The monthly newsletter for architects, contractors, and owners involved with commercial construction.

Welcome to the November 2009 issue of Commercial Building Products' E-News industry newsletter. This newsletter is designed to keep you abreast of the business side of our industry. You are receiving this newsletter because you are a Commercial Building Products subscriber. See the instructions at the end of this issue if you no longer want to receive this newsletter. If you like what it has to offer, please share it with co-workers so they might also subscribe. We encourage your feedback.—Gary L. Parr, Editorial Director,


Architecture Billings Index delivers good news

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI), a monthly business indicator produced by the American Institute of Architects, Washington, reached its highest mark since August 2008, just before the serious credit problems emerged in our economy. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate 9- to 12-month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The October ABI rating was 46.1, up sharply from 43.1 in September. This score, however, indicates a continued decline in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new-projects inquiry score was 58.5, following the 59.1 mark in September.
   "This news could prove to be an early signal toward a recovery for the design and construction industry," said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. "On the other hand, because we continue to get reports of architecture firms struggling in a competitive marketplace with a continued decline in commercial property values, it is far too early to think we are out of the woods."
Here is how the Index breaks down in terms of region and building type:

  • Regional averages: South, 46.1; Northeast, 44.3;  Midwest, 43.0; West, 42.8
  • Sector index breakdown: institutional, 48.7; multi-family residential, 45.4; commercial/industrial, 41.7; mixed practice, 39.1.

U.S. and China to develop clean-energy initiatives

President Barack Obama's recent China trip and meetings with president Hu Jintao resulted in several agreements regarding energy and the environment. These agreements include development of a/an:

  • Clean Energy Research Center to facilitate joint research and development of clean-energy technologies
  • Electric Vehicle Initiative to develop joint standards, demonstration projects in more than a dozen cities, technical roadmapping, and public-education projects
  • Energy Efficiency Action Plan to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, industrial facilities, and consumer appliances
  • Renewable-Energy Partnership to develop roadmaps for wide-spread renewable energy deployment in both countries
  • Energy Cooperative Program, involving 22 founding companies, that will include collaborative projects on renewable energy, smart grid, clean transportation, green building, clean coal, combined heat and power, and energy efficiency.

To learn more about the individual initiatives and dowload fact sheets, click here.

Energy Track helps you monitor building energy use

Some 25% of certified new buildings do not save as much energy as their designs predicted, and the majority do not track energy consumption once in use. Recognizing the importance of building performance optimization before and after receiving LEED certification, Convia/A Herman Miller Co., Buffalo Grove, IL, is now offering its Energy Track Reporting Tool. The tool displays a space’s actual energy usage on a simple and intuitive dashboard interface. Energy-monitoring chips built into Convia-enabled control components allow for accurate reporting through the Energy Track tool at a zone (private office, individual workstation, or workstation cluster) or circuit level. This information allows facility managers to optimize building performance.
   "Budgets are tight and sustainability is an increasingly important driver of savings," said Randy Storch, president of Convia. "Sustainable technology, such as building controls, can help users achieve long-term savings and significantly reduce their annual energy costs, but only if performance is tracked and energy strategies are modified on an ongoing basis."
    The company's Energy Track Demo allows users to monitor and track energy-consumption and occupancy in a sample building.


EMerge alliance now counts 50 members

The EMerge Alliance, San Ramon, CA, is an open-industry association leading the adoption of safe, low-voltage DC power distribution and use in commercia- building interiors. At the Greenbuild show, held earlier this month, the Alliance announced that ten additional organizations joined the coalition, putting total membership at 50. Click here to see the listing of members.
   Since it was formed in 2008, the EMerge Alliance has doubled its membership of leading organizations involved in the ownership, design, construction, furnishing, and equipping of commercial buildings. The members share the Alliance’s vision to deliver sustainability and savings to commercial buildings. According to EMerge Alliance chairman Brian Patterson, the recent membership momentum reflects growing industry support for the Alliance and its new standard, which is aimed at reducing energy loss associated with powering the many digital devices in today’s workplaces.
   "The Alliance achieved a major milestone with the release of the standard last month and we’re moving forward with the development of our third-party registration and evaluation program," said Patterson. "Not only does the continued membership growth we’ve experienced demonstrate the significant support for this new approach to power in our buildings, but it also accelerates progress toward application and interoperability of products based on the standard."

TRACO hosts delegation from India

TRACO, Cranberry Township, PA, recently played host to a delegation of Indian Energy Efficiency professionals and Government officials. The Indian study tour of the United States was organized under Energy Conservation and Commercialization Project-Phase III (ECO-III), which is a result of a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and the Indian governments. The agreement was signed in January 2000 with the "objective of reducing the rate of growth of greenhouse gas emissions by enhancing the commercial viability and performance of Indian energy sector, and also promote utilization of clean and energy-efficient technologies in the sector."  The study group was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, Washington.
   TRACO was selected in part because its headquarters manufacturing facility is vertically integrated and produces next-generation windows that exceed all industry standards for energy. Additionally, TRACO works in cooperation with the U.S. Dept. of Energy, Washington, on an advanced framing research project and the National Fenestration Rating Council, Greenbelt, MD, on the Component Modeling Approach program for commercial windows and doors, which was of particular interest to the delegation.

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