Construction Trends

September 2009

EPS Reduces Global Warming
A new study shows that expanded polystyrene provides a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions when used to insulate homes in North America. This study, Energy and Greenhouse Gas Savings for EPS Foam Insulation Applied to Exterior Walls of Single Family Residential Housing in the U.S. and Canada, calculated the resources used and emissions produced in the manufacturing and delivery of EPS and concludes that EPS insulation will reduce the operational impact of the building to an extent that far outweighs the environmental impact caused by its manufacture.

"Everyone knows that adding insulation to your home will reduce energy costs,” acknowledges Betsy Steiner, executive director of the EPS Molders Association, Crofton, Md. "However, consumers are increasingly aware that product manufacture requires resource and energy consumption. We want our customers to know that energy and environmental payback on this investment is substantial, making EPS insulation one of the quickest and easiest ways to reduce energy usage.”

With mainstream support for the green movement, consumers are asking new and different questions about how products perform and are increasingly making purchasing decisions that take environmental considerations into account. This is particularly true in the area of construction, as buildings are responsible for 40 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. Life Cycle Analysis, a measurement tool that provides comprehensive environmental data, is a widely accepted method of evaluating a product’s environmental footprint.

Franklin Associates, an independent consulting firm in Prairie Village, Kan., conducted this study to analyze and quantify energy use and emissions with regard to EPS insulation. Franklin used data from the U.S. Life Cycle Index Database and data collected from the EPS manufacturing industry. Homes were evaluated in all climate zones in the United States and Canada. The thermal performance evaluation of the homes was based on R-value data from Oakridge National Laboratories.

Using this approach, the study assessed the energy and resources used during the extraction, manufacturing, processing, delivery, use and disposal of EPS insulation, and the greenhouse gas emissions produced throughout the process. The energy and greenhouse gas savings were determined by comparing the heating and cooling energy requirements for the modeled home with added EPS insulation to a similar structure without added insulation. This provides the "net” footprint or the environmental payback that is achieved by using increased insulation.

When EPS insulation was added to the exterior walls, using R-4 and R-6 foam, the energy payback periods in Canada are less than one year in all provinces. In the United States, the energy payback time for R-4 insulation is less than two years with shorter payback times in colder regions. R-6 payback times for energy are slightly longer but ultimately result in higher energy savings over the life of the building. These energy values directly correlate to the resulting greenhouse gas reductions.

Green Building Is a Crucial and Urgent Economic and Environmental Imperative, Says New Report
Investing in the energy efficiency of buildings represents a powerful and strategic energy and climate solution that combined with other non-transportation initiatives could reduce the nation’s energy consumption by 23 percent by 2020, save the U.S. economy $1.2 trillion, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.1 gigatons annually, according to a study released July 29 by McKinsey & Company, a management consulting firm in Washington, D.C.

The report provides a detailed assessment of how much the nation can increase energy efficiency in buildings and other non-transportation sectors using existing methods and technologies. A targeted investment of $50 billion a year over 10 years, the report finds, would enable the entirety of those potential savings to be realized. Those reductions in energy use would save the U.S. economy $1.2 trillion, a return on investment of more than two to one. Furthermore, those investments would generate 900,000 jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.1 gigatons, according to the report, "Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the U.S. Economy,” which was sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council and 11 other organizations from the government, non-governmental and private sectors.

McKinsey’s research finds that a comprehensive strategy, executed at scale, could reduce the annual non-transportation end-use energy consumption analyzed in this report from 36.9 quadrillion BTUs in 2008 to 30.8 quadrillion BTUs in 2020—saving 9.1 quadrillion BTUs relative to a business-as-usual baseline.

The energy efficiency potential cited in the report is divided across three sectors of the U.S. economy: industrial (40 percent of the end-use energy efficiency potential), residential (35 percent) and commercial (25 percent).

Solutions, drawn from a rich inventory of proven, piloted and emerging national and international examples, show that maximizing the energy efficiency potential from any single opportunity—weatherizing homes, utilizing efficient air conditioners or employing combined heat and power generation—requires addressing multiple barriers simultaneously.

The report calls for an integrated national plan guided by five principles:

• Recognize energy efficiency as an important energy resource that can help meet future energy needs, while the nation simultaneously develops new no- and low-carbon energy sources.

