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TradeWinds

Industry News List

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Garland Expands Architectural Options with Horizontal Wall

As the newest member of Garland’s R‑Mer® family of metal roof and wall systems, R‑Mer® Guard wall panels give building owners a lateral aesthetic option for architectural exterior walls. R-Mer Guard is a concealed clip system that is engineered for strength and longevity, as well as beauty. It has been tested and approved to meet extreme wind uplift, as well as air and water penetration and missile impact, and can withstand the toughest conditions, including the coastal hurricane environment.

R-Mer Guard panels are available in a wide range of colors, gauges, and metal materials, including aluminum, zinc, copper, and stainless steel. These attractive architectural panels come in several ribbing profiles to meet a variety of aesthetic preferences, and are custom formed to meet the design and performance requirements of each individual project.

Individual colors, profiles, and metals can be used in various combinations, and in conjunction with vertical walls, to create interesting contrasts of colors, textures, and materials, or can be installed uniformly for a clean horizontal line. John Pierson, PE, engineering services manager for Garland, reports, “With this aesthetic extension of the R-Mer product line, architects can design the most complex integrations of metal roof and wall panels using aesthetically compatible materials from a single, reliable source.” According to Pierson, the new horizontal wall panels, when installed as specified, are warranted to be leak-free for at least ten years.

The Garland Company, Inc. is a worldwide leader of quality, high-performance roofing and building maintenance systems for the commercial, industrial and institutional markets. For over 100 years, Garland has continually developed unique product and service offerings that raise industry standards of performance in order to meet the technical performance requirements of a wide range of challenging waterproofing applications throughout the world. Its 200 local representatives are strategically positioned throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to provide integrated product and service solutions for single and multi-property facilities. The Garland Company, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, is an ISO 9001:2008 certified company.

For a free roof inspection, or for more information, visit the Garland Web site, contact us directly, or phone your local Garland representative at 1‑800‑321‑9336.

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Sixty-Three Percent of Architects Surveyed Report Stalled Projects
Lack of Financing Cited as Primary Cause

Almost two-thirds of architects surveyed by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) last month report that they have at least one project that is stalled due to lack of financing, despite record low interest rates.

The survey of April business activity was taken as part of the AIA’s Architectural Billings Index (ABI), a leading monthly economic indicator of construction activity that provides a nine to 12-month glimpse into the future of nonresidential construction spending activity. Of the 63% of firms surveyed with stalled projects, the average value of each project was almost $50 million per firm.

Among the survey’s major findings:
  • The availability of construction project financing remains a major issue for many architecture firms. In April, 57 percent of survey respondents rated the issue as very or extremely serious, and an additional 30 percent indicated that it is a somewhat serious issue.
  • Nearly half of respondents (45 percent) think that the availability of credit has become more restrictive over the past year, with just 16 percent seeing an easement in credit availability.

“This data only serves to reinforce the dire need for lawmakers to act to alleviate a credit crunch that continues to plague one of the economy’s biggest job-creating engines – the design and construction industry,” said AIA President Clark Manus, FAIA. “We are on the front lines of an industry that accounts for $1 in $9 of U.S. Gross Domestic Product, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”

“Congress can clearly move to free up credit by passing legislation that gives the regional banking industry more freedom to lend,” Manus said. “What’s needed on Capitol Hill is action to ensure that as Congress cuts federal spending, it also takes steps to make credit more available.”

An example of such legislation is the Capital Access for Main Street (CAMS) Act, introduced by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), which would temporarily allow small community banks with under $10 billion in assets to spread out or amortize a portion of their commercial real estate loans over a seven-year period. These banks, which provide many of the loans to our small businesses, would then have more liquid capital available to make responsible loans.

Following several months of relatively positive business conditions, the ABI fell almost three points in April. On May 18, the AIA reported that the April ABI score was 47.6, a precipitous decrease from a reading of 50.5 the previous month. Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.

About The American Institute of Architects
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.

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American Institute of Architects’ Alabama Council Commends State Legislature for 90-Day Extension of Good Samaritan Protection for Architects and Engineers

The American Institute of Architects’ Alabama Council today commended the Alabama legislature for extending to 90 days the liability protection that the state’s Good Samaritan Law may afford architects, engineers and other licensed building professionals who donate their services after disasters like the tornados that leveled parts of the state April 27.

The bill, which Alabama’s legislature passed late on Thursday, now goes to Governor Robert Bentley for signature.

The legislation will permit the 206-member AIA specially-trained team of architects, engineers, building inspectors and fire marshals from across the country to continue to perform safety assessments on homes and structures damaged by the devastating April storms. These assessments, which are a necessary step before any real reconstruction can commence, help determine whether buildings are safe for permanent occupancy, temporary or partial occupancy or if structures need a detailed damage assessment and additional work.

