Photo Contest - Take Your Best Shot

Many building product manufacturers have a difficult time getting photos of their products in use.   Koroseal, a leading producer of wall covering, is holding a contest to entice people to submit photos of their products. The contest also builds customer engagement with the brand.

A spot on Koroseal's home page links to the entry form:

Contest Rules:
  • Clarify that this is a random drawing, say it is open to anyone over 18 except as prohibited by law, excluded employees, limits the number of submittals an individual can make, define which products are applicable, prohibit resubmission of previous submittals and state a deadline for submission.
  • Include instructions for submittal, state minimum dimension (in pixels), and requires (highlighted) that submitted images are property of entrant.
  • Copyright remains with the submitter, but the company is given a non-exclusive right to use and publish any of the images submitted in advertising, promotional materials, publications, and other purposes without compensation.
  • Has legal boilerplate about submittal being full and unconditional agreement with rules and decision of company, and says that the company has right to suspend contest due to technical or other problems. It also states that "photos", "photography", and "images" are used interchangeably, and includes a limitation of liability.
If you do a similar competition, note that your use of images may be limited by other factors such as the rights of a property owner.

Sika also is running a photo contest. Theirs is on Facebook and asks customers to tell a “'Sika® Story' – whether it is an interesting anecdote from on the job, creative use of our products or snapshots of the Sika Triangle logo, or photos from projects featuring our products". The winner is determined by "likes," so there is the potential of more widespread engagement with the public.

Koroseal's approach seems more appropriate for the design professionals they want to reach, Sika's for the broader world of installers.

I am sure few entrants read the contest's rules, however. To bad, because they place an onerous burden on the contestant including, for example:
All Entrants agree to release, discharge, indemnify and hold harmless Sponsor, Facebook, and their affiliates, parent, subsidiaries, advertising agencies, directors, officers, employees, representatives and agents (the “Released Parties”) from any and all claims, losses, damages, liabilities or causes of action of any kind resulting, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from participation in the Contest or any Contest-related activity or acceptance, possession, use or misuse of any Prize, including claims based on publicity rights, defamation, invasion of privacy or injury to person (including death) or property.
The risks associated with this claim far outweigh the odds and value of the prize.

Update 2015-03-20

Hey Photographer! How Dumb Are You?

This manufacturer makes a big deal about their competition, mentioning it on several pages in their website.  A big deal for them maybe, but not such a good deal for the entrant:
We encourage all aspiring photographers to enter the XXXXXX Photography Competition.  A first place award in our competition may be the beginning of a lucrative and legendary career in architectural photography. And, as a design-awarded company, XXXXXX will do it's best to promote your work-not as exceptional, but as the best.
That's it; all the fame and glory you can muster, your chance to enter the lucrative field of starving artist/photographer. And, of course, the disclaimer:
...all submissions to the XXXXXX Photography Competition, whether award winners or not, become the artistic property of XXXXXX.  We retain all rights of usage, and are under no legal obligation to attribute the work to the photographer. Third, there is no financial compensation for submissions, award-winning or not.
So while they say they will promote your work, they are under no "legal obligation" to attribute the work.  Maybe we should rely on their "moral obligation." They would be a lot more legitimate if they just said, "please send us your photos."

Tic-Tac-Toe, 3 product issues in a row

All in a row, three major architectural magazines have invited manufacturers to nominate products for their annual new product competitions:

Architectural Products  
  • Product Innovation Awards: For products, materials and systems that offer attributes, qualities, design, functionality and/or performance beyond the standard. Products entered do not need to be "new" to the market. $95 entry fee.
  • To be published in November issue.
  • Submittal deadline: July 22
  • Product Spec Guide: Submitted products must be green and must have been released within the past year. No entry fee.
  • Product categories: Envelope, Interiors, Systems, Outdoor, Materials, Lighting.
  • To be published in Fall 2011 Product Spec Guide. 
  • Submittal deadline August 5
Architectural Record
  • Product Reports: Presenting the most innovative and useful building products of year. No entry fee.
  • To be published in December 2011 issue.
  • Submittal deadline September 9 
Exposure in any of these issues produces great exposure and the bragging rights of being selected as a winner. And if your product is not selected for the product issues, editors may still showcase your product in a latter issue.

Since the cost of entry is so low, why not enter all three? You can pretty much use the same write-up to enter.  Call Chusid Associates at +1 818 774 0003 or click here for assistance in nominating your products.

Chusid Client wins Innovative Product Award

Hanley Wood has announced that the new SPD Protector by Lythic Solutions, has received the Editors Choice award in their Most Innovative Product competition held during World of Concrete. Chusid Associates helped Lythic Solutions with their entry into this contest.

Contests such as this give building product manufacturers great PR exposure. The award provides an important testimonial, it gets announced by the sponsoring magazine, and the manufacturer can use the award on its website, product labels, and press releases.

