SBIC Recognizes High-Performance Building Leaders

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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.

Ten mold inspection steps before buying a commercial building

Mold consultant Phillip Fry has published a list of ten mold inspection steps that need to be taken to protect a real estate buyer:

  1. A careful physical, visual inspection of the roof, attic, all interior rooms, garage, basement, crawl space, and the heating/cooling system to find evidence of building defects, maintenance problems, water intrusion, water damage, and mold growth. Such a thorough inspection will take at least one to two hours or more to be thorough and complete.
  2. During the physical inspection, the mold inspector or environmental hygienist should use a professional moisture meter to scan the entire surface of basement walls and the walls and floors of rooms containing plumbing such as the kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry room.
  3. All furniture and appliances should be inspected for water damage and mold growth on all surfaces, including the backside and bottom.
  4. All drapery, rugs, and carpeting need to be carefully inspected for water damage and mold growth. The inspector should do at least one carpeting mold test to submit for mold lab analysis.
  5. The relative humidity of each room and area of the house (including the attic, basement, crawl space, and garage) should be checked with a hygrometer and recorded in the inspector’s notes. If the relative humidity in a room or area exceeds 70% some or all of the time, such high humidity alone is sufficient to drive big-time mold growth.
  6. The insides of each heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) air supply duct should be carefully inspected for accumulated dirt and mold growth.
  7. The outward air flow from at least one HVAC air supply should be mold tested (while the system is running on fan ventilation) for five minutes with an air pump and Air-O-Cell or other appropriate testing media, with a pump air flow rate of 15 cubic liters per minute, for a total air sampling of 75 cubic liters (5 minutes multiplied by 15 cubic liters per minute). This HVAC air sample will then be sent to an accredited mold lab for mold species identification and quantification. If a residence or building has more than one HVAC system, test at least one air supply duct register in each separate system. If a building has a serious mold problem, there is often the presence of elevated levels of airborne mold spores in the HVAC system, which often itself is a location and source for toxic mold growth.
  8. The room air in each of at least three important rooms (such as living room and bedrooms) should be mold tested in the same way previously explained for testing HVAC outward air flow.
  9. If there is any visible mold growth, an actual physical (“bulk”) sample of that mold growth should be collected for mold lab analysis or mold growth colonies should be taken from the moldy areas with such techniques as Scotch tape lift sampling, sterile swabs, and microscopic slide surface sampling.
  10. Surface sampling mold tests should be done to collect landed/deposited mold spores for lab analysis from out of the way places such as the top side of ceiling fans, top side of kitchen cabinets, and the top side of door and window trim that are rarely cleaned. Surface sampling often gives a more realistic insight into the degree of mold infestation than air sampling. The inspector should do both surface sampling and air testing for comprehensive mold testing.

According to Fry, following these steps should help you avoid buying a commercial building that has significant, hidden toxic mold growth inside walls, ceilings, floors, attic, basement, crawl space, and heating/cooling equipment and ducts.

Construction spending increase by 5.9% between November 2013 and 2013

Associated General Contractors of AmericaTotal construction spending increased between October and November and for the year amid growing private-sector demand, according to an analysis of new Census Bureau data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted, however, that the spending levels were held back by declining public sector investments for both the month and the year.

Construction put in place totaled $934 billion in November, rising 1.0 percent since October and up 5.9 percent since November 2012. Private residential construction spending increased by 1.9 percent in November and jumped 17 percent from a year earlier. Private nonresidential spending climbed 2.7 percent for the month and 1.0 percent year-over-year. Public construction spending dropped 1.8 percent for the month and 0.2 percent over 12 months.

Over the past 12 months, the biggest jump in construction spending has occurred in new multifamily construction, which rose 0.9 percent for the month and 36 percent year-over-year. The lodging sector recorded the second highest annual gain, with spending rising 32.7 percent for the year and 0.3 percent for the month. Spending on communications facilities experienced the largest monthly increase, jumping 11.2 percent in November, although it is still down 10.5 percent for the year.

The largest private nonresidential category, power construction—which includes oil and gas field and pipeline projects as well as power plants, renewable power and transmission lines—increased by 3.3 percent in November but is actually down 24.2 percent for the year. The analysis noted, however, that there was a surge in power construction during the last quarter of 2012 as contractors rushed to finish wind projects before the expected expiration of the wind production tax credit at the end of 2012. Those credits were extended for projects that broke ground by the end of 2013, explaining the more recent surge. “Both the electricity and oil and gas components of power construction should do well in 2014,” he added.