“We are gratified that the legislature saw fit to extend this protection for 90 days,” said Mike Chapman, President of AIA’s Alabama Council. “With a disaster of this magnitude, our volunteers had barely begun to make an impact before they would have been required to pull up stakes and go home.”

Before the state legislature acted, the Alabama Good Samaritan Law would have expired just thirty days after the declaration of an emergency.

The assistance effort is part of the continuous commitment by the AIA and its local chapters to provide disaster assistance wherever possible to communities hit by any number and kind of disasters, from earthquakes to hurricanes to floods. The team in Alabama was trained using both California's Safety Assessment Program (SAP) as well as the ATC 45, (Applied Technology Council's Field Manual: Safety of Buildings after wind Storms and Floods).

For building officials that need assistance in safety assessments, please contact the AIA Alabama Council at (334)264-3037.

About The American Institute of Architects
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.

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Construction Spending Inches Up In April As Gains In Private Nonresidential Segments, Home Improvements Offset Weakness In Housing, Public Sector
“Deceptively Positive” Construction Spending Figures Highlight How Government Funding Cutbacks are Limiting Construction Industry’s Recovery, Likely Also Over-Stating Housing Improvements

Construction spending inched up for the second straight month in April, 0.4 percent – following downward revisions to the March spending figures – thanks to increases in private nonresidential and home-improvement spending, the Associated General Contractors of America reported today in an analysis of new Census Bureau data. Association officials noted, however, that the gains were tempered by sluggish homebuilding and declining levels of public investment in construction.

“Overall economic conditions seem better than they have been for several years, which normally leads to well-rounded construction growth,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But these figures may be deceptively positive, masking weakening public sector demand and still-weak demand for residential construction.”

Simonson noted that the April results were boosted by a modest half-percent rise in private nonresidential construction and a deceptively large 3.1 percent leap in private residential spending. However, the residential growth was attributable to a 7.6 percent jump in the ‘improvements’ category, a number the Census Bureau frequently revises down in later months, as it did in March. The economist cautioned that the figures from more reliable residential categories—new single- and multi-family construction—declined by 1.0 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.

Simonson noted that private nonresidential spending also was uneven. The largest category, power construction, grew 3.2 percent, and there were increases of 4.7 percent for communication construction and 0.8 percent for private health care construction. But there were decreases of 1.3 percent in commercial construction (retail, warehouse and farm), 1.0 percent in manufacturing construction, and 3.2 percent in private office construction.

The economist said the steep drop in public construction, which fell for the seventh straight month in April—by 1.9 percent—and shrank to a four-year low, was cause for concern. “It appears that federal stimulus and military base realignment work are tapering off, while state and local budgets for infrastructure have been shrinking for some time,” he said. The four largest public categories, accounting for three-fourths of public construction spending, all declined in April: highway and street construction, -1.6 percent; educational, -2.7 percent; transportation facilities, -3.8 percent; and sewage and waste disposal, -2.5 percent.

Association officials said the mixed results show the importance of enacting long-term infrastructure funding bills for transportation, wastewater and drinking water, as well as having a tax and regulatory environment that encourages private investment in structures. “Economic recovery will remain sluggish and uneven unless construction and the sectors that depend on it share in growth,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.

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Pilkington North America, Inc. Research and Development Facility Goes Solar
Pilkington North America, Inc. Research and Development facility ribbon-cutting ceremony for the 250 kilowatt solar field is schedule for May 31, 2011 at the research and development center in Northwood, Ohio.

Pilkington North America, Inc. has gone solar, thanks to a new one-acre solar array project at its research and development center in Northwood. Hull & Associates, Inc. has partnered with Pilkington North America, Inc. to develop and install the 250 kW ground-mounted, solar photovoltaic energy facility on a brownfield site originating from the company’s former East Toledo float plant. This solar energy facility is the largest private sector, behind-the–meter, renewable energy project in Ohio.

“This project highlights the NSG Group’s commitment to responsible stewardship and the solar energy market both locally and around the world,” said environmental manager Cliff Fleener.

Weather-permitting, the ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled to be held on Tuesday, May 31, 2011 at 10:30am at the solar field in Northwood. The ceremony will include opening remarks from Mark Stoner, the Mayor of the City of Northwood. Richard Altman, President, Building Products, North America and Tony Shaw, Vice President, Technology – Automotive will give project recognition and highlights. Steve Giles, Hull & Associates will provide details of the project developments.

