2011 May :: The Construction Management Pro

DOE Spotlights EV Chargers Installed Under the Recovery Act

May 25, 2011

DOE reported on May 13 that as of that date, more than 1,800 electric vehicle (EV) chargers have been installed under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Coulomb Technologies, ECOtality, General Motors, and others have been moving forward to install the charging stations as part of the Administration’s investments in U.S. EV manufacturing and alternative vehicle infrastructure. President Obama has set a goal of putting 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. Since 2009, DOE has invested more than $5 billion in grants and loans to spur the growth of the U.S. EV and advanced battery manufacturing industry.

Charging stations like Coulomb Technologies’ pole-mounted charging station for electric vehicles are among the more than 1,800 installed so far as part of the DOE initiative.

Under the Transportation Electrification Initiative, which received $400 million under the Recovery Act, companies are developing, deploying, and analyzing EVs and EV infrastructure, and educating the public to help accelerate the market adoption of advanced EVs. The eight projects under the Transportation Electrification Initiative represent the world’s largest electric vehicle demonstration project and will result in the deployment of more than 13,000 grid-connected vehicles and 22,000 charging points in residential, commercial, and public locations nationwide by December 2013. Coulomb, which is providing $22.9 million toward the project cost, is deploying EVs—including 2,000 GM Volt, 200 Ford Transit Connect, 100 Ford Focus EV, and 100 Smart EV vehicles—and is establishing 4,600 EV charging locations nationwide. Through these cost-shared projects, DOE will collect information about how consumers use and charge electric vehicles.

To build on the foundation laid out under the Recovery Act, DOE recently announced the availability of $5 million in electric vehicle funding for local governments and private companies to continue to accelerate installation of electric vehicle charging stations and infrastructure. Communities will work to develop plans and strategies for EV deployment, update their EV permitting processes, develop incentive programs, or launch other local or regional initiatives that improve the experience of EV users and help bring these highly energy efficient vehicles to the marketplace. These projects will leverage the best practices and lessons learned from the initial deployment projects under the Recovery Act. See coverage in the EERE Network News of DOE’s partnership with Google. And, DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory is joining with Google and industry leaders to provide up-to-date information about EV charging stations nationwide. See the DOE press release and the DOE Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center.

Also, California-based AeroVironment announced on May 18 that the BMW Group has selected AeroVironment as the preferred provider of electric vehicle charging equipment, accessories, and installation services supporting the introduction of the all-electric BMW ActiveE, a new class of luxury vehicles. ActiveE vehicles will be distributed in the major metropolitan markets of Boston, Los Angeles, New York City, San Diego, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Sacramento. The charging stations will be installed with a 240-volt electric circuit in drivers’ home garages. See the AeroVironment press release.

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How To Hire A Contractor

May 24, 2011

Whether it’s a home repair, addition or renovation project; if you are remodeling your office or building an office building believe it or not, the process is the same.  It can be scary and stressful; especially if your job, reputation or relationship with your spouse is at stake. Control your stress by remembering a few key points when hiring a contractor for your next project.

Step 1: Ask around

Get recommendations from your friends, family and colleagues and then check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints and ratings. The bigger job, the more professional references you may want to get.  These would include speak with a building inspector who might give you some insights as to which contractors routinely meet code requirements, supply companies and trade associations . Depending on your need, you should check for licensing requirements of the potential contractors.

Step 2: phone interviews

After you’ve compiled your initial list, make a quick call to each of your prospects and ask them some questions relevant to your project. These might include:

  • Do they take on projects of your size?
  • Are they willing to provide financial references, from suppliers or banks?
  • Can they give you a list of previous clients?
  • How long have they worked with their subcontractors?
  • How many other projects would they have going at the same time?
  • Who will be responsible for your project on a day to day basis?

 The answers to these questions speak to the company’s availability, reliability, internal accountability and how much attention they’ll be able to give your project.

 Step 3: Meet face to face

After you’ve spoken over the phone, make a “short list” of three or four contractors to meet for estimates and further discussion. A contractor should be able to answer your questions satisfactorily and in a manner that puts you at ease.

