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TradeWinds

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Architecture Billings Index Softens in January
Slowdown Likely a Result of Winter Weather Conditions

Following a nine-month stretch of positive billings, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) showed no increase in design activity in January. 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 49.9, down from a mark of 52.7 in December. This score reflects a very modest decrease in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 58.7, down from a reading of 59.1 the previous month.

“This easing in demand for design services is a bit of a surprise given the overall strength of the market over the past nine months,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Likely some of this can be attributed to severe weather conditions in January. We will have a better sense if there is a reason for more serious concern over the next couple of months.”

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

Key January ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: South (54.8), West (49.3), Midwest (50.8), Northeast (46.0)

  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (51.4), institutional (53.0), commercial / industrial (50.9), mixed practice (46.9)

  • Project inquiries index: 58.7

  • Design contracts index: 51.3

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts 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 recently released White Paper, Designing the Construction Future: Reviewing the Performance and Extending the Applications of the AIA’s Architecture Billings Index on the AIA web site.

About The American Institute of Architects
Founded in 1857, the American Institute of Architects consistently works 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 wellbeing. 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 Reports Rising Nonresidential Construction Index Comes with Struggles

The Nonresidential Construction Index from FMI rose two points in Q1. This normally is a positive economic sign. However, construction companies are facing the challenge of having enough people to keep up with increasing backlogs, warns Phil Warner, researcher for FMI.

The engineering and construction executives that comprise the NRCI panel are strongly optimistic about both the economy and their businesses. The diffusion indexes for the overall economy and the geographic economies where individual panelists do business rose more than six points, reaching 78.


The report discusses owners’ views on expectations for 2015 Construction Put In Place, top business challenges for 2015 and employment trends. Lack of a skilled workforce was among the top concerns. Other comments express some political angst. One panelist expressing, “Need a federal highway bill!” A different panelist says, “Another challenge is the increasing regulatory burdens placed on our clients and in turn our business. Some projects are taking almost two years to clear local planning hurdles. By the time the project is approved, budgets are obsolete, and the project may not be feasible.”

To read the full report, click here for a downloadable PDF. 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 the leading provider of management consulting, investment banking* and people development services to the engineering and construction industry. FMI services 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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Modera Tempo Grand Opening:

Mill Creek Residential Trust, a national real estate development company specializing in residential mixed-use community building projects, held a grand opening Thursday, January 29th 2015, for their Modera Tempo project—a part of Alexandria’s Landmark/Van Dorn small area plan. Designed by KGD Architecture, the 550,000sf project includes 492 market rate apartments (850sf average size) with over 15,000sf of ground floor retail; all located just minutes from the Van Dorn Metro Station. The building comes with a general amenities package that includes two hotel inspired pools, dog washing stations, full concierge service, 597 below grade parking spaces, and a 24/7 fitness studio. One unusual and interesting perk is the climate controlled wine cellar where residents can store their beverages in personal secure lockers.

Modera Tempo serves as the first phase and the southern gateway for a revitalization of Alexandria's West End, soon to be transformed into a bustling urban neighborhood. Amirali Nasserian, vice president of development for Mill Creek Residential, noted that, “We are proud to extend the walk-ability of Alexandria’s historic core to the West End, where residents can live in close proximity to Metro and major employers.” Alexandria’s Mayor Bill Euille said, “The launch of Modero Tempo is an important catalyst to the long-planned redevelopment of the Van Dorn corridor.”

KGD was selected by Akridge to develop a 10 story, up to 250,000 SF office tower in Tysons Corner at the intersection of Dolley Madison Boulevard and Old Meadow Road. KGD's other award winning projects include: Headquarters for The Aerospace Corporation near Dulles Airport; 1730 Pennsylvania Avenue building for Tishman Speyer in Washington D.C., and headquarters for the Tower Companies in Rockville, Maryland.

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FMI Warns Craft Labor Shortage May Slow Construction

 

Surveying members of the Construction Personnel Executives Group, FMI reports, “24 percent of respondents will be unable to bid more work and 32 percent will experience slow growth if their companies cannot reasonably meet the need for skilled labor and tradespeople.” Top executives at the largest contract firms in the U.S. took part in the survey.

“Overall, there’s an increase needed in skilled trade workers of more than 10 percent thoughout the next three to 10 years,” says Ken Wilson, director for FMI, citing highlights from survey partipants. One large construction company says, "Our current hiring forecast shows a need for 8,500 additional craft workers by 2017.”

