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Construction Materials Prices Increase Between December And January And For The Year, Even As Sequestration Risks Billions In Construction Cuts
Large Increases in Prices for Gypsum, Insulation, Lumber and Plywood Offset Declines in Asphalt, Steel Mill Products, and Iron Ore Cost To Boost Materials Prices 0.7 Percent for the Month, 1.3 Percent for the Year

Prices for construction materials moved higher in January, propelled by large jumps in items used in new housing and nonresidential building renovations, according to an analysis of new federal figures released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said that contractors were paying more for materials even as the pending federal spending “sequestration” threatens to cancel an estimated $4 billion worth of construction activity this year.

“Contractors had to contend with huge leaps in prices for gypsum, wallboard and lumber, as well as significant increases in the cost of insulation and architectural coatings such as paint,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the construction trade association. “Based on pump prices for diesel fuel and price announcements by various manufacturers, it is clear that costs are rising significantly higher in February.”

The producer price index for all construction inputs – what contractors pay for construction materials – rose 0.7 percent between December and January and is now up 1.3 percent compared to 12 months ago, Simonson noted. He added that bid levels for finished structure rose at comparable rates during the past year. The index for new school buildings rose 0.9 percent; new industrial construction, 1.4 percent; new office construction 1.0 percent and new warehouses, 2.9 percent.

The producer price index for gypsum products such as wallboard and plaster soared 11.8 percent in January alone and 20.4 percent over the past 12 months, Simonson noted. Lumber and plywood prices climbed 4.2 percent and 15.1 percent, respectively. Insulation prices rose 2.0 percent and 5.4 percent, while the price index for architectural coatings increased 1.1 percent and 0.5 percent.

Prices for fuel, paving and structural materials also increased for the month but were mixed over the past year, Simonson pointed out. The index for diesel fuel rose 0.7 percent in January but fell 1.0 percent from a year ago. Asphalt paving prices climbed 0.6 percent for the month and 3.7 percent over 12 months, while concrete prices increased 0.5 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively. Copper and brass mill prices rose 0.6 percent and 2.9 percent. Aluminum mill prices climbed 0.3 percent in January but inched down 0.1 percent over 12 months, while the price index steel mill products slid 0.1 percent and 8.3 percent.

Association officials cautioned that contractors are paying more for a range of key construction materials even as the looming federal spending “sequestration” threatens to cancel an estimated $4 billion worth of publicly-funded construction projects this year. They added that a revised analysis of the impacts of the sequestration identified a host of federal construction programs that will experience significant cuts this year.

“After years of struggling to survive extremely difficult market conditions, it would be a shame to see firms close shop because Washington officials can’t solve a funding crisis of their own making, said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.

Click here to view the January 2013 PPI table.

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President's Transportation Plan Sheds Needed Light On Nation's Infrastructure Needs, But Lacks Essential Long-Term Solutions
Administration’s Plan to Cut Red Tape, Expand TIFIA Program Are Welcome, But Washington Also Needs to Address Long-Term Funding Shortfalls, Construction Group Notes

The chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, Stephen E. Sandherr, issued the following statement in response to the release of President Obama’s Infrastructure Investment Plan:

“President Obama is right to continue to focus on the nation’s significant, and growing, infrastructure needs. As he noted in his State of the Union address, the condition of many of the nation’s aging bridges, highways and other essential infrastructure is unacceptably poor. And he is absolutely right to point out the need to identify additional sources of revenue for transportation investments, including from the private sector.

“We look forward to working with the administration as it acts on the key measures in the president’s plan that that were already authorized by last year’s transportation law and require no additional legislation, including expanding the federal infrastructure loan program known as TIFIA and cutting the length of regulatory reviews by at least 50 percent. There is no reason it should take federal officials nearly a decade on average to decide whether to allow or deny new infrastructure projects, for example.

“While we are encouraged by the president’s consistent focus on infrastructure, we hope the administration will expend as much energy identifying ways to address the long-term funding challenges that threaten significant cuts in federal transportation investments over the coming years. Instead of just focusing on one-time investments, we need to address an estimated $76 billion in federal transportation funding shortfalls projected during the next six years. That is why we will work with congressional leadership and administration officials to craft long-term transportation measures that address funding shortfalls. The ultimate goal must be to craft reliable multiyear legislation that puts us on a path to repairing and expanding the nation’s transportation infrastructure so it can continue to support robust economic growth for years to come.”

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Belden Brick Company Announces New Structural Brick New shapes and sizes for 2013

The Belden Brick Company, a manufacturer of brick and masonry-related construction products and materials, has announced the product launch of its new structural brick. Belden Brick now offers a wide selection of colors and sizes in Thru-wall units so customers can take advantage of the distinctiveness and strength of clay fired brick.

