AGC to build equestrian center for Horses 4 Heroes

agc-charitiesConstruction charity organization AGC Charities, Inc. announced today that it will build a new equestrian center for a local charity group that provides equestrian programs and activities for veterans, their families and local first responders. As part of its annual Operation Opening Doors effort, contractors will donate their time, expertise and money to create a new facility for Horses 4 Heroes.

Since its establishment in 2006, Horses 4 Heroes has been operating out of the back yard of the woman who founded the group, Sydney Knott. But thanks to AGC Charities, Inc. and the help of many member firms, the group has received permission from Las Vegas to build a new facility at the historic Tulley Springs Ranch on the northern end of town.

Las Vegas-based Martin-Harris Construction has volunteered to serve as the lead contractor for the charitable effort. The AGC of Las Vegas has also committed to recruiting many of its members to participate in the effort. The new facility will have an area for farm animals, riding arena and Mare Motel, as well as new fencing. In addition, the team will renovate one of the Ranch’s old cottages into a residence for the horse caretaker and perform significant site-prep work. The facility is scheduled to open on Thursday, March 6.

Clemens said the AGC Charities group is currently fundraising to support the soon-to-be renovated facility. He noted that the charitable group was established six years ago to channel and support the charitable efforts of the construction community. He added that the group held previous national Operation Opening Doors projects in Washington, D.C., Honolulu, Orlando and Palm Springs.

Click here for more information about Horses 4 Heroes, AGC Charities, Inc. and its Operation Opening Doors projects.

LVDC guidelines now available for comment

nibsThe National Institute of Building Sciences Low Vision Design Committee (LVDC) has released a draft of Design Guidelines for the Visual Environment for public review and comment. The 60-day review period closes April 4.

The first of its kind in the United States, the Guidelines will provide assistance to design professionals and others in accommodating a growing segment of the population who live with the spectrum of vision disorders contributing to low vision. All stakeholders are invited to provide comments on the document.

The Guidelines address planning and design of a building and facility site, including features used to access the building or facility, such as walkways and pathways, stairs and ramps; interior spaces, including finish materials and fixed and moveable furniture; and lighting design, including the use of daylighting and electrical lighting. It contains chapters on general design principles; site and landscape design; and architecture, interior and lighting design.

“Through the Institute’s process of public review, the Low Vision Design Committee expects to be able to refine the Design Guidelines for the Visual Environment before its official public release for use by designers,” said James E. Woods, PhD, PE, the committee’s chairperson. “We encourage everyone to make comments, suggestions and edits to the draft. We also hope that reviewers will be able to contribute supporting information, such as published data, to help us validate the accuracy of the content.”

The Guidelines were developed by the LVDC with generous support from the Hulda B. and Maurice Rothschild Foundation and the James H. McClung Lighting Research Foundation.

Persons interested in reviewing the Guidelines can obtain a copy on the Institute’s website. Please submit comments by using the “Track Changes” function in Word, marking up the draft or providing other written forms of comments to Stephanie Stubbs on or before April 4, 2014.

Download the Guidelines.

DOE awards PPG $2.1 million to help automate PV manufacturing

ppgThe U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded PPG Industries’ industrial coatings business $2.1 million award to help design and pilot a rapid photovoltaic (PV) module assembly process that uses automation to eliminate time and labor from the current assembly process.

PPG will use the funding, delivered through the DOE’s SunShot Initiative, to develop liquid encapsulants that will enable PV modules to be manufactured without the need for capital-intensive laminators. PPG will match each dollar committed by the DOE, resulting in a total public-private investment of approximately $4.3 million in the project.

PPG is partnering with Flextronics International, Inc., a leading global solar module manufacturer, to design and test a pilot line at Flextronics’ Milpitas, Calif., facility that will produce 60- and 72-cell modules. PPG and Flextronics expect to increase module throughput by a factor of four at half the capital expense of the existing process.

The SunShot Initiative, which is funded through the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), seeks to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by the end of the decade. The PPG award is part of a $13 million investment in five projects to strengthen domestic solar manufacturing and speed commercialization of efficient, affordable PV and concentrating solar power technologies.

Collaboration key to vacuum-insulated curtainwall construction

In an effort to provide better-performing building envelopes, a collaborative effort has led to the first successful testing of a vacuum-insulated high-performance thermal curtainwall system. Working closely with Dow Corning Corporation and Guardian Industries Corp., BISEM-USA recently completed independent testing of the BISEM Vacuum Wall system.