The solar field utilizes panels incorporating the NSG Group’s solar energy glass products, supplied by First Solar. The Pilkington brand name has been closely associated with the development and production of glass products since its founding in 1826. Its acquisition by Nippon Sheet Glass Co. Ltd. in 2006 has added to its resources and commitment to quality and excellence, as well as its expertise in on-line coating technology used for the production of glass used in solar applications. Today the combined company, the NSG Group, is the worldwide leader of high quality, high volume solar energy glass products, with manufacturing sites all over the world. The Northwood solar energy facility will supply approximately 12 percent of its power requirements, while reducing annual electric consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The new solar facility became fully operational earlier this spring.

The project is being managed by Hull Energy, LLC, a newly formed renewable energy project development and asset management company. An affiliate of Hull, Hull Energy has been established to develop, operate and own renewable energy projects for municipal, commercial and industrial clients.

Development of the $1.5 million solar energy project was partially supported by a $680,782 grant from the Ohio Energy Office through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s State Energy Program.

About Pilkington
The Pilkington name has been closely associated with glass since 1826. In 2006, Pilkington plc was acquired by the NSG Group of Japan, and the name Pilkington was retained as a brand for the Group’s building and automotive products. The enlarged NSG Group is now one of the world’s largest manufacturers of glass and glazing products for the building trade, the automotive industry and the specialty glass sector, with manufacturing operations in around 30 countries on four continents and sales in around 130 countries.

About Hull
Hull & Associates, Inc. is an industry leader in engineering, energy and environmental consulting. With 140 employees and six offices throughout the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic, Hull’s focus is to provide innovative, value-added services to many pressing and complex challenges in the urban revitalization, energy, waste management and environmental markets.

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Nonresidential Construction Index—The Slow Recovery Continues

FMI, the largest provider of management consulting and investment banking to the engineering and construction industry, announces the release of its Nonresidential Construction Index (NRCI) report for the second quarter of 2011.

In spite of adjustments made to accommodate the rising cost of materials, the NRCI moved up 1.4 points to 58.7 for the second quarter. For the fifth quarter in a row, the Index has remained at least slightly in positive territory. The slow, uneven recovery of nonresidential construction mirrors the mixed signals from the national economy, where consumer spending begins to improve just as gas prices skyrocket, and automotive sales start to bounce back as an unparalleled disaster in Japan takes billions of dollars in parts and automotive manufacturing offline.

With the notable exceptions of increasing material and labor costs, most of the major components of the NRCI improved slightly or stayed about the same as last quarter. However, current issues for the Q2 NRCI indicate some challenges to come for nonresidential construction. For instance, 86.5 percent of NRCI panelists favor severe cuts in infrastructure spending if it will help bring the deficit down and promote sustainable government spending even though those contractors stand to lose a lot of potential work. Panelists expect threats and maybe some future opportunities as the markets begin to feel the effects of multiple natural disasters and political upheaval in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

In the meantime, panelists continue to work harder to improve their backlogs, and that effort includes maintaining good relationships with their loyal customers. In this case, the challenges include keeping those loyal customers in the face of low-bid competitors as loyalty is challenged when owners can only see low price. Most panelists expect loyal customers to return as the economy improves, but 26 percent expect to be doing more work with new customers after the recession.

Download the complete NRCI report here.

For more information about the report, please contact Sarah Vizard at 919.785.9221 or svizard@fminet.com.

About FMI
FMI is the largest provider of management consulting, investment banking and research to the engineering and construction industry. We work in all segments of the industry providing clients with value-added business solutions, including:
  • Strategy Development
  • Market Research and Business Development
  • Leadership and Talent Development
  • Project and Process Improvement
  • Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Consulting

Founded by Dr. Emol A. Fails in 1953, FMI has professionals in offices across the U.S. FMI delivers innovative, customized solutions to contractors; construction materials producers; manufacturers and suppliers of building materials and equipment; owners and developers; engineers and architects; utilities; and construction industry trade associations. FMI is an advisor you can count on to build and maintain a successful business, from your leadership to your site managers.

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19 States And DC Add Construction Jobs Between April 2010 & 2011, But Job Losses Intensify In Several Other States; Monthly Results Show Similar Split
Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee Led Yearly Pickup; Minnesota and Florida Experienced the Worst Job Losses; West Virginia, Kansas, Arizona Had Sharpest Monthly Gains; Minnesota and Texas Had the Worst Losses

Construction employment patterns diverged across the country in April as 19 states plus the District of Columbia added jobs over the past year even as losses deepened in others, the Associated General Contractors of America reported in an analysis of state employment data released by the Labor Department. Association officials said the figures reflect an uneven and unsteady construction industry recovery that could be undermined by looming cost increases and public sector funding cuts.