Remember: You can't win unless you enter.

A Valentine for the Planet

The 2030 Challenge for Products Unveiled
This Valentine's Day, in place of Cupid's Arrow, Architecture 2030 is unleashing the power of the pen to dramatically reduce greenhouse (GHG) emissions in the Building Sector. The 2030 Challenge for Products aims for the global architecture, planning, design, and building community, to specify, design, and manufacture products for new developments, buildings, and renovations to meet a maximum carbon-equivalent footprint of 30% below the product category average through 2014 – increasing this reduction to 35% in 2015, 40% in 2020, 45% in 2025, and 50% by 2030.

It is well known that the Building Sector is currently responsible for almost half of the energy consumption (49%) and GHG emissions (47%) in the U.S. While the majority of the energy consumption, and their associated emissions, come from building operations (such as heating, cooling, and lighting), the embodied energy and emissions of building products are also becoming increasingly significant. Approximately 5% to 8% of total annual U.S. energy consumption and associated emissions is for building products and construction. When including all products for the built environment (furniture, movable equipment, appliances, etc.), the percentage is even greater.
“With the stroke of a pen, the design and building community can transform the Industrial Sector in the U.S. by specifying building elements that meet the 2030 Challenge for Products. This presents a huge opportunity to spur competition for cost-effective, low-carbon building products.” Edward Mazria
Founder and CEO, Architecture 2030
The 2030 Challenge for Products builds on the success of Architecture 2030's seminal 2030 Challenge initiative, issued in 2006. This effort – calling for the operation of all new buildings and major renovations to be carbon neutral by 2030 – has been widely embraced and is now being actively implemented throughout the building and design community. This momentum sets the stage for the 2030 Challenge for Products – a bold step towards reducing U.S. energy use, curbing GHG emissions, and expanding local jobs and industry in the U.S. Learn more about the 2030 Challenge for Products at the Architecture 2030 website.
To download a press release, click here.

Building Sector Buzz:
What Industry Leaders Say About the 2030 Challenge for Products

“Clearly the 2030 Challenge has been a game changer in the way people think about climate change. Architecture 2030 drives change in any segment it focuses on. The new 2030 Challenge for Products appropriately uses LCA as a scientific methodology for holistic thinking, and that’s an excellent way to reduce the environmental impact from building products.” Rick Fedrizzi
CEO, U.S. Green Building Council
“It is exciting to see the past success of the 2030 Challenge from the designers of our buildings, but this will take our impact to a whole new level by including building materials and products.” H. Ralph Hawkins, FAIA, FACHA, LEED AP
Chairman and CEO, HKS
“Too often manufacturers and specifiers aren't giving enough attention to the carbon footprint of green products. In many cases we're hobbled by a lack of data. This new challenge will focus attention on this critical issue, and our company will actively support it. By 2013 we will feature carbon footprint data in our GreenSpec database, and through our link to Pharos.” Alex Wilson
Founder, BuildingGreen
“The 2030 Challenge for Products will motivate the development of low-carbon industries and shape development of rigorous and relevant environmental performance standards." Kathrina Simonen
Director, Carbon Leadership Forum
“Architecture 2030 continues to drill in on the critical issues that impact the carbon contributions of the built environment. Their new focus on reducing carbon in building products will bring much needed attention and resources to a major area that has, so far, been outside the grasp of most design and construction projects. It’s terrific!” Mary Ann Lazarus, AIAI, LEED AP BD+C
Senior Vice President, HOK
“Architecture 2030 drills deeply into the awareness and practice of the architectural and building community. These targets will not only directly improve our GHG emission rates, they will increase awareness of all the linkages from process to product.” Peter Calthorpe
Principal, CalthorpeAssociates
“This initiative has the potential to generate the type of credible and transparent carbon information needed to fill an important gap in our understanding of building product impacts on the environment and human health. By scoring products against the 2030 Challenge for Products in Pharos, we will help designers create market demand for products that are healthier for people and the planet.” Bill Walsh
Founder, Healthy Building Network
"This initiative has the opportunity to make us all investors in the most human sense as we commit to intelligent choices for the future of the planet." James P. Cramer
Chairman, The Design Futures Council
“As we all know well, the making of the built environment is complex and comprehensive and requires a deep and thorough effort. And to make an impact of any type the entire range of the process must be engaged and committed to the cause. For our Profession and Industry to have that same comprehensive impact on the carbon footprint and GHG emission of our buildings and process, this product awareness and product Initiative is critical to the long-term result. I applaud your leadership efforts and this fundamental and forward thinking Initiative of the 2030 Challenge for Products.” Bryce D. Pearsall, FAIA
Chairman, DLR Group
“The Athena Institute is looking forward to working with Architecture 2030 to advance this important initiative. The climate change implications of building materials are becoming increasingly critical as buildings steadily improve from an operating energy perspective.” Wayne Trusty
President, The Athena Institute
"As we drastically reduce energy use in buildings, embodied carbon becomes a much larger part of the impact of our projects. The 2030 Challenge for Products is an important next step in Architecture 2030's efforts to change the way we make and think about buildings." Craig Briscoe
Associate Partner, ZGF Architects LLP
“Just as the 2030 Challenge has provided a practical, clear pathway for our industry to address the impact of building energy use on climate change, the 2030 Challenge for Products offers us another tool that all should understand and use. Architecture 2030 understands that cutting energy waste saves money, creates jobs and protects the planet.” Dennis Creech
Executive Director, Southface
“The 2030 Challenge for Products is remarkable for using life cycle science to measure the progress of buildings. We know what gets measured, gets done. A commitment to using LCA means that the measurements will be the right ones. I look forward to working with the building industry in support of the Challenge.” Rita Schenck, Ph.D, LCACP
Executive Director, Institute for Environmental Research and Education &
American Center for Life Cycle Assessment
“Architecture 2030 has been changing the world of design and construction and this new building sector products initiative is the next logical step in speeding up the transformation to a post carbon economy. Another smart move at just the right time.” Bob Berkabile
FAIA, Principal, BNIM
“Building professionals stand on the cusp of a huge contribution to a sustainable world which they can realize fully when they commit to the 2030 Challenge for Products. LCA-based Environmental Product Declarations will support their goals, especially when combined with Building Information Modeling (BIM) and green building rating systems.” Deborah Dunning
President, The Green Standard
Principal, Sphere E.
“The 2030 Challenge for Products is transformative in moving building product manufacturers toward LCA-based Environmental Product Declarations. EPD Program Operators, like the German Institute for Construction & the Environment, The Green Standard and other members of GEDNet will have a critically important role to play, insuring that core principles and processes outlined in ISO Standard 14025 are implemented to meet best global practices in measuring, verifying and reporting all aspects of a product’s environmental performance.” Dr. Eva Schmincke
Global LCA/EPD Consultant,
Member of the ISO Workgroup for Standard 14025
“The 2030 Challenge for Products will provide the necessary motivation for increased use of LCA-based Environmental Product Declarations that, especially when combined with Building Information Modeling (BIM), will offer us the ability to look at decisions holistically, to take into account the life of the facility and product as well as its impact on the environment.” Deke Smith
Executive Director, Building Smart Alliance
National Institute for Building Sciences

