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New Trade Association Will Represent All Facets of the EPS Industry

The EPS Industry Alliance has been established as a new trade association to represent the expanded polystyrene industry. The EPS Molders Association and the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers, two separate organizations previously representing distinct EPS market segments, have consolidated their resources to create an organization that will represent the entire industry. In addition to EPSMA and AFPR, the Plastic Loose Fill Council has also been integrated in to the EPS Industry Alliance.

Prior to consolidating, EPSMA and AFPR represented EPS building and construction and packaging applications, respectively. While these areas embody the majority of EPS use, growth in other fields—such as automotive parts, manufacturing components and safety equipment—made a strong case for the EPS industry to begin operating in tandem. Many companies, such as Dunkin’ Donuts and Walmart, use EPS across a broad range of their operations, making a compelling case to provide a central resource on the various EPS uses and applications. Providing this resource will support the EPS Industry Alliance’s mission to advance innovative EPS product solutions that contribute to a sustainable future.

The combined strength and experience of EPMSA and AFPR will create an organization well attuned to serve a field as broad as the EPS industry itself, which is comprised of companies with a wide range of product solutions. EPS product information will be more streamlined and accessible for EPS end users. The new EPS-IA website,, will serve as the go-to source for EPS information and provides resources for everyone from architects to packaging engineers and recycling professionals. The organization will continue to dedicate resources to specific interest areas but will now have the ability to address important industry-wide issues with a single voice

The EPS Industry Alliance has employed an entirely new governance model to provide maximum effectiveness and flexibility in support of key EPS industry initiatives. The board of directors, chaired by Bob Butkus of Atlas EPS, gains its strength from a wide representation of members throughout the EPS supply chain and is better aligned with today’s marketplace trends. Several new committees will manage issues that will benefit from more specialized representation. The EPS Sustainability Committee is already in place and will oversee key environmental programs such as life cycle analysis, green building and recycling. Specific EPS applications, such as structural insulated panels and insulating concrete forms, will form special interest groups to further advance these unique applications.

For more information on EPS and the EPS-IA, visit

Builder Confidence Increases for Fifth Consecutive Month in February

Home builder confidence in the market for new single-family homes increased for the fifth consecutive month in February, rising from 25 to 29 on the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index released Feb. 15. It is the highest level the index has reached in more than four years.

“This is the longest period of sustained improvement we have seen in the HMI since 2007, which is encouraging,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “However, it is important to remember that the HMI is still very low, and several factors continue to constrain the market. Foreclosures are still competing with new home sales, and many builders are seeing appraisals come in at less than the cost of construction. Additionally, prospective home buyers are finding it difficult to qualify for a mortgage.”

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 from each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

Each of the HMI’s three components also improved for a fifth consecutive month in February. The component measuring traffic of prospective buyers rose from 21 to 22, and the component measuring sales expectations for the next six months increased from 29 to 34. The component measuring current sales rose from 25 to 30.
January Construction Starts Recede 2 Percent
New construction starts in January slipped again by 2 percent from December and by 14 percent the same month a year ago.

The value of new construction starts dropped 2 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $402.2 billion, according to McGraw-Hill Construction, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Both nonresidential building and housing settled back from December, while the nonbuilding construction sector managed to register a modest gain with the help of a rebound for new electric utility starts. On an unadjusted basis, total construction starts in January were reported at $27.0 billion, down 14 percent from the same month a year ago. For the 12 months ending January 2012 versus the 12 months ending January 2011, which lessens the volatility present in one-month comparisons, total construction starts were down 3 percent.

The January statistics lowered the Dodge Index to 85 (2000=100), compared to December’s reading of 87. Over the course of 2011, the Dodge Index moved within the range of 81 to 101, with the average for last year coming in at 90.

Nonresidential building in January slipped 1 percent to $139.9 billion (annual rate), according to McGraw-Hill.

Residential building, at $134.5 billion (annual rate), dropped 8 percent in January. Multifamily housing fell 26 percent, retreating from the elevated volume reported in December. January’s amount for multifamily housing was still 5 percent above the average monthly pace for 2011 as a whole, a year in which the annual total for multifamily housing climbed 23 percent.

Single-family housing in January settled back 1 percent, as the result of this regional pattern: the Midwest, down 4 percent; the South Atlantic, down 3 percent; the Northeast, down 2 percent; the West, up 1 percent; and the South Central, up 2 percent.

The 14 percent decline for total construction on an unadjusted basis in January 2012 relative to January 2011 was due to this performance by major sector: nonresidential building, down 16 percent; residential building, up 17 percent; and nonbuilding construction, down 30 percent. By region, total construction for January 2012 compared to January 2011 revealed decreased activity in the South Central, down 32 percent; the Northeast, down 28 percent; and the West, down 11 percent, while gains were reported for the South Atlantic, up 1 percent; and the Midwest, up 16 percent.

