The answer lies in the reality of today’s world, our relationship with nature and our disconnection from it and one another.

Nature has no “global solutions.” The environment of the earth is a complex ballet on an enormous scale, consisting of countless individual local ecosystems in balanced harmony with each other. In other words, the “global village” only exists in the minds of human beings. Nature itself understands that the status of the planet relies on strong local ecosystems, living in harmonious symbiosis with their neighbours.

We need to learn from nature and mimic its wisdom. That means connecting more with each other on a local level and in person to foster civic engagement, greater empathy for our neighbours and deeper social interaction. In some ways we are already doing this. The phenomenon of meet-up groups is clearly a manifestation of our innate need to connect in communities of likeminded individuals with common goals.

But a village is much more than a community of interest. A village, like an ecosystem, may have a common, shared goal (survive; thrive; prosper), but its constituent components (i.e. its community of members) can be very different. Indeed, they MUST be different. A village is made beautiful, powerful, resilient, interesting, dynamic, and creative — just like any ecosystem — through diversity.

It’s the way in which the diversity that makes up the village comes together to define it, build it, evolve it, grow it and bring it to life which matters.  It’s all in the how. And, just as ecosystems evolve overtime to adjust to the changing forces in the environment and the evolving needs of the individual members of its diverse community, so to must the way in which the village organizes itself change to meet the needs and demands of today.

PeapodLife is on the verge of announcing an exciting new vision of such an evolutionary jump in the concept of what a village is; and the diverse village of individuals, businesses and organizations who will make it what it should be—a vehicle for all to achieve common, shared goals.

Martina Ernst
President/CEO
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

links:
It Takes A Village...
Part 1: It Takes A Village To Build A Building
Part 2: It Takes A Village To Build A Village

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

It Takes A Village...

It takes a village to build a building, collage by wobuilt.com
Collage: It Takes a Village!

It Takes A Village...: Part 1

It Takes A Village To Build A Building

Everyone knows the saying "It takes a village to raise a child". In other words a community is required to raise a child well. A joint effort to instill knowledge, skills and values.

But how about a village to build a building? Or even a village to build a village?

Out of interest I looked up the history of forming villages. It has been suggested that the first villages were formed about 12,000 years ago in the Near East by people who started agriculture rather than relying on hunting and gathering. People who had a common interest settled down, likely for a combination of efficient farming, security, and shared social factors. These early settlements over time became communities with social and cultural structures and professional specializations.

A community is defined by sharing of common values and the help the members give each other rather than just acting out of self interest. A community also has an identity that forms the "glue" that keeps it together. German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies called it the presence of a "unity of will". He also argued that there is a collective sense of loyalty and strong personal relationships between members.

Ok, fast forward to today's world. We have achieved the ultimate in specialization through technology, but technology has also insulated us from each other. In our ability to converse with people throughout the globe, we have less personal contact with each other, we may even be less aware of our neighbours. We may be in a global village (the metaphor of how technology has increased our ability of receiving communication and information from everywhere, increasing our ability to interact with people throughout the world who have similar interests, ideas and concerns), but the backbone of society — the local village — is suffering.

Back to the question: How about a village to build a building? The principle is the same as for raising a child. A community is required to build a building well, a collection of people who have a common goal in mind that is higher than self interest. Bringing together the different trades, experts and economic factors who have shared values and interests in the building that go beyond a financial gain is key to ensure a successful project. With a vested interest in shared social and environmental values (in addition to economic value), everyone will be well motivated to give do their best; give it their all.

Martina Ernst
President/CEO
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

Stay tuned for part two It Takes A Village...

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Some of the Challenges with Providing a Second Bathroom in a Commercial Space

Commercial renovation in progress, photos by wobuilt.com
Photos: Wo-Built’s Commercial Building Renovation Project in Progress
2012 @ wobuilt.com
On our last project constructing a second bathroom in a commercial building was an interesting challenge

Most space renovations in large commercial building are generally straight forward as long as you don't mess with the structure. Then it becomes complicated. On our last project constructing a second bathroom was an interesting challenge.

Due to the slab configuration and the element within we could not core the slab for the toilet drain. Luckily we had a "spare hole" (previous drilling) in the vicinity, but, of course not in line for any of the bathroom fixtures. The amount of hoops we had to jump through to get the plumbing to code was phenomenal. But we persevered and we made it work.

