Improved U.S.-French ties are seen

first_imgRelations between Washington and Paris reached new lows under Chirac, who spearheaded global opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Sarkozy has made no effort to hide his admiration for the United States and has looked to the U.S. model in his stated bid to rejuvenate the lagging French economy. On winning election May 6, he promised “our American friends” that France “will always be by their side when they need.” However, he added that “friendship means accepting that friends can have different opinions.” The first test of a renewed friendship could be over Afghanistan. Sarkozy hinted at a withdrawal of French troops during his electoral campaign, saying he did not consider their presence in Afghanistan “decisive.” PARIS – The United States plans closer ties and deeper cooperation with France under new President Nicolas Sarkozy, including working together to bring stability to war-torn Iraq, the U.S. State Department’s No. 2 official said Wednesday. “Now is the time for us to join forces ever more closely,” U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said, listing Afghanistan, Lebanon and Haiti as areas of already fruitful cooperation. “We intend to work closely with France’s new leadership in a spirit of candor, respect and cooperation,” he said. Negroponte was in Paris for a ministerial meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. He noted that his visit came at a “pivotal time” for France, just as Sarkozy was taking power from Jacques Chirac, who was leaving office after 12 years as president. Taliban militia who held two French aid workers captive until earlier this month had demanded that Sarkozy pull French troops out. Late last year, France pulled 200 elite forces; about 1,000 regular troops remain as part of the NATO mission. Negroponte underscored the importance of the French role in the volatile country, but denied his remarks were a message to Sarkozy, “because my understanding is that we have solidarity between us on the question of Afghanistan.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Is There Such a Thing as a Perfect Building Envelope?

first_imgPlus, there’s too much foamHomoly’s plan relies heavily on foam — both sheets of rigid insulation on the roof and walls and open-cell spray foam in the stud bays. Although foam has excellent properties as a thermal insulator, it has several attributes that make it worrisome to green builders, including the blowing agents used to make it — some of which have a high global warming potential — and its petrochemical content.“Your strategy contains WAY too much foam,” writes Brett Moyer. “… Foam is NOT green. Minimize its use whenever possible.”Rooks also raises the same point: “Try doing the same project with no foam,” he writes. “Eliminating foam is important to some of us.”But to AJ Builder, the argument doesn’t make much sense. “Nobody that owns fossil-fueled vehicles should advocate to others to be so green as to not insulate with foam,” he says. “…Foam is legal, and it is up to whomever to choose when and how to use it, in my opinion. Explain maybe how you feel about foam but then…. Let it go. Many people feel a product like foam is a much better use for dinosaur flesh than putting it in your F250 and burning it to drive to a NASCAR race.”TJ Elder agrees that insulating is a better end-use for petroleum than motor vehicle fuel used for non essential purposes such as driving “around in circles at great speeds.” But he also sees the point that Rooks and Moyer are making.“I also agree with Brett and Albert that less-foamy buildings are greener than extra-foamy buildings,” he writes. “Thinking green, it is better also to eat less meat (maybe some fish, no bear) and start backing away from fossil-fueled travel.“May as well admit that with seven billion actors in this play, we should all be vegetarian bicyclists (using no foam or other petro products) to ensure health and happiness for our planet’s inhabitants centuries into the future. Remember that everyone lived free of fossil energy for a thousand generations behind us, and life could continue just as far ahead of this present day.” Is there such a thing as a perfect building envelope? One that could be mass-produced from readily available materials, and be appropriate for 90% of all new homes?Andrew Homoly thinks he’s found one, as he explains in this Q&A post at GreenBuildingAdvisor.Here are the basic elements:A conventional foundation insulated with 2 in. of rigid foam on the outside.2×6 walls sheathed with Zip System OSB with 2 in. of rigid foam on the outside and open-cell spray polyurethane foam in the stud bays.A roof sheathed with OSB, insulated on the exterior with 2 in. of rigid foam capped with another later of OSB sheathing over furring strips.Soffit and fascia made from OSB sheathing, insulated on the exterior with 2 in. of rigid foam, and topped with furring strips and finish material.It is this last detail, the insulated and vented soffit and fascia, that has Homoly thinking he’s nailed it. He calls his approach the Homoly-Pedley Perfect Envelope, sharing the credit with his framer, Mike Pedley, who came up with the soffit/fascia detail. RELATED ARTICLES Getting Insulation Out of Your Walls and CeilingsVented or Unvented Attic?Rigid Foam InsulationSpray Foam Jobs with Lingering Odor Problems “Note the ‘gap’ goes all the way up the wall, around the soffit, around the facia, and up the roof to the ridge vent,” Homoly writes. “Periodic vent strips could also be added in the soffit if desired. The entire home from foundation to wall to soffit to facia to roof is wrapped in an uninterrupted thermal envelope.