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Architecture Billings Index Ends Year on Positive Note
While volatility persists, architecture firms reported healthy performance for 2015

There were a few occasions where demand for design services decreased from a month-to-month basis in 2015, but the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) concluded the year in positive terrain and was so in eight of the twelve months of the year. 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 50.9, up from the mark of 49.3 in the previous month. This score reflects a slight increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 60.2, up from a reading of 58.6 the previous month.

“As has been the case for the past several years, there continues to be a mix of business conditions that architecture firms are experiencing,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Overall, however, ABI scores for 2015 averaged just below the strong showing in 2014, which points to another healthy year for construction this year.”

Key December ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: West (53.7), South (53.3), Northeast (46.7), Midwest (46.1),

  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (52.9), institutional (52.2), commercial / industrial (47.3), mixed practice (46.5)

  • Project inquiries index: 60.2

  • Design contracts index: 51.0

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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New-Home Sales Rise 4.3 Percent in November

Sales of newly built, single-family homes rose 4.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 490,000 units in November, according to newly released data from HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau.

“It is encouraging to see new-home sales continue to tick upward,” said Tom Woods, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Blue Springs, Mo. “Builders are also increasing their inventory even as they face difficulties accessing lots and labor.”

“Limited gains in new-home sales can be attributed to a weak existing sales report,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “People who already own a house comprise most of the new residential construction market, and they often must sell their existing home before making another purchase.”

Regionally, sales rose 20.5 percent in the West and 4.5 percent in the South. Sales fell 28.6 percent in the Northeast and 8.6 percent in the Midwest.

The inventory of new homes for sale was 232,000 units in November. This is a 5.7-month supply at the current sales pace.

 

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Construction Employment Posts Widespread Growth In November As 38 States Add Workers For The Month; 44 States And D.C. Report Year-Over-Year Gains
California and Hawaii Add Most Jobs for the Year, West Virginia Has Biggest Annual Decline; South Dakota and Florida Top Monthly List of Gainers, Pennsylvania, Delaware and North Dakota Have Largest One-Month Drop

Strong demand for construction projects fueled job growth in November in 38 states compared to October and in all but six states over the past 12 months, according to analysis of Labor Department data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said, however, that the shortage of available workers was likely keeping firms from expanding headcounts even more rapidly in many parts of the country.

“In nearly every state, contractors are busier now than a year ago,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association. “Employment is up, but the industry would be expanding even more rapidly if contractors could find enough qualified workers.”

Nationally, construction employment climbed by 4.2 percent from November 2014 to November 2015—more than double the rate for total nonfarm employment, Simonson noted. He added out that construction spending rose 13 percent in the latest 12 months, suggesting a need for even more workers. He cautioned that filling those openings may be difficult in many states because the number of unemployed jobseekers in November who last worked in construction was at the lowest November level in 15 years.

Between November 2014 and November 2015, 44 states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs, with California adding the most (41,000 jobs, 5.9 percent). Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months include New York (30,500 jobs, 8.9 percent), Florida (29,300 jobs, 7.2 percent) and Colorado (12,000 jobs, 8.3 percent). Hawaii added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year (12.5 percent, 3,900 jobs), closely followed by Nevada (12.3 percent, 7,800 jobs), South Dakota (12.3 percent, 2,700 jobs), Arkansas (12.0 percent, 5,600 jobs) and Idaho (11.4 percent, 4,200 jobs).

Six states shed construction jobs during the past 12 months. West Virginia lost the highest percentage and total number of construction jobs (-14.5 percent, -4,600 jobs). Other states that lost jobs for the year include Rhode Island (-6.7 percent, -1,100 jobs), North Dakota (-4.4 percent, -1,600 jobs), New Mexico (-0.7 percent, -300 jobs), Pennsylvania (-0.6 percent, -1,500 jobs) and Maine (-0.4 percent, -100 jobs).

Florida added the most construction jobs between October and November (10,600 jobs, 2.5 percent). Other states adding a high number of construction jobs include New York (9,100 jobs, 2.5 percent), Texas (9,000 jobs, 1.3 percent) and Massachusetts (4,800 jobs, 3.6 percent). South Dakota added the highest percentage of construction jobs during the past month (5.6 percent, 1,300 jobs), followed by Iowa (4.6 percent, 3,700 jobs), Massachusetts and Vermont (3.5 percent, 500 jobs).

A dozen states lost construction jobs during the past month while construction employment was unchanged in the District of Columbia. Pennsylvania shed more construction jobs than any other state (-4,600 jobs, -1.9 percent), followed by North Carolina (-4,200 jobs, -2.2 percent), Kansas (-1,500 jobs, -2.3 percent), Illinois (-1,500 jobs, -0.7 percent), North Dakota (-1,300 jobs, -3.6 percent) and Arkansas (-1,300 jobs -2.4 percent). Delaware (-3.6 percent, -800 jobs) and North Dakota lost the highest percentage of construction jobs between October and November, followed by Arkansas, Kansas, North Carolina and West Virginia (-2.2 percent, -600 jobs).

Association officials said many firms report that some positions are going unfilled because of the broad shortage of qualified workers. They said the steps outlined in the association’s Workforce Development Plan, like increasing investments in career and technical education programs, will allow firms to keep pace with growing demand. “Even more people would be working in construction today if we had a better pipeline for preparing new workers,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s CEO. View the state employment data by rank and state.

 

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Architecture Billings Index Hits another Bump
Business conditions show continued strength in South and West regions

As has been the case a few times already this year, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) dipped in November. 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 49.3, down from the mark of 53.1 in the previous month. This score reflects a decrease in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 58.6, up just a nudge from a reading of 58.5 the previous month.

“Since architecture firms continue to report that they are bringing in new projects, this volatility in billings doesn’t seem to reflect any underlying weakness in the construction sector,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Rather, it could reflect the uncertainty of moving ahead with projects given the continued tightness in construction financing and the growing labor shortage problem gripping the entire design and construction industries.”

Key November ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: South (55.4), West (54.5), Midwest (47.8), Northeast (46.2)

  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (53.8), institutional (52.0), commercial / industrial (51.0), mixed practice (47.6)

  • Project inquiries index: 58.6

  • Design contracts index: 53.5

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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ConsensusDocs Coalition Releases New and Improved ConsensusDocs Building Information Modeling (BIM) Addendum

The ConsensusDocs Coalition is publishing an updated ConsensusDocs 301 BIM Addendum, which was an industry-first document originally published in June 2008. The BIM revision working group was assembled from a diverse group of practitioners who were intimately familiar from the technical, legal, and risk management aspects of BIM. The new Addendum updates terminology and provisions to reflect current best practices in the rapidly changing world of BIM.

