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Construction Trends

In response to concerns raised by members, core LEED users and stakeholders, and in an effort to provide the marketplace a view of the full LEED program experience prior to ballot, the U.S. Green Building Council will delay ballot on LEED 2012 until June 1, 2013 (or potentially earlier in 2013 if USGBC members and the market indicate readiness for ballot). Because of this date change, LEED 2012 is being renamed LEED v4.

In addition to the ballot date change, other actions include the following:

• Keeping LEED 2009 open for registration for three years.

• Continuing to ask for the market’s assistance in “test driving” LEED v4 to gain important insight during a time when improvements in usability infrastructure can be made.

• Committing to a fifth public comment that will open on Oct. 2, 2012, and run through Dec. 10, 2012, to take advantage of Greenbuild where USGBC will hold public forums and educational sessions on site in San Francisco. This will help stakeholders better understand requirements as well as any final changes that may appear in the new draft. Greenbuild will also serve as a platform to debut new forms, submittal documents and LEED Online enhancements that will help improve and enhance the user experience

Visit for more information.

80 Metro Areas Listed as Improving in June

The list of U.S. housing markets showing measurable and sustained improvement now includes 80 metropolitan areas, according to the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index for June, released June 13. Though down from the 100 markets shown as improving in May, the list includes 28 new entrants and at least one representative from 31 different states (including the District of Columbia).

The index identifies metropolitan areas that have shown improvement from their respective troughs in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months. The June IMI showed some considerable shifting of markets on and off the list, with 52 metros holding on to their spots, 48 slipping from the list and 28 being added. Notable new entrants to the improving list in June include Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Grand Junction, Colo.; Fargo, N.D.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Dallas.

The IMI is designed to track housing markets throughout the country that are showing signs of improving economic health. The index measures three sets of independent monthly data to get a mark on the top improving Metropolitan Statistical Areas. The three indicators that are analyzed are employment growth from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, house price appreciation from Freddie Mac and single-family housing permit growth from the U.S. Census Bureau. NAHB uses the latest available data from these sources to generate a list of improving markets. A metropolitan area must see improvement in all three areas for at least six months following their respective troughs before being included on the improving markets list.

A complete list of all 80 metropolitan areas currently on the IMI, and separate breakouts of metros newly added to or dropped from the list in June, is available at
Substantial Drop in ABI
Following the first negative reading in five months, the Architecture Billings Index has had a significant drop in May. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine- to 12- month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects reported the May ABI score was 45.8, following a mark of 48.4 in April. This score reflects a sharp decrease in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 54.0, down slightly from mark of 54.4 the previous month.
“For the second year in a row, we’re seeing declines in springtime design activity after a healthy first quarter. Given the ongoing uncertainly in the economic outlook, particularly the weak job growth numbers in recent months, this should be an alarm bell going off for the design and construction industry,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Ph.D., Hon. AIA. “The commercial/industrial sector is the only one recording gains in design activity at present, and even this sector has slowed significantly. Construction forecasters will have to reassess what conditions will look like moving forward.”
Key May ABI highlights in May include the following:
• Regional averages: Northeast (48.6), West (47.6), Midwest (46.8), South (46.1).
• Sector index breakdown: commercial / industrial (50.7), multi-family residential (48.9), institutional (45.6), mixed practice (41.5).
• Project inquiries index: 54.0.
The regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers.

EMLA Develops Tables of Transverse Wind Load Capacities for Lath and Plaster in Wall Assemblies

The Expanded Metal Lath Association of the National Association of Architectural Metal Manufacturers, Glen Ellyn, Ill., has completed a comprehensive testing program to determine the minimum acceptable load capacities for expanded metal lath under transverse loading with traditional 3-coat stucco wall systems. The 3rd party test results proved these types of wall systems perform exceptionally well in high-wind zone environments.

The stucco tests were performed in August 2011 at Smith-Emery Laboratories in Los Angeles in conformance with the International Code Council’s acceptance criteria AC 191 -Acceptance Criteria for Metal Plaster Bases (Lath). The lath plaster was installed in accordance with ASTM C1063, Standard Specification for Installation of Lathing and Furring to Receive Interior and Exterior Portland Cement-Based Plaster, and ASTM C926, Standard Specification for Application of Portland Cement-Based Plaster.