The 3 percent decline for total construction on a 12-month moving total basis, meaning the 12 months ending January 2012 versus the 12 months ending January 2011, was due to this pattern by major sector: nonresidential building, down 4 percent; residential building, up 4 percent; and nonbuilding construction, down 8 percent. By region, the 12 months ending January 2012 showed the following behavior for total construction compared to the previous 12 months: the Northeast and Midwest, each down 9 percent; the South Central, down 8 percent; the West, up 2 percent; and the South Atlantic, up 9 percent.
Department of Labor Announces Availability of $75 Million through YouthBuild Grants Program
United States Department of Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis announced March 7 the availability of approximately $75 million in YouthBuild grant funds to develop programs that will help out-of-school youth complete high school or General Educational Development programs, as well as learn critical occupational skills in construction, health care, information technology and other fields.

The U.S. Department of Labor anticipates serving more than 5,200 young people through 75 grants, ranging from $700,000 to $1.1 million each, to be awarded to organizations that oversee education and employment services for disadvantaged youth in their communities.
This solicitation for grant applications is the first to incorporate new regulations for the YouthBuild program that expand required skills training beyond construction to include training in high-demand occupations such as health care and information technology, among others.
YouthBuild is a nonresidential, community-based alternative education program that provides classroom instruction and occupational skills training to at-risk individuals ages 16 to 24. Participants have been in the juvenile justice system, are aging out of foster care, are high school dropouts and are otherwise at risk of failing to reach key educational milestones and opportunities that lead to career fulfillment. Participants learn valuable skills as they build or rehabilitate housing for low-income or homeless individuals and families in their communities. Non-construction skills training programs also must include leadership development and community service elements to ensure that youth maintain a connection to their communities through service and volunteerism.

Both the solicitation and information on how to apply for a grant are available at

For more information on YouthBuild and other Labor Department youth employment programs, visit

Report Shows How Sustainability in Buildings Advances Resiliency

The U.S. Green Building Council and the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning released a landmark report on Feb. 29 that describes how green buildings advance resiliency in disasters. The report was released during the National Leadership Speaker Series on Resiliency and National Security in the 21st Century, hosted by USGBC and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA.

The report, “Green Building and Climate Resilience: Understanding Impacts and Preparing for Changing Conditions,” describes potential adaptive strategies available to green building practitioners. These strategies add an important new dimension to green building’s long-standing focus on reducing greenhouse gases through energy efficiency and renewable and low-carbon energy supplies.

The report, which identifies the deep synergies between green building and resiliency, advances several firsts in the field, such as the folowing:
• Examining the implications of climate change for green building and identifies opportunities for resilience through the design, construction, and operation of buildings and communities.
• Analyzing how individual LEED credits support regional adaptation needs, such as enhanced water conversation in arid climates and water-sensitive regions.
• Demonstrating how consideration of climate resilience in buildings can increase the likelihood of achieving performance goals throughout the lifetime of a project.
Access the report at

People in the News

Safway Services LLC, Waukesha, Wis., has named Bill Hayes its president, COO and a director of Safway Services LLC.

Hayes comes to Safway with a strong background in successfully leading a diverse group of industrial manufacturing and service businesses. He has spent the last four years at Honeywell International Inc. where he was president of Honeywell Safety Products. Under his leadership, HSP more than tripled in size from $600 million to $2 billion, dramatically improved profitability and working capital performance, and successfully executed the most complex acquisition integration in recent Honeywell history.

Sto Corp., Atlanta, announces four new appointments to its sales department. The new sales representatives are now part of the largest sales force in the industry.

Ryan Miller is appointed sales representative for the Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Eastern Missouri territory. Miller is LEED AP accredited.

Zach Chittum joins the South Central sales team as coatings sales representative, covering the east coast of Florida.

Calvin Holloway also joins the South Central sales team as sales representative. He will cover the North Carolina, South Carolina and Savannah, Ga., territory.

Ray Redmond will assume the role of sales representative covering Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.

Companies in the News

The Drywall Finishing Council, Charlotte, N.C., will celebrate 20 years of supporting the building industry through education and industry advocacy at the council’s next meeting on April 17, 2012, in Charlotte, N.C., during AWCI’s Convention & INTEX Expo.

Since it modest beginnings, the Drywall Finishing Council has grown into a well-regarded organization in the industry with 30 active, associate and honorary member companies. The council convenes twice a year to discuss issues facing the drywall industry and advance projects in the areas of promotion, awareness and education. In recent years, the council published numerous white papers providing education on application, techniques and specification of drywall finishing materials.