The top five positions that are expected to be the most difficult to fill are:

  1. Operator (heavy equipment)

  2. Welder (boilermaker)

  3. Carpenter

  4. Pipefitter

  5. Ironworker (reinforcing)

There are two significant contributing factors to the high demand for craft labor:

 

  1. The shift of the construction workforce to oil and gas related construction. FMI estimates that by 2017 nearly 10 percent of the total U.S. construction workforce will be part of this burgeoning segment of the industry.

  2. The number of survey respondents that plan to increase the amount of work the company self-performs. Currently, surveyed firms self-perform less than 40 percent of construction projects. However, 65 percent either have plans to or are considering plans to increase self-performed projects.

This in-depth look into recruiting and retention of craft labor includes an analysis of the driving factors behind the skilled labor shortage, the most effective recruitment tactics and how companies are filling the demand for field management of the craft labor force. The report also provides practical counsel on how to develop human resource strategies to improve recruiting and retention rates.

To download a copy of the 2015 survey report, “Craft Labor Recruiting and Retention,” click here. For reprint permission or to arrange an interview with the authors, contact Sarah Avallone at 919.785.9221 or via email, savallone@fminet.com.

About FMI:
FMI is the leading provider of management consulting, investment banking* and people development services to the engineering and construction industry. FMI services 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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Construction Firms Add 39,000 Jobs In January, Bringing Employment To Highest Level Since 2009 As Sector's Unemployment Rate Drops To 9.8 Percent

Job Gains Come as Most Firms Report Plans to Expand Headcount in 2015 Amid Rising Demand, But Worry About Growing Shortages of Qualified Workers to Fill Available Positions

Construction employers added 39,000 jobs in January and 308,000 over the past year, reaching the highest employment total since February 2009, as the sector's unemployment rate fell to 9.8 percent, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said the job gains come as most construction firms report plans to expand headcount this year, but worry about growing shortages of qualified workers.

"Contractors have stayed busy this winter and expect to keep hiring through 2015-if they can find the workers they need," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "The list of projects is growing in most states and most nonresidential segments, in addition to continuing strong demand for apartment buildings."

Construction employment totaled 6,314,000 in January, the highest level in nearly six years, with a 12-month gain of 308,000 jobs or 5.1 percent, Simonson noted. Residential building and specialty trade contractors added a combined 20,100 employees since December and 162,400 (7.2 percent) over 12 months. Nonresidential contractors-building, specialty trade, and heavy and civil engineering construction firms-hired a net of 18,600 workers for the month and 145,600 (3.9 percent) since January 2014.

The number of workers who said they looked for work in the past month and had last worked in construction fell from 1,045,000 a year earlier to 811,000-the lowest January mark since January 2000. Although winter conditions typically result in a high January unemployment rate for construction, the 9.8 percent unemployment rate for these workers was the lowest January rate since January 2007 and represented a steep drop from a year earlier, when the rate was 12.3 percent.

"The combination of rapidly rising employment, good prospects for 2015, and a depleted pool of unemployed workers with construction experience means contractors may have a hard time filling jobs with the workers they need in coming months," Simonson said. "Worker availability challenges have replaced a lack of projects as the biggest worry for many contractors."

Association officials noted that the new construction employment data is consistent with its recently-released Construction Hiring and Business Outlook, where 80 percent of construction firms reported they plan to expand head counts in 2015. But they cautioned that 87 percent of firms report having a hard time finding qualified workers and urged officials to act on the measured outlined in the association's Workforce Development Plan.

"Construction firms appear ready to add jobs this year at the fastest rate in a decade," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "But those employment gains depend on finding new ways to expose and prepare high school students for high-paying careers in construction."

- See more at: http://www.agc.org/construction-firms-add-39000-jobs-january-bringing-employment-highest-level-2009-sectors#sthash.azD42FZN.dpuf

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Small Commerical Buildings Offer Huge Energy Efficiency Retrofit Opportunities
Financing Challenges Still Must Be Overcome

In a report today from its Council on Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (CFIRE), the National Institute of Building Sciences issued findings and recommendations on the financing of small commercial retrofit projects for energy efficiency. Small commercial buildings (generally defined as less than 50,000 square feet) make up the majority of the nation’s building stock by both number and area (93.9 percent and 49.5 respectively). Yet, despite this vast segment of the building stock, investments in energy-efficiency retrofit projects for small commercial buildings have lagged behind those for larger buildings.