• Formulate and launch—at both the national and regional levels—an integrated portfolio of proven, piloted and emerging approaches.

• Identify methods to provide the significant upfront funding.

• Forge greater alignment among utilities, regulators, government agencies, manufacturers and energy consumers.

• Foster innovation in the development and deployment of next-generation energy efficiency technologies to ensure continuing productivity gains.

The study found that investment in energy efficient building and other non-transportation sectors can reap $130 billion in annual savings ($1.2 trillion total) and 1.1 gigatons in annual greenhouse gas reductions. While the report does not include an economy-wide analysis of net job impacts, it does show that as many as 900,000 new, ongoing jobs could be created in the areas of energy retrofitting and code enforcement.

DHS Strengthens Employment Verification with Administration’s Commitment to E-Verify
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the administration’s support for a regulation that will award federal contracts only to employers who use E-Verify to check employee work authorization. The declaration came as Secretary Napolitano announced the department’s intention to rescind the Social Security No-Match Rule, which has never been implemented and has been blocked by court order, in favor of the more modern and effective E-Verify system.

E-Verify, which compares information from the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9) against federal government databases to verify workers’ employment eligibility, is a free Web-based system operated by DHS in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The system facilitates compliance with federal immigration laws and helps to deter unauthorized individuals from attempting to work and also helps employers avoid employing unauthorized aliens.

The federal contractor rule extends use of the E-Verify system to covered federal contractors and subcontractors, including those who receive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. After a careful review, the administration will push ahead with full implementation of the rule, which applies to federal solicitations and contract awards government-wide starting on Sept. 8, 2009.

In addition to expanding participation, DHS continues to enhance E-Verify to guard against errors, enforce compliance, promote proper usage and enhance security. Recent E-Verify advancements include new processes to reduce typographical errors and new features to reduce initial mismatches. In May 2008, DHS added access to naturalization database records which increased the program’s ability to automatically verify naturalized citizens’ status, reducing citizenship-related mismatches by 39 percent. Additionally, in February 2009, the agency incorporated Department of State passport data in the E-Verify process to reduce mismatches among foreign-born citizens. Other initiatives underway will bring further improvements to Federal database accuracy; add new tools to prevent fraud, misuse, and discrimination; strengthen training, monitoring, and compliance; and enhance privacy protections.

DHS will be proposing a new regulation rescinding the 2007 No-Match Rule, which was blocked by court order shortly after issuance and has never taken effect. That rule established procedures that employers could follow if they receive SSA No-Match letters or notices from DHS that call into question work eligibility information provided by employees. These notices most often inform an employer many months or even a year later that an employee’s name and Social Security Number provided for a W-2 earnings report do not match SSA records—often due to typographical errors or unreported name changes. E-Verify addresses data inaccuracies that can result in No-Match letters in a more timely manner and provides a more robust tool for identifying unauthorized individuals and combating illegal employment.

GSA Releases New Recovery.gov Contract Documents
Do you want to know how the government’s recovery money is being spent? The recovery.gov Web site will tell you just that.

The U.S. General Services Administration, on behalf of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, awarded Smartronix Inc. with a contract to build the new recovery.gov Web site. GSA, in cooperation with the recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, has released the contract documents, and they have been posted on recovery.gov.

Recovery.gov will provide citizens and communities with easy access to information on recovery spending. Included in the information posted are the contractual documents, the Statement of Objectives, the contractor’s management and technical proposal, which were incorporated into the task order, and a pricing summary.

ASTM Gypsum Committee Developing Three Proposed New Lath Standards
The use of non-metallic plaster bases (lath) is growing in the construction industry, and minimum consensus standards are being set for installation, test methods and performance requirements. A task group within ASTM Subcommittee C11.02 on Specifications and Test Methods for Accessories and Related Products is currently developing three lath standards:

• ASTM WK24554, Test Method for Non-Metallic Plaster Bases (Lath) Used with Portland Cement Based Plaster;

• ASTM WK24555, Specification for Installation of Non-Metallic Plaster Bases (Lath) Used with Portland Cement Based Plaster.

• ASTM WK24556, Specification for Non-Metallic Plaster Bases (Lath) Used with Portland Cement Based Plaster.