Highway and street construction, the largest public category, declined by 0.4 percent in November but is up 4.6 percent compared to a year ago. The next largest public niche, educational construction, increased by 1.1 percent for the month but was unchanged for the year, he added.
Association officials noted that the spending figures would have been even better had it not been for the public sector declines. They urged Congress and the administration to work together in 2014 to pass vital transportation and other infrastructure legislation.

Nationwide Children’s Hospital Receives Recycling Award at Greenbuild 2013

TarkettThe Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, one of the largest and most comprehensive pediatric hospitals and research institutes in the United States, was recently presented with Tarkett’s ReStart Award for returning a total of 53,170 pounds of flooring for recycling. The award was given during a reception in the company’s booth at the 2013 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Philadelphia.

Tarkett’s annual ReStart Award honors the architect, designer, building owner, contractor/installer, and/or distributor whose project has successfully diverted the largest quantity of flooring from landfills using Tarkett’s ReStart Recycling and Reclamation Program. Projects are tracked through the ReStart process and are the method used for determining winners. To celebrate the success of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital project and efforts of the participants, Tarkett invited representatives from the hospital, architecture firm, installer and distributor to attend Greenbuild and provided airfare, lodging, ground transportation and dinner for each attendee.

Tarkett formally presented the award during a special reception on Wednesday, November 20 in front of invited guests and media. The award itself, designed by Nicole McGee, owner of Plenty Underfoot in Cleveland, Ohio, was made using Tarkett’s Johnsonite flooring scrap.

CertainTeed leads gypsum board industry in environmental claim validations

CertainTeedCertainTeed is the first manufacturer to complete the UL Environmental Claim Validation (ECV) process for its full line of gypsum products. Specifically, UL Environment provided third-party verification for environmental claims including Recycled Content, Regional Materials and Mold Resistance. Additionally, the company secured Permanent Formaldehyde Absorption Capacity validation for its industry-only AirRenew®, which features VOC-scavenging technology that helps improve indoor air quality. The independent, third-party validation process involved rigorous audits conducted at 13 manufacturing facilities across the U.S. and Canada.

CertainTeed gypsum building materials are now listed in applicable categories on UL Environment’s Sustainable Products Database. The online tool allows users to identify sustainable products by product category, company name, product name or evaluation type. The validation process has been completed at all of CertainTeed Gypsum’s manufacturing facilities.

Slight Contraction for Architecture Billings Index Contracts Slightly

AIAAfter six months of steadily increasing demand for design services, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) paused in November.  As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending.  The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the November ABI score was 49.8, down from a mark of 51.6 in October.  This score reflects a slight decrease in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings).  The new projects inquiry index was 57.8, down from the reading of 61.5 the previous month.

Key November ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: South (52.0), Midwest (51.6), West (50.2), Northeast (47.5)
  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (55.2), mixed practice (53.1), commercial / industrial (48.6), institutional (47.7)
  • Project inquiries index: 57.8

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers.

Symposium Aims to Increase Life-Cycle Savings

Natl Inst of Building ScienceSmart buildings and building analytics are increasingly of interest within the facility operations and maintenance community. The National Institute of Building Sciences Facility Maintenance and Operations Committee (FMOC) was founded to develop the information exchange standard known today as the Construction Operations Building information exchange (COBie) and to support the adoption of COBie as a standard practice within the building industry.

Today, the need for additional information exchanges is apparent. During the Facility Maintenance and Operations Committee (FMOC) Symposium: Improving Life-Cycle Savings through Intelligent Building Data, to be held Wednesday, January 8, 8:45 am – 11:45 am, as part of Building Innovation 2014: the National Institute of Building Sciences Conference and Expo, attendees will become acquainted with activities that provide a solid foundation for communication and analysis. Speakers will present and then converse in a moderated panel about three related areas in which FMOC members are engaged: OmniClass tables, equipment inventory standards and building sensor information exchange standards.

OmniClass tables emerged from the realization that a common classification of objects was needed to better support communication and use of project information. The presenters will explain how a number of legacy classifications and information standards fed into the development of the OmniClass tables; the process used to create these new standards; and practical applications and benefits to users; as well as provide an early view of several new tables being submitted to the nation’s building information modeling (BIM) standard, the National BIM Standard –United States®,as well as other tables that are being revised.