“It is good to see more states adding construction jobs for the year in April than at any point since February 2008,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “However, most of the gains were modest at best while the losses were more severe in more states than last month.” Annual construction employment gains were less than three percent in all but four states while four states experienced double-digit construction job losses, whereas only one state—West Virginia—had such steep annual losses last month.

Of the 20 locations with year-over-year increases, the largest percentage gains occurred in Oklahoma (4.8 percent, 3,200 jobs); followed by Texas (4.1 percent, 23,200 jobs); Tennessee (3.1 percent, 3,300 jobs); Wyoming (3.1 percent, 700 jobs); and Maine (2.5 percent, 600 jobs). Texas, Tennessee and Oklahoma added the largest number of jobs; followed by Indiana (1,500 jobs, 1.3 percent) and Pennsylvania (1,500 jobs, 0.7 percent). Massachusetts had no change in construction employment from April 2010 to April 2011.

Of the 30 states with decreases over the year, the largest percentage drop in construction employment took place in Minnesota (-14.1 percent, -12,900 jobs); followed by Nevada (-11.6 percent, -7,100 jobs); Wisconsin (-11.3 percent, -11,000 jobs); and Colorado (-11.2 percent, -13,100 jobs). Florida lost the largest number of jobs (-20,400 jobs, -5.8 percent); followed by New York (-16,100 jobs, -5.1 percent); Colorado; Minnesota; and Georgia (-12,700 jobs, -8.4 percent).

Simonson noted that 22 states plus D.C. added jobs during the month, while 27 states lost jobs. Construction employment held steady in Wyoming. West Virginia had the largest percentage rise (7.1 percent, 2,100 jobs); followed by Kansas (3.7 percent, 1,900 jobs); Arizona (3.6 percent, 3,900 jobs); Alaska (2.5 percent, 400 jobs); and South Carolina (2.5 percent, 1,900 jobs). Arizona added the largest number of jobs; followed by New York (2,200 jobs, 0.7 percent); West Virginia; Washington (2,000 jobs, 1.4 percent); and Kansas and South Carolina.

The largest monthly percentage losses occurred in Minnesota (-6.8 percent, -5,700 jobs); followed by Nevada (-5.6 percent, -3,200 jobs); Colorado (-4.1 percent, -4,400 jobs); Rhode Island (-3.9 percent, -600 jobs) and Michigan (-3.9 percent, -4,900 jobs). The largest number of construction job losses over the month was in Texas (-9,300 jobs, -1.6 percent).

Association officials cautioned that the fragile construction employment recovery some states are experiencing could be undermined by a pending federal rule that requires many local governments as well as state and federal governments to withhold 3 percent of contractors’ earning for publicly funded work. Combined with federal state and local budget costs, the “Three Percent Rule” is likely to undermine the recover before it starts, officials said.

“Forcing contractors to do less work and earn less for that work isn’t a good way to boost construction employment,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.

View construction employment numbers by state or by rank.

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Architecture Billings Index Tumbles Nearly Three Points
Drops to lowest mark since October 2010

Following several months of relatively positive business conditions, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) fell almost three points in April. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the April ABI score was 47.6, a precipitous decrease from a reading of 50.5 the previous month. This score reflects a sharp decrease in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 55.0, down from a mark of 58.7 in March, but still at a healthy level.

“The first question is whether this drop is a sign of an industry wide reversal in demand for design services or a bump in the road,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “The fact that most construction projects funded under the federal stimulus program have completed their design work, the anxiety around the possibility of a shutdown in the federal government in April, as well as the unusually severe weather in the Southeast had something to do with this falloff. However, the majority of firms are reporting at least one stalled project in-house because of the continued difficulty in obtaining financing. That issue continues to be the main roadblock to recovery.”

Key April ABI highlights:
  • Regional averages: Northeast (51.2), Midwest (51.1), South (48.3), West (47.7)
  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (53.9), commercial / industrial (49.9), institutional (45.9) mixed practice (45.2)
  • Project inquiries index: 55.0

About the AIA Architecture Billings Index
The Architecture Billings Index (ABI), produced by the AIA Economics & Market Research Group, is a leading economic indicator that provides an approximately nine to twelve month glimpse into the future of nonresidential construction spending activity. The diffusion indexes contained in the full report are derived from a monthly “Work-on-the-Boards” survey that is sent to a panel of AIA member-owned firms. Participants are asked whether their billings increased, decreased, or stayed the same in the month that just ended as compared to the prior month, and the results are then compiled into the ABI. These monthly results are also seasonally adjusted to allow for comparison to prior months. The monthly ABI index scores are centered around 50, with scores above 50 indicating an aggregate increase in billings, and scores below 50 indicating a decline. The regional and sector data are formulated using a three-month moving average. More information on the ABI and the analysis of its relationship to construction activity can be found in the White Paper Architecture Billings as a Leading Indicator of Construction: Analysis of the Relationship Between a Billings Index and Construction Spending on the AIA web site.