“Belden Brick has built a reputation of setting the standard of comparison for quality in the brick industry over the last 128 years,” said Brian Belden, manager of marketing and thin brick sales. “With the addition of these new products, we add to our diverse product lines and reach markets previously untapped by Belden Brick. This opens a door for new opportunity to provide quality products in an area of design that is growing in market share.”

New structural brick information:

  • Available sizes: 5-5/8 x 3-5/8 x 15-5/8”; 7-5/8 x 3-5/8 x 15-5/8”; 7-5/8 x 7-5/8 x 15-5/8” (additional special shapes available)

  • ASTM C 652-12, Grade SW and Type HBX

  • Several color options grays, buffs, reds, browns and blacks

  • 6” Thru-wall 8” Double Thru-wall

The Belden Brick Company traces its roots to the Diebold Fire Brick Company organized in Canton, Ohio, in 1885 by Henry S. Belden and four associates. The Belden Brick Company owns and operates six plants in Tuscarawas County, employs approximately 500 people and has an annual production capacity of nearly 250 million standard brick equivalent (sbe). In the US brick industry, The Belden Brick Company is the sixth largest (by production volume) manufacturer. Belden Brick is the largest family owned and managed brick company in the United States.

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CertainTeed Lists Gypsum Products with GreenWizard® Online Catalog and Workflow Platform

CertainTeed announces its entire line of wallboard and finishing products is now available for sustainable data selection on the GreenWizard® website. GreenWizard, Inc., is a leading product management, modeling and workflow platform used by green building specifiers, which houses one of the largest catalogs of green building product data. As such, CertainTeed gypsum materials will now be more accessible to architects, engineers, and contractors focused on LEED credits and sustainable building.

“CertainTeed has a highly regarded reputation for sustainable building product innovation, and their products have helped countless building professionals comply with the most-stringent environmental standards,” says Adam Bernholz, GreenWizard’s founder and CEO. “Given CertainTeed's leadership in green building products, this heightened level of partnership is a clear testament of the value the GreenWizard platform brings to the design and construction community.”

GreenWizard cloud-based product management workflow and project collaboration software provides specifiers with the tools to better manage products and project data, collaborate on projects, assess LEED design and construction credits, integrate with LEED Online and archive projects. Each product listing contains detailed data and documentation, including granular-level, searchable life cycle assessment data when available.

“We are excited to include our products and gain additional exposure within the green community,” says Doug Gehring, director of marketing technical services for CertainTeed Gypsum. “GreenWizard’s tools simplify the process of building efficient, healthy and sustainable construction projects.”

Offering a broad range of gypsum and finishing products for interior and exterior needs, CertainTeed Gypsum has served the North American building industry for more than 80 years and is a subsidiary of Saint-Gobain, the world’s leading producer of gypsum products. This, in combination with the full range of affiliated CertainTeed Corporation building products, provides architects, contractors, builders and dealers one partner to provide service and support for commercial and residential building projects. For more information, visit www.certainteed.com/gypsum.

GreenWizard is a cloud-based Product Management Workflow and project collaboration software that simplifies building efficient, healthy, and sustainable buildings.

Now a LEED® Automation (a.k.a. App Lab™) partner, GreenWizard is a comprehensive Product Management Workflow and project collaboration software that enables the design and construction community to better manage products and project data, collaborate on projects, assess LEED design and construction credits, integrate with LEED Online, and archive projects. AEC firms are able to utilize GreenWizard’s interactive and dynamic tools to collaborate on product data and documentation, which is supplied and updated directly from manufacturers. Building owners, architects, engineers and contractors can use GreenWizard’s WORKflow® Pro solution at any phase of a building project. The Charleston, SC-based company was founded in 2008. www.GreenWizard.com

Integrative By Design

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Strong Surge for Architecture Billings Index
All regions and sectors report positive business conditions

As the prognosis for the design and construction industry continues to improve, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) is reflecting its strongest growth since November 2007. 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 January ABI score was 54.2, up sharply from a mark of 51.2* in December. This score reflects a strong increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 63.2, much higher than the reading of 57.9 the previous month.

* Every January the AIA research department updates the seasonal factors used to calculate the ABI, resulting in a revision of recent ABI values.

“We have been pointing in this direction for the last several months, but this is the strongest indication that there will be an upturn in construction activity in the coming months,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “But as we continue to hear about overall improving economic conditions and that there are more inquiries for new design projects in the marketplace, a continued reservation by lending institutions to supply financing for construction projects is preventing a more widespread recovery in the industry.”

