New approach to energy code compliance clears major hurdle

nibsOwners and design teams working toward high energy performance buildings have a potential new ally in the International Green Construction Code (IgCC). The development committee reviewing new proposals for enhancing the IgCC voted 8-5 on May 4 to approve a proposal that would add a first-ever outcome-based compliance path in a model energy code.

The IgCC, which is updated every three years, defines the requirements that need to be met to be considered green. Local governments can then adopt the IgCC for new construction and deep renovation projects in their jurisdictional area.

Building energy codes by nature are prescriptive, but architects and engineers are finding that prescriptive requirements can limit their ability to use integrated systems and innovative technologies that are necessary to lower a building’s energy needs. The outcome-based compliance path would solve that problem, setting targets for the actual energy use of a building and determining compliance through the building’s achievement of that target once in operation. Unlike existing pathways to address energy use—prescriptive or modeled performance options—the outcome-based pathway allows the design team the greatest flexibility and relies on measured energy-use data that can help communities and building owners meet their energy and carbon emissions reduction goals.

The IgCC is developed by the International Code Council, a group of code officials and local government representatives that will meet for a final vote on the outcome-based compliance pathway and other proposals Oct. 1-5 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. However, this recent approval by the IgCC committee is extremely important because it means a much higher likelihood of ultimate adoption. With the committee’s approval, the proposal (GEW-147) needs only 50% of the voting body to approve.

Testimony submitted by an assortment of industry representatives, including the National Institute of Building Sciences, New Buildings Institute (NBI), Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD), Grundfos, Target Corporation and the Colorado Chapter of the ICC, was enough to convince the committee to favor the proposal.

Construction employment up in 40 states and DC

Associated General Contractors of AmericaConstruction firms added jobs in 40 states and the District of Columbia over the past 12 months and in 30 states and D.C. between April and May, according to an analysis today by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data.  Association officials said the employment gains help, but that construction employment remains below peak levels in every state and the District of Columbia, except North Dakota.

Nevada led all states in percentage gains in construction employment (12.5 percent, 7,000 jobs) between May 2013 and May 2014.  Other states adding a high percentage of new construction jobs for the past 12 months included Florida (9.8 percent, 35,300 jobs), Minnesota (9.7 percent, 9,700 jobs) and Kansas (8.9 percent, 5,000 jobs).  California added the most new construction jobs for the year (37,700 jobs, 5.9 percent), followed by Florida, Texas (26,500 jobs, 4.3 percent) and New York (12,000 jobs, 3.7 percent).

Ten states shed construction jobs during the past twelve months, with West Virginia losing the highest percentage, (-6.8 percent, -2,200 jobs).  Other states that lost a high percentage of jobs include New Jersey (-6.2 percent, -8,500 jobs), Montana (-5.7 percent, -1,400 jobs) and New Mexico (-5.0 percent, -2,100 jobs).  New Jersey lost the most construction jobs between May 2013 and May 2014, followed by Arizona (-4,100 jobs, -3.3 percent), Virginia (-2,800 jobs, -1.6 percent) and West Virginia.

Minnesota (3,800 jobs, 3.6 percent) added the most jobs between April and May, followed by New York (3,000 jobs, 0.9 percent), Colorado (2,800 jobs, 2.1 percent) and Pennsylvania (2,200 jobs, 0.9 percent).  Wyoming (4.1 percent, 900 jobs) had the highest percentage increase for the month, followed by Minnesota, Vermont (3.6 percent, 500 jobs) and Kansas (3.2 percent, 1,900 jobs).

Nineteen states lost construction jobs for the month, with Florida (-6,100 jobs, -1.5 percent) losing the most.  Other states experiencing large monthly declines in total construction employment included Arizona (-4,400 jobs, -3.6 percent), Ohio (-3,600 jobs, -1.9 percent) and Missouri (-3,500 jobs, -3.2 percent).  Arizona experienced the highest monthly percentage decline, followed by Missouri, New Hampshire (-2.7 percent, -600 jobs) and West Virginia (-2.4 percent, -800 jobs).

Association officials emphasized that Washington officials could bring additional security to construction employment levels by passing new legislation to finance highway and transit construction.  By passing a new surface transportation bill that includes the kind of revenue being proposed by Senators Corker and Murphy, a lot of stability would be added to what has been a very uneven construction recovery.

View the state employment data by rank and by state.

Paper connects green infrastructure, health and resiliency

Green Roofs for Healthy CitiiesGreen Roofs for Healthy Cities has published a research paper, “Exploring Connections Between Green Infrastructure & Healthy & Resilient Communities” that discusses the connections between green infrastructure, health and community resiliency. The paper reviews a growing body of literature which illustrates that how we design buildings and communities has profound consequences for our health and happiness.

