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TradeWinds

Industry News List

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American Institute of Architects and Associated Builders and Contractors Announce Contract Documents Partnership Agreement

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) today announced a marketing partnership agreement, designed to foster a greater understanding and exchange of ideas between architects and contractors in the construction community.

“We see this as the beginning of a larger, long-term partnership between the AIA and ABC,” said AIA President, Clark Manus, FAIA. “For more than 100 years, the AIA has been committed to promoting greater industry collaboration among architects, owners and contractors, and this partnership is a natural extension of this work. ABC’s decision to partner with the AIA speaks volumes about the fair and balanced nature of AIA documents and their universal acceptance in the industry.”

“We believe this partnership will provide value to ABC members by giving them access to more resources to help them win work and deliver that work safely and productively,” added ABC President and CEO Mike Bellaman. “This partnership will allow for a healthy exchange of best practices and enhance relationships between architects and contractors, as well as bring more value to the industry.”

AIA offers more than 100 documents including contractor/subcontractor agreements and forms; owner/contractor agreements; application and certificate for payment; and change order forms. AIA Contract Documents are revised as necessary in order to remain current with trends and changes in the industry and law, and to balance the interests of all parties. AIA solicits counsel from more than a dozen industry groups when creating or updating documents, including Associated Builders and Contractors, which, under the partnership, will have increased involvement with the AIA Contract Documents program.

As part of the partnership, AIA will provide a number of benefits to ABC members, including a discount on the purchase of any retail-priced AIA Contract Document software license and access to AIA Contract Documents education programs.

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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Cumming Works With Department of Energy For a Series of Advanced Energy Retrofit Guides
San Diego Project and Cost Management Firm works with U.S. Department of Energy to create manuals that offer practical ways on how schools, hospitals and grocery stores can save energy

In an effort to help school districts, hospitals, and grocery stores around the nation implement energy improvement projects in their facilities, the U.S. Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), has rallied the expertise of seven companies to create three Advanced Energy Retrofit Guides (AERGs). One of its key contributors, Cumming, a San Diego-based project and cost management firm, drew upon their expertise in energy efficient building systems to outline best retrofit practices to provide energy cost savings.

Each guide specifically analyzes how to obtain strong financial returns from a project while reinvesting it back into the community and supporting the primary mission of any school, hospital, or grocery store. Cumming Managing Director, Stefan Coca, represented Cumming by estimating material, labor, removal, disposal, maintenance, and replacement costs for retrofit measures that were considered for each market segment.

“I believe that in extending the life span of a building, there are very measurable and tangible ways to make conscious, energy saving steps,” said Coca. “We have to be aware of how our buildings consume energy and implement ways to ultimately conserve energy in the most cost effective way possible. I’m honored to contribute my cost management knowledge to the cause and am excited to put this manual into effect as soon as possible.”

Bob Hendron, Senior Engineer at National Renewable Energy Laboratory and lead author of the AERG’s, agreed. “These examples illustrate the application of the retrofit measures in the context of a specific building design. They give energy managers some idea of the potential energy savings and cost-effectiveness of common measures, which is rarely available in other retrofit guides.”

In May 2011, the NREL project team began assembling data for five different locations to create custom templates in various climate zones: Miami, FL; Las Vegas, NV; Chicago, IL; Seattle, WA; and Duluth, MN. These five locations were chosen based upon their diverse, yet representative weather conditions.

The in-depth manual provides tangible solutions on how to implement energy saving installments such as:
  • Motion sensors
  • LED exit signs
  • Tubular skylights
  • Premium efficiency motors
  • Variable speed bumps
  • Roof insulation retrofit

The manuals will be available for any developer at the private, government or state level. It is the first comprehensive manual for energy conservation and savings measures by the Department of Energy. The AERG for K-12 Schools will be published in early December 2011. Drafts of the AERGs for grocery stores and hospitals are currently in the final stages of development and will be finalized in February 2012. All three AERGs will be posted on DOE’s Building Technologies Program website (www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/index.html), along with two companion AERGs for office buildings and retail stores published by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Other consultants on the NREL team include The ABO Group, RMH Group, National Association of Energy Service Companies, E Source, Big Ladder Software, and Rocky Mountain Institute.

For more information on the Advanced Energy Retrofit Guides and Cumming’s involvement, please contact Nikki Jimenez by email at nikki.jimenez@focuscominc.com or by phone at 619.233.7778.

About Cumming:
Cumming, headquartered in San Diego, California, is an international project and cost management firm. Since opening for business in 1996, Cumming has provided efficient and cost-effective solutions to ensure that projects in the education, healthcare, hospitality and gaming sectors are executed on time and within budget. Cumming provides a solutions-oriented suite of services that specifically address our clients' unique challenges, thus enabling them to achieve extraordinary results. For more information, please visit www.ccorpusa.com.

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American Institute of Architects Hails Congressional Repeal of 3 Percent Withholding Statute
Key AIA Policy Priority Now Heads to President For Signature

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) hailed the House of Representative’s passage of Senate legislation that repeals the 3 percent withholding statute, which requires government agencies to collect a 3 percent fee on payments made to individual contractors, including architects.

You can see this press release online here: http://www.aia.org/press/releases/AIAB091758

The legislation now heads to President Obama for signature, and the President has said he would sign the repeal into law.

House passage of the Senate bill also means passage of tax incentives for businesses who hire unemployed veterans.

Abolishing the 3 percent withholding mandate on government agencies has been one of many AIA legislative priorities. Since 2007, more than 5,500 AIA members have sent nearly 20,000 messages to Capitol Hill in support of repealing the 3% withholding statute.

“This vote is a signal to the design and construction sector, which has been hit hard in this economy and which is working hard at getting back on its feet,” said AIA President Clark Manus, FAIA. “One of the best ways to unleash the job-creating potential of our sector is to remove needless regulations and fees, wherever possible.”

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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Single-Family Housing Starts, Permits Rise in October

Single-family housing starts rose 3.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 430,000 units in October, according to newly released data from the U.S. Commerce Department. This improvement was somewhat masked by an 8.3 percent decline in multifamily starts that kept the combined number for nationwide housing production virtually flat at 628,000 units in October. Meanwhile, single-family permits also posted a measurable gain of 5.1 percent to 434,000 units in the latest report, which is their fastest pace since December of 2010.

“The government’s numbers for October housing production are very much in keeping with what home builders have been telling us in our recent surveys,” said Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Reno, Nev. “While we still have a long way to go toward a recovery, some signs of hope are emerging in certain markets where economic and job growth is occurring and where foreclosures have not been an overwhelming obstacle.”