Key January ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: Midwest (54.4), West (53.4), South (51.7), Northeast (50.3)

  • Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (54.9), multi-family residential (54.5), commercial / industrial (52.0), institutional (50.2)

  • Project inquiries index: 63.2

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
Founded in 1857, members of the American Institute of Architects consistently work to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public well being. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders, and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.

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PPG to sponsor 60th annual Progressive Architecture Awards Celebration

PPG Industries (NYSE:PPG), a leading manufacturer of architectural glass, coatings and paint, will sponsor the 60th annual Progressive Architecture Awards (P/A Awards) Celebration, Feb. 21 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

For more than 50 years, the P/A Awards have recognized buildings and architectural design that challenge the boundaries of convention and promote advances in the field. In 2012, 10 international projects earned P/A Awards, including four each in the U.S and Canada, and one each in Chile and Morocco. In 2013, a jury of architects will select a peer to receive the first-ever P/A Medal of Excellence Award winner.

The P/A Awards are among the most prestigious juried awards in the industry and have been bestowed by Hanley Wood, publishers of ARCHITECT magazine since 2006. They originated in 1954 with the editors of Progressive Architecture magazine, which folded in 1996. The P/A Awards were then inherited by Architecture magazine, which ceased operations in 2006.

PPG manufactures SOLARBAN® and SUNGATE® high-performance solar control and passive low-emissivity (low-e) glasses; STARPHIRE® glass, the industry’s most transparent commercial architectural glass; and an unparalleled range of nature-inspired, high-performance tinted glasses. PPG is the first glass manufacturer in North America to have its entire collection of architectural glass products recognized by the CRADLE TO CRADLE CERTIFIED(CM) program. To learn more, visit www.ppgideascapes.com or call 1-888-PPG-IDEA (774-4332).

PPG: Bringing innovation to the surface.(TM)

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 nearly 70 countries around the world. Sales in 2012 were $15.2 billion. PPG shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (symbol:PPG). For more information, visit www.ppg.com.

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New Proposal To Reform Multiemployer Retirement Plans Will Help Hard Hit Construction Employers, Protect Economy

Plan, Developed By Business and Worker Groups, Reflects Practical, Self-Sufficient Approach to Preserving Existing Plans While Providing Needed Future Flexibility, Construction Group Notes

The chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, Stephen E. Sandherr, issued the following statement in response to the release of the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans Retirement Security Review Commission’s proposed plan for preserving, remediating and innovating multiemployer retirement plans:

“The Commission’s plan represents a pragmatic, reasonable and – most importantly for taxpayers – self-sufficient approach to preserving and protecting nearly half a trillion dollars worth of multiemployer retirement plans. These retirement plans, many of which are funded by construction firms, are needed to ensure long-term security for tens of thousands of construction workers. As important, the retirement plans’ funds provide a vital source of capital for domestic investments in everything from small businesses to major infrastructure projects. The steps outlined in the Commission’s plan give employers and their workers the tools they need to protect their retirement plans.

“The recommendations included in this plan also acknowledge two distinct realities. First, taxpayers will not be asked to contribute to the preservation of these retirement plans, and second, workers and employers alike must be willing to reconsider the long-term viability of the current defined-benefit plan model in place in this country. Indeed, the steps outlined in the Commission’s plan have the potential to safeguard many current retirement plans while offering a way to provide retirement security for future construction workers. That is why we will work to support swift legislative approval of the types of measures outlined in this plan and encourage employers and their workers to adopt them.”

For more information visit www.agc.org.

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Spectrum Project Management Just Released by Dexter + Chaney

Seattle-based construction software developer Dexter + Chaney announces the release of its Spectrum Project Management software. Spectrum Project Management is available as part of the suite of applications that comprise Dexter + Chaney's Spectrum Construction Software product line.

According to John Chaney, president and co-founder, “Project management is not one task performed in one location. It involves a continuous flow of work, data and documents that move from place to place and person to person. We’ve designed a complete system to help project managers handle the work, the documents, the communication and the people that comprise complex construction projects.”

Spectrum Project Management is cloud-based, requiring no software downloads and accessible from any device with a web browser. “Just like every other Spectrum application, Spectrum Project Management is 100 percent web-based,” Chaney said. “Users simply launch a web browser from anywhere they’re working to access all of the features and functionality of the software.”

What makes Spectrum Project Management unique is how it combines the tools and information that project managers need into a single application. "Project managers are at the center of a storm of data and documents," said Mark Peltz, Dexter + Chaney product manager for construction operations software. "Instead of using three, four, or more applications to build a picture of project status, they can use Spectrum Project Management to combine financial and field information, manage people and documents, and track workflow from a single project log screen that eliminates the need to maintain multiple logs."