With a general lack of industry published data or research for stucco systems, EMLA conducted this “first ever” industry association testing on common metal lath and stucco assemblies to provide baseline load data to design professionals, end-users, and standard organizations. A summary of the test results and the test program are available for free at
SIPA and the USDA Forest Products Laboratory to Sponsor Aspect Ratio Testing on SIPs

The Structural Insulated Panel Association will sponsor aspect ratio testing on shear walls built with structural insulated panels. Funded by both SIPA and the USDA Forest Products Laboratory, the testing aims to determine the allowable wall height to width ratio (aspect ratio) for SIP shear walls in high wind or seismic regions.

Currently, design professionals and engineers working with SIP shear walls in commercial buildings are limited to the testing data available from individual SIP manufacturers. Although SIP walls are given structural equivalency to wood frame walls for residential buildings in the International Residential Code, there is no mention of SIP shear walls in the International Building Code for nonresidential buildings.

The testing is scheduled to begin this month at the NAHB Research Center in Upper Marlboro, Md. A special NAHB Research Center advisory committee has been formed to oversee the testing that includes representatives from the NAHB Research Center, the American Wood Council, the International Code Council Evaluation Service, the Forest Products Laboratory and representatives of SIPA.

Nationwide Housing Affordability Reaches New Record High, Tight Credit Remains Primary Obstacle

Nationwide housing affordability hit a new record high for a second consecutive quarter in the first three months of this year, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index, released May 17. Yet tight lending conditions continue to pose a major obstacle to many prospective home buyers.

The latest HOI data reveal that 77.5 percent of all new and existing homes that were sold in this year’s first quarter were affordable to families earning the national median income of $65,000. This beats the previous record set in the final quarter of 2011, when 75.9 percent of homes sold were affordable to median-income earners.

The most affordable major housing market in this year’s first quarter was Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind., where 95.8 percent of homes sold during the period were affordable to households earning the area’s median family income of $66,900.

Also ranking among the most affordable major housing markets in respective order were Dayton, Ohio; Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla.; Modesto, Calif.; Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Mich.; and Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y.; the latter two of which tied for fifth place.

Among smaller housing markets, Cumberland, Md.–W.Va. topped the affordability chart for the first time in this year’s first quarter. There, 99 percent of homes sold during the first quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $53,000. Other smaller housing markets at the top of the index include Fairbanks, Alaska; Wheeling, W.Va.; Kokomo, Ind.; and Davenport–Moline–Rock Island, Iowa–Ill., respectively.

In New York–White Plains–Wayne, N.Y. –N.J., which retained the title of the least affordable major housing market for a 16th consecutive quarter, just 31.5 percent of homes sold in the first three months of this year were affordable to those earning the area’s median income of $68,200.

Other major metros at the bottom of the affordability chart included San Francisco–San Mateo–Redwood City, Calif.; Honolulu; Los Angeles–Long Beach–Glendale, Calif.; and Santa Ana–Anaheim–Irvine, Calif., respectively.

Ocean City, N.J., was the least affordable smaller housing market on the list, with 45.9 percent of homes sold in the first quarter affordable to families earning the median income of $71,100. Other small metros at the bottom of the list included Santa Cruz–Watsonville, Calif.; San Luis Obispo–Paso Robles, Calif.; Santa Barbara–Santa Maria–Goleta, Calif.; and Laredo, Texas.
FMI White Paper Addresses Growth of Prefabrication and Modularization
FMI Corporation has released its latest white paper, “Modularization and Prefabrication—Role Development and Evolution.”

The National Institute of Standards and Technology recently addressed ways to improve the competitiveness and productivity of the construction industry in the United States. The institute noted that greater use of prefabrication, pre-assembly, modularization and off-site fabrication techniques and processes is one of the primary ways the industry could improve productivity and become more efficient during the next 20 years.
FMI’s experience confirms this view. When last surveyed about

growth in prefabrication and modularization, 49 percent of Nonresidential Construction Index panelists expected growth to exceed 5 percent between 2011 and 2014.

To assist A/E/C firms in capitalizing on this trend, the FMI white paper discusses the process to successfully incorporate modular and prefab construction methods into projects. To help envision how the technique may apply in commercial projects, the paper also discusses techniques used in building the Astoria Power Plant in Queens, N.Y. and lodging for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

To download a copy of “Modularization and Prefabrication—Role Development and Evolution,” click the link provided in the press release at

Collaboration between Armstrong and Waste Management Significantly Expands Opportunity to Recycle Old Ceiling Tiles

Thousands of tons of old ceiling tiles will soon be diverted from local landfills thanks to a new agreement between Armstrong World Industries, a manufacturer of acoustical ceiling systems headquartered in Lancaster, Pa., and Waste Management, a provider of environmental services.