The CFIRE report, Financing Small Commercial Building Energy Performance Upgrades: Challenges and Opportunities, identifies several barriers to investment in such retrofits. Key issues include the costs and complexity associated with relatively small loan sizes as well as the challenge owners have in understanding and trusting predicted retrofit outcomes. Conservatively estimated as a $35.6 billion market, investments in small building retrofits could yield the nation an estimated 424,000 job years of full-time employment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 87 million metric tons a year. Small building retrofits would also improve the resilience of the nation’s built environment and take pressure off the aging electric grid.

In addition to identifying the challenges, the report also highlights current programs and mechanisms that can be replicated or expanded to address the challenges.

The report recommends:
  • Federal programs should be expanded and deployed to facilitate state and local energy retrofit financing efforts.
  • Federal policy should encourage the development and testing of energy retrofit programs at the individual city, county or utility level.
  • Public-private energy retrofit approaches should be encouraged in federal policy making.
  • Federal, state and community policy makers should recognize local and property-level variations in designing energy efficiency programs that serve small businesses and others.
  • Policy makers should leverage national Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) data, as well as the growing quantity of voluntary and mandatory benchmarking and disclosure programs, to create more meaningful building performance databases.
  • Utilities should be required to provide energy consumption data to property owners and tenants, including aggregate building level data for properties in which tenants are separately metered.
  • Public policies and programs should be designed to anticipate the future aggregation of energy retrofit loans into bonds, and to provide the basis for appropriate loan documentation.

CFIRE released the report during its Annual Meeting, held during Building Innovation 2015: The National Institute of Building Sciences Annual Conference and Expo.

The Council will host a webinar on March 10, from 1:00 to 2:00 pm ET to discuss the report findings and recommendations aimed at government, retrofit providers and building owners; identify existing programs that successfully support retrofits for small commercial buildings; and discuss the significant opportunities presented by this segment of the industry.

View Financing Small Commercial Building Energy Performance Upgrades: Challenges and Opportunities.

About the National Institute of Building Sciences
The National Institute of Building Sciences, authorized by public law 93-383 in 1974, is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that brings together representatives of government, the professions, industry, labor and consumer interests to identify and resolve building process and facility performance problems. The Institute serves as an authoritative source of advice for both the private and public sectors with respect to the use of building science and technology.

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Belden Cousins Receive 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award

The Belden Brick Company’s fourth generation leading figures, William H. Belden (Bill) and Robert F. Belden (Bob) will receive the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of the Brick Industry Association. The award honors “outstanding individuals who have – for a minimum of 25 years - given substantially of themselves throughout their career to the advancement and betterment of the clay brick industry.” The Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented at the Brick Industry Association Board, Councils, and Committees Spring Meeting on April 21-23, 2015, at Sheraton Suites Old Town, located in Alexandria, Virginia.

Both men have been with The Belden Brick Company since the early 1980s and maintain the company’s status as the quality leader in the brick industry for both commercial and residential brick products.

“We hold ourselves to a certain standard in this industry,” said CEO of The Belden Brick Company, Bob Belden. “Belden Brick strives to be the Standard of Comparison in product quality, product variety, and corporate philanthropy

The co-recipients’ hard work extends beyond the walls of their flourishing business. Both men have served as chairman of BIA’s Board of Directors, and served as members of various industry, educational, banking, religious, community, and charitable organizations and boards. Bill Belden is a Trustee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Bob Belden, a former NFL quarterback, has served as President for the USA Committee for the 2009 International Federation of American Football (IFAF) Junior World Championship.

Bill Belden graduated with a BSEE from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.

Bob Belden graduated with a BS from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from the University of Michigan.


The Belden Brick Company, established in 1885, currently operates six plants in Tuscarawas County. It is the sixth largest manufacturer of brick, as well as the largest family owned and managed brick company on a national scale. The Belden Brick Company is a proud member of the Brick Industry Association.

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Builder Confidence Holds Steady in January

Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes declined one point to 57, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index released today. This marks the third straight month that the index has hovered in the upper 50s range.

“After seven months above the key 50 benchmark, builder sentiment is reflecting the gradual improvement that is occurring in many markets throughout the nation,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del.

