More than half of U.S. companies to spend more on energy efficiency in 2015

Schneider ElectricThree quarters of decision-makers at U.S. companies have invested in energy efficiency programs in the past 12 months, and more than half (56 percent) project their investment in energy efficiency next year will be more than last year, according to survey results released recently by Schneider Electric. This represents a 12 percent increase in energy efficiency investments and a 13 percent increase in projected investments in the past 12 months, according to a similar survey of energy leaders conducted by Schneider Electric in June 2013.

One potential driver of the increased investment is simply that a path to efficiency is now easier to measure due to a major trend emerging across the enterprise: the convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT). When asked about the biggest trends impacting business today, more than half (56 percent) of respondents cited this trend, with 61 percent saying that energy efficiency was its biggest benefit. Byproducts of increased efficiency, including cost reductions (48 percent) and optimized business processes (43 percent), were also reported as benefits.

However, respondents also acknowledged that this trend comes with its own set of challenges, including more complex technology management (55 percent), security (54 percent) and conflict between IT and operations staff (47 percent).

In fact, the survey confirmed modernization as another issue at the top of decision-makers’ agenda. Infrastructure upgrades followed the convergence of IT and OT with 22 percent of respondents citing it as impacting their business. 51 percent of respondents believe infrastructure modernization is an important business priority and 48 percent believe upgrading public infrastructure will make their city more attractive for business than others. Respondents said electrical systems (56 percent), traffic/transportation systems (53 percent) and telecommunications (48 percent) are the public infrastructure modernization projects that are most impactful on their business.

Efficiency initiatives (12 percent) and sustainability demands (9 percent) rounded out the list of the biggest trends. Energy efficiency initiatives were identified by respondents as the top way (59 percent) companies do more with less in today’s business environment and almost half of respondents said that sustainability initiatives improve profit margins (47 percent) and keep them competitive (49 percent).

Methodology
This survey was conducted among 301 employed respondents at companies with at least $ 50 Million in revenue with a decision-making role in Facility Management, Operations Management, Technology Management, Supply Chain Management or Energy/Efficiency Management. The interviews were conducted by Redshift Research in August 2014 through an online survey. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 5.65 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.

NBIMS-US Vice-Chair to Show How the National BIM Standard Improves Project Delivery

Natl Inst of Building ScienceBuilding industry professionals at the ArchitectureBoston Expo (ABX), to be held October 28-30 in Boston, Massachusetts, will have the opportunity to learn how building information modeling (BIM) with consensus industry standards can improve project delivery when they attend a workshop presented by Jeffrey W. Ouellette, Assoc. AIA, IES.

Ouellette serves as vice chair of the National BIM Standard-United States® (NBIMS-US™) Version 3Project Committee, the committee responsible for developing that standard for the National Institute of Building Sciences buildingSMART alliance. He will present Better Project Delivery through Implementation of the National BIM Standard-US® on Tuesday, October 28, from 8:00 to 9:30 am.

The Institute will be releasing the NBIMS-US™ Version 3 later this year. The newest edition of the standard will provide design professionals, contractors, facility managers and owners with technology, process and best practice standards to facilitate data for the design, procurement, construction and operation of a building. As the vice-chair of the project committee responsible for the standard’s development, Ouellette will provide an insider’s look at all parts of the standard; what they mean to the design professional, project partners and clients; and how they can be successfully applied to the execution of a particular project or the everyday practices of a design firm.

ABX is produced by the Boston Society of Architects (BSA), founder and long-time co-producer of Build Boston and Residential Design and Construction. The largest building industry event in the Northeast and one of the largest in the country, the ABX conference program hosts more than 175 workshops and tours covering relevant industry issues and projects. A diverse range of topics and ideas attracts the full spectrum of building-industry professionals, including architects, engineers, builders/contractors and owners/clients.

The show floor at ABX is an interactive marketplace featuring more than 400 product and service exhibitors, along with projects and designs from the industry.

Learn more about the NBIMS-US session. 

Register to attend.

Growth in U.S. Entry Door Market to Continue into 2015

door-marketA new study by the Window and Door Manufacturers Association, Window and Entry Door 2014 U.S. Market Study shows continued growth for the entry door market through 2015. The study, prepared, researched and analyzed by Metrostudy and the Virginia Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech, forecasts modest market growth in the overall entry door market growth of 5.1% for 2014 and 4.9% for 2015. This follows market growth of 5.3% in 2013 with 14.1 million units shipped.