"ConsensusDocs continues its lead industry role in the area of BIM with this publication," states Brian Perlberg, ConsensusDocs Executive Director. "The new document is more specific and technologically intricate to address current industry needs and provides for greater clarity in development of a BIM Execution Plan with better defined administration rights and responsibilities to assist all participants working on a project incorporating BIM."

The new changes included updating liability, insurance and intellectual property terms; adding provisions for commissioning/turnover and facilities maintenance and operations, as well as sustainability analyses. There was a great deal of effort on incorporating a level of development (LOD) and creating options regarding reliance upon model data.

The BIM Addendum specifies technology requirements and formats conducive to robust BIM use as a tool throughout the lifecycle of a structure and is designed so that parties can take better advantage of features unique to BIM.

ConsensusDocs are the only contracts written by a coalition of 40+ design and construction industry associations. For more information and to order your subscription today, visit www.ConsensusDocs.org.

 

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Architecture Billings Index on Solid Footing
Continued growing demand across all construction sectors

There has been increasing levels of demand for design services for nearly all construction project types for the majority of the year as revealed 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 October ABI score was 53.1, down slightly from the mark of 53.7 in the previous month. This score still reflects an increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 58.5, down from a reading of 61.0 the previous month.

“Allowing for the possibility of occasional and minor backsliding, we expect healthy business conditions for the design and construction industry to persist moving into next year,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “One area of note is that the multi-family project sector has come around the last two months after trending down for the better part of the year.”

Key October ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: South (56.2), West (54.4), Midwest (52.6), Northeast (49.2)

  • Sector index breakdown: commercial / industrial (55.1), mixed practice (54.9), multi-family residential (52.5), institutional (51.4)

  • Project inquiries index: 58.5

  • Design contracts index: 51.7

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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Builder Confidence Drops Three Points in November

Builder confidence in the market for newly constructed single-family homes slipped three points to 62 in November from an upwardly revised October reading on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI).

“Even with this month’s drop, builder confidence has remained in the 60s for six straight months — a sign that the single-family housing market is making long-term headway,” said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods, a home builder from Blue Springs, Mo. “However, our members continue to voice concerns about the availability of lots and labor.”

“The November report is pullback from an unusually high October, and is more in line with the consistent, modest growth that we have seen throughout the year,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “A firming economy, continued job creation and affordable mortgage rates should keep housing on an upward trajectory as we approach 2016.”

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 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.

Two of the three HMI components posted losses in November. The index measuring sales expectations in the next six months fell five points to 70, and the component gauging current sales conditions decreased three points to 67. Meanwhile, the index charting buyer traffic rose one point to 48.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the West increased four points to 73 while the Northeast rose three points to 50. Meanwhile the Midwest and South held steady at 60 and 65, respectively.

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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Corecon Technologies Increases Productivity and Improves Financial Documentation with Accounting Integration Updates for Corecon V7 Construction Software Suite
Complete new interface and integration methods in CoreconLink for QuickBooks Desktop and
Sage 50 Canada provide more streamlined accounting options for Corecon V7 users

Corecon Technologies, Inc., a leading provider of cloud-based construction estimating, project management and job cost software, recently updated the user interface on its CoreconLink for QuickBooks Desktop and Sage 50 Canada accounting software. All five CoreconLink accounting utilities, including CoreconLink for QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop, Sage 50 Canada, SAP Business One and Xero, now have a unified interface and integration process allowing for all-inclusive construction project management and accounting functions in one software suite.

“The updated CoreconLink user interface saves time and improves data exchange by minimizing mouse clicks and providing a more efficient method of integrating construction and accounting functions,” says Corecon President Norman J. Wendl. “More building and accounting professionals can now take advantage of Corecon V7’s complete and efficient solution to manage construction projects, no matter which accounting software or platform they prefer.”

The latest CoreconLink accounting updates include a new sync wizard that intuitively identifies all data required to be updated or exported between Corecon V7 and QuickBooks Desktop or Sage 50 Canada. This includes customer, vendor and employee information, as well as project financial transactions such as bills, progress invoices and timecards that need to be exported to the accounting software. Before the actual data exchange is made, a preview function in the wizard finds and displays the information that will be synced allowing for approval of the function. After completion of the data exchange, sync logs provide a history of modified/added records with the date and name of the person who made the change.

Prior to this update, these CoreconLink utilities required separate export functions for each type of record (e.g. customer, vendor, project, bill, etc.). The data exchange is now automatic, providing similar functionality to the existing CoreconLink for QuickBooks Online, SAP Business One and Xero utilities, which are all cloud-based. The new user interface for QuickBooks Desktop and Sage 50 Canada provides a streamlined sync process that saves time and ensures the accurate transfer of information.

In addition to the new sync wizard in the CoreconLink update, reimagined sync preferences provide granular export options for accounts payable, accounts receivable and time tracking transactions. For example, accounts payable export rules can be set up in Corecon by organizing bills into “Types,” such as: bills to be paid, credit card purchase or check purchase. There are also export settings to specify which credit card or checking account was used for the transaction or to set up default accounts for every transaction.

A new payment function for all five CoreconLink accounting utilities was also added for returning check and deposit information back to Corecon V7. This automated function provides easy access to payment information in Corecon V7 for bills or subcontractor and client invoices without assistance from the accounting staff.

“We have used Corecon as a complete project management tool for commercial construction projects ranging in size from $25,000 to $35 million for more than 10 years,” says Don Payne, operations manager for Purdum Construction in Overland Park, Kansas. “Corecon’s accounting integration gives project management a single point of data entry for job costs while allowing our accounting department to operate independently, controlling what and when information flows into the accounting system. It also provides a system of checks and balances between the jobsite and home office. With the new CoreconLink update for QuickBooks, financial data transfers are much more efficient and take about half the amount of time. Another advantageous feature is that once an invoice is transferred from Corecon to QuickBooks, the information remains linked and the accounting department is notified if the invoice is modified in Corecon, ensuring accurate record keeping and proper payment.”
 