On a general note the main issues in commercial spaces are the services, HVAC, electrical, fire/smoke alarms, sprinklers and plumbing are the main ones, because many are centrally controlled and can have system-wide implications. Even installing localized fans can be a problem, because you may have to puncture the outside envelope.

Even though these issues are often difficult, at Wo-Built we look for solutions, however out-side the box thinking we have to do.


Martina Ernst
President/CEO
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Is There Even One Straight Line in Nature? So Why Design & Build Civilization with Them?

Biomimetic Analysis of Lines in Nature, image mosaic by Wo-Built
Image Mosaic by Wo-Built: Biomimetic Analysis of Lines in Nature
Image Credits: MS Office ClipArt: Close-up of Green Leaf, Close-up of Fire,
"Nature does not proceed in a straight line, it is rather a sprawling development." 
~ Robert Smithson, American sculptor and painter

Suffice it to say, we at Wo-Built and Peapod Life feel Mr. Smithson was onto something. And while his words express nature’s apparent preference for nonlinearity simply enough, his artwork bespeaks the essence of this truism on a scale more befitting of Mother Nature herself.

youtube.com: Robert Smithson - Spiral Jetty (Excerpts)
Uploaded by MtCenis on Mar 18, 2009
YouTube Video: Excerpts from the short film “Spiral Jetty,” featuring Robert Smithson’s 1970 earthwork sculpture of the same name. “Built on the northeastern shore of the Great Salt Lake near Rozel Point in Utah entirely of mud, salt crystals, basalt rocks and water, Spiral Jetty forms a 1,500-foot-long (460 m), 15-foot-wide (4.6 m) counterclockwise coil jutting from the shore of the lake.”

This begs the question: what is humanity’s obsession with the straight line? I am not referring to geometry as such. There are countless examinations and discussions of sacred geometry, for instance — the geometry found repeatedly in nature.

I am speaking specifically about the line itself, and that most peculiar and frankly unnatural quality of linearity. Let’s explore this line of thought, shall we?

No matter what our line of work, we line up, draw the line, line dance, hold the line, walk the line, hang-up the line, go down the line, cross the line, end up in the firing line, maybe fall back in-line, often in the line of duty, possibly in the theatre where we learn our lines and worry about sightlines, in the hopes the audience falls for our performance hook line and sinker, so that someday down the line things align for us and looking back we see that somewhere along the line we were thinking along similar lines.

Okay, all cheekiness aside, where does this come from!? I mean, is it simply a question of efficiency? After all, geometry 101 states the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, right? And while that may be true in theory, in reality, every “line” in nature eventually leads to its origin (it returns). Even light travels on a curve. So, there is ultimately no distance between any two points in the grand scheme of things (an infinite timeline; or, conversely, if time doesn’t exist at all, but is only an illusion of the intellect).

In that sense, then, efficiency is not one of nature’s cardinal rules of thumb. Humanity is obsessed with efficiency (whose origins can be found in a combination of laziness and greed) and thus linearity. Why is linearity very difficult to find in nature?

Nature is cyclic. Nature is built not on an intellectual theory about the distance between two points, but on the actual foundations of reality — that time and space are illusions of the intellect — and that all points are, in reality, all interconnected. And that in a very practical, meaningful and ultimately scientific way, all interconnectivity between nodes are transient movements and passing interrelationships on the gentle cyclic rhythm of life — points simply expanding and contracting.

The big bang will one day lead to the big crunch and the whole cosmic dance will begin again. That, my friends, is called a circle, a cycle, a wave, an “anything but a straight line.” And so it’s on the experiential knowledge of this objectively observable cosmic wisdom that Wo-Built proceeds with its Peapod Life Building Ecosystems and Technology initiative.

Yes, we take biomimicry this seriously. This is the depth of appreciation for the foundation of nature which must be considered, comprehended and embraced if we are to successfully construct a new building paradigm for the 21st Century — one that has resiliency and sustainability at its core.