“January’s HMI reading is in line with our forecast as we head into the new year,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Steady economic growth, rising consumer confidence and a growing labor market will help the housing market continue to move forward in 2015.”

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 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 from 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.

The HMI component gauging current sales conditions remained unchanged at 62 in January while the index measuring expectations for future sales dropped four points to 60 and the component gauging traffic of prospective buyers fell two points to 44.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the West rose by four points to 66, the Midwest registered a three-point gain to 57 and the Northeast was up two points to 47. The South dropped two points 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.

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New Build America Investments Initiatives Will Boost Economy, Help Rebuild Aging Infrastructure, Construction Official Says
New EPA Water Finance Center, Rural Investments and Qualified Public Infrastructure Bonds Should Help Finance Needed Clean Water, Energy and Transportation Projects, Official Adds

The chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, Stephen E. Sandherr, issued the following statement in response to today's announcement of new Build America Investment Initiatives By President Obama:

"The new Build America Investment initiatives outlined by the Obama administration today will help boost our economy and help rebuild aging infrastructure. The steps being taken by the administration should make it easier for state and local officials to finance a wide variety of projects designed to upgrade aging clean water systems, improve power transmission networks and keep our roads and bridges safe.

"While these measures will help, taken on their own they will not solve the growing challenge we face as a nation of maintaining and upgrading our aging water, energy and transportation infrastructure. That is why we will continue to work with the Congress and the Obama administration to identify and enact long-term measures that establish the sufficient and stable funding needed to rebuild and improve our aging infrastructure."

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New Deck-Drive™ DCU Composite Screw Versatile for All Types of Composite Decking

Pleasanton, Calif. – Simpson Strong-Tie, the industry leader in engineered structural connectors and building solutions, is launching a new screw that is designed to work in all types of composite decking as well as encapsulated composite.

The Deck-Drive™ DCU Composite screw provides a cleaner, less noticeable installed appearance due to its special head design. The screws are offered in bulk and collated for use with the Quik Drive® auto-feed screw driving system.

Other key features include:
  • Inverted upper threads ensure the screw is seated properly and consistently

  • Tri-lobe thread design reduces damage to the composite board while driving

  • Quik Guard® coating enables it to be used with many preservative-treated wood substrates

  • Cap-head prevents mushrooming and material from rising up above the deck board for a smoother, clean-looking installation

The DCU Composite screw is also available in colors matched to blend with most major composite decking products, and is an approved fastener for Trex® composite decking. For more information about the DCU Composite screw and the entire line of Deck Drive fasteners, visit strongtie.com/deckdrive.

About Simpson Strong-Tie Company Inc.
For more than 55 years, Simpson Strong-Tie has focused on creating structural products that help people build safer and stronger homes and buildings. Considered a leader in structural systems research, testing and innovation, Simpson Strong-Tie works closely with industry professionals to provide code-listed, field-tested products and value-engineered solutions. Its structural products are recognized for helping structures resist high winds, hurricanes and seismic forces. The company’s extensive product offering includes engineered structural connectors, fasteners, fastening systems, lateral-force resisting systems, anchors and products that repair, protect and strengthen concrete. From product development and testing to training and engineering and field support, Simpson Strong-Tie is committed to helping customers succeed. For more information, visit strongtie.com and follow us at facebook.com/strongtie or at twitter.com/strongtie.

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Architecture Billings Index Rebounds to End 2014 on Solid Footing
Northeast only region not experiencing increasing demand for design services


There were ten out of twelve months of increasing demand for design services in 2014, and the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) points to a healthy outlook for the nonresidential construction industry. 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 52.2, up from a mark of 50.9 in November. This score reflects an increase in design activity (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 58.2, following a mark of 58.8 the previous month. Design contracts posted a mark of 49.9, after a 54.9 score in November.

“Business conditions continue to be the strongest at architecture firms in the South and the Western regions,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Particularly encouraging is the continued solid upturn in design activity at institutional firms, since public sector facilities were the last nonresidential building project type to recover from the downturn.”

Key December ABI highlights:
  • Regional averages: South (56.8), West (52.9), Midwest (50.8), Northeast (45.5)

  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (55.7), institutional (52.5), commercial / industrial (51.2), mixed practice (45.8)

  • Project inquiries index: 58.2

  • Design contracts index: 49.9

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts 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 recently released White Paper, Designing the Construction Future: Reviewing the Performance and Extending the Applications of the AIA’s Architecture Billings Index on the AIA web site.