This is the first structurally glazed unitized curtainwall in North America using vacuum insulation technology to undergo industry-recognized and accepted independent performance testing for air and water resistance, and structural, seismic and thermal performance. The system was tested in accordance with AAMA 501, as published by the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA). Completion of the commercial testing provides the proof necessary to ensure that architects can specify this solution with confidence.

The collaboration began when Dow Corning Sales Representative Chris Combs introduced the new Dow Corning Architectural Insulation Module – featuring Dow Corning Vacuum Insulation Panel (VIP) technology – to Bagatelos, an accomplished curtainwall assembler and integrator and longtime user of Dow Corning brand products. Bagatelos immediately saw the potential.

With the Dow Corning insulation technology selected for the wall spandrel, Bagatelos looked to Guardian Industries for suitable complementary vision glass options. Guardian Industries – one of the world’s largest manufacturers of float, coated and fabricated glass for the commercial, residential and automotive markets – developed a prototype for the system that combined its vacuum-insulated glass product with SunGuard SuperNeutral 68 Low-E glass coating to meet the challenging requirements of commercial high-performance wall installations. While the vacuum-insulated glass product is currently under development, Guardian has plans to commercialize it in the future.

With the latest technologies from Dow Corning and Guardian, BISEM developed the new curtainwall with a system approach, providing outstanding thermal performance and also meeting industry established performance criteria for air and water resistance, and structural and seismic performance.

The BISEM Vacuum Wall system brings together the Dow Corning and Guardian products, along with frame, gasketing and thermal break. It features removable rigid components with good thermal properties. The test chamber walls also utilized Dow Corning DefendAir 200 liquid-applied silicone air and weather barrier on wall substrates, along with the Dow Corning Silicone Transition System to ensure a weathertight transition between the curtainwall and the surrounding chamber wall substrates, allowing the test specimen to be readily isolated.

BISEM contracted with an independent testing facility, Architectural Testing, Inc., to conduct performance testing on the BISEM Vacuum Wall system mockup. Actual structural tests and validated thermal modeling confirmed that the curtainwall would remain in place on the building for both specifically prescribed and overload conditions, without over deflecting, while also providing a complete envelope that defends against air and water infiltration and can meet stringent thermal performance goals.

According to Chris Dolan, director of commercial glass marketing for Guardian Industries, collaboratively designing and testing with technologies backed by proven, warranted performance led to a fully integrated solution. Successful completion of this high-performance curtainwall is a testament to the potential for energy-efficient façades and glass systems – and the potential of collaborative projects.

Generate BIM files for any glass configuration

ppgPPG Industries is trying to make designing with glass easier for architects. It has created a new library of building information and modeling (BIM) files and enhanced PPG Glass eVIEW, its suite of Web-based design tools to allow architects and designers to generate custom BIM files for any conceivable PPG glass configuration.

The BIM library, which is hosted on third-party specification sites such sweets.com and Autodesk Seek, contains downloadable REVIT(R) architectural files with colors and specification data for more than 170 commonly specified PPG glass configurations.

Architects and specifiers can use the files to configure customized monolithic or multi-pane insulating glass units (IGUs) combining PPG clear and tinted glasses with SOLARBAN(R) solar control, low-emissivity (low-e) glasses; SUNGATE(R) passive low-e glasses; or STARPHIRE(R) ultra-clear glass.

For energy modeling, the files can be individually imported into modeled buildings using Revit file parameters such as ultraviolet (UV) light transmittance, visible light transmittance (VLT), solar heat gain coefficients (SHGCs) and U-values. PPG glass configurations also can be modeled with other building materials and components to forecast the complete aesthetic and functional characteristics of buildings using three-dimensional (3-D) modeling and two-dimensional (2-D) drafting tools.

For more information, visit the PPG Ideascapes website or call 1-888-PPG-IDEA (774-4332).

Construction firms expect demand to grow in 2014

Associated General Contractors of AmericaMany firms plan to start hiring again and most contractors predict demand will either grow or remain stable in virtually every market segment this year according to a survey by the Associated General Contractors of America. The survey, conducted as part of Optimism Returns: The 2014 Construction Industry Hiring and Business Outlook, provides a generally upbeat outlook for the year even as firms worry about growing worker shortages, rising costs and the impact of new regulations and federal budget cutting.

Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer noted that many firms plan to begin hiring again, while relatively few plan to start making layoffs. Forty-one percent of firms that did not change staff levels last year report they plan to start expanding payrolls in 2014, while only two percent plan to start making layoffs. However, net hiring is likely to be relatively modest, with 86 percent of firms reporting they plan to hire 25 or fewer new employees this year.

Among the 19 states with large enough survey sample sizes, 100 percent of firms that did not change staffing levels last year in Utah plan to start hiring new staff this year, more than in any other state. (Click here for state-by-state survey results.)

Contractors have a relatively positive outlook for virtually all 11 market segments covered in the Outlook, in particular for private-sector segments. For five of those segments, at least 40 percent of respondents expect the market to expand and fewer than 20 percent expect the market to decline in 2014. The difference between the optimists and pessimists – the net positive reading – is a strong 28 percent for private office, manufacturing and the combined retail/warehouse/lodging segments, and 25 percent for power and hospital/higher education construction.

Among public sector segments, contractors are more optimistic about demand for new water and sewer construction, with a net positive of 17 percent. Contractors are mildly optimistic about the market for highway construction, with a net positive of 10 percent. Respondents are almost equally divided regarding the outlook for the other four segments, ranging from net positives of 5 percent for public buildings, 4 percent for schools, 3 percent for transportation facilities other than highways, to a negative of 2 percent for marine construction.

Sandherr added that contractors’ market expectations are significantly more optimistic than they were at this time last year. At that time, more contractors expected demand for highway, other transportation, public building, retail, warehouse and lodging, K-12 schools and private officers to shrink than expected it to grow.

Many contractors also report they plan to add new construction equipment in 2014. Seventy-three percent of firms plans to purchase construction equipment and 86 percent report they plan to lease it this year. The scope of those investments is likely to be somewhat limited, however. Forty-four percent of firms say they will invest $250,000 or less in equipment purchases and 53 percent say they will invest that amount or less for new equipment leases.

One reason firms may be more optimistic, association officials noted, is that credit conditions appear to have improved. Only 9 percent of firms report having a harder time getting bank loans, down from 13 percent in last year’s survey. And only 32 percent report customers’ projects were delayed or canceled because of tight credit conditions, compared with 40 percent a year ago.

Ninety percent of construction firms report they expect prices for key construction materials to increase in 2014. Most, however, expect those increases will be relatively modest, with 43 percent reporting they expect the increases to range between 1 and 5 percent. Meanwhile, 82 percent of firms report they expect the cost of providing health care insurance for their employees will increase in 2014. Despite that, only 1 percent of firms report they plan to reduce the amount of health care coverage they provide.

Simonson noted that as firms continue to slowly expand their payrolls, they were likely to have a harder time finding enough skilled construction workers. Already, 62 percent of responding firms report having a difficult time filling key professional and craft worker positions. And two-thirds of firms expect it will either become harder or remain as difficult to fill professional positions and 74 percent say it will get harder, or remain as hard, to fill craft worker positions.

Those worker shortages are already having an impact, the economist added. Fifty-two percent of firms report they are losing construction professionals to other firms or industries and 55 percent report they are losing craft workers. As a result, a majority of firms report they have improved pay and benefits to help retain qualified staff. One reason they are likely worried is that nearly half of the firms believe training programs for new craft workers are poor or below average.

Adding to their challenges, 51 percent of contractors report that demand for their services is being negatively impacted by federal funding cuts, new federal regulations and/or Washington’s inability to set an annual budget. “It would appear that Washington is not here to help as far as contractors are concerned,” Simonson noted.

Association officials added that survey respondents would prefer that Washington officials work on other priorities. Seventy-seven percent of firms reported listed having Washington find ways to make it easier to prepare the next generation of skilled workers as a top priority. Sixty-three percent listed repealing all or part of the Affordable Care Act as a top priority. And 63 listed renewing tax deductions and bonus depreciation for construction equipment as a top priority.

The Outlook was based on survey results from over 800 construction firms from every state and the District of Columbia. Varying numbers responded to each question. Contractors of every size answered over 40 questions about their hiring, equipment purchasing and business plans. Click here for Optimism Returns: The 2014 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook report. Click here for the survey results.

Port Canaveral’s Exploration Tower features color-changing, iridescent exterior

The Exploration Tower is a symbol of Port Canaveral's revitalization.

