Construction Trends

December 2009

New Standard Document Facilitates Green Building Projects
Anyone involved with the design and construction of green buildings can now use the first comprehensive standard contract document that addresses the many challenges associated with these complex projects. The new document, known as the ConsensusDOCSTM 310 Green Building Addendum, was developed by members of the ConsensusDOCS group to help advise the owner, set proper expectations, and avoid delays and other legal hassles in the construction of buildings seeking green certification or other sustainable goals.

"A standard of practice simply does not exist today. Publication of the ConsensusDOCS Green Addendum may help the industry avoid an avalanche of wasteful litigation by filling this void,” states Steve M. Charney, managing partner of the New York Office of Peckar & Abramson and co-chairman of the national working committee that drafted the document.

The new green contract document is designed to respond to surging demand for green buildings, the group noted. It added that recent industry surveys have estimated that up to 25 percent of commercial and institutional construction projects will be for green buildings by 2013.

The Green Building Addendum mitigates risk and increases project success by clearly identifying roles and responsibilities for contractors, designers, owners and others involved in the construction project. One of the Green Building Addendum’s most significant features is the introduction of the Green Building Facilitator, who can be one of the project participants or an outside green consultant. The addendum is written to be easily integrated with existing ConsensusDOCS and other contract documents.

The addendum, like all ConsensusDOCS, was developed by a team of professionals representing every part of the construction process, including owners, contractors, designers, subcontractors and surety professionals. Offering a catalog of 90 plus contract documents covering all methods of project delivery, ConsensusDOCS contracts are the first and only industry standard contracts written and endorsed by 23 leading construction organizations.

For more information about the new Green Building Addendum, visit www.ConsensusDOCS.org. www.ConsensusDOCS.org.

New Study: Green Building to Support Nearly 8 Million U.S. Jobs Over Next 4 Years
Despite a challenging economic outlook, green building will support 7.9 million U.S. jobs and pump $554 billion into the American economy—including $396 billion in wages—over the next four years (2009–2013), according to a new study from the U.S. Green Building Council and Booz Allen Hamilton. The study also determined that green construction spending currently supports more than 2 million American jobs and generates more than $100 billion in gross domestic product and wages.

The economic impact of the total green construction market from 2000 to 2008, the study found, contributed $178 billion to U.S. gross domestic product; created or saved 2.4 million direct, indirect and induced jobs; and generated $123 billion in wages.

The study also assessed the U.S. Green Building Council’s 19,000-plus member organizations and found that they generate $2.6 trillion in annual revenue, employ approximately 14 million people, come from 29 industry sectors and include 46 Fortune 100 companies.

The study considered the total value of green buildings and the results include workers from the architects who design them to the construction laborers who pour their foundations to the truck drivers who deliver the materials, in recognition of the how extensive the impact of green building is.

The full report can be downloaded at www.usgbc.org/greeneconomy, where you can also find other research, resources, tools and information about green building and its role in the economic recoveries of professionals, businesses and the nation.

Among the report’s findings are these results:

The economic impact of the total green construction market:
• Contribution to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP)
o 2000–2008: $173 billion
o 2009–2013 forecast: $554 billion

• Jobs created or saved (includes direct, indirect and induced jobs)
o 2000–2008: 2.4 million
o 2009–2013 forecast: 7.9 million

• Wages
o 2000–2008: $123 billion
o 2009–2013 forecast: $396 billion

• Energy savings
o 2000–2008: $1.3 billion saved
o 2009–2013 forecast: $6 billion saved

The economic impact of LEED-specific spending*:
• Contribution to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP)
o 2000–2008: $830 million
o 2009–2013 forecast: $12.5 billion

• Jobs created or saved (includes direct, indirect and induced jobs)
o 2000–2008: 15,000
o 2009–2013 forecast: 230,000

• Wages
o 2000–2008: $703 million
o 2009–2013 forecast: $10.7 billion

• Energy savings
o 2000–2008: $281 million saved
o 2009–2013 forecast: $4.8 billion saved

*These figures only account for LEED-specific spending, not the value of LEED-certified buildings as a whole.

UL Fire Rated Assemblies Are Valid
When questions were raised about the validity of several commonly used Underwriters’ Laboratories, Inc. fire-rated assemblies, the Steel Stud Manufacturers Association enlisted the aid of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry and USG to approach UL to resolve this issue. While it took several meetings and much correspondence with UL, this issue has been resolved after conducting fire tests.