From a product mix standpoint, in 2013 side-hinged entry doors made up 72% of the entry door market, followed by sliding patio doors at 11.4%.

The WDMA report delivers timely, detailed information on residential entry door, and residential and light commercial window market trends and product relationships; historic data for 2011 and 2012, and forecast data for 2014 through 2016. Forecasts are based on projections of construction activity as of May 2014. Also included in the report is data on ENERGY STAR 2013 production and market growth.

The WDMA Window and Entry Door 2014 U.S. Market Study is available for purchase online in the WDMA Bookstore.

ASTM approves standard for intumescent coatings used to protect steel in fire

ASTM LogoIntumescent coatings produce an insulating char when activated by heat or flame. Such coatings are designed to safeguard the structural integrity of steel under fire conditions and to maintain safe temperatures for a specified period of time. A new ASTM standard will cover the specification, application and inspection of intumescent fire-resistant materials to structural steel.

The new standard, ASTM E2924, Practice for Intumescent Coatings, provides recommendations to specify best practices for intumescent coatings. Specifying, manufacturing, testing, labeling, transportation, delivery and storage (including shelf life), installation and inspection are all covered in ASTM E2924.

Architects, specifiers and building owners will now be able to incorporate reference to ASTM E2924 in their building specifications. In addition, engineers, installers and inspection agencies will find the standard to be useful when dealing with intumescent coatings.

ASTM E2924 was developed by Subcommittee E06.21 on Serviceability, part of ASTM InternationalCommittee E06 on Performance of Buildings. All interested parties are invited to participate in the standards developing activities of E06.21.

The nest ASTM Committee E06 meeting will take place October 5-8, 2014, in New Orleans, LA. Contact Philip Mancuso, Isolatek International, 1-800-631-9600, ext. 214; pmancuso@isolatek.com for more information.

Tarkett program helps charities in Florence, AL

tarkettThe employees at Tarkett’s Florence, Alabama plant are giving back to their community through the “Tarkett Gives Back” program. The initiative started a year ago and focuses on establishing a positive presence in the community by helping those who cannot help themselves.

Recently, Tarkett contacted the local Veterans Administration in Tuscumbia, Alabama to find a veteran who might need assistance. After reviewing several cases, Tarkett selected the home of veteran James Tuttle and his wife, Joyce. While he uses a walker, Tuttle has been bound to a wheelchair since an illness earlier this year.

To honor the local veteran as part of the event called “Christmas in July,” about 20 Tarkett team members gathered at Tuttle’s home to perform several projects, primarily building a wheelchair ramp to make his home more handicap accessible. In addition to the wheelchair ramp, the employees also spruced up the outside of the home with landscaping work.

“I nearly passed out when I found out about it because there’s so much that needed to be done,” said Tuttle’s wife, Joyce. “It was very, very much needed. Sometimes he can use his walker to get around, but the wheelchair ramp is a godsend.” Her husband, James chimed in, “They are just a bunch of people who are working together good. They’re doing a great job and have saved me a lot of work.”

The employees are also involved in events and charities facilitated by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, Toys-for-Tots and local food drives.

Watch for these ten things when assessing school safety

WP_7329_590x332Safe School Week (October 19-25) is a time for schools to take stock of their security practices. Consequently, Allegion, a supplier of security products and solutions, has released a list of ten things that might actually put students and staff at greater risk of harm:

  1. Door hardware that forces an individual to step out of the room to lock the door, exposing that person to the intruder or conflict in the hallway.
  2. Hardware with “unrestricted ability” to lock or unlock the door. This lets anyone – including students – take control of an opening.
  3. Magnets or tape on the door to prevent latching. Not only is this a code violation if the door is fire-rated but, in lockdowns, one wants the door to latch without having to open the door first.
  4. School doors that don’t automatically close or can be left propped open, potentially preventing them from being in a ready position during an emergency lockdown.
  5. Security devices that are not permanently attached to the door, requiring staff to locate and attach the device in the midst of a lockdown emergency where seconds count and physical and emotional stress is extreme.
  6. Hardware that slows or prevents egress during an emergency situation.
  7. Devices which attach to the door closer arm to prevent the door from being opened. This is a violation of the egress codes.
  8. Floor bolts or other devices that obstruct the door and don’t let it close.
  9. Anything that prohibits entrance or restricts the normal function of the door hardware by emergency responders.
  10. Any option that might be accessed or used by an unauthorized person acting with ill-intent. This could be a student, visitor or another staff member.

Allegion offers a free school security assessment that can help school administrators find avenues to fund door hardware upgrades that will provide the right type of security. For more information about how to improve school security or the free safety assessment, visit the company’s website.

