In The News

Military Job vs. Civilian Career
September 16, 2016

Many service members use their transition out of the military as a chance to start over and ditch the career paths that their military occupations started them on. Doing so comes with advantages and disadvantages, all of which transitioning veterans should weigh carefully.

A decade’s worth of military experience in a field that translates well into the civilian world, means changing course could force the veteran to start at the bottom, with a salary to match, rather than at a higher level that recognizes the technical skills they learned in uniform.

On the other hand, if Uncle Sam stuck a veteran with a job they hated, they are likely not doing themselves any favors in the long-term by seeking a similar civilian position.

Many vocational experts working with veterans say that when transitioning to the civilian workplace, veterans should go for the job that they want, not the job that fits their military experience. After all, happy people work harder — and typically make more money.

The USDA tracks veterans’ interest in farming through loan applications for land purchases. Since 2009, the agency has granted $466 million to about 4,000 vets. But overall, of the 4 million veterans living in the nation’s rural areas, around 6 percent — some 240,000 — work in agriculture.

The government is determined to grow the number of veterans who work in agricultural jobs as a means to help replenish the industry’s labor force. To lower the barrier for them, the USDA provides loans and grants — some worth several thousand dollars — designed to help beginning veteran farmers and ranchers get the training and education they need to get their operations off the ground. In turn, veterans who become experienced at farming and ranching are encouraged to train others.

Net Zero’ Green Construction
August 14, 2016

Constructed objects account for 25 percent to 40 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. WorldGBC and its 74 green building councils with their 27,000 member companies committed to reduce CO2 emissions from the buildings sector by 84 gigatonnes by 2050, through net zero buildings and renovations.

The project, which has a goal that 100 percent of buildings be net zero by 2050, will initially involve green building councils in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Netherlands, South Africa and Sweden. Architecture 2030, a nonprofit that works to reduce emissions from buildings, is partnering with WorldGBC on the initiative.

Long-term goals includes

  • All new buildings and major renovations should be built below net zero standards beyond 2030, and 100% of buildings should be net zero by 2050.
  • By 2030 -75,000 professionals trained on net zero building, and 300,000 by 2050.
  • A net zero tool will be in place by 2030 for all green building councils that operate certification programs.

WorldGBC says although the project will initially focus on certification and training, it hopes it will also encourage business and governments to adopt ambitious targets on net zero buildings.

ACTS CSI panelized building systems are constructed using CerarMix – a Zero Fuel, Zero Fire and Zero Smoke material. CerarMix will meet the standards set by the WorldGBC. For more information on CerarMix, please contact us at 877.44.0880.

Eco-Friendly Industrial Coatings Needed
July 11, 2016

Being primarily utilized for protecting substrates against attacks by chemicals, water, corrosion and the environment, industrial coatings have to perform in some of the most severe conditions. Adding to this has been the challenge of complying with environmental legislations enacted by regimes across the globe, which has compelled coatings manufacturers to focus on developing durable coatings that, other than meeting environmental regulations, also have to deliver outstanding performance. These factors have led manufacturers to rethink strategy and develop eco-friendlier and innovative solutions that can address regulations and also offer the desired performance.

The diversity of industrial coatings can be attributed to the extensive range of its application areas. This sector encompasses protective coatings for architectural steel, automobiles and other transportation media, oil and offshore structures and wood furniture and fixtures, just to name a few.

Global demand for industrial coatings is estimated at US$73.8 billion in 2016 and projected to touch US$105.5 billion by 2022, growing by a rate compounded annually at 6.1% between 2016 and 2022. Asia-Pacific has been estimated to be the largest market as well as the fastest growing market in terms of both volumes and value during the above mentioned analysis period. Globally, volume consumption of General Industrial Coatings is the largest product segment, expected to maintain a CAGR of 5.7% between 2016 and 2022 and reach a projected 5.4 billion liters by 2022 from a forecast 3.9 billion liters in 2016.

CerarMix is a high performance structural coating formulated to meet any application requirement where upon curing produces an adherent coating that is visually uniform. Our CerarMix Technical consultants are here to assist you with your next project. Please call 877.444.0880 for more information.

Veteran Homelessness
June 16, 2016

Rental assistance helps more than 340,000 veterans — the great majority of them poor or near poor — afford decent housing.  It appears to have played a central role in the 33 percent reduction in veterans’ homelessness between 2010 and 2014, and it allows recipients to devote more of their limited resources to other basic needs, like food or medicine.  But it reaches only a fraction of veterans in need; many veterans continue to experience homelessness or pay very high shares of their income for housing.

In 2009, the Obama Administration set a goal of ending homelessness among veterans by 2015.  Despite progress in recent years, this goal remains far off.  A HUD assessment on one night in January 2014 counted 49,900 homeless veterans:  17,900 sleeping in the street, in cars, or in other places not meant for human habitation, and 32,000 in emergency shelters, transitional housing, or similar arrangements.  Many more veterans experience homelessness over the course of a year than at any point in time.  During 2012, the most recent year for which complete data are available, 138,000 veterans stayed in a shelter for at least one night.

Moreover, many veterans who are not homeless nevertheless struggle to afford housing.  In 2012, some 1.79 million low-income veterans lived in households that paid more than 30 percent of their income for rent and utilities, and 762,000 lived in households that paid more than 50 percent.  Government programs and the private sector widely regard housing as unaffordable if it costs more than 30 percent of a household’s income.  Families that pay substantially more often must divert funds away from other basic needs.  They also are at greater risk of having to move frequently, entering into stressful and insecure arrangements such as doubling up with friends and family or becoming homeless.

