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Chalkline Releases VisiSpecsTM, The Visual Specification System



Portland, ME, Sept 21, 2016 – Chalkline, Inc. has released the next generation of BIM integrated specifications and documents to the Architectural, Engineering, Construction, and Owner/Developer marketplace. A successful 6 month Beta Program for both Chalkline and VisiSpecsTM users has resulted in real world usage, collaboration with customers, added features, and user experience enhancements.



The AECO market recognizes the need to better integrate and coordinate their design and construction documents. The resulting higher quality and higher profit projects is obvious to those adopting a BIM methodology, yet the solutions available have not met the need for a variety of reasons. Chalkline founders developed the next generation VisiSpecs solutions to address these needs and the Beta program proved the strategy and functionality is on target for broad based adoption. Client needs identified and included in the VisiSpecs solutions include:
  • CLOUD BASED DEPLOYMENT IMPROVING IMPLEMENTATION PROCESSES
  • VISUAL AND DYNAMIC BIM MODEL KEY + DOCUMENT LINKS
  • MICROSOFT WORD BASED EDITING, PROJECT TREE, AND PUBLISHING
  • SUPPORT FOR ALL DOCUMENT TYPES AND FORMATS
  • BIM INTEGRATION AND VERIFICATION TOOLS WITHOUT CHANGING MODELS
  • ENTIRE PROJECT TEAM COLLABORATION
  • TRIAL, ADOPTION, AND IMPLEMENTATION MEASURED IN HOURS AND DAYS
The Free Trial of VisiSpecs enables users to quickly integrate their own documents and BIM models without spending money, requiring costly IT resources, or buried in weeks to months learning new tools. Since VisiWordTM is a Microsoft Word Add-In, the integration of customer documents takes just minutes to complete. Users don’t have to learn to use a limited editor or lose their office integration or custom macros and VBA apps they currently use. Since the BIM models, families, and materials do not need to be modified, the integration to existing project models is immediate. The Free Trial lasts 30 days, however users can import their project documents and start integrating to their BIM models typically within hours since modifying their documents or BIM models is not required. Multiple team members can even access and collaborate on projects using the Free Trial.

Deployment of the VisiSpecs solutions is also easy and low cost due to the VisiSpecs Hybrid Cloud solution. Corporate accounts, master libraries, projects, models, and other content are all securely managed in the cloud with user access on demand from the office, home, or while traveling without jumping through IT hoops, punching holes in firewalls, setting up VPNs, or waiting for IT admins to download, install, configure, license, and maintain the typical SQL server applications in the marketplace.

Visit the Chalkline web site and/or contact sales@chalklineinc.com to learn more about the Introductory Discounts up to 40%, promotional month drawings for free licenses, and to get started downloading your Free 30 Day Trial.

About Chalkline, Inc.
Chalkline is the developer of VisiSpecsTM, the next generation suite of applications to visually document, coordinate, and verify the BIM models and project specifications. VisiSpecs is a hybrid cloud solution where it’s desktop and mobile applications store and access the model and specification data on the Company's cloud servers for easy access and collaboration among distributed team members. VisiSpecs is built on the familiar applications already in use resulting in minimal training and setup time. Users can easily integrate their own masters and project documents with the project models to accomplish true BIM integration without learning to use complicated model applications and without a lengthy integration process. And for those that do use the model applications, VisiSpecs provides direct, integrated access to the project specifications and documentation. Autodesk, the Autodesk logo and Revit are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and/or other countries. All other brand names, product names, or trademarks belong to their respective holders. For more information, visit www.chalklineinc.com.


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Architecture Billings Index Slips, Overall Outlook Remains Positive
Business Conditions are Slumping in Northeast

For immediate release:
Washington, DC – September 21, 2016 – On the heels of six out of seven months of increasing levels of demand for design services, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) fell just below the positive mark. 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 49.7, down from the mark of 51.5 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 61.8, up sharply from a reading of 57.5 the previous month.

“This is only the second month this year where demand for architectural services has declined and it is only by a fraction of a point,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Given the solid numbers for new design contracts and project inquiries, it doesn’t appear that this is the beginning of a broader downturn in the design and construction industry.”

Key August ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: South (55.2), Midwest (52.8), West (49.0), Northeast (44.9)
  • Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (51.8), multi-family residential (50.9), commercial / industrial (50.8), institutional (50.7)
  • Project inquiries index: 61.8
  • Design contracts index: 52.7
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.


Contact:
Matt Tinder
202-626-7462
mtinder@aia.org

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Scope Technologies® Delivers a Robust Estimating Work Management Tool for Contractors

Scope Technologies® today announced its debut of Work Order tool for ProDocs™ - an industry-leading software that makes generating estimates and producing material orders easier for the Contractor.

Now contractors can transfer real-time aerial measurement report data into real-time work orders in a few clicks, all on the ProDocs platform. Designed to be paired with Scope Technologies' takeoff reports, the Work Order tool will shorten restoration and new construction contractors project timeline. As with Estimates, Work Order introduces an unparalleled level of customization including line items based on materials, conversions and manufacturers. Easy to build templates that can be tailored to feature company logo and color schematics are also a highlight. Additionally, Work Order seamlessly communicates with contractors' distribution channels and talks with retailers for added convenience, ultimately saving the contractor compounded time.

"Contractors have been searching for a cost-effective, time-saving, and above all, easy to use work management platform, and Scope Technologies has responded with Work Order," says Jerod Raisch, CEO of Scope Technologies. "It's versatile in that contractors can make changes instantaneously, and from anywhere, which is not the case with most competitor's platforms."

With construction starts up 15% in 2015 and projected to increase another 6% in 2016, it's no surprise industry-wide trends indicate contractors are evaluating their strategies and streamlining processes to ultimately propel their businesses ahead of competitors. "Simply put, for [Engineering and Construction] companies, the trick is not to delay the adoption of new technologies, but rather to figure out how to use these tools to differentiate themselves from the competition." PWC, Strategy&. (2016, March 14). 2016 Engineering and Construction Industry Trends [Report]. Strategy&. Retrieved September 12, 2016, from http://www.strategyand.pwc.com/reports/2016-engineering-and-construction-industry-trends

"We are continually aiming to streamline the measuring and estimating process, and today we have redefined its efficiency," says Jerod Raisch, CEO of Scope Technologies. "Our platform is a powerhouse of an estimating work management tool, and the best is yet to come. As we are endlessly enhancing our user experience, the addition of the Work Order tool has positioned our clients to have an entire new channel experience."
Check Out ProDocs Work Order Tool

About Scope Technologies
Focused on perpetually streamlining the measuring and estimating process, Scope Technologies delivers a comprehensive suite of measurement reports and project management tools for the contractor, architect, engineer, and insurance adjuster. Scope Technologies' aerial imagery and proprietary software delivers accurate, cost-effective aerial measurement reports that compile essential measurements and images into a 2-page report. Along with its flagship brand, RoofScope®, Scope Technologies provides takeoff reports for Gutters, Siding, Paint, Insulation, and Concrete, and material reports using Blueprints.

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Ramtech Completes Permanent Modular Building at Louisiana LNG Terminal Facility

MANSFIELD, TX (PRWEB) SEPTEMBER 15, 2016

Design-build commercial modular building firm Ramtech Building Systems of Mansfield, Texas has announced that the company has completed a 16,800 square foot permanent modular office building for Cameron LNG. The new facility is located at Cameron's liquefied natural gas terminal site along the Calcasieu Channel in Hackberry, Louisiana. The design-build project was built using Ramtech's Accelerated Building System (ABS) prefabricated construction method, a proprietary system which allows for the rapid installation of factory-built modules which are a fixed directly onto a conventional concrete slab foundation. The Type V-B blast resistant building features individual private offices that use a glass interior storefront partition system around the perimeter of the interior and a large L-shaped clear span office area for multiple cubicles. There are also two large training and conference rooms, and a separate crew room and locker storage area.



The design criteria required for the modular building to meet a 170 mph Exposure D wind load, Seismic Category A, and .54 psi Blast Overpressure rating placed a unique demand on the building's structural system including using O.S.B. sheathing installed on both sides of the six-inch exterior steel studs. The roof incorporates 2 x 10 wood framing and plywood sheathing supported by open web steel trusses that are attached to structural steel tube columns which were welded to 1” thick steel plates embedded and anchored into a 4,000 psi concrete slab foundation with reinforced grade beams. To accommodate the Gulf Coast areas high humidity while also accounting for the outside air intake requirements for the building's occupants, Ramtech installed Lennox roof mounted HVAC units. The buildings exterior is fully wrapped in standard R-Panel metal siding. Ramtech completed the $3.2 million project in 165 days.

About Ramtech and the Accelerated Building System
Since 1982 Ramtech Building Systems has been providing innovative permanent modular buildings for educational institutions, government agencies, healthcare providers, and Fortune 500 companies throughout the Southern United States. As a design-build construction company, Ramtech offers full in-house design, a manufacturer direct product, and complete site construction services all within a single-source solution. Ramtech's ABS process combines the best of off-site prefabrication and on-site construction techniques in order to produce a building faster and with less cost but identical in the look, functionality and life expectancy of a completely site-built structure. Ramtech accomplishes this by setting factory assembled modular sections complete with attached ceilings and walls - but no floors - directly onto a conventional concrete slab foundation. This allows the concrete slab to become the floor of the structure just like a site-built building. For more information, visit the company's website at http://www.ramtechmodular.com.