With the addition of more than 50 Waste Management material recovery facilities, and collection contracts with many of the nation’s top construction companies, the new initiative is expected to significantly expand Armstrong’s existing Ceiling Recycling Program.

As an Armstrong Certified Construction & Demolition Processor, Waste Management will collect mineral fiber and fiberglass ceiling tiles that have been removed from commercial renovation and demolition projects. It will then store and prepare the tiles for shipment to the nearest Armstrong ceilings plant, where they will be used in the manufacture of new ceiling tiles. Armstrong designates new tiles made with high levels of recycled ceilings as Ceiling-2-Ceiling™ tiles.

Since the program began in 1999, Armstrong has recycled more than 123 million square feet of old ceiling tiles. This represents more than 16,000 roll-off containers of discarded construction materials that would have otherwise been taken to landfills.

Win a Full Lineup of Hilti Tools

Enter today for your chance to win a full lineup Hilti’s 18 volt cordless tools on the market during the Hilti 18 Volt Ultimate Sweepstakes.

To enter and view the official rules and other disclosures, visit Hilti’s Facebook page at now through Aug. 31, 2012. “Like” Hilti’s fan page and complete the online entry form to enter. You will receive additional entries for every Facebook friend you recommend who registers for the sweepstakes.

The grand prize winner will receive the full line of Hilti 18 volt cordless tools, including batteries, charger and tool bags. Four additional prize winners will be chosen throughout the sweepstakes to win one of the following: SFC 18-A Compact Drill/Driver, SFH 18-A Hammer Drill/Driver or SID 18-A Impact Driver (tool selection pre-determined by Hilti).

People in the News

Intercorp, an importer of high quality construction fasteners under the Strong-Point® brand and headquartered in Orange, Calif., has added two new account managers, Justin Estes and Aaron Renfro, who will work from Intercorp’s Portland and Dallas branches.

The American Institute of Architects as elevated Radius Track CEO & Founder Charles (Chuck) Mears to its prestigious College of Fellows, an honor awarded to architects who have made contributions of national significance to the profession. Radius Track Corporation, headquartered in Minneapolis, is an authority on creating curved, cold-form steel structures.

Mears was honored at a ceremony in May at the AIA National Convention and Design Exposition in Washington D.C. With more than 80,000 AIA members nationwide, fewer than 1 percent of them have been named to the College of Fellows and are entitled to add the “FAIA” designation behind their names. Mears is a longstanding member of the AIA St. Paul chapter.

This distinction, widely recognized as the highest honor bestowed on an architect by a jury of their peers, is conferred upon architects who have made a significant contribution to architecture and society on a national level; and who have achieved a standard of excellence in the profession and the built environment. Mears was recognized for revolutionizing the way curved surfaces in buildings are created.

Companies in the News

Marco Supply Company, headquartered in Roanoke, Va., has acquired certain assets of Superior Concrete Supply, Monroe, Ga., Superior Concrete Supply focused on the poured wall concrete contractor market. Superior’s president, Mike Lynam, has joined Marco Supply and consolidated his company’s inventory into Marco’s Atlanta locaton. Marco Supply was founded in 1970 and sells a variety of power tools, fasteners, safety supplies and other construction products.

Phillips Manufacturing Co. has acquired the assets of Steel Drum Industries, LLC, Tampa, Fla. Steel Drum has fabricated corner bead and trim products for drywall corner finishing since 2003. Established in 1955, Phillips is a national single source manufacturer for all drywall finishing beads and trims, channels and framing components, as well as stucco accessories and roofing metals.

Phillips Manufacturing has been servicing customers in Florida for many years, and this acquisition will help grow that business and improve the company’s service model in the Southeastern United States. Phillips Manufacturing will expand and enhance the product offering out of its current location in Tampa.

Phillips Manufacturing Co. also announces its membership in the Steel Stud Manufacturers Association. As an SSMA member, Phillips Manufacturing’s structural studs and tracks are now certified by the SSMA.

Sphere 1, a cooperative of independent tool and fastener distributors, voted Powers Fasteners of Brewster, N.Y., as its 2011 Vendor of the Year at their annual member meeting in May. Eighty-four preferred suppliers were eligible for the designation.

In June, Stanley Black & Decker’s Construction Do-It-Yourself (CDIY) division, New Britain, Conn., purchased Powers Fasteners, Brewster, N.Y.

