Faster & Greener: The Advantages of Modular Construction

Modular construction today doesn’t resemble the temporary trailers and mobile homes of the past.  There are now countless applications for modular construction solutions, both for permanent housing and for commercial and industrial space.  Modular construction is fast becoming the construction method of choice in some regions and industries, and for good reason.  Here are the financial and environmental advantages of using this building method, whose popularity is taking hold around the globe.

Faster Construction Time

The way that we build homes hasn’t changed much in the past 40-50 years. Unfortunately, the construction industry has been reluctant to embrace and adopt some technology advances. There are a few companies, however, like ConXtech that are shaking up the industry with their new approach to modular construction, which is proven to save significant project time.

New modular construction technology allows architects to design a new building using software like AutoCAD or Revit, the auto-populate their design with steel framing sizes to create a “dimensionally accurate model of the frame early in the design phase.”

Once the structural design is ready, data files are exported to the CNC machines manufacture building components. The components are then assembled on site, with the entire process saving months over traditional construction methods. Multiple tradesmen can ready their parts and components simultaneously, using the dimensionally accurate model as a guide.

Lower Project Costs

These faster build times reduce overall labor costs on projects and make buildings ready for occupancy sooner, which becomes a revenue base for a commercial property.  Modular construction is also more precise, so there is less materials waste, which reduces the overall project cost.

Better Quality Control

One of the reasons that modular construction is gaining in popularity is the assurance of a quality product every time.  The manufacturing process itself is standardized with tight quality control to ensure the best product.  Unlike traditional construction projects that are exposed to the elements, modular construction takes place in a controlled environment, where problems like warped materials can be eliminated.

Customizable Designs

Increasingly, modular construction and design companies are able to customize projects to tailor the building to the client’s exact specifications.  The use of AutoCAD in design makes it simple for companies to make adjustments that require extra space or to customize a room for multipurpose use.

Durable Materials

Modular buildings are constructed with the most durable materials available, ensuring that each structure is built to last.  Materials are carefully selected to be economical, lightweight, safe, and durable.  Modular structures are also constructed to be airtight, which ensures their energy-efficiency.

Less Environmental Impact

There are several ways that modular construction benefits the environment.  Many modular construction buildings are built with eco-friendly materials, and this mode of construction is a market leader in the use of recycled materials.

Because modular buildings are constructed in an assembly line environment, the process uses less energy than traditional construction.  As we stated before, there is also less waste.  Many modular construction facilities also store their unused materials and recycle them for use in future projects.

Modular construction offers a more sustainable solution for both residential and commercial development.  These innovative designs are delivering environmentally-friendly projects that don’t sacrifice quality or style. Not only does this method of building bring projects to completion faster, but they will also come in at a lower price tag and last longer than those built with traditional construction methods.

Top Schools To Become A CFA

Are you considering pursuing your CFA alongside your bachelor’s or master’s degree? While CFA self-study materials are highly helpful, you may consider a school that will allow you to study for the CFA alongside your other degree. Here are some of the top schools for CFA certification:

Cornell University: Well known for its MBA program, Cornell University offers the opportunity for a CFA study program. Before attending, you should consider your options, CFA vs CPA certification. One may be a better fit than the other depending on your future career goals. Even with a university such as Cornell, you may still need to invest in CFA self-study materials.

IE Business School: Located in Madrid, Spain, this school gives you the opportunity to live abroad as you obtain your MBA and work through your CFA self-study materials. Madrid is a beautiful, historic city, and if you apply yourself, you can certainly pick up Spanish, and have a chance to network with the international business community.

Indiana University Bloomington: Located in Indiana, the university offers an MBA and a BS in Business along with the CFA study program. While pursuing multiple disciplines is challenging, it is certainly manageable.

Tulane University: Located in New Orleans, Tulane holds a strong reputation in the area of finance and can help you get connected with a variety of firms after graduation. You will still need to work hard to establish yourself, but having a well-connected network is always helpful.