About Corecon Technologies
Corecon Technologies provides estimating and project management software solutions for general contractors, subcontractors, homebuilders, developers, and engineering firms. Corecon’s flagship product, Corecon V7, has received numerous industry awards and utilizes the latest cloud technologies to provide constant connectivity anywhere, anytime so firms can make quick and informed decisions whether using a laptop, tablet or smartphone. The firm is the only company with a cloud-based construction software on the market that provides business development, estimating, document control, contract administration, job cost control, scheduling and collaboration functionality with integration options to popular accounting systems such as Intuit QuickBooks, Sage 50, SAP Business One® or Xero. Based in Huntington Beach, Calif., USA, the company was founded more than a decade ago by construction industry experts who seek to design software with cost-effective, user-friendly tools to ensure successful project delivery.

For more information, visit www.corecon.com or call toll free at 1-866-258-6698.

 

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Jonas Premier Construction Software Announces Integration with Microsoft Project

Jonas Premier, a leading integrated cloud construction software solution, announces integration with Microsoft Project, a leader within the project management software industry. Phase 1 of this integration is set to be released in early December 2015.

The goal of this integration is to enhance the accessibility of schedule information, allowing employees across the business to view project schedules from one central location. Any time a project schedule is updated, the revised schedule is automatically updated within Jonas Premier as well. This eases the burden of sharing schedules via email, which reduces the issues of viewing an outdated schedule and making decisions with inaccurate information.

Parham Mousavi, Director of Operations with Jonas Premier, is excited about the benefits this integration will provide, “With this integration between Jonas Premier and MS Project, existing Premier clients will not only be able to save time by having project schedules updated automatically, but they will also experience greater accessibility with all schedule information stored within the Jonas Premier system. All project schedules will be accurate and available in real-time, providing our clients with the confidence to make better decisions moving forward.”

The integration between Jonas Premier and Microsoft Project makes sharing project schedules easy, as everyone with access to the Premier system can view Gantt Charts, critical paths, schedules, and more, all in real-time. By automating this process, there is no requirement to import or export documents, which can be time consuming and cumbersome. Through a simple push of the button, project schedule information is made available to any Premier user, at any time and from anywhere through the integrated Jonas Premier cloud server.

Phase 2 of this integration, set to be released during Q1 of 2016, will further enhance this integration by providing Premier users with the ability to push estimated and actual costs to Microsoft Project, automatically creating the cash flow report in the process. As the project progresses, this integration will be able to automatically populate costs as well. This can be done instantaneously with a simple push of the button, saving a lot of time in the process.

About Jonas Premier
Jonas Premier is a fully integrated, cloud-based construction accounting software solution ideal for General Contracting businesses. Running in the cloud, it provides you with the ability to access and input key business information anytime, anywhere. It is built on modern software architecture, fully flexible and is simple to use. The complete offering for contractors includes: Accounting, Job Cost, Subcontract Management, Billing, Progress Billing, T&M Billing, Financials, Project Management, Bank Management, Purchase Order, Inventory, Time Entry, Integrated Document Storage, Field Mobile Apps, and Vendor and Customer Portals. For more information visit www.jonasconstruction.com

 

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Strong Rebound for Architecture Billings Index
Business conditions continue to be weak in Northeast

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) returned to positive territory after a slight dip in August, and has seen growth in six of the nine months of the year so far. 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 September ABI score was 53.7, up from a mark of 49.1 in August. This score reflects an increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 61.0, down from a reading of 61.8 the previous month.

“Aside from uneven demand for design services in the Northeast, all regions are project sectors are in good shape,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Areas of concern are shifting to supply issues for the industry, including volatility in building materials costs, a lack of a deep enough talent pool to keep up with demand, as well as a lack of contractors to execute design work.”

Key September ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: South (54.5), Midwest (54.2), West (51.7) Northeast (43.7)

  • Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (52.6), institutional (51.5), commercial / industrial (50.9) multi-family residential (49.5)

  • Project inquiries index: 61.0

  • Design contracts index: 53.2

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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Construction Employment Rises In 35 States And D.C. Between September ’14 & September ’15; But Only 23 States Add Jobs From August To September
California and Arkansas Add Most Jobs for the Year, Ohio and West Virginia Have Biggest Annual Decline; Florida and Alaska Top Monthly List of Gainers, North Carolina and Montana Have Largest One-Month Drop

Construction employment expanded in 35 states and the District of Columbia between September 2014 and September 2015 yet only 23 states added jobs between August and September, according to an analysis released today of Labor Department data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said the fact as many states lost construction jobs as added them last month was likely due to a combination of labor shortages and uncertainty about a host of federal investment programs.

“Depending on the kind of work they perform, many contractors either can’t find enough workers, or they can’t find enough work,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer for the association. “While overall demand for construction continues to grow and sap the pool of available labor, firms that work on federally-funded projects are dealing with a lot of uncertainty.”

California added the most new construction jobs (43,900 jobs, 6.4 percent) between September 2014 and September 2015. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months include Florida (26,700 jobs, 6.6 percent), Washington (11,400 jobs, 7.1 percent) and Pennsylvania (11,300 jobs, 4.9 percent). Arkansas (16.1 percent, 7,400 jobs) added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year, followed by Alaska (11.2 percent, 1,900 jobs), Kansas (9.5 percent, 5,600 jobs) and South Carolina (9.0 percent, 7,400 jobs).

Fourteen states shed construction jobs during the past 12 months, while construction employment was unchanged in Oregon. West Virginia (-16.9 percent, -5,800 jobs) lost the highest percent of construction jobs. Other states that lost a high percentage of jobs for the year include Rhode Island (-10.9 percent, -1,800 jobs), Ohio (-6.3 percent, -12,400 jobs) and Mississippi (-5.1 percent, -2,400 jobs). The largest job losses occurred in Ohio, West Virginia, Minnesota (-2,700 jobs, -2.5 percent) and Mississippi.

Florida (3,200 jobs, 0.8 percent) added the most construction jobs between August and September. Other states adding a high number of construction jobs include Louisiana (3,100 jobs, 2.2 percent), New Jersey (2,800 jobs, 1.9 percent) and Texas (2,700 jobs, 0.4 percent). Alaska (3.9 percent, 700 jobs) added the highest percentage of construction jobs during the past month, followed by New Mexico (3.2 percent, 1,300 jobs), South Dakota (2.6 percent, 600 jobs), Utah (2.5 percent, 2,000 jobs) and Louisiana.