Exploration Tower is a symbol of Port Canaveral’s revitalization.

Exploration Tower at Port Canaveral beckons visitors with its unique appearance as its color changes in different light and at different angle. Opened in November 2013, the Port’s iconic welcome center showcases the first use of Valspar’s new Kameleon Color mica coating as spray-applied to Firestone Metal Products’ UNA-CLAD metal wall panels by Linetec.

An integral part of Florida’s Space Coast and Canaveral Cove’s revitalization, Exploration Tower is owned by Canaveral Port Authority. Its opening coincided with the Port’s 60th anniversary of its establishment and the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s landing on Florida’s east coast.

Taking its cues from the shapes and hues of the port, GWWO Inc./Architects designed the $23 million, seven-story, sail-shaped structure to express the common characteristics of “transience, function and imagery.” The building’s southern elevation soars from the water to the sky. It narrows in scale and reduces its exterior coverage until only the steel frame remains to outline the curvature and comes together at a peak 60-feet above the main roof level.

Kenpat USA was the subcontractor responsible for the exterior metal façades and wall system. Working closely with Kenpat, Firestone engineered and fabricated the façade’s metal panel system. Radius Track Corporation fabricated the curved structural faming and provided the 3-D building information modeling (BIM) to coordinate the connection points for each panel in the building’s parabolic curve. In total, Kenpat installed 42 pre-fabricated structural panelized units as sub-structure for the cladding, with the largest being 36 feet by 10 feet.

The Blue Pearl II color-changing paint captures the revitalization of Port Canaveral. Along with its unique appearance, the finish must withstand Florida’s hurricane wind speeds, unrelenting sun and salt spray. For enhanced durability, Linetec also applied a clear coat over the Blue Pearl II paint.

New construction starts up 5% in December, 6% for 2013

New construction starts in December grew 5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $554.5 billion, according to McGraw Hill Construction, a division of McGraw Hill Financial.  Although both nonresidential building and housing settled back during the final month of 2013, the nonbuilding construction sector (public works and electric utilities) finished the year on a strong note. For 2013 as a whole, total construction starts advanced 6% to $516.8 billion.  This follows the 10% gain reported for 2012 (which drew support from a record amount of new electric utility starts that year) and modest 2% gains in both 2010 and 2011.  If the volatile electric utility category is excluded, total construction starts in 2013 would be up 14%, following a 9% gain in 2012 and essentially flat activity during 2010 and 2011.

MCGRAW HILL CONSTRUCTION INFOThe December statistics produced a reading of 117 for the Dodge Index (2000=100), compared to 111 in November.  This marked the third highest month for the Dodge Index during 2013, after September’s 118 and October’s 125.  During the first eight months of the year, the Dodge Index had hovered within the fairly narrow range of 100 to 108, but then showed a stronger pace of activity during the final four months, reflecting in part the impact of several very large projects.  In December, large projects that were entered as construction starts included the $1.5 billion Goethals Bridge replacement project in New York and New Jersey, two large natural gas-fired power plants, and two large manufacturing plants.  For all of 2013, the Dodge Index averaged 109, up from 103 in 2012.

Nonresidential building in December slipped 7% to $168.6 billion (annual rate), pulling back for the second month in a row after its elevated pace in October, although its fourth quarter average was still 17% above what was reported in the first quarter.  Several commercial categories in December paused from the improved activity registered earlier in the fall.  New office construction dropped 44% from November which had been lifted by the start of such projects as the $336 million Transbay office tower in San Francisco CA; in contrast, the largest office projects entered as December starts were an $80 million office complex in Cary NC and a $73 million data center in West Des Moines IA.  Similar December declines were registered by hotels, down 42%; and warehouses, down 46%; although the latest month did include the start of an $88 million Amazon distribution center in Windsor CT.  Store construction, which was the one commercial category that did not post a November gain, managed to increase 6% in December.  The December pause for nonresidential building was cushioned by a sharp 110% jump for manufacturing buildings, which reflected the start of two massive chemical plants in Louisiana, each valued at $500 million.