Gigabyte-Sized Photos add interest to website

A new digital photographic technique has exciting potential for building product presentations, websites, and social media.

Back in the days of film photography, I would take a dozen or more overlapping photos of a scenic panorama, then cut and paste individual snapshots together to show the entire vista. Software like Photoshop made the job easier as one could "stitch" images together digitally, even automatically. Recent advances take this a step further, making it simple to stitch together dozens of images. The composite files, which can contain gigabytes of information, capture an awesome amount of detail.

For example, this image of the most recent presidential inauguration is made up of 220 separate exposures. The composite image size is 59,783 X 24,658 pixels or 1,474 megapixels.

While an ordinary camera with a wide angle lens could capture the same view, it would not allow the viewer to zoom in to see details like the following:
When viewed online, one can see an amazing amount of visual information. In addition to the president, one can pan and zoom in to see thousands of individuals and details of Washington. For example, these architectural details are just below the dome of the Capitol:
If you have ever used Google Earth or the satellite or street views on Google Maps, you already know how powerful composite images can be. What is new is that an inexpensive device from Gigapan Systems now makes it possible for almost anybody with a digital camera to create gigabyte images that are easy to display and manipulate online. While the "pro" model costs $900, for only $300,
"the GigaPan Epic robotic camera mount makes it fun and easy to capture gigapixel panoramas with most compact digital cameras and works seamlessly with GigaPan Stitch software and Compact and lightweight, yet powerful and durable - the GigaPan EPIC is ideal for travel and adventure."

Scale: One of the challenges of architecture and engineering is to be able to move between scales. The architect needs to see an entire space or even an entire building within the context of its environment, but also has to understand how a doorknob or window detail fits into the the project. The structural engineer must understand how forces get distributed throughout an entire structure, but must also pay attention to individual joint and anchorage details.

GigaPan allows you to present your products in context. Beneath the overall composite, you can show thumbnails of interesting close-ups. When a thumbnail is clicked, the software zooms from the macro image to the indicated item.

A typical photograph will capture a viewer's attention for a fraction of a second. But a GigaPan invites a viewer to explore, increasing his or her time on your website page where other product-related messages can also be displayed.

Games and Contests:
This may be the ultimate "Where's Waldo" puzzle. A contest can encourage viewers to search an image to find your treasure or clues. Information about your product can be embedded throughout the image. Games like these can be especially attractive to a younger audience that grew up playing online games.