Twenty-three states lost construction jobs during the past month while construction employment was unchanged in four states and the District of Columbia. North Carolina (-3,300 jobs, -1.7 percent) shed more construction jobs than any other state, followed by Colorado (-2,200 jobs, -1.4 percent), Massachusetts (-2,000 jobs, -1.5 percent), New York (-1,800 jobs, -0.5 percent) and Oregon (-1,800 jobs, -2.2 percent). Montana (-4.4 percent, -1,100 jobs) lost the highest percentage of construction jobs between August and September, followed by Idaho (-2.5 percent, -1,000 jobs) and Oregon.

Association officials said that ongoing construction labor shortages in many markets are making it hard for many firms to fill positions. They noted that many firms indicated a low opinion of the pipeline for recruiting and training new construction workers. “One of our top priorities is finding ways to rebuild the pipeline for new workers in our industry,” said Sandherr.

View the state employment data by rank and state. View state employment map.

 

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Builder Confidence Rises Three Points in October

Builder confidence in the market for newly constructed single-family homes rose three points in October to a level of 64 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This month’s reading is a return to HMI levels seen at the end of the housing boom in late 2005.

“The fact that builder confidence has held in the 60s since June is proof that the single-family housing market is making lasting gains as more serious buyers come forward,” said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods, a home builder from Blue Springs, Mo. “However, our members continue to tell us there are still pockets of softness in some markets across the nation, and that they face challenges regarding the availability of lots and labor.”

“With October’s three-point uptick, builder confidence has been holding steady or increasing for five straight months. This upward momentum shows that our industry is strengthening at a gradual but consistent pace,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “With firm job creation, economic growth and the release of pent-up demand, we expect housing to keep moving forward as we start to close out 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 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.

Two of the three HMI components posted gains in October. The index measuring sales expectations in the next six months rose seven points to 75, and the component gauging current sales conditions increased three points to 70. Meanwhile, the index charting buyer traffic held steady at 47.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, all four regions posted gains. The West registered a five-point uptick to 69 while the Northeast, Midwest and South each rose one point to 47, 60 and 65, respectively.

For more information visit www.nahb.org

 

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Renovating, Expanding and Streamlining: All with a New Look
 

  
PHOTOS CREDIT: Mark Kempf, St. Louis  

 

An opportunity presented itself to streamline Milwaukee's Department of Transportation by putting many divisions under one roof. In doing so, a renovation and expansion of the existing Central Shop building, previously used by the Fleet Management and Highway Divisions, was necessary. The Dri-Design Tapered Series Wall Panel System was used on the expanded area to create a sense of movement, symbolizing the headquarters for the transportation department and its function.

"Dri Design was selected because it provides a high-performance pressure equalized rainscreen design that directs condensation from the back through an internal gutter system and weeps it out the bottom of the wall," says John Schremp, PE, president of Architectural Products of Wausau Ltd., Wausau, Wis. "This keeps the internal wall cavity dry and prevents streaking from occurring on the outside of the building. Dri Design also provides a Tapered Wall Panel that is available in small quantities of three custom colors."

The project required 4,210 square feet of 0.080-inch aluminum panels in Deep Spice, Old Redwood and Red Maple colors. Tapered Series allows each individual panel face to taper top to bottom, bottom to top, left to right or right to left. With the panels, random or regimented patterns can be created, including waves, bonds, running bonds and shingles. The installation process consisted of an air vapor barrier being installed over Denslgas. Architectural Products of Wausau installed the base flashing, vertical furring, mineral wood insulation, Tyvek weather barrier, horizontal hat section subgirts at the horizontal panel joints and then the Dri Design panels.

The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Building on Watertown Plank Road was demolished because of I-94 expansions. The 17,389-square-foot central shop was gutted so Continuum Architects + Planners SC, Milwaukee, could prepare the new headquarters and efficiently add office space with meeting and training rooms. A 16,818-square-foot addition was needed to accommodate the additional departments moving into the building. The architects were challenged to create a renovated space that is open to the public but also very secure for the sheriff’s department.

Sustainable features also were a priority, such as a 2-story glass south-facing entrance that floods the lobby with natural lighting. A variable refrigerant flow mechanical system with smaller units and taps was connected to the boiler. The Dri-Design panels also bring sustainability to the project. Dri-Design products do not have a foam core, composites, sealants or tapes like many other metal wall panel products. This makes them environmentally friendly and easily recyclable at the end of their lifespan.

“Our panels can be customized for any project to ensure the architect’s and building owner’s design intent is realized,” says Brad Zeeff, president of Dri-Design. “Custom colors and sizes, as well as sustainable attributes, all make Dri-Design a leading selection for reinventing a renovated space.”

Schremp notes: "The new façade adds life to the building. As you move past the building the sun catches the tapered surfaces at different angles. This, in combination with the three colors, continually changes the building’s appearance."

For more information about the Dri-Design® Wall Panel System, call 616-355-2970 or visit www.dri-design.com.

 

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Garland Introduces World’s First and Only Thermoset Polyurethane-Modified Membrane

Garland’s revolutionary OptiMax™ is the world’s first and only thermoset polyurethane-modified membrane designed to retain its resiliency, making it the longest lasting roof system in the commercial roofing market. Its unique, innovative technology combines asphalt and polyurethane to create a membrane that will redefine performance and protection expectations.

Garland’s revolutionary new OptiMax polyurethane-modified asphalt-based roof membrane is the world’s first and only of its kind, developed with an innovative, patent-pending technology designed to transform the roofing industry. The groundbreaking process combines asphalt with polyurethane to create the most durable and longest-lasting modified membrane on the market. Unlike traditional asphalt membranes, OptiMax becomes increasingly resilient as it ages because with time, polyurethane molecules are chemically linked with one another. The process was first used in Europe in the paving industry.

When traditional SBS-modified membranes age, the oils within the membrane heat up and “cook out”, causing cracking and eventually leaking. OptiMax combines two highly effective waterproofing materials – polyurethane and asphalt. The “active modification” process involves chemically reacting the polyurethane modifier to specific molecules within the asphalt. This modification provides enhanced long-term performance characteristics and weatherability.