Nominations for Beyond Green™ Awards Now Open

Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at Sun, Aug 31 - 10.43AMThe National Institute of Building Sciences Sustainable Buildings Industry Council (SBIC) has incorporated resilience into its 2014 Beyond Green™ High-Performance Building and Community Awards. The awards program, which issued its 2014 Call for Entries today, highlights those initiatives that shape, inform and catalyze the high-performance planning, design, construction and operations processes. This year, for the first time, buildings and communities can be recognized for their contributions to building and community level resilience.

The Beyond Green™ Awards recognize buildings, initiatives and innovations that best exemplify the eight design objectives of a high-performance building: sustainability, accessibility, aesthetics, cost-effectiveness, functionality, productivity, historical sensitivity, and safety and security. Resilience falls within the ‘safety and security’ attribute, which promotes designing and constructing buildings that resist natural and man-made hazards.

Award categories include: High-Performance Buildings; High-Performance Attributes and Systems; High-Performance Initiatives; and Innovations for High-Performance Buildings and Communities; as well as the Greg Franta Memorial Award for an individual’s outstanding contributions to high-performance, sustainable building design and construction.

Once selected, the winners of the Beyond Green™ High-Performance Building & Community Awards will be invited to present their projects and receive their awards at a special Beyond Green™ Awards Luncheon, to be held during Building Innovation 2015: The National Institute of Building Sciences Third Annual Conference and Expo, the week of January 6-9, 2015. The awards presentation gives winners an opportunity to share directly with leaders in the building community, highlighting the challenges and opportunities they faced while delivering high-performance buildings.

Winning projects will be published on the WBDG Whole Building Design Guide® website. Additional recognition will include an announcement in the Institute’s newsletter, a plaque, posting of the case study on the SBIC website and potential inclusion in future SBIC technical guidelines and publications.

The deadline to apply for the 2014 Beyond Green™ Awards is Friday, October 31, 2014, at 5:00 p.m. EDT. Take this opportunity to recognize a deserving high-performance project, particularly one that addresses resilience. The application process is now available online. Submit an entry today!

New ‘intelligent agents’ lab to help improve building energy efficiency

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is converting one of its laboratories into the equivalent of a small office building—not because of an increase in administrative overhead, but to develop and test smart software technologies designed to slash energy use in commercial buildings.

Architectural drawing of the new NIST 'intelligent agents' lab for more efficient building control systems. Credit: Kikkeri/NIST

Architectural drawing of the new NIST ‘intelligent agents’ lab for more efficient building control systems.
Credit: Kikkeri/NIST

From schools and hospitals to stores, offices and banks, commercial buildings account for a growing share of U.S. energy use—about 19 percent of the total and a third of electric power consumption.* More than four-fifths of this energy is consumed after construction by heating, cooling, lighting, powering plug-in equipment and other operations. By one estimate, day-to-day energy expenses make up 32 percent of a building’s total cost over its lifetime.**

NIST figures that these energy-eating operations can be accomplished far more efficiently and frugally with existing equipment by more intelligently coordinating their use. At the mock office building now under construction in a standard 1,000 square foot (93 square meters) modular lab space, NIST researchers will put this assertion to the test. There, they and their collaborators will investigate whether artificial intelligence tools already used in search engines, robots, routing and scheduling programs, and other technologies can work cooperatively to optimize building performance—from minimizing energy use to maximizing comfort to ensuring safety and security.

“Adapting intelligent agent technologies from other fields offers the promise of significant improvements in building operations,” explains Amanda Pertzborn, a mechanical engineer working in NIST’s Embedded Intelligence in Buildings Program. “The idea is a kind of ‘one for all approach’—use networked intelligent agents to manage and control devices and equipment subsystems to enhance the overall performance of a building rather than to optimize the operation of each component independently of all the others.”

Intelligent agents are combinations of software and hardware—sensors, mechanical devices and computing technologies—that perceive their environment, make decisions and take actions in response. They can monitor, communicate, collaborate and even learn, predict and adapt.

The energy-saving potential of this smart technology will grow with the evolution of the “smart grid” and its two-way communication capabilities, Pertzborn says. So, for example, cooperating teams of intelligent agents can parse time-of-day pricing, weather forecasts, availability of renewable energy supplies, and occupancy patterns to adjust individual equipment and systems to achieve optimal overall performance.