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Nationwide Survey Find Healthy Buildings Becoming a Key Design Priority for both Architects and Building Owners

Nearly three quarters of U.S. architects say the health impacts of buildings are influencing their design decisions. That finding parallels a strong market demand by building owners, with a solid two-thirds surveyed also reporting that health considerations affect how they design and construct buildings.

These findings and others were released today in a ground-breaking new report, “The Drive Toward Healthier Buildings 2016” by Dodge Data & Analytics, in partnership with Delos and the Canada Green Building Council, and with the participation of the American Institute of Architects as a critical research advisor and partner.

The report documents the value and need for more of the research, education, collaboration and outreach efforts that are hallmarks of the AIA’s Design and Health initiative. Since 2013, AIA has invested in expanding the body of knowledge on the connection between design and health, including professional continuing education and the 17-university Design & Health Research Consortium.

“As a society, we spend nearly 87 percent of our time indoors,” said AIA Chief Executive Officer Robert Ivy, FAIA. “Designing and constructing ‘healthy buildings’ is crucial to our own well-being.”

“Working with architects, we can accelerate this need for healthier buildings and improve quality of life across the country,” Ivy said. “This report documents how architects can help clients have a positive effect on human health - through the built environment.”

That positive result includes increasing employee participation and fulfillment, the report found. Sixty-nine percent of owners who measure employee satisfaction and engagement reported improvement in both attributes due to their healthier building investments.

According to the report, the top five healthier building features implemented by architects include:

  • Better lighting/daylighting exposure.
  • Products that enhance thermal comfort.
  • Spaces that enhance social interaction.
  • Enhanced air quality;
  • Products that enhance acoustical comfort.
Use of nearly all of these is expected to grow considerably along with further pioneering approaches like the use of biophilic design features, spaces that enhance tenant mood and opportunities for physical activity, the report found.

“The increased attention to building health impacts is just beginning,” says Stephen A. Jones, Senior Director of Industry Insights at Dodge Data & Analytics. “In a similar way several years ago, companies engaged in green construction because of the demonstrable business and financial benefits they were able to achieve. The findings of this report demonstrate that the focus on buildings that enhance the health and well-being of their occupants is likely to follow a similar trajectory, boosted by those who have committed to sustainability in their organizations.”

Additional highlights from the report include:
  • Most owners are not aware how healthy building investments result in business benefits like leasing rates (52 percent) and asset values (58 percent). However, among those that report an effect, 73 percent report faster rates and 62 percent report higher values.
  • According to architects and interior designers, the top driver for greater investment in healthier buildings is improved public awareness of the health impacts of buildings.
  • Public health professionals report that the most common policies currently in place to support healthier building practices are requirements to avoid the use of hazardous materials in buildings (65 percent). The key policy areas that are currently being considered include incentives that encourage physical activity (47 percent) and requirements for ongoing building air quality measurement (46 percent).
  • Ninety-two percent of public health professionals also report that their institutions are actively conducting research on the influence buildings have on occupant health and well-being.
  • Architects are most aligned with their clients (owners) when it comes to understanding the goals of healthy building investments, as compared to other industry players, recognizing that improved tenant/employee satisfaction and happier and healthier occupants is the primary focus for owners related to their investments.
  • The largest percentage of owners, at 42%, identify that they are very interested in partnering with architects to help increase their ability to implement healthy building practices. While low, it is notably more than the next two highest potential partners – facility managers and educational institutions, both at 31%.
Download the full study “The Drive Toward Healthier Buildings 2016: Tactical Intelligence to Transform Building Design and Construction SmartMarket Report”.

The report also received key support from CBRE, Dewberry and the U.S. Green Building Council, with additional support from Armstrong Ceiling Solutions and the Regenerative Network. Other organizations that participated in the research process include the American Society of Interior Designers, the National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers and the World Green Building Council.

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 Spending Remains Steady in July and is up by 5.6 Percent for the First Seven Months of the Year Amid Growing Labor Shortages
Private-Sector Outlays Rise 1.0 Percent for the Month While Public Sector Investments in Infrastructure, Other Construction Fall 3.1 Percent as New Survey Finds Most Firms Having Hard Time Finding Craft Workers

Construction spending remained steady in July compared to June but is up by 5.6 percent for the first seven months of the year compared to same period in 2015, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said the growth in construction spending is occurring as most construction firms report they are having a hard time finding skilled craft workers to keep pace with demand.

"On balance, there is still strong demand for construction, especially for multifamily and private nonresidential structures, while homebuilding continues an uneven recovery," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "But public investment in infrastructure and educational construction has been tepid."

Construction spending in July totaled $1.153 trillion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, essentially unchanged from the month before, Simonson said. He added that the year-to-date increase of 5.6 percent for January through July 2016, compared with the same months of 2015, shows demand for construction continues to experience robust growth. He noted that private nonresidential spending reached a record high for the third-straight month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, while multifamily spending hovered just below the record set in March.

Private nonresidential construction spending increased 1.7 percent for the month and is up 8.6 percent year-to-date. The largest private nonresidential segment in July was power construction (including oil and gas pipelines), which grew 1.1 percent for the month and is up 8.3 percent year-to-date. The next-largest segment, manufacturing, expanded by 3.9 percent for the month but is down 2.7 percent year-to-date. Commercial (retail, warehouse and farm) construction increased by 1.2 percent in July and climbed 10.1 percent year-to-date. Private office construction soared 4.6 percent for the month and 27 percent year-to-date.

Private residential construction spending edged up by 0.3 percent between June and July 2016, and is up 6.6 percent year-to-date. Spending on multifamily residential construction dropped 0.6 percent for the month but remains up 22 percent year-to-date, while single-family spending fell 0.2 percent from June to July but is up 9 percent year-to-date.

Public construction spending declined 3.1 percent from a month before and is now up by only 0.2 percent for the first seven months of 2016 combined. The biggest public segment—highway and street construction—increased by 0.3 percent for the month and is up 2.6 percent year-to-date. The other major public category—educational construction—fell by 8.3 percent in July but gained 4.0 percent for the combined January-July period.

Association officials said that as construction demand continues to expand, many firms report having a hard time finding workers, particularly craft workers, to hire. The association released a survey yesterday that found two-thirds of firms reporting difficulty finding craft workers. Officials said the country needed a series of new measures to help recruit and train new construction workers to keep pace with demand. "As the construction industry continues to expand, firms in many parts of the country are eager to expand their headcount," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "But without the kind of workforce measures we have been pushing for, our schools will continue to graduate students for careers that don't exist while firms search for workers with skills that aren't taught."

Contact www.agc.org for more information

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The Howard Hughes Corporation Selects DESTINI Estimator by Beck Technology to Increase Speed and Collaboration for Estimates

Beck Technology, leading software and service firm for the commercial construction industry, announced The Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC) has selected DESTINI® Estimator software to provide intelligent estimating technology for more than 150 estimators and team members through an enterprise licensing deal. The three-year software agreement includes custom development to add functionality within DESTINI Estimator to enhance specific HHC historic cost workflow.

The developer and operator conducted a thorough evaluation of estimating solutions prior to selecting Beck Technology’s product. The analytics in DESTINI Estimator’s comparison functionality provided HHC with a level of insight into projects previously not available and that HHC felt no other software provided.

HHC already relies on the DESTINI Profiler software to quickly conceptualize and manipulate concepts internally in the early stages of projects, even before an architect is on board. Katie Willis, director of preconstruction and estimating for The Howard Hughes Corporation, noted recently that “DESTINI Profiler is a game changer for us to communicate and speed up the design process. Additionally, the Beck Technology team has been great to work with and helpful in allowing us to gain access and knowledge of the software.”

HHC owns, manages, and develops commercial, residential, and mixed-use real estate throughout the U.S. The company is comprised of master planned communities, operating properties, development opportunities, and other assets spanning 16 states and with more than 1,100 employees.

“We are thrilled and honored that The Howard Hughes Corporation has chosen to implement DESTINI Estimator and extend its relationship with Beck Technology,” said Stewart Carroll, Beck Technology’s COO. “HHC’s core values of collaboration, speed, excellence, and innovation perfectly complement our values and mandate for our software.”

Key features of the DESTINI Estimator platform include:

  • 2D and 3D takeoff views
  • Autodesk Navisworks® integration
  • Model comparison views and Microsoft Excel imports

ABOUT DESTINI SUITE
The innovation behind Beck Technology stems from DESTINI: design estimation integration initiative. DESTINI Profiler and DESTINI Estimator share a common cost database schema, allowing companies to manage a single database platform for both conceptual and detailed estimating. DESTINI Profiler outputs can be opened in DESTINI Estimator and form the basis of the downstream estimating process. Alternatively, DESTINI Estimator can be used from the beginning of the project through project completion.

ABOUT BECK TECHNOLOGY
Beck Technology empowers the AEC industry to make smarter choices through innovative software solutions and expert consulting. The technology provides integrated costing, transparency, and collaboration and improves estimating speed and accuracy. DESTINI Profiler software, a decision-making and modeling tool, is used by 40 percent of the ENR Top 400 General Contractors, and DESTINI Estimator software is the only purpose-built platform created exclusively for architects, owners, and developers.

Visit www.beck-technology.com, call 888-835-7778, or follow @BeckTechnology.

