11 December 2009Standard Bank has signed a six-year US$100-million (about R747-million) loan agreement with three European development finance institutions. The loan will be used to fund infrastructure projects and project finance lending in Africa.The loan was coordinated by Germany’s Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG), along with Netherlands’ FMO and the Austria’s Oesterreichische Entwicklungsbank (OeEB).“The deal will hopefully serve as a platform for future cooperation between Standard Bank, DEG and the other lenders across a range of different banking products and geographies,” said Standard Bank Africa CEO Clive Tasker in a statement last week.It is the first transaction between Standard Bank of South Africa and DEG, one of Europe’s largest development finance institutions.“The tranche, made available by several development finance institutions, will enable Standard Bank to finance investments in the infrastructure sector,” said DEG chairman Bruno Wenn.Boosting continental trade, investmentStandard Bank has been very active in securing international credit facilities to fund trade and investment on the African continent, especially in light of the global financial crisis.In April, it received a $400-million credit line from the International Finance Corporation’s Global Trade Liquidity Programme to support trade in sub-Saharan Africa.In September, it raised a further US$1-billion loan facility with four major Chinese banks: the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Macau), Bank of China, China Development Bank, and China CITIC Bank.And, in October, it signed a further $150-million loan agreement with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation to boost trade on the continent.SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest This year the Monroeville FFA booth at the 2019 Huron County Fair focused on renewable energy. The booth was titled Exploring Renewable Energy and displayed three types of renewable energy: hydroelectricity, solar power, and wind energy. The booth showed what each of these involved and the advantages and disadvantages of each energy source. The booth ended up receiving the second place award.
Sweb Apps could function as a way for businesses to distribute mobile coupons, too. With buttons like “Photo Gallery” which can be renamed to anything you like (such as “Coupons” or “Specials”), businesses could update their apps with pre-designed mobile coupons, if they so wished. Lots of Potential, Future PlansNot that long ago, we wondered why there weren’t more iPhone applications for businesses available in the App Store. It’s possible that was because the tools to make building mobile apps easy were simply not good enough. With Sweb Apps, though, this could quickly change. Being able to build a mobile application with no technical know-how using a dead-simple onscreen guide is the sort of mobile service we’re sure many businesses have been dreaming about. (At least we hope so! We would love to track the sales at a few of our favorite local stores via our iPhones.)The company plans to introduce more features into their service in the future including premium buttons, Flash-based content (assuming Apple ever approves Flash on the iPhone), in-app advertising opportunities, and more. Next year, the company also plans to launch app builders for other mobile platforms including Android, Blackberry, and Palm Pre. A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… A company called Sweb Apps has just launched a new service which lets anyone build iPhone apps, even if you don’t have a technical background. The service is aimed primarily at small to medium-sized businesses who don’t have an in-house or on-call engineering team capable of developing mobile applications. Instead, using the Sweb Apps website, business owners can create their own iPhone application themselves in as little as five minutes, says the company.On the newly launched site at swebapps.com, a big orange button reading “Start Building” is all you need to click to get started creating your own iPhone application. Then, only six steps later, you’ll have a completed iPhone application ready for App Store submission, a process which Sweb Apps will handle for you, too. How to Build Your AppSince the service is designed for businesses, one of the first steps is to select your particular industry from the provided categories. At the moment, these include: Restaurant, Retail Store, Business, Non-Profit, Government, Education, Entertainment, and Customization, a category which lets you design your own personalized app if what you’re creating doesn’t fit into one of the other categories. Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… From within each of these sections, there are various buttons to choose from. For example, in the “Restaurant” category, you can add buttons like “menu,” “reservations,” “map,” etc. There are even buttons for Facebook and Twitter which allow you to direct customers to your Facebook and Twitter profiles. Sample layouts are provided, too. After picking your buttons, you create your Sweb Apps account and submit the information about your business. The fifth step is to customize the application with your business’s personalized info. In the case of the restaurant app, for example, that would mean filling out the menu, listing your hours and address, and so on. The final step is to submit payment. Prices vary depending on which package you choose. Packages with 4 buttons are $200, 6 buttons are $300, and 8 buttons are $400. In addition, Sweb Apps charges a $50 one-time setup fee and a $25/month hosting fee. For an extra $10/month, business owners can optionally choose to add on a simple analytics package called “App Tracker” which lets you track the number of downloads and button clicks. By tracking this sort of information, it’s easy to tell which buttons are accessed most and which are being ignored, allowing you to re-design the app to better engage your customers. Customizations While the process of app building is extremely simple, and yes, we were able to create a basic app in a matter of minutes (we stopped short of paying for it of course!), the end result is a somewhat basic-looking application. But there are a couple of things you can do to spruce it up a little. For one, you’re able to select your own background color, and this can even be a custom color of your choosing. Sweb Apps also lets you upload your own button images instead of using the defaults provided. This would definitely give your app a more unique and personalized look, so it’s worth looking into. If you’re not all that handy with Photoshop yourself, it would be a good idea to hire a designer or crowdsource the project through a site like 99Designs or CrowdSpring and have someone create custom buttons for you. The Best Part: Real-Time Updates!If anything ever changes and needs to be updated, you simply return to your Sweb Apps account and make the changes there. Instead of waiting on Apple to approve the update as is done with traditional iPhone applications, the updates to Sweb Apps go live in real-time thanks to the company’s hosted Content Management System. With Sweb Apps, all the app’s content is housed in the company’s own database which is why it’s able to be updated on-the-fly (and why there’s a monthly hosting fee). The possibilities here are endless. This feature allows a business to promote one-time events, specials, coupons, sales, or anything else that would be offered on a limited time basis. This, in fact, may be the best feature of the app builder. Real-time communication with your customer base through the mobile is exactly what applications should provide, but when relying on Apple and their mysterious approval process, the delays involved often prevent this from happening. sarah perez Related Posts Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Tags:#web 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market
RELATED CONTENT With any house, there are so many variables that influence the decision to choose one particular mechanical system over another: climate, house size, cost, local availability and cost of fuels and materials, and the lifestyle and preferences of the occupants. There is no “one-size-fits-all” system that we can reliably prescribe for all projects. Phil and I sat down over a good winter cocktail to share our views, anecdotes, battle scars, and wisdom on this important subject.The Highlights:The Bobby Burns Cocktail: “We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet for auld lang syne.”Demand: Let demand be your guide. After climate, the peak load demand of your home is probably the most important thing to understand and define. (This means you’ll have to perform some energy modeling or at least a heat-loss calculation.) The chart developed by the Portland Building Science Discussion Group should help you identify the systems to consider.Climate impact: Let your conscience be your guide. For some people, it’s not all about cost efficiency. It’s also about limiting emissions and the ecological footprint of the system itself. You may rule out oil and propane altogether. PODCAST: Ground-Source Heat Pumps, Part 1PODCAST: Biomass BoilersGBA Encyclopedia: Green Heating OptionsHeating a Tight, Well-Insulated HouseAir-Source or Ground-Source Heat Pump?Ground-Source Heat PumpsRadiant-Floor HeatingIs Radiant Floor Heat Really the Best Option?Heating Options for a Small HomeA ‘Magic Box’ For Your Passivhaus TRANSCRIPTChris: Hey, everybody, welcome to the Green Architects’ Lounge podcast. I’m your host, Chris Briley.Phil: And I’m your host, Phil Kaplan.Chris: We should start with an apology. Hey, everybody, sorry — we haven’t been recording much.Phil: We’re going to pretend that people have been missing us?Chris: Yeah. Sorry, folks. Today we’re doing how to choose a mechanical system. This is a conversation we have a lot with our clients. They want to know what the best one is for their house.Phil: And there is a logical way to choose one. Chris and I have our systems — they’re not foolproof — but we’ve talked to some smart people and we’ll talk you through it.