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TradeWinds

Industry News List

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Cold Weather Drives Housing Starts Down in January

Due largely to unusually severe weather, across much of the nation, housing starts fell 16 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 880,000 units in January, according to newly released figures from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. Meanwhile, single-family permits, which are often a harbinger of future building activity, posted a modest 1.3 percent decline to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 602,000 units.

“Cold weather clearly put a chill on new home construction last month and this is also reflected in our latest builder confidence survey,” said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del. “Further, builders continue to face other obstacles, including rising materials prices and a lack of buildable lots and labor.”

“Though the decline in starts is largely weather related, it is worth noting that on the upside housing production for the fourth quarter was above 1 million for the first time since 2008 while single-family permits held relatively steady,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “The less weather sensitive permits data suggests that our forecast for solid growth in single-family housing production in 2014 remains on track, as pent-up housing demand is unleashed.”

In January, single-family housing starts posted a 15.9 percent decline to 573,000 units while multifamily production fell 16.3 percent to 307,000 units.

Regionally, single-family starts activity rose 10.7 percent in the West and 2 percent in the Northeast and fell 13.8 percent in the South and 60.3 percent in the Midwest.

Overall permit activity fell 5.4 percent to 937,000 units in January. The decline was due primarily to a pullback in buildings with five units or more, where permits fell 13 percent to 309,000 units.

Regionally, overall permit issuance was down 10.3 percent in the Northeast and 26 percent in the West, but rose 8.6 percent in the Midwest and 3.4 percent in the South.

For more information visit www.nahb.org

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Prices For Construction Materials And Nonresidential Buildings Each Rise By 0.6 Percent In January With Wide Range Among Goods And Structures
Input Price Changes Vary from 7 Percent Jump for Gypsum to 2 Percent Dip for Diesel; Contractors Association Warns Sustained Uptick in Costs Could Squeeze Margins and Calls on Congress to Speed Infrastructure Funding

Prices for materials used in construction and for nonresidential building construction both increased more than overall prices for “final demand” in January, according to a new analysis of retooled federal data on producer prices released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. As a result, margins remain very tight for most construction firms even as private-sector demand for construction continues to grow.

“Although contractors on average were able to raise bid prices in line with materials cost increases, the results varied widely by commodity, building type and specialty trade,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Several key construction materials, or ‘processed goods,’ experienced substantial price increases that in many cases exceeded what contractors could pass on last month. It will take a few more months to see if these costs increases are sustained—putting a squeeze on contractors’ margins—or a one-time blip.”

Simonson said the overall producer price index for inputs to construction rose 0.6 percent in January, propelled by a one-month jump of 7.4 percent in the index for gypsum products; followed by lumber and plywood, 2.4 percent; cement, 2.0 percent; insulation materials, 1.5 percent; and copper and steel products, 1.2 percent each. He noted that the impact of these price hikes would have been worse if not for declines in the price indexes for diesel fuel of 1.9 percent; flat glass, -0.6 percent; and architectural coatings such as paint, -0.3 percent.

A new set of “final demand” indexes breaks out how much private and public owners are paying for the differing mix of nonresidential buildings they buy, Simonson pointed out. In January, the index for “construction for private capital investment” climbed 0.6 percent while the index for “construction government” rose 0.8 percent. The combined index for final demand for construction rose 0.6 percent, more than the goods and services components of overall final demand, which increased 0.4 percent. For more information about the new PPI data, click here.

The price increases varied by building and subcontractor type, the economist said. The index for new school building construction rose the most, 1.0 percent; followed by office construction, 0.6 percent; industrial buildings, 0.5 percent; health care buildings, 0.4 percent; and warehouses, 0.3 percent. The index for new, repair and maintenance work on nonresidential buildings by plumbing contractors climbed 1.1 percent in January; the index for roofing contractors rose 0.7 percent; and the index for concrete contractors increased 0.4 percent. In contrast, the index for electrical contractors was unchanged.

Association officials said the fact margins remain tight signals that demand has yet to outstrip contractors’ capacity to perform work in most parts of the country. They added that many firms report competition remains fierce for many projects and that it will take more sustained growth in demand before firms are able to significantly increase what they charge.

“Despite growing construction employment and increasing private-sector demand for construction, market conditions remain quite tough for most firms,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Getting Congress to act on vital infrastructure measures like federal transportation and water resources bills will help improve market conditions for many construction employers.”

For more information visit www.agc.org

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Slight Rebound for Architecture Billings Index
Business conditions most favorable in South and West Regions

After consecutive months of contracting demand for design services, there was a modest uptick in the Architecture Billings Index (ABI). As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the January ABI score was 50.4, up from a mark of 48.5 in December. This score reflects an increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 58.5, down a bit from the reading of 59.2 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.

“There is enough optimism in the marketplace that business conditions should return to steady growth as the year progresses,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “The suspension of the debt ceiling should ease some anxiety around projects for the federal government, at least for the time being. However, private sector spending should lead the construction upturn this year, which will depend more on employment growth and continued improvement in the overall economy.

Key January ABI highlights:

• Regional averages: South (53.5),West (51.1), Midwest (46.5), Northeast (43.6)
• Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (51.8), commercial / industrial (50.9), mixed practice (48.4), institutional (46.5)
• Project inquiries index: 58.5

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the national 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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Nonresidential Construction Index Reaches Record High

FMI, a leading provider of management consulting and investment banking* to the engineering and construction industry, announces the release of the 2014 First Quarter Nonresidential Construction Index report. The NRCI shows a 7.5 point increase since the 2013 fourth quarter report, as well as a 6.8 point increase from Q1 2013. This is the highest NRCI score to date.