Policymakers can address veterans’ housing needs more adequately by not only protecting funding for rental assistance programs such as Housing Choice Vouchers and public housing but also expanding housing assistance for the most vulnerable low-income people.  The latter could include providing funds for the National Housing Trust Fund through housing finance reform legislation and establishing a low-income renters’ tax credit as part of tax reform.

Nano-Structured Technology
May 13, 2016

Ceramic coatings such as chrome oxide (Cr2O3) applied by thermal spray are frequently used in energy-efficient, highly-corrosive chemical processes including mining and ore extraction. Driven by the industry requirement for low total cost of ownership, lead engineering firms have been and continue to develop innovative solutions such as 1) a nanostructured TiO2 coating, and 2) a ceramic blend of TiO2 and Cr2O3. Most recent results indicate that an optimized balance between the hard and brittle Cr2O3 phases and the soft and ductile n-TiOphases results in higher abrasion, sliding wear and galling resistance.

In recent tests conducted by NRC/Polytechnique, Montréal, the highest micro-hardness was achieved when the hardest phase, Cr2O3was used primarily for the coating. The n-TiO2-Cr2Ocoating showed the second highest micro-hardness. The Cr2O3 ceramic material alone showed the highest hardness and best sliding wear resistance and coefficient of friction. As expected, the Cr2O3 -TiO2 and n-TiO2-Cr2O3 blends produced hardness and sliding wear resistance between what each of the ceramic constituents showed.

These results reveal a significant opportunity for increasing customers’ plant uptime and lowering the total cost of ownership by implementing the latest coating methodology. Leaders are optimizing this existing technology by tuning chemical composition and microstructure to maximize strength, toughness, and corrosion resistance.

CerarMix is a ceramic-metallic composite material. and is used to improve performance and extend the useful lives of products made from fiberglass reinforced polymers (“FRP”), concrete, metals and bio-materials. CerarMix uses patent-pending nanotechnology to cross link polymers, ceramics and metals in order to meet specifications that exceed those of conventional materials. For more information on CerarMix products, please call 877.444.0880

Panelized Homes Defined
April 16, 2016

A panelized building system incorporates construction techniques that use advanced technology, quality materials and a controlled work environment to build energy-efficient homes in less time.

Each panelized building system begins by constructing the home’s essential structural components in a climate-controlled facility. Skilled craftsmen guide wall sections from the raw material stage to completed panels before carefully loading them onto a truck for delivery to a home site.

Panelization styles are available to fit the customer’s needs and budget, with endless options for customization. With computer-assisted design programs, designers and engineers can turn just about any idea into a working blueprint. The home plans can be sent directly from a designer’s computer to the panelization shop floor, ensuring the home is built accurately and efficiently.

Home panels can be engineered and fabricated in a manufacturing plant in just a few days before being shipped to the home site. Once at the home site, the shell of a panelized home can be erected and made weather-tight in a matter of days. Delays due to weather, material delivery and subcontractor schedules — often unavoidable in stick-built construction — are much less a problem with panelized home construction. These potentially costly hold-ups are reduced or outright eliminated.

State-of-the-art technology produces panels that are engineered to the highest quality, ensuring each home is built precisely square and dimensionally correct. Additionally, each worker in a panelized facility has been trained to do a particular job and is an expert in that specialized aspect of home construction. Plus, home panels are built to meet local building code before they even leave the manufacturing facility, even if an area requires special features for high winds, floods, or other considerations.

Panelized building is an inherently green way to build, and is recognized in several green building certifications, including the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard. Factory assembly means reduced construction material waste, less jobsite disturbance, and easier cleanup.

The precision construction of panelized homes makes them known for increased energy efficiency and lower heating and cooling costs. And since most panelized homes are weather-tight in a matter of days, your new home is kept safer and dryer, reducing the probability of warping, mold, mildew, and squeaking that adverse weather may cause in traditionally built homes.

ACTS CSI specializes in manufactured panelized building systems with complete design and engineering of trusses, floor and roof systems, and wall panels. For more information, please contact us at 877.444.0880.

Why Buy Sustainable Food
March 19, 2016

Here are 7 great reasons to buy sustainable food.

#1 Help protect the environment
Sustainable farming produces food that does not harm the environment. Industrial crop farming, including crops used for animal feed, are dependent on chemical fertilizers known to cause long-term depletion of organic matter, soil compaction and degradation of overall soil quality. Mono-cropping, using land for growing only one type of crop, not only reduces the genetic diversity of plants, but also makes plants more susceptible to disease, creating the potential for pests to easily destroy an entire crop. Industrial agriculture also consumes are quantities of fossil fuels due to the heavy use of synthetic fertilizer.

#2 Promote personal health
Sustainable farming focuses on growing food that is healthy for consumers. Industrially raised food is grown with many pesticides and chemicals and is processed with additives and preservatives. These toxins have been linked to a range of diseases and disorders including infertility and birth defects, and can potentially create damage to the nervous system and cause cancer.

#3 Save family farms: By eating sustainably, you’re supporting a true American tradition – the small, independent family farmer. Many farms will cease production because farming isn’t economically feasible for the younger generation. If this continues, the US will lose its food security and have to rely on industrial agriculture and more food imports from other countries.

#4 Promote public health
By supporting sustainable producers, consumers are promoting farming practices that do not endanger public health.   Industrial agriculture involves heavy use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers that pollute the water, air and soil near industrial farms and can travel large distances causing problems such as the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

#5 Support and protect rural communities
Sustainable farms are an integral part of the local economy, creating new jobs and investing in the community.

#6 Empower and protect workers
Employees on sustainable farms are paid a fair wage, treated with respect and protected from unnecessary dangers.