In an e-mail sent to distributors, Powers CEO Jeff Powers noted that Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Powers Fasteners Lenny Colasounno would continue to lead Powers North America, and that Powers’ core management team would remain intact with no changes on its commercial side. Powers will maintain its Brewster headquarters.

As a separate operating group embedded within the Professional Power Tools Group, Powers will remain as a key brand, according to the announcement.

Founded in 1921, Powers is a supplier of concrete and masonry anchors and fastening systems. Powers will partner with existing Stanley Black & Decker brand DeWalt to provide “a comprehensive tool and anchoring package to the industry,” said Powers in a video announcement on DeWalt’s website.

New on the ’Net

CertainTeed Insulation has launched a new website,, offering building professionals and homeowners easier access to information on the company’s extensive portfolio of insulation products and category expertise. The new site is focused on helping people “Get Comfortable: No Matter Where You Are,” reinforcing the importance of understanding insulation-related code requirements in various climates.

In only a few clicks, contractors and specifiers can find product information, performance benefits and instructional videos specific to a particular insulation type.

The site also provides a central resource for all of CertainTeed’s insulation-related tools and technical resources. Contractors and installers can easily access tools to help build their businesses, including a collection of digital marketing materials and links to preferred partners.

Flex-Ability Concepts has launched a newly designed website. The site,, features a dramatic new look combined with easy-to-use content and organization.

The site includes comprehensive product information for commercial and residential applications, an updated rep locater plus BIM file links and CEU opportunities.
The new site can be used on all mobile device platforms and also includes links to the company’s Facebook and Linkedin pages as well as Youtube videos.

Sto Corp. has unveiled its StoViewer, a unique virtual tool where the user can search for color and texture options in its cladding systems. As follow-up, the company has launched a new microsite, which promotes Sto’s core values of innovation, technology and sustainability, using examples and interactive tools. From the microsite the user can go directly to the StoViewer, as well as a new System Finder Tool, which helps select a StoTherm System based on design criteria.

The microsite, “Façades Done Right,” found at, has four major components or “faces” that each relate to a specific core value. The first face or façade is “Thinks Green,” the second is “Technology Leader,” the third is that of the “Trusted Source,” and the last face is “Design Flexibility,” where the StoViewer can be found.

The new Stone Panels, Inc. website,, features enhanced functionality and unlimited access to project images, instructional videos and more.

The home page showcases the cutting edge techniques of SPI with striking project visuals and effortless site navigation. The addition of a FAQ page offers a collection of inquiries with thorough answers and additional information from the SPI staff. The site also features a Project Photo Gallery, an enhanced CAD/BIM section, an installation video and expanded lists of available stones and stone finishes.

What’s App, Doc?

The American Subcontractors Association has launched a mobile-optimized website,, that is better suited for viewing on the small screens of mobile devices. While visitors still have the option to visit ASA’s traditional website,, at any time, the mobile site offers scaled-down content and simplified navigation for easier viewing and quick action.

Construction industry iPad and iPhone users now have easy access to many International Code Council codes, commentaries, standards and handbooks in Apple’s iTunes Store. Titles available include the International Codes, among them the debut of the 2012 International Green Construction Code.

The latest series of International Codes and references now available in the iTunes store include the 2012 International Codes and Code and Commentaries; 2009 International Codes, Q&As and IBC Handbooks, ICC Referenced Standards, 2011 Ohio Codes, 2010 Florida Building Codes, 2009 Michigan Codes, 2009 Virginia Codes and 2009 New Jersey Codes.

Sto Corp., Atlanta, has launched its first mobile app for iPhone and iPad. The Sto App, which is accessible via iTunes, includes information and documentation for Sto systems and products, as well as a distributor locator function.

The app enables the user to browse descriptions of all Sto systems including EIFS, air barriers, stucco and coatings, and view or download related specifications, details and literature. It also includes a product finder with datasheets, MSDS and LEED documents. The distributor locator includes a map with all Sto Distributor locations, including the United States, Canada, South America and the Caribbean, and allows the user to search for the nearest distributor. It also provides contact methods and a map function to locate them.

Available for both iPhone and iPad, the new USG Solutions mobile application includes material estimators for ceilings, interior panels and tile and flooring products; project how-tos, complete with checklists and step-by-step instructions; product catalog detailing over a dozen USG products; the ability to share projects to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr; and contact information for USG USA & Canada.

The application supports three languages: English, Spanish and French.

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