“I believe this system accomplishes multiple goals … and could easily be mass-produced since it utilizes all common building techniques and materials.“What do you think?”center_img Our expert’s opinionHere’s what Peter Yost, GBA’s technical director, had to say:It just would not be right to discuss this without citing Joe Lstiburek’s “The Perfect Wall, Roof, and Slab.” A concrete (or concrete block) wall with all of the insulation to the exterior, pulling the structure pretty much into the conditioned space, is elegant. The R-value or thickness of the insulation is climate-driven, but the configuration of the assembly does not change. Depending on the insulation and finished surfaces or claddings, this assembly can dry to the interior, the exterior, or both.The thermal mass becomes an interior flywheel, buffering changes in both relative humidity and temperature. And the structure does not “care” if it gets wet; it won’t rust or rot.Jim Sargent designed a house using Durisol blocks, exterior insulation, a variety of finishes on the exterior, and a clay plaster on the interior that was pretty much the perfect wall in my book. From both a building science and an environmental footprint perspective, the fly ash-laden concrete cores and blocks made of softwood and Portland cement are 500-year materials and walls.And interestingly, on the first floor of my 100-year old home, we retrofitted the hollow concrete block (interior plaster and lath) with 3 in. of high-density spray foam, foam that serves as my continuous thermal barrier, air barrier, and drainage plane.I just today took off several pieces of the clapboards to check on the insulation/air barrier/drainage plane. (I intentionally fastened much of this wall with stainless-steel trim screws so that I could easily remove the cladding to inspect the assembly over time). The spray foam and assembly is in perfect condition, still completely secured to both the block and furring to which the spray foam was applied. No deterioration, no shrinkage, no loss of adhesion. The spray foam was applied in the fall of 2002.Do I wish that the blowing agent for this spray foam job was not 245fa, with a really high global warming potential (GWP)? Absolutely, but at 3 in. and R-20, I still feel the payback is reasonable and you can be sure that chemical companies worldwide are working on replacement blowing agents with much lower GWP.There are also rigid insulations other than XPS to consider for the “perfect envelope.” Rigid mineral wool from Roxul, for example, and the more expensive Foamglas should be considered.The key thing is that exterior insulation makes continuous air and thermal barriers possible and “warming” any building assembly reduces or eliminates moisture management issues in any climate.And for complete information on all types of insulation, BuildingGreen has just released a special report on insulation. Scroll down a bit. Sorry, but it’s not especially newHomoly’s plan hinges on establishing an air barrier at the sheathing level. But as GBA senior editor Martin Holladay points out, that’s not a new idea. In fact, he says, it’s been the standard way of building PERSIST homes for decades.“I think the air barrier details are improved if you follow the usual PERSIST recommendation of framing the house without any eave or rake overhangs, and running the rigid foam up the walls and over to the roof, with tape installed at the wall/roof intersection,” Holladay adds. “Once this is done, rake and eave overhangs can be built separately and scabbed onto the building, over the foam.”He adds that bringing foam insulation around the soffits and fascia is “fussy and likely to increase air leakage rates,” and recommends a Journal of Light Construction article that explains how “applied overhangs” can be built.Although Homoly likes the suggestion, he’s not sure it would work in his area because roof trusses that cantilever past the wall line are typical. Rigid foam on the walls would have to be cut around each truss.And as to the notion that one building envelope could be used in 90% of new residential construction, don’t bet on it.“The ‘Perfect Envelope’ will always be ‘it depends,’ ” writes Armando Cobo. “There are many different climate and humidity zones, building materials, insulations, WRBs, claddings, techniques, likes and dislikes, material preferences and availabilities that most be analyzed on how they interact with each other and therefore the solutions are different.”“We are a very large and diverse country,” adds Albert Rooks. “We need more than one solution to a high quality envelope.”last_img read more

Who is Baijayant Panda?