The Spectrum Project Management application covers numerous project management functions, including job cost and job progress reporting, project logging, submittal and RFI tracking, and project document storage and sharing, to name a few. For more information on Spectrum Project Management, visit www.dexterchaney.com/project-management.

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PCA Expects Strong Growth in Cement
Strong Economic Momentum Expected to Spillover to Construction

Improving underlying economic fundamentals, the existence of large pent-up demand balances, and the diminishment of economic fiscal cliff uncertainty will combine to result in strong growth rates in 2013 and an increase in cement consumption.

According to the latest forecast from the Portland Cement Association (PCA), there will be an 8.1 percent growth in cement consumption in 2013, significantly higher than the tepid growth projected in its fall 2012 report. The upward revisions reflect adjustments made in light of the recent fiscal cliff accord, recognition of stronger economic momentum, and markedly more optimistic assessments regarding residential construction activity. The January report marked 2012 consumption at 78.5 million metric tons, an 8.9 percent increase compared to 2011.

“Growth in 2013 cement consumption will be largely driven by gains in residential construction,” PCA Chief Economist Ed Sullivan said. “Housing starts should reach nearly 950,000 units, with single family construction near 700,000 starts during 2013. We see starts hitting the one million mark in 2014 or 2015.”

Sullivan did caution, however, that the first quarter of 2013 would actually show declines compared to the same period in 2012. “It is important to point out that this potential decline in first quarter growth rates does not signal a weakening in market fundamentals, but rather a hangover from favorable 2012 weather conditions. Stronger gains in cement consumption growth are expected during the second quarter.”

The accelerated consumption predicted during the second half of 2013 should carry into the following year. PCA projects an increase of 8.3 percent for 2014.

PCA also upwardly revised its long-range projections for 2015-2017. Annual growth during that period is expected to be as high as 9.2 percent. Cement consumption is dictated by the level of construction activity and by the prevailing cement intensity.

While 2017 cement intensity levels remain well below the pre-recession averages and upside risks remain, these risks have been significantly reduced.

More information on PCA programs is available at www.cement.org

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Viewpoint Construction Software Acquires 4Projects

Viewpoint Construction Software announced the acquisition of project and BIM (Building Information Modeling) collaboration software provider, 4Projects. 4Project’s product portfolio will become available in Viewpoint’s existing markets in the US, Canada and Australia and provide the opportunity for Viewpoint’s products to reach across software architectures, including on-premise, multi-tenant cloud and mobile to enable delivery of the right functionality on the right platform optimizing the end user experience. Diverse project stakeholders and geographically dispersed construction team members can use 4Projects’ web-oriented, multi-tenant cloud-based product to access project related information including the ability to manage, distribute, mark-up and audit drawings, submittals, RFI’s, issues and other construction and pre-construction documents.

Contemporary construction is defined by the collaboration of multiple stakeholders vested in a project’s timely completion and contractors are seeking efficient ways to keep various construction project stakeholders synchronized and informed on many factors during a project’s life cycle. To facilitate this, Viewpoint’s acquisition of 4Projects brings advanced project and BIM collaboration together with the popular and robust Viewpoint V6 construction-specific software suite offering contractors tools to collaborate on the granular information that must be shared during project execution.

“I believe bringing 4Projects products and their employees under the Viewpoint umbrella completes a large piece of the software puzzle facing contractors and their project stakeholders today” said Jay Haladay, Viewpoint’s CEO. “Viewpoint has taken a holistic approach to providing efficiencies to solve the challenges of the global construction industry. We are very pleased to welcome the 4Projects team and their customers to the Viewpoint family and will be focused on delivering game changing technology solutions to ensure that our customers can take full advantage of their rising backlogs or order book. We look forward to providing the 4Projects team with additional resources and construction-specific software leadership to increase their already industry leading pace of product innovation in collaboration functionality.”

For more information, visit www.viewpointcs.com.

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Determine the Quality of Conditions for Placing Concrete with New App

Holcim’s new enhanced version of its weatherAPP is now available globally. The application is designed to help construction professionals determine the quality of conditions for placing concrete. This global version of the App has updated features including a function that converts temperature scales and measurement systems while monitoring temperatures worldwide.

“We’re excited to extend the weatherAPP to users around the world,” said Filiberto Ruiz, deputy chief executive officer of Holcim (US). “Holcim is committed to providing customers with cutting-edge tools and services.”