Its performance is further improved by the fact that minerals are more strongly attracted to the polyurethane in the OptiMax membrane. The result is improved adhesion thus providing superior UV protection, preventing the likelihood of cracking and leaking issues common in traditional membranes. During advanced surface testing, OptiMax had fewer cracks when compared to traditional asphalt-modified membranes and retained its tensile strength in the face of damaging UV radiation.

“OptiMax has the ability to literally change the face of the roofing industry. This new technology will revolutionize the market and redefine expectations of building owners in terms of performance and protection. OptiMax has been engineered to outperform other commercial roofing products in the industry,” explained Melissa Rus, Garland’s director of research and development.

The Garland Company, Inc. is one of the worldwide leaders of quality, high-performance roofing and building envelope 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 building envelope 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 or call toll-free to be connected with your local Garland representative at 1.800.321.9336.

 

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Simpson Strong-Tie® Quik Drive® BSD200 Structural Steel-Decking System Wins 2015 Pro Tool Innovation Award
The Simpson Strong-Tie® Quik Drive® BSD200 Structural Steel-Decking system has won a Pro Tool Innovation Award in the Drill/Driver Attachments: Collated Driving category.

Quik Drive BSD200 is an auto-feed screw driving system specifically designed to fasten metal decking to steel framing using Simpson Strong-Tie® Strong-Drive® XL Large-Head Metal screws. Strong-Drive XL screws have been engineered as a 1-for-1 screw replacement option for pins in steel decking. The patented Quik Drive auto-feed mechanism provides hands-free screw advancement, eliminating the need to handle individual screws. Unlike welding and powder actuated tools, no special inspection or certifications are necessary, making the Quik Drive system a convenient alternative to other methods of attaching steel decking. The extension enables standup driving to save time and reduce worker fatigue.

Judges for the Pro Tool Innovation Awards noted, “We love the fact that screw installation reduces the number of inspections we have to arrange. The extension for the Quik Drive BSD200 offering stand up use is a time and back saver. We also like not having to sub-contract a welder or worry about OSHA concerns surrounding powder actuated fastening.”

The Pro Tool Innovation Awards are judged by a panel of professional tradesmen in the electrical, plumbing, MOR and concrete fields as well as general contractors and builders. The Awards seek to recognize the most innovative tools in the residential and commercial construction industry across a wide variety of categories. The Awards were founded by Pro Tool Reviews, an online tool review magazine.

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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Glass Specification Tool From PPG Offers Easy Access To LBNL Database
PPG Glass eVIEW Construct tool also provides data for PPG, competitor glass products

PPG Industries (NYSE: PPG) has upgraded the “Construct” tool on PPG Glass eVIEW, a multifunctional suite of Web-based tools that enables architects, glazing contractors, glass fabricators and other building professionals to search, construct, view and compare virtual glazing configurations in three dimensions.

The new PPG Glass eVIEW Construct tool incorporates several exclusive features designed to make it the most comprehensive and easy-to-use online specification tool in the glass industry. They include:

  • Access to PPG and competitor glass performance data – The upgraded PPG Glass eVIEW Construct tool enables visitors to build virtual monolithic and insulating glass units (IGUs) in multiple configurations using products and components from PPG and other glass manufacturers in the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) WINDOW 7.3 database. Input options include common coated and clear glasses as well as laminates, frits, installation angles, glass thicknesses and other design variables.

  • Password-free gateway to the industry’s largest product performance database – A seamless interface developed by PPG enables architects, designers and specifiers to build virtual IGUs using all products in the LBNL WINDOW 7.3 database, North America’s largest, most accurate and most trusted repository of glass-product performance data.

  • Side-by-side comparison capability – Up to nine glazing configurations can be viewed simultaneously for color and aesthetics and for side-by-side comparison of performance data such as visible light transmittance (VLT), solar-heat-gain coefficient (SHGC), light-to-solar-gain (LSG) ratio and U-value.

  • Customized report generation – Reports can be organized, downloaded and printed according to users’ most valued performance criteria, then personalized with the name of a building project, the logo of an architectural firm or any other user-provided artwork for easy insertion into a bid package.

Steve Marino, PPG technical support manager, flat glass, said the new and upgraded features of the PPG Glass eVIEW Construct tool are based on feedback from regular users.

“The growing popularity of building information modeling demands that our industry continues to invest in online tools like this,” he explained. “Not only is the program agnostic in terms of product information, but visitors can use it anonymously to protect their privacy. Our primary goal is to offer architects and other glazing-industry professionals a state-of-the-art package that can become their default glass specification tool.”

Other PPG Glass eVIEW Construct tool features include capabilities to build multi-cavity IGUs, to choose imperial or metric values, and to view comparative color-space plotting for aesthetics. To try using the tool, visit http://construct.ppg.com.

PPG: BRINGING INNOVATION TO THE SURFACE.™

PPG Industries' vision is to be the world’s leading coatings company by consistently delivering high-quality, innovative and sustainable solutions that customers trust to protect and beautify their products and surroundings. Through leadership in innovation, sustainability and color, PPG provides added value to customers in construction, consumer products, industrial and transportation markets and aftermarkets to enhance more surfaces in more ways than does any other company. Founded in 1883, PPG has global headquarters in Pittsburgh and operates in more than 70 countries around the world. Reported net sales in 2014 were $15.4 billion. PPG shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (symbol: PPG). For more information, visit www.ppg.com and follow @PPGIndustries on Twitter.
 

 

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New Glass Rail Product Lets End Users Bask in Natural Light
DORMA Introduces DRS 2-1/2" Rail System With Clear Opening, Minimal Metal

DORMA USA, Inc., a leading manufacturer and marketer of premium access solutions and services, is pleased to introduce a new addition to its DRS Rails line of products. The new DRS 2-1/2" Rail System offers DORMA customers an option that enables end users to enjoy a greater amount of natural lighting within their spaces.

With a larger clear opening and minimal amount of visible metal, the DRS 2-1/2" Rail System provides structural support while expanding interior views within the building.

The DRS 2-1/2" Rail comes in both square and tapered profiles and supports monolithic and tempered laminated glass from 3/8" to 3/4" thick. As it discreetly floats the glass for maximum visibility, the DRS 2-1/2" allows natural light deep into interior spaces. It accentuates and enhances interior design and architectural features by creating uninterrupted sightlines. With five standard architectural finishes, four special order finishes, 200 plus RAL finishes, and custom finishes available, it can satisfy virtually any aesthetic specification.