[The guys jaw about Chris’s new partnership with Harry Hepburn, the possibility of having Bill McKibben on a future podcast, the NESEA conference, and this episode’s cocktail, the Bobby Burns.]Phil: So how do we start choosing a mechanical system?Chris: Let’s start with a chart. Imagine a building science discussion group filled with architects, raters, and builders. When asked to choose a mechanical system, each person chimes in with the best one. If you get anything from this podcast, it’s that there is no one solution.Phil: Logic is only a small part of choosing a mechanical system.Chris: “If that, then this” just doesn’t happen. So the building science discussion group decides to make this chart that shows when we consider the different systems based on the peak heating load — we’ve divided it up into 0 to 25,000 Btu, 25 to 50,000 Btu, 50 to 75,000 Btu, 75 to 100,000 Btu, and 100,000 and over — there are certain systems you look at, depending on peak heating load. Ductless minisplits for 0 to 25,000 Btu are a great choice. If it’s 75,000 or more, possibly you’d consider ground-source heat pumps. The chart has solar thermal, a woodstove for point-source heating — so you’d have to design for this one source of heat.Phil: An open plan, compact.Chris: And the downstairs communicates with the upstairs thermally. You’ve also got air-source heat pumps, which are fantastic for the lighter loads, and electric in general — electric boilers, baseboards — and of course, oil and gas boilers and furnaces.I was talking to Marc Rosenbaum today, a mechanical engineer at South Mountain, and asked him how he chooses a mechanical system. Now that climate change has entered the conversation and has become a priority, let’s get away from fossil fuels. So, for Marc, it’s either electric or biomass. It’s a matter of heat load. If the heat load is rather high, 50,000 or more Btu, you’re looking at biomass. But some people may not want to schlep logs of wood to their wood boiler of woodstove, or they may not want to deal with pellets, which may not be available in their area. With lighter heating loads, you’re looking at electrical heat pumps — ground-source heat pumps or air-source heat pumps.Phil: So, that’s it, we’re done! Cheers!Chris: Well, with the ductless minisplits, it’s easy to take care of a lighter load house. Martin Holladay had a fantastic article in Fine Homebuilding.Phil: Heating Options for a Small Home.Chris: We recommend that everyone read that. It also covers the system in a passive house — UltimateAir has a combination unit.Phil: A hot water coil off the ERV.Chris: We’ve talked about a cold water coil for cooling. The thing is to trick the ERV into activating when there’s a demand for heating or cooling, not just fresh air.Phil: We’re talking about a really low heating load: 10,000 Btu or even lower.Marc has his ideas of what’s important, and so do we. Marc does not believe in sacrificing energy for looks. Aesthetics are important to architects in a different way than to engineers.Chris: Clients are the same way. If they walk by a ductless minisplit cassette and think, “I hate that thing, the way it sits there on the wall and mocks me,” then it’s not worth it; it’s not going to work.Phil: We all decide what’s most important for us.Chris: Clients might just be looking at operation costs. They’re not trying to save the planet; they’re trying to save money. They’re trying to be the smartest kids on the block and have a really efficient house.OK, Phil, let’s say a client comes to you and says, “I want a ground-source heat pump.”Phil: Let’s go through the logical reasons about why we don’t use them. And the client says, “Yeah yeah yeah, but I still want one.”Chris: And it’s not out of the question, but the conditions have to be right for that to be a smart choice. That does happen, but increasingly less.Phil: We had another client who wanted electric baseboard. And it wasn’t a passive house. Close to it, but…Chris: Just electric baseboard?Phil: Just electric baseboard because they wanted a silent system. They were going to buy enough PV to offset it. But it wasn’t a great idea in terms of energy use.Chris: I’ll share a battle scar. In the Redfern house — a little LEED Platinum house with 40 grand of hardware on the roof in PVs and solar thermal, and demand is really, really low — we cheaped out on an electric boiler. It’s a hot water heater, essentially, for the boiler. It really bothered me. Why at that last moment did we cheap out? I understand the economics. It’s really not going to be on that often. It’ll be offset by solar. But we could have put three more panels on to get to net-zero.Phil: Remember, panels were a lot more expensive then — 8 or 9 grand per kilowatt. It’s less than half that now.Chris: Well, we could have gone with one ductless minisplit and spent only a couple thousand more than with this electric boiler. And yeah, if you compared the two, would the minisplit ultimately have paid for itself based on how little it would be used? But the efficiency of it would have been worth it for the planet. To go that far and then cheap out… But the happy ending is there’s now a woodstove in the house and the boiler never comes on.Phil: So one of the things that bothers you about a house is the climate damage, the CO2.Chris: That’s a big part of the metric.Phil: But for some people, number 1 is cost. That’s always a conversation.Chris: That’s right. You did this passive house for $135 per