About the American Institute of Architects
Founded in 1857, the American Institute of Architects consistently works 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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Two Los Angeles Skyscrapers Featured in Retrospective of Historic Architectural Glass
SOLARBAN glass by PPG, trailblazer for energy-efficient glass, marks 50th anniversary

Citigroup Center and KPMG Tower, two landmark skyscrapers that have been fixtures on the Los Angeles skyline for more than 30 years, are part of an online retrospective celebrating the 50th anniversary of SOLARBAN® glass by PPG Industries.


Citigroup Center/Wells Fargo Bank Building (1979) 


 KPMG Tower/Crocker Center (1983)

Designed by A.C. Martin and opened in 1979 as the Wells Fargo Bank Building, Citigroup Center gained prominence as the television home of the 1980s hit series “L.A. Law.” Together with KPMG Tower, designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and erected four years later, the two buildings epitomized the classic modernist glass-and-steel aesthetic that defined the era.

Constructed on the heels of the oil crises of the 1970s, Citigroup Center and KPMG Tower were among the earliest skyscrapers to feature Solarban glass, a brand name that has come to signify leadership in environmentally-advanced architectural glass. Today, the Solarban glass brand name encompasses a broad range of high-performance solar control, low-emissivity (low-e) glasses – including many formulated with PPG’s proprietary triple-silver coating technology – that help architects design and construct more sustainable buildings through their ability to transmit daylight, block solar heat and thereby reduce heating, cooling and lighting demands.

Solarban 60 glass also is showcased in downtown Los Angeles by the futuristic California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) District 7 Headquarters, opened in 2004 and designed by Hans Hollein, the 2005 winner of the Pritzker Prize.

For more information about the 50th anniversary of Solarban glass and its impact on architectural design, energy efficiency and skylines around the country, visit www.SolarbanGlassLegacy.com.

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Housing Production Falls 1.6 Percent in November

Following an upwardly revised rate last month, housing starts in November slipped 1.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.028 million units, according to newly released figures from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. Three-month moving averages for total and single-family production were at their highest levels since the Great Recession.

“These numbers are in line with our latest surveys, which show that single-family builders are confident that the market is gradually recovering,” said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del.

“Over the course of the year, the number of houses under construction has been on an upward trajectory, signaling that housing is moving forward,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “With strong demand, affordable home prices and favorable interest rates, we should see housing production continue to grow into 2015.”

Single-family housing starts were down 5.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 677,000 units in November, while multifamily production rose 6.7 percent to 351,000 units.

Regionally in November, combined housing production increased in the Northeast, Midwest and West, with respective gains of 8.7 percent, 14.4 percent and 28.1 percent. Total production dropped in the South by 19.5 percent.

Issuance of building permits registered a 5.2 percent loss to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.035 million units in November. Multifamily permits dropped 11 percent to 396,000 units while single-family permits slipped 1.2 percent to 639,000 units.

Regionally, the Northeast posted an overall permit gain of 27.4 percent. The Midwest, South and West registered respective losses of 7.3 percent, 10 percent and 5.6 percent.

For more information visit www.nahb.org

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Construction Firms Add 20,000 Jobs In November As Sector's Unemployment Rate Drops To 7.5 Percent, Employment At Five-Year High
Residential Construction Gains Outpace Nonresidential as Public Works and Nonresidential Building Employment Drops for the Month, Amid Calls to Fix Crumbling Roads and Bridges

Construction industry employment hit a new five-year high in November as the sector added 20,000 jobs and its unemployment rate fell to 7.5 percent, the lowest rate for November in seven years, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials cautioned, however, that the latest figures include signs that demand for public-sector and non-residential construction may be weakening.

"November was another good month overall for construction workers and businesses," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "Yet the recent declines in public works and nonresidential building construction employment may indicate some underlying weakness in the construction market."

Construction employment totaled 6,109,000 in November, the highest total since April 2009, with a 12-month gain of 213,000 jobs or 3.6 percent, Simonson noted. Residential building and specialty trade contractors added a combined 16,700 employees since October and 122,800 (5.6 percent) over 12 months. Nonresidential contractors hired a net of 3,600 workers for the month and 90,100 (2.4 percent) since November 2013. However, the heavy and civil engineering construction segment, which includes most forms of public works construction, lost 1,300 jobs in November, while nonresidential building construction lost 2,400 jobs.