The free application offers a GPS location feature that provides a four-day forecast and the favorability conditions for placing concrete. The forecast utilizes weather conditions and evaporation rates with concrete data to provide users with quantifiable information that is easy to use anywhere. The application is now available globally and provides results in both Fahrenheit and Celsius. Additionally, the enhanced version allows the user to update the concrete temperature based on conditions. The update is designed to increase ease of use and provide more complete and timely access to this critical data.

The weatherAPP is supported by Android, Apple iOs, Windows 7 Mobile and certain Blackberry devices through web browsers. Visit www.holcim.us for more information.

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Discover the new Smart-Use touch tables!

Light, adjustable and affordable! Smart-Use introduces its new multi-touch table. The screen can be tilted differently depending on your preferences and usage. Still wheel-mounted, this new generation is very easily movable by just one person. The screen size is customizable and designed on a standardized structure. Choose your device in accordance with your way of working: 40, 46 or 55 inches, find the screen size to fit your environment. Launched at the ABX Architecture Show in Boston, the new Smart-Use table won over visitors. Available from $ 8,900.00, Smart-Use multi-touch tables allow the viewing of PDF drawings and plans at their actual size, and then significantly reduce the amount of printouts. You can now work with your teammates on a same screen, display your PDF drawings in a meeting, extend your work surface and maximize your precision.

Request a live-streaming demonstration: (514)-360-3008 or

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RS&H Designed RTI Biologics Logistics And Technology Center Begins Construction
41,000 gsf facility combines R&D, clean room tissue processing and warehousing

Construction is currently underway for the RTI Biologics, Inc. Logistics and Technology Center. As part of a Design-Build Team, RS&H designed this 41,000 gsf facility that combines tissue processing, research and development and logistic capabilities in Alachua, Fla. RTI Biologics is a leading provider of sterile biological implants for surgeries around the world, with a commitment to advancing science, safety and innovation.

Research and Development space in the facility will include office and specialized laboratory space. Other areas include clean room tissue processing suites and space for production of RTI’s forthcoming MAP3 cellular allogeneic bone grafts. Warehouse capabilities include storage, shipping and finished implants and other support functions.

“This new facility represents the continued growth and expansion of our company and allows us room for future growth,” said Brian K. Hutchison, RTI President and CEO.

About RS&H:
With a tradition that began in 1941, RS&H is one of the nation’s leading facilities and infrastructure consulting firms whose client-centered program structure provides value-added solutions to clients around the world. With offices nationwide, RS&H is organized into six market sector programs: Aerospace and Defense; Aviation; Corporate; Education, Health and Science; Public Infrastructure; and Transportation. Construction engineering and inspection (CEI) services are provided through its wholly owned subsidiary, Reynolds, Smith and Hills, CS Incorporated. RS&H can be reached at 1.800.741.2014 or www.rsandh.com.

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Construction Employment And Spending Levels Hit Three-Year High As Firms Added 28,000 Jobs In January And Spending Increased By 7.8 Percent At Year End
Overall Spending and Job Gains Should Continue in 2013, Association Economist Predicts But Officials Warn That Public Investment Cutbacks May Undermine Recovery

Revised government data issued today show the construction industry is contributing substantially to economic and employment growth, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that construction employment rose for the eighth consecutive month in January, while construction spending in December increased for the ninth month in a row. Both totals were the highest levels in more than three years.

“The new employment data show the industry lost even more jobs in the recession than previously estimated but has added almost 300,000 jobs in the past two years, including nearly 100,000 since September,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “Meanwhile, the steady rise in construction spending since last March suggests contractors will be hiring even more workers in the months ahead.”

Construction firms employed 5.731 million people in January, a gain of 28,000 from December and 102,000 or 1.8 percent from a year ago, Simonson noted. The industry unemployment rate, which is not seasonally adjusted and thus is typically high in January, fell from 17.7 percent in January 2012 to 16.1 percent last month.

Both residential and nonresidential construction added jobs for the month and year. Residential construction — building and specialty trade contractors — added 14,500 jobs in January and 53,200 (2.6 percent) over 12 months. Nonresidential construction — building, specialty trade and heavy and civil engineering firms — expanded by 13,700 employees in January and 48,900 (1.4 percent) over the year-ago level.

Construction put in place totaled $885 billion in December, the most since September 2009 and a pickup of 0.9 percent from November and 7.8 percent compared with December 2011. Private residential construction spending jumped 2.2 percent for the month and 24 percent year-over-year. Private nonresidential spending grew 1.8 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively. These increases more than offset a plunge in public construction spending of 2.6 percent for the month and 17 percent over 12 months.