The increase in score comes from an optimistic view of a rising economy, as nearly half of the participants expect construction to grow up to 5% in 2014. With the increase in growth, executives are eagerly searching for talented individuals to assist and manage industry projects. Panelists with a more moderate view of the growth potential cite some additional challenges in 2014:

  1. Hiring talented people

  2. Finding profitable work

  3. Uncertainty in the direction of the government, especially regarding decisions directly affecting the economy

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 a leading 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:

  • Strategic Advisory

  • Market Research and Business Development

  • Leadership and Talent Development

  • Project and Process Improvement

  • Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Consulting*

  • Compensation Benchmarking and Consulting

  • Risk Management 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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ICC-ES ESR#2953 Verifies that AltusGroup’s CarbonCast High Performance Insulated Wall Panels Meet Code Requirements
Important recognition validates performance and code compliance of precast wall assembly featuring C-GRID carbon fiber grid connector and rigid foam insulation

CarbonCast High Performance Insulted Wall Panels, manufactured by AltusGroup precasters, have received an evaluation report (ESR#2953) from ICC Evaluation Service (ICC-ES), providing evidence that the CarbonCast wall panels meet code requirements. CarbonCast High Performance Insulated Wall Panels with innovative C-GRID shear truss connectors and rigid foam insulation were tested in accordance with ICC-ES Acceptance Criteria AC-422. The accepted report, ESR#2953, was published by ICC-ES in February 2014.

Building officials, architects, contractors, specifiers, and designers utilize ICC-ES Evaluation Reports to provide a basis for using or approving products in construction projects under various ICC building codes. Many municipalities and building jurisdictions require an ICC-ESR certification before allowing use of a structural building product in their area.

C-GRID carbon fiber grid connectors are the enabling technology in CarbonCast High Performance Insulated Wall Panels. They are used to connect the inner and outer wythes of concrete. The high strength of carbon fiber grid enables full composite action within the panel, while its relatively low thermal conductivity results in negligible thermal transfer throughout the panel. As a result, CarbonCast High Performance Insulated Wall Panels provide continuous insulation (c.i.) to meet the ASHRAE 90.1 standards and can be used to significantly reduce energy consumption related to heating or cooling a structure.

ICC-ES President Shahin Moinian explains why ICC-ES Evaluation Reports are so important. “AltusGroup precast manufacturers can now reference the evaluation report to ensure building officials and the building industry that the product meets I-Code requirements,” Moinian said. “Building departments have a long history of using evaluation reports, and ICC-ES operates as a technical resource with the highest quality of product review for the building department. Final approval of building products is always in the hands of the local regulatory agency.”

ICC-ES thoroughly examined AltusGroup’s product information, test reports, calculations, quality control methods and other factors to ensure the product is code-compliant. Testing for much of the ICC-ES criteria was completed in the accredited Constructed Facilities Laboratory of North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C., along with prior research and testing done at other independent laboratories and agencies. Dozens of precast sandwich test samples were submitted by AltusGroup precasters nationwide to verify the performance of the C-GRID connector and assembly across the group’s North American manufacturing base in satisfaction of the AC-422 criteria.

John Carson, executive director of AltusGroup, said the report issuance was the culmination of two years of test work and coordination with dedicated technical team members and advisors working closely with the ICC. “We are confident that this report represents the most significant body of test work for shear flow and insulated sandwich panels and insulation systems to date,” he said.

Jason Lien, Vice President of Design for EnCon United, Denver, Colo., coordinated the submission effort for AltusGroup ‘s Technical Committee. “The report should put to rest any and all performance questions concerning the CarbonCast technology using expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation and carbon fiber grid shear trusses,” Lien said. “ESR#2953 should bring a full new body of work to the sandwich wall panel market as well as be of significant benefit for West Coast wall designers and specifiers seeking lighter weight walls and enclosure systems to meet new stringent seismic codes and demanding energy, ASHRAE and IEC requirements. “

Members of the AltusGroup Technical Committee involved with the ICC certification were Jason Lien (EnCon United), Harry Gleich (Metromont), Larbi Sennour (The Consulting Engineers Group), Dr. Thomas Harmon (Washington University of St. Louis), Sami Rizkalla (North Carolina State University), Hussam Kakish (Enterprise Properties, Inc.) and Pat Hynes (Knife River Prestress Division). Companies that contributed samples to the test included Oldcastle Precast – Building Systems Division (Edgewood,Md.), Heldenfels (San Marcos,Tex.), Metromont (Charlotte, N.C.), IPS (River Rouge, Mich.), Enterprise Precast (Omaha,Neb.), Knife River Prestress Division (Harrisburg, Ore.) and High Concrete, (Denver,Pa.).

AltusGroup precast concrete manufacturers have installed more than 28 million square feet of CarbonCast wall and deck area on over 700 structures since introducing the technology in 2004.

About AltusGroup
The first-ever international partnership of precast companies, AltusGroup was founded in 2003 to develop, manufacture and market precast innovations such as the award-winning CarbonCast® line of products featuring C-GRID carbon fiber grid reinforcing. With more than two dozen structural and architectural locations in the United States, the 16 North American and three international AltusGroup companies have an unparalleled network of manufacturing plants, technical staff and sales personnel to ensure architects, engineers and contractors get the help they need—and the quality and performance they expect—when they select CarbonCast products. For more information, visit altusprecast.com or call 866-GO-ALTUS.

About ICC-ES
A nonprofit, limited liability company, ICC-ES is the United States’ leading evaluation service for innovative building materials, components and systems. ICC-ES Evaluation Reports (ESRs) and PMG Listings provide evidence that products and systems meet requirements of codes and technical standards. ICC-ES also issues environmental reports verifying that products meet specific sustainability targets defined by today’s codes, standards, green rating systems and ICC-ES environmental criteria. ICC-ES is a subsidiary of the International Code Council® (ICC®). ICC-ES evaluation reports are public documents, available free of charge on the internet, not only to building regulators and manufacturers, but also to contractors, specifiers, architects, engineers, and anyone else with an interest in the building industry. For more information, please visit www.icc-es.org.

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Eos Group Announces Eos P6 Integrator 3.0

Today Eos Group, Inc. announces the latest release of Eos P6 Integrator, version 3.0. This release of Eos P6 Integrator introduces compatibility with version 8.3 of Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management (P6 EPPM) or Primavera P6 Professional Project Management (P6 PPM), and support for Sage Estimating Cost Indexes. Eos P6 Integrator is backward compatible with P6 EPPM and P6 PPM version 6.7 and 7.x.

Eos P6 Integrator is an optional Eos Explorer Extended module that automates the data exchange between a Sage Estimating estimate and a P6 EPPM and P6 PPM schedule. P6 Integrator streamlines the workflow between estimators and schedulers by eliminating many time-consuming, manual data integration steps. P6 Integrator provides full bi-directional data synchronization between Eos Explorer Extended and P6 via Primavera P6 Web Services.