Step 4: Ask for references

Ask the prospective contractor for a current job site and see if you agree with how the contractor works. Visit the job site! You can tell a lot about a contractor by how he works and how his team works. See if the job site is neat and safe and whether or not the workers seemed to be respectful of each other and with the owner’s property.

Step 5: Get bids

Now that your list should be much shorter than when you first started, it’s time to get the plans together. Good contractors will have a sense of your expectations and what you plan to spend. To compare bids, ask everyone to break down the cost. Never accept just a lump sum bid. The project can be broken down several ways: by trade line items, cost of materials and labor are the most common. Some projects even want to see the contractor’s estimate for overhead and profit.  Generally materials account for 40 percent of the total cost; the rest covers overhead and the typical profit margin, which is 15 to 20 percent. Also, be sure to ask if the bid is fixed or is just an estimate. Pay close attention to what is not covered in the contract. Most contractors will list “Exclusions.” These may run from permit costs to handling toxic materials and sales tax. These exclusions could add considerably to the project cost.

Step 6: Payment schedule

This is where most owners run into trouble. While you can expect to put down about 5-10 percent at contract signing, don’t accept any contract that requires you to put down 1/3! The contractor should be paid upon work completion.  This is done by establishing a Schedule of Values. As each work item progresses, the contractor is paid. This keeps your payments in line with the work completed. Resist the contractor’s request for equal payments (either weekly or 25, 25, 25, 25 or 1/3, 1/3, 1/3). If you don’t  you could find yourself in a position where you have paid more money than work completed. If you then have a problem with the contractor, he has your money and leverage on what happens next. A check for the final 15 percent can be paid when you feel every item on the punch list has been completed.

Step 7: It’s not always about price

Be skeptical of lowball bids. This contractor is probably cutting corners or, worse, desperate for work. The most important factors in choosing a contractor are how well you and he communicate and his ability to deliver the project as promised.

Step 8: Get it in writing

A written contract will specify what is and what is not included in the Scope of Work, the schedule to complete the job and their associated costs, as well as the payment schedule. Never sign a blank contract or one with blank spaces. Your state may have specific requirements for Home Improvement Contracts which speak to consumer protection issues.  For large projects, make sure they are reviewed by your attorney. Every contract should specify terms for termination.  Remember, a contract is only important when there is a dispute. When there is a dispute, the only thing that matters is what is in the contract.

Even if your project is small, hiring a contractor can be made easier if you keep a few simple tips in mind. If you are still uneasy about hiring a contractor, hire a construction professional to represent you. This could be an architect, if the project calls for one or a Construction Manager.  AT TCAI, we say “If you want it built right, You should be our Client.”

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Temple’s ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp for Middle School…May 27 deadline

May 23, 2011

The ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp (EMBHSSC) is organized to provide activities, experiments, projects, and field experiences for students entering 6th, 7th, or 8th grade in the fall of 2011. The camp promotes science, technology, engineering, mathematics education and supports historically underserved and underrepresented students with limited opportunities. Students attend the camp free of charge. Students currently in grade 5, 6, or 7 who have an interest in science and mathematics and at least a B average in science and mathematics are eligible.

 The EMBHSSC is a two-week, academic, residential camp that emphasizes increasing students’ mathematics and science skills while introducing them to college life and stimulating their interest in science and engineering as a potential career path. Each day, campers will attend classes that include problem solving, research and communication skills incorporated with biology, chemistry, physics, environmental sciences, earth sciences, engineering and design concepts, and field excursions. Certified classroom teachers and university faculty will teach the classes. The camp will be held on the campus of Gwynedd-Mercy College, 1325 Sumneytown Pike, Gwynedd Valley, PA 19437. Students will be housed in a dorm on the university’s campus.

Camp participants will be selected from applicants residing in the greater Philadelphia area.

Application Process:

 Parent/Guardian and student complete the attached student application form.

 Student writes a 250-word essay.

 Parent/Guardian or student gives the request for records to your child’s school registrar.

 Parent/Guardian or student gives a recommendation form to your child’s current science teacher and current mathematics teacher.