Attila Lendvai
VP of Strategic Development
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

links:
wobuilt.com/blog: Where Does One Get Good Ideas from for Innovative Design?

wobuilt.com/blog: Organics make List of Best New Restaurant Designs
 

wobuilt.com/blog: Combining Old and New Technology - The New Paradigm for Building?

wobuilt.com/blog: A New Construction Paradigm for Buildings

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Daylighting - Why Are We Regulating?

 Development of a Second Floor Addition Project by Wo-Built Design and Build Construction Company, TorontoWo-Built's Second Floor Addition Project
"...we could brighten the staircase with two large and spectacular side by side skylights."
Photo © Wo-Built Inc.

Daylighting - Why Are We Regulating Even Limiting One of the Best Resources in Buildings

Yesterday I attended the IES Toronto Chapter technical session on Daylight Harvesting since daylight is such an important part of PeapodLife, our holistic approach to Energy, Shelter and Food.

The session covered good daylighting design, it's importance in the space, the current codes and standards and some basic calculation methods; all in all a welcome refresher course for me, since my MSc thesis many, many years ago was in daylighting.

We, at Wo-Built, are passionate proponent for daylight in spaces and all our designs in the past have used skylights where possible. As the presenter (Sandra Stashik) mentioned studies have shown that daylight can increase sales, have students learn faster and bring about a better work performance. But for us daylight is more than just statistics, it brings a quality of life to the space that cannot be measured. It energizes us.

But the light alone is not enough in our opinion. Diffuse daylight is the most boring light quality that there is. That's why people like to switch on the light fixtures during the day, even though there is enough light quantity coming from the windows and skylights. The artificial lights give the impression of quality. What makes daylighting interesting is the sun aspect, the element that is most maligned in building design. It causes contrast on computer screens and work surfaces (shocking), heat gains (positively horrible) and heaven's forbid, since the sun is allowed to come through clear glass, you the user has a view to the outside.

I am not advocating that sun and daylight should not be controlled; on the contrary, a good lighting design should always use the proper shading devices, dimmers, orientation and keep in mind the use of the space. But one should not design interest out of a space. Unless there are safety factors where contrast is a visibility issue or where small manufacturing tolerances are required, the human eye and body often are happy to accommodate light and heat variances within reason. We also have the free will to change our seating position and work environment to suit.

The reason for the rant is that I feel that the current codes and standards are again bringing with them a benign big brother approach and are in danger of stifling creativity. It is great to mandate that daylight is required in buildings over a certain size, but does it have to go into details of fenestration sizes etc. Why can't it be left to the designers and architects to decide what is the best for the building use? All I am asking is that we have a little bit of common sense and not stifle creativity and innovation.

A lot of the decisions are made due to energy saving considerations not space quality ones, but just imagine you could have a building with mostly glass, still have large R values to offset heat loss, more choices in variable shading of the glass giving a dynamic environment, enough light to grow food in the space, enjoy the sunshine safely, maximize the daylight and produce energy at the same time. An outward looking dynamic building system, that encourages innovation and creativity. This is what PeapodLife is about.

Martina Ernst
President/CEO
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Women & Philanthropy: Come together for a Great Cause!

Women and Philanthropy, Fundraiser Toronto, poster by Plan Canada
Featuring Rosemary McCarney as this year’s Chief Guest and Keynote Speaker
Credit: Plan Canada

Women & Philanthropy
85 Broads - Toronto Annual Fundraiser


When: Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Time: 6:00pm until 8:00pm in EST

Venue: La Maquette
Address: 111 King Street EastToronto, Ontario M5C 1G6

Price: $30 in advance and $35 at the door
Special 85 Broads member advance price of $25.
Group rate of 10 tickets for $200.













Rosemary McCarney as this year’s annual fundraiser's Chief Guest and Keynote Speaker.

As President & CEO, Plan Canada, Rosemary will speak about her journey to success and share tips with the audience. She will also talk about the evolving relationship between women and philanthropy as women are becoming more financially independent. If you’re curious about philanthropy and want to learn more, this is the event for you!

This event is being held in partnership with Plan Canada and proceeds from the event will go to Banji and Misbah, two little girls our chapter is sponsoring through Plan Canada’s Because I am a Girl initiative.

Held at La Maquette, the Upscale French Restaurant at 111 King Street East.

Followed by optional Maquelicious gourmet dinner with speaker at La Maquette for $40 (special discount from the $50 prix fixe) with $2 for each dinner going to support Banji and Misbah.