About The American Institute of Architects
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.

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Construction Rallies As Industry Spending Increases By 1.4 Percent In March To A Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate Of $769 Billion
Construction Economist Cites Increases in Most Nonresidential Segments, Predicts Future Private Sector Increases, Cautions Public Sector Spending is Likely to Decline

Construction spending bounced back from an 11-year low in March, increasing by 1.4 percent to a total seasonally adjusted annual rate of $769 billion, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of new Census Bureau data released today. Association officials cautioned however that the industry remains weak, noting that total construction spending remains 6.7 percent lower than a year ago and 37 percent lower than the March 2006 peak.

“It is encouraging to see increases in construction spending across most nonresidential categories in March,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Considering how much construction spending has declined during the past five years, however, we are still a long way from anything that can be labeled a recovery.”

Spending on lodging increased the most in March, up 6.1 percent for the month while down -31 percent for the year, followed by manufacturing (5.2 percent for the month, -28 percent for the year) and health care (2.4 percent for the month, -3.2 percent for the year.) Simonson pointed out, however, that spending on only two of the 10 largest nonresidential categories was higher in March 2011 than in March 2010: highways and streets, up 0.6 percent for the month and 4.9 percent over 12 months; and power construction, up 1.8 percent for the month and 3.9 percent over 12 months.

Simonson predicted that spending on certain private construction sectors was likely to increase over the coming months, but that publicly-funded construction activity was likely to decline. “I expect we’ll see improvements in the next few months in manufacturing, warehouse, hospital and data-center construction, but these gains may not offset declines in school and other public construction,” he said.

Simonson noted that residential construction appeared to rise by a strong 2.6 percent in March but that the gain was attributable only to the extremely volatile number for improvements to existing housing, which climbed 6.9 percent for the month. New single-family spending dropped -1.0 percent in March and -9.4 percent over 12 months, while multifamily construction slipped -2.2 percent and -13.2 percent, respectively.

Association officials said the new spending figures reflect cuts in local, state and federal public investments in infrastructure. They noted, for example, that public sector spending on transportation is down -11.1 percent for the year. They added that investments in public safety facilities has declined by 15.6 percent while investments in sewage and waste disposal declined by -7.9 percent since March 2010.

“Delaying infrastructure maintenance while deferring debate on out of control entitlement spending is no way to balance the budget, but it is a good way to lose the future,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.

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Construction Material Costs Outrun Finished Building Prices Again In April, Putting More Contractors And Their Employees At Risk
New Producer Price Index Figures Show Double-Digit Annual Jumps for Diesel, Copper and Steel; Association Officials Call for Quick Enactment of Infrastructure Bills, Repeal of 3 Percent Withholding

Contractors were only able to partially pass on the costs of rising petroleum and metals prices in April, according to an analysis of producer price index figures released today by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). Association officials said the resulting cost squeeze—a result of sluggish demand for construction—will push more construction employees and firms out of work unless public officials act promptly to encourage public and private investment.

“Contractors have been clobbered for several months by double-digit price hikes for diesel fuel, copper and steel products,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Worse, the price squeeze is hitting many contractors while private demand remains weak, public demand is shrinking and the amount they earn for most publicly funded projects is about to be drastically cut.”

Simonson noted that the producer price index for all materials increased by 1.4 percent in April and 7.1 percent over the past 12 months. Meanwhile, the price of finished buildings rose 1.1 percent or less in April and only 1.7 percent or less over the past year, depending on building type.

Simonson said the most extreme price increase was for diesel fuel, which jumped 5.7 percent in April and 41.6 percent year-over-year. Prices for copper and brass mill shapes climbed 2.6 percent in April and 14.3 percent year-over-year, while steel mill product prices increased 2.2 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

Noting that prices for crude oil, iron and steel scrap, and copper futures—items that usually indicate near-term price movements for diesel fuel, construction steel, and copper wire and pipe—have slipped from their highs in recent weeks but remain very volatile, Simonson suggested the worst may be over for now. Meanwhile, construction employment has risen modestly for the past three months and construction spending edged up in March according to government reports last week. However, the construction economist cautioned that many contractors, especially those working on public projects, are still facing cutbacks in work to bid on.