About Eos Group, Inc.:
Eos Group, Inc. focuses on enterprise cost estimating and helps engineering and construction firms design, develop, and implement packaged and custom estimating solutions. With a combination of unique products and some of the top consultants in the industry, Eos Group assists companies with the implementation of enterprise systems that couple historical cost data with a standardized approach to produce accurate, defensible estimates. Eos’ solutions target seasoned estimators and project engineers in all market sectors. For more than a decade, Eos Group has built relationships with trusted names in the industry by focusing on the integration of systems and processes within each organization. For more information about Eos Group products and service offerings, visit www.eosgroup.com or call 1.866.eos.group (1.866.367.4768).

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Clip & Caulk Installation Passes National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 285 Standard
Laminators receives NFPA 285 multi-story fire test rating on fourth Omega-Lite® installation system


Laminators Incorporated announces that its Omega-Lite® aluminum composite panel installed in their Clip & Caulk installation system was recently tested and passed the requirements of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 285 Standard. Laminators’ 1-Piece, Tight-Fit; Dry Seal; and Rout & Return installation systems have also passed the NFPA 285 test, making this their fourth installation system that meets this approval.

This easy, field-proven method is the choice of architects and installers who are looking for a very flat look without visible fasteners. With little to no fabrication needed, as well as the ability to cut panels on-site with standard carpentry tools, the Clip & Caulk method greatly reduces the total installed cost.

Architectural Testing, Inc., located in York, PA conducted a fire performance evaluation on Omega-Lite installed with Laminators’ Clip and Caulk installation system using type “X” gypsum and steel construction, and concluded the wall assembly utilizing Omega-Lite met the acceptance criteria stated in the NFPA 285 standard.

The NFPA 285 test provides a method of determining the flammability characteristics of exterior, non-load-bearing wall assemblies/panels. The test is intended to evaluate the inclusion of combustible components within the wall assembly and simulate the tested wall assembly’s fire performance. Omega-Lite successfully passed the test without altering the product or standard installation method.

“It’s a very cost-effective, yet attractive finish.” says Shawn Crouthamel, National Sales Manager at Laminators Incorporated. “With the ability to color-match panels, caulk and flashing, Clip & Caulk looks great in combination with masonry, glass, 1-piece or 2-piece extruded molding systems or by itself in a stand-alone application.”

About Laminators Incorporated
For over 50 years, Laminators Incorporated is a leading manufacturer of a complete line of composite panels for the commercial construction and sign making industries in the United States and Canada. Laminators’ lightweight substrates are exceptionally strong and durable, and provide various application solutions making the panels quick and easy for users to fabricate and install. Laminators Incorporated is committed to providing value through high quality products, innovative application solutions and superior customer service.

For more information visit www.laminatorsinc.com

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Construction Industry Adds 48,000 Jobs In January Despite Continuing Severe Winter Weather As Sector's Unemployment Rate Declines To 12.3 Percent
Industry Added 179,000 Jobs During the Past 12 Months with Growth in Both Residential and Nonresidential Segments Amid Rising Concern about Availability of Workers to Meet Accelerating Demand in 2014

Construction employment jumped by the largest monthly amount in nearly seven years in January, bringing industry employment to the highest level since July 2009, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that, at the current rate of growth, it would not take long before many firms begin having difficulty finding enough skilled workers to meet demand.

“Despite a second month of unusually severe weather in much of the nation, contractors more than offset the job losses that occurred in December,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “All segments of the industry added workers for the month, and the sector has increased employment at nearly double the all-industry rate in the past 12 months.”

Construction employment totaled 5,922,000 in January, the highest total in 4-1/2 years and an increase of 48,000 from a month earlier—the largest one-month gain since April 2007, Simonson noted. For the year, construction employment rose by 179,000 or 3.1 percent, compared with an increase of 1.7 percent for total nonfarm payroll employment. Nonresidential construction firms added 31,300 new jobs in January and 57,100 (1.6 percent) over 12 months while residential firms added 16,800 jobs for the month and 121,400 (5.8 percent) over the year.

The unemployment rate for workers actively looking for jobs and last employed in construction declined from 16.1 percent in January 2013 to 12.3 percent last month—the lowest January rate since 2008. The number of unemployed construction workers decreased from 1,322,000 in January 2012 to 1,045,000 last month. That drop of 277,000 exceeded the growth of construction employment by nearly 100,000, implying that many experienced former construction workers have left the industry in the past year, Simonson pointed out. He said the result is in line with an AGC survey last month that found many contractors report difficulty finding skilled workers.

“Construction demand for workers is likely to accelerate in 2014 as more projects relating to oil and gas, manufacturing, warehouse and hotel construction break ground while demand for residential work—especially apartments—remains strong,” Simonson said. “It will be a challenge for contractors in many regions and specialties to find enough employees to perform the work ahead.”

Association officials called on federal, state and local leaders to take steps to make it easier for school districts, firms and local construction associations to put in place training programs to prepare future construction workers. They added that they were finalizing a workforce development plan that identifies specific steps elected officials can take to improve the quality and quantity of career and technical training programs, especially at the secondary school level.

“Encouraging as it is to see firms adding job, there just aren’t that many construction workers in many parts of the country waiting to get called back to work,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Unless we act soon, many firms will be forced to delay projects as they scramble to find enough qualified workers to meet demand.”

For more information visit www.agc.org

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Construction Employment Increased In 192 Out Of 339 Metro Areas Between December 2012 & 2013 But Only 20 Areas Topped Previous Highs For The Month
Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif. And Steubenville-Weirton, Ohio-W.V. Top Growth List; Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev. and Modesto, Calif. Experienced the Largest Declines for the Year

Construction employment expanded in 192 metro areas, declined in 84 and was stagnant in 63 between December 2012 and December 2013, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said that even with so many metro areas adding jobs for the year, only 20 metro areas topped previous construction employment peaks for the month.

"Growing demand for apartment and single-family construction was behind a lot of the growth in most metro areas last year," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist, noting that private residential construction spending soared by 18 percent from December 2012 to December 2013, while public sector spending slipped by 1 percent. "Employment in December 2013 was held down in many areas by unusually snowy or cold weather. With the weather and the economy both likely to improve soon, even more metros should post employment gains in the coming months."

Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif. added the largest number of construction jobs in the past year (11,200 jobs, 15 percent); followed by Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga. (8,400 jobs, 10 percent); San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, Calif. (5,700 jobs, 10 percent) and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. (5,700 jobs, 11 percent). The largest percentage gains occurred in Steubenville-Weirton, Ohio-W.V. (31 percent, 500 jobs); Lake Charles, La. (28 percent, 2,700 jobs) and Fargo, N.D.-Minn. (25 percent, 1,800 jobs).

The largest job losses from December 2012 to December 2013 were in Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev. (-3,300 jobs, -8 percent); followed by Edison-New Brunswick, N.J. (-3,200 jobs, -9 percent); Cincinnati-Middletown, Ohio-Ky. (-2,900 jobs, -8 percent) and Gary, Ind. (-2,800 jobs, -15 percent). The largest percentage decline for the past year was in Modesto, Calif. (-29 percent, -1,900 jobs); Gary, Ind.; Visalia-Porterville, Calif. (-13 percent, -500 jobs); Anniston-Oxford, Ala. (-11 percent, -100 jobs); Mobile, Ala. (-11 percent, -1,300 jobs) and Rockford, Ill. (-11 percent, -400 jobs).

Fargo, N.D.-Minn. experienced the largest percentage increase among the 20 cities that hit a new December construction employment high from the prior December peak (25 percent higher than in 2012). Corpus Christi, Texas added the most jobs since reaching its prior December peak in 2012 (3,900 jobs). Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale experienced the largest drop in total construction employment compared to its prior, December 2006, peak (-81,300 jobs) while Lake Havasu City-Kingman, Ariz. experienced the largest percentage decline compared to its December 2005 peak (-76 percent).

Association officials urged Congress to act quickly to finalize water resources legislation that sets funding for port and waterways improvements. They noted that versions of the legislation have passed both houses of Congress and just need to be finalized and sent to the President. And they also urged Washington officials to pass a new six-year surface transportation bill before the current measure expires at the end of September.

"Congress has a real opportunity to help boost construction employment in many metro areas this year, and get aging infrastructure repaired at the same time," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer.

View construction employment figures by state and by rank.

For more information visit www.agc.org

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Nonresidential Building Activity Projected to Accelerate in 2014

Healthy fundamentals in the commercial property market combined with the international economy returning to more traditional growth levels are factoring into a projected increase in growth for the design and construction industry. Led by the hotel and retail project categories, the commercial sector looks to see the biggest gains in construction spending, with demand for institutional projects increasing at a more moderate level. The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) semi-annual Consensus Construction Forecast, a survey of the nation’s leading construction forecasters, is projecting that spending will see a 5.8% increase in 2014, with next year’s projections raised to 8%.

“Since the overall economy is stabilizing, there should be a significant improvement in the outlook for the construction industry that has been recovering at a slow and steady pace the last two years,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “At a more granular level, the surging housing market, growing commercial property values, and declining office and retail vacancies are all contributing to what is expected to amount to a much greater spending on nonresidential building projects.”
 

Market Segment Consensus Growth Forecasts 2014 2015
Overall nonresidential building 5.80% 8.00%
Commercial / industrial 10.30% 10.80%
Hotels 13.10% 9.20%
Retail 10.50% 11.50%
Office buildings 9.20% 10.80%
Industrial facilities 7.80% 8.70%
   
Institutional 3.40% 6.30%
Amusement / recreation 9.90% 7.50%
Healthcare facilities 5.20% 7.80%
Education 2.80% 5.80%
Public safety -0.20% 3.10%
Religious -1.70% 1.30%

Baker continued, “The rosy outlook also contains several concerns for the entire construction industry. Rising construction costs, a shortage of skilled labor, and bank credit standards that have not eased up enough to keep pace with the strong demand for construction financing are all serious challenges to sustained growth in the coming years.”

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 15 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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FMI Releases Q4-2013 Construction Outlook Report

FMI, a leading provider of management consulting and investment banking* to the engineering and construction industry, releases today its Q4-2013 Construction Outlook. The forecast predicts 2013 to end with 7 percent growth for the construction industry as a whole. Final statistics for construction-put-in-place will be available April 2014.

Select market predictions include:

  • Residential – Forecasts show residential construction ending 2013 with 18 percent growth. Multifamily construction has been particularly strong in the past two years with growth of 48 percent in 2012 and 38 percent in 2013. With rents still high and household formations low, multifamily construction is expected to continue growing.

  • Power – After a booming return in 2012, power construction slowed to just 2 percent growth in 2013. However, the industry is expected to grow an additional 5 percent in 2014 to reach $101.4 billion.

  • Manufacturing – Growth in manufacturing construction will end around 4 percent for 2013. This upward trend will continue, reaching 6 percent or more starting in 2015.

  • Lodging – After several years of sharp decline during the recession, lodging construction continues its solid comeback in 2013, growing 18 percent. This sector is expected to grow another 10 percent in 2014. Improvement of existing properties will continue to be a focus for the industry.

  • Amusement and Recreation – The recent announcement of a $672 million stadium for the Atlanta Braves gives amusement and recreation construction a 2014 boost. Construction put in place for 2014 should reach $15.7 billion, with additional growth through 2017.

  • Transportation – Completed construction of transportation projects in 2013 is expected to end 12 percent above 2012 levels, with additional growth of 6 percent in 2014. The airline industry is expected to play a role in this growth. Airlines are now ordering a record number of new planes to prepare for growth over the next decade.

To download a copy of the full report, click here. For reprint permission or to schedule an interview with the author, please contact Sarah Avallone at 919.785.9221 or savallone@fminet.com.

About FMI:
FMI is a leading 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:
Strategic Advisory

  • Market Research and Business Development

  • Leadership and Talent Development

  • Project and Process Improvement

  • Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Consulting*

  • Compensation Benchmarking and Consulting

  • Risk Management 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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New Standard Construction Management Agreement Clarifies Costs & Fees in CM Agency Contracts

The ConsensusDocs Coalition is publishing a new Construction Management Agency standard agreement. The ConsensusDocs 830 Agreement Between Owner and Construction Manager (CM Provides General Conditions) and related exhibits will replace the current ConsensusDocs 801 Construction Management Agreement.