The institutional building categories in December were mixed.  Educational facilities grew 5%, helped by the start of a $213 medical research building in Boston MA and a $151 million college science building in Chicago IL.  Healthcare facilities in December jumped 30% from the prior month’s subdued amount, and featured groundbreaking for an $80 million hospital in Virginia and a $70 million cancer center in Wisconsin.  The smaller institutional categories generally weakened in December, with public buildings (courthouses and detention facilities) down 32%; churches, down 44%; and amusement-related work, down 46% (compared to the previous month which included the $763 million Vikings Multipurpose Stadium in Minneapolis MN).  The transportation terminal category retreated a slight 1% in December, and included the start of a $230 million terminal renovation project at Los Angeles International Airport.

For 2013 as a whole, nonresidential building increased 7% to $168.6 billion, shifting to an upward direction after the 5% decline reported for 2012.  The commercial categories overall advanced 16%, faster than the 13% gain witnessed in 2012.  The strongest gain by commercial category was registered by hotels, up 28%; followed by warehouses, up 27%; office buildings, up 17%; and stores, up 1%.  The small 2013 increase for stores was limited by the comparison to 2012 that included the $400 million renovation to Macy’s flagship department store in New York NY.  The manufacturing building category in 2013 surged 36%, helped by the two large chemical plants in Louisiana reported as December starts as well as by such projects as a $1.7 billion fertilizer plant in Iowa, a $1.7 billion natural gas processing plant in West Virginia, and a $1.5 billion industrial gas products plant in Louisiana.  The institutional building group during 2013 decreased 3%, less severe than declines of 9% in 2012 and 11% in 2011.  The two largest institutional categories performed as follows – educational buildings, down 1%; and healthcare facilities, down 6%.  The smaller institutional categories showed this pattern for 2013 – amusement-related work, up 25%; transportation terminals, down 2%; churches down 11%; and public buildings, down 27%.

Residential building in December dropped 6% to $205.3 billion (annual rate), with both sides of the housing market easing back.  Single family housing slipped 3%, as recent months have shown more of an up-and-down pattern after the consistently steady gains witnessed earlier in the year.  When viewed on a quarterly basis, single family housing still registered consistent growth during 2013, with the fourth quarter up 8% compared to the first quarter.  Multifamily housing in December retreated 13% after November’s increase of the same magnitude.  December’s largest multifamily projects were smaller in scale than what had been reported in the previous month, but still included such substantial entries as a $159 million apartment building in Sunny Isles Beach FL, a $128 million condominium tower in Honolulu HI, and a $127 million apartment building in Brooklyn NY.

The 2013 amount for residential building was $205.5 billion, up 24%, and close to the 31% gain reported for 2012.  Single family housing in dollar terms climbed 26%, similar to the prior year’s 29% hike.  The regional pattern for single family housing in 2013 showed increases for all five major regions, as follows – the South Atlantic, up 33%; the Midwest, up 27%; the West and Northeast, each up 26%; and the South Central, up 18%.  Multifamily housing in 2013 advanced 16%, showing additional growth on top of the increases in 2010 (up 23%), 2011 (up 33%), and 2012 (up 37%).  By major region, multifamily housing revealed this performance in 2013 – the Midwest, up 26%; the Northeast, up 24%; the South Atlantic, up 21%; the West, up 13%; and the South Central, down 6%.  The top five metropolitan areas in terms of the 2013 dollar amount of multifamily starts, with the percent change from 2012, were – New York NY, up 23%; Boston MA, up 74%; Washington DC, unchanged from the prior year; Miami FL, up 12%; and Los Angeles CA, down 24%.  Metropolitan areas ranked 6 through 10 for multifamily starts were – Dallas-Ft. Worth TX, down 6%; Chicago IL, up 52%; Seattle WA, unchanged from the prior year, San Francisco CA, up 12%; and Denver CO, up 17%.

Nonbuilding construction in December soared 40% to $180.6 billion (annual rate), which was the highest monthly rate during 2013.  Bridge construction jumped 210%, boosted by the $1.5 billion Goethals Bridge replacement project in Staten Island NY and Elizabeth NJ.  Other large bridge projects that were entered as December starts were $380 million for bridge construction in Stillwater MN and $297 million for bridge construction on the I-35W reconstruction project in Texas.  The highway construction category also had a

Strong December, rising 19% with the help of $693 million allocated to highway work on the I-35W project in Texas.  River/harbor development in December rose 21%, supported by the start of a $290 million seawall replacement project in Seattle WA.   Sewer construction in December increased a moderate 6%, while water supply construction fell 6%.  The miscellaneous public works category (which includes such diverse project types as pipelines, mass transit, and outdoor sports stadiums) dropped 14% in December, although it did include a $425 million stadium renovation project for Texas A&M University in College Station TX.  The electric utility category in December departed from its generally downward trend during 2013, rising 127%.  Large power plant projects included as December construction starts were two natural gas-fired plants located in New Jersey ($842 million) and Pennsylvania ($800 million), as well as three wind power facilities located in Texas ($300 million and $200 million) and Oklahoma ($225 million).