This event is open to both men and women.

For more information contact:
email: 85BroadsTO@gmail.com
web: 85Broads.com Canada - Toronto Chapter
facebook: 85 Broads - Toronto Chapter
twitter: @85BroadsToronto

links:
huffingtonpost.ca: Empowered Girls Become Empowered Women
"By investing in girls- -- and by that I mean focusing our collective will, attention, and resources on their survival and development -- we can we support a generation of empowered women, mothers, workers and leaders who will improve the lives of everyone around them."
by Rosemary McCarney, President and CEO, Plan International Canada Inc.

Posted: 04/20/2012

linkedin: Women and Philanthropy

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Home Owner: Save Money On Your Construction Process with Management Services

Construction Manager's Job Is Never Done! photo-collage by wobuilt.comPhoto-collage: Rain? Construction Manager's Job Is Never Done!
Less Glamorous Work for a Construction Manager
2012 © Wo-Built Inc.

We are now offering construction management services for home owners that save money during the construction process.

We are managing contractors, which means we mark up all of our consultants' and sub-contractors' work by 15%.

We can, however, offer the same management services for less (10% + agreed scale for change notices) if we act as construction managers only. On a $200,000 project the difference is approximately $10,000 (cost of a typical bathroom renovation).

The difference is that we do not hire the trades directly, you, our client, does. You act as the General Contractor yourself.

This does not mean more work for you or less protection, we still manage the process, get you all the necessary documentations from the trades, such as insurance, warranties, commitments and negotiate the contract terms for you, but we would not handle the money. You would pay the trades directly on our recommendation as per work done.

We still make sure you have a quality and safe build, no different than we do if we are the general contractor.

One of the other advantages for you, the client, is that you are more involved on who works on your project.

We get several quotes from the sub-trades, evaluate them, bring them all to the same level so that we compare apples to apples so to speak, and make recommendations to you. Then the choice of hire is yours. However, we retain the right to be able to fire them or adjust their pay if they don't perform.

During the warranty periods we will act as your representative (for a fee) to ensure that any repairs are properly executed by the party responsible.

In short, we are still your advocates and quality control, but more cost effective for you.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us on 416-402-2679!

Martina Ernst
President/CEO
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build
links:
wobuilt.com/blog: Wo-Built’s Site Supervision Is Really Construction Management

wobuilt.com/blog: Your Home Renovation Begins TODAY
Fall is the best time to start looking at a major building or home improvement project. As with most things in life, it’s best not to procrastinate. And getting a jump on everyone else in terms of planning has many advantages.

wikipedia.org: Construction management
Design and build contracts: There are two main advantages to using a design-build contract. First, the construction team is motivated to work with the design team to develop a design with constructibility in mind. In that way, it is possible for the team to creatively find ways to reduce construction costs without reducing the function of the final product. The owner can expect a reduced price due to the increased constructibility of the design.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Building for Sustainability?

Envisioning a sustainable rebuild of the world, collage by Wo-Built
Collage by Wo-Built: “Envisioning a Sustainable Rebuild of the World via PeapodLife”
Image Credit: MS Office ClipArt: Building Global Business Metaphor

Top 5 Things You Need for Your Green Building Project 
& the Top 3 Things We Need for Our Planet

Here are the top 5 things to consider when building your new house, addition, extension for sustainability:
  • 1. Intelligent green design.
  • 2. Strong, efficient, resilient foundation.
  • 3. Quality advanced materials.
  • 4. Cutting-edge systems and technologies.
  • 5. Superior workmanship.
Simple, right? Well, it certainly sounds simple, but execution is everything.  You want to choose an experienced green design & build contractor who shares your values for building a better world. After all, you’ve chosen sustainability on your major home renovation (or new build) for a reason, right?

Yes, you will save money in the long run with a more efficient house, but energy efficiency (and/or renewable power like solar, wind or geothermal) is just the beginning of sustainable construction, be it residential or commercial.

Every authentically green project (i.e. not green washing), is like a healthy cell of the larger organism known as humanity.  Each and every time someone renovates an existing residential or commercial property to be more sustainable, the humanity’s home improves ever so slightly.