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Fabral Expands Powerseam Product Line

Fabral continues to deliver on its commitment to support customer success with the addition of a new metal structural standing seam panel system. Effective September 1, 2016, the new architectural Powerseam II profile will be available through the company's Gridley, IL, Lancaster, PA and St. Joseph, MN manufacturing facilities.

As with the existing Powerseam profile, Powerseam II is a mechanically seamed structural standing seam roof panel system that can be bent, curved and tapered. Powerseam II will be offered in .032"Aluminum and 26, 24 and 22 Gauge Steel. Stiffening ribs and shadow lines are available.

Fabral Powerseam panel systems provide an ideal architectural and functional fit for education and sports environments. While Powerseam II can be fabricated in the factory, mobile rollforming equipment will also allow onsite field-forming for projects requiring a long-length panel system. Powerseam II panels will be available in Fabral's full architectural color palette. Custom colors will be available upon request subject to common industry minimums.

Fabral's Powerseam know-how and experience have been used on complex projects such as the Easton Archery Center of Excellence, in Chula Vista, CA. This state-of-the-art, 43,800 square foot facility's roof system allows controlled thermal expansion through 260 feet long field-formed Powerseam panels that attach to the roof's curved substructure. The same fabrication and engineering expertise will be used with the company's Powerseam II profile.

About Fabral
Lancaster, PA-based Fabral is the premier supplier of metal roofing and wall panels for architectural, commercial, post frame, industrial, transportation and agricultural applications. Founded in 1967, Fabral has been widely recognized as the benchmark leader for nearly 50 years. Specified by leading firms worldwide, Fabral products have been used in projects ranging from the United Nations General Assembly Dome and the US Olympic Training Center Archery Building to Lady Bird Johnson Middle School, the largest net zero school in the United States. The company's deep engineering expertise, industry-leading customer service and quality product offering have elevated the Fabral to become the post frame provider of choice. Fabral is a division of Euramax International, Inc., a global producer of aluminum, steel, vinyl, copper and fiberglass products for original equipment manufacturers, distributors, contractors and home centers worldwide. To learn more, visit www.fabral.com.

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Re-Engineered Subfloor Screw Offers Faster Installation

Pleasanton, Calif. – Simpson Strong-Tie, the industry leader in engineered structural connectors and building solutions, now offers a new re-engineered subfloor screw that increases installation speed and reduces driving force. The new Strong-Drive® WSV Subfloor screw has been developed for fastening subfloor and sheathing using the Quik Drive® auto-feed screw driving system.

The WSV screw features a redesigned tip and thread pattern that provides up to 25 percent less torque, resulting in a faster driving screw. It includes a deep-recessed, 6-lobed ribbed head that delivers cleaner countersinking and more secure bit retention for fewer camouts.

“Our new WSV screw is faster and easier to install and provides better holding power than pneumatic fasteners or hand-driven nails,” says Dr. Ed Sutt, Vice President, Fastening Systems, Simpson Strong-Tie. “As a result, it reduces the gaps between the joist and subfloor that cause floor squeaks.”

For more information about the WSV Subfloor screw, visit strongtie.com/wsv.

About Simpson Strong-Tie Company Inc.
For 60 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 on facebook.com/strongtie, twitter.com/strongtie, YouTube and LinkedIn.

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Bluebeam Expands Global Offerings and Strengthens Collaborative Capabilities
Bluebeam Announces Korean Version of Flagship Revu Software, Adds German and Swedish Revu Mac Versions, Releases Updated Revu 2016.5

Pasadena, CA (August 23, 2016) Bluebeam® Inc., leading developer of PDF-based annotation and collaboration solutions for the architectural, engineering and construction (AEC) and oil and gas industries, proudly announces the expansion of its global offerings. A new agreement with Korean software reseller and service company Linetek System will bring the Windows version of Bluebeam Revu® to the Korean market as a local language product, expanding the availability of Bluebeam Revu’s flagship desktop version to thirteen languages worldwide. In addition, Bluebeam Revu Mac, introduced in English earlier this year, now includes Swedish and German language versions with the release of Revu Mac 1.5.

“Working across platforms, time zones and even international borders has the potential to unleash profound change,” says Richard Lee, Bluebeam President and CEO. “We’re excited that Bluebeam Revu, Revu Mac and Studio Prime continue to grow as our global community of users grows. By combining industry-standard formats with advanced collaboration tools, professionals around the world are able to work more efficiently, expedite communication, and improve the overall quality of their deliverables.”

The recent releases of Revu 2016.5, Revu Mac 1.5 and Studio Prime™ add productivity and collaboration enhancements for professionals who work in the most document-intensive industries around the globe. New features introduced in Revu 2016.5 include:

  • Compatibility with Revit 2017 and Navisworks 2017, streamlining architectural workflows
  • Revit Properties to Tags export functionality, saving hours of work with simple, automated sheet-tagging for Sets
In addition to localized German and Swedish versions, recently released Revu Mac 1.5 enhancements include:
  • Automated headers and footers, leveraging document metadata to automatically insert key information across multiple pages in a single document
  • Capture, adding the ability to embed images and videos into a markup and click through them in a pop-up viewer
The latest enhancements to Studio Prime, the subscription option in the Bluebeam Studio Platform that offers additional administrative functionality and the Studio API, include:
  • Watched folders for automating source-file-to-PDF conversion and document manipulation for a large volume of end users
Revu 2016.5, Revu Mac 1.5 and Studio Prime are available now at Bluebeam.com and through our worldwide reseller network.

Following the success of the recent Bluebeam eXtreme Conference in San Diego, California, the eXtreme Conference is heading to Europe with one-day conferences in Stockholm, Sweden on September 26 and London, England on September 29. The eXtreme Conference is a user-focused and customer-driven event featuring Revu training, industry panels, case study presentations, guest speakers and networking opportunities. Registration for the Stockholm and London events is now open.

About Bluebeam, Inc.
Bluebeam’s innovative desktop, mobile and cloud solutions push the limits of digital collaboration to enable professionals, who work in the most document-intensive industries, to do what they do, better. Bluebeam's award-winning PDF solutions are used by the world’s top architectural, engineering and construction firms, oil and gas companies, manufacturers, government agencies and municipalities to reduce paper usage by more than 85% and to increase productivity by over 60%. The Bluebeam Account Services team and global reseller network have been solving customer challenges in over 100 countries for more than a decade. Visit www.bluebeam.com for more on why Bluebeam is changing the status quo and setting a new standard. Bluebeam, Inc. is part of the Nemetschek Group.

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New Data Shows the A/E Industry is Hotter than it has Ever Been

Zweig Group's 2016 Financial Performance Survey of Architecture, Engineering, Planning and Environmental Consulting Firms, released on August 19, 2016, is a comprehensive study of industry firms with nearly 100 financial ratios, indicators, and statistics. The shocking results show A/E industry financial and economic improvement on a large scale.

Among some of the most interesting findings, pre-tax, pre-bonus profit on net service revenue was an average of 14.3 percent for the entire sample. This is a record-breaking financial indicator and among the highest Mark C. Zweig, Zweig Group founder & CEO, has seen in his 36 years in the industry.

The survey also reported an average pre-tax, pre-bonus return on owner's equity of 55 percent. Compared to other industries in the U.S. economy, this shows a very high return, indicating a tremendous opportunity. "With these figures, we should be attracting a lot more attention from the investor community," says Zweig.

Substantial differences were noted among firms working predominately in the private or public sector. Return on Equity (ROE) for firms doing most of their work in the private sector is only 20.7 percent; but 50.4 percent for firms doing most of their work in the public sector.

Very high profit firms (those with a three-year average profit of more than 15 percent on net service revenue NSR), have an average revenue of $161.7 thousand per employee whereas low profit firms (those with a three-year average profit of less than 4 percent on NSR) only generate $118 thousand per employee. These figures can be indicative of the presence of higher performing and more talented employees who firms are not afraid to charge a premium for.

Other financial metrics relating to staffing showed that overall staff turnover at fast growth firms (revenue growth of more than 20 percent over the past three years) is only 9.2 percent, in comparison to a figure of 11.7 percent at all firms. It's clear that busy companies with more opportunities have happier people.

Low profit firms have 7.7 percent of their total staff working in accounting whereas high profit firms only have 4.4 percent. Overstaffing in accounting hurts profitability and high-profit firms may have figured out that it's better to have less but higher performing individuals in these types of roles.

Not all the news in the survey was good. The average collection period in the A/E Industry is now up to 84 days, meaning on average it's taking A/E Firms just under three-months to get paid for work. Last year, this same figure was only 68 days. "We'll be paying for it later when we have more non-payments from clients as the longer an AR gets, the less likely the firm issuing it will ever get paid," says Zweig.

For more information on this survey click: https://zweiggroup.com/p-2260

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Architecture Billings Index Ends the First Quarter on an Upswing
Healthy rebound for multi-family projects

Washington, D.C. – April 20, 2016 – The Architecture Billings Index reflects consecutive months of increasing demand for design activity at architecture firms. 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 March ABI score was 51.9, up from the mark of 50.3 in the previous month. This score reflects an increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 58.1, down from a reading of 59.5 the previous month.

“The first quarter was somewhat disappointing in terms of the growth of design activity, but fortunately expanded a bit entering the traditionally busy spring season. The Midwest is lagging behind the other regions, but otherwise business conditions are generally healthy across the country,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “As the institutional market has cooled somewhat after a surge in design activity a year ago, the multi-family sector is reaccelerating at a healthy pace.”