Technical and Quality Control Issues:
The stitching works not only with vast vistas, but also with micro photography. This opens many opportunities for use in technical presentations or for offering evidence of quality control.  Click here for micro images of insects.

Training and Presentations:
Complex products, machines, and systems can be made easier to understand when the viewer can move around and get in close to see parts of interest.

Social Media and Mobile Media:
These giga images can be inserted into websites or e-mail and used in other social media applications. They offer a way to display large images on a small mobile platform like an iPad or smart phone.

Search Engine Optimization:
Images can be posted at the GigaPan website and linked into Google Earth. Undoubtedly, other platforms will embrace the format and they will become integrated into video and photo sharing sites. These sites allow the use of tags and keywords that can help search engines and potential customers find you.

New Advertising and Publishing Format:
I can imagine giga photos as a type of online banner ad that allows one to zoom in or out to get more information. An entire catalog or magazine could be captured in a single giga image.

Final Thoughts:
I am sure I have just touched the surface what will emerge from this technology. Eventually you will be able to use systems like this to transmit real time images, and photos like this will be integrated into building information models (BIM) and virtual reality worlds.

I invite you to contact Chusid Associates to discuss how giga photos can be most useful in your marketing mix.
Here are links to a few architectural or construction images from the GigaPan website:
Burj Khalifa Tower
Burning Man Waffle Structure
Frank Gehry's Fred and Ginger Building
Leonardo Dialogo (nanotechnology art) - Interior
Union Station, Washington DC - Interior
Building after gutting by fire - forensic record

Another publisher of panoramic giga photos is at

Most Innovative Product Award Call For Entries

The call for entries is out for the 2011 Most Innovative Product awards, given by Concrete And Masonry Products magazine and awarded annually at World of Concrete in Las Vegas.  It's open to any WOC exhibitor. 

In the past, we have found this a cost-effective form of publicity for our concrete-related clients.  Entries all get exposure in the magazine, in the WOC daily magazine, on the WOC website, and in a special display at the show in the central concourse of the convention center.

This year's entrance fee is $500 before Oct. 15, 2010, or $600 until the Oct. 30 final entry deadline.   We can help prepare an entry to meet that deadline.

Greenwash of Week - Brick Competition

If you promote the sustainability of a product, you should be willing to have the market scrutinize all aspects of your product's environmental performance. Unfortunately, this concept is lost on the organizers of the Second Annual BrickStainable Design Competition.

Their website declares:
"The focus of the BrickStainable Competition is to encourage people to think beyond all boundaries and “re-think” brick in the context of its material qualities and current construction technologies"
"...this Competition seeks to attract and promote new ideas in the manufacturing of, the application of, or the physical arrangement of ... masonry units that promote energy efficiency and environmentally sustainable building design."
And their goal is:
"to stimulate the local and international design community by challenging them with a competition seeking ideas, concepts and assemblies which hold the greatest potential for shifting paradigms for the masonry industry as they relate to energy efficiency and environmental regenerative building design...   Products with similar sustainable qualities as clay masonry have the potential to take us to carbon neutrality through integrative design. As this initiative continues to develop and we obtain support from other industries that believe in our vision, the built environment will move toward standards and practices that demand the use of all inherently sustainable materials."  (Emphasis added.)
These are grand and noble aspirations, and one can hope that architects apply their creative thinking towards creating more sustainable brick construction.

So where is the greenwash?

The fine print requires the use of "clay masonry units" in the design.  This eliminates the opportunity for designers to consider recent innovations -- such as fly ash brick -- that mitigate the carbon dioxide emissions associated with firing clay masonry.

If the clay brick industry wants to promote the sustainable qualities of their own products -- and there are many -- then that is well and good.  But please spare us the preaching about "thinking beyond all boundaries," "shifting paradigms," "new ideas in manufacturing, and the exploration of 'products with similar qualities as clay masonry.'"

Mockett Design Contest

Mockett Annual Design Contest
Mockett is holding a design contest in which they are seeking innovative ideas in furniture parts, components, accessories and hardware.  Even if you think your product "is too prosaic or too dull or too unusual or 'not good enough'... send it in and let [them] decide. You would be surprised at how many First Place award winners were shocked when they got the congratulatory call! They never thought they had a chance."

Winning a design contest is a great honor for any building product manufacturer.  You can use the award to better market your company and products.

To enter, send a write-up, drawing, or model of your idea.

Deadline is September 7th.  The judges will decide the winner in December.

There are only First Place awards and an unlimited number; in the past winners have ranged from one to four. First Place is awarded $1000, an engraved achievement trophy, and a royalty based on sales.

Questions can be emailed to:, or call 800-523-1269 , from the USA, Canada, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands or 310-318-2491 from everywhere else.