Subcommittee C11.02 is part of ASTM International Committee C11 on Gypsum and Related Building Materials and Systems.

According to William Egan, manager, engineering and development, BASF Construction Chemicals LLC-Wall Systems, and a C11 member, each of the proposed new standards will help assure that non-metallic lath products perform adequately, provide a means for design professionals to generically specify products and guide contractors in installation.

All interested parties are invited to contribute to the ongoing development of these three work items. "It would be particularly helpful to have input and participation from additional manufacturers of non-metallic lath that currently do not participate in the ASTM standards development process,” Egan says.

For technical information, contact Egan at BASF Construction Chemicals LLC, Jacksonville, Fla. (bill.egan@basf.com). ASTM Committee C11 meets Nov. 9-11 during November Committee Week in Atlanta.

June Construction Retreats 7 Percent
New construction starts in June dropped 7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $385.4 billion, according to McGraw-Hill Construction, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Nonresidential building weakened further, and public works construction fell back after its elevated May pace. In contrast, residential building showed improvement in June, continuing to edge upward after the very depressed activity reported at the outset of 2009.

The June statistics lowered the Dodge Index to 82 (2000=100), down from May’s 87, and essentially returning the Index to April’s level of 81.

Nonresidential building in June slipped 4 percent to $151.6 billion (annual rate). The commercial categories experienced a further loss of momentum, with warehouses down 4 percent, office buildings down 7 percent, stores down 12 percent and hotels down 25 percent. The public buildings category fell 47 percent, and reduced contracting was also reported for churches, down 14 percent; and transportation terminals, down 38 percent.

The nonresidential downturn in June was cushioned by a 17 percent rebound for the educational building category. The amusement and recreational category jumped 75 percent after a weak May, and healthcare facilities improved 4 percent. The manufacturing plant category also registered growth in June, climbing 55 percent.

Residential building in June advanced 8 percent to $112.9 billion (annual rate). Single-family housing climbed 9 percent while multifamily housing was unchanged from May, holding at a very weak volume that was 63 percent below the monthly average for 2008.

On an unadjusted basis, total construction during the first six months of 2009 came in at $195.4 billion, down 36 percent from the same period a year ago.

By region, total construction during the first six months of 2009 showed this behavior: the Northeast, down 43 percent; the West and South Atlantic, each down 37 percent; the South Central, down 34 percent; and the Midwest, down 31 percent.

Added perspective is provided by looking at the 12 months ending June 2009 versus the 12 months ending June 2008. On this basis, total construction is down 27 percent.

World Demand for Power Tools to Approach $29 Billion in 2013
Global demand for power tools is forecast to rise 3.7 percent per year through 2013, approaching $29 billion. Despite being presently mired in a recession, the bedrock U.S. market will provide the best opportunities, accounting for slightly over one-third of the additional demand generated between 2008 and 2013. Recovery in U.S. demand will reflect a turnaround in the current housing crisis, as well as continued enthusiasm for do-it-yourself projects by U.S. consumers. U.S. power tool sales will also benefit from the introduction of improved products, especially cordless electric models. These and other trends are presented in World Power Tools, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry research firm.

The BRIC economies—Brazil, Russia, India and China—will all fare well. Demand in China and India will rise more than 6 percent per annum, benefitting not only from continued gains in construction but also from rising industrial production. Gains in Russia and Brazil will exceed the global average, benefitting from strong gains in improvement and repair construction activity; many of the buildings built in Russia during the USSR period (in particular, those built in the 1950s and 1960s) are currently in need of repair.

Production of power tools is expected to continue to shift to Asia, largely driven by Chinese manufacturing. China is projected to account for almost one-third of global shipments in 2013, with a significant share exported to the United States. Chinese production will also benefit from rising exports to the rest of the Asia/Pacific region. Outside of Asia, Eastern Europe is expected to post the strongest gains, due to both rising domestic demand and export opportunities to Western Europe.

