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Your Green Building Consultant Should Start with LeedForHomes.org

Mon, Feb 10, 2014 @ 09:24 PM / by Chuck Lohre posted in Green Building Consulting, LEED, LEED for Homes

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There’s Green... and then there’s LEED. How close is your project to earning LEED for Homes certification? Probably much closer than you think. Try the LEED for Homes Scoring Tool. It’s FREE!

Green Building Consulting The ArborsWe gave this presentation to the Miami Valley Sierra Club last Sunday, in which we went through the LEED for Homes Scoring Tool credit by credit. Photo credit to THE ARBORS NEW URBAN SUBDIVISION Development Project by Judith Lewis' City Lands Development Company, LLC, New Homes Construction by Klotter Builders, Inc. The project was selected as one of 69 initial LEED for Neighborhoods projects.

Another inspiring vision of Judith's is that you could take a blighted urban brownfield and transform it into an amazing sustainable community and vibrant neighborhood by applying the U.S. Green Building Council's guidelines. Give us a call if you want to do it along the Mill Creek!

Green Building Consulting landscapeIn 2001 the U.S. Green Building Council launched the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification program. The USGBC is a non-profit, consensus based organization that has gathered together some of the best building standards from around the world. The standards are updated by the members of the USGBC every three years or so to keep pace with the evolving standards for the ASHRA  (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning) and other standards. Photo credit to Solomon Gamboa who is creating the native wildflower and grasses landscape for the Frank Lloyd Wright Boulter House in Cincinnati, Ohio. Check out his blog for the Taking Root Campaign.

Green Building Consulting Energy ModelingThe presentation was an overview of the most recent update of the LEED for Home standards through leedforhomes.org, the pre-registration requirement checklist for LEED for Homes Registration. Even if you aren’t planning a new home, you will learn from the presentation how to design a sustainable landscape, reduce your water use, improve energy and comfort of your home or office, use regional, reused, recyclable and renewable materials and improve the indoor air quality of your home or office. Photo courtesy of Dovetail Wind and Solar. We are working on the LEED Gold Certification documentation, energy modeling shown, for their office in Madisonville, Ohio.

Green Building Consultant TourThe take away was a self guided tour of the LEED projects in Cincinnati, in 3 hours you can tour Cincinnati’s LEED public buildings, including a University of Cincinnati premier LEED project, understand why the Cincinnati Zoo is one of the Greenest zoos in the world and finish your tour at the Moerlein Lager House, the Cincinnati’s Park Board’s first LEED project. On the way you’ll also see the first LEED Platinum Cincinnati Public School, the first LEED Platinum interior of a commercial building and Hamilton County’s renovation of the Times Star Building. The tour is planned for the Spring of 2014, contact chuck@lohre.com for details. Photo of the Green Cincinnati Education Advocacy Directory.


If you liked this post, you would like, "A Step-by-Step Guide for Finding a Green Building Consultant."



Chuck Lohre, LEED AP and Documentation ConsultantFor a no obligation green building consultation for your home or office please contact Chuck Lohre, LEED AP ID+C. He'll go over the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Reference Guide with you and offer helpful suggestions for Green Building Consultants, Architects, Interior Designers, Building Material Suppliers and Contractors. You can even borrow the Reference Guide if you like. Article from the Cincinnati Business Courier.

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The Heartbreak of Green Building Consulting for LEED

Fri, Feb 07, 2014 @ 10:39 AM / by Chuck Lohre posted in Green Building Consulting, Marketing, Green Building Marketing, Cincinnati Marketing Agencies, Cincinnati Marketing Firm

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You've submitted the required materials -- dotted all the "i"s and crossed those "t"s -- and now you wait. The anticipation of getting your LEED review back from the USGBC is high. When you get the email you're hoping for the best. After you start reading the review, your heart sinks because the sustainable sites prerequisites wasn't met. The PDF file was corrupted by a computer, somewhere. Why didn't they ask for it again? The plans were perfect and everything was duplicated on them anyway. You're in a knife fight and they just knocked your knife away.