Like all DORMA DRS products, DRS 2-1/2" is a clamp-on rail system that enables quick and easy assembly. It has two security options: key cylinders and thumbturns within the rails themselves or DORMA locksets fitted to glass doors.

A few of the primary features and benefits of DORMA DRS Rail Systems include:

  • On-site height adjustability

  • Snap-on covers (Covers and cladding can be snapped in place after building construction is complete, preventing damage to the finished product during the construction phase.)

  • Easy on-site glass replacement

  • Extremely easy to install using the DORMA Dri-Fit™ glazing system (Requires no glues or caulking for tempered monolithic glass)

  • Can be used in conjunction with the DORMA standard and floating header systems

  • Warranty to ensure satisfaction (Refer to DORMA Limited Warranty at go.dorma.com/terms.)

According to Jerry Whitcomb, Senior Product Manager, DORMA USA, Inc., “We’re always striving to provide customers with versatile glass systems and solutions that can satisfy diverse requirements both functionally and visually. With the DRS 2-1/2" Rail System offering, DORMA customers have an easy-to-install, structurally sound way to give end users the advantages of natural lighting via more glass and less metal.”

For more information about the DRS 2-1/2" and other DORMA solutions, visit www.dorma.com, contact your DORMA representative, or call 1-800-523-8483.

 

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Architecture Billings Index Backslides Slightly
Midwest and South regions continue to see best business conditions

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) slipped in August after showing mostly healthy business conditions so far this year. 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 August ABI score was 49.1, down from a mark of 54.7 in July. This score reflects a slight decrease in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 61.8, down from a reading of 63.7 the previous month.

“Over the past several years, a period of sustained growth in billings has been followed by a temporary step backwards,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “The fact that project inquiries and new design contracts continue to grow at a healthy pace suggests that this should not be a cause for concern throughout the design and construction industry.”

Key August ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: Midwest (56.1), South (53.8), West (50.2) Northeast (46.8)

  • Sector index breakdown: institutional (53.7), mixed practice (52.8), commercial / industrial (49.7) multi-family residential (49.5)

  • Project inquiries index: 61.8

  • Design contracts index: 55.3

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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Major Industries Launches Redesigned Website

Major Industries, manufacturer of energy-saving skylights and translucent wall systems, recently introduced its newly redesigned website (www.majorskylights.com), making it easier for architects, designers, specifiers and contractors to find the information they need while also incorporating some new features that allow for easier access to our staff as well as our network of independent representatives.

“The new website was developed in response to a changing market,” states Mark Mitchell, Marketing Manager for Major Industries. “New and current customers want access to materials and information quickly, whether it’s a spec or contact information for their local representative. Finding that information should be as simple as possible.”

The new site features a searchable map to make locating Major’s independent representatives simpler, an "About Us" page with staff pictures and links to members of Major’s team, and a revamped image gallery. The site also features a Rep Portal, designed to allow our outside representatives easy access to training materials, quick sample and promotional item ordering and more.

For more information or questions, please contact Mark Mitchell, Marketing Manager, at 888-759-2678 or mmitchell@majorskylights.com. Homepage screenshots are also available for media use.

 

for more information visit www.majorskylights.com

 

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Metal Panel System Expansion Increases Choice and Flexibility
Fabral Expands Lancaster, PA Manufacturing Capacity

Fabral, the premier supplier of roofing and wall panel systems, has expanded its architectural solutions outreach through its Lancaster, PA manufacturing plant. The Lancaster location now offers Fabral’s Stand ‘N Seam®, Hefti-Rib®, Slim Seam® and Thin Seam panel systems in the full architectural finish offering and natural metals, along with all associated system trim and accessories. Metal exterior panel systems help architects execute their vision for commercial, government and industrial buildings in creative, beautiful and sustainable ways. These panel systems are ideal for buildings that require weathertight, long-lasting cladding that resists wind and harsh conditions. Some panel systems can be manufactured on site to meet long-length roof and building specification requirements. Fabral has also added local customer care support staff to help architects and architectural dealers throughout the planning, design and ordering process.

This manufacturing addition will give architects and dealers more construction schedule flexibility, particularly with projects that have stringent delivery time requirements. The Lancaster plant will primarily service customers in PA, NY, DE, MD, OH, WV, NJ, VA and the New England States. Kit Emert, Vice President and General Manager, states: “We are continuing the work of improving our support to the architectural design community and to our valued dealers. The Lancaster outreach will benefit both new and retrofit construction applications.”

For more information visit Fabral.com.

 

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PPG Debuts SOLARBAN 90 Solar Control, Low-Emissivity Glass

Neutral reflectivity enables true clear-glass aesthetic with exceptional solar control

PPG Industries (NYSE: PPG) has introduced SOLARBAN® 90 glass, a solar control, low-emissivity (low-e) glass that combines industry-leading solar control performance with a true neutral-reflective clear-glass aesthetic.

Solarban 90 glass is engineered with refinements to PPG’s proven triple-silver coating technology to offer architects a product that outperforms Solarban 70XL glass – the most preferred high-performance solar control, low-e glass in North America – while balancing visible light transmittance (VLT) and helping manage glare.

Glenn T. Miner, PPG director of construction, flat glass, said the neutral-reflective appearance of Solarban 90 glass was developed with input from architects. “The look of clear glass has always been popular with building designers for its neutral color, muted reflectivity and ability to transmit daylight,” he explained. “Now with Solarban 90 glass, they can specify a glass product that delivers all those attributes together with a solar heat gain coefficient exceeding that of Solarban 70XL glass, one of the most popular and highest-performing products on the market.”

Combined with clear glass in a standard 1-inch insulating glass unit (IGU), Solarban 90 glass has a solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) of 0.23, a 15 percent improvement over Solarban 70XL glass. The same configuration produces VLT of 51 percent and an exceptional light-to-solar-gain (LSG) ratio of 2.22. Interior and exterior reflectance rates are 12 percent and 19 percent, respectively.

Because Solarban 90 glass does not display a noticeably reflected color, it harmonizes well with other building materials and has the capability to be combined in IGUs with clear glass, ultra-clear STARPHIRE® glass or performance-tinted glasses by PPG.