The paper is part of Grey to Green, A Conference on the Economics of Green Infrastructure – Designing for Health on August 25th-26th, 2014 in Toronto. The Conference will discuss design and policy practices, and will include more than 75 leading thinkers and doers at the intersection of health and living green infrastructure. The multi-disciplinary program will cover project case studies, useful design and analytical tools, and cutting edge research.

Code change will reduce hot water waste, save Americans time and money

iapmoPlumbing inspectors, manufacturers, engineers, contractors, labor representatives and other industry technical experts voted overwhelmingly recently to make a change to plumbing codes that will ensure hot water pipes in new homes and commercial buildings are insulated. Overall, insulation of hot water pipes will shorten the amount of time spent waiting for hot water at showers and faucets, and cut hot water waste by 15 to 30 percent.

The vote took place during the review of proposed changes to the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) Uniform Plumbing Code. The proposal was championed by the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The change stipulates that hot water pipes be insulated for all homes and commercial buildings built after 2015. Since more than a quarter of all hot water draws occur within an hour of each other, insulation can help water sitting in pipes retain its heat long enough for the next use.

A recent modeling study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimated that more than 10 percent of all the hot water drawn for showering in a typical single-family home is not hot enough to use. Americans take more than 200 million showers a day. Using EPA estimates of the amount of water drawn while showering, about 280 million gallons of hot water is being discarded without use every day nationwide – an amount equal to all the water sold on an average day last year by the Las Vegas Valley Water District. This is water that has been heated by a water heater, drawn into a hot water pipe, and then left cooling down in the pipe to a point where it is not hot enough to use the next time hot water is needed. Too often, these hot water pipes are uninsulated, making the cool-down more rapid and more complete.

By incorporating this proposal into the next edition of the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials’ model plumbing code, officials bring this change to communities in Nevada, California, Idaho, New Mexico, North Dakota and jurisdictions around the country that use IAPMO’s Uniform Plumbing Code as the model for their own local codes.

Green roof industry grows by 10% in 2013

Green Roofs for Healthy CitiiesGreen Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC), the green roof and wall industry association announces a 10 percent growth rate for green roofs in 2013 in its Annual Green Roof Industry Survey.

The Washington DC Metropolitan Region saw the installation of 2,164,926 square feet of green roofs in 2013. Washington has adopted public policies and programs that support green roof investment, including rebates of $7-$15 per square foot per green roof installed and credits that reduce stormwater fees. Public investment in green roofs yields multiple public cost saving benefits.

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC) mission is to develop the green roof and wall industry across North America. Visit their website for more information about the 2013 Annual Green Roof Industry Survey.

Webcast forecasts growth in nonresidential construction

reed-webinar

Construction spending is predicted to grow in both 2014 and 2015.

A recent webcast featuring economists from Reed Construction Data, American Institute of Architects and the Association of General Contractors of America outlined the economic state of the construction industry in the U.S. They addressed key business opportunities, target growth markets, and the impact of market conditions on the performance of different construction sectors.

During the webcast, one of the economists forecasted economic growth in the nonresidential construction sector with overall spending reaching $320 billion this year and $348 billion in 2015. Rebounding gradually from the recession, he predicted increased construction spending in the hotel, office, commercial, healthcare and particularly manufacturing sector.

According to Reed Construction Data’s latest technology Reed Insight, which shows upcoming projects throughout the country, California, Texas, Florida, and states around the Great Lakes region have the largest share of upcoming manufacturing projects.

Heavy engineering construction spending is also forecasted to grow in 2014 to $280 billion and reach prerecession levels in 2015 at $304 billion.

The archived version of the webcast is available here (after registering).

Contractors add 19,000 jobs in March, jobless rate lowest in seven years

Associated General Contractors of AmericaConstruction employers added 19,000 workers to payrolls in March, bringing industry employment to the highest level since June 2009, while the industry’s unemployment rate dropped to the lowest March level in seven years, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials warned that the pool of available workers is declining rapidly, raising the prospects for significant labor shortages if demand continues to expand.

Construction employment totaled 5,964,000 in March, a gain of 151,000 or 2.6 percent from a year earlier, compared with a rise in total nonfarm employment of 1.7 percent over that period, Simonson noted. Residential building and specialty trade contractors added a combined total of 9,100 workers in March and 103,000 (4.8 percent) over 12 months. Nonresidential construction—building, specialty trades and heavy and civil engineering contractors—grew by 9,900 employees last month and 48,800 (1.3 percent) since March 2013.

The unemployment rate for workers actively looking for jobs and last employed in construction declined from 14.7 percent a year earlier to 11.3 percent last month. Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, noted that the unemployment rate for construction workers had fallen by more than half since March 2010, when it reached 24.9 percent. During that time, the number of unemployed workers who last worked in construction declined by 1.3 million, but industry employment increased by only 445,000.