So here's our story. On water efficiency, we really screwed up the full-time equivalent flush and flow calculations. Easy enough to fix.

Green Building Consulting LEED PlatinumDidn't get the two minimum points for energy. That sinking feeling sets in. It would have been so easy to use an HVAC system that had an exterior fresh air supply, but those systems are unheard of for small office projects. We've never seen them used except for large public buildings. Some mumbo jumbo about baseline fan power that you've never heard of before.

Where do they get this stuff?

No mention of it in any reference manual. No third party resources. No engineer you've spoken to even wants to speak about it. There must be a secret green room somewhere that gold colored engineers hang out. Funny, it doesn't seem like any of the local chapter members are hiding anything. And don't look to any HVAC manuals to help. The ones that are used for educating today's journeymen were written in the '40s and have nothing to do with smaller systems. In the end, we'll sort it out. Carefully solving the riddle character by character. The reviewers know what they are talking about and know exactly what is needed. It will take you several days to let the comments sink in and then you will start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

But you only have one bullet left in your gun, and it's $800 to appeal. That's 20 percent of our fee. We're going to have to suck it in, clear our head and launch eQUEST.

There's a supplemental heater on the third floor for conditioning the kitchen. We pretty much ignored separating it in eQUEST and combined the capacity to one system in eQUEST as we had done before for another project. USGBC doesn't like that. We don't know how to do that in Wizard view. And, it just gets worse in Detailed view. I don't think we have the brain power for it. Pray for us. As with most LEED reviews, what worked for the last project won't necessarily work for this project. And the final insult, we use Cincinnati's 100-percent, Green-e renewable electric provider, but the USGBC acts as if they have never heard of such a thing and we're not sure how to explain it for the third time since we only have one bullet left.

Materials no problem. A monkey could do it.

Interior environmental quality runs into another road block with the minimum air supply. What are you to do? There is no exterior air supply. The common way engineers calculate fresh air is by how leaky the building is! Pretty ludicrous but don't try to find any place to read about it. Once again, we're going to have to read, read, read and read again the reviewer's comment and sleep on it, to uncover the riddle that needs to be solved. What do they mean our design doesn't meet thermal design criteria? The plans call for 21 fulltime equivalents and that's what we are using, but there are only two persons in the whole building now and no offices or plans for how all those other folks would occupy the rest of the empty building.

Green Building Consulting PlaqueBut we're confident, that's part of the challenge and the fun. We have achieved LEED Platinum on our first two projects and we're only trying for Gold on this one. And we get the problem children. Projects that are so screwed up and abandoned. Way over budget. We only do it because the owners are well intentioned and they are wonderful projects. We may get the opportunity to create the first LEED Platinum Certification Version 4 in the city from the start. That would be a relief. Then we could only blame ourselves instead of the darkness. LEED is extremely difficult to achieve high levels. There are only a handful of professionals that know how to do it in any major city. But, if it was easy everyone would do it. And the USGBC is nearly bulletproof. That's why it's such a valuable certification. Recognized world wide as the highest standard in sustainable design. We'll come out of this knowing more and proud of our achievement.

We hope the new Version 4 reference guide will be able to help us understand the HVAC systems and the credit documentation requirements for energy modeling. Forums are great, but most times you just go to a room with other people with the same problem. We are depending on the USGBC to provide us with the educational material to achieve their goals. Now if the client will understand that you only get two out of three. High quality and low cost. The time component will suffer.


If you don't want to make the same mistakes, you would like to read, "A Step-by-Step Guide for Finding a Green Building Consultant"



Chuck Lohre, LEED AP and Documentation ConsultantFor a no obligation green building consultation for your home or office please contact Chuck Lohre, LEED AP ID+C. He'll go over the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Reference Guide with you and offer helpful suggestions for Green Building Consultants, Architects, Interior Designers, Building Material Suppliers and Contractors. You can even borrow the Reference Guide if you like. Article from the Cincinnati Business Courier.