The solar control performance of Solarban 90 glass supports the use of smaller heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems to reduce initial capital expenditures and long-term cooling costs. It also enables architects to design buildings with larger expanses of glass to promote daylighting, diminish the need for artificial lighting and connect building occupants to the outdoors.

Solarban 90 glass meets requirements of the CRADLE TO CRADLE CERTIFIED™ program at the Silver level. PPG has more architectural glass products certified by the program than does any other float glass manufacturer.

To learn more about Solarban 90 glass or PPG’s entire family of Solarban solar control, low-e glasses, visit www.ppgideascapes.com or call 1-888-PPG-IDEA (774-4332).

PPG: BRINGING INNOVATION TO THE SURFACETM

PPG Industries' vision is to be the world’s leading coatings company by consistently delivering high-quality, innovative and sustainable solutions that customers trust to protect and beautify their products and surroundings. Through leadership in innovation, sustainability and color, PPG provides added value to customers in construction, consumer products, industrial and transportation markets and aftermarkets to enhance more surfaces in more ways than does any other company. Founded in 1883, PPG has global headquarters in Pittsburgh and operates in more than 70 countries around the world. Reported net sales in 2014 were $15.4 billion. PPG shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (symbol: PPG). For more information, visit www.ppg.com and follow @PPGIndustries on Twitter.

 

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Single-Family Gains Push Housing Starts to Highest Level Since 2007

Led by a strong jump in single-family production, nationwide housing starts inched up 0.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.206 million units in July, according to newly released data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department. This is the highest level since October 2007.

Single-family starts rose 12.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 782,000 units after an upwardly revised June reading while multifamily production fell 17 percent to 424,000 units.

“Our builders are reporting more confidence in the market, and are stepping up production of single-family homes as a result,” said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods, a home builder from Blue Springs, Mo. “However, builders are still reporting problems accessing land and labor.”

“This month’s drop in the more volatile multifamily side is a return to trend after an unusually high June,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “While multifamily production has fully recovered from the downturn, single-family starts are improving at a slow and sometimes intermittent rate as consumer confidence gradually rebounds. Continued job and economic growth will keep single-family housing moving forward.”

Regionally in July, combined single- and multifamily starts rose by 20.1 percent in the Midwest and 7.7 percent in the South. The Northeast and West posted respective losses of 27.5 percent and 3.1 percent.

After several months of permit gains, overall permits fell 16.3 percent in July. Single-family permits dipped 1.9 percent to a rate of 679,000 while multifamily permits dropped 31.8 percent to 440,000.

All four regions posted permit losses in June. The Northeast, Midwest, South and West posted respective drops of 60.2 percent, 4.6 percent, 1.7 percent and 9.9 percent.

 

For more information visit www.nahb.org.

 

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Builder Confidence Rises One Point in August

Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes in August rose one point to a level of 61 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This is the highest reading since November 2005.

“The fact the builder confidence has been in the low 60s for three straight months shows that single-family housing is making slow but steady progress,” said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods, a home builder from Blue Springs, Mo. “However, we continue to hear that builders face difficulties accessing land and labor.”

“Today’s report is consistent with our forecast for a gradual strengthening of the single-family housing sector in 2015,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Job and economic gains should keep the market moving forward at a modest pace throughout the rest of the year.”

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 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.

Two of the three HMI components posted gains in August. The index measuring buyer traffic increased two points to 45 and the component gauging current sales conditions rose one point to 66. Meanwhile, the index charting sales expectations in the next six months held steady at 70.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the West and Midwest each rose three points to 63 and 58, respectively. The South posted a two-point gain to 63 and the Northeast held steady at 46.

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.

 

For more information visit www.nahb.org.

 

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Construction Employment Is Up In 37 States And D.C. Between July ’14 & ’15; As 28 States And D.C. Add Jobs From June To July Amid Conflicting Economic Trends

Construction employment expanded in 37 states and the District of Columbia between July 2014 and July 2015 while only 28 states and D.C. added jobs between June and July, according to an analysis today of Labor Department data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that the construction industry appears caught between divergent economic trends that help employment in some areas and hurt it in others.

“Construction continues to grow overall but fewer states are participating in the expansion than was true a year ago,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “The uneven growth reflects the cross-cutting trends in the overall economy, as tight government budgets, plunging commodity prices and weak overseas demand lead to project cancellations in some states even while activity accelerates elsewhere.”

California added more new construction jobs (48,900 jobs, 7.3 percent) between July 2014 and July 2015 than any other state. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months include Florida (26,500 jobs, 6.6 percent), Washington (15,300 jobs, 9.6 percent), Texas (14,400 jobs, 2.2 percent) and Michigan (12,400 jobs, 8.7 percent). Arkansas (14.9 percent, 6,800 jobs) added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year, followed by Idaho (13.7 percent, 4,900 jobs), Nevada (10.7 percent, 6,800 jobs), Washington and Michigan.

Thirteen states shed construction jobs during the past 12 months, up from only three with construction job decreases a year earlier. West Virginia (-16.0 percent, -5,400 jobs) lost the highest percent of construction jobs. Other states that lost a high percentage of jobs for the year include Rhode Island (-7.9 percent, -1,300 jobs), Ohio (-7.0 percent, -13,800 jobs) and Mississippi (-4.3 percent, -2,100 jobs). The largest job losses occurred in Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana (-5,100 jobs, -4.1 percent) and Mississippi. Construction employment was flat in Vermont.

Florida (4,800 jobs, 1.1 percent) added the most construction jobs between June and July. Other states adding a high number of construction jobs include Oklahoma (3,000 jobs, 3.9 percent), California (3,000 jobs, 0.4 percent) and Arizona (2,400 jobs, 1.9 percent). New Mexico (4.9 percent, 2,000 jobs) added the highest percentage of construction jobs during the past month, followed by Oklahoma, Arkansas (3.6 percent, 1,800 jobs) and Oregon (2.9 percent, 2,300 jobs).

Twenty-one states lost construction jobs during the past month while construction employment was unchanged in Virginia. New York (-4,500 jobs, -1.3 percent) shed more construction jobs than any other state, followed by Indiana (-4,400 jobs, -3.6 percent), Ohio (-2,300 jobs, -1.2 percent) and Connecticut (-2,200 jobs, -3.6 percent). Indiana and Connecticut lost the highest percentage of construction jobs between June and July, followed by West Virginia (-2.4 percent, -700 jobs) and Minnesota (-1.8 percent, -2,000 jobs).