“The three-month moving averages for both housing production and permitting activity have been gradually rising since this spring, which is consistent with our forecast for slow improvement in market conditions through the end of this year and a positive sign that a more solid recovery will begin to take hold in 2012,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “That said, the improvements we are seeing are still limited to scattered local markets where economies are improving, and obstacles such as tight credit conditions for builders and buyers, appraisal issues stemming from new homes being compared to distressed properties, and consumer concerns about job security are definitely slowing the progression of both a housing and economic recovery.”

While combined housing starts in October declined by a barely perceptible 0.3 percent to a rate of 628,000 units, the single-family sector posted a 3.9 percent gain to 430,000 units. Meanwhile, the more volatile multifamily sector posted an 8.3 percent decline to 198,000 units following an unsustainably large gain in the previous month.

Combined starts activity was up in three out of four regions in October. Gains of 17.2 percent, 9.7 percent and 1.6 percent were registered in the Northeast, Midwest and South, respectively, while the West posted a 16.5 percent decline.

Permit issuance, which can be an indicator of future building activity, rose 10.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 653,000 units in October on gains in both the single- and multifamily sides. Single-family housing permits rose 5.1 percent to 434,000 units – their highest level since December of 2010 – while multifamily permits rose 24.4 percent to 219,000 units – their highest level since October of 2008.

On a regional basis, combined permitting activity was down 1.6 percent in the Northeast and 3.7 percent in the Midwest, but up 21.5 percent in the South and 5.4 percent in the West.

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FMI Releases NRCI for the Fourth Quarter 2011
Nonresidential Construction Index—Glacial Growth; No Stimulus in Sight; Affordable Health Care Challenges

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

The NRCI slipped from 52.4 to a barely positive 50.3 this quarter. While the stock market continues its gyrations from news surrounding the future of the Euro countries, the NRCI has managed glacial growth, chugging along just above average for the last two years, average being little to no growth. The NRCI dropping to 50.3 this quarter is less a downward trend than a continuation of moderate growth.

Moderate growth does not mean there are not changes going on in nonresidential construction. In past issues, panelists’ expressed views on the increasing use of new methods and technologies like BIM, prefabrication, modularization, integrated project delivery, sustainable construction, as well as improved productivity and business development. Most contractors are better prepared to deal with these challenges than with abrupt changes in the economy.

Current Issues
Overwhelmingly, NRCI panelists do not expect the American Jobs Act and the related National Infrastructure Bank bill to pass as now proposed. Even with public construction as part of the AJA, few panelists expected that it would significantly increase their backlogs if passed.

This report also looks into a not-so-new problem, how to pay for rising health care insurance costs. The issue is resurfacing due to the introduction of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obama Care. Although the majority of NRCI panelists recognize they will have to share the skyrocketing costs of health care with employees, a few say they intend to drop their policies, pay the penalties and let employees fend for themselves. Twenty percent of panelists have yet to fully examine their options.

Bottom line, little to moderate growth for now. However, this doesn’t mean there won’t be significant changes in how the nonresidential construction industry conducts business over the coming months.

To download a copy of the full report click here. For reprint permission or to schedule an interview with the author, please contact Sarah Vizard Avallone at 919.785.9221 or savallone@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
• Compensation Data and 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. For more information, visit www.fminet.com.

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Architecture Billings Index Moves Upward
Overall business conditions remain negative

After a sharp dip in September, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) climbed nearly three points in October. 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 October ABI score was 49.4, following a score of 46.9 in September. This score reflects an overall decrease in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 57.3, up from a reading of 54.3 the previous month.

You can see this press release online here: http://www.aia.org/press/releases/AIAB091745

“An increase in the billings index is always an encouraging sign,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “We’re seeing some regions and some construction sectors move into positive territory. But there continues to be a high level of volatility in the marketplace with architecture firms reporting a wide range of conditions from improving to uncertain to poor. It’s likely we will see a similar state of affairs in the coming months.”

Key October ABI highlights:
  • Regional averages: Northeast (51.7), South (49.1), Midwest (47.7), West (43.5)
  • Sector index breakdown: commercial / industrial (53.5), multi-family residential (51.3)
  • institutional (47.3), mixed practice (42.0)
  • Project inquiries index: 57.3

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers.

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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PPG glass used in three of AIA’s top 10 green building projects

The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE) named its top 10 green building projects for 2011, and at least three of them featured environmentally advanced glass made by PPG Industries (NYSE: PPG).

Step Up on 5th in Santa Monica, Calif., and The Lofts at Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles both feature SOLARBAN® 80 glass, a high-performance architectural glass by PPG designed to maximize daylighting, views and natural ventilation. Both buildings earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The First Unitarian Society Meeting House in Madison, Wis., a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed National Historic Landmark, features an addition with floor-to-ceiling walls of Solarban 60 glass. PURE PERFORMANCE® paint from PPG PITTSBURGH PAINTS™ also was used in the addition, which earned LEED Gold certification.

Solarban solar control, low-emissivity architectural glasses offer excellent solar performance, with high levels of transmitted natural light as well as exceptional solar control characteristics, which combine to dramatically lower cooling- and lighting-related energy costs in buildings. PPG is the first and only glass manufacturer to earn CRADLE TO CRADLE® Certification at the Silver tier for all its products, including Solarban glass.

Pure Performance paint was one of the first environmentally-responsible paints in the marketplace. Formulated without volatile organic compounds (VOCs), it meets the building industry’s strictest environmental guidelines while delivering performance and quality for homeowners, professional painters and builders.

To learn more, visit www.ppgideascapes.com or call 1-888-PPG-IDEA (774-4332).

PPG: BRINGING INNOVATION TO THE SURFACE.™
PPG Industries' vision is to continue to be the world’s leading coatings and specialty products company. Through leadership in innovation, sustainability and color, PPG helps customers in industrial, transportation, consumer products, and construction markets and aftermarkets to enhance more surfaces in more ways than does any other company. Founded in 1883, PPG has global headquarters in Pittsburgh and operates in more than 60 countries around the world. Sales in 2010 were $13.4 billion. PPG shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (symbol: PPG). For more information, visit www.ppg.com.

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STUC-O-FLEX INTERNATIONAL, INC. Launches New Website

The newly redesigned website for Stuc-O-Flex International, Inc. goes live today at www.stucoflex.com. Stuc-O-Flex International is an industry leader in manufacturing elastomeric acrylic finishes and sidewall rainscreen & ventilation mats. The new site features expanded content and streaming media with educational videos related to product application, wall system design and various rainscreen configurations. The architecture incorporates bold colors, graphics and navigational tools.