#7 It tastes better
Sustainable and fresh food tastes delicious because it is not polluted with preservatives. Not so long ago herbs and spices and sugar were used to enhance the flavor in our food. But in recent decades, consumers’ taste buds have been corrupted through the use of chemicals and corn syrup to fill that role.

ACTS CSI partners with Freedom Farms of America to promote advanced agricultural technologies and strategies. This partnership seeks to empower US military service men and women and retired and combat veterans by affording them opportunities to embark in a rewarding career utilizing state-of-the-art hydroponic growing strategies, supported by comprehensive education, training, and mentoring programs. In doing so, we hope to foster the next generation of America’s farmers and provide greater consumer access to sustainable and locally-sourced food.   For more information, please visit actsffa.com

FEMA Plans for Mega Natural Disaster in US Northwest
February 11, 2016

Just north of the San Andreas lies a fault line known as the Cascadia subduction zone. It runs for 700 miles off the coast of the Pacific Northwest, beginning near Cape Mendocino, California, continuing along Oregon and Washington, and terminating around Vancouver Island, Canada.

Scientists and FEMA are all preparing for a huge earthquake where the magnitude will be somewhere between 8.7 and 9.2 followed by a huge Tsunami. In this exercise, when the next very big earthquake hits, the northwest edge of the continent, from California to Canada and the continental shelf to the Cascades, will drop by as much as 6 feet and rebound 30 to a 100 feet to the west—losing, within minutes, all the elevation and compression it has gained over centuries. Some of that shift will take place beneath the ocean, displacing a colossal quantity of seawater. The water will surge upward into a huge hill, then promptly collapse. One side will rush west, toward Japan. The other side will rush east, in a seven-hundred-mile liquid wall that will reach the Northwest coast, on average,15 minutes after the earthquake begins. By the time the shaking has ceased and the tsunami has receded, the region will be unrecognizable.

In this exercise, FEMA has outlined some of what they expect to happen:

  • FEMA expects to co-ordinate search-and-rescue operations across a 100,000 square miles and in the waters off 453 miles of coastline. As for casualties: the figures cited earlier—27,000 injured, almost 13,000 dead—are based on the agency’s official planning scenario, which has the earthquake striking at 9:41 A.M. during winter months. If, instead, it strikes in the summer, when the beaches are full, those numbers could be off by a horrifying margin.
  • How much all this will cost is anyone’s guess; FEMA puts every number on its relief-and-recovery plan except a price. But whatever the ultimate figure—and even though U.S. taxpayers will cover 75-100% of the damage, as happens in declared disasters—the economy of the Pacific Northwest will collapse. Crippled by a lack of basic services, businesses will fail or move away. Many residents will flee as well. In this scenario, Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission (OSSPAC) predicts a mass-displacement event and a long-term population downturn.
  • FEMA calculates that, across the region, an estimated 1M buildings, more than 3,000 of them schools, will collapse or be compromised in the earthquake. So will 1/2 of all highway bridges, 15 of the 17 bridges spanning Portland’s two rivers, and 2/3 of railways and airports; also, 1/3 of all fire stations, 1/2 of all police stations, and 2/3 of all hospitals.

Scientists know that the odds of the big Cascadia earthquake happening in the next 50 years are roughly 1 in 3. The odds of the very big one are roughly 1 in ten. Even those numbers do not fully reflect the danger, or, more to the point, how unprepared the Pacific Northwest is to face it. The truly worrisome figures in this story are these: 30 years ago, no one knew that the Cascadia subduction zone had ever produced a major earthquake, 45 years ago, no one even knew it existed.

NOTE: FEMA participates in exercises—scenarios designed to recreate realistic potential events that include not only FEMA personnel, but their federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial partners as well. For more information, visit fema.gov “Preparing for the BIG One”.

Hydroponic or Organic – Is there a difference
January 10, 2016

While many people believe hydroponic and organic growing is the same – there are definite differences. The biggest difference is the fertilizers that are used.   In both systems, plants absorb dissolved minerals through their roots and convert it through photosynthesis. Both plant growths achieve the same results: safe, nutritious vegetables that are not contaminated by pesticides or herbicides.

Let’s look at the differences between Hydroponic and Organic growing:

  1. Hydroponics uses fertilizers that are mined out of the ground and can be dissolved in water – organics use fertilizers made from a living source (such as manure, fish emulsion or blood meal) and introduced into the soil.
  2. Hydroponics feed the plants directly – organics feed the soil.
  3. Hydroponics uses clean water – organics use rain water and other available irrigation water.
  4. Hydroponic plants are fed nutrients directly to the roots – organics create root mass to search out the necessary nutrients in the soil.
  5. Hydroponics uses 1/10th of the amount of water that organic soil growing uses.
  6. Hydroponics is soilless – organics require a nutrient rich soil.
  7. Hydroponic plants are grown in a controlled environment – an organic environment is exposed to environmental conditions (insects, animals, rain, wind, storms).
  8. Hydroponic produce is clean as is does not come in contact with soil, birds, insects, and animals – organics may have environmental and animal surface residue and require washing.

ACTS Freedom Farms holds to the idea that Hydroponically grown is the best growing method because clean food is better food. Hydroponically grown fruits, vegetables and herbs can currently be USDA organic certified as long as they meet all of the requirements of the program.

For more information on ACTS Freedom Farms of America commercial hydroponic growing, call 877.290.6010

Haiti’s rapidly growing orphan population
December 15, 2015

January 12, 2016 marks 6 years since a catastrophic earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.3, struck Haiti. The biggest earthquake the region had recorded in 200 years, left more than 1.6 million people homeless, and resulted in an immense humanitarian crisis. Shattering Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, and neighboring cities, more than 230,000 were killed and nearly 400,000 homes and 5,000 schools destroyed or damaged.