“We are likely to see continued strong growth in single- and multifamily homebuilding, moderate increases in private nonresidential construction and shrinking public investment levels for the next several months,” Simonson said. “Those trends, in turn, will lead to a steady increase in the number of construction jobs.”

Association officials said the rosy outlook could be undermined if public officials do not begin to increase investment in construction. They urged Congress to avoid an abrupt slowdown in federal funding that would occur if an across-the-board spending sequestration or a government shutdown occurs in March.

“Instead of making short-sighted cuts in programs to provide flood protection and clean water systems, Washington officials need to find a way to address out-of-control entitlement spending,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “And we must continue to give the private sector the kind of stability and certainty it needs to thrive.”

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Architects and alliantgroup Launch Resource Page on Energy Saving Tax Deductions
Page Designed to Assist Design Sector Leverage 179D Provision

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) today announced it has established a resource page that shows how the design and construction industry can use an innovative provision in the tax code to help win business and save energy in the process.

The page, which was built by Houston-based alliantgroup, takes viewers through the vagaries of Section 179D of the tax code, which was created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to address and improve the substantial portion of U.S. energy consumption attributable to commercial buildings. You can learn more here: http://www.aia.org/advocacy/federal/179D/index.htm

“AIA’s goal in partnering with alliantgroup is to ensure that all AIA member firms are made aware of the powerful 179D incentive – a deduction which can provide powerful cash infusing funds to help firms hire additional employees, competitively price jobs, and expand their practice,” said AIA President Mickey Jacob, FAIA.

“We look forward to working with the AIA to assist their members in expanding their practices and realizing significant cost savings by taking advantage of the 179D deduction,” said Dhaval Jadav, alliantgroup CEO. “Along with the R&D tax credit, the 179D deduction is one of the strongest, but most underutilized tax incentives for industry professionals. I am excited about the opportunity to serve the AIA membership and provide value to its members.”

Many architects, engineers, and design-build contractors are overlooking the 179D deduction because they may not know it exists or that they could potentially qualify. In many cases, they might be claiming small amounts and not everything they are eligible for. This provision of the tax code allows up to a $1.80 / square foot deduction for qualifying properties. Unless it is renewed, it is scheduled to expire this year.

“The 179D Tax Deduction is a valuable opportunity for architectural, construction, design, and engineering firms to contribute to the nation’s energy efficiency goals while increasing a company’s bottom line,” said Dean Zerbe, alliantgroup’s National Managing Director, and former Senior Counsel and Tax Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance. “Firms that have worked on any government owned or public property in the past few years should consider a 179D analysis. Through our partnership with the AIA, we can assist in furthering the education of its members across the country about the benefits of utilizing the 179D deduction along with other tax credits and incentives.”

About the American Institute of Architects
The American Institute of Architects (“AIA”) has been the leading professional membership association for licensed architects, emerging professionals, and allied partners since 1857. With nearly 300 state and local chapters, and over 80 thousand members, the AIA serves as the voice of the architecture profession and the resource for our members in service to society. As a leader in the design and construction industry, the AIA supports incentivizing energy efficiency in a myriad of ways, but particularly through provisions like the federal energy efficient commercial building deduction (“179D”), that have proven to be quite successful in the field. For more information, please visit www.aia.org.

About alliantgroup
alliantgroup is the nation's premier provider of specialty tax services. Headquartered in Houston, TX, with offices across the country including California, New York, Illinois, and Washington, D.C., alliantgroup works with accountants and their clients to ensure that they receive the full benefits of all available federal and state government-sponsored tax credit and incentive programs. For more information, please visit www.alliantgroup.com.

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Architects Issue Statement on State of the Union Address

AIA Urges Retaining Government Incentives to Help Small Businesses Hire; Encourage Energy Efficiency

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) today issued the following statement on President Obama’s State of the Union address last night. Please attribute to AIA President Mickey Jacob, FAIA:

“The AIA is encouraged that the president discussed cutting energy use and creating jobs in the process. In particular we are supportive of granting federal support to states that come up with the best ideas to lower energy bills by constructing more energy efficient buildings.

“This is an issue that architects have championed, and we are prepared to help states and anyone else
answer that challenge.

“Meanwhile, we call on the President and Congress to retain incentives that allow small businesses to hire and which conserve energy in commercial and government buildings.

“Finally, we encourage both sides of the aisle to find an orderly way to cut inefficient government spending instead of relying on the chaotic cuts that budget sequestration will cause on March 1. Without changing that situation, those cuts will destroy jobs in the design and construction sector and help send the economy back into recession.”

About The American Institute of Architects
Founded in 1857, members of the American Institute of Architects consistently work to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public well being. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders, and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.