square foot, and still people said, “My God, that’s expensive for a little house.” We’re competing with houses already on the market.Phil: If we can reduce the cost of mechanical systems, we can put the extra dollars into the envelope. At 15,000 Btu, you can get yourself an HRV and a pre-heater. Eight to ten grand for that system; that’s pretty awesome. If the Btu go up to 25 to 30,000, can we stay below 10 grand?Chris: That’s really hard. You need something in there to handle the load. A ductless minisplit.Phil: Minisplits work even when it’s 0 degrees outside. If you’re real disciplined and have a tight, compact house, you could do it. It would be ductless and cost 9 to 12 grand. That’s assuming you have an electric resistance water heater.Chris: What if I’ve got natural gas right out there on the street?Phil: A combo hot water tank and air handler — a ducted system, but the gas is right there. Ten to 12 grand. When would you use a hot water heat pump? Probably around loads of 50,000 or more.At fairly low loads, if aesthetics are important, you go to ducted minisplits. You’re adding a good 10 grand, maybe not that much. People spend a lot of money on pretty. Minisplits still stay off of fossil fuels, which is nice.Chris: What if my house is way bigger?Phil: Then you go to the gas boiler. It’s still not a bad system when you have a big house that’s an energy guzzler.Chris: The gas boiler can be 94 to 98 percent efficient. And still cleaner than oil.Phil: In the higher loads, wood pellet boilers make sense. Ground-source heat pumps.Chris: They’re still there.Phil: We didn’t talk about radiant.Chris: The more robust the envelope gets, the more costly the radiant system — the hundreds of feet of tubing, the circulator pumps in every zone, the computer components to monitor things…Phil: A complex system, locked in concrete.Chris: You’re talking about a $25,000 system, depending on the load and the size of the house. You’re talking about buying a lot of hardware for radiant floors. And if your house is really well insulated and the demand is so low — let’s say 15,000 Btu — then you have a boiler pushing fluids through a slab…Phil: They break all the time. And it’s rarely going to get the call.Chris: If the computer component is smart enough, it’s tweaked the temperature to be in the comfort zone, which is below your body temperature.Phil: And then it’s going to be cold underfoot.Chris: Or not warm. You won’t even notice it’s on. But if you have a really leaky house, radiant might be a great system.Phil: It comes down to what’s important to you. We advocate staying off fossil fuels, keeping loads down real low, keeping it simple.Chris: We’re trying to get rid of this component.Phil: The best mechanical contractors try really hard not to take your money.OK, time for a 6-digit idea: the Magic Box. It’s a combination appliance with an HRV, a heat pump and a water heater. Zehnder makes them. But we can’t get them here yet.Chris: What about the Lunos? They look like dryer vent type penetrations. It’s a way to handle the ERV without an ERV. It’s two holes in the building with ceramic filters in them. The filter is the temperature of the air. One opens up and breathes in. Then the other hole in the wall lets the breath out.The better our buildings get, the more we need better and better technologies to run those better buildings.[The episode closes with A.C. Newman’s song “I’m Not Talking.”] Cost: Then, of course, there’s the cost of the system to consider. In the podcast, I mention the statistic that for most buildings (not just houses), the initial construction cost represents only 11% of the building’s total cost. I had a chance to chase down where the statistic is from: Solutions for Energy Security & Facility Management Challenges by the Association of Energy Engineers. (By the way, the calculation only considers operating costs for the first 40 years.)That makes the efficiency of your system highly important. But the consideration of the initial cost is an inescapable reality. To help with this, we’ve provided a chart that shares some rule-of-thumb numbers for the systems mentioned. Of course, costs vary widely among different regions and installers. With time, this chart will become meaningless as the market changes.Cost offsets: Remember, the goal here is to shrink the mechanical system in order to save money to offset the added cost of building a robust envelope.GSHPs and radiant floors: Do they still make sense? Sometimes, maybe.Six-digit idea: Let’s start importing (or better yet, manufacturing) the Magic Box here in the States.Hot Zigg!: The Lunos e2 looks like a cool product that is approaching active ventilation in a whole new way. This is not an endorsement, as Phil and I haven’t used them yet, but something we’re keen to explore.Phil’s pick: The song of the episode is “I’m Not Talking” by A.C. Newman. It’s a great album for the studio.Don’t forget to register and attend Building Energy 13, a conference hosted by NESEA. Phil and I will be leading a Sprout Follies session in the Fundamentals Track on Thursday, March 7th at 2:00.Thanks for listening. Cheers. Subscribe to Green Architects’ Lounge on iTunes—you’ll never miss a show, and it’s free!