Construction Trends

November 2009

Cordless Power Tools Survey Indicates Battery Features Most Important to Tool Users
Metabo Corporation, an international manufacturer of professional grade portable electric power tools and abrasives for industrial, construction and welding applications, headquartered in West Chester, Pa., completed a blind survey of professional and do-it-yourself tool users on important cordless power tool features in anticipation of the company’s new 18 V lithium ion cordless tool series launch. Two of the three top-rated tool features related to battery life.

The 10 features evaluated in the survey included battery charging time; work time per charge; comfort (size, weight, balance); power/torque; tool life/durability; weight; length of warranty; whether the tool was recommended by someone else; inclusion of a work light; and battery service life. Each factor could be ranked between 1 and 10 individually, with 1 being unimportant and 10 being extremely important, and was not dependent on a ranking for another feature.

Participants rated tool life/durability as the most important cordless tool feature. Battery service life ranked second, followed by work time per charge rounding out the top three. This ranking speaks to the increasing demand for robust tool construction and extended battery life to better support users’ needs in the field.

A similar, unrelated cordless drill/drivers study completed by an independent global research firm that conducts quality and customer satisfaction research supported Metabo’s findings and determined that the perceived importance of battery performance increased from 2008 to 2009. Lithium ion tools are more compact, lighter and easier to use than cordless tools with other types of batteries.

The ranking results of the Metabo survey were computed by totaling the rating number (1-10) given by each of the respondents for each individual feature separately. The sum was used to indicate the overall rank: the highest sum ranked the most important feature. The survey did not indicate Metabo in the questions or Web site, nor did it mention any other brand name.

The online survey was conducted from mid-April 2009 through the end of May 2009. More than 200 cordless tool users from across the United States responded to anonymous banner ads on various industry Web sites.

New Report Reveals Corporate America Moving Sustainability Initiatives Forward
Corporations across the United States must amplify sustainability efforts and increase efficiencies, especially given President Obama’s focus on making America the 21st century clean energy leader. A new report from Siemens and McGraw-Hill Construction, the 2009 Greening of Corporate America Report, shows that corporate America has in fact embraced standard sustainability practices, such as recycling, building green, focusing on employee engagement and partnering with non-profits, as "business as usual.” Seventy-six percent of firms have made significant commitments to sustainability, and as a result, the firms of tomorrow must be innovative in their sustainability plans to stand out in the market and gain a competitive advantage.

Commissioned by Siemens Building Technologies and conducted by McGraw-Hill Construction Research & Analytics, the report follows a similar 2006 study and provides comparative statistics, trend analysis and thought-leader interviews with corporate sustainability officers at Microsoft, AT&T and Owens Corning. Notable highlights include the following:

• Three out of four firms view sustainability as consistent with their profit missions. They expect that green practices tied to core business strategies will reduce energy costs (75 percent), retain and attract customers (70 percent) and provide market differentiation while contributing to the financial performance of the company (61 percent).

• The economic crisis has supported, rather than deterred, sustainability activity; 57 percent of those polled believe sustainability practices are either unaffected or aided by the down economy.

For more information or to download a free copy of the report, visit http://construction.com/market_research/.

ANSI Approves the GREENGUARD Mold and Moisture Management Standard for New Construction
The American National Standards Institute has approved and published ANSI / GREENGUARD Environmental Institute Mold and Moisture Management Standard for New Construction (ANSI / GEI – MMS1001), a standard designed and crafted by the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute, Atlanta.
This national standard is the first to focus solely on mold and moisture issues that can arise in the construction of new buildings. Moisture, and in turn mold, can ruin indoor environmental quality, compromise building materials and building systems and cost thousands of dollars to fix. Preventing these risks protects financial investments while preserving the structural integrity and air quality of the building. The standard details design, construction and maintenance practices for preventing the harmful growth of mold.
An electronic or hard copy version of the standard is available for purchase at www.greenguard.org.
August Construction Rises 2 Percent
At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $429.8 billion, new construction starts in August advanced 2 percent from the previous month, according to McGraw-Hill Construction, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. The upward push came from nonbuilding construction, which has shown an up-and-down pattern for much of 2009. Meanwhile, both housing and nonresidential building in August settled back slightly from the improved levels that were reported in July.

The August data lifted the Dodge Index to 91 (2000=100), up from July’s 89 and June’s 82. While heading upward, the pace of contracting in August was still 22 percent below the 117 reading for the Dodge Index for full year 2008.