Key March ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: South (52.4), Northeast (51.0), West (50.4), Midwest (49.8)
  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (55.7), commercial / industrial (51.8), mixed practice (50.0), institutional (48.0)
  • Project inquiries index: 58.1
  • Design contracts index: 51.8
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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July Construction Starts Slip 2 Percent
Plunge by Electric Utilities Offsets Gains for Commercial Building, Multifamily Housing

NEW YORK - August 19, 2016 - At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $586.3 billion, new construction starts in July fell 2% from the previous month, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. A steep drop by electric utilities pulled down the nonbuilding construction sector, which in turn contributed to the slight decline for total construction starts. On the plus side, moderate improvement was reported for nonresidential building, helped by greater activity for its commercial building and manufacturing plant segments, while residential building benefitted from a stronger pace by multifamily housing. During the first seven months of 2016, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were $372.2 billion, down 11% from the same period a year ago. The January-July period of 2015 had featured 13 very large projects valued at $1.0 billion or more, including a $9.0 billion liquefied natural gas export terminal in Texas, an $8.5 billion petrochemical plant in Louisiana, and two massive office towers in New York NY with a combined construction start cost of $3.7 billion. In contrast, the January-July period of 2016 included only four projects valued at $1.0 billion or more. Excluding these exceptionally large projects from the comparison leads to a smaller 4% decline for total construction starts year-to-date.

The July data lowered the Dodge Index to 124 (2000=100), down from 126 in June. After the improved pace reported during the first three months of 2016, the construction start statistics showed an up-and-down pattern during the April-June period, and June’s 7% slide has now been followed by the 2% drop in July. “While the loss of momentum for total construction starts in June and July may raise some concern about the overall health of the construction industry, it’s useful to keep in mind that the recent declines were tied to two segments, public works and electric utilities, that are prone to volatility on a month-to-month basis,” stated Robert A. Murray, chief economist for Dodge Data & Analytics. “June’s retreat for total construction reflected a pullback by public works after a strong performance in May, and July’s retreat for total construction reflected a subdued amount of electric utility starts for that month. At the same time, nonresidential building was able to register moderate growth in June and July, while residential building can be viewed as essentially stable when taking the average of June and July.”

Murray continued, “The year-to-date comparisons so far in 2016 have been skewed by the number of exceptionally large projects that reached the construction start stage during the first half of 2015. There were fewer such projects during the second half of 2015, which should help the year-to-date comparisons as 2016 proceeds. It’s true that the July statistics showed only slight improvement with the year-to-date comparisons, but that improvement should become greater with the August and September construction start reports. This is due to the fact that last year August and September witnessed a broader slowdown for construction starts, as investment grew more cautious given concerns about the global economy and the continued drop in energy prices. This year the uncertainty related to energy prices has diminished, with the price of oil hovering in the range of $40 to $50 per barrel. Admittedly though, this year has a new element of uncertainty with regard to the upcoming November elections, which conceivably could dampen some investment in the very near term.”

Nonbuilding construction in July plunged 17% to $121.7 billion (annual rate). The electric utility and gas plant category fell 56% in July, while public works as a group was unchanged from the previous month. July’s steep drop for electric utilities and gas plants reflected the comparison to June’s elevated amount, which included three huge natural gas-fired power plants located in Tennessee ($975 million), New York ($900 million), and New Jersey ($600 million). In contrast, the power plant projects that were entered as July starts were generally smaller in scale than what was reported in June, as July’s largest power plant projects were a $385 million solar power facility in California and three wind farms located in California ($300 million), North Dakota ($250 million), and Minnesota ($135 million). The public works group in July showed a mixed performance by category. On the plus side, sewer construction jumped 86%, supported by the start of the $415 million EchoWater biological nutrient removal project in California. Water supply construction advanced 48%, lifted by the start of four water main projects totaling $376 million in Chicago IL. On the negative side, decreased activity was reported in July for highways and bridges, down 8%; river/harbor development, down 8%; and miscellaneous public works (site work, rail projects, pipelines, etc.), down 29%.

Nonresidential building, at $187.9 billion (annual rate), grew 4% in July following its 7% gain in June. The commercial building group advanced 3%, with much of the lift coming from a 20% jump for office construction. Large office building projects that reached groundbreaking in July were the following – a $400 million data center in Grand Rapids MI, a $133 million office building in Dallas TX, and the $100 million Comcast office building at Sun Trust Park in Atlanta GA. During the first seven months of 2016, the top five metropolitan areas ranked by the dollar amount of office construction starts were – New York NY, Washington DC, Dallas-Ft. Worth TX, Atlanta GA, and San Francisco CA. Store construction in July improved 3%, helped by the start of the $50 million Simon Premium Outlet Mall in Norfolk VA. New warehouse starts in July slipped 6% and a 14% drop was reported for hotels, although July did include the start of the $100 million Maryland Live Casino Hotel in Hanover MD and the $100 million renovation of the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale AZ. The manufacturing building category increased 89% in July after a weak June, lifted by the start of a $350 million pharmaceutical research facility in East Windsor NJ and a $154 million plant for an automotive systems supplier in Cottondale AL.

The institutional side of the nonresidential building market eased back 1% in July. Reduced activity was reported for educational facilities, down 5%, although July did include the start of a $150 million computer science building at the University of Maryland in College Park MD, a $130 million high school in Pinole CA, and a $129 million high school in Secaucus NJ. Healthcare facilities also showed reduced activity in July, slipping 4%, despite the start of a $250 million critical care facility in Tallahassee FL and the $239 million Bayhealth medical campus in Milford DE. The smaller institutional categories witnessed gains in July, with public buildings up 5%, churches up 8%, amusement and recreational facilities up 11%, and transportation terminals up 11%. The transportation terminal category was boosted by the $295 million Terminal 1 Concourse A and connector bridge addition at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Ft. Lauderdale FL.

Residential building in July increased 3% to $276.7 billion (annual rate), rebounding after the 3% decline reported in June. Multifamily housing provided the upward push, rising 9%. July included eight multifamily projects valued at $100 million or more, led by the $485 million Brickell Flatiron high-rise in Miami FL, a $275 million apartment high-rise in Chicago IL, and a $250 million luxury condominium high-rise in New York NY. During the first seven months of 2016, the top five metropolitan areas ranked by the dollar amount of new multifamily starts were – New York NY, Miami FL, Chicago IL, Los Angeles CA, and Boston MA. The New York NY share of the national dollar amount of multifamily starts was 22% so far in 2016, down slightly from the 26% share for the full year 2015. Single family housing in July increased 1%, basically extending the plateau present during the first half of 2016. The regional pattern for single family housing in July showed increases in three regions – the Northeast, up 8%; the West, up 6%; and the South Atlantic, up 2%; while declines were reported in the Midwest, down 2%; and the South Central, down 5%.

The 11% decline for total construction starts on an unadjusted basis during the January-July period of 2016 was due to diminished activity for both nonbuilding construction and nonresidential building from their heightened levels of a year ago. Nonbuilding construction dropped 21% year-to-date, with public works down 14% and electric utilities/gas plants down 33%. Nonresidential building dropped 18% year-to-date, with commercial building down 7%, institutional building down 12%, and manufacturing building down 66%. Residential building was the one major sector to show a year-to-date increase, rising 2% with single family housing up 7% while multifamily housing retreated 9%. By geography, total construction starts during the first seven months of 2016 revealed this pattern relative to a year ago – the South Central, down 31%; the Northeast, down 16%; the West, down 2%; the South Atlantic, down 1%; and the Midwest, up 3%.

July 2016 Construction Starts





About Dodge Data & Analytics: Dodge Data & Analytics is a technology-driven construction project data, analytics and insights provider. Dodge provides trusted market intelligence that helps construction professionals grow their business, and is redefining and recreating the business tools and processes on which the industry relies. Dodge is creating an integrated platform that unifies and simplifies the design, bid and build process, bringing data on people, projects and products into a single hub for the entire industry, from building product manufacturers to contractors and specialty trades to architects and engineers. The company’s products include Dodge Global Network, Dodge SpecShare, Dodge BuildShare, Dodge MarketShare, and the ConstructionPoints and Sweets family of products. To learn more, visit www.construction.com.

Media Contact: Benjamin Gorelick | Spector & Associates +1-212-943-5858, ben@spectorpr.com

 

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The Terry Thomas, first building with SOLARBAN 70XL glass, remains model of performance
PPG celebrates 10 years since first triple-silver-coated low-e glass became industry standard-bearer


Photo by Weber Thompson

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 11, 2016 – When The Terry Thomas, Seattle, opened in 2008 as the first major office building to feature SOLARBAN® 70XL glass by PPG, it earned numerous accolades for design and energy performance, including recognition as an American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE) “Top Ten” green building project in 2009.

Today, 10 years after its debut at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo 2006, Solarban 70XL glass remains the industry’s highest-performing triple-silver-coated, solar control low-emissivity (low-e) glass. With visible light transmittance (VLT) of 64 percent and a solar-heat-gain coefficient (SHGC) of 0.27 in a standard 1-inch insulating glass unit (IGU), Solarban 70XL glass has a light-to-solar gain (LSG) ratio of 2.37 that is still among the highest in the industry.