NIST’s simulated office building will serve as a proving ground for assessing whether intelligent agents dispersed among a structure’s multitudes of devices and subsystems can achieve this unity of purpose and work in concert. Prototypes will be tested on the most energy-intensive of building operations: heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC). So-called HVAC systems in commercial buildings account for about 7 percent of total U.S. energy consumption.***

Modern HVAC systems consist of thousands of devices from local dampers, heaters, thermostats and fans to boilers, air handling units, chillers and cooling towers. When a building’s HVAC system is first installed and tested, this vast assortment of components can be tuned so that the system starts out performing at peak efficiency. Over time, however, efficiency tends to degrade from the optimum and energy use patterns of occupants change, requiring retesting and retuning the system. Intelligent agents distributed throughout a HVAC system would enable continuous tweaking to orchestrate the operation of all components so as to maintain peak performance and efficiency throughout the building’s lifetime.

Using a real building HVAC system under controlled laboratory conditions will enable meaningful comparisons of prototype intelligent agents, Pertzborn explains. Scheduled to be completed in the fall, this building-in-a-lab will consist of four zones serviced by two chillers, three air-handling units, four variable air volume units to control air flow and one ice storage tank, plus pumps, heat exchangers and other equipment.

* U.S. Department of Energy, Buildings Energy Data Book, http://buildingsdatabook.eren.doe.gov/ChapterIntro1.aspx.

** Siemens, Integrated Building Optimization: A Crucial Convergence of Demand-side and Supply-side Energy Management Strategies, 2014.

*** J. Shonder, “Fact Sheets on HVAC Measures,” www.pertan.com/ORNL_govenergy/Shonders_HVAC.pdf

NCARB proposal would shorten time it takes foreign architects to become certified

ncarb-logoThe National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) recently proposed an overhaul of the Broadly Experienced Architect (BEA) and Broadly Experienced Foreign Architect (BEFA) Programs. The proposals would maintain appropriate rigor in the programs while significantly reducing completion time. These changes will optimize the process for U.S. and foreign architects who do not currently meet the requirements to earn NCARB certification for reciprocal licensure.

Currently, the BEA process allows architects without a degree from a National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) accredited program to earn the NCARB Certificate by proving they have six to 10 years of licensed practice in responsible control. In addition, they must have their education evaluated by the NAAB to define education deficiencies. Architects prepare a dossier to demonstrate, post-licensure, how they learned through experience to overcome identified education deficiencies. Then, their dossier is reviewed by NCARB’s BEA Committee.

The proposed change would remove those steps, and instead would ensure that the applicant has completed a state board’s education and experience requirements, passed the Architect Registration Examination (ARE), and practiced for one year. This proposal acknowledges that architects without an accredited degree are required by their original licensing jurisdiction to complete more rigorous experience requirements prior to initial licensure. The streamlining of the submittal process also ensures an objective rather than subjective review.

The BEFA process is in place for architects with a foreign license seeking NCARB certification to facilitate U.S. licensure. It currently requires establishment of an NCARB Record, at least seven years of licensed practice in the foreign country, preparation of a dossier to demonstrate experience in the areas tested in the ARE, and an in-person interview.

The proposal for consideration would remove these steps and instead would require an applicant to establish an NCARB Record, successfully complete the ARE, and document two years of experience either in the applicant’s home country or in the United States after licensure as well as have recognized education and licensing credentials. These changes preserve some of the threshold requirements currently in place, while acknowledging work experience in the United States and requiring passage of the ARE. The addition of the ARE requirement provides assurance as to familiarity with U.S. codes and facility with the English language.

The proposals will be distributed to NCARB’s 54 member jurisdictions for a special comment period. Member Board, collateral, and stakeholder feedback will be used to inform discussions by the Board of Directors in September and December. Depending on the feedback, the Board may move the proposals forward for a vote by the state boards at the next Annual Business Meeting in June 2015.

NCARB’s leading indicators show signs of a thriving architectural profession

ncarb-logoAmong the major findings of NCARB by the Numbers, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards’ annual report on architectural licensing are that architects are getting licensed at the youngest median age in a decade and that the number of women applying for architect credentials is growing.

A major finding in this year’s report is that the median age of people at initial licensure is at a 10 year low. This means architects are getting licensed at a younger age.

The report also indicates an increase since 2011 in the number of women applying for NCARB Records. The percentage of women applying for NCARB Records continues to hold around 40 percent—a marked increase from 10 percent in the early 1990s.

To receive a copy of NCARB by the Numbers, please contact Sandy Vasan, Director of Marketing & Communications for NCARB, at svasan@ncarb.org.