Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cutting Edge Technology

Over the recent months, we have had the opportunity to utilize several new resources for accomplishing various tasks on our jobsites. Some of our current projects have presented us with unique challenges, for which we have had to pursue unique solutions.

On one project in particular, some of our extensive stonework required greater accuracy than what would be accomplished with the usual measuring and cutting methods; enter Funcpro. Funcpro is a small company that specializes in precision 3-D scanning; their equipment and software allow them to completely scan all sides of an object with an accuracy of about 1/8th of an inch for every 60’!

So we were faced with a somewhat complex pool shape, the photo below gives you an idea of what we had to work with:

The design calls for long pieces of stone along the top of the pool walls that follow the curves; so to measure those curves, the guys at Funcpro placed reflective dots along the sides and top of the walls:

then used a laser scanner to pick up each point along the wall.

Their computer software turns these points into a 3-D CAD line drawing of what was just scanned, and this data can then be used by CNC machines in millwork shops, metal shops, and, in this case, stoneyards. Because the slabs will be somewhat thin, the folks over at J.C. Stone in Jefferson will be able to cut the curves directly from the drawings using a water jet.

This is a close up of where the top o
f the pool's south entry area meets a taller sidewall.

This is the whole top step of the south entry area. All the holes and jagged edges were places lacking reflectors; if necessary, they would have been able to go back and fill them in.

A screen shot.

One other place on-site where we found this to be essential was in the templating for the edge stones in an octagon shaped room:

The uses for this technology are pretty diverse, and we hope to be able to continue using it in different ways on future projects.

For more information, feel free to contact us at 207-633-3818 or info@knickerbockergroup.com; Kevan Cole with Funcpro at 207-557-2056 or Kevan@funcpro.com; J.C. Stone at 207-549-4729. Pool layout design by Gates, Leighton & Associates,

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency

The recently enacted "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009" (Stimulus act) includes a package of tax incentives to encourage investments in renewable energy projects and technologies. In trying to sort out what this means for builders and consumers, we have found the EPA Energy Star website has a great overview of "Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency":


The Tax Incentives Assistance Project (TIAP) website also provides guidance on federal income tax incentives, starting with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and subsequent amendments, and includes updated information from the Stimulus Act:


Peter Callnan, from CPA firm Honeck O'Toole has supplied us with an overview of some of these credits, for consumers and businesses:

Business energy credit. The new law enhances the business energy credit by eliminating the cap on small wind property and repealing the basis reduction requirement for subsidized energy financing.

Energy-efficient existing homes. The new law extends the tax credit for improvements to energy-efficient existing homes through 2010. For 2009 and 2010, the amount of the tax credit is increased from 10% to 30% of the amount paid or incurred by the taxpayer for qualified energy efficiency improvements during the tax year. The property-by-property dollar caps on the tax credit are also eliminated, and an aggregate $1,500 cap applies to all property qualifying for the credit.

Residential energy property. The new law removes the dollar limitations on certain energy credits, e.g, for qualified small wind energy property ($4,000 cap); for qualified solar water heating property ($2,000 cap); and qualified geothermal heat pumps ($2,000).

Grants in lieu of electricity production credit and energy credit. Under current law, taxpayers are allowed to claim a production tax credit for electricity produced by certain renewable energy facilities and an investment tax credit for certain renewable energy property. These tax credits help attract private capital to invest in renewable energy projects. Current economic conditions have severely undermined the effectiveness of these tax credits. As a result, the new law allows taxpayers to receive a grant from the Treasury Department in lieu of tax credits. Most facilities are eligible for a 30% grant, but some (geothermal, qualified microturbine, combined heat and power, and geothermal heat pump) qualify only for a smaller, 10% grant. To earn a grant, the facility must be placed in service in 2009 or 2010, or construction must begin in either of those years and must be completed prior to the termination of the credit.

Finally, John Logan, B.Sc., Ph.D. of Water Energy Distributors, Inc. has also shared this link, which specifically addresses the tax credit for homeowners who install geothermal heat pump systems in 2009 or later:


This information has been helpful to us in sorting through the new tax credits but please check with your accountant for more detailed information.