The new agreement was revised based upon industry feedback and the Drafting Council’s evaluation that providing greater clarity in defining costs, fees and profit would avoid potential claims over these issues on projects utilizing CM Agency. In surveying current practices, the Council found that the areas of defining fees, profit and overhead on general conditions items vary greatly. Consequently, the agreement structure was refined and an optional general conditions exhibit was provided. The Council will be publishing an alternative version of this agreement in which the CM does not provide general conditions.

“Current standard CM Agency contracts do not do a good job of defining which costs fall into a particular bucket, which inevitably leads to confusion when it comes time for payment. This new document is the first standard Agency document that provides clarity, which will be a helpful contractual tool for Owners and CMs alike,” comments Melissa Beutler, Vice-Chair of the ConsensusDocs Drafting Council.

ConsensusDocs are the only standard contracts written by a coalition of 40 design and construction industry associations. ConsensusDocs remains committed to keeping a project-first philosophy mission with contracts that are written in plain English, incorporate best practices, and address emerging trends.

Simply put… ConsensusDocs help you build a better way!

For more information and to order your subscription today, visit www.ConsensusDocs.org.

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Another Decline for Architecture Billings Index
Continued strong demand for multi-family residential projects

Following consistently increasing demand for design services throughout most of 2013, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has posted its first consecutive months of contraction since May and June of 2012. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the December ABI score was 48.5, down from a mark of 49.8 in November. This score reflects a decrease in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 59.2, up from the reading of 57.8 the previous month.

You can see this press release online here: http://www.aia.org/press/releases/AIAB101427

“What we thought last month was an isolated dip now bears closer examination to see what is causing the slowdown in demand for architectural services,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “It is possible that some of this can be attributed to the anxiety in the marketplace caused by the shutdown of the federal government, but it will be important to see how business conditions fare through the first quarter of the new year when we no longer have end of the year issues to deal with.”

Key December ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: West (53.2), South (51.2), Midwest (47.0), Northeast (42.8)

  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (53.8), mixed practice 51.0), commercial / industrial (47.1), institutional (44.8)

  • Project inquiries index: 59.2

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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Onset Announces New Data Logger For Building Performance Monitoring

New HOBO UX120-006M Analog Logger provides twice the accuracy of
previous models, flexible support for a wide range of sensors


Onset, a world leader in data loggers, today announced a new high-performance, LCD display data logger for building performance monitoring applications.

Starting at $139, the HOBO UX120-006M Analog Logger provides twice the accuracy of previous models, a deployment-friendly LCD, and support for up to four external sensors for measuring temperature, current, CO2, voltage, and more. This enables energy engineers, facility managers, and others to easily and affordably solve a range of building performance applications, including energy audits, building commissioning studies, and equipment scheduling optimization.

“Our next-generation HOBO UX Series platform has been a major step forward for Onset in terms of providing customers with an ideal combination of deployment ease-of-use, measurement accuracy, and convenience,” said Jessica Frackelton, senior manager of product marketing for Onset. “With our latest model, the UX120-006M, customers can now have a simple and reliable amp logging solution with twice the accuracy and memory for less than $150. These features will enable customers to manage projects with the logging frequency they need, without having to get into complicated deployments setups involving multiple loggers for a single task.”

Fast, easy deployment
The HOBO UX120 Analog Logger streamlines building performance monitoring applications in a number of ways. For example, it features an easy-to-view LCD that visually confirms logger operation and battery status, eliminating the need to connect the logger to a computer to view the information. As the logger records, the LCD provides a near real-time readout of the current measurements as well as minimum, maximum, average, and standard deviation statistics. On-screen alarms can be set for each channel to notify users when a sensor reading exceeds high or low thresholds.

The logger also features a large memory capacity capable of storing 1.9 million measurements. This enables the loggers to be deployed for longer periods between offloads. Firmware is user upgradeable, and the logger offers start, stop, and restart pushbuttons to make installation fast and easy.

Powerful software
Once data has been recorded with the HOBO UX120 Analog Logger, 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 dozens of loggers in a fraction of the time it would take with previous generations – a particular advantage in large-scale monitoring projects. The software also features a Bulk Export tool that allows users to export data files to text format for use in spreadsheets.

ABOUT ONSET
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 2.5 million data loggers since the company’s founding in 1981. Visit Onset on the web at http://www.onsetcomp.com.

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Garland Introduces New Line of Air, Vapor and Water-Barrier Products

As the push for more energy-efficient buildings continues, numerous building codes are now including air barrier requirements. To address these changing standards, Garland has engineered a new product line of high-performance solutions that prevent unwanted air, vapor and water from penetrating the building envelope. The Garland Aero-Block™ product line offers solutions for all six sides of the building enclosure, as well as for gaps in walls or between sections of walls.

This new polymer-modified-asphalt technology is available in three formats. The fluid-applied solvent-based polymer and fluid-applied water-based polymer versions can be applied by brush, spray, or roller. There is also a pre-fabricated, self-adhering multi-layer membrane. The entire Aero-Block family create vapor-closed protection, meeting the requirements for a Class I air/vapor barrier.

According to Tom Stuewe, Garland’s product manager for the coatings and air-barrier product lines, “Garland’s Aero systems include all the product components necessary to provide the best solution for your building and ensure long-term performance of your air barrier system. These barriers help minimize the potential for mold growth or corrosion within wall assemblies. They also protect building occupants from pollutants, second-hand smoke, cooking odors, noise, and pollen.”

A companion vapor-open product line, Aero-Perm™, will become available later this year. Aero-Perm will offer the same capabilities as Aero-Block™ systems, while providing permeability to water vapor.

The Garland Company, Inc. is one of the worldwide leaders of quality, high-performance roofing and building maintenance solutions for the commercial, industrial and institutional markets. For over 100 years, Garland has continually developed unique product and service offerings that have raised the bar of performance while exceeding the individual needs of customers throughout the world. Today, our network of over 200 local building envelope professionals is ideally positioned throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to provide quality roofing solutions for single and multi-property facilities. The Garland Company Inc., headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, is an ISO 9001:2008 certified company.