Association officials urged Congress and the White House to promptly enact overdue infrastructure spending bills and to repeal a law that will require all levels of government to begin withholding 3 percent of payments to contractors by 2013. “The lack of funding for transportation and water projects, combined with the looming withholding of more than most contractors make on the average project, threatens to force many firms out of business,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.

View the latest producer price index tables for construction.

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Construction Industry Adds 5,000 Jobs Between March And April, As Sector's Unemployment Rate Falls To 17.8 Percent
After Years of Declines, Construction Employment Stable Since Early 2010; Declines in Public Sector Demand Likely to Drag on Employment Levels for Rest of Year, Economist Predicts


The construction industry added 5,000 jobs in April while the industry’s unemployment rate declined slightly to 17.8 percent, nearly twice the national average, according to an analysis of new federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said the figures continue a year-long trend of little change in construction employment after years of steep declines and predicted the stagnation is unlikely to change soon.

“The construction industry may have stopped bleeding jobs, but there is no sign that employment levels are set to bounce back,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “With declines in public sector investments likely to offset increases in some private sector construction activity, we are unlikely to see significant increases in construction employment for the foreseeable future.”

The construction economist said the nonresidential construction sectors added 10,000 jobs in April, while the residential sector lost 5,400 jobs. The largest gains came from the heavy and civil engineering construction, likely reflecting the start of construction on a number of stimulus and other publicly funded projects that halted during the winter. Meanwhile, employment declined in both the nonresidential specialty trade contractors and the nonresidential building categories, possibly reflecting weak demand for office, retail and school construction.

Association officials said that construction employment is likely to remain relatively stagnant through much of 2011 as federal, state and local governments cut investments in infrastructure and other construction projects. They said that expected increases in multifamily, manufacturing and power construction would help offset the public sector declines, but might not be enough to lead to significant increases in construction employment.

“Construction will keep suffering double-digit unemployment rates as long as federal officials continue to cut infrastructure maintenance and upkeep instead of addressing out-of-control entitlement spending,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “The lesson here is you can’t neglect your way to greater economic prosperity.”

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American Institute of Architects (AIA) Contract Documents Offers Sneak Peek at Next Generation Service
New service will revolutionize the way users access and share AIA forms and agreements

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) today unveiled a demonstration of its new, next generation AIA Contract Documents service, which will represent a significant innovation in accessibility, security, flexibility, affordability and ease of use for the design and construction industry.

Accessible
AIA Contract Documents users will have access to the AIA Contract Document library and all drafts and final documents anytime from anywhere with an internet connection from either a PC or Mac.

Secure
To ensure the security and privacy of users’ documents, the new AIA service will utilize multiple layers of protection, including enhanced log-in security, encrypted upload and download of information and storage of documents at a world-class host facility with state of the art backup systems.

Flexible
The new service allows parties to work online or offline so that users can download a draft to a personal computer and continuing working offline, if desired. It also grants the freedom to share and edit documents online among multiple parties from multiple locations without ever having to email documents.

Affordable
New purchase options offer users greater value and affordability. This includes flexible licenses such as unlimited use of a select bundle of fully editable electronic documents most frequently used by profession, such as a contractor or an architect bundle as well as a one-time purchase option of single, fully editable documents as needed, allowing users to pay as they go, instead of purchasing an annual subscription. With these options, users get what they need, when they need it, and they can choose the right size package for the way they work.

Easy to Use
Every step of the way, this new service is revolutionizing the way AIA Contract Documents users select, draft, share and finalize their documents.

Selecting the Right Document – Full text search options allow users to search the library for documents that include key words or use the “Help me find an AIA template” tool to locate the right document for their project. Users can also use the new Agreement Comparison Tool to compare key features of up to three documents, and the new service offers users the ability to preview the documents prior to starting a new draft.

Drafting Your Document – The Online Editor works like a standard word processing interface, allowing users to do things like track changes and change fonts. In addition, the Clause Library allows users to re-use language, such as project name, throughout a document or across multiple documents, saving significant time. ◦Sharing Your Document – This end-to-end solution allows users to share documents with multiple parties with a simple click. Parties can review and track changes online whether or not they have an AIA Contract Documents license. All along the way, the system tracks the review status from all parties with whom the document was shared.

Finalizing Your Document – Users can save and print PDF finals of all documents from the online system, as well as provide digital signatures for quick sign-off.

“This new AIA service reflects input from thousands of Contractors, Architects, Owners and Attorneys. Based on this feedback, the AIA is setting a new Industry Standard for the design and construction market,” said Molly Lindblom, Managing Director AIA Contract Documents.