Residential building, at $127.2 billion (annual rate), slipped 1 percent in August. Multifamily housing retreated 13 percent from a July that had been aided by groundbreaking for two large multifamily projects valued each in excess of $100 million. August did include several large multifamily projects, but in general the number of large multifamily projects continues to be down considerably from recent years. During the first eight months of 2009, there were a total of six multifamily projects valued at $75 million or more that reached groundbreaking, compared to 33 such projects in the same period of 2008 and 57 such projects in the same period of 2007. Single-family housing in August grew 1 percent, marking the sixth gain in dollar terms out of the past seven months. The August level for single family housing remained 11 percent below last year’s monthly average. By region, single family housing showed August gains in the Midwest (up 4 percent), the South Central (up 3 percent), and the West (up 2 percent); no change for the Northeast; and a decline for the South Atlantic (down 4 percent).

Nonresidential building in August fell 3 percent to $163.6 billion (annual rate). Much of the pullback occurred in the institutional sector, which had been boosted in July by groundbreaking for several large hospital and medical center projects. Healthcare facilities construction in August plunged 59 percent after its strong July, returning to the weaker activity that’s been present for much of 2009. Through the first eight months of 2009, the healthcare facilities category was down 31 percent from a year ago. Other August declines for institutional building were public buildings, down 20 percent; churches, down 24 percent; and amusement-related projects, down 35 percent. Running counter in August was the educational building category, which climbed 9 percent. Also running counter in August was the transportation terminal category, increasing 160 percent as the result of $680 million related to foundation work at the Fulton Street Transit Center in New York, N.Y.

The commercial categories in August included a moderate decline for warehouses (down 7 percent), but also gains for hotels (up 1 percent) and stores (up 15 percent), both of which still continued to be very depressed in terms of their level of activity. The office building category registered a surprising 63 percent gain, lifted by the start of four large projects. These included a $500 million data center in Malden, N.C., a $133 million public administration building in San Francisco, the $130 million office portion of the $250 million mixed-use project in Washington, D.C., and a $110 million administration building at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. The manufacturing plant category also had a large percentage gain in August, soaring 206 percent from an extremely depressed amount in July. Boosting the manufacturing total in August was the start of a $500 million upgrade to a semiconductor plant in New Mexico.

On an unadjusted basis, total construction during the January-August period of 2009 was $274.8 billion, down 33 percent from the same period a year ago. The year-to-date declines have become smaller in recent months, and this trend should continue as the comparison is made against the steep slide in activity that took place during the fall of 2008. By major sector, the largest shortfall continued to be shown by residential building, down 40 percent in the first eight months of 2009.

Nonresidential building was not far behind with a 37 percent year-to-date decline, as the result of this performance by segment: commercial, down 52 percent; manufacturing, down 74 percent; and institutional, down 17 percent. Nonbuilding construction in the first eight months of 2009 fell 18 percent, with public works slipping 8 percent while electric utilities plunged 54 percent.

By region, total construction registered this year-to-date pattern: the Northeast, down 37 percent; the South Atlantic and the South Central, each down 33 percent; and the Midwest and the West, each down 31 percent.

Architectural Contractors Trade Association Announces 2009 Associate Member of the Year
Architectural Contractors Trade Association, Brighton, Mich., presented its 2009 Associate Member of the Year award to Mark Marentay with Commercial Building Materials, at its annual Appreciation Night on Sept. 30, 2009.

This is Commercial Building Material’s first time winning the Associate of the Year.

The Associate of the Year award recognizes the role associate members play within the association. The goal of the award is to acknowledge the members outstanding participation and contributions made throughout the year.

Commercial Building Materials has been a member of ACT since 1994. Several CBM staff members, including Marentay, serve on ACT committees. Dave Marsoupian is president of CBM, which will soon be celebrating its 25th year in business. Based in Ypsilanti, Mich., the company services Southeast Michigan with products in the following categories: drywall, metal framing, ceiling tile and grid systems, insulation, fire-retardant woods, FRP wall and ceiling materials, fireproofing and firestopping, access doors and many other products for the professional interior contractor.

People & Companies in the News
Saint-Gobain Technical Fabrics, Americas, Grand Island, N.Y., announces that Ron Franklin has joined the company as glass mat operations manager. Franklin will oversee both glass mat facilities located in Charleston, S.C., and Russellville, Ala., while being based in Charleston.