There are many well rated schools both in the US and abroad that offer CFA certification alongside other areas of study. Websites like Crush The CFA Exam will help give you the training material to help pass your classes and the final CFA exam.  The school you choose will vary depending on your areas of study and other things that you may want to accomplish. The best course of action is to start with your specific list of goals and look for the top rated schools that meet your specific qualifications.

How to Decide Whether You Should Hire a Financial Advisor

With the onset of the New Year and tax season quickly approaching, you may be wondering to yourself whether you can handle your finances on your own this year.  You may feel like you are in a precarious financial situation, or perhaps you just want to reap the most benefit out of your finances this year.  No matter the position you are in there is a financial advisor can offer services that can turn your life around. With the help of a financial advisor, you may find yourself reaching goals you never dreamed you could achieve. Here are a few reasons you may want to hire a financial advisor:

You Need Help Establishing Goals

If you have difficulty establishing and keeping goals for yourself, you are not alone.  A financial advisor is essentially a coach who is schooled in helping reach your goals.  If you have an idea in mind, such as lowering your debt, a financial advisor can collect data on our accounts and create a feasible plan to help you get through it.  Likewise, if you are looking to create your own business or buy a house in the foreseeable future, an advisor will create a plan for you to make that happen.  Financial advisors see the “big picture.” They are able to project what you can achieve based on factors like your current status and even the state of the local or national market.

You Need Someone to Hold You Accountable

Let’s face it: some of us get a little more spend-happy than others.  Not everyone is money-minded, and that is okay.  If this sounds like you, using a financial advisor as a resource can help you with your monthly and yearly expenditure.  They will show you how to budget, how much you can and need to save, how to set up an emergency fund, and a whole host of other useful bits of knowledge that can keep your spending in check.  Some people may find that the presence of a financial advisor in their life is enough motivation to stay within spending boundaries and help with personal budgeting.

You’ve Experienced a Life-Changing Event

Whether you have lost your job, experienced the death of a spouse, have taken on elderly parents, or you or someone depends on you experiences health issues, there are times in your life where you will experience change.  Ease the burden of anxiety, depression, and frustration, by hiring an advisor to keep your budget in check.  No matter how complicated the situation, an advisor will be with you every step of the way to keep you motivated to push through to the other side in good financial shape.

You Can’t Navigate a Low Market

Markets rise and fall—for better or worse, it is a fact of life.  Do not feel overwhelmed that you do not understand the green and red numbers that tick across the New York Stock Exchange queue every day, a lot of people are right there with you!  Fortunately, a financial advisor’s forward-thinking skills can help devise a strategy to put you in a secure position should something happen.

Basic Education in Stocks, Bonds, and Investment

Maybe you are looking to expand and strengthen your assets.  You can go about it alone and educate yourself on the way, but some find it useful to consult with an expert.  As mentioned before, financial advisors are trained to see the big picture.  They can look beyond your budget and see big investment opportunities that you may be in the position to take advantage of.  If you are interested in buying real estate, owning stocks, or researching other investment opportunities, speak with an advisor to get expert advice on the topic to reap the most out of your endeavor.  On the other hand, you may not know all about the investments you already have.  For instance, you may not believe you pay into a 401(k) plan, but you certainly pay for the cost of the investments.  Sound confusing?  An advisor can put you at ease and lay everything out on the table for you so that you can understand.

Determine Your Needs

Before hiring a financial advisor, consider whether you need an analyst or accountant’s help. Financial advisors are well-suited for situations of investment options and money analysis. If you’re looking for help with tax resolution, a CPA might be the best bet. These individuals are well-versed in accounting practices and record keeping; they’ve taken rigorous CPA prep courses, passed the difficult CPA exam, and received their designation to practice accounting for the general public. Consider your needs before investing in financial assistance to ensure you make the right selection.