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A Step-by-Step Guide for Finding a Green Building Consultant

Tue, Jan 21, 2014 @ 09:42 AM / by Chuck Lohre posted in Green Building Consulting, LEED Platinum Certification, Green Building

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Inspired by this post from K4 Architecture -- Here's the intro to the piece about how to procure architectural and building services: A building program is a major effort entailing the investment of much time and money.  Therefore, an important step in achieving success is the selection of the Architectural/Engineering firm (A/E) that will play a very important role in the undertaking.  The basic components of the A/E procurement process include the following: 1. Develop the program for which the project must be designed. 2. Gather available data. 3. Prepare the scope of A/E services required. 4. Submit the Request for Proposal to A/E firms. 5. Interview A/E firm(s). 6. Make the selection.

Note that K4's post does not focus on LEED or sustainable building like this post does exclusively. That's not a criticism since we are greenies, because the K4 blog post author makes many good points that anyone should heed. It's just that the biggest difference between a sustainable building, versus a code building, is gathering an integrated design team led by an experienced sustainable project manager. The owner is the only person who can force this major change in the direction of the building process.

Green Building Consulting GreensourceHaving dealt with building owners who want to fly their green flag, they are likely the only team member who can personally enjoy and share the sustainable level of concept, design, construction, operation and employee comfort a green building exemplifies. The (resulting) building is their inspiration and their story. Someone can ask for a LEED Platinum or other certification, but if they don't understand the intent of sustainability, the project will not perform. Let's be clear, we're saying the building won't "live up to its potential" because you can't pay someone to care about measurable environmental benefits. The photo is of Greensource Cincinnati, LEED Platinum.

Here's a good example: Messer Construction LEED for Existing Building Certified headquarters in Cincinnati. It's an employee-owned company, and the employees conceived, planned, executed and documented the LEED EBOM Certification. Congratulations to the employees of Messer Construction!

However, no matter how much an owner may desire personal involvement in their project, that may not be possible. An owner must have someone manage the project. Someone they can trust with their goals and objectives. Many of which don't have a measurable (or even accepted) traditional dollar value. That project manager is the lead on a sustainable building project because Green Building projects require managing location administrators, lawyers, financial institutions, engineers, architects, trades, designers, consultants, occupants and the public. None of these segments or professions have standard ways of dealing with sustainable design and may need to be educated as to best practices for the decision-making process and responsibilities.

The basic components of the project manager procurement process include the following:

  • Establish the owner's project requirements and basis of design.
  • Gather similar project data.
  • Plan the timeline.
  • Prepare and submit team RFPs.
  • Team interviews.
  • Help advise the owner on the team selection.

Green Building Consulting Elements iVIncidentally, if you have a well-established, trusting relationship with a highly qualified professional for your project, you may very well elect to provide them with the RFP and attempt to negotiate an agreement rather than using the competitive selection process. LEED Silver Elements IV Office Furniture Systems in Dayton did this with Heapy Engineering for its HVAC system. The photo is of of their lobby.

Develop the Program for the Project
Even with lofty goals and unlimited aspirations every project will have budget limitations. There will be trade offs of materials, technology, new versus reused, and other goals. The first steps include integrated design meetings of all individuals involved in the project. The first team members will be required to assist in selecting the other team members until the entire team is assembled.

Interview team members:

  • Evaluate communication skills.
  • Track record in fulfilling past requirements.
  • Track record in meeting budget and time frame requirements.
  • Track record in avoiding costly extras resulting from deficiencies in understanding sustainable systems.

Green Building Consulting Frank Lloyd WrightIntegrated design is the single most contrasting element in sustainable design versus the current silo process in building. Traditionally drawings are approved, construction bids go out and decided, project managers come and go, the building is built, and occupancy permit received. Integrated design is needed for sustainable design because many times the last steps in the building process can effect the first steps. We are assembling the integrated design team for a Frank Lloyd Wright home in Cincinnati, see photo. Economical sustainable projects need not give up quality or distinctive architectural features, though the large glazing is making it much harder to plan and budget.