The number of workers who said they looked for work in the past month and had last worked in construction fell to 629,000 in November. That was lower than in any November since 2006, when many nonresidential contractors were forced to delay projects because they couldn't find qualified workers.

Association officials said the overall construction employment gains were welcome news for an industry hard hit during the downturn. But they cautioned that demand appeared to be falling for workers in the nonresidential and public-sector segments of the industry. They urged Congress and the administration to work together to address the nation's crumbling infrastructure, saying that swift passage of a new highway and transit bill could bring needed stability o the public-sector market.

"While the overall construction industry appears to be recovering, this month's data is not entirely positive," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "What the data shows us is this industry would be a lot better off, as would the broader economy, if Washington could figure out how to pay for and enact a long-term highway and transit bill, as well as other measures to fix our crumbling infrastructure."

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Builder Confidence Drops One Point in December

Following a four-point uptick last month, builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes fell one point in December to a level of 57 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released today.

“Members in many markets across the country have seen their businesses improve over the course of the year, and we expect builders to remain confident in 2015,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del.

“After a sluggish start to 2014, the HMI has stabilized in the mid-to-high 50s index level trend for the past six months, which is consistent with our assessment that we are in a slow march back to normal,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “As we head into 2015, the housing market should continue to recover at a steady, gradual pace.”

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 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 from 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.

Two of the three HMI components posted slight losses in December. The index gauging current sales conditions fell one point to 61, while the index measuring expectations for future sales dropped a single point to 65 and the index gauging traffic of prospective buyers held steady at 45.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the West rose by four points to 62 and the Northeast edged up one point to 45, while the Midwest registered a three-point loss to 54 and the South dropped two points to 60.

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.

For more information visit www.nahb.org

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Demand Softens, but Outlook for Architecture Billings Index Remains Positive
Multi-family residential projects continue to set pace

Buoyed by sustained demand for apartments and condominiums, coupled with state and local governments moving ahead with delayed public projects, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has been positive for seven consecutive months. 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 November ABI score was 50.9, down from a mark of 53.7 in October. This score reflects a slight increase in design activity (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 58.8, following a mark of 62.7 the previous month.

The AIA has added a new indicator measuring the trends in new design contracts at architecture firms that can provide a strong signal of the direction of future architecture billings. The score for design contracts in November was 54.9.

“Demand for design services has slowed somewhat from the torrid pace of the summer, but all project sectors are seeing at least modest growth,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Architecture firms are expecting solid mid-single digit gains in revenue for 2014, but heading into 2015, they are concerned with finding quality contractors for projects, coping with volatile construction materials costs and with finding qualified architecture staff for their firms.”

Key November ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: South (57.9), West (52.7), Midwest (49.8), Northeast (46.7)
  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (56.8), mixed practice (52.6), institutional (51.3), commercial / industrial (50.6)
  • Project inquiries index: 58.8
  • Design contracts index: 54.9

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts 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 recently released White Paper, Designing the Construction Future: Reviewing the Performance and Extending the Applications of the AIA’s Architecture Billings Index 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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SOLARBAN glass by PPG highlights prominent New York City landmarks

One United Nations Plaza and the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York are among the historic buildings featured in an online retrospective celebrating the 50th anniversary of SOLARBAN® glass by PPG, a trailblazing architectural glass that has been featured on many famous structures and specified by many famous architects to enhance the energy and environmental performance of buildings.

One United Nations Plaza, designed by Kevin Roche, John Dinkeloo & Associates and dedicated in 1975, was one of the first skyscrapers in the country to be constructed with Solarban glass. As one of two mixed-use glass towers adjacent to United Nations Plaza, the 39-story building is a prime example of reflective glass being used to block solar heat transmission into buildings and thereby lower their energy and air-conditioning use.

The Javits Center, located 2 miles away on Manhattan’s West Side, features several transparent multistory facades fabricated with Solarban glass. The 1.6-million-square-foot complex, considered state-of-the-art at the time of its opening in 1986, was designed by James Ingo Freed of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners.