ParexLahabra, Anaheim, Calif., has opened its newest manufacturing facility in Albuquerque.

JLG Industries, Inc., an Oshkosh Corporation company headquartered in McConnellsburg, Pa., has appointed Bob Nelson vice president, field sales and service for North America. In his new role, Nelson will lead the North American regions in the development and implementation of sales, market development and field support initiatives for JLG. This position was formerly held by Brent Yohn, who accepted the position of vice president and general manager for the Jerr-Dan Corporation, an Oshkosh Corporation company.

The United States Green Building Council has awarded a LEED® Silver designation to the BASF Construction Chemicals – Building Systems headquarters and office/research complex located in Shakopee, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis. This is the first BASF building to earn LEED Certification and only the third building to earn LEED EB O&M certification in Minnesota.

The American Iron and Steel Institute announces that Dr. Helen Chen, P.E., manager of construction standards development; and Jonathan Humble, AIA, regional director-construction codes and standards, have achieved LEED AP (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional) accreditation in the specialty of Building Design + Construction. LEED accreditation is managed by the Green Building Certification Institute, and demonstrates knowledge of the LEED Green Building rating system.

The ALL Family of Companies announces the appointment of Mike Kraguljac as general manager of ALL Carolina Crane & Equipment of Raleigh, N.C. Kraguljac has 21 years of experience in the crane and construction industries, most recently as operations manager for a Manitowoc distributorship where he worked closely with ALL for most of those years.

ACCELERATED Building Technologies, Pittsburgh, announces an organizational management transition to support the next phase of the organization’s growth strategy. Al Alayon, previously vice president of finance for NOVA Performance Products, has been named president of ACCELERATED Building Technologies.

Products in the News
Two of Georgia-Pacific Gypsum LLC’s Dens™ interior gypsum panel products, DensArmor Plus® High-Performance Interior Panel and DensShield® Tile Backer, passed the industry’s most stringent mold resistance test. The 12-week test was conducted in accordance with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s ASTM D6329 protocol. The test—three times longer and much more rigorous than ASTM D3273, the current industry standard—was conducted by an independent third party, RTI International, at its facilities in Research Triangle Park, N.C., between February and June 2009. Test results were limited to DensArmor Plus® High-Performance Interior Panel and do not include DensArmor Plus® Abuse-Resistant Interior Panels and DensArmor Plus® Impact-Resistant Panels.

Decoustics, the custom suspended ceilings line from CertainTeed Ceilings, announces that its Quadrillo®, Solo™ and Solo M™ ceilings products are now Forest Stewardship Council Certified (SW-COC-004048). This certification guarantees the wood used to manufacture the products is from a certified forest that utilizes environmentally responsible practices that protect soils, waterways and wildlife with respect to workers and neighboring communities.

New on the ‘Net
The redesigned RIDGID® Web site (www.RIDGID.com) allows for easier navigation to make the experience more efficient and productive for the user. Featuring rotating banners that highlight the latest products and prominent drop down menus, users can quickly navigate to their desired RIDGID tool information. Additionally, visitors can find out about the latest news and events where they can personally participate with RIDGID. From any page, users can join RIDGID social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

The Power Tool Institute now offers downloadable PDFs of its major publications on its recently revised Web site, www.powertoolinstitute.com. Safety Is Specific, available in both English and Spanish, is PTI’s compilation of rules and safe practices for power tools. A Teacher’s Reference Guide to Power Tool Safety is PTI’s 24-page brochure featuring lesson plans, student activities, quizzes, support materials and references to additional information on each power tool category in Safety Is Specific. All publications are available in hard copy and may be ordered at no charge on the PTI site.

The new site is user friendly, with simple navigation and easy online ordering of publications. Four safety videos are available in both English and Spanish, which can be viewed immediately or ordered on one DVD at no charge.

Other new site features include the following:

• Manufacturer members’ profiles with links to their Web sites.

• Glossary of common power tool terms.

• PTI Voluntary Procedures, including the PTI Procedure for Determining Power Tool Horsepower and the PTI Lab Test Procedure for Determining Stated Relative Torque Measurement for Corded and Cordless Drills, Drill/Drivers, and Screwdrivers.

• Power tool advisories.

• Information about rechargeable battery recycling.

• Safety maintenance checklist.