MCA publishes two new EPDs

mca-epdTwo Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), one for Metal Composite Material Panels and one for  Roll Formed Steel Panels for Roofs and Walls, are now available free of charge from the Metal Construction Association (MCA) on its website. These documents are the second and third EPDs to be released by MCA, an organization of manufacturers and suppliers whose metal wall and roofing components are used in buildings throughout the world. In October 2013, MCA developed an EPD for Insulated Metal Panels.

Environmental Product Declarations provide LCA-based information and details about the environmental impacts of products and assist purchasers and users in making informed comparisons. As more members of the design community use EPDs, which are now included in the new LEED V4 green building rating system, MCA is responding by issuing industry-wide EPDs that report the environmental impact of members’ products and related assemblies.

MCA’s EPDs contain valuable information about product definition, building physics, the basic material and its origin, product manufacture and processing, in-use conditions, life cycle assessment results, and testing results and verifications. Environmental impacts were assessed throughout the lifecycle of metal composite material panels and roll formed panels, including raw material extraction, transportation, manufacturing packaging, use, and disposal at the end of a building’s useful life. The product configurations in the EPDs use ranges representative of all types of panels based on specific products from the primary producers that were used in the assessment and testing.

To obtain a copy of any of the MCA EPDs visit www.metalconstruction.org or contact MCA at 847-375-4718 or mca@metalconstruction.org

Workshop to Focus on Building Science Education in North America

Natl Inst of Building ScienceStudents, professors and lecturers of building science, as well as practicing architects, engineers and risk management professionals interested in building science education, should attend an upcoming workshop from ASTM International and the National Institute of Building Sciences. The ASTM/NIBS Workshop on Building Science Education in North America will be held April 6 at the Sheraton Toronto in Ontario, Canada.

Sponsored by ASTM Committee E06 on Performance of Buildings; ASTM Subcommittees E06.55 on Performance of Building Enclosures and E06.41 on Air Leakage and Ventilation Performance; the ASTM Built Environment Advisory Council; the National Institute of Building Sciences; and the Joint Committee on Building Science Education, the workshop will provide an overview of building science education as it currently exists in North America. The one-day event will offer a critical review of graduate-level curricula currently available in building science and how that curricula can be further developed and refined to more effectively educate architects, engineers and construction professionals.

Speakers who are recognized as subject-matter experts in Building Science education, training and curriculum development—representing universities in Canada and the United States—will make presentations.

The workshop will conclude with an appraisal of the ASTM/NIBS Building Enclosure Certification and Training Program currently under development, which offers a new opportunity for professional development, certification and career advancement in architecture and engineering. Talks will address how that curriculum can be developed to align with curricula at Canadian and American colleges and universities to satisfy the certification requirements being developed.

View the list of speakers lined up for the event.

Registration is $110 USD online and $135 USD onsite. (ASTM members receive a $25 discount.) Presenters and students with a valid ID get in free. Online registration closes April 2. Register now.

For additional technical information, contact the workshop chairman, Daniel Lemieux.

PNNL and PPG to develop dynamically responsive IR window coating

pnnlThe Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and PPG have been awarded up to $750,000 to design a coating that can “switch” from a solar IR-reflecting state to a solar IR-transmitting state while maintaining high levels of daylight transmittance in either condition. PPG will provide an additional $78,000 in cost-sharing.

The development of such a coating would represent a major advance compared to current thermochromic window technology, which involves coatings that darken and block visible light when exposed to high volumes of IR energy, and existing electrochromic window technology, which relies on external power sources such as electricity to balance tinting and light transmittance.

The new PPG/PNNL coating technology also has the potential to be inexpensive, which will help ensure that dynamically responsive IR windows are an economical option for use in residential and commercial retrofit applications.

The two-year project is designed to develop dynamically responsive IR window coatings on a laboratory scale. If development is successful, the product could be scaled up and potentially commercialized within several years. PPG also collaborated recently with PNNL to develop and study waste-heat recovery technologies to save energy in the glass manufacturing process.

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.