Many relief and humanitarian organizations serve the needs of some of Haiti’s poorest children and families. Still reeling from the devastating earthquake of January 2010, Haiti is a dangerous place for children. With 500,000 children living in camps and many others living in slums, all lacking the protection of social and police services, children are under continued threat of exploitation and abuse.

ACTS CSI is currently working with The Torch organization to devise a plan to create much needed shelter for Haiti’s growing orphan population. Plans are to design our lightweight panelized transportable structures in such a way that creates safe and secure places for orphan children to sleep at night, which then doubles as an educational center to house a school for daytime activities.

Locations for ACTS CSI portable structures in Haiti call for deployment in hard to reach environments such as mountain top areas accessible only by helicopter. Configurations for open space post and beam 20′ x 40′ units are easily erected in just a few hours. Structures are made with CerarMix technologies and offer the highest performance rating in durability, UV reflection and thermal barrier protection available in the market today.

For more information on how ACTS CSI can assist you with your next project using CerarMix transportable structures, please call 877.444.0880.

Egypt’s poorest need housing
November 18, 2015

Every year, Egypt needs to build about 300,000 new homes for newly formed households. At the moment, it also needs 254,000 more to catch up with a housing backlog that’s accumulated over the past five years.

For decades, the housing sector in Egypt has suffered from the piecemeal approach taken to it, and an overall lack of coordination in housing projects. The country has also lacked a comprehensive, long-term housing policy to give housing programs official guidance and make sure they cater to the needs of different parts of society. Most programs targeting low-income households used to operate in isolation, allowing room for corruption and fraud.

The Egyptian government is now launching a project with a US$500 million World Bank loan to continue to improve both homeownership and rentals for low-income households. The project will work on opening up housing for Egypt’s lowest income groups, particularly young people, and improving their access to services and jobs. This operation has a pro-poor dimension, with the total number of beneficiaries who live below the Household Poverty Line expected to reach 1.6 million individuals.

This new Inclusive Housing Finance Program offers support to low-income households to help them get housing or housing finance. It is expected to reach 3.6 million people, including many in the first to sixth income deciles, and generate an estimated 1.5 million temporary construction jobs over a 5-year period, the life of the project.

ACTS CSI is currently planning to introduce the features and benefits of its CerarMix transportable structures to various government officials in the first quarter of 2016 in an effort to assist in providing a more immediate solution to Egypt’s housing crisis.

For more information on the features and benefits of CerarMix panelized building systems and transportable structures, please call 877.444.0880

Rural America Needs Affordable Housing
October 4, 2015

Families who pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing are considered cost burdened and may have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care. An estimated 12 million renter and homeowner households now pay more than 50 percent of their annual incomes for housing. A family with one full-time worker earning the minimum wage cannot afford the local fair-market rent for a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the United States.

The cost of living tends to be cheaper in rural areas, but rural Americans are facing an affordable housing crisis. Although housing is cheaper in rural communities, income is lower due to limited job opportunities.  According to 2012 data from the Housing Assistance Council, the poverty rate in rural America is 17%, compared to the national poverty rate of 14%.

At the same time, the available housing stock is deteriorating, with many rural homeowners unable to afford the cost of repairs. And developers interested in building new homes often face infrastructure hurdles, such as a lack of access to water and sewer lines, which further reduces rural Americans’ access to quality affordable homes.

These problems have been compounded by the recent decline in federal aid to rural areas.  For example, the budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 502 Direct Loan Program—which provides mortgages and home improvement loans for very low-income rural Americans—has been reduced from $2.1 billion in 2010 to $828 million in 2013.

In an effort to address the rural housing shortage, ACTS CSI is currently partnering with residential land developers who have made it a priority to serve rural communities.  As a result of these partnerships, ACTS CSI will provide panelized building systems, using CerarMix technologies to create single-family and multi-family units that are not only affordable, but provide low- maintenance and energy-efficient housing solutions specifically in the rural areas of the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

USDA Looks to Veterans as Future Farmers of America
September 16, 2015

The average US farmer or rancher is 58 years old, and many of them will soon retire within the next decade. Most of these farmers don’t have a succession plan for their business or land, and that lack of planning makes farmland more vulnerable to development, and small-scale family farms easier for corporations to gobble up. That’s why the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is calling for at least 100,000 new farmers in the coming years.

The USDA hopes to develop this workforce by attracting military personnel to farming. Last November, at an inaugural conference in Iowa for groups assisting veterans interested in agriculture, USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden named former Marine Corps Reservist Karis Gutter as the military veterans agricultural liaison. Gutter’s job is to connect veterans to vocational farming programs and assist them in using federal education benefits to pursue this profession.

This follows the 2014 Farm Bill, which for the first time recognized veterans as a distinct class of “beginning” farmers and ranchers—those with operations under 10 years old. This allows the group to receive additional government assistance for agricultural programs.

Vets on farms are good for U.S. agriculture, but perhaps more important, this provides a way for servicemen and women to assimilate back into society and find meaningful employment. There are about 22 million veterans in the States today. Many face physical and psychological barriers adjusting to civilian life after living through violent conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere.

ACTS CSI embraces idea that engaging veterans in agricultural work can provide a solution to the challenges vets face by providing these men and women with viable careers and a new purpose in life once they leave the military.

Covered Cropping
August 18, 2015

While the technology to produce crops hydroponically — in soilless substrates and using nutrient-rich solutions that go directly to the plant roots — has been around for a long time, its usage has been more novel than practical.