That brings us to the top 3 things to consider when renovating the house humanity built: 
  • 1. Biomimetic Foundations of Design and Integration into the local/broader Environment.
  • 2. Biomimetic Materials, Systems and Technologies.
  • 3. Naturally-inspired Cooperation in Workmanship.
Based on the above two lists, it should come as no surprise that Wo-Built’s PeapodLife Building EcoSystems and Technology is the cornerstone of your sustainable building: home or office, new build, addition, kitchen, or renovation.
Add an ecosystem to your world; the world breathes a little easier.

Attila Lendvai
VP of Strategic Development
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Green Dragons Breathe Life into Toronto Social Entrepreneurship

Toronto Greenhouse Screenshot
Image: Toronto Greenhouse Website Screenshot

Toronto Greenhouse: Green Dragons 5

When: Oct 30, 2012 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Where: Haworth Showroom
55 University Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M5J 2H7

Join Toronto Greenhouse for the 5th edition of Green Dragons, one of our most popular events! Green Entrepreneurs get a chance to make their case to real investors.

Dragons:

Matthew Leibowitz, Partner at Plazacorp Ventures

Marnie Walker, Founding Member - Maple Leaf Angels / Owner - 401 Bay Centre

Tim Stoate, Vice President, Impact Investing at The Toronto Atmospheric Fund

Pitches:

Yield Energy, Detailing Knights,Pudiku Kids and Plantrees Inc.

Interested in pitching?

Contact Randy Tyrrell at randytyrrell@torontogreenhouse.com











Green Dragons Breathe Life into Toronto Social Entrepreneurship

On Tuesday Wo-Built attended Greenhouse Green Dragons 5 event in downtown Toronto.

The Dragons listened to four pitches which included everything from a high-quality environmentally friendly all-natural rubber teething toy with lots of marketing potential to spotless waterless auto-detailing business, Detailing Knights.

Wo-Built made many good contacts during the evening and look forward to touching base with some of these to share more information with them about Peapod Life.


Attila Lendvai
VP of Strategic Development
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Your Home Renovation Begins TODAY

Home Addition: second storey was added onto a bungalow and over the garage, by Wo-Built Inc.
Image: Second Story Addition by Wo-Built

So the leaves are falling, the mercury is dropping, and the last thing on your mind is that major home renovation, addition, extension, demolition, or new build. Time to rethink your timing.
Don’t wait until Spring to start planning your new build or kitchen; home addition or extension.

Fall is the best time to start looking at a major building or home improvement project. As with most things in life, it’s best not to procrastinate. And getting a jump on everyone else in terms of planning has many advantages.
  • 1. Planning and design. You do not want to rush the planning and design phase of your building project, especially an addition, luxury kitchen upgrade, etc. Taking your time to design what’s going to work best for your house and budget pays of big time.
  • 2. Choose your contractor and sub-trades. Get them while they’re not as busy as thy will be in the Spring. Best to negotiate when their schedules are fairly light (as is their cash flow). The old “supply and demand” adage applies here.
  • 3. Budgeting and financing. By getting a jump on your home or small business renovation project, you have an opportunity to adjust your budget and/or apply or additional financing should you find your original estimates were off.
  • 4. Treat your partner / family with a huge Christmas present. By arranging next season’s home improvement project now, you can surprise your companion and/or family at Christmas with a truly unique gift that literally keeps giving for years to come.
  • 5. An investment for this year. Although you should check with your financial advisor and/or accountant, it’s quite possible you can write off a portion of your renovation (especially if it’s for an office, small business, or your run a home-based business).

As always, you want to work with a design and build contractor who works together with you as your advocate: a company who wants more than to get another project; rather, a satisfied customer. Wo-Built is just such a design & build contracting firm.