Online visitors will experience an enhanced overview of the entire product line including comprehensive online resources. In the same way “Building Product Manuals” were distributed throughout the architectural and design communities - all programs are now available in one location. It's an open-house of information rich content assuring time spent is more educational and productive than ever.

In addition to a thousand pages of product data, specifications, wall assemblies, test reports, detail drawings, BIM objects, warranty information and other online research tools, the new website contains hundreds of project images, architectural elements and advanced wall system design options. This new site was created specifically for construction professionals interested in architectural coatings, wall design and envelope integrity but also for the general public who simply enjoy browsing the Internet for engaging ideas and creative design options. With quality videos, industry news, and timely updates, this Website offers a more attractive and accessible platform to a global audience.

Preview the new Stuc-O-Flex International website at www.stucoflex.com

About Stuc-O-Flex International, Inc.:
After Twenty Eight years of formulating, testing and manufacturing vertical wall products, Flex understands the appearance of any project is the one element that immediately reflects the quality and integrity of the building, as well as the construction team involved. Our mission is to complement those efforts with products of the highest quality and enhance cladding performance through Rainscreen configuration.

Stuc-O-Flex created America’s first Breathable Elastomeric Acrylic Finish back in 1983. More recently we’ve advanced the science of vertical wall Rainscreen in drainable Stucco, Stone, EIFS and siding assemblies to new levels with unprecedented technologies. Unparalleled expertise in Acrylic Polymer Chemistry and our WaterWay™ line of Rainscreen Drainage and Ventilation Mats assures extended service life and exceptional appearance on your completed projects. Whether your design requires a decorative textured coating, direct applications to substrate sheathing, EIFS, Stucco, ICF finish systems, Drainable Rainscreen Assemblies or applications to enhance standard metal building construction, no company offers a broader selection of wall cladding and configuration options.

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American Society of Professional Estimators Names New Executive Director

Patsy M. Smith has been named the new Executive Director of the American Society of Professional Estimators. She has been serving as the Director of Administration for the Society the past 8 years.

“I am very gratified at having been selected as the Society’s next Executive Director from a pool of highly qualified candidates” said Smith. “I look forward to working with the Board of Trustees and our new Assistant Executive Director, Christian Lutz, to advance the leadership position of ASPE on a national scale.”

Christian Lutz will join ASPE as the Society’s first Assistant Executive Director. Lutz has 9 years of experience with non-profit organizations. He most recently served as the Executive Director for the Iowa Architectural Foundation in Des Moines, IA. Lutz will be relocating to Nashville, TN where he will undertake this role beginning December 1, 2011.

The selections were made by the Search Committee and the National President of ASPE, Keith Jones, CPE. According to the Search Committee, “At a time when all associations face great challenges, we are fortunate to have both Patsy’s and Christian’s experience and expertise serving the membership, achieving the vision of the Society, and advancing the construction estimating profession.”

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American Institute of Architects Launches Online Database Capable of Matching Stalled Projects with Investor Financing
AIA Seizes Initiative In On-going Credit Crunch; Fulfills Commitment Made at CGI America in June

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) today announced that it has launched an online database that will let developers and architects network with investors interested in lending to projects that have been stalled primarily due to lack of financing.

The AIA designed the database, housed at www.aia.org/stalledprojects, to help address one of the persistent impediments facing the design and construction sector, which accounts for $1 in $9 of U.S. Gross Domestic Product, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Each $1 million in new construction spending supports 28.5 full-time, year-round-equivalent jobs, according to a study by George Mason University economist Stephen J. Fuller.

“In large part the fortunes of the entire U.S. economy rest on whether the design and construction industry can create jobs,” said AIA President Clark Manus, FAIA. “For months, our industry has continued to suffer primarily because banks won’t lend. With this unprecedented online database portal, the AIA has decided to do something that could create more jobs and help grow the economy.”

The credit crunch crisis in design and construction shows no signs of abating. A report issued today by the AIA’s economics and market research group finds that the share of projects stalled due to financing problems through August 2011 has almost doubled since 2008 and that one-in-five stalled projects directly result from financing problems. Indeed, almost two-thirds of architects responding to a May AIA survey reported at least one project stalled due to lack of financing.

About the AIA Stalled Projects Database
To populate this database with both stalled projects and investors interested in financing them, the AIA in the last week initiated a communications campaign to solicit information about stalled projects around the country from its members and allied professionals. Since going live on October 31, the site has attracted projects seeking a total of almost $230 million in financing. The AIA expects these numbers to grow as word spreads throughout the architecture profession about this initiative.

“The four-month project to create this one-of-a-kind portal represents a comprehensive, intense effort by this organization to address an issue of vital importance to our members and to the economy in general,” said the AIA’s EVP and Chief Executive Officer Robert Ivy, FAIA. “As this initiative takes hold, we hope that the AIA’s Stalled Projects Page will prove to be an immense asset to architects, builders and developers throughout the country.”

How Does It Work?
By creating a log-in and clicking inside the “Get Started Now” box on the site, architects and developers can fill out a form and tell investors about their projects. By clicking in that same box, investors list their companies and tell project leaders about their firms and the types of investments they are interested in making. Once registered, both project owner and investor can see details on stalled projects or peruse investor information.

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 Employment Declines By 20,000 In October As Industry's Unemployment Rate Hits 13.7 Percent
Newly Announced Republican Support for Passing a Six-Year Highway and Transit Bill, Other Pro-Growth Measures Will Help Industry Cope with Stagnant Employment Levels

The construction industry lost 20,000 jobs between September and October as the industry’s unemployment rate hit 13.7 percent, according to an analysis of new federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said the employment drop reflects continued declines in public sector investments. They added that construction employment could benefit from increased transportation investments and other pro-growth measures designed to boost private sector demand.

“Declining public sector demand for construction, combined with slow growth in private sector demand, is keeping construction employment mired in a cycle of small gains followed by small losses,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Boosting investments in key infrastructure and other projects would certainly help with construction employment while the economy continues to recover.”

Total construction employment now stands at 5,525,000, down nearly 0.4 percent compared to September, the economist said. Meanwhile, construction employment was nearly unchanged for the year, up only 0.2 percent from the 5,512,000 construction workers employed in October 2010. The economist noted that residential construction added 3,700 jobs during the past month, while the nonresidential sector lost 23,300 jobs.

