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California Is First State in the Nation to Adopt a Statewide Green Building Standards Code

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Jan. 12 the California Building Standards Commission unanimously adopted the first-in-the-nation mandatory Green Building Standards Code (CALGREEN) requiring all new buildings in the state to be more energy efficient and environmentally responsible. Taking effect Jan. 1, 2011, these comprehensive regulations will achieve major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and water use to create a greener California.

CALGREEN will require that every new building constructed in California reduce water consumption by 20 percent, divert 50 percent of construction waste from landfills and install low pollutant-emitting materials. It also requires separate water meters for nonresidential buildings’ indoor and outdoor water use, with a requirement for moisture-sensing irrigation systems for larger landscape projects and mandatory inspections of energy systems (e.g., heat furnace, air conditioner and mechanical equipment) for nonresidential buildings that are more than 10,000 square feet to ensure that all are working at their maximum capacity and according to their design efficiencies. The California Air Resources Board estimates that the mandatory provisions will reduce greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 equivalent) by 3 million metric tons equivalent in 2020.

Upon passing state building inspection, California’s property owners will have the ability to label their facilities as CALGREEN compliant without using additional third-party certification programs.

The mandatory code provisions will now become the baseline of regulated green construction practices in the country’s most populous state. The BSC, which developed this initial Green Building Standards Code with extensive discussions with environmentalists, architects, builders, local officials and others, will continue to improve this new code with those interested parties.

In addition to the mandatory regulations, CALGREEN also includes more stringent voluntary provisions to encourage local communities to take further action to green their buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency and conserve our natural resources.

Like California’s existing building code provisions that regulate all construction projects throughout the state, the mandatory CALGREEN provisions will be inspected and verified by local and state building departments. CALGREEN will use the enforcement infrastructure that the state has established to enforce its health, safety, fire, energy and structural building codes. Many of the mandatory provisions in the code are already part of the statewide building code, making verification of CALGREEN an easy transition for local building inspectors.

Demand for ConsensusDOCS Contract Documents Jumped Nearly 20 Percent in 2009 Despite Decline in Construction Activity

Demand for ConsensusDOCS standard contract documents grew by nearly 20 percent in 2009 compared to the previous year despite significant declines in construction activity, the organizations that developed the documents reported. The jump in users comes as private, public and not-for-profit owners have begun using the standard documents and getting positive results.

The number of subscribers for Consensus-DOCS documents climbed from 3,291 at the beginning of 2009 to 3,895 at the end of the year, an increase of more than 18 percent, noted Brian Perlberg, executive director of the ConsensusDOCS coalition. He added that in December 2009, the coalition saw a 28 percent increase in sales compared to the previous December.

The growth occurred even though construction spending hit a six-year low in 2009. Perlberg noted that the jump in users was impressive given that demand for competing standard contract documents was down significantly during 2009.

One factor driving growing demand for the documents is that public and not-for-profits groups increasingly allow the use of ConsensusDOCS documents. The federal government recently authorized the use of ConsensusDOCS documents for up to $20 billion worth of Agriculture Department projects. States like South Dakota, Michigan and North Carolina have all recently allowed the documents as well. And not-for-profits, including Florida Habitat for Humanity chapters, now routinely use ConsensusDOCS contracts for key projects.

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Nonresidential Construction Job Losses Mount in December 2009

For 2009, the employment situation for the nonresidential building construction sector ended the year on a sour note with the loss of 7,700 jobs in December, according to the Jan. 8 report by the U.S. Labor Department. For all of 2009, nonresidential building construction shed 105,300 jobs, or 13.1 percent, to bring employment to 698,200.

Jobs fell across the board as nonresidential specialty trade contractor employment fell by 8,800 jobs in December. The sector has lost 388,000 jobs, or 15.8 percent, since December 2008. Heavy and civil engineering lost 18,400 jobs in December, and 122,600 jobs, or 13.1 percent, on a year-over-year basis.

Residential building construction lost 3,800 jobs in December and lost 98,000 jobs, or 12.7 percent, since the same time last year. The construction industry as a whole has lost 53,000 jobs for the month and 934,000, or 13.7 percent, for the year. Job losses in the construction industry accounted for more than half of the net job loss in the United States in December. Since the beginning of the recession in December 2007, employment in the construction industry has fallen by 1.6 million.

Total employment in all industries shrank by 85,000 jobs in December following a revised gain of 4,000 jobs in November. Over the past 12 months, total employment is down 4,164,000 or 3.1 percent. The nation’s unemployment rate remains at 10 percent for December 2009.