Attila Lendvai
VP of Strategic Development
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

links:
wobuilt.com/blog: How to Turn Your Bungalow into a Dream House Mansion

wobuilt.com/blog: What to Do When You Outgrow Your House? Move or Be Moved?

wobuilt.com/blog: Five Things to Remember when Making Your Old Bungalow New Again

BMO Financial Group News Releases: BMO Home Renovation Survey: Nearly Half of Canadians Planning Home Renovations This Fall
- Most popular Fall renovation projects include bathroom, kitchen and bedroom
- More than half plan to spend less than $1,000; one-third expect to spend up to $5,000

- Canadians relying mostly on savings to fund renovations; taking a DIY approach to save money

Marketwire - Oct. 29, 2012

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Inventors’ Co-operative focuses on Green Building Innovations

Images: Inventors Circle, Credit: inventorscircle.org
Innovation Initiative event to feature Alex Waters, Senior Manager, Living City Campus, Kortright Centre for Conservation

Tonight, Wo-Built will be attending a non-profit forum supported innovative business, part of Inventors Circle, touted to be the world’s first inventors co-operative.

The featured guest speaker this evening will be Alex Waters, Senior Manager, Living City Campus, Kortright Centre for Conservation.

The Living City Campus at Kortright is Canada’s largest green building and sustainable technology centres. The most active research project is two LEED Platinum Archetype Sustainable Houses.

Sustainable House Model - Living City Campus at Kortright, Canada, image by kortright.org
Image: Sustainable House Model.

Mr. Waters will overview some of the unique technologies built into the houses as well as the latest research being conducted in green buildings and sustainable technologies. The houses have become a test facility for near-market technologies or new concept designs. The campus facilitates partnerships between business, universities and funding organizations to help accelerate green building innovations.

Peapod Life Rooftop Garden with Indoor Ecosystem, image rendering by wobuilt.com
Image: Rendering: Peapod Life Rooftop Garden with Indoor Ecosystem

Wo-Built welcomes this opportunity to network with inventors  and other innovators and looks forward to learning about others’ green initiatives and technologies and sharing information about its own Peapod Life initiative.


Attila Lendvai
VP of Strategic Development
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Become a "Top Employer" – Install an Indoor Ecosystem!

Image: Indoor Ecosystem and Breathing Wall for Club Monaco Employees
There’s no question that attracting and retaining quality people is a challenge faced by many businesses these days. The competition for skilled workers—be they blue collar or white—can be fierce among competitors and the stakes can be very high indeed, from present quality to future innovation.

It’s safe to say that for an institution like the Bank of Canada, having top-notch talent is integral given its high-stakes activities. From forecasting economic growth to calculating domestic interest rates, careless mistakes by employees at the BoC could have dire financial and economic repercussions.

Perhaps that’s why the BoC decided to include an indoor tropical garden complete with a waterfall in its 1979 addition. While not an ecosystem per se, the garden literally brings to life the building’s atrium.

Image: The Bank of Canada’s interior tropical garden with waterfall is one of the reasons 
why it was selected one of Canada’s Top 100 Employees for 2013.
"The Bank of Canada Building is the head office of the Bank of Canada, located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
The glass structure behind the original 1937 structure was completed in 1979 by the firm Marani Rounthwaite & Dick (successor to Marani, Lawson and Morris) and Arthur Erickson. The building contains an enclosed courtyard with a large tropical garden bordering a shallow pool which is very popular with wedding photographers, and a three-ton Yap Stone."

Source: wikipedia.org: Bank of Canada Building 
Image Credit: Wikipedia: Inside the new glass addition 
to the Bank of Canada building. Author: Jonathon Simister

The indoor garden space is among several initiatives to improve work environment and contribute to positive work-life balance for employees, including:
"…onsite fitness facility (with partially subsidized membership for employees and their families), rooftop terrace and outdoor eating area, nap room, quiet room for meditation and reflection…"
~ eluta.ca: Canada's Top 100 Employers for 2013: Bank of Canada

Wo-Built’s Peapod Life Building EcoSystems and Technology
offers businesses of all sizes an opportunity to increase employee morale, as well as their focus and productivity.

Panasonic installed an ecosystem in the cafeteria as a "gift" for their employees. Within weeks, salespeople started conducting sales meetings in the cafeteria and reported an increase in sales!


Image: Cafeteria Living Wall Ecosystem at Panasonic

Of course, it takes more than just a living wall to skyrocket into the "best in class" employers list. But one cannot deny the powerful gesture providing indoor garden space to employees represents, especially in Canada, where "tropical paradise" usually means going on vacation, not going to work!

If you don’t have an employee wellness and satisfaction program, Peapod Life is the perfect "anchor" to start developing one. If your business already does have such programs in place, Peapod Life is the perfect way to take them to a whole new level.