You need not feel at a loss to secure your finances, so invest in assistance to give you the confidence to move forward.

Surviving the Sandwich Years: Smart and Secure Financial Steps to Take in Your 40’s and 50’s

In the normal scheme of things, when you reach your 40’s or 50’s and have a family, you are most likely going to be looking at funding some college expenses for your children, and that need will be immediate or not so very far away.

Add in medical bills, helping them onto the housing ladder and funding a wedding, and you can soon see why this life period is often referred to as the sandwich years.

Developing a survival strategy

Different periods in your life will present changing financial challenges along with milestones in your career and personal life, so it makes sense to try and anticipate these events well in advance.

None of us ever knows exactly what the future holds, but if you have children for example, you can at least map out some financial events that are going to happen along the way.

There will always be some unexpected expenses, which is why resources like www.kingofkash.com/payday-loans are there to offer a short-term solution. One of the best strategies to employ if you can, is to have access to some cash reserves. In an ideal world, having access to anywhere between three and six months of monthly cash needs, should help you ride out most financial storms, but with everything else to pay, it is not always that easy to accumulate that sort of spare cash.

Another key point to remember that is often used in business, but applies to your personal financial planning too, is that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Not having some sort of financial plan and a list of priorities, could leave you exposed at key points in your life.

Every little helps

It is often surprising to see how even a small amount of money put away on a regular basis, can build into a decent pot of cash, before you know it.

One of the reasons why a lot of people don’t start building up their cash reserves and saving for the future, is that they don’t think they can put enough money aside to make it worthwhile.

Any amount of money put away regularly is going to help. Never think that you don’t have enough spare cash to justify starting some savings. Skipping on your regular coffee on the way to work each day for example, is one way of generating some extra cash. Simply put what you would have spent each week aside instead, and see how quickly that small sum can add up.

Make clearing debt a priority

The vast majority of us have some sort of debt obligations, some more than others of course.

Credit card debts, student loans and medical bills can all eat away at your financial stability and it would be a good idea to make clearing debt a priority, so that you can then put that monthly money to good use, by saving and making some investments that should help you to secure a better future.

A good strategy would be to work out exactly how much debt you currently have and how much spare cash each month to work with. Allocating some of that spare cash to paying down debt and the rest to savings, will help put you in a stronger financial position quicker than if you just keep making the normal payments.

Make the most of your employee benefits

As your career develops, there is a good chance that not only will your salary increase, but you will most likely also be offered some increasingly attractive employee options.

It can often pay to take full advantage of these employee benefits. Retirement plans are a clear example of why it may be rewarding to max out your employee benefits, as the amount your employer contributes to your 401 (k) each month is a tax efficient- way of saving for when you retire.

It is often worth looking at matching their contribution with your own money, and you may want to find out what the maximum contribution you can make is, so that you can make the most of the opportunity.

It often pays to get professional advice when you think you need it. If you want to see what options you have or what you need to do to make the most of your money, spending some cash to get an educated opinion, can often be justified if it saves you making mistakes and boosts your earning potential.

Molly Peters writes about personal finance. She is a personal finance advisor with years of experience and enjoys helping people to master their money.

 

Urgent environmental action needed by Obama before Trump enters the White House.

The US election results are in and Donald J. Trump is the president-elect. It should be a time of jubilation in the United States, however his win is shrouded in darkness and uncertainty due to the ludicrous claims that he made on his campaign trail. Race, sex, ideology and science have all been in the firing line and with his ascension to the White House; his pulse is on a trigger that could send the world into an uncertain era.

Advocates for combating climate change and preserving the planet through sustainable initiatives are appalled at his election due to his dismissal of climate change.

Current US President Obama has taken significant action towards combating global warming and climate change. With less than three months left of his tenure, any environmental plans need to be put in motion. During the presidential race, Trump was vocal about unraveling everything that President Obama has done; with Obamacare being one of the first things in line, but environmental projects won’t be too far behind.