For more information visit www.garlandco.com

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McElroy Metal re-roofs Peachtree facility, adds solar panels
Half megawatt system produces more power than plant consumes

It’s one thing to talk about the benefits of your metal roofing products and how those products can serve as a host for photovoltaic panels. It’s quite another thing to re-roof your manufacturing facility with your panels and add photovoltaic panels.

McElroy Metal recently completed the retrofit installation and 500 kW solar project on its manufacturing facility in Peachtree City, Ga. The project, believed to be the largest solar installation for a metal roofing manufacturer, is part of the Medium Scale Georgia Power Advanced Solar Initiative Program. Inovateus Solar LLC, a worldwide installer of commercial and industrial solar power systems, worked with McElroy on the project.

A total of 1,960 solar panels were installed on the plant roof and on a canopy in the parking lot. The half megawatt solar system became operational in late December. The energy generated will not directly power the facility, but will be “sold” back to Georgia Power. The power generated will far surpass Peachtree’s energy consumption.

Through its partnership with Inovateus Solar, McElroy Metal provides complete solar solutions for commercial and industrial applications. The company offers many roofing panels that make an excellent substrate, or host material, for solar panels.

“We are very excited to have installed a half megawatt photovoltaic system on our Peachtree City facility,” says McElroy President Ian McElroy. “The existing metal roof, a galvanized R-panel, was more than 34 years old. We retrofitted with our 238T symmetrical standing seam system which provides an excellent metal over metal re-roof solution. And since we were installing a new roof, we decided to explore adding solar to the plans. Fortunately, we were able to put together a plan that made financial sense.”

McElroy’s 238T symmetrical standing seam systems do not have male and female seams, but are comprised of panels with matching left and right seams. The panels are joined with a mechanically seamed cap. The panels are non-directional and can be installed left to right, right to left or even center to right or left. In addition to installation benefits, symmetrical panels offer easy individual panel removal and replacement for easy plenum access. Panels can even be re-installed, requiring only the purchase and installation of a new cap.

For the Peachtree City project, the panels were installed over the existing roof with the aid of McElroy’s patent pending 238T Retrofit Clip, a 3-1/2-inch standoff clip that elevates the new roofing system to the top of the existing panels. The 238T Retrofit Clip sits between the ribs of the existing roof, eliminating the need for sub-framing, greatly reducing material and labor expense. In fact, the use of the 238T Retrofit Clip instead of a sub-framing system, reduced the overall cost of the re-roof portion by approximately 25 percent. The tall clip stands above the existing panel’s major ribs, allowing for the addition of insulation. For this project, foam insulation provided increased R-value as well as support for the new roof panels.

“We found the 238T to be an amicable panel to work with for this type of system,” says David Dodge, president of Paramount Metal Systems in Little Rock, Ark. “It’s a two-foot panel so the erection was faster because we were covering more square foot per panel. Everybody in the field was pleased with the installation.”

Dodge said the Paramount Metal Systems crew installed the 30,000 square feet of retrofit metal roofing panels in about 7 to 8 days and needed another 2-1/2 weeks to install the solar panels. Three different clamps from S-5! Solutions were used to attach the solar panels, one for the 238T panel, one for an existing through-fastened panel in the back corner of the facility and a third for the existing standing seam panel on the office lean-to.

“Once we got the roofing panels installed, we were able to lay out the S-5! clamps,” Dodge says. “Honestly, I don’t think it could have gone any better and I would have to attribute that to the efforts of the whole team. The entire project took four to five weeks.”

About McElroy Metal
Since 1963, McElroy Metal has served the construction industry with quality products and excellent customer service. The family-owned components manufacturer is headquartered in Bossier City, La., has 12 manufacturing facilities and 20 service centers across the United States. Quality, service and performance have been the cornerstone of McElroy Metal’s business philosophy and have contributed to the success of the company through the years. As a preferred service provider, these values will continue to be at the forefront of McElroy Metal’s model along with a strong focus on the customer. More information can be found at http://www.mcelroymetal.com.

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Nationwide Housing Production Edges Just Under 1 Million Units in December

Following an unusual surge in housing starts in November, nationwide housing production fell 9.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 999,000 units in December, according to newly released figures from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Total housing starts of just under 1 million units in December was the third-highest monthly level of production in 2013,” said Rick Judson, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. “This rate is in line with our builder surveys, and tells us we are seeing a return to trend after a strong November.”

“Last year was a good year for home building, with overall production up 18 percent from 2012,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “As pent-up demand is unlocked and the labor market improves, we anticipate that 2014 should be an even better year for home construction. That’s good news for economic growth, as each new home that is built creates three full-time jobs and contributes to the tax base of local communities.”

Single-family housing starts fell 7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 667,000 units in December. Except for November, this was the highest monthly total for single-family starts in 2013. Meanwhile, multifamily starts fell 17.9 percent to 312,000 units in December.

Regionally in December, combined single- and multifamily housing production rose 15 percent in the West but fell 33.5 percent in the Midwest and 12.3 percent in the South. Production was unchanged in the Northeast.

Overall permit issuance fell 3 percent to 986,000 units in December. Single-family permits dipped 4.8 percent to 610,000 units from a strong pace the previous month, while multifamily permits were unchanged at 376,000 units.

The Northeast and West posted gains of 11.2 percent and 10.5 percent in permitting activity for December, while Midwest and South registered declines of 18.8 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively.

For more information visit www.nahb.org.

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CONSTRUCTION EMPLOYMENT DECLINED BY 16,000 JOBS AMID COLD WINTER WEATHER IN DECEMBER AS SECTOR'S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE HITS 11.4 PERCENT

Industry Still Added 122,000 Jobs During the Past 12 Months As Residential Construction Continues to Grow, But Public Sector and Certain Nonresidential Construction Sectors Remain Weak

Construction employment declined by 16,000 in December but the industry unemployment rate fell to 11.4 percent, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that the new employment data was likely impacted by cold weather, but also reflects underlying weakness in the construction sector.

“Given the variability of weather, especially in winter, the downturn in December is not cause for alarm,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “The data does show how uneven the recovery remains with residential construction doing very well, but the public sector remains weak and private nonresidential construction is mixed.”