Attila Lendvai
VP of Strategic Development
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Playing to Win-Win-Win

Image Montage: Screenshots from Amanita Design’s Indie Game Botanicula
Images source: Amanita Design: Botanicula - Point and Click Exploration Game


Botanicula charms its way into our Hearts by letting us dive into an imaginary ecosystem under threat.

At Wo-Built, we like to have fun. From our own home-grown cartoon character Wobinna, to our childlike-wonder and amazement of nature at the heart of Peapod Life, we believe a healthy dose of light-heartedness and innocence is just what people need in today’s crazy world.

Most of us are stuck in patterns that dictate our lives; ones we’ve come to accept as normal. Like machines, we go to work, make money, go shopping, eat, sleep, wake, wash, rinse and repeat.

Our world is becoming more and more technologically complex. The ominous effect an intensely mechanistic, automatic way of life has on us is entrenched programming on our psyche: reactive behaviors; absolutist beliefs. Intellect and economy rule—matters of the heart take a back seat.

We are jaded, bored, disenchanted with the world. We’ve seen it all, done it all, and unless something is viscerally spectacular, shocking or completely over-the-top, we shrug or yawn or tune out altogether.

But every now and then something comes along that is simple, charming, and hauntingly beautiful; something which, despite its meekness, we find it utterly arresting and compelling. Botanicula, the latest effort by Czech indie game developer, Amanita Design, is just such a thing. Watch the video:



Botanicula is a beautiful point and click adventure puzzle game 
that launches for the PC and Mac on 19th April. Find out more at http://www.strategyinformer.com.
Published on Apr 5, 2012 by StrategyInformercom1

Amanita Design demonstrates how technology can turn us back into bright-eyed, innocent, curious children exploring and discovering our world for the first time. In this case, we find ourselves exploring a stylized version of nature … and possibly our own nature as a humanity run amuck in the world.

Botanicula is a game of pure discovery and exploration. A point-and-click hunt for “Easter eggs” and solutions to the innumerable challenges faced by a small band of unlikely heroes in a fantastical ecosystem under threat from an ominous darkness.

But why are you still stuck here passively reading this blog? Go play the FREE DEMO at http://botanicula.net/ and go find the inner child inside you!

Attila Lendvai
VP of Strategic Development
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

links:
wikipedia.org: Botanicula is a point-and-click adventure game developed by Amanita Design.
Botanicula follows the adventure of five botanical creatures that are trying to save the last seed of their home tree from evil parasitic creatures that have infested their home.

Watch more on auto-generated by YouTube topic - Botanicula 

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Gala Salutes Green Innovation and Inspires Consumer Education

Collage by Wo-Built: "Keep this Consumer Clean"
Image Credits: MS Office ClipArt: "Clean planet sign in grass field" 

+ "Bald man with a barcode on his forehead".

Partners in Project Green is a growing community of businesses working together to green their bottom line by creating an internationally-recognized 'eco-business zone' around Toronto Pearson.”

Keynote Speaker Raises the Importance of Greening Consumers "in the Home"

Last Thursday, Wo-Built attended the annual gala awards ceremony of Partners in Project Green (PPG). This networking organization helps businesses reduce energy and resource costs, uncover new business opportunities, and address everyday operational challenges in a green and cost-effective manner.

On that note, keynote speaker John Coyne, V.P. of Legal and External Affairs at Unilever Canada, made some fascinating observations about the lifecycle of Unilever consumer products.

As a world leader in sustainable business, Unilever tracks the resource intensity of its products from sourcing of raw materials straight through to manufacturing, shipping, sale, consumption, and post-consumer waste disposal. The results were not surprising.

On average, over 60% of resource intensity (energy, water, etc. used) takes place in the hands of consumers. This means no matter how sustainable Unilever makes its operations, the majority of consumption because of their products is beyond their control. Or is it?

Mr. Coyne outlined a number of strategies for educating consumers to use their products in more sustainable ways (such as taking shorter showers), most of them limited to their product in some way (i.e. packaging).

Wo-Built suggests another, more all-encompassing approach. To green the consumption of packaged household goods in the home, why not start by greening the house? To change consumer behaviour, one must change their environment. The reason is simple: we are all products of our environment. Sending them important educational information on package labels is also important, but imagine how much more potent such info will be if read within a living ecosystem!