Similarly, The Terry Thomas continues to serve as a model that Weber Thompson - the architectural firm that designed the building as its headquarters - uses to show clients the potential for daylighting office space.

“By offering good natural daylighting through the storefront glazing, we reduced dependence on overhead lighting and overall electricity use,” explained founding principal Scott Thompson, who designed the building with his partners and staff. “With a good U-factor and SHGC, [Solarban 70XL glass] also reduced the chance that the space will overheat, which is very important in our naturally cooled space.”

Since being introduced, Solarban 70XL glass has been specified by architects to increase daylighting and reduce energy costs in hundreds of buildings, including many such as The Terry Thomas that have earned certification through the LEED® green building program. Initial energy modeling conducted in 2006 showed that using Solarban 70XL glass instead of double-silver-coated, solar control low-e glass in a prototypical 8-story office building could reduce cooling equipment requirements by up to 26 percent, and cut overall cooling costs by 3 to 5 percent annually. Through the years, the triple-silver coating technology has been refined for application to a wide variety of clear, ultra-clear and tinted solar control low-e glasses available from PPG.

For more information about the 10th anniversary of Solarban 70XL glass, or to learn more about PPG’s proprietary triple-silver coating technology, visit www.ppgideascapes.com or call 1-888-PPG-IDEA (774-4332).

Solarban is a registered trademark of PPG Industries Ohio, Inc. LEED – an acronym for LEADERSHIP IN ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN® – is a registered trademark of the U.S. GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL®.



PPG Media Contact: Rob Struble Flat Glass 412-820-8018 rstruble@ppg.com www.ppgideascapes.com

Editor’s Note: High-resolution photography is available upon request.

 

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Thought Leaders from Architecture, Engineering and Construction to Meet at 2016 Bluebeam eXtreme Conference

Bluebeam Users Inspire Technological Change Through Shared Insights and Training at Three-Day Event.

Industry professionals and thought leaders from top US and global design and construction firms are meeting in San Diego from August 15-17 for the Bluebeam® eXtreme® Conference. Bluebeam, Inc., leading developer of PDF-based annotation and collaboration solutions for the architectural, engineering and construction (AEC) and oil and gas industries, hosts the three-day annual event to provide Bluebeam users with a unique opportunity to come together, share insights, increase their knowledge, and inspire industry-wide change.

"The Bluebeam eXtreme Conference is where the magic happens,” says Nicholas P. Williamson, Project Manager, Gibbs Construction. “This is where people who get excited about technology and digital workflows all come together to learn and feed off each other's energy and experiences."

“The eXtreme Conference is about more than just product demos,” continues Rachel Attebery, Business Technology Analyst, Black & Veatch Corporation. “It is where you interact with others in your field who are solving the same problems as you, and hear case studies about how industry leaders are improving the way we do business."

This year’s conference features over 100 lectures, training sessions, customer panels and case studies demonstrating how to push the limits of digital project communication by using Bluebeam’s solutions. Over 30 of the lectures and sessions are approved for AIA CES Learning Units, providing the opportunity for attendees to earn up to 10 AIA CES Learning Units while they sharpen their skills and learn about best practices from industry leaders. This year’s conference will also feature the return of the Bluebeam eXtreme Awards, honoring the most innovative uses of Bluebeam Revu® on the jobsite in four achievement categories.

    The 2016 eXtreme Conference schedule includes:
  • Customer case-study presentations from Black & Veatch, Burns & McDonnell, CannonDesign, Barton Malow, NEUF Architect(e)s, McCarthy Building Companies, Dekker/Perich/Sabatini, Jaynes Corporation, Stacy and Witbeck, HH Angus, Brigham Young University, Method Studio, Big-D Construction, BRG, Smartvid.io and SpectrumAEC
  • Customer panels discussing topics from improving project coordination, trends in virtual design and construction, and getting buy-in for new technology with representation from C.W. Driver, Core Construction, Power Construction, Stiles Construction, Ryan Companies, Rozas Ward Architects, The Weitz Company, Santa Rita Landscaping, Red Hawk Fire and Security, T.Y. Lin International, Gray Construction, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, CAD-1 and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
  • Featured speaking session with Microsoft Surface senior engineer Pete Kyriacou on the story, idea and engineering behind the Surface tablet computer, as well as how using Revu on a Surface increases efficiency and accuracy on the jobsite
  • Four tracks of Bluebeam-led educational sessions—Revu Core, Digital Workflows, Advanced Technologies, and Train the Trainer—for Revu users at all expertise levels
  • The Bluebeam eXtreme Awards luncheon, honoring award finalists from The Penta Group, Stantec Consulting, LTD, Walsh Construction, McCarthy Holdings, LLC, Stacy and Witbeck/Atkinson Construction (SWA), HNTB Corporation, Gensler Architecture and Burns Engineering Inc
  • The Microsoft Tech Lounge, where attendees can get hands-on experience with Surface Pro 4s and Surface Books and learn from Microsoft experts how to adapt mobile computing solutions to their on-site workflows
  • Bluebeam Skills Challenge, a head-to-head competition between conference attendees demonstrating their speed, accuracy and creativity while executing key industry workflows using Revu
  • Keynote presentations by Richard Lee, Bluebeam President and CEO, and Dan Goods, Visual Strategist, NASA — Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • A networking reception where industry experts can meet and mingle while enjoying the beautiful views of the San Diego Marina
The 2016 Bluebeam eXtreme Conference and Awards are taking place August 15-17 at the Marriott Marquis in San Diego, CA. For registration and conference information, click here. Registration closes August 5.

Members of the press interested in attending can contact Mark Williams at mwilliams@bluebeam.com for complimentary passes and additional conference information.

Bluebeam products are sold direct and through a global network of resellers. For more information, visit www.bluebeam.com

About Bluebeam, Inc.
Bluebeam’s innovative desktop, mobile and cloud solutions push the limits of digital collaboration to enable professionals, who work in the most document-intensive industries, to do what they do, better. Bluebeam's award-winning PDF solutions are used by the world’s top architectural, engineering and construction firms, oil and gas companies, manufacturers, government agencies and municipalities to reduce paper usage by more than 85% and to increase productivity by over 60%. The Bluebeam Account Services team and global reseller network have been solving customer challenges in over 100 countries for more than a decade. Visit www.bluebeam.com for more on why Bluebeam is changing the status quo and setting a new standard. Bluebeam, Inc. is part of the Nemetschek Group.

 

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Construction Employment Increases in 228 out of 358 Metro Areas Between June 2015 and June 2016 as Firms Struggle to Find Qualified Workers to Hire

Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, Calif. and Kokomo, Ind. Top Gainers; Biggest Losses are in Bloomington, Ill. and Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas, as Construction Group Calls for New Perkins Act.

Construction employment increased in 228 out of 358 metro areas, was unchanged in 48 and declined in 82 between June 2015 and June 2016, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials urged Congress to act on legislation to reform and increase federal funding for career and technical education to encourage more high school students to pursue high-paying careers in construction.

"Contractors are adding employees in most parts of the country, while construction job losses are primarily in areas that are most affected by the steep decline in oil and gas drilling," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist, adding that construction employment hit new peak levels in 32 metro areas. "However, increases in construction employment are becoming less widespread as more contractors run into difficulty finding qualified workers."

Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, Calif. added the most construction jobs during the past year (12,500 jobs, 14 percent). Other metro areas adding a large number of construction jobs include Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo. (10,700 jobs, 11 percent); Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. (9,900 jobs, 10 percent); and rlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla. (9,500 jobs, 16 percent). The largest percentage gains occurred in Kokomo, Ind. (20 percent, 200 jobs); Boise City, Idaho (19 percent, 3,600 jobs); Brockton-Bridgewater-Eastern, Mass. (17 percent, 800 jobs) and Danville, Ill. (17 percent, 100 jobs).

The largest job losses from June 2015 to June 2016 were in Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas (-3,300 jobs, -2 percent), followed by Midland, Texas (-1,400 jobs, -5 percent); Odessa, Texas (-1,300 jobs, -8 percent); and New Orleans-Metairie, La. (-1,200 jobs, -4 percent). The largest percentage declines for the past year were in Bloomington, Ill. (-19 percent, -600 jobs); Rocky Mount, N.C. (-13 percent, -300 jobs); Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, Ala. (-11 percent, -100 jobs) and Grants Pass, Ore. (-11 percent, -100 jobs).

Association officials said the latest employment figures underscore the need to reinvigorate high school-level training programs to encourage more students to pursue construction careers. They added that the House Education and Workforce Committee has passed legislation that includes many of the reforms, and some of the funding increases, the association has called for to rebuild the once vocational education system in this country. They urged members of the House and Senate to pass the measure as quickly as possible.

"It makes no sense that there are thousands of young people who can't find a job while we have hundreds of members who can't find enough workers," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "Congress can help fix this mismatch by passing legislation that makes it easier for schools to prepare students with the skills they need to find high-paying jobs in careers like construction."

 

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Nonresidential Construction Spending Down Again in June, First Annual Decline Since 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug. 1-Nonresidential construction spending dipped 1 percent in June and has now contracted for three consecutive months according to analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data released today by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). Nonresidential spending, which totaled $682 billion on a seasonally adjusted, annualized rate, has fallen 1.1 percent on a year-over-year basis, marking the first time nonresidential spending has declined on an annual basis since July 2013.