For the full year 2013, nonbuilding construction dropped 12% to $142.7 billion.  After achieving a record high in current dollar terms in 2012, new electric utility starts plunged 57% in 2013.  In contrast, the public works portion of nonbuilding construction increased 9% in 2013, a resilient performance given concerns that tight government budgets would dampen activity.  Of the public works project types, bridge construction showed the largest percentage gain, climbing 55%.  Aside from what was entered into the December construction start figures, large bridge projects in 2013 included the $3.1 billion Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project across the Hudson River in New York and $1.6 billion for work on the Ohio River Bridges in the Louisville KY and southern Indiana area.  With highway construction up 10% in 2013, highway and bridge construction together registered a 21% gain for the full year.  The top five states for highway and bridge construction in 2013, ranked by the dollar volume of activity, were – Texas, New York, California, New Jersey, and Virginia.  The environmental public works categories posted annual gains for 2013, as follows – river/harbor development, up 30%; water supply systems, up 10%; and sewers, up 1%.  The miscellaneous public works category fell back 18% in 2013, following a 61% increase in 2012, due primarily to a sharply reduced amount of new petroleum and natural gas pipeline starts.

The 6% gain for total construction starts at the national level in 2013 was the result of gains in four of the five major regions.  Showing the strongest growth was the Northeast, up 17%; followed by the Midwest, up 9%; the West, up 8%; and the South Central, up 3%.  The South Atlantic was the one major region to experience a decline in 2013, dropping 3%.  The South Atlantic’s shortfall reflected the comparison to 2012 that included the start of two massive nuclear facilities, located in Georgia and South Carolina.  If electric utilities are excluded from the construction start statistics in the South Atlantic, then total construction for that region in 2013 would be up 19%.

 

MONTHLY CONSTRUCTION STARTS

December 2013 November 2013 % Change
Nonresidential Building $168,562 $180,635 -7
Residential Building $205,288 $217,568 -6
Nonbuilding Construction $180,636 $128,600 +40
Total Construction $554,486 $526,803 +5

 

THE DODGE INDEX (Year 2000=100, Seasonally Adjusted)

  • December 2013….117
  • November 2013…..111

 

YEAR-TO-DATE CONSTRUCTION STARTS

12 Mos. 2012 % Change
Nonresidential Building $168,614 $158,122 +7
Residential Building $205,493 $166,159 +24
Nonbuilding Construction $142,695 $162,823 -12
Total Construction $516,802 $487,204 +6

SBIC Recognizes High-Performance Building Leaders

nibs

The National Institute of Building Sciences’ Sustainable Buildings Industry Council (SBIC) recognized the 2013 Beyond Green™ High-Performance Building Awards winners at Building Innovation 2014: The National Institute of Building Sciences Annual Conference and Expo.

The SBIC Jury selected six winners ranging across four categories. Each of the six award-winning projects, products, initiatives and innovations demonstrate leadership in advancing the production of high-performance buildings.

The top prize in the High-Performance Buildings Category went to DPR Construction’s Phoenix Regional Office. During this project, the team transformed an abandoned, distressed building in a redeveloping community of Phoenix into a modern sustainable facility that achieves net-zero energy use. Their efforts earned the building an Honor Award, First Place.

In the High-Performance Products Category, SageGlass earned an Honor Award, First Place. The electrochromic or electronically tint-able, dynamic glass provides architects, building owners, glazing contractors and homeowners with an energy-efficient glazing solution that controls the sun without blocking the view to the outdoors.

RDH Building Engineering’s Enclosure Renewal approach, which lowers a building’s energy consumption at low incremental capital cost, earned it recognition as an Honor Award, First Place recipient in the Innovations for High-Performance Buildings Category.

The SBIC Jury also recognized three Merit Award winners. In the High-Performance Buildings Category, a Merit Award went to Chemeketa Community College, Salem, Oregon for its new Health Sciences Complex.

Construction employment declines by 16,000, but unemployment rate also declines

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

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

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

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

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