The above requested documents are to be sent to Temple University, The CST Dean’s Office, 1803 N. Broad Street, Carnell Hall Suite 400 (041-03), Philadelphia, PA 19122, Attn: EMBHSSC. The Student Application Form, records and recommendations are due by the deadline date, May 27th, 2011. If all requested documents are not received by the deadline date, the application will not be considered. Selections for the summer camp will be made on May 30th. You will receive notification on the status of the application no later than June 3rd. If selected, the camper and one parent/guardian must attend the mandatory orientation on June 18. If you have questions or need additional information, call Ms. Robin Neal, 215 204-2888.


TUteach: Training the Next Generation of Science & Math Teachers: http://www.temple.edu/tuteach/


Douglas H. Baird, Ph.D.

Co-Director, TUteach & Assistant Dean for

Science Education & Special Projects

College of Science and Technology

Office of the Dean

Temple University

Carnell Hall, Suite 400

1803 N. Broad Street (041-03)

Philadelphia, PA 19122


Phone: 215 204-9252 (direct)

Phone: 215 204-2888 (department)

Fax: 215-204-1255

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WHYY Summer Camps grade 9-12, scholarship deadline May15th

May 12, 2011

 2010 Young Journalist on the Scene of a Story

There are still spots available for WHYY’s award-winning summer camps! Register your son, daughter, niece, nephew, or grandchild today.

 WHYY’s summer camps give teens the tools they need to become producers of the media that shapes their world. Our intensive media production experiences foster creativity, problem-solving, and teamwork in a fun and challenging setting.

This summer, WHYY is offering two exciting hands-on production experiences: the WHYY Young Journalists Summer Camp and the WHYY Film Academy.

WHYY’s summer camps are perfect for teens currently in grades 9-12 who are looking to produce their own media in a fast-paced, professional environment.

Young Journalists Summer Camp

A two-week intensive experience, the camp teaches multi-media journalism in a real-world setting, as young journalists produce their own video, audio, and web stories. Facilitated by the staff of WHYY’s award-winning Public Media Commons, Young Journalists Summer Camp features lectures and training sessions from the renowned staff of WHYY’s news department and provides students with the opportunity to use WHYY equipment to produce news stories based on their interests.

And excellent experience for teens interested in news, video or audio production, photography, writing, or blogging.

Young Journalists Camp is offered in two sessions: June 27-July 8 and August 15-26.

Cost: $1250/$1200 for WHYY members.

The scholarship deadline for the Young Journalists Camp is THIS SUNDAY May 15!

WHYY Film Academy

Over the course of three weeks, young filmmakers in the WHYY Film Academy produce their own short movie from script to screen. After learning the basics of shot composition, storyboarding, scripting, location scouting, and continuity editing, the teen filmmakers spend their last two weeks shooting scenes in Center City and editing at WHYY’s state-of-the-art facilities, equipped with Final Cut Pro workstations.

Perfect for teens interested in film, acting, writing, and video production.

WHYY Film Academy runs July 11-29.  

Cost: $1850/$1800 for WHYY members.


For more information or to register for camp, please click the links below: 

Young Journalists Summer Camp

Session 1: June 27-July 8. Click here to register.

Session 2: August 15-26. Click here to register. 

 WHYY Film Academy

July 11-29. Click here to register.

 A limited number of scholarship opportunities, as well as flex payment plans are available.

 For information about scholarships/payment plans, email Director of Media Instruction, Craig Santoro at csantoro@whyy.org.

Best wishes,


Craig Santoro
Director of Media Instruction

P.S. Stories filed by participants in the 2010 Young Journalists Summer Camp can be found here.

Movies made by the 2010 WHYY Film Academy can be found here.

* Camp cancellations must be made at least 15 business days before the first day of camp. If you choose to cancel less than 15 business days before camp, you will be charged a 20% cancellation fee to cover WHYY expenses.

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Helping Small Businesses Grow and Create New Jobs

May 9, 2011

President Obama visits Buffalo, NY where he speaks to business owners and workers about the steps the Administration is taking to create conditions that will allow small businesses to thrive and hire new workers. May 13, 2010.
Video Rating: 4 / 5

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