Demonstrations and additional information about the new web platform will be available at the AIA Contract Documents booth #445 at AIA Convention 2011, being held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans on May 12-14.

About The American Institute of Architects
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.

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American Institute of Architects Release Guide For Sustainable Projects
AIA Guide for Sustainable Projects to Provide Design and Construction Industry with Roadmap for Working on Sustainable Projects

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) today announced that AIA Document D503™-2011, Guide for Sustainable Projects, including Agreement Amendments and Supplementary Conditions (“Guide”), is now available. The Guide is free and was developed to assist users of AIA Contract Documents in understanding contractual considerations unique to sustainable design and construction projects. The Guide also provides model language that can be used to amend or supplement key AIA Contract Documents in the A201 Family for use in these types of projects. Developed by the AIA’s Contract Documents Committee, with input from industry stakeholders, the Guide provides AIA Contract Documents users with a valuable tool for creating versions of AIA standard contract documents for sustainable projects.

“The AIA Contract Documents program continues to revise existing documents and develop new documents and guides, as necessary, to remain current with trends and changes in the industry and law,” said Ken Cobleigh, Managing Director and Counsel for AIA Contract Documents content. “The development of the Guide reflects the shifting landscape in the industry and addresses key issues of interest to all parties involved in these types of projects.”

The Guide addresses the current state of sustainable design and construction, discussing issues and concepts including:
  • Certification systems, codes and legislation affecting sustainable design and construction projects,
  • Risks and responsibilities faced by owners, contractors and architects on sustainable design and construction projects, and
  • Recommendations for model language to assist the architect in developing a scope of services and to assist all project participants in appropriately allocating risks and responsibilities.

In addition to providing model language that may be used to amend or supplement documents in the AIA Contract Documents A201 Family for design-bid-build projects, the Guide discusses the applicability of key concepts to other delivery models such as design-build, construction management and integrated project delivery.

Because the AIA believes the Guide is an important resource for the design and construction industry, it is available as a free download at www.aia.org/sustainableprojectsguide.

About The American Institute of Architects
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.

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American Institute of Architects and U.S. Green Building Council Unveil National Report for Greening America’s Schools
Report Highlights a Five-Point Action Plan to Achieve Green Schools

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) today unveiled Local Leaders in Sustainability: A Special Report from Sundance, which outlines a five-point national action plan that mayors and local leaders can use as a framework to develop and implement green schools initiatives.

“This report should serve as a guidepost for many communities throughout the country that are looking for ways to implement green initiatives but fear the expense involved,” said AIA President Clark Manus, FAIA. “In reality, the average school is 42 years old, and energy inefficiencies cost it approximately $100,000 a year, money that could be better spent on teachers, education materials, books or computers.”

The report, which exemplifies the ongoing working relationship between AIA and USGBC, was issued this week at the 2011 AIA National Convention and Design Exhibition in New Orleans and USGBC’s annual Government Summit in Washington, D.C. A press briefing on the report will be held at 8:30 a.m. on May 13 at the AIA Convention Press Office; Level 2, Room R09. Press Room phone: 504-670-7821

The steps outlined in the five-point plan include tangible action steps and are based on the conversations that took place at Sundance and successful green schools initiatives from across the United States and include:

  1. Connect with the Green Schools Movement
  2. Engage Stakeholders and Raise Awareness
  3. Build Community Support and Capacity
  4. Make it Happen: Benchmarking, Policy and Financing
  5. Celebrate Success

The report also provides a comprehensive review of the benefits of green schools; a summary of local, state and federal policy solutions; leadership profiles of green school advocates; and case studies from both large cities and small communities. Together, these resources serve as a roadmap on the journey to green schools.

This special report stems from outcomes at the Greening of America’s Schools Summit, which took place November 2010 at the Redford Conference Center at Sundance, Utah. USGBC and its Center for Green Schools; the Redford Center, founded by Robert Redford; and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability USA, collaborated to host the Greening of America’s School Summit, which brought U.S. mayors and superintendents from cities across the country, along with leaders in green design, education, arts and green school advocacy to take part in an intimate discussion on the importance of greening school districts.

“Through the greening of America’s schools, we have the chance to improve the health and education of our children, inspire future leaders and create a stronger America,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President and Chief Executive Officer, USGBC. “Sundance was just the beginning. This comprehensive blueprint provides local policy makers and community members ways in which they too can accelerate green schools in their areas.”

“The Greening of Americas Schools Summit marked an important first step in realizing that the environmental quality of our schools is essential to our future and long-term well-being. As a result, Mayors and Superintendents came together to chart a new course toward healthy, sustainable schools where our children can grow and excel. We must now take this blueprint into action so that every child in America can attend a green school within this generation,” said Martin J. Chávez, Executive Director, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability USA.