Overall, the Portland Cement Association, Skokie, Ill., sees the December numbers in a more positive light. PCA says the December 2009 84,000 job loss figure was more than projected, but a three month data review suggests that labor conditions are improving at a pace better than expected.

According to a PCA report, the combination of BLS upward data revisions and better than expected job market performance resulted in only 501,000 job losses during August–December 2009 versus a PCA-predicted 861,000.

“There is evidence that the job creation process has already begun,” Ed Sullivan, PCA chief economist said. “Typically, extended work hours, overtime and temporary hiring precede job creation. November’s increase in the length of the average workweek—the first increase in 14 months—was unchanged in December at 33.2 hours. Furthermore, temporary employment continued to rise, as 47,000 positions were added in December.”

If the labor market sustains its better than expected performance from the fourth quarter, it could lead to a quicker healing of the underlying fundamentals surrounding construction, Sullivan said.

Housing Starts Regain Some Ground in November

Nationwide housing production rose 8.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 574,000 units in November, according to figures released Dec. 16 by the U.S. Commerce Department. The gain represented a partial bounce-back from an exceptionally slow month for housing activity in October, and was largely attributed to a big increase on the multifamily side.

Single-family housing starts made up some of the ground they lost in October, posting a modest 2.1 percent gain to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 482,000 units in November. Meanwhile, multifamily starts rebounded from an all-time record low in the previous month with a 67.3 percent gain to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 92,000 units in November.

Gains in housing production were registered across all regions of the country in November, with a 16.4 percent increase in the Northeast, a 3 percent gain in the Midwest, a 12.3 percent increase in the South and a nearly 2 percent gain in the West.

Permit issuance, which can be an indicator of future building activity, rose 6 percent in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 584,000 units, its highest level in a year. Single-family permits rose 5.3 percent to 473,000 units, while multifamily permits rose 8.8 percent to 111,000 units.

Three out of four regions posted gains in housing permits for November, with a 4.7 percent increase reported in the Northeast, a 10.7 percent increase posted in the South, and a 2.7 percent gain registered in the West. The Midwest posted a 1.9 percent decline.

The Home Depot Pledges $1 Million for Student Scholarships and Grants for Building and Construction Trade Schools

ATLANTA, Jan. 12, 2010 – The Home Depot®, Atlanta, has announced $1 million in funding for its 2010 Pro Trade Scholarship Program. The Home Depot has more than tripled a $300,000 scholarship fund it first established in 2009 to support students attending professional building and construction trade schools.

This year’s program will not only support individual students, but also the schools they attend. Specifically, $1,000 scholarships will be available to 500 trade school students to help them offset the cost of tuition, books and tools for their chosen trade. The schools of the scholarship recipients will receive additional funds for classroom tools from The Home Depot Foundation through matching gifts of $1,000 for each scholarship awarded to one or more of their students.

Scholarship applications will be accepted through April 30, 2010, online at, and are also available in a downloadable Spanish language format. The scholarship program is open to all students nationwide who are currently enrolled in a building and construction trade school program at a vocational/technical school, college or university. Winners will be selected based on a combination of academic performance, leadership and work experience.

People & Companies in the News

BASF, Florham Park, N.J., has become an official partner of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes Inc.—FLASH®, one of the most respected disaster preparedness organizations in the nation. BASF joins more than 75 partners from government, business, academia and not-for-profit organizations, including the Federal Emergency Management Association and the International Code Council, to advance the organization’s mission to protect lives, property and economic well-being by strengthening homes and safeguarding families from natural and man-made disasters.

ParexLahabra, Inc., Anaheim, Calif., has changed its name to Parex USA, Inc.

Saint-Gobain, Valley Forge, Pa., has joined the U.S. Department of Energy’s Save Energy Now® LEADER Program, signing a voluntary pledge to reduce its industrial energy intensity by 25 percent over the next decade. Together with other LEADER companies, Saint-Gobain—named the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Partner of the Year in 2009—will serve as an energy efficiency role model and pace setter for others in the industrial sector. In return, LEADER companies receive access to select DOE resources, as well as national recognition for energy management achievements.

Sto Corp, Atlanta, has been awarded the ISO 9001:2008 certification for all its manufacturing facilities and corporate offices. Sto has been ISO certified since 1998.

Products in the News

The United States Patent Office has issued a patent to CEMCO for its FAS-Track™ head-of wall product. This product was designed specifically for smoke and fire abatement in head-of-wall assemblies by combining slotted/deep-leg track and intumescent tape into one easy to install top track for standard walls and shaft walls alike.

All Temple-Inland® gypsum board has been third-party certified by Materials Analytical Services, LLC to meet the performance standard established for low-emitting materials under the Collaborative for High Performance Schools program.

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