Association officials said that contractors in parts of the country where construction demand is growing report growing shortages of qualified workers to fill available positions. They said that as demand for construction continues to grow, those shortages will only get more severe. That is why they urged federal, state and local officials to act on the measures outlined in the association’s Workforce Development Plan.

“Education officials need to include high-paying jobs in construction among the career choices they encourage and help prepare students to pursue,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.

View the state employment data by rank and state. View state employment map.

 

For more information visit www.agc.org

 

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Strong Conditions Persist for Architecture Billings Index
Long struggling Northeast region starting to rebound

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) is reflecting healthy and sustained demand for design services in nearly all nonresidential project types. 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 July ABI score was 54.7, down a point from a mark of 55.7 in June. This score still reflects an increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 63.7, up slightly from a reading of 63.4 the previous month.

“On top of what has been a flurry of design activity in recent months, some architects are reporting a break in the logjam created by clients placing projects on hold for indefinite periods, which bodes well for business conditions in the months ahead,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “There is some uneasiness in the design community that rapid growth in construction costs could escalate beyond development capital and municipal budgets, which could trigger some contraction in the marketplace down the road.”

Key July ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: Midwest (58.2), South (55.7), West (53.8) Northeast (53.5)

  • Sector index breakdown: institutional (57.3), mixed practice (56.8), commercial / industrial (53.4) multi-family residential (49.8)

  • Project inquiries index: 63.7

  • Design contracts index: 54.5

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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Luxurious New Living Line BrickScapes by Belden Brick

BrickScapes by Belden Brick is an exciting new line of brick mailboxes, fire pits, grills, trash cans, pizza ovens, fire places and fence posts for outdoor living.

All items come in six stock colors of brick, as well as hundreds of Belden Brick colors from which to choose. They are constructed off-site and delivered on-site with minimal foundational requirements for quick and easy installation.

Each BrickScapes Mailbox is built with customization in mind including options and styles for brick, mortar, address plates, newspaper holder, and finish of the mailbox, itself. BrickScapes Mailboxes are beautiful and functional.

BrickScapes Fire Pits, Island Grills and Pizza Ovens make an immediate statement to any backyard hardscape. BrickScapes Fire Pits make an exceptional space for entertaining includes choice of granite tops, fire gems, glass, and nuggets, all available in an array of colors.

BrickScapes Island Grills are made with the finest quality bricks and heavy gauge 304 stainless steel. They include four options of customized counter tops. Grill and Flush Mount options are also available.

The party starts in the backyard with a BrickScapes Pizza Oven. Built for exceptional entertaining, the smell of wood-fired pizza draws neighbors near and far for delightful evenings dining al fresco.

For a cozy outdoor evening, nothing beats the roar of a fire in a BrickScapes outdoor Fireplace. Relax and unwind any night or every night and enjoy the luxury of this outdoor living space.

Make a statement with BrickScapes Fence Posts. They will surround any home with elegance. The Belden BrickScapes Fence Posts can also add a decorative fixture as a stand-alone at the entryway to any driveway.

BrickScapes by Belden symbolizes luxurious outdoor living. Contact Mike Sigman at 330-248-5359 for more information or visit www.BrickScapes.co.

 

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PPG debuts new, expanded case-study page on PPGIdeaScapes.com
New sorting capability, larger photos increase functionality for architects

PPG Industries has relaunched the case-studies feature on PPGIdeaScapes.com, introducing a more contemporary visual display, easier navigation, larger photographs and new search tools to make the content more functional for architects and designers.

Among the most significant improvements to the case-studies page, which highlights more than two-dozen buildings demonstrating innovative applications of PPG glass, is an advanced sorting capability that enables architects, designers and other visitors to access projects by product, building type and location.

Visitors also can view enlarged photos of completed buildings, which include many award-winning landmarks, captioned with names and locations. A single mouse-click enables access to complete case studies listing specified PPG products and containing additional information such as architect and subcontractor credits, design and specification details, and architect quotes in downloadable PDF form.

Glenn T. Miner, PPG director of construction, flat glass, said the case studies are designed to inspire architects and designers and to provide practical ideas for specifying PPG products. “Architects and designers often want to verify how products will look and perform on high-profile buildings. These stories demonstrate how PPG glass products can enable them to meet a wide range of design, construction and performance challenges.”

One of the industry’s most comprehensive portals for glass research, product selection and specification, PPGIdeaScapes.com offers architects, specifiers, engineers, contractors and other building professionals access to helpful tools, a robust project gallery, technical documents and an easy-to-use sample order system. To learn more visit www.ppgideascapes.com or call 1-888-PPG-IDEA (774-4332).

 

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New-Home Sales Fall 6.8 Percent in June

Sales of newly built, single-family homes dropped 6.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 482,000 units in June, according to newly released data from HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Despite this month’s drop, we continue to hear from our builders that there is solid traffic in sales offices and a lot of consumer interest in new homes, which should bode well for sales moving forward,” said Tom Woods, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Blue Springs, Mo.

“We knew that there would be ups and downs on the road back to a normal housing market,” said NAHB Senior Economist Robert Denk. “As the economy and job growth strengthens, we expect to see gradual, continued momentum in the coming months.”

Regionally, home sales rose by 28.0 percent in the Northeast. The Midwest, South and West posted respective declines of 11.1 percent, 4.1 percent and 17.0 percent.

The inventory of new homes for sale was 215,000 units in June. This is a 5.4-month supply at the current sales pace.

 

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Architects Oppose Repeal of Key Energy Conservation Goals for Federal Buildings
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) today issued the following statement on the release of the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015. Please attribute to AIA President Elizabeth Chu Richter, FAIA.

“We appreciate the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s efforts in developing this bill, as there are some provisions that merit passage, like making permanent the Historic Preservation Fund. However, repealing Section 433 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 negates any energy efficiency gains that otherwise would be made by the bill. At a time when the private sector is looking to sustainable design to make their buildings more energy efficient, retreating on federal sustainability is simply the wrong way to go.

“Our more than 86,000 member architects stand ready to work with the bill’s authors to advance energy policy that saves taxpayer money and benefits the environment. But the AIA, along with hundreds of other companies that believe in the federal government’s duty to lead the charge in reducing the fossil fuel use of buildings, cannot support this repeal.”

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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