The report can be downloaded free-of-charge from aia.org/localleaders or centerforgreenschools.org/actionplan.

About The American Institute of Architects
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.

About the U.S. Green Building Council
The Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council is committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. With a community comprising 79 local affiliates, 16,000 member companies and organizations, and more than 155,000 LEED Professional Credential holders, USGBC is the driving force of an industry that is projected to contribute $554 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product from 2009-2013. USGBC leads an unlikely diverse constituency of builders and environmentalists, corporations and nonprofit organizations, elected officials and concerned citizens, and teachers and students. www.usgbc.org

About the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council
The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is how USGBC is making sure every student has the opportunity to attend a green school within this generation. From the kindergartner entering the classroom, to the Ph.D. student performing researching in a lab, the Center provides the resources and support to elevate dialogue, accelerate policy and institute innovation toward green schools and campuses. Thanks in part to generous support from founding sponsor United Technologies Corporation (www.utc.com), the Center works directly with staff, teachers, faculty, students, administrators, elected officials and communities to drive the transformation of all schools into sustainable places to live and learn, work and play. www.centerforgreenschools.org

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American Institute of Architects Expresses Support for Shaheen-Portman Energy Conservation Bill Introduced Today
Legislation Would Support Advanced Energy Codes, Save Taxpayer Money through Greener Government Buildings

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) today commended Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) for introducing the Energy Savings Act of 2011, a bipartisan piece of legislation that re-injects the importance of energy conservation in buildings into the national energy debate.

The bill would address one of the biggest but least understood factors facing American energy policy makers – the fact that commercial buildings account for 40 percent of the fossil fuel and 70 percent of the electricity consumed in the United States.

“This bill is a wake-up call for policy makers, for it puts front and center an issue that for too long has been relegated to second-class status in a debate dominated by arguments for increasing energy supplies,” said AIA President Clark Manus, FAIA. “Both conservation and exploration should have equal say as we move forward on crafting a comprehensive national energy policy, and we’re especially pleased to see this effort initiated on a bipartisan basis.”

Insofar as building energy conservation is concerned, the legislation calls for:
  • Advanced national model building energy codes: Sets national energy‐saving targets for building codes with a goal of achieving zero‐net‐energy for new commercial and residential buildings by 2030. Adoption and enforcement is reserved for the states, but the Department of Energy (DOE) can help them adopt the updated codes through technical assistance.
  • Rural Energy Savings Program: Directs the Rural Utilities Service to make zero‐interest loans to Rural Electric Cooperatives so they in turn can make low interest loans to their customers for home efficiency improvements.
  • Utility usage information: Requires electric utilities to provide electricity use information to consumers in electronic format, at no charge, in a timely, convenient format with protection of information security and consumer privacy. In cases of consumers served by smart meters capable of communications, consumers would have the right to access or authorize access by third parties of data from the meter. In Sen. Udall’s e‐Know bill, S. 3487.

About The American Institute of Architects
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.

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Belden Brick First To Get ISO 14001

Brian Belden, Marketing Manager of The Belden Brick Company, announced today that the company is the first manufacturer of brick products to receive ISO 14001Certification. The Certification is given to businesses that show environmental responsibility through compliance with government regulations, verifying this compliance through strict documentation.

"As it turns out, we were already in compliance with the key elements of the certification," Belden explained. "From there it was just a matter of documenting our compliance and then going through the audit process."

The entire process took about a year once the decision was made for Belden Brick to pursue ISO 14001 Certification. A team of third party auditors came to the company in March of this year, after which the company had to wait for 30 days for the results. They received official notification that they had received certification on May 6th.

"We're very proud of this certification," Belden said. "We're the first brick manufacturer to receive this, just as we were the first U.S. manufacturer to receive the ISO 9001 Certification for a quality management system." The Certification lasts for three years and shows proof that the company follows environmentally responsible practices, meets legal requirements, and seeks opportunities as environmental stewards. Yearly follow-up audits keep company operations alert as they work to maintain the Certification.

Belden explained that The Belden Brick Company's policy has always been to go above and beyond the expectations of current best practices, and works hard to do right by the communities where they do business. These policies made it easy for everyone in the company willing to put forth the effort required to meet the stringent documentation requirements.

"It was a true company-wide effort," he said. "Everyone from the top down bought into the program and put their best into meeting the criteria. I'm extremely proud of all the employees who took this effort to heart and helped us once again make industry history."

For additional information, visit www.beldenbrick.com.

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