Electric tools (plug-in and cordless) will continue to comprise the vast majority of sales, due to their frequent use in both consumer and professional applications. Cordless electric products will continue to post strong gains, benefitting not only from macroeconomic factors but from their performance advantages vis-a-vis plug-in models. The ongoing diffusion of improved battery technology, such as lithium-ion chemistry, will encourage both consumers and professionals to use cordless technology. Demand for pneumatic tools will benefit from continued gains in global industrial output. However, the inconvenience of these tools compared to electric models will continue to prevent acceptance in the consumer market.

World Power Tools (published 07/2009, 324 pages) is available for $5,700 from The Freedonia Group, Inc., 767 Beta Drive, Cleveland, OH 44143-2326. For further details, contact Corinne Gangloff by phone (440) 684.9600, fax (440) 646.0484 or e-mail pr@freedoniagroup.com. Information may also be obtained through www.freedoniagroup.com.

Builder Confidence Rises Two Points in July
Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes notched up two points in July to its highest level since September 2008, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, released July 16. The HMI rose two points to 17 in July as builders saw an improvement in current sales conditions but continued to express concerns about the future.

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for more than 20 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as "good,” "fair” or "poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as "high to very high,” "average” or "low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as good than poor.

Two out of three of the HMI’s component indexes posted gains in July. The index gauging current sales conditions rose three points to 17, while the index gauging traffic of prospective buyers rose a single point to 14. Meanwhile, the index gauging sales expectations for the next six months remained flat at 26.

Regionally, the South posted the biggest HMI gain, with a 5-point increase to 20. The Northeast posted a three-point decline, to 16, while the Midwest and West were each unchanged, at 14 and 15, respectively.

New-Home Sales Rise 11 Percent in June
Sales of newly built, single-family homes rose 11 percent in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 384,000 units, according to U.S. Commerce Department numbers released July 27. Coming on the heels of an upwardly revised number for May, the gain marks a third consecutive month of improved sales activity.

The number of newly built homes on the market declined for a 26th consecutive month in June, falling 4.1 percent to 281,000 units. This marks a relatively thin 8.8-month supply at the current sales pace.

New-home sales rose by double-digits in the Northeast (29.2 percent), Midwest (43.1 percent), and West (22.6 percent) in June. Meanwhile, sales activity declined 5.3 percent in the South, which is the country’s largest housing market.

Francois Bouan to Retire as President of ParexLahabra, Inc.
Francois Bouan, will retire on Oct. 1, 2009, as president of ParexLahabra, Inc.

Bouan’s career began in Paris with the ParexGroup in 1986 as director of logistics. In March 1990 he accepted a promotion to plant operations manager with the company’s U.S.–based subsidiary, Parex Incorporated at their Redan, Ga., location. Bouan was tasked with growing the corporation West and began developing a new manufacturing facility from the ground up in French Camp, Calif.

In 1991 Bouan was promoted to executive vice president of Parex and quickly rose to become president in January 1992. 2000 began a string of acquisitions, and in 2005 he spearheaded the merger of all three companies to form ParexLahabra, Inc. Later, the corporation acquired Teifs, Mer-Krete Systems, and a division of QEP to round out its offering.

Bouan previously served as president of the EIFS Industry Members Association from 1996 to 1998 and was on its board from 1991 to 2000.

He will be succeeded as ParexLahabra’s president by current executive vice president, Rodrigo Lacerda.

People & Companies in the News
Mark Hornstra has been appointed senior vice president of product planning of Topcon Positioning Systems, Livermore, Calif. In his new role, Hornstra will also be a member of the TPS Executive Committee.

Sto Corp., Atlanta, has announced an exclusive joint warranty program with Structa Wire Corp., a manufacturer of welded wire products for the lath and plaster industry that is located in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Key Structa Wire products can now be covered in a StoPowerwall Stucco System warranty.

FLAMEDXX, LLC has granted exclusive North American distribution rights for its FLAMEDXX® fire retardant coated OSB to Arch Wood Protection, Inc., Atlanta. Arch Wood Protection, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Arch Chemicals, Inc., manufactures wood treating chemicals and licenses production of some of several brands of pressure-treated wood.

Dryvit Systems, Inc., West Warwick, R.I., has received ISO 9001:2008 certification, the latest standard issued from the International Organization for Standardization. The ISO 9001:2008 certification is an update to the ISO 9001:2000 quality management standard the company had previously achieved. Dryvit operates all North American manufacturing facilities to this standard.