"On a monthly basis, the numbers are not as bad as they seem, as May's nonresidential construction spending estimate was revised higher. However, this fails to explain the first year-over-year decline in nearly three years," said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. "There are many forces at work, most of them negative, with the noteworthy exception of construction materials prices, which are down on a year-over-year basis. To the extent that savings are being passed along to purchasers of construction services, spending would appear lower in dollar terms than when measured in physical terms such as square footage.

"Thanks in part to the investment of foreign capital in America, spending related to office space and lodging are up by more than 16 percent year-over-year," said Basu. The global economy is weak, and international investors are searching for yield and stability. U.S. commercial real estate has become a popular destination for foreign capital. However, the weakness of the global economy may also help explain the decline in manufacturing-related construction spending of nearly 5 percent for the month and more than 10 percent year-over-year.

"Though many contractors continue to report extensive backlog, the data suggest that average firm backlog may begin to retrench," warned Basu. "The only significant driver of economic growth in America presently is consumer spending. Corporate profits remain stagnant and business investment remains underwhelming. Public sector spending does not appear positioned to accelerate anytime soon despite the passage of a federal highway bill last year."

Precisely half of the 16 nonresidential subsectors expanded in June. Two of the largest subsectors-manufacturing and commercial-experienced significant contractions in June, however, and were responsible for a majority of the dip in spending.

Tepid spending by public agencies also continues to shape the data. Despite a monthly pick-up in spending, water-supply construction spending is down 14 percent on a year-over-year basis. Public safety construction spending is down 8.4 percent from a year ago, sewage and waste disposal by nearly 15 percent, highway and street by about 6 percent, education by 4 percent and transportation by more than 3 percent.





Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) is a national construction industry trade association established in 1950 that represents nearly 21,000 members. Founded on the merit shop philosophy, ABC and its 70 chapters help members develop people, win work and deliver that work safely, ethically and profitably for the betterment of the communities in which ABC and its members work. Visit us at www.abc.org

 

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Gypsum Association Now ICC Preferred Provider

HYATTSVILLE, MD -July 19, 2016, The Gypsum Association (GA) is pleased to announce that it has been designated a Preferred Provider under the International Code Council (ICC) Preferred Provider Program (PPP). The GA already is an American Institute of Architects (AIA) Continuing Education System (CES) Provider.

The ICC PPP provides building code officials and others with education related to codes, standards, and guidelines, as well as building construction materials, products, and methods. The GA's online course, Understanding the GA-600 Fire Resistance Design Manual, can be taken for .20 ICC Continuing Education Units (CEUs) in the specialty area of fire. The same course provides 2 AIA Learning Units in health, safety, and welfare (HSW) education. Credit is based on successful completion of an online exam at the end of the course. The course is found on the GA website.

Revised on a three year basis, GA-600, Fire Resistance Design Manual has been referenced by the model building codes as a source of fire resistive designs for more than 40 years. The manual is currently referenced by the International Building Code, and the National Fire Codes, as well as many state and local jurisdictions in the US and Canada as a source document for fire-resistance and sound-control rated designs that incorporate gypsum board in a variety of building systems. "The Fire Resistance Design Manual plays a key role in both designing and building for fire safety," says GA Executive Director Stephen H. Meima, adding, "Providing online education about the manual for construction, codes and standards professionals-as well as designers-will contribute to greater understanding of fire resistance across the full design and construction spectrum."

The ICC certifies over 14,000 code officials, inspectors, plan reviewers, permit technicians, special inspectors, and students every year. Certifications must be renewed every three years, with renewal based primarily on participation in educational programs. To maintain a level of quality assurance for the credibility of the ICC certification renewal program, the use of ICC or Preferred Provider training is now required as a condition of all certification renewals.

Take Understanding the GA-600 Fire Resistance Design Manual and view our online resources at www.gypsum.org. Copies of GA-600-2015, the 21st edition of the Fire Resistance Design Manual, are available in the GA Bookstore.

About the GA:
The Gypsum Association is in its 86th year of service as the technical, promotion, and information center of the gypsum industry. The Association, representing companies located throughout the United States and Canada, is based in Hyattsville, MD.

 

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Healthy Demand for All Building Types Signaled in Architecture Billings Index

Recent client interest could signal resurgence for institutional market

Led by a still active multi-family housing market and sustained by solid levels of demand for new commercial and retail properties, the Architecture Billings Index has accelerated to its highest score in nearly a 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 May ABI score was 53.1, up sharply from the mark of 50.6 in the previous month. This score reflects an increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 60.1, up from a reading of 56.9 the previous month.

“Business conditions at design firms have hovered around the break-even rate for the better part of this year,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Demand levels are solid across the board for all project types at the moment. Of particular note, the recent surge in design activity for institutional projects could be a harbinger of a new round of growth in the broader construction industry in the months ahead.”

Key May ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: West (53.8), South (53.7), Northeast (51.2), Midwest (49.9)

  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (53.7), institutional (53.0), commercial / industrial (51.0), mixed practice (51.0),

  • Project inquiries index: 60.1

  • Design contracts index: 52.8

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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Housing Production Holds Steady in May

Nationwide housing starts were virtually unchanged in May, inching down 0.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.16 million, according to newly released data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department. Overall permit issuance edged up 0.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.14 million.

“Despite May’s relatively flat report, our builders are telling us that the market is improving and consumers are more ready and willing to make a home purchase,” said NAHB Chairman Ed Brady, a home builder and developer from Bloomington, Ill.

“Builder confidence rose this month and single-family housing starts are up roughly 10 percent from a year ago — two indicators that we can expect further growth in housing production this year,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “However, builders continue to face supply-side constraints, such as shortages of buildable lots and labor.”

Single-family housing starts inched up 0.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 764,000 units in May while multifamily production edged down 1.2 percent to 400,000 units.

Combined single- and multifamily starts were mixed in May, rising 14.4 percent in the West and 1.5 percent in the South. The Midwest posted a 2.5 percent loss and the Northeast registered a 33.3 percent loss. However, single-family production rose in three out of the four regions — the Northeast, South and West.

Single-family permits fell 2 percent to a rate of 726,000 while multifamily permits rose 5.9 percent to 412,000.

Permit issuance increased 15.3 percent in the West. Meanwhile, the South, Northeast and Midwest posted respective losses of 1.4 percent, 7.8 percent and 9.2 percent.

 

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Construction Headcount Dips In May But Outpaces Overall Rate Of Job Gain Since May 2015; Rising Pay, Plunging Unemployment Suggest Worker Scarcity

Industry Association Officials Say New Career Center and Workforce Development Plan Can Help As Contractors Report They Have Plenty of Projects to Work on but Not Enough Experienced Workers to Hire

Construction employment dipped for the second consecutive month in May, but rising industry pay and plunging unemployment suggest contractors would be hiring more workers if they were available, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials cautioned that worker shortages may be reaching the point where they undermine the sector’s growth.

“Although construction employment slipped in April and May, the industry has added workers in the past year at double the rate of the overall economy,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “Average pay in construction is rising faster than in the rest of the private sector, and the number of unemployed construction workers was at the lowest May level in 16 years. These facts support what contractors tell us: they have plenty of work but are struggling to find qualified workers to hire.”

Construction employment totaled 6,645,000 in May, a drop of 15,000 from April. The change from March to April was revised to a 5,000-employee decline from an initial estimate of a 1,000-job gain. Even with the back-to-back decreases, industry employment increased by 219,000, or 3.4 percent, compared to a year ago. Total nonfarm payroll employment increased 1.7 percent over the year.

Average hourly earnings, a measure of wages and salaries for all workers, increased 2.6 percent in construction to $28.04 in May. That was nearly 10 percent higher than the private-sector average, which rose 2.5 percent over the past 12 months, Simonson said. He added that the number of unemployed jobseekers who last worked in the construction industry decreased for the seventh year in a row, to 461,000, the lowest total for May since 2000.

Residential construction—comprising residential building and specialty trade contractors—declined by 4,400 jobs in May but is up by 127,700, or 5.2 percent, compared to a year ago. Nonresidential construction—building, specialty trades, and heavy and civil engineering construction firms—shed 10,300 jobs for the month but added 91,400 employees compared to May 2015, a 2.3 percent increase.

Association officials said the new AGC Career Center and the measures outlined in the association’s Workforce Development Plan could help address worker shortages in the short and long term. The new Career Center can help firms in the short term who are looking to find qualified workers. And the Workforce Development Plan measures, which include increasing funding for the Perkins Act, can help rebuild the pipeline for recruiting and preparing future workers over the longer term.

“Tight labor markets are beginning to undermine the construction industry’s ability to expand,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “And while we are taking steps to provide short-term relief, we need public officials to provide the funding and flexibility needed to allow for more career and technical education in this country.”

 

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Builder Confidence Rises Two Points in June

After holding steady for the past four months, builder confidence in the market for newly constructed single-family homes rose two points in June to a level of 60 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This is the highest reading since January 2016.

“Builders in many markets across the nation are reporting higher traffic and more committed buyers at their job sites,” said NAHB Chairman Ed Brady, a home builder and developer from Bloomington, Ill. “However, our members are also relating ongoing concerns regarding the shortage of buildable lots and labor and noting pockets of softness in scattered markets.”

“Rising home sales, an improving economy and the fact that the HMI gauge measuring future sales expectations is running at an eight-month high are all positive factors indicating that the housing market should continue to move forward in the second half of 2016,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz.

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.