Make the Selection
Fees are obviously important, but there are other factors to consider in making team selections. Since you and your project manager are entering into relationships that will involve intense collaboration over a significant period of time, it's helpful to select team members with whom you will be able to work harmoniously both professionally and personally. Also, in accord with what has previously been learned by word of mouth, website research and interview, you may decide the best value will be provided by a firm whose fee was not the lowest quoted.

After gathering the team, they prepare the program consisting of, but not limited to, the following:

  • The desired timeframe, budget, space use while under construction and possible future expansion.
  • Site considerations and how to leverage to meet project goals.
  • Water use with an eye for water independence in the future.
  • Energy maps, what are the energy flows on site? How can the site be net-zero in the future?
  • The basic evolution of the building materials to limit carbon footprint.
  • Interior environment quality.

Green Building Consulting LEED PlatinumWith careful planning, sustainable building projects can come well under the budget of a comparable traditional building. It's a fundamental feature of sustainable buildings to be lower in cost to construct and have lower water and energy costs. If that's not the case, the project isn't as sustainable as it could be. We achieved LEED Platinum on our office for less than $12 per square foot.

Another outstanding sustainable and LEED building example is Greensource Cincinnati. Owner Ez Housh and his children, Elizabeth and William, took a historic building shell in downtown Cincinnati and achieved LEED Platinum. Lohre & Associates provided the LEED Documentation on the project.


If you liked this post you may enjoy, "The Joys of a LEED Platinum Green Office and How You Can Achieve It."

describe the imageRequest your free guide to obtaining LEED Certification on your office, building or home.

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Green Globes is Great, but LEED is still in the Lead

Tue, Jan 14, 2014 @ 02:07 PM / by Lauren Campbell posted in Green Building Consulting, Green Marketing, Cincinnati, LEED, LEED Certification, Green Building, LEED Certification Documentation, Cincinnati Marketing

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Is Green Globes on the Rise? Not in Cincinnati!Green Globes

Last week it was announced that Jerry Yudelson, a national leader in green building advocacy, is the next president of the Green Building Initiative (GBI). The Portland, Oregon based non-profit organization is best known for its Green Globes rating system, a front line competitor to the USGBC’s LEED program. (Thank you GreenTravelerGuide.com for use of this photo). 

Jerry Yudelson has spent years of his life dedicated to green building. A leading consultant, he has published 13 books on the topic and was incremental in the development of Greenbuild, the nation’s largest annual green building conference. Yudelson has also achieved the high level ranking of LEED Fellow, which is a highly coveted title in the LEED industry, adding to his long list of green building credentials. Because of his longevity and prominence with LEED, switching to Green Globes seemed to come as a shock to those in the green building industry.

We here at Lohre and Associates are most educated with LEED building initiatives and are not too familiar with Green Globes. This is primarily because of LEED’s federal standing; all federal buildings must be built to LEED Sliver requirements, although Green Globes is also now in the running for such commendation. Because LEED is a federal requirement, federal tax incentives for building to LEED standards have increased LEED’s popularity.

Money Talks, Green Builders Listen

LEEDRegardless of who is working where, money talks, and it is speaking to LEED builders. One important reason that LEED has been so popular in Cincinnati (Cincinnati is ranked 3rd in the nation for green building) is due to the city property tax abatements that are available here. Individuals building a LEED building are granted tax incentives and Green Globes cannot compete with that, at least not yet. From a marketing standpoint, the ability to save individuals and companies money, not only through energy efficiency and sustainable design, but through tax abatements provides primary real estate in green building. 

Also the City of Cincinnati, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden and Cincinnati Public Schools build all of their buildings to LEED Certification. These are also part of the reason for the expolsion of LEED projects in the region.

There have been arguments made that Green Globes green building process is cheaper than LEED, however, there has yet to be definitive information provided by either party to prove this. We know that the tax incentives here in Cincinnati only recognize the LEED building process. If a person were to use the Green Globes rating system for their green building, the state, county and sity tax abatements would not apply, therefore that person would miss out on years of tax savings. 

If you enjoyed this blog post, you will also enjoy LEED Certification Documentation for Your Home or Office.

