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Powering the Future With Sustainable Construction

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With climate change causing real, tangible changes to our planet, and the calls for intervention and attention growing louder, many industries are taking steps to make their output and processes “greener.” The construction industry has taken a lead role in following green principles in hopes of bettering the environment in which we live. 

Through sustainable practices, materials, and design, the construction industry illustrates how the world can shift towards a better impact on the environment and a better future overall. Matt DiBara, Owner of DiBara Masonry and Founder of The Contractor Consultants, believes that ethics and transparency play a significant role in eco-friendly construction approaches. 

With the negative effects of climate change no longer simply a theory, the ethical approach is one that takes into account the health of the planet and the sustainability of life on the planet. A dual major in college led DiBara to delve into Environmental Studies, and what he learned during that time has stayed with him as he has forged ahead to build his construction business.

“In our family business, we were sustainable. That was in our ethos, we cared about the environment,” DiBara told the Building the Future podcast. “Building things that last — that’s how I was taught.”

What is sustainable construction?

From the outside looking in, construction may not seem like the most sustainably aligned trade. Between clearing land to make way for buildings to large pieces of machinery that contribute to air pollution, there is much about the construction industry that is absolutely not earth-friendly. This is why innovators in the construction space have developed ways to move toward a more sustainable way of building. 

Back in 1994, Professor Charles Kibert of the University of Florida outlined the main principles of sustainable construction, including “conserve, reuse, recycle/renew, protect nature, create nontoxic and high-quality output.” These main principles are being translated today into creations such as green grid roofs, solar-powered buildings and neighborhoods, the use of recycled building materials, and sustainable construction methodology.

“I realized early how much waste was on construction sites,” says DiBara. “While I was interning, we were told to do things that would only last a year or two, for budget reasons. They weren’t good for the environment, and there were always massive dumpsters on job sites that created so much excess waste.” 

DiBara’s experience while interning with other companies out of college colored his approach to building his own construction business. Going forward, DiBara wanted to understand how to design with the environment in mind. “I wondered what things would be like for my kids if we didn’t make a change,” he says. 

Sustainable materials

When one thinks of construction, they may only think of concrete, steel beams, and glass, but there are a wealth of materials available that are far better for the environment. These alternative materials are becoming more popular as the need for change becomes clearer. 

The use of eco-friendly, sustainable materials has proven to have long-term benefits, speaking to an approach to construction that leans on long-lasting designs. The most sustainable and earth-friendly materials include cob, bamboo, stone, recycled steel, cork, and reclaimed wood, though contractors have even started to seek alternatives for insulation like sheep’s wool or insulation made from recycled newspapers. 

The market for sustainable building materials is expected to grow by leaps and bounds by 2027, projected to hit $425.4 billion. What once seemed like a niche interest in the construction industry is quickly becoming mainstream. 

“There was once an association of ‘that’s expensive’ or ‘that’s hippie’,” explains DiBara. “I realized if I could show people that that’s not true, if I could show them an alternative for the same price, I could battle the psychology of what they thought they believed in.”

Sustainable practices 

Along with eco-friendly materials, more sustainable construction practices have been able to move the needle towards better outcomes. There is a hope that through more sustainable practices and materials, 209 million tons of carbon emissions can be saved by 2050. 

Some sustainable methods include simple approaches, such as more exact measuring and cutting to reduce needless waste, recycling products on or offsite, refurbishing older buildings instead of building new ones, and managing onsite CO2 emissions as much as possible. “Really, the simplest way to approach it is to reduce, reuse, recycle,” says DiBara. 

The old mantra for “saving the Earth” still holds true. Particularly in the case of construction, it can go a long way in changing the environment for the better.

Healthier living overall

The positive effects on the environment are not the only benefits of sustainable building, as there are also noted psychological benefits to eco-friendly building practices. Studies show that employees who work within green buildings can be more productive. 

In addition, many green buildings are built to be aesthetically pleasing and maximize daylight, helping with issues such as seasonal depression. The happiness levels of people working and living within green buildings were also shown to be higher through these studies. 

The call for sustainable building is not new, but has taken on a renewed urgency as the negative effects of climate change become evident. Sustainable construction is no longer a niche concentration or trend, but the direction the entire industry needs to take to create a better future for all. 

Rosario is from New York and has worked with leading companies like Microsoft as a copy-writer in the past. Now he spends his time writing for readers of BigtimeDaily.com

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Business

From Contracts to Counsel: Your Essential Guide to Hiring a Probate Attorney in Chicago

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Like many people, you’ll come across the term probate after a loved one, such as a parent or spouse, passes away. So, what is probate, and why do you need an attorney for it? As defined in Forbes, probate is a legal process that occurs after death. It entails transferring the assets of the decedent (the person who passed) to beneficiaries named in their last will. 