ColoradoBiz magazine, published by Wiesner Publishing LLC, has honored AWCI member Heartland Acoustics & Interiors with recognition in its selection of “Top 250 Private Companies” for 2011. Heartland moved up 11 spots over their prior year ranking to number 133 of the 250 companies ranked.

An AWCI member, Heartland Acoustics & Interiors is a full-service contracting firm specializing in suspended acoustical ceilings, specialty ceilings, acoustical wall panels and sound control, stretch wall/ceiling systems and raised access flooring. The company was founded in 1997 and services the entire state of Colorado and Wyoming, with an office in San Diego that services Southern California.

Hunter Douglas announces a 40 percent expansion of the Hunter Douglas Architectural Products facility in Norcross, Ga. The unit engineers, manufactures and sells a wide range of Luxalon metal ceilings, wood ceilings, custom ceilings and wall panels. This location has housed Hunter Douglas’ manufacturing operations for more than 15 years.

Intercorp, headquartered in Cleveland, has opened a distribution warehouse in Cleveland. This new location will complement their other existing locations in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and Portland.

The American Subcontractors Association presented 2011 Excellence in Ethics Certificates to Marek Brothers Systems Inc. in Houston, Texas, and South Valley Drywall, Littleton, Colo., for achieving “the highest standards of internal and external integrity for a subcontracting firm.”

These AWCI member companies were two of seven construction subcontractors to receive an Excellence in Ethics Certificate during ASA’s annual meeting on March 2 in conjunction with the ASA Business Forum and Convention 2012 in San Antonio, Texas. The other recipients were F.A. Rohrbach, Allentown, Pa.; Holes Incorporated, Houston, Texas; Lloyd’s Construction Services, Savage, Minn.; Markham Contracting Company Inc., Phoenix, Ariz.; and Western Engineering Contractors Inc., Loomis, Calif.

For more information, visit

Bill Sturgeon, president/CEO of Wagner Distribution Holding Company, Inc., Kansas City, Kan., announces that it has acquired Commercial Drywall Supply Inc., a privately held specialty building materials distributor based in Wichita, Kan. The change became effective March 5.

Commercial Drywall Supply is a two branch distributor of gypsum and gypsum-related products. Their second branch is located in Manhattan, Kan.

Following a brief transition period, Wagner Interior Supply of Wichita will relocate and operate from the Commercial Drywall Supply facility in Wichita. The second branch will become Wagner Interior Supply of Manhattan and maintain its location in Manhattan.

Products in the News

3M™ Scotch-Weld™ Instant Adhesive was recently responsible for a Guinness World Records–setting feat, lifting an 8.1 metric ton (17,857 pound, 2990 PSI) forklift in the air for one hour, which set a new world record for the heaviest weight lifted with glue. The vehicle was suspended from a crane by a steel cylinder only 7 cm in diameter, with the two parts of the cylinder secured together with 3M™ Scotch-Weld™ Plastic & Rubber Instant Adhesive PR100. The previous record was 8.01 metric tons.

To celebrate this new world record and share the success with its customers, 3M is offering special pricing and application support until April 30, 2012. For more information about this promotion and to see video footage of the record-breaking lift, visit

CertainTeed Corporation, Valley Forge, Pa., announces that its CertaSpray® Closed Cell Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation has completed the Air Barrier Association of America’s air barrier materials evaluation process. The approval provides architects and specifiers more options when working on ABAA-specified projects and provides third-party assurance of product performance.

ClarkDietrich™ Building Systems, West Chester, Ohio, announces that the company’s MaxTrak® Slotted Deflection Track has received IAPMO (International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officers) Evaluation Service report ER 0145. The report confirms that MaxTrak complies with 2009 International Building Code® and the 2010 California Building Code.

New on the ’net

Through the introduction of EcoDocs™, architects, contractors and other building professionals now have an easy-to-use online tool for documenting CertainTeed (Valley Forge, Pa.) insulation, ceilings and gypsum products used in LEED® projects. EcoDocs provides custom documentation letters designed for specific LEED rating programs and is available 24/7 to help meet the sustainability criteria for specified CertainTeed products.

After creating an account at, building design professionals can open and save individual projects along with location and contact information. For each project, exact quantities and costs of each product can be selected and assigned to a specific LEED goal. Once all products are selected, a simple click generates a LEED letter covering the selected products and LEED objective.

Parex USA, Inc., Anaheim, Calif., now provides building information modeling details for its EIF systems.

Having BIM details for Parex EIF Systems will make it easier for architects and designers to specify Parex EIF Systems, providing them with numerous tools. Parex BIM details, as well as DWG, DXF and PDF files, product data sheets, brochures and links to LEED information, can be found on the Parex ( and Autodesk ( websites.

The BIM details include options for CMU or metal studs, WaterMaster with Weatherseal and standard EIF systems. Each system will allow the user to define the assembly products including the choice of finish coat with all Parex colors and textures.

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