Smart buildings typically involve periodic monitoring and comparing to some static benchmark. COBie organizes the static product information provided by the manufacturer and installer; the equipment inventory organizes the data within the maintenance management system; and automated control systems and other inspection methods provide the periodic data. Presenters will discuss developing standard information exchanges pertinent to sensor systems, as well the benefits of having a complete and comprehensive equipment database.

Speakers include:

  • Chris Bogen, Computer Scientist, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • William Brodt, Chair, Facility Maintenance and Operations Committee
  • Greg Ceton, Director, Technical Services, CSI
  • Alan Edgar, Workgroup Program Manager, Open Standards Consortium for Real Estate
  • Robert A. Keady, Jr., CEM, FMP, Facility Manager, Author

Register to Attend
Register now to attend Building Innovation 2014 and the FMOC Symposium and save. Online registration rates end 12/31/13.

Roof board’s greater flexural strength and pull-through resistance improves job site efficiency

georgia-paciific-gypsumGeorgia-Pacific Gypsum’s recently enhanced DensDeck Prime Roof Board has demonstrated – in third-party tests-significant attributes that boost job site efficiency. DensDeck Prime 1/4-in. fiberglass mat gypsum cover boards demonstrated 2.5 times greater flexural strength, per ASTM C473 test methodology, compared to competitive 1/4-in. gypsum fiber boards. The tests were conducted by PRI, Construction Materials Technologies, earlier this year.

For contractors using DensDeck Prime, the advantage of flexural strength (the ability of a material to withstand bending loads) is that it boosts efficiency on the job site. Additionally, 1/4-in. DensDeck Prime roof board demonstrate 22% more pull-through resistance than 1/4-in. gypsum fiber boards in the fastener system* tested, and are included in more roofing assemblies with RoofNav approvals for wind uplift performance as a cover board than competitive gypsum fiberboard.

Specific attributes include ease in handling, easy scoring and snapping with no special tools required, which means less breakage and waste — all of which can lead to significant time and potential money savings.

The overall durability and performance of DensDeck Prime-demonstrated in its fire resistance, strength, pull-through resistance, dimensional stability and mold resistance– provides a number of other advantages for contractors. For instance, in adhered, single-ply membrane testing, enhanced DensDeck Prime demonstrated an average of 24 percent better bond strength than the original product, when using solvent-based adhesives. (The average is based on 60 sq. ft./gal. coverage rates.) With adhesives applied more smoothly and consistently, contractors gain potential cost savings on the amount of adhesive used and the labor needed to apply it. Also, the mat edge wrap is on the underside of the board, allowing for smoother application of adhesive and a more aesthetically appealing appearance once the membrane is laid down.

Even more important to roofing contractors is that DensDeck Prime is the first and only fiberglass-mat gypsum roof board with a 90-day parapet warranty for exposure. The parapet application can be left uncovered, while the horizontal application of product is being completed.

For more information about the family of DensDeck roof boards, please visit the GP DensDeck website.

CertainTeed Ceilings issues industry-first health product declarations

CertainTeedCertainTeed Ceilings has issued the industry’s first Health Product Declarations. The HPDs offer detailed information on the makeup of the vast majority (24) of the company’s ceiling product families and their potential health and environmental impacts, helping architects and designers make fully informed decisions when specifying products. The HPDs will also contribute to important materials and resources credits under the newest version of LEED, which places greater emphasis on product transparency.

The HPDs were issued in alliance with the HPD Collaborative, a customer-led organization committed to the continuous improvement of the building industry’s environmental and health performance, through transparency and innovation in the building product supply chain. The HPD is an open standard that establishes a common reporting language for disclosing information about the ingredients used to construct a building product and their associated health information.

The HPDs join CertainTeed’s industry-leading library of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), which have been certified by UL Environment and cover fiberglass Sustainable Insulation® and over 20 ceiling product families. While HPDs evaluate the chemical and material makeup of a product, EPDs provide third-party verification of environmental life cycle data, including a product’s production process impact, usage of raw materials and recycled content, packaging, health aspects and end of life impact.

For more information on CertainTeed’s library of EPDs and HPDs, go to the CertainTeed website.