Simonson noted that the industry’s 13.7 percent unemployment rate was an improvement from the 17.3 percent rate of a year earlier but far above the all-industry, not seasonally adjusted rate of 8.5 percent. Given the fact construction employment levels have changed little during the past year, the decline in the industry’s unemployment rate likely reflects the fact many former construction workers are no longer seeking employment in that sector, the economist suggested.

Association officials noted that a majority of the Republican House Conference has signed a letter authored by Reps. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) and Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) indicating their support for enacting surface transportation legislation at “responsible funding levels.” They added that other measures, like repealing the 3 percent tax withholding mandate, establishing a Clean Water Trust Fund and ending uncertainty about future tax rates were also needed to boost demand for construction.

“Many in the House understand that the best way to jumpstart the private sector while boosting construction employment is to invest in transportation infrastructure,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Investing in infrastructure, cutting costly mandates and setting consistent tax rates will help get the construction industry back on its feet.”

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CENTRIA Employee Earns LEED Accreditation
Dean Kauthen joins several CENTRIA team members who have received LEED accreditation

CENTRIA is pleased to announce that district sales manager, Dean Kauthen, is the latest CENTRIA team member to receive LEED Green Associate accreditation from the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI).

“CENTRIA supports the continuing education of our staff, especially as it pertains to them becoming experts in their respective role within the company,” said Tom Maier, vice president of sales, CENTRIA. “Dean’s pursuit of his LEED accreditation not only supports our efforts as a company, but expands upon his expertise in the commercial building products industry. Having our team members become LEED accredited not only demonstrates our commitment to sustainability as a company, it helps them to better serve architects, engineers, building owners, contractors and others in the commercial building industry.”

To become accredited as a LEED Green Associate, you must be a professional who supports green building design and construction and have basic knowledge of green building principles, practices and LEED. As a 20-year professional in the industry, Kauthen had to show GBCI documented involvement on projects registered or certified for LEED, as well as complete an educational program that addresses green building principles.

Kauthen received his Bachelors of Science degree in Industrial Technology with a concentration in building construction from the University of Wisconsin. A member of the CENTRIA team since 2006, Kauthen is currently working towards the GBCI’s next accreditation level, LEED AP Building Design & Construction.

Professional development is just one example of CENTRIA’s commitment to sustainability. In addition to its products playing an integral role in LEED certification of building projects across the country, CENTRIA had an independent, third-party Life Cycle Assessment conducted by Five Winds International on its 3” Formawall® Dimension Series® insulated metal wall panel system and has shared with the industry details regarding its innovative Recycle, Reuse and Reclaim programs.

“Well-informed and accredited professionals like Dean not only elevate CENTRIA’s thought-leadership in sustainability, but it also provides a real and tangible asset to our sales force and the customers we serve,” added Maier. “This expertise combined with the CENTRIA’s innovation in sustainable products and programs ensures that our customers are not only receiving the best-in-class products, but are receiving the added value of support and service from knowledgeable experts.”

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BQE Software Releases ArchiOffice 2011
New Release Delivers Top Architect Requests: Better Tools to Increase Flexibility and Speed.

BQE Software Inc., the innovative leader in business management software for architecture firms, announced today the 2011 release of ArchiOffice. Available immediately, this software is designed to simplify the complex management tasks necessary to complete design projects on time and on budget, and increase profits.

“This year we focused our attention on the most popular feature requests from our customers and building precisely the tools that would most benefit them,” said Steven Burns, FAIA, Director of Product Strategies at BQE Software. “We’ve carefully listened to our customer needs and have delivered on them with ArchiOffice 2011.”

ArchiOffice 2011 key features include:

Fully integrated synchronization between ArchiOffice and QuickBooks®.

  • Ability to output invoices to Microsoft Word®, and other word processing applications, allowing customers to control the full look and feel of their company’s branded invoices. This sets a new standard for flexibility in invoicing for architectural firms.
  • Smart invoicing; ArchiOffice knows which reimbursable expenses are subject to markups.
  • New user interface designed to be simple, intuitive and enhance the customer experience.
  • Enhanced To-Do List allows users to decide how far into the future ArchiOffice should look.
  • Easily monitor employee performance and realization rates for any date range.
  • Powerful Checklists provide valuable quality control; allows project managers to budget, assign and monitor tasks; and informs the billing manager the level of completeness of all project phases.
  • Robust document management allows for unlimited templates that are automatically filed in appropriate project folders and linked to associated contacts.
  • Seamless project folder syncing allows ArchiOffice to automatically update itself based on documents added.
  • Increased security restricts confidential information from certain employee groups.

“Architectural firms that implement ArchiOffice 2011 will have a competitive advantage allowing them to execute projects efficiently, invoice in a timely manner and generate a healthy cash-flow,” said Shafat Qazi, Founder and CEO of BQE Software. “Ultimately, what we expect are firms having the freedom to spend more time on design or growing their business, and less on management tasks that detract from the pleasure of being an architect.”

About BQE Software: BQE Software delivers leading business management solutions to over 225,000 professionals helping them manage their business every day. Its flagship products, ArchiOffice®, BillQuick® and EngineerOffice® are used by architects, engineers, attorneys, accountants, IT consultants and other professional services firms for precision time tracking, intelligent invoicing and flexible project management. BQE’s software integrates with popular accounting programs including Peachtree® and QuickBooks®.

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Construction Spending Increases Slightly In September But Is Down By Over $10 Billion For The Year As Public Spending Declines
Spending on Health Care Leads Private Sector Gains, Spending on Power Leads Public Sector; Conservation, Transportation and Public Safety Construction Experience Big Declines

Construction spending increased by 0.2 percent between August and September but was down 1.3 percent compared to September 2010, the Associated General Contractors of America reported today in an analysis of new Census Bureau data. Association officials noted that growing declines in public sector activity continue to offset modest increases in private sector demand for construction.

“In less than a year’s time, the public sector has gone from propping up the construction industry to holding,” said the association’s chief economist, Ken Simonson. “Even as local and state budgets continue to contract, the federal government is winding the stimulus and base realignment programs down and cutting billions from key water and facility investment programs."

Simonson noted that the total, seasonally adjusted annual construction spending rate in September 2011 was $787.2 billion, compared to $786.0 billion in August, and $797.3 billion in September 2010. Private sector construction spending increased by 0.6 percent between August and September from $499.0 billion to $501.8 billion, and is up 3.9 percent compared to last year. Meanwhile, public construction spending went from $287.0 billion in August to $285.3 billion in September, a 0.6 percent decrease, and is down by 9.2 percent compared to last year.