That, however, is changing.  Health-conscious consumers with increasingly sophisticated tastes are prompting more farmers to consider, or reconsider, hydroponics or covered cropping to grow an increasingly diverse number of organic vegetables.  This appears to be particularly true in the southern states and locations near large population centers, such as Orlando, Fla.

There are a number of advantages to covered cropping including less use of pesticides, protection from the elements and significantly more control over the environment and crop yields.  Covered cropping for hydroponic production includes high and low tunnels, vented greenhouses, as well as the use of cooling pads and shade cloths during the heat of summer.

Once a niche trend dominated primarily by indoor pot growers, hydroponics  is finally breaching the mainstream.  Its proponents promise that it will change the future of American agriculture. The increase in hydroponic production reflects an upward trend in hydroponic production in this country and internationally. Most of this growth has occurred in the past five years. 

As consumers become increasingly aware of where their food comes from and how it’s grown, it seems that we could be entering a new era of hydroponics.  ACTS CSI is embracing hydroponics as a solution not only for food production, but as a job creation strategy for Veterans.  Using joint venture partnerships, ACTS CSI plans to use hydroponics in its “live-work” veteran agricultural communities known as ACTS Freedom Farms.  

Biggest Challenges Facing Returning Veterans
July 6, 2015

As the U.S. military scales back engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, counter-terrorism operations abroad still continue, as do other military commitments. Many of our military personnel are faced with the challenge of managing personal financial commitments here at home while performing their duties abroad. These unique financial challenges facing active duty military, veterans and military families will continue for the foreseeable future.

When they leave the service, many veterans face serious financial problems. The drawdown of U.S. troops will bring an expected 496,000 veterans home over the next three years. With the impact of federal budget cuts, hiring freezes, extended deployments and constant relocations for civilian jobs, thousands of service members may return home to unemployment.

It is estimated that approximately 28 % of mortgages held by financial institutions are held by service members. Additionally, the Department of Defense’s (DOD) 2012 Status of Forces Survey indicated that approximately 30 % of active duty military members made mortgage payments. For reservists, DOD’s most recent survey of homeownership in June 2009 indicated that 53 % of reservists made mortgage payments.

One of the biggest challenges for all homeowners is unemployment. Service members and veterans face this challenge as well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2013 there were approximately 722,000 unemployed veterans, the majority over the age of 45. Unemployment among veterans currently ranges from as low as 3.3 % in Delaware to as high as 10.8 % in New Jersey. The unemployment rate for all veterans is 6.3 % as of May 2014.

Many other factors can prevent veterans and their families from finding a suitable home in an area they can afford. Even for those veterans who are fortunate enough to return home with a roof over their heads, the dream of homeownership can often remain elusive. Additional factors exacerbating service members’ transition to civilian life include the need to live within reasonable proximity to medical, rehabilitative and mental health services, as well as public utilities and services for the disabled.

Motivated by a patriotic obligation, and the desire to become a part of a long-term solution to assist veterans with the challenges of acquiring a home and employment, ACTS CSI has partnered with Freedom Farms of America (FFA). Freedom Farms of America will utilize CerarMix Panelized Building Systems to provide veterans with a unique homeownership program that also includes opportunities for employment in live-work agricultural communities. FFA’s first veteran owned community, Cypress Creek Farms is scheduled for ground-breaking in late 2015 in southeastern, MS. For more information, please visit www.cypresscreekffa.com.

Panelized Building…A Pretty Cool Technology
June 15, 2015
Despite the building industry’s best efforts, construction remains a wasteful business. Did you know that the US generates 136 million tons of construction and demolition debris annually? To combat this problem, many experts believe that a large portion of such waste can be reduced by using panelized construction.

Panelization is a catch-all term that includes many techniques and systems, but it generally refers to a construction method where housing components such as roof, wall or floor sections are prefabricated in a climate-controlled facility before being shipped to a job site.

From a resource conservation and labor perspective, panels are exceptional. Panelization also provides more consistent quality; offers precise construction; results in a stronger structure; and reduces construction time. Factory-made trusses and joists may be the most common forms of panelized components, but recently there is a call for more panelization to reduce waste, increase construction efficiency and produce better structures.

Rising energy prices and the green movement have made panelized building technologies more appealing and popular than ever. Panelized building gives architects and builders an easy way to create an airtight building envelope that will improve the energy efficiency and durability of any home or light commercial building.

CerarMix panelized building systems are easy for architects to incorporate into their work. Architects love precision and they love to play with longer spans, and CerarMix panels are the next generation of panelization that addresses both. CerarMix panels translate into a buildable format that are true and straight and they support heavier loads. For more information on CerarMix Panelized Building Systems call 877.444.0880
Smell The Humanity – Taste The Humidity
May 1, 2015
Across the country, thousands of students go to school in “portable classrooms.” There are an estimated 385,000 of these modular buildings. These prefab structures are the go-to quick fix when school populations surpass a school’s capacity. Compared to permanent school buildings, portables are about a third of the cost to construct. And they only take a few of days to install, compared to the many months it takes to build brick-and-mortar schools.

Many of these “temporary” structures are still around. And critics say they’re not the places for students to learn. The Federal Environmental Protection Agency says portable classrooms can have poor ventilation, inadequate lighting and contain building materials that can release harmful chemicals. Some of them smell really bad, and it sets a tone. Many of these classrooms also lack running water and restrooms, and some research suggests that going to class in portables makes it harder for students to learn.

In Washington State, authorities are monitoring CO2 levels found in portable classrooms. High CO2 levels indicate that students are breathing in too much of their own exhaust, taking in germs from coughs and sneezes that hang in the air, along with dust, allergens and the chemicals in building materials. In some cases, monitoring found CO2 levels in portables higher than in regular school buildings that can negatively affect students. If carbon dioxide levels are high, they impact student performance. And officials recognize with statistically significant results, that as CO2 goes up, so does absenteeism. And it’s notable that it’s a little worse in portables.