Steps towards using renewable energy are unlikely to go forward with a Trump presidency.

Despite President Obama’s initiative to rollout wind and solar energy, Donald Trump attacked him and his administration for proposing an inefficient solution. Donald Trump explained in one interview that while he was fond of the idea of solar power being used as a renewable energy source, the products that were being proposed weren’t economical and that people wouldn’t buy into them.

He was right in this case. The same thing happened with the rollout of LED light technology. Even though the lights have been around for more than 20 years, it’s only when they reached a price point where consumers would be able to see the financial savings payoff for the light bulbs after a few years that the popularity of LED lights started to take off. Donald Trump knows that a similar solution is needed, but at the moment, no formal solution has been proposed.

Another statement that he made that has environmentalists on the edge is that wind farms did more destruction to the environment than the current power sources such as coal and oil. His claims were unsubstantiated, but since he will be in power from 2017 it is likely that coal and oil power companies will receive a ‘Presidential Pardon’ for their carbon emissions and their impact on the environment.

The Paris Agreement could be torn to shreds.

Donald Trump bragged during his campaign about his ability to get the USA a good deal. And the environmental deal with the rest of the world in the form of the Paris Agreement was not a good one and he would get the US out of it!

The Paris Agreement was the world’s biggest chance for combating climate change by getting governments to reduce their economy’s carbon emissions and invest in sustainable technology that would help the environment. Even though over 190 countries ratified the agreement, the US is one of the leading culprits of carbon emissions along with China, Russia and India. Without US involvement, the agreement would be rendered useless.

President Obama can put laws and actions in place that can lay the essential groundwork for proactive sustainable measures that Donald Trump can build on. At the same time, those measures need to be difficult to unravel and Donald Trump’s motive towards sustainability to change.

Why do plastics continue to threaten our aquatic ecosystems?

Plastics are like a double-edged sword. They have contributed to amazing improvements in preservation and manufacturing, however it has come at a significant cost to the environment. There are serious concerns for these plastics ending up in landfill and our aquatic ecosystem. In a way, most people are either unaware or turn a blind eye to how much plastics that end up in aquatic ecosystems affect people’s quality of life, health and wellbeing. There are countries such as Australia and Japan which have promising systems in place, but in places like India and China whose countries contain 1/3rd of the world’s population; plastics still cause significant issues to their aquatic environments which will lead to water shortages in the future that will affect wildlife and humans.

In Southern China, millions of residents have been affected by e-waste plastics that have contaminated their water source with toxic chemicals such as mercury, lead, bisphenol A, copper and zinc which can cause neurological diseases and cancer. The towns that are affected need to have their drinking and irrigation water brought in from nearby towns because the local water is too polluted to consume.

People need to prevent plastics from ending up in aquatic ecosystems.

Firstly, it is important that plastics are disposed correctly at the end of their life cycle. This means sorting the plastics into categories so that they will distributed and processed at the right recycling centres. The world can learn from the small Japanese town of Kamikatsu, whose authorities are striving to create a zero waste economy and minimises the threat of plastics going to landfill and ending up in waterways. The townsfolk need to sort their waste into 34 categories so that items can be distributed to the correct recycling facilities.

Secondly, plastics can enter the aquatic environment during the supply chain. This was evident when cargo containers full of ink cartridges fell off a cargo ship and lay on the seabed for over a year. Then reports started to surface saying that its contents started to wash up on the coastal shores of Britain, Spain, Portugal and France. Not only did it affect the ecosystem of different countries coastlines, but it also contributed to the growth of plastic islands in the ocean, as can be seen in the video below.

The threat comes from some of the plastics, which contain toxins and absorb organic pollutants from the seawater. Small sea life such as jellyfish will consume the toxic plastics and will then be eaten by bigger fish, which are then eaten by humans. The result is that humans end up consuming these toxic chemicals. A Greenpeace report cites 267 species of marine life being affected by plastics in general.