Construction employment totaled 5,833,000 in December, an increase of 122,000 from a year earlier, Simonson noted. But while employment grew by 2.1 percent during the past year, construction employment remains nearly 1.9 million below the sector’s April 2006 peak. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for workers actively looking for jobs and last employed in construction declined from 13.5 percent in December 2012 to 11.4 percent last month.

Nonresidential construction firms lost 22,900 new jobs in December while residential firms added 6,200 jobs. Nonresidential specialty trade contractors lost 12,900 jobs for the month, the most of any segment, while heavy and civil engineering firms – which are most likely to perform federal construction work – lost 8,800 jobs, the second most. Meanwhile residential building contractors added the most new jobs during the past month, 4,800 jobs.

The number of unemployed construction workers dropped from 1,105,000 in December 2012 to 958,000 in December 2013, a decline of 147,000. Yet the industry added only 122,000 new jobs during the same timeframe. The shrinking pool of available construction workers may be one reason so many firms report having a hard time finding qualified workers, Simonson noted.

Association officials said the outlook for construction could be helped by new investments in infrastructure and other construction programs. They urged Congress to finalize Water Resources Development Act legislation to invest in ports and other waterways. They also said Congress and the administration should work together to find a way to pay for needed repairs to aging roads and bridges before the current transportation legislation expires at the end of September.

“If the economy continues to expand and Washington can work together to make needed infrastructure investments, firms should be able to add significantly more jobs in 2014” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “But Congress and the administration need to set aside partisan differences and find a way to work together in the interest of our economy.”

For more information visit www.abc.org

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CONSTRUCTION SPENDING INCREASED BY 5.9 PERCENT BETWEEN NOVEMBER 2012 AND 2013 AMID GROWING PRIVATE SECTOR DEMAND FOR CONSTRUCTION

Spending Levels Held Back by Public Sector Declines, Association Officials Urge Congress and Administration to Work Together to Boost Economy, Pass Vital Infrastructure Measures

Total construction spending increased between October and November and for the year amid growing private-sector demand, according to an analysis of new Census Bureau data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted, however, that the spending levels were held back by declining public sector investments for both the month and the year.

“The nonresidential construction spending figures are even more positive than they appear, with most categories now positive year-over year,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “The outlook appears favorable for many types of private nonresidential and multifamily construction, but remains flat or negative for public spending.”

Construction put in place totaled $934 billion in November, rising 1.0 percent since October and up 5.9 percent since November 2012. Private residential construction spending increased by 1.9 percent in November and jumped 17 percent from a year earlier. Private nonresidential spending climbed 2.7 percent for the month and 1.0 percent year-over-year. Public construction spending dropped 1.8 percent for the month and 0.2 percent over 12 months.

Over the past 12 months, the biggest jump in construction spending has occurred in new multifamily construction, which rose 0.9 percent for the month and 36 percent year-over-year. The lodging sector recorded the second highest annual gain, with spending rising 32.7 percent for the year and 0.3 percent for the month. Spending on communications facilities experienced the largest monthly increase, jumping 11.2 percent in November, although it is still down 10.5 percent for the year.

The largest private nonresidential category, power construction—which includes oil and gas field and pipeline projects as well as power plants, renewable power and transmission lines—increased by 3.3 percent in November but is actually down 24.2 percent for the year. Simonson noted, however, that there was a surge in power construction during the last quarter of 2012 as contractors rushed to finish wind projects before the expected expiration of the wind production tax credit at the end of 2012. Those credits were extended for projects that broke ground by the end of 2013, explaining the more recent surge. “Both the electricity and oil and gas components of power construction should do well in 2014,” he added.

Highway and street construction, the largest public category, declined by 0.4 percent in November but is up 4.6 percent compared to a year ago, Simonson noted. The next largest public niche, educational construction, increased by 1.1 percent for the month but was unchanged for the year, he added.

Association officials noted that the spending figures would have been even better had it not been for the public sector declines. They urged Congress and the administration to work together in 2014 to pass vital transportation and other infrastructure legislation. “Finding new ways to fund repairs to our aging infrastructure will help the construction industry grow and boost our broader economy,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.

For more information visit www.agc.org

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Architects Issue 2014 “Punch List” for Congress

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) today announced its “punch list” for Congress that, if completed, will ignite the construction economy by spurring much needed improvements in energy efficiency, infrastructure and resiliency and create jobs for small business

“America needs to create more jobs, to strengthen communities, and find help for millions of young people to succeed in the new economy,” said Robert Ivy, CEO of the American Institute of Architects, "so we've created a punch list—a term that enumerates unfinished items in a construction contract."

“The AIA’s Congressional punch list will help Congress satisfy its implicit contract with the American people to spur growth and create jobs,” Ivy said. “Our legislative agenda reflects the interests of our members, which not so coincidentally reflects the priorities of the American people.”

The AIA’s Punch List for Congress:

1. Re-enact Expired Energy Efficiency Tax Incentives
Congress left town in December without extending several important tax incentives that expired on New Year’s Day. Of most significance to the design and construction industry is the expiration of a tax break enacted in 2005 for energy efficient commercial buildings. The 179D deduction allowed building owners to claim a tax deduction of $1.80 per sq. ft. of building area to install systems that reduce the total energy and power costs by 50 percent or more when compared with a reference building. As Congress continues to debate long-term tax reform, it can boost the economy and create jobs today by reinstating this deduction.

2. Help Businesses by Reforming Government Procurement Rules
More than 97 percent of architecture firms employ 50 or fewer people; every project they design leads to job opportunities for millions of construction workers. But too many laws and regulations block innovative solutions that maximize the government’s return on its investment. Congress must reform procurement rules so that architects and designers can deliver projects that are safe, productive and sustainable. In 2014, the AIA is aggressively pushing for passage of The Design-Build Efficiency and Jobs Act of 2013 (H.R. 2750), introduced by Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) in July, which would reform of the design-build contracting process so that more design and architectural firms can bid on federal contracts without fear of losing money in the process.

3. Invest in the Next Generation of Design Leaders
Millions of young people aspire to help their communities build a better future – but a lack of opportunity and the crushing cost of education hold them back. As a result, the design and construction industry faces a severe shortage of talent, at exactly the moment we need to start rebuilding for the future. The AIA urges Congress to pass the proposed National Design Services Act (NDSA), which will give architecture students the relief from crushing student loan debt as that granted young lawyers, doctors and others – in return for pro bono community service.