Despite problems with indoor air quality, school districts are buying more portables every year and keeping these temporary buildings in use well beyond their life expectancy. In the Puyallup School District, Washington, for example, portables make up 20 percent of the classrooms. That’s four times the national average. With more students on the way, the problem is only getting worse.

It’s well documented that buying a portable classroom is significantly cheaper than building a new school, but portables cost more to maintain as they get older, and as freestanding buildings, they’re more expensive to heat and cool and less energy efficient than newer buildings.

But if you ask students, the problems with portables extend beyond air quality issues, energy inefficiency or lack of running water to something deeper. Simply put, more than a few children are sick of studying in portables. Many students feel as though going to school in a portable makes them feel like second class citizens.

Temporary Portable Classrooms need a sustainable makeover.

ACTS CSI’s CerarMix structures are designed to alleviate many of the problems associated with traditional temporary classroom portables. Besides design flexibility that offers sustainable vertical construction options that rival traditional brick and mortar buildings, CerarMix structures are environmentally safe both inside and out. CerarMix structures are durable, long-lasting, maintenance-free and offer attractive cost-effective solutions for school districts that need to increase student capacity, and fast..
Ending Homelessness – Breaking The Cycle
April 16, 2015
While billions of taxpayer dollars are allocated each year to support shelters and social service initiatives, homelessness remains a persistent problem in the U.S. In 2013, an estimated 610,000 people slept without shelter every night, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Advocates contend that not enough effort is made to break the cycle of homelessness, while too much money is spent on punishing behavior related to it. A 2011 report published by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty says local governments routinely criminalize activities that go hand-in-hand with living on the street, such as sleeping in public spaces and loitering. Incarceration costs taxpayers $34,480 per inmate per year, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

“Homeless people spend excessive time in jail or prison, often for petty offenses such as loitering,” stated a 2011 Utah government report. “The penal system frequently serves as emergency shelter for the chronically homeless, at far greater cost than other more appropriate options.”

Historically, measures that offer temporary respite from homelessness have often failed, because the problems that cause it – poverty, addiction, mental and/or physical illness – are often chronic. But recent evidence shows that access to social services combined with the safety and security of a permanent home can be effective in breaking the cycle of chronic homelessness.

For instance, Utah’s Housing First program, which gives free, permanent “no strings attached” apartments to the chronically homeless, claims to be on track to eradicate the problem. The 8-year pilot program, which costs $11,000 per apartment annually, has a reported 74 percent success rate.

In Austin, Texas, a village of 200 tiny houses is being built for the homeless. In upstate New York, Rochester Greenovation has designed a prototype for small-scale individualized shelters. Homeless No More Survival Pods have been built in Utah, micro-pods in Florida, miniature homes in Wisconsin and mini mobile houses in California.

Advocates tackling the nation’s homeless problem are thinking small.

ACTS CSI’s transportable structures offer an attractive cost-effective solutions to attack the homeless problem in the US. Basic structure design is durable and long-lasting, moveable, easy to erect, environmentally safe, offer options for bath and lighting fixtures, while providing reliable security. And CerarMix structures are available in desired sizes and configurations. Whatever the need, CerarMix structures can be designed for use as individualized shelters in any environment.
Russia Launches Aluminum Hopper Car
March 17, 2015
Hopper cars designed to carry grain and bulk cargo are in need of protection from precipitation. Russia has produced its first test hopper car with a body of high-strength aluminum alloy designed for such a purpose.

The aluminum used in the hopper car body is made with a lower density than steel, which significantly reduces the weight of the vehicles. However, the strength characteristics of the construction are reported to remain at a high level. Compared with competing products, aluminum offers higher corrosion resistance. Food products can be hauled without drawing on a body of additional protective coatings. Aluminum has a high residual value for recycling and sustainability. Other factors driving interest in this new generation of car is its reliability, energy efficiency and high quality performance at a fixed term of 30 years.

Alcoa Russia believes introducing aluminum solutions is an important step in the development of modern technology that will open up significant opportunities for Russian car building and the entire rail industry. Plans are to mass produce high-strength aluminum hopper cars to meet the needs and expectations of the train operators of both Russia and neighboring countries. The market needs new and effective solutions. And Alcoa Russia believes their new hopper car offers competitive advantages that will help to promote the establishment of innovative technical and environmental standards in the rail industry, as well as the commercial vehicle market as a whole.

Whether the US rail car industry will embrace this new generation rail car remains to be seen. The enormity of the US fleet of cars and the backlog of orders for new car manufacturers is well past 5 to 7 years representing billions of dollars are huge factors to be considered. ACTS CSI recognizes these factors and proposes a plan that utilizes the existing inventory currently in operation. Rather than purchasing new aluminum cars and developing a new fleet that will take tens of years, a much more economically feasible solution is available using CerarMix technology. Simply put, ACTS CSI offers a more attractive time frame utilizing a CerarMix coating process that will accomplish benefits that meet or exceed those suggested by Alcoa Russia.
Marine Coatings Market
February 18, 2015
The marine coatings market comprises not just antifouling coatings for vessels, but also protective coatings for offshore structures such as oil rigs. There is great potential for growth in this diverse market.

According to a study by Frost and Sullivan, despite the recent global economic downturn, favorable long-term industrial trends should help the North American market grow to $2.40 billion by 2017, with a market revenue Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 3.4%. The European market is set to grow to $2.72 billion, with a CAGR of 2.6%.

