Crickhowell: Welsh town moves ‘offshore’ to avoid tax on local business

This is a brilliant story. It’s fun reading and the principle should be used by any other shop owner in the UK. If you’re in the UK and are a small business owner, you have to go here:

When independent traders in a small Welsh town discovered the loopholes used by multinational giants to avoid paying UK tax, they didn’t just get mad. Now local businesses in Crickhowell are turning the tables on the likes of Google and Starbucks by employing the same accountancy practices used by the world’s biggest companies, to move their entire town “offshore”.

Source: Crickhowell: Welsh town moves ‘offshore’ to avoid tax on local business

Smart Homes – dump devices and people in between

I am a technology geek, always been. I had IT in school when I was 11 and I am not talking about using some device, I mean real IT. We wrote programmes. I hacked school servers (in a friendly way) back in high school. School staff did not have much of a clue those days, they were hobbyists. I was actually to study IT at uni, however I was not smart enough for math so failed my studies within the first semester. I was bored in IT classes and overly challenged in math classes. Anyway, this is how I ended up studying architecture and becoming an architect. Still use a lot of IT every day.

Back in the good old days, everything was tied to cables, there was no wireless and no one had a cell phone. Now almost everything is wireless – cell phones, tables, computers. Telephones too, bluetooth mice and keyboards, bluetooth speakers and the list goes on. Everyone is operating a wireless home network. And so do councils for the public or various mobile service providers aka spark, vodafone, … Continue reading

Bay of Plenty gets New Zealand’s first ‘perfect 10’ Homestar house

A home under construction in Papamoa has just become the first in the country to achieve the highest possible rating of 10 Homestar. [..]

While I always like great sustainable buildings, I am also very careful with achievements vs. cost. After all, economics are part of sustainability as well but let’s not go into too much debate about this now.

The 230 sqm showhome in Palm Springs, Papamoa is due for completion in July 2015. [..] “We have calculated our 10 Homestar home would save the average four-person Tauranga family $3,198.68 per year. [..]

The 10 Homestar design home will be priced around $785,000 when marketed.[..]

Source: Bay of Plenty gets New Zealand’s first ‘perfect 10’ Homestar house

That would be more than 3,400$/m2, a rather solid price at the time when many young Aucklanders struggle to buy their first home. Likewise they struggle to find anything to rent that does not resemble a shed. The ones who already have a house which they call their own are the lucky ones. Unfortunately sustainability seem to be for the upper classes.

We still struggle to deliver good and affordable houses in New Zealand, particularly in Auckland.


How we design

Again and again I am astonished as to how long it takes for a great idea for a design until it becomes mainstream. I am thinking of things like the EV1, hybrid cars and electric cars, but also great things like CalDAV. It likewise amazes me how we design things on a daily basis, the things that are not the great inventions but just things like buildings and infrastructure. Continue reading

Net-zero INhouse boasts water-smart solutions essential for parched California | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

Why distributed workforces will win, by Keith Valory, Plex

In Silicon Valley and beyond, there are still many advocates of the idea that teams have to work in the same physical place to reach their fullest potential. Remember the uproar when Yahoo banned working from home? Well, I work with a distributed workforce of more than 70 high-tech professionals spread across more than 20 countries, and I can say unequivocally that this is by far the most productive, fun, and tight-knit group I have ever worked with — and I have worked for some great companies.

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Establishing a feed-in tariff for electricity | TOKO Petitions

I sometimes do not agree with what Greenpeace are trying to do, like the one below:

We petition the NZ Government to establish a feed-in tariff which power companies must pay for surplus power fed into the national grid by people with photo-voltaic panels or other generation using grid-tied inverters. The tarriff should be approximately 80% of the national average retail price of electricity.

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