4. Invest in Infrastructure
Just as the Capitol dome, the symbol of American democracy is undergoing a multi-year renovation, so too must our nation’s infrastructure. Congress should pass a multi-year transportation reauthorization, which would allow for long-term planning that not only repairs roads and bridges but helps communities prosper; and enact a National Infrastructure Bank to finance the design, construction and repair of buildings and other vital infrastructure. Such moves would help free up capital for private sector building projects, and new ways to invest in public sector buildings, providing jobs in the short term and a more competitive economy in the long run.

5. Pass a Common-Sense Energy Efficiency Bill
Last session, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved a bipartisan bill, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013 that would encourage families, businesses and the government to save energy. The Senate should take up the legislation, sponsored by Ohio Republican Rob Portman and New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, in 2014, and oppose efforts by the fossil fuel industry to repeal existing policies that save energy.

6. Help Communities Weather Natural Disasters
Each year, natural disasters kill tens of thousands of people worldwide and inflict billions of dollars in damage. Many parts of the United States are still recovering from tornadoes and hurricanes like Superstorm Sandy. Congress can help communities fortify themselves from such disasters by passing the Safe Building Code Incentive Act, introduced by New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez and Florida Republican Congressmen Mario Diaz-Balart, which encourages states to voluntarily adopt and enforce nationally recognized model building codes.

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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Builder Confidence Slips One Notch in January

Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes fell one point to 56 in January from a revised December reading of 57 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released today.

“Following an unexpected jump last month, builder confidence has essentially leveled out and is holding at a solid level,” said NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. “Many markets continue to improve and this bodes well for future home sales.”

“Rising home prices, historically low mortgage rates and significant pent-up demand will drive a continuing, gradual recovery in the year ahead,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “However, the pace of the recovery could be stronger were it not for rising construction costs and inaccurate appraisals that are keeping some home sales from going through.”

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 25 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

All three HMI components declined in January. The index gauging current sales conditions edged one point lower to 62, while the index gauging expectations for future sales fell two points to 60. The index gauging traffic of prospective buyers fell three points to 40.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast and West each rose four points to 42 and 63, respectively, while the South held steady at 56. The Midwest fell a single point to 58.

Editor’s Note: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index is strictly the product of NAHB Economics, and is not seen or influenced by any outside party prior to being released to the public. HMI tables can be found at nahb.org/hmi. More information on housing statistics is also available at housingeconomics.com.

ABOUT NAHB: The National Association of Home Builders is a Washington-based trade association representing more than 140,000 members involved in home building, remodeling, multifamily construction, property management, subcontracting, design, housing finance, building product manufacturing and other aspects of residential and light commercial construction. NAHB is affiliated with 800 state and local home builders associations around the country. NAHB's builder members will construct about 80 percent of the new housing units projected for this year.

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New CertainTeed® Easi-Lite™ 30 Lightweight Gypsum Board Combines a Level of Fire Resistance with Easier Installation

CertainTeed Gypsum is broadening its Easi-Lite™ lightweight gypsum board product line with the addition of a fire-resistant option. Up to 30 percent lighter than standard 5/8-inch Type X board, the 5/8-inch Easi-Lite™ 30 features a specially formulated core with a 30-minute fire rating for walls in residential and commercial applications. Easi-Lite 30 can also be used in interior ceilings and is also easier to transport, lift, carry and install, reducing muscle strain and fatigue.

“In today’s industry, building professionals must consider every factor which can impact a project being completed on time and to exacting specifications,” said Dave Engelhardt, president of CertainTeed Gypsum. “Easi-Lite 30 provides a level of fire protection and saves time and labor costs, without sacrificing performance features our customers expect from our lightweight gypsum products.”

Easi-Lite 30 is comprised of up to 99 percent recycled material and is easy to score and snap, helping installers work more efficiently and effectively. Based on its lighter weight, up to 33 percent more product can be shipped on a flatbed, which can help reduce transport and fuel costs.

Easi-Lite 30 is UL Classified for Fire Resistance and included in UL/cUL Design W423 for use in 30-minute single layer wood and steel framed wall assemblies. It also complies with ASTM C1396 as a Non-Type X gypsum board and is ideal for use in commercial building code applications where a single layer one-hour fire rating is not required. Tapered edges and end tapes are clearly labeled so product can be properly identified for the appropriate application on the job site.

Easi-Lite 30 joins lightweight Easi-Lite 1Ž2-inch wall and ceiling board in a family of products that showcase a uniform high-strength, sag-resistant gypsum core with a recycled face and back paper, enabling building professionals to achieve the same high performance standards of a traditional gypsum board.

The entire Easi-Lite product line has achieved GREENGUARD GOLD Certification (formerly GREENGUARD Children and SchoolsSM Certified). The products have been designated as a low volatile organic compound (VOC) emitting product meeting CA Section 01350.

To assist with product specification, the full CertainTeed® gypsum product family has been evaluated by the UL Environmental Claim Validation (ECV) process. Products are listed in applicable categories on UL Environment’s Sustainable Products Database, allowing users to identify sustainable products by product category, company name, product name or evaluation type.

Easi-Lite 30 is now starting to ship on a regional basis across North America.

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, go to certainteed.com/gypsum.

About CertainTeed
Through the responsible development of innovative and sustainable building products, CertainTeed, headquartered in Valley Forge, Pa., has helped shape the building products industry for more than 100 years. Founded in 1904 as General Roofing Manufacturing Company, the firm's slogan "Quality Made Certain, Satisfaction Guaranteed," quickly inspired the name CertainTeed. Today, CertainTeed® is North America’s leading brand of exterior and interior building products, including roofing, siding, fence, decking, railing, trim, insulation, gypsum, and ceilings.

A subsidiary of Saint-Gobain, the world’s largest building products company, CertainTeed and its affiliates have more than 5,700 employees and more than 60 manufacturing facilities throughout the United States and Canada. Recognized as a 2009 and 2010 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, CertainTeed earned the 2011 and 2012 ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Award, the highest level of recognition for outstanding contributions to protecting the environment through energy efficiency. The group had total sales of approximately $3.3 billion in 2012. www.certainteed.com

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