All three HMI components posted gains in June. The component gauging current sales conditions rose one point to 64, the index charting sales expectations in the next six months increased five points to 70, and the component measuring buyer traffic climbed three points to 47.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the South registered a two-point uptick to 61 and the West rose one point to 68. The Northeast dropped two points to 39 and the Midwest fell one point to 57.

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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Architecture Billings Index Shows Continued Modest Growth
All regions report positive business conditions

After beginning the year with a decline, the Architecture Billings Index has posted three consecutive months of increasing demand for design activity at architecture firms. 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 April ABI score was 50.6, down from the mark of 51.9 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 56.9, down from a reading of 58.1 the previous month.

“Architects continue to report a wide range of business conditions, with unusually high variation in design activity across the major building categories,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “The strong growth in design contracts – the strongest score for this indicator since last summer -- certainly suggests that firms will be reporting growth in billings over the next several months.”

Key April ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: South (52.2), Northeast (51.5), West (50.8), Midwest (50.8)

  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (53.7), commercial / industrial (52.0), mixed practice (50.0), institutional (49.0)

  • Project inquiries index: 56.9

  • Design contracts index: 54.3

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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New Online PPG Video Explains Science Of Bird-Safe Glass
Now available for viewing in PPG Glass Education Center

PPG Industries (NYSE: PPG) has posted a new video to the online PPG Glass Education Center explaining the science behind and benefits associated with bird-safe glass.

Using AVIPROTEK® glass by Montreal-based Walker TEXTURES™ products as an example, the 3½-minute video demonstrates how glass that is acid-etched in scientifically defined patterns can deter birds from colliding into buildings. Bird-safe glass, which is required to meet building codes in a growing number of cities, states and provinces throughout the U.S. and Canada, also can help building projects earn LEED® Pilot Credit 55 for bird collision deterrence.

The video highlights the benefits of acid-etching the first outermost surface of an insulating glass unit (IGU) and the advantages for wildlife and the environment of combining bird-safe glass with energy-saving low-emissivity (low-e) coatings such as SOLARBAN® glass by PPG.

Launched in 2013, the PPG Glass Education Center is a growing online library of technical information that serves as an objective, user-focused resource about designing, specifying and building with glass for architects, specifiers, students, and professionals in the glass, construction and building industries. Content is updated regularly based on the most frequently asked questions PPG gets on its website, during sales calls and through its call center.

To watch the video in the PPG Glass Education Center, visit www.educationcenter.ppg.com. For more information about PPG’s full collection of architectural glass, visit www.ppgideascapes.com or call 1-888-PPG-IDEA (774-4332).

PPG: WE PROTECT AND BEAUTIFY THE WORLD™
At PPG (NYSE:PPG), we work every day to develop and deliver the paints, coatings and materials that our customers have trusted for more than 130 years. Through dedication and creativity, we solve our customers’ biggest challenges, collaborating closely to find the right path forward. With headquarters in Pittsburgh, we operate and innovate in more than 70 countries and reported net sales of $15.3 billion in 2015. We serve customers in construction, consumer products, industrial and transportation markets and aftermarkets. To learn more, visit www.ppg.com.

 

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Housing Markets Continue to Edge Forward

Markets in 119 of the approximately 340 metro areas nationwide returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity in the first quarter of 2016, according to the National Association of Home Builders/First American Leading Markets Index (LMI) released today. This represents a year-over-year net gain of 45 markets.

The index’s nationwide score ticked up to .95, meaning that based on current permit, price and employment data, the nationwide average is running at 95 percent of normal economic and housing activity. Meanwhile, 86 percent of markets have shown an improvement year-over-year.

“Housing markets continue to recover gradually, edged along by a firming economy, solid job creation and low mortgage interest rates,” said NAHB Chairman Ed Brady, a home builder and developer from Bloomington, Ill. “We expect the housing sector to improve at a slow, but steady pace throughout the year.”

“Among the LMI components, house prices continue to make the most widespread gains, with 324 markets having returned to or exceeded their last normal levels. Meanwhile, 66 metros have reached or exceeded normal employment activity,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Single-family permits have inched up to 49 percent of normal activity, but remain the lagging part of the index.”

“More than 80 percent of all metros saw their Leading Markets Index increase or hold steady over the quarter, an important sign that the housing market is heading in the right direction,” said Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Company, which co-sponsors the LMI report.

Baton Rouge, La., continues to top the list of major metros on the LMI, with a score of 1.54 – or 54 percent better than its last normal market level. Other major metros leading the list include Austin, Texas; Honolulu; Houston; and San Jose, Calif. Rounding out the top 10 are Oklahoma City; Los Angeles; Nashville, Tenn.; Charleston, S.C.; and Salt Lake City.

Looking at smaller metros, both Midland and Odessa, Texas, have LMI scores of 2.0 or better, meaning that their markets are now at double their strength prior to the recession. Also at the top of the list of smaller metros are Manhattan, Kan; Walla Walla, Wash.; and Wheeling, W.Va.; respectively.

The LMI identifies those areas that are now approaching and exceeding their previous normal levels of economic and housing activity. Approximately 340 metro areas are scored by taking their average permit, price and employment levels for the past 12 months and dividing each by their annual average over the last period of normal growth. For single-family permits and home prices, 2000-2003 is used as the last normal period, and for employment, 2007 is the base comparison. The three components are then averaged to provide an overall score for each market; a national score is calculated based on national measures of the three metrics. An index value above one indicates that a market has advanced beyond its previous normal level of economic activity.

 

Editor’s Note:
In calculating the LMI, NAHB utilizes employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, house price appreciation data from Freddie Mac and single-family housing permits from the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2015, the Census Bureau revised the manner in which it obtains monthly counts of MSA single-family permits data. To maintain consistency within the LMI, NAHB excluded certain MSAs and improved comparability with previous years for the remaining areas. The LMI is published quarterly on the fourth working day of the month, unless that day falls on a Friday—in which case, it is released on the following Monday. For historical information and charts, please go to nahb.org/lmi

 

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Architecture Billings Index Ends the First Quarter on an Upswing
Healthy rebound for multi-family projects

The Architecture Billings Index reflects consecutive months of increasing demand for design activity at architecture firms. 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 March ABI score was 51.9, up from the mark of 50.3 in the previous month. This score reflects an increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 58.1, down from a reading of 59.5 the previous month.

“The first quarter was somewhat disappointing in terms of the growth of design activity, but fortunately expanded a bit entering the traditionally busy spring season. The Midwest is lagging behind the other regions, but otherwise business conditions are generally healthy across the country,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “As the institutional market has cooled somewhat after a surge in design activity a year ago, the multi-family sector is reaccelerating at a healthy pace.”

Key March ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: South (52.4), Northeast (51.0), West (50.4), Midwest (49.8)

  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (55.7), commercial / industrial (51.8), mixed practice (50.0), institutional (48.0)

  • Project inquiries index: 58.1

  • Design contracts index: 51.8

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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Modest Expansion for Architecture Billings Index
Business conditions softening most in Midwest in recent months

The Architecture Billings Index saw a dip into negative terrain for the first time in five months in January, but inched back up in February with a small increase in demand for design services. 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 February ABI score was 50.3, up slightly from the mark of 49.6 in the previous month. This score reflects a minor increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 59.5, up from a reading of 55.3 the previous month.

“March and April are traditionally the busiest months for architecture firms, so we should get a clearer reading of underlying momentum over the next couple of months,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Hopefully the relatively mild weather conditions recently in most parts of the country will help design and construction activity move ahead at a somewhat faster pace.”

Key February ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: South (51.1), West (49.9), Northeast (49.5), Midwest (49.3)

  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (53.0), commercial / industrial (52.3), institutional (48.1), mixed practice (47.7)

  • Project inquiries index: 59.5

  • 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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Slight Contraction in Architecture Billings Index
Multi-family residential sector improving after sluggish 2015

Following a generally positive performance in 2015, the Architecture Billings Index has begun this year modestly dipping back into negative terrain. 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 49.6, down slightly from the mark of 51.3 in the previous month. This score reflects a minor decrease in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 55.3, down from a reading of 60.5 the previous month.

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

“The fundamentals are mostly sound in the nonresidential design and construction market,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “January was a rocky month throughout the economy, with falling oil prices, international economic concerns, and with steep declines in stock market valuations in the U.S. and elsewhere. Some of the fallout of this uncertainty may have affected progress on design projects.”

Key January ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: West (50.8), Northeast (50.4), South (50.3), Midwest (48.9),

  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (51.9), commercial / industrial (50.5), institutional (49.9), mixed practice (49.0)

  • Project inquiries index: 55.3

  • Design contracts index: 50.9

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 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 Firms Add 18,000 Workers In January As Employment Hits Highest Level Since 2008, Unemployment Falls To 17-Year Low
January Job Gains Down Compared to Prior Three Months as Nonresidential Contractors Shed Employees; Slowdown May Reflect Broader Economic and Financial Market Uncertainty or Lack of Qualified Workers

Construction firms added 18,000 workers in January, as the industry’s unemployment rate declined to a 17-year low of 8.5 percent, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that the number of construction jobs added in January was down compared to the last three months of 2015 and could reflect either a slowdown in nonresidential construction activity or an inability of contractors to find qualified workers.

“While the construction industry continues to add jobs, the January figures mark a significant decline in the rate of growth compared to the end of last year,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “It will take a few months to evaluate whether firms are running out of people to hire or if broader economic uncertainty is leading to a decline in demand for many types of construction services.”