Association officials said that one reason the industry is likely to face labor shortages is because of the declining number of secondary-level construction training programs. They urged federal, state and local officials to take steps designed to make it easier for schools, construction firms and local trade associations to establish new training programs for future construction workers.

Sealy to Receive Ronald H. Brown Standards Leadership Award

nibsNational Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) Past Chairman Jimmy W. Sealy, FAIA, has been selected by the U.S. Celebration of World Standards Day Planning Committee to be the 2014 recipient of the prestigious Ronald H. Brown Standards Leadership Award. Sealy will be honored by members of the U.S. standards and conformance community during the U.S. Celebration of World Standards Day, to be held Thursday, October 23, 2014, at the Fairmont Washington in Washington, D.C.

Named for the late U.S. Secretary of Commerce, the Brown award recognizes demonstrated leadership in promoting the important role of standardization in eliminating global barriers to trade. The award is presented at the U.S. Celebration of World Standards Day, an annual event which honors the U.S. standards and conformity assessment community and recognizes its efforts to promote American competitiveness in a global marketplace, safeguard the environment and improve the quality of life for workers and consumers around the world.

As the Administrating Organization of this year’s celebration, NIBS nominated Sealy for his important, long-standing contributions to the development of the nation’s building codes and related standards, among other work. He has been active in the codes and standards community since 1972 and worked with all of the model code organizations. He has served on the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Fire Council, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Codes and Standards Advisory Committee, and the AIA committee for accessibility, among many other groups, and is currently the chair of the NIBS Building Seismic Safety Council Board of Direction. Mr. Sealy is a recipient of multiple industry awards, including the Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI) Alton T. Riddick Award; the NIBS Member Award and the Mortimer M. Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award; as well as the International Code Council (ICC) Bobby J. Fowler Award, which is the building code administration profession’s highest honor.

Celebrated annually, World Standards Day pays tribute to the thousands of volunteers around the world who participate in standardization activities, and helps to raise awareness of the role that standards play in addressing national and global priorities. The event has been held since 1970 and is recognized in nations around the globe. U.S. activities are organized annually by a planning committee consisting of representatives from across the standards and conformity assessment community. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC)’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) co-chair the event each year.

More information about the U.S. Celebration of World Standards Day 2014 is available atwww.wsd-us.org.

Innovative method for implementing green construction code proposed

nibsRepresentatives from across the building industry, including code officials, building owners, manufacturers, designers and energy efficiency advocates, have come together under the leadership of the National Institute of Building Sciences to develop a new approach to meeting energy efficiency requirements. This “Outcome-based Pathway,” which the group submitted as a proposed code change to the International Green Construction Code (IgCC), appears in the monograph of IgCC proposed changes that the International Code Council released this past Friday, March 15, for public review.

The Institute’s Consultative Council highlighted the “Outcome-Based Pathway” in its 2010 Moving Forward Report submitted to the President of the United States. The approach focuses specifically on the actual energy used in the building. The report notes:

The building community needs a better baseline of actual building performance against which to measure progress. More importantly, the application and use of prescriptive criteria must be eliminated in favor of stated performance goals or expected outcomes (although, after setting those goals or outcomes, prescriptive guidance to achieve them can be developed).1

The industry group specifically focused on an outcome-based approach to address a number of challenges facing the building industry:

  • Code departments have limited resources available to enforce building codes (particularly energy codes, which are not usually seen as a life safety issue).
  • Energy use is highly measurable, yet current code pathways anticipate results from designs; they do not assess actual building performance.
  • Designers do not have the flexibility to use some of the latest technologies or practices to achieve energy efficiency requirements.
  • Not all energy-saving strategies, such as building orientation, are effectively captured in codes.
  • Energy efficiency goals increasingly rely on reductions in energy use at the systems level, but the IECC has primarily focused on a component approach.
  • A growing percentage of energy uses associated with buildings are not currently covered within the existing code framework (i.e., plug loads).

The proposed code change will be heard by the IgCC Energy/Water Committee during the International Code Council’s Committee Action Hearings, to be held this April 27 through May 4, in Memphis, Tennessee.

In addition to the Institute, a number of organizations, including the New Buildings Institute, The Institute for Market Transformation and the Colorado Chapter of the International Code Council, support the proposal.

View the proposal, a section-by-section summary and reasoning statement. For questions, or to provide additional organizational support for the proposal, contact Ryan Colker.

————

1. Moving Forward: Findings and Recommendations from the Consultative Council. National Institute of Building Sciences 2010 Annual Report to the President of the Unite States, 2010. 43-49.

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