Since Solarban glass was launched in 1964, the brand name has come to signify industry leadership in environmentally advanced architectural glass. Today, the Solarban brand name encompasses a broad range of high-performance solar control, low-emissivity (low-e) glasses – including many formulated with PPG’s proprietary triple-silver coating technology – with the ability to transmit daylight, block solar heat and thereby reduce heating, cooling and lighting demands to help architects design and construct more sustainable buildings.

For more information about the 50th anniversary of Solarban glass and its impact on architectural design, energy efficiency and skylines around the country, visit www.SolarbanGlassLegacy.com.

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Laminators Inc. Announces the Launch of their New Website

New features include project portfolio, product selector tools, file upload, blog, and so much more.

Laminators Incorporated is proud to present the release of their new website, designed with a fresh new look and user-friendly navigation, updated with the latest information about their products and services.

The new look better serve customers and visitors, with expanded capabilities for learning, sharing and interacting… finding more options and information each time.

New and Enhanced Features:
  • File Upload - Easily send your plans, shop drawings, details, take-offs, photos, etc.
  • E-News Signup - Stay up-to-date with free newsletters on products, services, projects, etc.
  • Blog - Read more stories, news and updates.
  • Project Portfolio - Search through their detailed Project Portfolio to find certain products & installation systems used; specific projects in your location(s); types of projects & applications; and so much more.
  • Architectural Selector Tool - Not sure which architectural panel or installation system is right for your needs? Use the easy architectural selector tool as a guide.
  • Installation Systems - Learn about their five different panel installation systems and download each of their guides.
  • Downloads & Resources - For product specifications, installation instructions, technical information, detailed CAD drawings, etc.
  • Color & Finishes Page and New Color Chart - View their 50+ Kynar 500/PVDF and Polyester colors including our popular Designer and Natural Series colors and finishes.

Laminators Inc. will continually be expanding their online content … bookmark their site at www.LaminatorsInc.com, check back often .

About Laminators Incorporated
Laminators Incorporated, a leading manufacturer for over 50 years, offers of a complete line of composite panels for the commercial construction and sign making industries in the United States and Canada. Laminators’ lightweight systems 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.

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Old and new Dallas landmarks highlight 50 years of energy-saving advances in SOLARBAN glass by PPG
       
  Thanksgiving Tower (1983)      Bank of America Plaza (1984)    
 

 

   
 The House by Starck and YOO (2007)   he Omni Dallas Convention Center Hotel (2011)    

The SOLARBAN® glass brand debuted 50 years ago, and for the past four decades, the PPG Industries product has been selected for application on many prominent buildings that define the Dallas skyline.

Among the best-known examples is Bank of America Plaza and its iconic green silhouette. Known as Interfirst Plaza when it opened in 1984, the 72-story skyscraper was constructed with Solarban 560-8 TWINDOW® glass. Thirty years later, it remains the tallest building in the city and the third-tallest in Texas.

Solarban glass also is integral to Thanksgiving Tower, which opened as Dallas’s second-tallest building in 1983. Highlighted by its soaring reflective glass curtain wall, the 50-story building, now the city’s eighth-tallest, is distinguished by its “sawtooth” exterior, which was designed to create 16 corner offices on each floor.

A new generation of Solarban glass continues to redefine the Dallas skyline, most famously with the award-winning Omni Dallas Convention Center Hotel. Shimmering with Solarban z50 and Solarban PACIFICA® glasses, the 23-story hotel is the first building in Texas to earn LEED® certification for New Construction at the Gold level and the largest hotel outside Las Vegas to earn this distinction.

Other well-known Dallas buildings that are adorned with Solarban glass and have earned LEED certification include Providence Towers, Rosewood Court and 1400 Hi Line. Two Victory Park luxury condominium towers – The House by Starck and YOO and The Cirque – also are glazed with Solarban glass.

Introduced by PPG in 1964, Solarban glass heralded a new era of environmentally advanced glass by being one of the first coated glasses engineered to reflect heat away from buildings to reduce air-conditioning use. Today the Solarban brand encompasses a broad range of high-performing solar control, low-emissivity (low-e) glasses that transmit daylight, block solar heat and thereby reduce heating, cooling and lighting demands to help architects design and construct more sustainable buildings.

For more information about the 50th anniversary of Solarban glass and its impact on energy efficiency, architectural design and skylines around North America, visit www.SolarbanGlassLegacy.com.

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