_______________________________________________________________________________For Chuck LEEDA no obligation free consultation on how to best market your green product, green service or green office please contact Chuck Lohre, LEED AP ID+C. He'll offer helpful marketing suggestions for understanding your buyer personas, creating content that speaks to your customers, finding the best places to advertise and managing prospect lists and email news.  Article from the Cincinnati Business Courier.

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Green Marketing the Wright Way: A LEED Platinum Home

Fri, Jan 10, 2014 @ 11:12 AM / by Chuck Lohre posted in Green Building Consulting, Green Marketing, LEED Platinum Certification, Green Building

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A recent blog post in POLLUTION ENGINEERING inspired us to plot a path to LEED Platinum for a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home.

LEED Platinum HomeEditor Roy Bigham's piece was about new EPA clean air standards being considered for for wood stoves. We use a sawdust pellet stove in our office to demonstrate renewable energy. The U.S. Green Building Council considers the burning of sawdust a renewable energy source because sawdust would decay anyway and release its carbon. Since the production of lumber is considered a proper use of natural resources if it is a common species, its byproduct, sawdust, satisfies the renewable energy requirement for that credit.

Our green building consulting division, Green Cincinnati Education Advocacy, is working on LEED documentation for a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home. HVAC systems are particulary tough aspects in the quest for LEED Platinum certification. In this case, there is only a modest area available for solar panels, which may barely be able to power the AC system during the summer. The real problem was the boiler for the hot water heating system which is in the main floor. The solution is to use sawdust pellets for the heating system. By having the two systems, we will avoid having to install a costly ($30,000+) geothermal system which would require two separate systems, one for the hot water floor heating and one for the air conditioning system on the roof. The stove shown in the photo is in our LEED Platinum office. It's an EPA Certified sawdust pellet system that has very low emissions but still smells great. The combustion system is completely separate from the forced hot air system which heats the office.

Frank Lloyd Wright Green HomeHere's a preliminary scorecard on our path to achieve LEED Platinum. We may get four credits because we are using an existing home's shell and providing access to open space on the generous lot. It will be a sustainable site because it's entirely planted in native wildflowers and grasses which require no irrigation and doesn't use toxic pest control -- that should give us 24 credits.

A full 15 credits may be achieved by improving water efficiency with rainwater harvesting and high-efficiency toilets and faucet aerators. Low water-use clothing and dishwashers would be specified, as well.

The energy and atmosphere systems for the home built in 1956 will be hard to modify and improve. Air sealing, air-to-air heat exchangers and high-quality interior storm windows will barely bring the home up to conventional comfort levels. Using the renewable sawdust pellet stove and solar panels for electricity production will raise the credit count by 27.5.

Boulter House Tom Schiff Photograph resized 600

Indoor environmental quality will be improved by extra outdoor air ventilation, better air filters, enhanced combustion air venting and the lack of a garage -- 18 credits could be achieved. Rounding out the project will be green cleaning and green building education programs at the home. An innovation in design point will be awarded because of the passive solar orientation popular with Wright's designs. The more than 450 square feet of windows are a signature feature as well, but more than five times as much as needed for passive solar heating systems. The lack of roof overhang is mitigated by external shading in the summer. This proposal totals 112.5 credits, LEED Platinum is achieved for projects over 90. Photo by Thomas R. Schiff.

Honda Insight Top SpeedSo let's get back to Bigham. We disagree when he concludes, "These and many other changes are not driven by market pressures to improve anything. These are bureaucratic changes that the government tells us is better for us. Nobody in my circle of friends wants to be forced to spend up to $100K for their next car. My last purchase was around $18K."

U.S. citizens' tax dollars fund the EPA's work to develop air quality standards. I want to follow them for my and my neighbors' health. We paid $3500 for our EPA Certified sawdust pellet stove. You can get one like it in size at Walmart for $1500, which pollutes the atmosphere unnecessarily. We achieved LEED Platinum for $12 per square foot. We believe you can be environment-positive and economical by spending where it's needed and saving through reusing materials. My last car purchase was $7K 12-year-old Honda Insight. It gets 100 mpg once you learn how to drive efficiently. Now that's green, clean and inspiring!