There are several factors contributing to growth in the marine coatings market. One major factor is the recent growth of the global fleet and the subsequent need for dry docking. And the industry focus remains clearly on decreasing the total cost of vessel operation and improving the fuel efficiency of existing and new vessels.

There is no doubt that environmental regulations are a key driver for the marine coatings industry. Coatings formulators need to reduce solvent content to comply with increasingly strict environmental regulations. This is particularly true when it comes to the restriction in use of certain biocides and the push toward low or no Volatile Organic Compound (VOC)products.

ACTS CSI is aware of the demands these regulations place on the marine coatings products. We understand the need for non-biocidal and low VOC products. We formulate our CerarMix products with these regulations in mind. We also understand that these changes represent a significant opportunity for CerarMix to become the “go-to” resource. CerarMix is compliant with environmental regulations and ACTS CSI is prepared for the future. We are ahead of the curve with CerarMix which is ahead of the legislative curve. We constantly follow the environmental regulations and we are poised to meet both present and future market demands, while addressing both the environmental and performance challenges.
Corrosion Protection
January 16, 2015
Experiencing corrosion? Don’t know how it’s forming? Or how to prevent it? The answer may be beyond the substrate material. Corrosion protection will vary among industrial coatings and each can have unique strengths. When a surface is attacked, it is a chemical (or electrochemical) reaction occurring between the surface and the environment…And the effects on surface properties or performance are negative.

Common corrosion manifestations:
  • Pitting — Is a localized form. Often difficult to detect, this type is considered more dangerous to design against. Pitting is initiated by local chemical or mechanical damage of protective oxide films or non metallic inclusions.
  • Fretting — Visible through pits, grooves, or debris relating to oxidation, occurring at the asperities or “peaks” of contact surfaces. An example is vibration, which is the result of load in the presence of repeated relative motion.
  • Uniform — Manifested by equal measurable material loss over a larger surface area, which continues until failure.
  • Galvanic — Seen by pits, holes, or local oxidation products, the result of dissimilar metal. Here, one metal corrodes faster than it would alone, while the second corrodes slower than it would alone.
Other forms of corrosion, including intergranular, exfoliation, stress, and hydrogen e mbrittlement, can also result in localized cracking, severe loss in ductility, and increased residual tensile stresses.

Choosing industrial corrosion resistant coatings:

What is the corrosive medium… liquid? What is the service temperature? Can you define the corrosive strength or time of exposure? A vapor? Both? Under pressure? Indoor or Outdoors?
  • Consider surface porosity. Also known as pin holes or holidays, those microscopic voids allow penetration of corrosives, down to the base metal. Resistance to permeation matters.
  • Are there moving, mechanical parts? Take away the substrate’s ability to form corrosive products and the coating life can be extended dramatically.
  • Be sure there are no quality issues after applying the coating, consider the simple “wet sponge” or “high pot” (potential) test to reveal bare metal.
At ACTS CSI, we’re here to help you. Our trained experts will perform a coating evaluation to aid you in determining the best method of eliminating corrosion on your project.
What You Should Know – Ceramic Coatings
December 10, 2014
Generally speaking, ceramics are defined as non-metallic, inorganic materials. Hardness and thermal insulation are commonly recognized properties. Chosen correctly, it’s true: Ceramic coatings can resist wear, insulate from heat, even promise dimensional and chemical stability. Carbides, Oxides, Nitrides, Borides. When do you use them? How do you choose? Especially when physical, chemical and mechanical properties vary among them. It’s no different than selecting a metal or polymer coating, the answer is simple:

Understand the environment

For example…
  • Base material properties subject to plastic deformation or cyclic stress can lead to fracture. Even if you have polished and allowed for more “friendly” flat-to-flat contact between surfaces.
  • Thermal cycles, too, can affect fatigue strength. So, be sure your design allows for heat liberation by the counter-face, or other transfer path.
Generally, the harder materials are carbide-based. Followed by oxides, known mostly for their low thermal conductivity. And nitrides, used for their chemical stability and surface compatibility in motion, rubbing against other materials.

Identify your current failure mode

Is it adhesive wear? If higher contacting pressures present no issue, choose the harder material. For abrasive or erosive wear, consider critical (shear) angle, ceramic hardness, and toughness of the substrate material. Size and shape of the abrasive impingement, too, can affect contact load, and whether burring or deformation occurs.

For tri-bological needs, it’s also about lower friction. Materials of a carbonaceous nature can be ideal.

Just know your base material choice is equally important. Metallurgy, hardness, toughness and thermal stability can all help shape the success of the chosen ceramic coating.

Want to explore the world of ceramic coatings, then go with the most innovative and technologically advanced product in the marketplace today…Contact ACTS CSI…Home of CerarMix Technologies.
Professional Motorsport Looking for New Technology
November 16, 2014
Race Engineers who previously had to rely on multiple products to protect heat-sensitive parts and surfaces from different forms of heat damage are looking at various types of ceramic coatings to protect racing assets in high temperature applications.

Ceramic coatings have generated significant interest in professional motorsport now that decision-makers are more aware of the “double protection” at ” half the weight” potential of these commercially affordable products. Just a170 microns coating can provide significant surface temperature reductions. A potential application around the cockpit in endurance racing cars could lower the need for power sapping air conditioning during races.

Thanks to its unique combination of ceramic, polymers, and other organic materials, CerarMix in both C-1 and CR-1 formulas provide protection from both conductive and radiant heat sources with a tested and proven 98% reflectivity. CerarMix offers added benefits that protect components against the effects of heat, wear, abrasion and corrosion.