In a letter from UL’s Fire Protection Department, UL provides the following information:

"The following is in response to your request for Underwriters Laboratories to open a project to review the minimum return lip dimensions specified for non-loading bearing steel studs in Designs U403, U411, U419, U420, U452, U465, and U491.

"We have completed our review of the submitted information and have determined that the minimum return lip dimension of 3/16 inch, in accordance with ASTM C645, will be specified under the BXUV Guide Information contained in the front of the UL Fire Resistance Directory.”

MasterFormat™ Expands Definition of Plaster Cement
The publishers of MasterFormat™ have decided that "cement plaster” can be made with other materials besides ordinary portland cement. This action clears the path for architects who want to specify plaster made with new types of cements.

MasterFormat, the system design professionals use to organize building product information, will have new names for the section numbers that deal with plaster cement. Section 09 24 00, formerly titled Portland Cement Plaster, is now simply Cement Plaster. Similarly, "portland” is no longer in the titles of Section 09 24 23 Cement Stucco and Section 09 24 33 Cement Parging. By making the change, MasterFormat’s publishers, the Construction Specifications Institute and Construction Specifications Canada, are keeping pace with recent advances in the industry, such as the growing popularity of plasters made with rapid-setting calcium sulfo-aluminate (CSA) cement.

The change was proposed by Creighton Maher, a 32-year industry veteran and sales manager for CTS Cement Manufacturing Corporation’s brand of rapid-setting plaster products. He recognized that his customers were having difficulty specifying specialty cement plasters because they did not fit into the exact definitions of the existing section numbers.

"The technology of cement is expanding, and the design community wants access to the benefits of the new materials,” comments Maher. "Portland cement has been around for more than 150 years, other kinds of cement have also been developed. Materials scientists and engineers are advancing the industry and, happily, design professionals are ready to take advantage of these improvements. ...”

MasterFormat is used by designers and builders for organizing specifications, cost estimates, and other construction information. The current version of MasterFormat was published in 2004, and is revised on an annual basis to keep it current with industry practices.

Construction Market to Increase 11 Percent in 2010, Says McGraw-Hill Construction Outlook Report
McGraw-Hill Construction, part of The McGraw-Hill Companies, has released its 2010 Construction Outlook, which forecasts an increase in overall U.S. construction starts for next year. Due to improvement for housing from extremely low levels and broader expansion for public works, the level of construction starts in 2010 is expected to climb 11 percent to $466.2 billion, following the 25 percent decline predicted for 2009.

"The U.S. construction market in 2010 will be helped by growth for several sectors, following three straight years of decline that brought total construction activity down 39 percent from its mid-decade peak,” said Robert A. Murray, vice president of economic affairs for McGraw-Hill Construction, addressing more than 300 construction executives and professionals at the 71st annual Outlook 2010 Executive Conference in Washington today. "The benefits from the stimulus act will broaden in scope, lifting not just highway construction but also environmental public works and several institutional structure types. With continued improvement expected for single family housing, after reaching bottom earlier this year, the overall level of construction activity should see moderate expansion in 2010.”

Highlights of the 2010 Construction Outlook include the following:

• Single-family housing for 2010 will advance 32 percent in dollars, corresponding to a 30 percent increase in the number of units to 560,000 (McGraw-Hill Construction basis).

• Multifamily housing will improve 16 percent in dollars and 14 percent in units, after steep reductions in 2008 and 2009.

• Commercial buildings will drop 4 percent in dollars, following a steep 43 percent drop in 2009. The weak employment picture will further depress occupancies, making it even more difficult to justify new construction.

• Institutional buildings will begin to stabilize after losing momentum in 2009. Square footage will retreat another 2 percent after sliding 23 percent this year. The dollar amount of construction for this sector will edge up 1 percent, helped by a growing amount of energy-efficiency upgrades to federal buildings and continued strength for military buildings.

• Manufacturing buildings will drop 14 percent in dollars and 3 percent in square feet, hampered by the substantial amount of slack manufacturing capacity.

• Public works construction is expected to rise 14 percent, given more wide-ranging strength across all project types.

The 2010 Construction Outlook was presented at the McGraw-Hill Construction Outlook Executive Conference in Washington, D.C. At the event, Frank Giunta of Hill International and George Pierson of Parsons Brinckerhoff offered insights to an industry emerging from the crisis:

"The stimulus funds are meant to be just that, a stimulus, not the be-all-end-all answer to infrastructure financing,” said Frank J. Giunta, senior vice president and managing director of Hill International. "Both public and private sectors need to be innovative and rewrite the rules of project finance to address tremendous construction needs with minimal financing options.”