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San Diego Hospital with PPG Glass Named Best of 2012 by ENR California
Palomar Medical Center West features SOLARBAN 60 and SOLARBAN 70XL glasses

PPG Industries (NYSE:PPG) announced that Palomar Medical Center West, a new $956 million hospital in Escondido, Calif., featuring SOLARBAN(R) 70XL and Solarban 60 glasses, has been named health care facility of the year by ENR California, a McGraw-Hill publication.

Designed as a “hospital of the future” by CO Architects, Los Angeles, Palomar Medical Center West is a model of sustainability that incorporates, among other elements, a 1.5-acre “green” roof, garden spaces on every level of an 11-story nursing tower, and extensive natural light transmitted through ground-to-ceiling panels of Solarban 70XL and Solarban 60 glasses.

Tom Chessum, a principal with CO Architects, said greenery and daylighting are part of a comprehensive strategy to incorporate nature’s healing qualities into the hospital’s design. “Every floor has outdoor terraces with trees and smaller plant material to provide respite and access to nature,” he said. “There’s a large number of skylights and the use of daylight opportunities, basically bringing daylight and view into work areas that would ordinarily never see the light of day.”

Solarban 70XL and Solarban 60 glasses are transparent, solar control, low-emissivity (low-e) glasses coated to transmit high levels of daylight while blocking solar heat gain to limit the use of artificial lighting and air conditioning, two of the largest sources of energy consumption in most commercial buildings.

Solarban 70XL glass has visible light transmittance (VLT) of 64 percent in a standard 1-inch insulating glass unit (IGU) and a solar heat-gain coefficient of 0.27. This produces a light-to-solar gain (LSG) ratio of 2.37 that is among the best in the industry. Solarban 60 glass has VLT of 70 percent and a SHGC of 0.38, which yields an LSG ratio of 1.85.

In addition to energy-efficient glazing and a complex “green” roof system, Palomar Medical Center West incorporates high-efficiency heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems that help the hospital consume 14 percent less energy than prescribed under California Title 24 energy standards. The facility also features low-flow plumbing fixtures, a system for recycling wastewater from air-conditioning cooling towers, and extensive use of recycled or renewable building products.

ENR California’s Best Projects competition recognizes top achievements in local construction and design as selected by a panel of judges. Honored projects were highlighted in the Dec. 3 issue of the magazine.

For more about Solarban 70XL and Solarban 60 solar control, low-e glasses and PPG’s full line of architectural glass products recognized by the CRADLE TO CRADLE CERTIFIED(CM) program, 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 after markets to enhance more surfaces in more ways than does any other company. Founded in 1883, PPG has global headquarters in Pittsburgh and operates in nearly 70 countries around the world. Sales in 2012 were $15.2 billion. PPG shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (symbol:PPG). For more information, visit www.ppg.com.

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Incremental Increase in Nonresidential Construction Spending Expected for 2013
Commercial sector poised to see the most growth

Growing at a faster rate than the overall U.S. economy, the nonresidential construction industry is expected to see solid, yet measured, increases in activity this year. High demand for hotels and retail projects have the commercial sector pacing what projects to be a rise in spending this year for nonresidential construction projects of 5.0% – up from a projection of a 4.4% increase in the July 2012 forecast. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) semi-annual Consensus Construction Forecast , a survey of the nation’s leading construction forecasters, also projects a 7.2%% increase of spending in 2014.

“After seeing construction activity seesaw for much of last year, there is a much stronger sense that we have entered a recovery phase and the industry is positioned to see continued economic improvement as we move through year and into 2014,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “The resurgent housing market has led to a ripple effect where there is a need for more retail establishments and office buildings across the country.”

Market Segment Consensus Growth Forecasts                                   2013    2014
Overall nonresidential 5.0%   7.2%
Commercial / industrial 8.6%   10.7%
Hotels                          15.7%  12.6%
Retail                           7.8%    9.6%
Office buildings          7.3%    11.4%
Industrial facilities      5.0%    6.4%
Institutional                1.2%   4.7%
Healthcare facilities    4.4%    4.8%
Religious                     2.6%    4.9%
Education                    1.1%    4.5%
Amusement / recreation 1.8%    5.5%
Public safety               -1.7%   0.8%

Remarking on what could undermine this forecast, Baker added, “We can’t truly think the design and construction industry is completely out of the woods until the continued uncertainty over federal budget and debt issues is resolved. This has caused enough anxiety in the real estate marketplace that has resulted in numerous delays and even cancelations of active construction projects. More than one quarter of architecture firms are reporting that this tenuous situation is a tremendous concern to clients and may lead to more delays or project terminations.”