ACTS CSI’s CerarMix technologies can be applied to a broad range of different materials including metals and composites. CerarMix technology is becoming a trusted resource for car manufacturers, industrial users, car enthusiasts and an increasing range of other applications to effectively manage heat and wear, enhancing performance and reliability, and CerarMix offers, for the first time, a truly flexible ceramic coating that outperforms and outlasts the competition.
Aging Water Infrastructure
October 8, 2014
On the morning of December 23, 2008, drivers in suburban Maryland were confronted with a torrent of water rushing down River Road. Somewhere beneath the pavement, a 66-inch water main ruptured, allowing some 150,000 gallons per minute to cascade onto the road in standing waves three to four feet high. Rescue crews launched from boat, fire engine, and helicopter were able to rescue all stranded motorists and their passengers. Luckily no one was hurt.

Following a four-month forensic investigation, The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission determined the cause of the water main break could be traced back to its original installation in 1965. At 43 years of age, the pipe lurking beneath River Road was relatively young compared to many still in use in areas of the country that are easily twice that age, or older. The nation’s water infrastructure—the pipes, treatment plants and other critical components that deliver drinking water and remove and treat waste water—is aging.

6 years later, age and deterioration are continuing to take its toll. Every year across the country, there are approximately 240,000 water main breaks. As many as 75,000 yearly sanitary sewer overflows discharge 3 to 10 billion gallons of untreated wastewater, leading to some 5,500 illnesses due to exposures to contaminated recreational waters.

In an EPA report, Clean Water and Drinking Water Infrastructure Gap Analysis (PDF) , a comprehensive assessment of the difference between needs and spending on the nation’s water infrastructure, identifies a potential $500 billion gap in funding by the year 2020, in large part due to aging.

ACTS CSI’s offers innovative solutions to address the challenges of aging water infrastructures by reducing the cost to rehabilitate, restore, and increase the effectiveness of existing or new infrastructure through the use of CerarMix high-performance and long-lasting structural coatings.
Proposed Oil Tank Car Rules
September 10, 2014
Prompted by concerns heightened by several recent high profile train derailments and accidents, coupled with the boom in the number of oil-carrying trains, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), has proposed new rules aimed at addressing the perceived risks posed by the increase in rail transportation of crude oil. (See 79 Fed. 45,016 Aug. 1, 2014)

Crude oil is highly volatile and production is skyrocketing, up from 9,500 rail car loads in 2008 to 415,000 last year, a 4,000+% increase. The PHMA is seeking to require the phase-out of tens of thousands of tank cars now in high-hazard flammable train service within as little at 2 years, unless they are retrofitted to meet new safety standards.

In light of these proposed new rules, manufacturers have already received a record number of orders for the “New Tank Car of the Future” reported to be in the multi-billions of dollars. This boom in new tank car orders has resulted in a substantial back log. For existing tank cars scheduled for retrofitting,the proposed wait list is currently up to 7 years.

ACTS CSI is keenly aware of the opportunities presented with these new rules affecting DOT 11 rail tank cars. CerarMix coating technologies offers a cost-effective way to retrofit existing tank cars saving owners hefty replacement costs and returning these high value assets into service. Retrofitting tank cars using CerarMix will not only save money, but the high-performance and durability of CerarMix technology addresses primary concerns within the railcar industry relating to fire/heat control, leakage, environmental safety, and quick turn-around time.
FEMA States Over 50% of U.S. at Risk
August 18, 2014
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, over one half of the United States is subject to damaging winds and tornados. The safest place during a tornado is in a storm shelter.

FEMA Facts:
  • Damage paths from tornadoes can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long.
  • Tornadoes can accompany hurricanes and tropical storms as they move onto land.
  • Tornadoes are more likely to occur between 3 pm and 9 pm.
FEMA’s post storm inspection of hundreds of homes in more than 90 towns and cities struck by severe weather storms revealed that storm shelters afford “near absolute protection against a 250 mph tornado. FEMA concluded that the 250 mph wind zone rating covers 99.7% of all tornadoes that have been studied in the last 50 years.

FEMA 320 & 361 Extreme Wind guidelines for safe room design and construction states: Shelters designed and constructed in accordance with the guidance presented provide “near absolute protection” from extreme-wind events. Near-absolute protection means that, based on our knowledge of tornadoes and hurricanes, the occupants of a shelter built according to this guidance will be protected from injury or death. The term “safe room” applies to all shelters, buildings, or spaces designed to the FEMA criteria whether for individuals, residences, small businesses, schools, or communities).

To accommodate the pressing need for alternative, cost-effective, high-performance, low-maintenance “safe room” designs, ACTS CSI is unveiling newly engineered “above” and “below” ground severe weather storm shelters using CerarMix technologies. Shelters will offer similar features and benefits uniquely associated with CerarMix transportable structures.
July EPA Regulations
July 24, 2014
ACTS CSI is aware of the new EPA regulations effective July, 1, 2014, with regard to the federal mandate to lower bacteria and pathogens in the water and sewer systems of cities throughout the United States. It appears the cheapest alternative to satisfy the mandate is increased amounts of chlorine mechanically introduced into the water to lower the bacteria count.

The increased chlorine levels are causing greater chloride attacks which are deteriorating even stainless steel tanks, as well as the surrounding basic concrete infrastructure of the the facilities. CerarMix coatings are currently being tested for the increase in use of chlorine, and initial results appear to show resistance to the corrosion for both stainless steel and concrete. More to be posted upon completion of testing.
Rehabbing Deteriorated Manholes
July 14, 2014
CerarMix is currently being used in several projects rehabbing deteriorated manholes for municipal, state, and industrial use. Operation of the patented AlphaSpray plasma spraying system and application of the formulated polymer metallic-ceramic, Cerarmix, coating are being done by CerarMix-certified contractors.
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