Construction employment totaled 6,615,000 in January, the most since December 2008, and is up by 264,000 jobs compared to a year ago, a 4.2 percent increase. Residential construction increased by 20,100 in January and by 149,500, or 6.2 percent, compared to a year ago. Nonresidential construction employment declined by 2,300 jobs for the month but was up 115,000 jobs compared to last January, a 2.9 percent increase.

The number of unemployed jobseekers in January who last worked in construction totaled 729,000. The unemployment rate for such workers was 8.5 percent. Both the number and the rate were the lowest January figures since the series were introduced in 2000. Meanwhile, Census Bureau data released on February 1 showed that construction spending experienced only slight growth between November and December, and has been limited to residential building. Nonresidential construction spending by both the private and public sectors has been flat or declining since July 2015.

Among nonresidential construction employment categories, only the nonresidential building segment added jobs in January, expanding by 5,300. But those gains were offset by a decline of 2,400 jobs in the nonresidential specialty trade contractors segment and a loss of 5,200 jobs in the heavy and civil engineering construction segment. Simonson noted that heavy and civil engineering construction employment should expand later this year as new federal investments in transportation and other infrastructure enacted last year begin to enter the market.

Association officials said they were encouraged by the fact the industry continues to expand at a brisk annual clip. They noted that the 4.2 percent increase in construction employment in the past 12 months was more than double the 1.9 percent growth in total nonfarm payroll employment. But they added that the drop in nonresidential construction employment for the month was cause for concern. After several months of robust construction employment growth, they cautioned that January’s market sell-offs and broader economic uncertainty may sap demand for construction.

“Hopefully the nonresidential construction sector is just experiencing a temporary slowdown while investors catch their breath,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “But if the broader economic recovery continues to slow, the construction industry will have a tough time expanding at the rates we saw late last year.”

 

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Construction Employment Increases In 190 Out Of 358 Metro Areas Between December 2014 And 2015 As Firms Remain Optimistic About Prospects For 2016
Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, Calif. and Weirton-Steubenville, W.Va.-Ohio Top Growth List; Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas, Florence-Muscle Shoals, Ala., Fort Smith, Ark. and Gulfport, Miss. Have Largest Declines

Construction employment increased in 190 out of 358 metro areas, was unchanged in 63 and declined in 105 between December 2014 and December 2015, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that many firms expect to continue expanding their headcount in 2016 as demand continues to grow for different types of construction.

“There were nearly twice as many metro areas adding construction jobs in 2015 as there were areas losing jobs,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Considering current economic trends and our members’ forecasts, many firms should continue hiring workers this year as demand expands.”

Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, Calif. (10,500 jobs, 13 percent) added the most construction jobs during the past year. Other metro areas adding a large number of construction jobs include Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (9,000 jobs, 12 percent), Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, Ill. (8,900 jobs, 8 percent), and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. (8,100 jobs, 7 percent). The largest percentage gains occurred in Weirton-Steubenville, W.Va.-Ohio (60 percent, 900 jobs); Huntsville, Ala. (18 percent, 1,400 jobs); Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Mich. (16 percent, 3,000 jobs), Saginaw, Mich. (16 percent, 400 jobs) and Honolulu, Hawaii (14 percent, 3,800 jobs).

The largest job losses from December 2014 to December 2015 were in Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (-4,300 jobs, -6 percent), followed by Detroit-Dearborn-Livonia, Mich. (-1,800 jobs, -8 percent); Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (-1,600 jobs, -1 percent) and Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wisc. (-1,600 jobs, -2 percent). The largest percentage declines for the past year were in Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula (-14 percent, -1,200 jobs), Florence-Muscle Shoals, Ala. (-14 percent, -500 jobs), Fort Smith, Ark. (-14 percent, -1,000 jobs), Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, Ala. (-13 percent, -100 jobs), Hanford-Corcoran, Calif. (-13 percent, -100 jobs) and Walla Walla, Wash. (-13 percent, -100 jobs).

Association officials said the new metro jobs data is consistent with the results of the group’s 2016 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook. Seventy-one percent of firms who participated in the Outlook reported they plan to expand their headcount this year. Yet a similar share, 70 percent, reported they are already having a hard time finding enough qualified workers to fill positions, which is why the association continues to push for measures to recruit and prepare new construction workers.

“Most construction firms expect to continue expanding this year,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “The biggest challenge many firms are facing is finding enough workers to meet available demand.”

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

 

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Builder Confidence in the 55+ Housing Market Ends Year on a Positive Note

Builder confidence in the single-family 55+ housing market remains strong in the fourth quarter of 2015 with a reading of 61, up one point from the previous quarter, according to the National Association of Home Builders' (NAHB) 55+ Housing Market Index (HMI) released today. This is the seventh consecutive quarter with a reading above 50.

“Builders and developers for the 55+ housing sector continue to report increased optimism in the market,” said Jim Chapman, chairman of NAHB's 55+ Housing Industry Council and president of Jim Chapman Homes LLC in Atlanta. “We are seeing steady consumer demand for homes and communities that are designed to address the specific needs of the mature homebuyer.”

There are separate 55+ HMIs for two segments of the 55+ housing market: single-family homes and multifamily condominiums. Each 55+ HMI measures builder sentiment based on a survey that asks if current sales, prospective buyer traffic and anticipated six-month sales for that market are good, fair or poor (high, average or low for traffic). An index number above 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

One of the three index components of the 55+ single-family HMI posted an increase from the previous quarter: traffic of prospective buyers increased six points to 52. Present sales held steady at 65 while expected sales for the next six months decreased four points to 63.

The 55+ multifamily condo HMI dropped eight points to 42, falling back to a range typical of the past year and a half. All three components decreased as well: present sales fell 10 points to 44, expected sales for the next six months fell 10 points to 46 and traffic of prospective buyers edged down three points to 37.

Three of the four indices tracking production and demand of 55+ multifamily rentals posted gains in the fourth quarter. Present production and expected future production both rose one point to 56 and 61, respectively, and future demand increased three points to 71, while current demand for existing units fell four points to 66.

“This quarter’s 55+ HMI is in line with our forecast for the overall housing market, which shows a gradual, steady recovery,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “In addition, the 55+ housing market is benefitting from growing home equity on the balance sheets of 55+ households, an improving economic outlook, historically low mortgage rates and a growing population as baby boomers age."
For the full 55+ HMI tables, please visit www.nahb.org/55hmi.

 

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Efficiency and Sustainability to Shape Future of Nonresidential Construction
Renewable energy and technological innovations key elements of design approaches

To provide an overview of the changes expected in building design over the next decade, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) surveyed nationally leading architects for their perspectives.

“Emerging technologies are becoming the dominant force in how buildings are being designed,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Buildings in their own right are becoming far more energy efficient, and certain technologies are increasing both the efficiency of the people using the buildings and the project delivery methods in which buildings are being designed and constructed.”

Top nonresidential design trends for the next 10 years:

  • Water conservation, solar and wind power generation will become more prevalent over the next decade

  • Architects will specify more innovative building materials such as composites and new glass / glazing technologies to allow for expanded design options

  • Increased use of natural daylighting techniques and of lighting technology systems, including automation controls and motion-sensor activated lights

  • Building Information Modeling software use will grow substantially, along with alternative project delivery methods and lean construction practices that will increase the efficiency of the building design process and throughout the lifecycle of the building

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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Nonresidential Construction Market Momentum to Continue
More moderate pace than previous year expected and will slow slightly in 2017

Construction spending greatly exceeded expectations in the nonresidential market in 2015, and this year should see healthy growth levels as well. There continues to be significant demand for hotels, office space, manufacturing facilities and amusement and recreation spaces.

The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) semi-annual Consensus Construction Forecast, a survey of the nation’s leading construction forecasters, is projecting that spending will increase just more than eight percent in 2016, with next year’s projection being an additional 6.7% gain

INFOGRAPHIC: To see each of the panelist’s projections, click here.

“While rising interest rates could pose a challenge to the U.S. economy, lower energy prices, improved employment figures and an enacted federal budget for 2016 are all factoring into a very favorable outlook for the construction industry,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “And after several years of challenging economic circumstances the institutional project sector is finally on very solid footing.”

 

Market Segment Consensus Growth Forecasts  2016 2017
     
Overall nonresidential building 8.3% 6.7%
     
Commercial / industrial 9.9% 7.5%
Hotels 14.8% 7.8%
Office space 12.8% 8.8%
Industrial facilities 11.9% 5.3%
Retail 7.5% 5.6%
Institutional 6.7% 6.7%
Amusement / recreation 11.2% 7.7%
Healthcare facilities 6.6% 6.9%
Education 6.5% 6.6%
Religious 2.6% 4.0%
Public safety 1.8% 4.2%


About the AIA Consensus Construction Forecast Panel
The AIA Consensus Construction Forecast Panel is conducted twice a year with the leading nonresidential construction forecasters in the United States including, Dodge Data & Analytics, Wells Fargo Securities, IHS-Global Insight, Moody’s economy.com, CMD Group, Associated Builders & Contractors and FMI. The purpose of the Consensus Construction Forecast Panel is to project business conditions in the construction industry over the coming 12 to 18 months. The Consensus Construction Forecast Panel has been conducted for 17 years.

About The American Institute of Architects
Founded in 1857, 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 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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