first_imgBaijayant Panda or Jay Panda, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP from Kendrapara, has been openly critical of his party of late, making his stand clear through newspaper articles, tweets and statements. Faced with the spectacular success of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the panchayat elections in February and it emerging as the main Opposition to the BJD, Mr. Panda called for “introspection” in the party. Seen as an act of defiance, he was removed as spokesperson of the BJD Parliamentary Party in May. The BJD did win 474 of the 853 zilla parishad seats, but the rise in the BJP’s tally — from 36 to 297 — since the 2012 elections raised concerns in BJD circles. The BJP has been striving hard to emerge as the BJD’s alternative after it secured the second position in the panchayat polls overtaking the Congress. What has made things worse for Mr. Panda is a perception that he is acting at the behest of the BJP.What are his roots?Son of Odia industrialist Bansidhar Panda, who founded the IMFA, India’s largest, fully integrated producer of ferro alloys, Mr. Panda graduated from the Michigan Technological University and, with a background in engineering and management, worked in the corporate sector before joining politics.Although Mr. Panda’s father has stayed away from politics all these decades, his mother, the late Ila Panda, was a Rajya Sabha Member from 1992 to 1998. She represented the erstwhile Janata Dal, which Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s father and former Chief Minister Biju Patnaik led in Odisha those days.Why did he join politics?Mr. Panda joined active politics when the BJD was formed by Mr. Naveen Patnaik in December 1997, a few months after the demise of Biju Patnaik. He has had a long stint in Delhi and is well networked — he was Rajya Sabha member from 2000 to 2006 and was re-elected to the Upper House in 2006. But he chose to cut short his second term in the Rajya Sabha in 2009 and was elected to the Lok Sabha from Kendrapara, considered a stronghold of Biju Patnaik as well as an anti-Congress bastion. He was elected to the Lok Sabha again in 2014 when Narendra Modi became Prime Minister. Apart from having a business empire, Mr. Panda’s family owns prominent Odia news television channel Odisha TV (OTV), adding to his strength as a politician. By writing articles in national newspapers and making use of social media, Mr. Panda was the BJD’s face in New Delhi.What are his ambitions?Mr. Panda and Mr. Patnaik shared a warm friendship for years, but the relationship appeared to have soured after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when the Kendrapara MP grew close to the BJP top brass. Mr. Panda wanted to be made leader of the BJD Parliamentary Party in the Lok Sabha, but had to be content with the position of spokesperson along with party MP from Balangir Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo. Mr. Panda’s national profile, coupled with his appreciation of Mr. Modi’s policies in several of his articles, made Mr. Patnaik suspicious of him. He began to see Mr. Panda as a political threat. Mr. Panda’s criticism of the BJD’s functioning became louder after the panchayat elections, forcing Mr. Patnaik to remove him as the party’s spokesperson. The State government’s subsequent action against Mr. Panda’s family-run mining operations also indicated that their relationship was on the brink.What are his options?According to party sources, if Mr. Panda continues to remain in the BJD, Mr. Patnaik may deny him ticket to contest the 2019 Assembly elections. In that case, Mr. Panda will have no difficulty in getting BJP ticket for his own political survival.Although Mr. Panda has not openly challenged Mr. Patnaik so far, after eggs were hurled at him in his own constituency by BJD activists for his critical stand against the party, he alleged that intra-party conflict and goondaism had surfaced in the past three years, with bureaucrats sitting in air-conditioned rooms in the capital Bhubaneswar managing party affairs. He alleged that many key positions were no longer held by people who struggled for the party, “who might have given a honest feedback, but rather by opportunists from various fields, including some who had worked against the party.” With the BJP trying to grow in Odisha by highlighting ‘Brand Modi,’ the ‘dissident’ in Mr. Panda is likely to create trouble for Mr. Patnaik in the months to come. Will Mr. Panda survive in the BJD that long?last_img read more