One of the ways the marine ecosystem is being affected is from the loss of cargo at sea.
It’s common for cargo spills to happen and product manufacturers and distributors do make efforts to prevent these disasters from happening. However,when these issues occur, it’s usually left to beachcombers and conservation groups to do the clean-up.

Thirdly, it’s important that any water that is used for washing or processing plastic uses the right drainage to prevent any toxins or residues that may have contaminated the water to flow into waterways that affect the ecosystem. It’s important that any sewerage water flows to water treatment plants so that the water can be recycled and used for non-drinking purposes such as irrigation.

There are specific schemes that can be implemented such as a cartridge recycling scheme for printer and ink cartridges. Businesses and residents can sort their cartridges into satchels or boxes and then send it to the right recyclers for processing.

It’s time for the citizens of the world to become more responsible when it comes to plastic in our aquatic ecosystems. Governments need to put more pressure on residents and businesses to dispose their plastics through the correct recycling distribution channels. Furthermore, organisations need to improve their response to clean-up efforts should plastics end up in aquatic ecosystems before reaching the end of their supply chain.

Crowdfunding campaign “RELAXFAIR”: Sustainable & fair lounges from Germany

Under the headline “Relax For a Better World” the German company RELAXFAIR developed a lounge that is 100% recycled and produced by well-paid seamstresses in Germany. The lounge is sold via the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo and only after 24 hours the project hit their 20% milestone.

Sustainability surrounds us everywhere: You can wear clothes out of organic cotton, eat wholefood products or live in an energy-efficient house. But sustainable and fair produced furniture is still rare today. RELAXFAIR was founded to also let our furniture be sustainable.

Since many years the number of employees working in western textile and clothing industries is reducing. For example in Germany over 185.000 people were working in this branch in the year 2000 – 2014 this number shrank to 77.800 workers. These numbers show how much the German textile branch has to fight against the cheap competitors from China and Bangladesh. Since at least the building of Rana Plaza collapsed in Bangladesh 2013, the consuming majority in the western world is aware that the local workers suffer a lot under the low prices for clothing and textile products. Lately, more and more social companies and startups are trying to build a contrast program to mass production in developing countries. An example for this gives the startup RELAXFAIR from Heidelberg in Germany, which wants to realize sustainable and fair produced furniture.

RELAXFAIR has the vision to combine sustainability, fair working conditions and social commitment. To be precise, the company has developed a lounge, which is 100% recycled and is being produced in Germany under fair working conditions. Furthermore, 20% of their annual profits are being donated to social and green organizations. Their motto: “Relax for a better world”.

The lounge comes in two versions. The covering of the indoor version is made out of highly comfortable and recycled cotton and polyester, which provides both modern style and comfort. The outdoor version is optimized to relax outside. The fabric is a recycled nylon and therefore it is tear proof, dirt- and water-repellent. All lounges have an innovative two-chamber filling system, e two parts are filled with a mix of recycled polystyrene and sustainable foam flakes. Therefore you are able to remove the outer shell and wash it.

Currently RELAXFAIR is available in a crowdfunding campaign on the internet platform Indiegogo.com. The idea of crowdfunding is, that people who like the vision or the product can contribute to these projects and support them. This can start with 5$ and end with the purchase of the final product. The goal of the campaign is to reach 10.000$. “For us it is important to pursue our vision of sustainable and fair furniture together with our community. Only together we can succeed to set a new trend in the industry“ the founders say. In addition to the lounge it is possible to purchase the suitable ottoman, as well as the RELAXFAIR chair pads. After only 24 hours the campaign reached their 20% milestone.

If you like to support RELAXFAIR and the vision of a sustainable furniture industry, you are able to get the RELAXFAIR products as a special offer only until November 14th 2016 HERE (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/relaxfair-the-world-s-fairest-greenest-lounge-furniture#/)