"The efforts of the federal agencies at transparency and their willingness to engage with private industry is refreshing,” said George J. Pierson, chief operating officer, Parsons Brinckerhoff. "We have to work together to meet the challenges of infrastructure and this economy.”

Builder Confidence Slips in October
With the Nov. 30 expiration date for an important home buyer incentive approaching at the time this pulse-point was taken, builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes slipped one point to 18 in October, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index released Oct. 19.

On the flip side of the coin, NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe noted that immediate congressional action to extend the tax credit and expand its eligibility beyond first-time buyers could substantially boost sales activity. "In a special questions section of our HMI survey, 85 percent of respondents said that expansion of the tax credit would have a positive impact on their sales,” he said. "That would amount to a very effective stimulus to housing demand and a needed boost to the overall economy.”

Each of the HMI’s component indexes recorded declines in October. The component gauging current sales conditions fell one point to 17, while the component gauging sales expectations for the next six months declined two points to 27 and the component gauging traffic of prospective buyers fell three points to 14.

On a regional basis, the Northeast was the only part of the country to record an improvement in its HMI score, with a one-point gain to 25. Meanwhile, the Midwest and South each recorded one-point declines to 18 and the West recorded a four-point decline to 14.

Jobs Fall in October for Nonresidential Building Construction

Reflecting the national trend, nonresidential building construction lost 3,200 jobs in October, according to the Nov. 6 employment report by the U.S. Labor Department. On a year-over-year basis, nonresidential building construction employment is down 107,900 jobs, or 13.3 percent, and now stands at 706,400.

Employment with nonresidential specialty trade contractors continues to get hit the hardest with 30,200 jobs lost in October and 441,000 jobs, or 17.4 percent, lost since October 2008. In the heavy and civil engineering construction sector, employment decreased by 13,700 for the month and 129,400 jobs, or 12.6 percent, on a year-over-year basis.

Meanwhile, despite the recent uptick in residential construction spending, the homebuilding sector shed 5,600 jobs for the month and 123,300 jobs, or 15.5 percent, since last October.

Over the past 12 months, total construction employment has shrunk by 15.6 percent losing 1,100,000 jobs, with 62,000 jobs lost last month alone.

The nation’s unemployment rate now stands at 10.2 percent—the highest level in 26 years. Last month, employers shed 190,000 jobs and 5,504,000 jobs, or 4.0 percent, have been lost since October 2008.

Modest Improvements Continue in Home Remodeling Market
Although residential remodeling remained relatively weak during the third quarter of 2009, remodelers are starting to report that conditions in their markets are stabilizing, according to the National Association of Home Builders’ Remodeling Market Index announced Nov. 5. The current market conditions index rose slightly to 39.8 from 38.1 in the second quarter. The index of future indicators jumped to 38.7 from 34.2 in the previous quarter. Although this marked the third straight quarter of improvement, both indices remain well below the break-even point of 50.

The RMI measures remodeler perceptions of market demand for current and future residential remodeling projects. Any number below 50 indicates that more remodelers say market conditions are getting worse than report improving conditions. The RMI has been running below 50 since the final quarter of 2005.

The index for current remodeling market conditions rose in the Midwest to 43.2 (from 38.3 in the second quarter) and West to 47.3 (from 40.5), but declined in the Northeast to 33.7 (from 36.9) and South to 38.6 (from 39.7). Major additions grew to 41.9 (from 38.2). Minor additions also improved to 43.2 (from 41.5). Maintenance and repair remained fairly flat at 33.1 (from 33.6).

The summary index of future market indicators showed greater improvement. Among the components of future indicators, calls for bids jumped to 46.5 (from 38.8 in the second quarter). Appointments for proposals grew to 43.5 (from 40.3). Amount of work committed for the next three months climbed to 27.5 (from 23.3). And backlog of remodeling jobs increased to 37.2 (from 34.4).

For more information about remodeling, visit www.nahb.org/remodel.

ABC Construction Backlog Indicator Up 8.9 Percent

Associated Builders and Contractors reported Sept. 22 that the nation’s Construction Backlog Indicator for July rose 8.9 percent to 6.1 months from 5.6 months in June. The CBI is a gauge on the amount of construction work to be completed, measured in time, currently under contract.

"While the magnitude of monthly increase was significant and impressive, June was the lowest point for the CBI since ABC began collecting national data in November 2008. At that time, the CBI stood at 7.1 months, or 14 percent above its current level of 6.1 months,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu.