Spending on health care construction experienced the largest private sector increase during the past month (3.5 percent), while spending on office construction declined by more than any other sector of private construction (0.8 percent). In contrast, publicly funded power construction activity grew by 2.5 percent during the past month while investments in conservation (down 8.3 percent), transportation (down 4.7 percent), and public safety (down 4.5 percent) experienced large declines.

Association leaders said that instead of cutting infrastructure investments, federal officials should work to shore up, or create new, trust funds that finance federal construction programs. They noted that Congress is over a year late in passing long-term surface transportation legislation and two years late in passing legislation dealing with aviation construction. And they said Congress could improve water systems by establishing a Clean Water Trust Fund.

“We don’t have to choose between balancing the budget and allowing infrastructure to fall into disrepair,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “The good news is there is a fiscally responsible way to repair infrastructure and rebuild our economy.”

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ClarkDietrich™ Building Systems Acquires Leading Vinyl Bead and Trim Manufacturer, Vinyl Corp.

Building Systems today announced that it has purchased the Vinyl Corp. business from Worthington Industries, Inc. Located in Miami, Fla., Vinyl Corp. is one of the largest, full-line vinyl bead and trim manufacturers in the U.S. The company’s products include beads, trims and control joints for stucco/plaster, drywall, exterior insulation finish systems (EIFS) and direct-applied exterior finish systems (DEFS).

The acquisition of Vinyl Corp. expands ClarkDietrich's ability to deliver innovative products and services that provide the industry with the most comprehensive solutions for interior and exterior light gauge steel framing systems.

“This acquisition brings together two leading companies with complementary strategic visions and technology, and a shared commitment to customer satisfaction,” says Bill Courtney, president and CEO of ClarkDietrich Building Systems. “Together, we are well-positioned to better serve our combined customer base with more products and resources than ever before.”

Beginning immediately, ClarkDietrich will execute the planned integration of the two companies’ products, customers and employees to ensure a smooth transition that will deliver immediate value for customers, partners and stakeholders. Vinyl Corp. currently has 34 employees.

ClarkDietrich offers the world’s largest selection of steel framing and finishing products, with a 40-year reputation for quality manufacturing. The company offers a full line of drywall studs and accessories, structural studs and joists, metal lath and accessories, shaft wall studs and track, interior finishing products, and connectors and accessories for commercial and residential construction. ClarkDietrich cold-formed steel products are available nationwide and are precision manufactured from corrosion-resistant galvanized steel.

About ClarkDietrich™ Building Systems
ClarkDietrich™ Building Systems is the leading manufacturer of a full line of drywall studs and accessories, structural studs and joists, metal lath and accessories, shaft wall studs and track, interior finishing products, and connectors and accessories for commercial and residential construction. Quality manufacturing, a full-line offering, national distribution, engineering services and responsive customer service position ClarkDietrich Building Systems as the largest and fastest growing manufacturer of cold-formed steel framing in North America. Clarkwestern Dietrich Building Systems is a 75/25 joint venture with Marubeni-Itochu Steel America Inc. (MISA) and Worthington Industries, Inc. For more information, visit www.clarkdietrich.com.

About Marubeni-Itochu Steel America Inc. (MISA)
MISA is a fully integrated network of metal processing and manufacturing facilities and sales and service offices strategically located in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Founded in 2001, the company is a recognized industry leader in all aspects of supply chain management and processed metals for the automotive, construction and other major industries.

MISA is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marubeni-Itochu Steel Inc. and is the subsidiary responsible for international trade, processing and manufacturing operations in the Americas. Marubeni-Itochu Steel Inc. is a global leader in metal trading, processing and manufacturing with revenue of $19.4 billion in fiscal year 2010. Marubeni-Itochu Steel Inc. employs approximately 7,843 people and operates 45 offices in 23 countries worldwide.

About Worthington Industries
Worthington Industries is a leading diversified metals manufacturing company with 2011 fiscal year sales of approximately $2.4 billion. The Columbus, Ohio based company is North America’s premier value-added steel processor; a leader in manufactured pressure cylinders, such as propane, oxygen and helium tanks, hand-held torches, refrigerant and industrial tanks, camping cylinders, compressed natural gas storage cylinders and scuba tanks; framing systems and stairs for mid-rise buildings; steel pallets and racks; and through joint ventures, suspension grid systems for concealed and lay-in panel ceilings, laser welded blanks; light gauge steel framing for commercial and residential construction; and current and past model automotive service stampings. Worthington, including its joint ventures employs approximately 8,500 people and operates 74 facilities in 12 countries.

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House Repeal Of 3 Percent Tax Withholding Mandate Brings Hard-Hit Construction Firms Closer To Relief, Construction Official Says
Associated General Contractors of America Urges Quick Senate Repeal of Costly Tax Measure that Would Hurt Construction Employment, Punish Taxpayers

The chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, Stephen E. Sandherr, issued the following statement today in response to the House vote (by a margin of 405 to 16) to repeal the 3 percent tax withholding mandate:

"An overwhelming majority of Representatives understand that the 3 percent tax withholding measure would force construction firms to provide the federal government with multi-billion dollar interest-free loans at a time when construction activity has declined by $400 billion and unemployment rates stand at over 13 percent. Our members have told us that failure to repeal would force contractors to cut staff, purchase less equipment and raise bid levels for publicly funded projects, as a survey the association released last week found.

"Given the fact that a majority of Senators have already voted to repeal the tax measure and the president has said forcing contractors to forgo 3 percent of their earnings will hurt the economy, we expect the Senate to act swiftly to repeal this measure. And once that happens, we expect the president will quickly sign this desperately-needed legislation into law before the tax withholding mandate significantly damages our economy."

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New Tax Withholding Measure Will Decrease Construction Employment, Punish Employers And Hurt Taxpayers, Analysis Finds
Even as 26 States & DC Add Construction Jobs During the Past 12 Months, Nationwide Analysis Shows Pending 3 Percent Tax Measure Will Undermine Construction Recovery

Even as new construction employment data shows more states adding construction jobs in September than losing construction jobs, a new federal tax withholding measure threatens to undermine construction hiring and punish taxpayers, according to analyses released today by the Associated General Contractors of America.

“The last things the construction industry needs are measures that will make it harder for construction firms to hire, raise capital, invest in new equipment and, ultimately, succeed,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Unfortunately, a new federal tax withholding measure will devastate a construction industry on the brink of recovery.”