If you liked this post, you may also like, "The Joys of a LEED Platinum Green Office and How You Can Achieve It."


Chuck Lohre, LEED AP and Documentation ConsultantFor a no obligation green building consultation for your home or office please contact Chuck Lohre, LEED AP ID+C. He'll go over the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Reference Guide with you and offer helpful suggestions for Green Building Consultants, Architects, Interior Designers, Building Material Suppliers and Contractors. You can even borrow the Reference Guide if you like. Article from the Cincinnati Business Courier.
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The Joys of a LEED Platinum Green Office and How You Can Achieve It

Tue, Jan 07, 2014 @ 01:25 PM / by Lauren Campbell posted in Green Building Consulting, LEED Certification, Green Building Materials, Green Building

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The front of  the Lohre & Associates LEED Platinum Building

A LEED Platinum office attracts fantastic employees. A Green Building Consultant can help you achieve it.

We all know that a vested interest in the future is what keeps businesses operating. What better way to showcase your investment than working in a green building? Not to mention, the employee perks associated with green building: cleaner indoor environmental quality, more natural lighting, green cleaning products, and more; all of these components contribute to the wellness, health, and productivity of your employees. Helping them stay happier and productive longer. 

In addition to happier, more productive employees, as a business owner you get to be a part of the joyful process of LEED building. Learning the how, why and what of LEED gives individuals a peek into the green building industry and offers a green educational element to your building and to your business. There is something to be said when you take a building materials client through your office and show them all of the sustainable measures you have taken, especially when most of these measures include new technology resulting in a cleaner environment and happier employees. 

One example of utilizing newer technology is having a net zero waste building. This means that all energy the building uses is derived from renewable resources and sometimes generated on location, with the use of geothermal, solar panels, or even a small wind turbine. In addition to energy, net zero waste also means no water waste. Collecting, treating and reusing all water within a building is quite a feat; requiring rain water collection and treatment of black water (sewer grade water) to potable or drinkable water. This typically requires utilizing newer technology, but will give the building owner, residents and/or employees a sense of leadership knowing they are not contributing to our already tapped clean water resources.

No One Wants A Headache

Having your building LEED certified is quite an undertaking and one that cannot be done alone. An entire team of individuals is necessary and a LEED Accredited Professional (AP) is recommended; there is even a point given to those projects who utilize a LEED AP. LEED AP's make the documentation process a little less difficult. They also bring a more sustainable mindset to your project, helping everyone stay on the 'green' track. Having a key individual to effectively communicate the importance of documenting each and every aspect of a project is the difference between having a smooth, fluid project or a large, shuddering headache. 

Green Marketing CompanyRecently, there has been some green building scrutiny: they  take longer to build, they are more expensive, etc. While there is an immense amount of time management that goes into a green building, having open communication and a dedicated team helps alleviate most of those issues; and yes, up front costs can be higher, but many businesses see larger ROI's within the first few years of operating in energy efficiency alone. This doesn't take into account longer employee retention, more productive employees, or the health care savings associated with green building. Overall, green building is a smart investment. Article from the Cincinnati Business Courier.

As an employee who works in a LEED Platinum building, I can attest to the cleaner, happier environment. It was important to me to find an environment that lined up with my core values and doing so makes working so much more enjoyable. It is exciting to be a part of something that is helping our environment, our city, and our corporate culture. 

Lauren Campbell LEED GA, Internet Marketing at Lohre & Associates.


If you liked this blog post, you will also enjoy this one on "How Volkswagen 'Greened' its Chattanooga Assembly Plant."


Chuck Lohre, LEED AP and Documentation ConsultantFor a no obligation green building consultation for your home or office please contact Chuck Lohre, LEED AP ID+C. He'll go over the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Reference Guide with you and offer helpful suggestions for Green Building Consultants, Architects, Interior Designers, Building Material Suppliers and Contractors. You can even borrow the Reference Guide if you like. Article from the Cincinnati Business Courier.
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