With that in mind, having a probate lawyer by your side is essential. The last thing you want to do is deal with the legal complexities of settling a loved one’s estate while grieving. A probate lawyer oversees the validation of the deceased’s will and the fair distribution of assets among family members. One challenge lies in finding a top-quality probate lawyer.

In this guide to hiring a probate attorney in Chicago, we’ll discuss the tips to identify the right legal professional for probate proceedings. 

Understand the Responsibilities of a Probate Lawyer

It’s difficult to hire a talented probate lawyer when you don’t know what they do: Start by understanding the roles they play. 

When you work with a Chicago probate lawyer, some tasks they might do include: 

  • Act as an estate executor or administrator 
  • Collect proceeds from the life insurance policies of the deceased
  • Identify and secure the decedent’s assets
  • Get an appraisal for the deceased’s estate
  • Pay debts and resolve estate tax issues
  • Prepare and file documents required in probate court
  • Transfer assets to rightful heirs
  • Represent you in litigation proceedings if someone challenges or contests the will

A probate lawyer could also help you and your family navigate state inheritance laws if a loved one dies without a valid will. That way, you can avoid unnecessary taxes or other ramifications of not creating a will, such as losing ownership rights of the deceased’s business or financial support.

Search for Lawyers Online and Offline

You’re probably thinking, where do I find the best lawyer to hire? You could seek referrals from friends or colleagues. Friends who worked with probate attorneys before might provide important details, such as how the lawyers communicate and handle the probate process. 

Alternatively, do a simple online search using the terms “probate lawyer near me” or “probate attorney in Chicago.” Go through various websites or online directories and write names of lawyers with positive ratings and customer testimonials. Then, contact the potential lawyers to set up free consultations. Note that not all legal professionals offer free consultations, so make sure to ask before setting a time in your calendar. 

Ask the Right Questions

A free consultation provides opportunities to ask questions to better understand if the lawyers in question have the qualifications to handle your probate case. 

Four questions you might ask attorneys during the initial meeting may include:

  1. Do You Have Experience in Probate Law? 

When evaluating lawyers, prioritize experience. An experienced probate lawyer is aware of common pitfalls that can result in the probate petition being postponed or dropped by a judge. To feel more comfortable about an attorney’s expertise, ask them if they’ve handled probate cases similar to yours before. 

For example, let’s say the deceased owned a substantial estate or had complicated assets like royalties and mineral stocks. Working with an attorney with a track record of successfully handling cases like that could save you time and money in the long run.

  1. What Do Other Clients Say About You?

Experience alone doesn’t make a probate lawyer perfect for your case. Look for someone with an outstanding reputation. These reviews likely live on Google next to their business profile or are featured on their website. If you can’t find any endorsements, ask for testimonials written by past clients. 

One point to focus on is what reviewers say about the lawyer’s efficiency and speed. Beyond that, does the lawyer offer expert guidance, conflict mitigation, and proper asset management during probate? 

A probate attorney in Chicago, IL, should be an efficient expert in asset preservation. This can be crucial to helping avoid hefty taxes and excessive debt claims. Additionally, if the lawyer receives positive feedback on conflict mitigation, it suggests they have experience in resolving or mitigating family conflicts that tend to stall the probate process. 

  1. How Long Does Probate Last? 

One way to test a probate lawyer’s knowledge is by asking them, “How long does probate last?” While the numbers vary, probate can last for a few months to over a year in many states, including Chicago. When highlighting factors that affect the duration of probate, your counsel might mention things like estate size, family disputes, debt and taxes, absence of a will, and state laws.

A knowledgeable lawyer can explain clearly why your probate case could last a few months or even years. A lawyer that makes too brazen or hard-set of promises might not be the most honest. 

  1. How Do You Want Us To Communicate? 

There’s no hard rule on how you and your probate attorney communicate. You can talk via text messages, email, video calls, or phone calls. More importantly, check that the attorney communicates in simple language to help you understand your case. 

In fact, one essential of a lawyer’s dos and don’ts to gaining clients’ trust is to avoid making clients feel clueless. If a potential lawyer uses complex legal terms or avoids communicating directly, search for probate services elsewhere.

Conclusion: Finding a Probate Attorney in Chicago

Reviewing the will of a loved one after their death and ensuring fair distribution of their assets often involves complex legal issues. For this reason, consider hiring an attorney who specializes in probate law. 

To maximize your chances of finding the right probate lawyer, familiarize yourself with their responsibilities. Next, search online for lawyers within your state or ask for recommendations from people you trust. Then, interview prospects to help ensure they possess experience, a remarkable reputation, communication skills, and knowledge of probate law.

Settling the affairs of a loved one who has passed on can be an overwhelming time. A probate attorney can help lift some of the pressure off your shoulders as you focus on grieving and healing. 

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