Simonson noted that, according to an analysis of new employment data by the association, 26 states and the District of Columbia added jobs between September 2010 and September 2011. Texas (35,400 jobs, 6.3 percent) added the most construction jobs while North Dakota (23 percent, 4,900 jobs) added the highest percentage of construction jobs during the past year. In addition, 27 states added jobs over between August and September. Texas (7,200 jobs, 1.2 percent) added the most jobs while Alaska (6.1 percent, 900 jobs) experienced the highest percentage increase in construction employment during the past month.

The construction economist noted that construction employment declined in 24 states during the past year and in 22 states and D.C. during the past month. (Construction employment levels were unchanged in Tennessee during the past month.) Georgia lost the most construction jobs during the past year (-13,900 jobs, -9.3 percent) and past month (-5,200 jobs, -3.7 percent). Georgia also experienced the highest percentage decline in construction employment during the past month while New Mexico (-9.5 percent, -4,100 jobs) lost the highest percentage of jobs during the past year.

Association officials cautioned, however, that the construction employment gains would likely be jeopardized by the new federal 3 percent withholding rule starting in 2013. They noted that the federal rule will force all large municipalities and school districts, all states and all federal agencies to withhold 3 percent of every payment to every contractor until contractors finalize their tax returns for the year.

According to a nationwide construction industry survey the association conducted, 55 percent of construction firms report that public projects accounted for more than half of their revenue in 2010. Meanwhile, 63 percent of firms report that their average profit margin for public projects was less than 3 percent. This will force contractors to carry a loss on public work for months at a time, officials added.

“The more contractors are forced to temporarily plug budget holes, the more the economy will suffer,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s Chief Executive Officer. “This is nothing but an interest-free loan from contractors back to the federal government.”

Nearly all – 97 percent – firms report the tax measure will make it harder and more expensive to attract capital and bond projects, the survey found. In addition, 49 percent of firms report the tax measure will force them to hire fewer employees while 65 percent say the measure will force them to cut back on equipment purchases.

The measure won’t just hurt construction firms and workers, Sandherr added. He noted that 67 percent of firms report they will increase the amount they charge for public construction projects because of the measure. Another 11 percent plan to bid on fewer public projects because of the tax withholding rule. Fewer bidders and higher bid levels mean taxpayers will have to pay more for public construction projects, the association head noted.

Sandherr added that it was encouraging that many officials in Washington have begun to appreciate just how devastating the tax withholding measure will be for employers and the economy. He said the House of Representatives was planning to vote for a full-repeal of the tax measure as early as the week of October 24th.

He added that 57 Senators voted to allow legislation to repeal the tax withholding measure to move forward in the Senate last night. Unfortunately, the measure needed 60 votes to proceed. Assuming similar repeal legislation passes in the House next week, Sandherr said he hopes the Senate will again consider, and this time pass, this desperately needed measure.

“Helping businesses hire and expand ought to be more important than forcing them to make an interest-free loan to the federal government,” Sandherr said. “After all, the only reason this measure was enacted in the first place was to give Congress an extra $12 billion in temporary funds.”

Over 1,300 construction firms from every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico participated in the survey regarding the 3 percent tax withholding rule, Sandherr noted. He said the survey was conducted during the summer, and that construction firms were asked to answer a series of questions on-line. He noted that the cross-section of firms responding to the survey closely mirrors the broader industry.

Click here for an analysis of the survey results. Click here for the national survey results and click here for state-by-state survey results. Click here for state employment data.

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Construction Materials Prices Flatten In September But Continue To Outpace Building Prices, Adding To Cost Squeeze For Contractors

Producer Price Index for Construction Materials Climbed 8.1 Percent in Past 12 Months, While Amount Contractors Charge Only Increased Between 2 to 3 Percent, Construction Economist Notes

The amount contractors pay for a range of key construction materials held steady in September but climbed 8.1 percent from the year-earlier level, according to an analysis of producer price index figures released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Meanwhile, the price contractors charge for new nonresidential building construction edged up only 2 to 3 percent over 12 months, depending on building type.

“Feeble demand for construction is forcing contractors to absorb the bulk of materials price hikes, instead of passing them along to owners,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “This pattern has persisted for more than two years, and many contractors are increasingly at risk of going under.”

Simonson noted that key materials showed divergent price trends in September but all posted double-digit year-over-year increases. Those materials include diesel fuel, which was up 3.3 percent for the month and 39.4 percent since September 2010; copper and brass mill shapes, down 0.7 percent in September but up 14.8 percent over 12 months; steel mill products, which slipped 0.6 percent for the month but rose 13.5 percent for the year; and aluminum mill shapes, down 1.8 percent for the month but up 10.4 percent from a year earlier.

“These prices can spike anytime there is a global supply disruption or a consensus that demand is strengthening worldwide, not just from U.S. construction,” Simonson explained. “In contrast, materials produced here and used only by U.S. construction have shown little price movement.” He cited, as examples, the producer price indexes for concrete products, up 0.2 percent in September and 0.3 percent over 12 months; lumber and plywood, down 1.3 percent for the month and 0.4 percent for the year; and gypsum products such as wallboard, down 1.7 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively.

Simonson observed that the price index for new construction – what contractors charge for construction projects – rose 2.2 percent over 12 months for industrial buildings, 2.6 percent for offices, 2.8 percent for warehouses and 3.0 percent for schools. “In light of the much steeper materials cost increases, these gains are not enough to keep contractors solvent,” he warned.

Association officials said that in addition to the cost squeeze, the construction industry was suffering from decreasing demand for public sector construction activity. They said that while state and local construction budgets will continue to contract for the foreseeable future, Washington could help offset some of the decline by enacting legislation to make needed, long-term, investments in highways, transit systems, clean water systems, airports and runways.

“Given the stagnant construction bid prices, taxpayers stand to benefit if Washington acts quickly to enact new infrastructure investments,” Stephen E. Sandherr. “Even if construction prices rebound in the near future, it is still a lot less expensive to maintain infrastructure while it is operating than to fix it once it breaks.”

View the latest producer price index tables for construction.

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Another Drop for Architecture Billings Index
Sluggish conditions reported in most areas

Following the first positive score in four months, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) reversed direction again in September. 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 September ABI score was 46.9, following a score of 51.4 in August. 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 54.3, down from a reading of 56.9 the previous month.

You can see this press release online here: http://www.aia.org/press/releases/AIAB091383

“It appears that the positive conditions seen last month were more of an aberration,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “The economy is weak enough at present that design activity is bouncing around more than usual; one strong month can be followed by a weak one. The economy needs to be stronger to generate sustained growth in design activity.”