Visit AIA Stalled Project Database

About the AIA Consensus Construction Forecast Panel
The AIA Consensus Construction Forecast Panel is conducted twice a year with the leading nonresidential construction forecasters in the United States including, McGraw Hill Construction, Wells Fargo Securities, IHS-Global Insight, Moody’s economy.com, Reed Business Information, Associated Builders & Contractors and FMI. The purpose of the Consensus Construction Forecast Panel is to project business conditions in the construction industry over the coming 12 to 18 months. The Consensus Construction Forecast Panel has been conducted for 14 years.

About The American Institute of Architects
Founded in 1857, members of the American Institute of Architects consistently work to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public well being. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders, and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.

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Onset Announces Next-Generation Temp/Rh Data Loggers

New HOBO® UX100 Series offers dramatic price/performance advantage by combining best-in-class LCD display and measurement accuracy in compact, deployment-friendly package

Onset, a leading supplier of data loggers, today announced the HOBO UX100 Series, the company’s next-generation family of data loggers for tracking temperature and relative humidity in indoor environments.

Starting at just $75, HOBO UX100 Series loggers offer a dramatic price/performance advantage over competitive products by delivering higher accuracy, larger measurement capacity, and more LCD display features to make environmental data collection faster and easier than ever.

Building owners, facility managers, energy auditors, and others will use the matchbox-sized UX100 Series data loggers to quickly and easily collect indoor environmental data in a broad range of applications. This includes monitoring occupant comfort in office buildings, tracking food storage conditions in warehouses, logging temperature trends in server rooms, and measuring humidity levels in museums.

“The HOBO UX100 Series sets a new standard for portable temp/RH data logging,” said Jessica Frackelton, Onset’s senior manager of product marketing. “It bridges the gap between traditional loggers, which typically don’t have LCD displays and are limited in accuracy and memory, and larger, more expensive LCD loggers that require calibration. Users can finally have the logger performance they need, in a small and affordable package that can be installed anywhere data is needed.”

Fast, easy deployment
HOBO UX100 data loggers streamline indoor environmental monitoring applications, and make deployment faster than ever. The loggers feature an easy-to-view LCD display that visually confirms logger operation and battery status, eliminating the need to connect the logger to a PC to see the information. A large memory capacity enables users to deploy the loggers for longer periods with fewer site visits.

UX100 loggers also feature start and stop pushbuttons, and rare earth magnet, strap, and command-strip mounting options enabling faster deployment and greater mounting flexibility and reliability.

Powerful software
Once data has been recorded with HOBO UX100 data loggers, it can be easily viewed in graph form and analyzed using Onset’s HOBOware® Pro software. Time-saving tools allow users to batch-configure and readout hundreds of loggers in a fraction of the time it would take with previous generations. Additionally, the software features a Bulk Export tool that allows users to export data files to text format for use in spreadsheets, and is available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German languages.

Pricing and Availability
HOBO UX100 Series data loggers are available immediately from Onset. The series includes five models, including temperature-only loggers with integrated sensors to temperature/RH and thermocouple loggers with external probes. Prices range from $75 - $189. Please visit http://www.onsetcomp.com for complete pricing details and technical specifications.

Onset is a leading supplier of data loggers. The company’s HOBO data logger and weather station products are used around the world in a broad range of applications, including building energy performance monitoring, water resources management, and ecological and agricultural research. Based on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Onset has sold more than 2 million data loggers since the company’s founding in 1981. Visit Onset on the web at http://www.onsetcomp.com.

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Construction Confidence Dips in Second Half of 2012

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) today released its Construction Confidence Index (CCI) for the second half of 2012. The CCI reflects three aspects of the U.S. nonresidential construction industry: sales prospects, staffing levels and profit margins.

“Last year, the biggest issue was the fiscal cliff,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “This year, worries likely will stem from a combination of unresolved fiscal cliff issues and another potentially intense debt ceiling debate.

“A strong construction market requires capital, confidence and conditions consistent with demand for construction,” Basu said. “While capital and conditions have been improving steadily in conjunction with the broader economy, confidence continues to lag.

“The ongoing lack of confidence, including among those who would otherwise purchase construction services, continues to produce small and halting gains in nonresidential construction spending,” said Basu. “Though index values for sales, profit margins and staffing levels remained above 50 during the second half of 2012—indicating industry growth—confidence was lower overall.”

  • Sales expectations fell from 66.3 to 62.3

  • Profit margins dropped from 56.3 to 55.9

  • Staffing levels declined from 62.2 to 59.6

To read the full CCI report, click here.

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) is a national association with 72 chapters representing 22,000 merit shop construction and construction-related firms. Visit us at www.abc.org.

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