"The July data strongly reflect the effects of the stimulus package signed into law in February on the commercial, institutional, industrial and infrastructure construction segments. In the months ahead, we expect higher levels of actual construction spending, a welcome sign for the industry and the economy at large, and an indication that the downturn may be over for the nonresidential construction industry, though not all segments.”

ABC’s CBI focuses on the U.S. commercial, institutional, industrial and infrastructure construction industries at this level of detail. The indicator is published bimonthly and data are collected from ABC members on an ongoing basis.

Regional highlights include the following:

• Compared to June, the average backlog in July rose in the Northeast, Middle States and the West. However, the Northeast has the shortest backlog at 5.5 months.

• The longest backlog is in the West, where backlog rose 1.4 percent from 7.1 months in June to 7.2 months in July.

• Contractors in the Middle States collectively report a backlog of 5.6 months for July, up 21.7 percent from 4.6 months in June.

• In the South, backlog has declined steadily, falling 17.2 percent from 8.7 months in November 2008 to 6.2 months in July 2009.

"The most severe retrenchment in contracting activity since the nonresidential construction downturn began last year has been within the financial services on the East Coast and the economically weak South,” said Basu. "Presently, the South is disproportionately represented among the states with the highest unemployment rates, including Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Mississippi. This is consistent with falling demand for construction services, and this is the region that has experienced the sharpest decline in backlog since November 2008.”

Industry highlights include the following:

• All three industry segments—commercial/institutional, heavy industrial and infrastructure—reported an increase in backlog in July relative to June. However, among the three industry groups, only infrastructure has experienced an increase in average backlog since November 2008.

• The infrastructure category backlog declined slightly in July compared to June, but still stands at 9.5 months, the best showing of any industry category.

• CBI for both the commercial/institutional and heavy industrial segments remains below 6 months.

Highlights by company size include the following:

• Backlog improved among smaller companies and declined slightly among larger companies. Companies with less than $30 million in revenue collectively registered an increase in average backlog to 4.7 months in June compared to 5.7 months in July.

• Companies with annual revenues between $30 million and $50 million registered an average backlog of 4.7 months in July, up from 4.2 months in June.

• Conversely, companies with annual revenues in excess of $100 million experienced a slight decline in average backlog from 7.5 months in June to 7.3 months in July.

• Since November 2008, average backlog is up in only one of the five firm size categories that ABC monitors, those with annual revenues between $50 million and $75 million.

Half of Construction Industry Now Using BIM, Says New McGraw-Hill Construction Report
McGraw-Hill Construction’s latest SmartMarket Report, "The Business Value of BIM: Getting Building Information Modeling to the Bottom Line,” produced with Autodesk and 26 other industry organizations, profiles adoption of BIM in North America and examines the real business values that users are experiencing. Nearly half of respondents (49 percent) report that they are using BIM tools— a 75 percent increase over the 28 percent BIM adoption rate measured in 2007.

BIM offers a new way of creating and leveraging digital models for the design, construction and operation of projects, and it is revolutionizing the way firms communicate, solve problems and achieve better outcomes. BIM is spreading quickly throughout the design and construction industry, and there is a growing interest both in quantifying that growth and in defining the business benefits of this new approach to project delivery. Based on research with thousands of industry professionals, the 2009 Business Value of BIM Report shows the following:

• Half of the industry is now using BIM or BIM-related tools— 75 percent more than in 2007.

• The U.S. West Coast leads BIM adoption with a 56 percent rate, far ahead of the Northeast (38 percent). Canada closely resembles the North American average at 48 percent.

• Current BIM users of all skill levels expect to double their application of it on projects over the next two years.

• Forty-two percent of BIM users consider themselves experts or advanced— three times the amount in 2007.

• Those with higher BIM-skill levels report over twice the ROI of beginners. • Users who formally measure the benefits of BIM see greater ROI.

• Experienced users are leveraging their BIM capabilities to win new work over their competitors, and rate this as among the greatest current benefits of BIM.

For a free download of the report, visit www.bim.construction.com.

Ohio Appeals Court Agrees With ASA’s Position That GCs Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Arbitrarily Create Hurdles to Deny Payment of T&M Invoices
On Nov. 2, 2009, the Ohio Court of Appeals, 5th Appellate District, handed down a decision agreeing with the American Subcontractors Association that a general contractor cannot arbitrarily add new hurdles to justify delaying payment of a subcontractor’s time-and-material invoices. In its opinion, the court reaffirmed its earlier ruling that a lien filed by a subcontractor for unpaid T&M invoices is "enforceable as a matter of law on the undisputed facts and the applicable statutory definitions and requirements.”