Key September ABI highlights:
  • Regional averages: Midwest (51.0), Northeast (50.8), South (47.3), West (46.7)
  • Sector index breakdown: commercial / industrial (52.4), mixed practice (50.0), institutional (48.0), multi-family residential (46.4)
  • Project inquiries index: 54.3

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers.

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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PPG glass, coatings can help projects earn new LEED Pilot Credit 43
USGBC to recognize third-party certified environmental claims for building products

PPG Industries (NYSE: PPG) announced that all of its architectural glasses and many of its interior and exterior coatings can help building projects earn a new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) pilot credit established by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

LEED Pilot Credit 43: Certified Products enables building projects to earn LEED credit when they are constructed with building products that have achieved third-party certification for environmental claims from an approved list, published by the USGBC, of existing standards, such as the ENERGY STAR® standard. Some eligible PPG building products are:

• CRADLE TO CRADLE CERTIFIED© PPG architectural glasses, including SOLARBAN® solar control, low-e glasses, SUNGATE® passive, low-e glasses, OCEANS OF COLOR® tinted glasses, STARPHIRE® ultra-clear glass, VISTACOOL® glasses, Earth and Sky performance tints and conventional clear glass

• ENERGY STAR-qualified DURANAR(R) ULTRA-COOL® and Duranar VARI-COOL® metal roof and panel coatings

• GREENGUARD®-certified PPG architectural coatings, such as PPG PITTSBURGH PAINTS(TM) brand PURE PERFORMANCE(R) interior paint

USGBC said the purpose of LEED Pilot Credit 43 is “to increase the use of products and materials with life cycles, ingredients and attributes understood and optimized to improve overall environmental, economic and social performance.” To see a complete list of USGBC-approved third-party certifications, visit www.usgbc.org.

To learn more about PPG glass, coatings and paint and how they can contribute to LEED certification, visit www.ppgideascapes.com or call 1-888-PPG-IDEA (774-4332).

PPG: BRINGING INNOVATION TO THE SURFACE.™

PPG Industries' vision is to continue to be the world’s leading coatings and specialty products company. Through leadership in innovation, sustainability and color, PPG helps customers in industrial, transportation, consumer products, and construction markets and aftermarkets to enhance more surfaces in more ways than does any other company. Founded in 1883, PPG has global headquarters in Pittsburgh and operates in more than 60 countries around the world. Sales in 2010 were $13.4 billion. PPG shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (symbol: PPG). For more information, visit www.ppg.com.

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Turner Building Cost Index Forecast Construction Cost to Increase Slightly in Third Quarter

Turner Construction Company announced that the Third Quarter 2011 Turner Building Cost Index has slightly increased over the Second Quarter of 2011. The Turner Building Cost Index measures costs in the non-residential building construction market in the United States. The Turner Building Cost Index of 814 reflects a 0.37% increase from the Second Quarter 2011 and 2.01% increase from the Third Quarter 2010.

Karl F. Almstead, the Turner vice president responsible for the Turner Building Cost Index, said “Commodity and material prices have stabilized on decreasing global demand. Structural Steel and Reinforcing Bar prices are remaining stable for the near future. Although the average union wage settlements are up slightly from a year ago, the overall impact of increased labor costs generally has had a negligible impact on construction cost escalation.”

Approximately 90% of Turner’s business is performed under contract arrangements, where Turner provides extensive preconstruction planning services before the contract price is fixed and before construction starts. By providing preconstruction services and utilizing enhanced procurement strategies, Turner effectively manages the market risks associated with cost-related issues.

Turner has prepared the construction cost forecast for more than 80 years. Used widely by the construction industry and Federal and State governments, the building costs and price trends tracked by the Turner Building Cost Index may or may not reflect regional conditions in any given quarter. The Cost Index is determined by several factors considered on a nationwide basis, including labor rates and productivity, material prices and the competitive condition of the marketplace. This index does not necessarily conform to other published indices because others do not generally take all of these factors into account.

Third Quarter 2011 Turner Building Cost Index

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Construction Spending Inches Up In August And For The Year Even As Annual Public Sector Declines Outpace Private Sector Spending
Spending on Power Facilities Leads Private Sector, While Spending on Health Care Facilities Leads Public Sector While Lodging, Highway, Street and Education Construction Decline

Construction spending increased by 1.4 percent between July and August and was up 0.9 percent compared to August 2010, the Associated General Contractors of America reported today in an analysis of new Census Bureau data. Association officials noted that despite this month’s increases, public sector activity has declined even as private sector demand has steadily increased this year.

“There is no doubt that declining public sector demand for construction is dragging down the entire construction industry,” the association’s chief executive officer, Stephen Sandherr, said. “If it wasn’t for the modest increase in private sector demand, the hard hit construction industry would be in much worse shape this year."

Sandherr noted that total construction spending in August 2011 was $799.1 billion, compared to $788.3 billion in July and $791.7 billion in August 2010. Private sector construction spending increased by 0.4 percent between July and August from $508.9 billion to $511.0 billion, and is up 5.6 percent compared to last year. Meanwhile, public construction spending went from $279.4 billion in July to an annual rate of $288.2 billion in August, a 3.1 percent increase, but remains down by 6.3 percent compared to last year.

Spending on power construction experienced the largest private sector increase (25.9 percent), while spending on lodging declined by more than any other sector of private construction (31.7 percent). In contrast, publicly funded health care construction activity grew by 12.8 percent while investments in the two largest public segments—highway and street and educational construction—fell 4.5 percent and 4.0 percent, respectively.

Association leaders cautioned that cutting investments in infrastructure and other public assets could prove counterproductive, since taxpayers would ultimately have to pay more to repair broken facilities than they would to maintain them now. They urged Congress and the administration to instead focus on reforming infrastructure programs to make them more efficient and effective.

“We are running the risk of leaving a legacy of closed bridges and decayed schools for future generations,” Sandherr said. “Instead, we need to fix our broken entitlement programs and at the same time focus our infrastructure investments on where they are needed most.”

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GAF Introduces New Green Web Tool

GAF, North America’s largest roofing manufacturer, has announced an update of its GAF Green Central microsite — the destination for sustainability information on all the company’s product lines, including roofing and roofing accessories, ventilation products, and siding. The microsite is designed around the full lifespan of a structure, detailing the many ways that a roofing product can contribute to ‘greening’ that structure throughout its service life from production to recycling.