Below is a small ecosystem installed in a High School. Similar units can dramatically improve the environment in homes, condos, small offices, and more. Impact of larger installations is even greater: visually, aesthetically and viscerally. You can feel the difference an indoor ecosystem makes.

Peapod Life Image: Small ecosystem installed in a High School.

We are all about educating consumers: in their home, at work, play, school, shopping, et al. Our approach is "show, don’t tell." The power of natural systems to inspire imaginations just by being there is extraordinary. Interacting with nature produces practical experience (real knowledge aka wisdom). Watching kids’ & teens’ responding to even the simplest ecosystems is magic. Being in the presence of one as an adult makes you feel like a kid again: youthful, rejuvenated … truly alive.

Wo-Built wishes to thank Unilever for its foresight and leadership in recognizing the importance of having a positive influence on consumer behavior with regards to sustainability.

We also wish to congratulate all the individuals and organizations who received awards from the PPG for leadership and excellence in the areas of sustainability, particularly those recognized for empowering people to become more environmentally responsible.


Attila Lendvai
VP of Strategic Development
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build


links:
partnersinprojectgreen.com: New Sustainable Business Leaders Emerge from the Pearson Eco-Business Zone
Partners in Project Green announced the recipients of the 2012 Partners in Project Green Sustainability Awards and winner of the People Power Challenge at Thursday’s fall networking event.
trca.on.ca: Toronto and Region Conservation for The Living City: New Sustainable Business Leaders Emerge from the Pearson Eco-Business Zone
Media Release, Oct 16, 2012

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Renovation Revelation: When “I know a guy” can be the worst approach to your new kitchen

Renovation Revelation: When “I know a guy” can be the worst approach to your new kitchen, collage by wobuilt.com
Collage by Wo-Built: “Some guy you know” turns your home renovation into disaster area.
Image Credits: MS Office ClipArt: handyman + stylish woman thinking + thought bubble + house disaster.

I recently heard from an old friend of the family whose household is knee-deep in a major kitchen renovation (in fact, a back extension to their home). After making some simple inquiries, the flood gates opened and suffice it to say, I ended up "hearing all about it."

For starters, this individual said the building inspector has been essential to the project.  I asked her to clarify and she explained how he had caught several major problems in how the foundation, framing, and other work was completed, and was the one who told them they needed to be done.

You can imagine that in short order I was inquiring who they had hired to do the home addition. "Oh, a past client of mine," she replied.  Without getting into any details whatsoever about the kind of work she does and the kinds of clients she works with, let’s just say that "this guy she know" is not so much a "certified licensed contractor with years of experience," and more "someone does renos."

Okay, we all know SOMEONE "who does renos" …so what?  Is that a reason to hire them? Friendship is one thing. Acquaintance is another. A business relationship of any kind, no matter how amicable, is something else entirely…none can tell you much about the competence, experience and reliability of a general contractor. 

The costs of renovating your kitchen the wrong way, having to pay extra just to tear it down and pay again to do it right should give anyone pause to consider exactly who they are choosing to work with (and why). "Buyer beware" should be added to "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t."

And my friend with the botched kitchen extension? She wishes she hadn’t had gone with "some guy she knew" but rather, someone she trusts, respects, who she knows would have steered her to a contractor with experience and integrity. She wishes she would have called me to get referred to Wo-Built.


Attila Lendvai
VP of Strategic Development
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

links:
wobuilt.com/blog: Kitchen Design Tips - Why to Remodel?
In Canada a large modern kitchen ranks as one of the most important selling feature of a home. In fact, some experts estimate that a remodeled kitchen can increase the sale of a house by at least twenty percent. Even if selling your house isn't your objective, you might still be considering a kitchen remodel.

wobuilt.com/blog: Kitchen Upgrade – Plan Yours Today!
In today’s tight economy, many people are on the lookout for relatively inexpensive updates for their homes.

wobuilt.com/blog: Kitchen Designs – Are We Missing the Boat?
... it struck me what had been bothering me for months about contemporary kitchens: the lack of innovation on a large scale. We have innovation in appliances and in new materials, but not in the fundamentals: the way we store things and the way we consider work and counter space.