In Mid-Ohio Mechanical v. Eisenmann Corporation, ASA and ASA of Ohio filed two amici curiae, or "friends of the court,” briefs arguing that general contractor Eisenmann was trying "to avoid the jury’s verdict that a subcontractor should benefit from the delayed payment of its T&M invoices” and that "for over 50 years, the law of Ohio has been settled for the purposes of billing and collecting for a time-and-material basis.”

In the underlying case, subcontractor Mid-Ohio Mechanical performed work under a T&M contract on part of the construction and installation of the paint line of a factory. Eisenmann did not pay Mid-Ohio’s invoices and Mid-Ohio filed a mechanic’s lien, which Eisenmann and the project owner released by posting a cash bond.

In the first round of litigation, Eisenmann argued that the lien was not valid because the work on the project was not an improvement to the property and thus not lienable. Originally, Eisenmann prevailed in its legal efforts to avoid paying Mid-Ohio when a lower court agreed with its argument. However, on Oct. 6, 2006, an appellate court reversed that decision.

In this second round of litigation, Eisenmann challenged not only the amount of Mid-Ohio Mechanical’s T&M invoices, but also its efforts to collect the cash bond. In its brief, ASA successfully argued that "Eisenmann seeks to create procedural hurdles for contractors and subcontractors who cooperate with an owner” and fails to substantiate its case with "any provision of the Ohio Civil Rules or any applicable Ohio case law.”

ASA’s Subcontractors Legal Defense Fund, which supports critical legal activities and protects the common interests of all subcontractors partnered with ASA of Ohio to file the briefs. To learn more about this case and the SLDF, visit www.sldf.net.

People & Companies in the News Kirk Reisinger has accepted a position as Master Wall Inc.’s Northwest regional sales manager, covering the states of Oregon, Washington and Alaska. He will be focusing on building architectural awareness and distribution in his sales territory.

Hyde Tools, Inc., Southbridge, Mass., has selected Rob Scoble of Sturbridge as top operational officer for the company. As executive vice president and chief operating officer, he will oversee Hyde’s professional products and industrial blade divisions.

Hilti is expanding its production network with a new facility in Matamoros, Mexico, that manufacturers fastening products for the North and Latin American markets. Encompassing some 15,000 square meters of production space, the facility cost $14 million Swiss francs to build. It initially will employ 50 people, but this figure is expected to grow to 150 by 2015.

Firestone Building Products Company, LLC, Indianapolis, is introducing a new business division – Firestone Energy Solutions. This new division will provide products, systems and services that assist in conservation and the production of energy for the commercial building envelope.

Armstrong World Industries, Inc., Lancaster, Pa., announced that F. Nicholas Grasberger, executive vice president – Armstrong Building Products, is leaving the company after a five-year period. Effective immediately, David Cookson, senior vice president – ABP Go-to-Market, will provide interim leadership for ABP Americas. Mike Connors will coordinate the global activities of ABP.

ACCELERATED Building Technologies, headquartered in Pittsburgh, has relocated its manufacturing operations to a larger facility. Located in Leetsdale, Pa., near the company’s headquarters, the new manufacturing facility will enable ABT to expand its capacity quickly to the demand for its panel product.

Products in the News
OMNOVA Solutions’exclusive RECORE™ Recycled Wall Technology has been certified to contain a minimum 20 percent post-consumer recycled content by Scientific Certification Systems, an independent certification of environmental product claims. RECORE wallcoverings average 30 percent recycled content including a minimum of 20 percent post-consumer recycled content. The recycling loop may be completed through OMNOVA’s Wallcovering Reclamation Program, which recovers fabric-backed vinyl wallcovering materials—regardless of the manufacturer—from renovation and reconstruction projects for recycling into new building materials.

STS Coatings, Comfort, Texas, announces that Wall Guardian’s FW-100 Vapor Permeable Air Barrier System has passed and exceeded the requirements for ASTM E2357-05, Standard Test Method for Determining Air Leakage of Air Barrier Assemblies. Results from an independent, third-party accredited laboratory test proved the air leakage rate outperformed similar fluid-applied air barrier assemblies that have been tested against the ASTM E2357 standard and is 100 times below the air leakage standard set forth by the Air Barrier Association of America.