In order to be most useful to design professionals, www.gaf.com/green includes submittal info for property owners and project teams, including the GAF LEED® Playbook and ecoScorecardSM submittal tool. The site also has resources for those preparing for the next generation of green building codes, such as a template Construction Waste Management Plan, information on membrane and asphalt shingle recycling, and links to a number of helpful roofing industry resources, as well as listings of GAF products that meet CRRC®, ENERGY STAR®, and Title 24 requirements. Additionally, free access to the Green Building Certification Institute accredited course ‘Asphalt Shingles and the Green Home’ is provided.

Visit the new site at www.gaf.com/green!

To learn more about other GAF roofing products, visit www.gaf.com.

About GAF
Now proudly celebrating its 125th year in the industry, GAF has become the largest roofing manufacturer in North America, with sales of nearly $3 billion annually. The company’s products include a comprehensive portfolio of steep-slope and commercial roofing systems, which are supported by an extensive national network of factory-certified contractors. Its success is driven by a commitment to provide property owners and specifiers with the best and safest choice in roofing and by helping supportive contractors and distributors to build their businesses and avoid hassles.

With a focus on social responsibility, GAF has developed Advanced Protection® shingle technology, which provides superior durability and wind resistance while reducing the use of scarce natural resources.

The Company also supports the roofing industry through CARE, the Center for the Advancement of Roofing Excellence, which has provided education to over 125,000 professionals. CARE’s mission is to help professional contractors and distributors build their businesses through sales and management education, and to provide product and installation training to contractors, distributors, architects, property owners, and related industry personnel. For more information about GAF, visit www.gaf.com.

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Three projects with PPG glass earn 2011 Crystal Achievement Awards

PPG Industries (NYSE: PPG) announced that three projects featuring PPG glass were among the winners of the 2011 Crystal Achievement Awards from Glass Magazine. The awards recognize the best products and glass applications in 24 categories in the commercial, retail and fabrication markets.

The CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh was named “Most innovative energy efficient glass project.” The building, home to the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League, features a massive, undulating glass facade fabricated from SOLARBAN® z50 glass. It is the first NHL arena to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

A private residence in Connecticut earned “Most innovative bath enclosure project” honors, in part for its use of STARPHIRE® ultra-clear glass by PPG. The custom shower features five panels and a door, each fashioned from ½-inch Starphire glass and bent to different radii to create a kidney-shaped enclosure.

Starphire glass also was specified on the project that Glass Magazine recognized as the “Most innovative factory” – the Garibaldi Glass Industries headquarters in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. The facility features Starphire glass in a point-supported insulating glass wall at the main entrance.

To determine winners, the Glass Magazine staff compiled nominations and photographs for each judge. The panel of judges, representing all areas of the glass industry, then selected a winner in each category.

PPG: BRINGING INNOVATION TO THE SURFACE™.

PPG Industries' vision is to continue to be the world’s leading coatings and specialty products company. Through leadership in innovation, sustainability and color, PPG helps customers in industrial, transportation, consumer products, and construction markets and aftermarkets to enhance more surfaces in more ways than does any other company. Founded in 1883, PPG has global headquarters in Pittsburgh and operates in more than 60 countries around the world. Sales in 2010 were $13.4 billion. PPG shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (symbol: PPG). For more information, visit www.ppg.com.

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Acuity Brands’ Sunoptics Expands Daylighting Solutions with SEAMLIGHT™ Curbless Daylighting System

Acuity Brands, Inc. (NYSE: AYI; “Company”), a market leader in innovative energy-efficient lighting, controls and daylighting solutions, has expanded its Sunoptics® high-performance prismatic daylighting portfolio with the introduction of the SEAMLIGHT™ Curbless Daylighting System (“SEAMLIGHT System”). The SEAMLIGHT System is designed for direct installation onto existing industrial standing seam roofing systems, creating new opportunities for the implementation of daylighting solutions. The Sunoptics high-performance prismatic skylights optimize indoor daylighting performance via a patented dome construction designed to capture more light at low sun angles, which maximizes the amount of light transmittance, while maintaining 100% diffusion and eliminating undesirable hot spots, glare and UV damage.

Utilizing the same patented technology that is integral to the Sunoptics Signature Series Skylight, the SEAMLIGHT System also delivers optimal lighting performance, while its installation process does not interfere with the structural integrity of industrial low-slope standing seam metal roofing systems. The product’s integrated rail attaches to the roof’s structural standing seam allowing the SEAMLIGHT System to move with roof expansion and contraction. The single sided front-end water diverter in the SEAMLIGHT System minimizes roof penetrations and leak potential as compared to conventional skylight roof curb designs. The SEAMLIGHT System can provide additional energy savings through integration with one of Acuity Brands’ indoor intelligent control systems, including Sensor Switch®, Synergy® Lighting Controls or Lighting and Control Design™.

“There is no greater efficiency for a building than turning electric lights off through daylighting,” said Grant Grable, Acuity Brands Lighting Vice President and Value Stream Leader, Sunoptics. “In the global market of existing metal buildings, there has been a long-standing need for a daylighting product that reduces the excessive labor needed to install conventional metal roof curbs while integrating with the structural integrity of low-slope industrial roofing systems, thereby minimizing leak potential. The SEAMLIGHT System provides the solution that addresses these customer requirements,” Grable added.

The SEAMLIGHT System is available in 2’ widths in a variety of lengths from 5’ to 40’ and is compliant with multiple existing roofing profiles, including Butler® MR 24, Varco Pruden® SSR, NUCOR® CFR, NCI® Group Ultra Deck, and American Buildings® SS2. Also available are Factory Mutual Approved and Florida Building Code Approved HVHZ roofing models and custom profiles and lengths of the product.

The SEAMLIGHT System is available through Acuity Brands Sunoptics sales representatives and authorized distributors. For more information about the Company’s high performance prismatic daylighting and intelligent controls solutions, please click here.

About Acuity Brands
Acuity Brands, Inc. is a North American market leader and one of the world’s leading providers of luminaires, lighting control systems and related products and services with fiscal year 2010 net sales of over $1.6 billion. The Company’s lighting and system control product lines include Lithonia Lighting®, Holophane®, Peerless®, Mark Architectural Lighting™, Hydrel®, American Electric Lighting®, Gotham®, Carandini®, RELOC®, Antique Street Lamps™, Tersen®, Winona® Lighting, Syner gy® Lighting Controls, Sensor Switch®, Lighting Control & Design™, Dark to Light®, ROAM®, Sunoptics®, acculamp™ and Healthcare Lighting®. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, Acuity Brands employs ap­proximately 6,000 associates and has operations throughout North America, Europe and Asia. All trademarks referenced are the property of their respective owners.

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