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Architectural Billings Index is Positive for First Time in over Two Years PDF Print E-mail
Written by Paul Nutcher   
Thursday, 21 October 2010 11:45
For the first time since January 2008, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) indicated a growth in design activity in September, increasing for the fourth straight month. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the September ABI score was 50.4, up from a reading of 48.2 the previous month. This score reflects an increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was also up sharply, moving from 54.6 to 62.3 – the highest mark since July 2007.

“This is certainly encouraging news, but we will need to see consistent improvement over the next few months in order to feel comfortable about the state of the design and construction industry,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “While there has been increasing demand for design services, it is happening at a slow rate and there continue to be other obstacles that are preventing a more accelerated recovery. Still, the strong upturn in design activity in the commercial and industrial sector certainly suggests that this upturn can possibly be sustained.”

Key September ABI highlights:
  • Regional averages: Northeast (56.7), Midwest (51.0), South (47.0), West (44.5)
  • Sector index breakdown: commercial / industrial (56.3), institutional (47.9), multi-family residential (47.0), mixed practice (44.2)
  • Project inquiries index: 62.3

About the AIA Architecture Billings Index

The Architecture Billings Index is derived from a monthly “Work-on-the-Boards” survey and produced by the AIA Economics & Market Research Group. Based on a comparison of data compiled since the survey’s inception in 1995 with figures from the Department of Commerce on Construction Put in Place, the findings amount to a leading economic indicator that provides an approximately nine to twelve month glimpse into the future of nonresidential construction activity. The diffusion indexes contained in the full report are derived from a monthly survey sent to a panel of AIA member-owned firms. Participants are asked whether their billings increased, decreased, or stayed the same in the month that just ended. According to the proportion of respondents choosing each option, a score is generated, which represents an index value for each month. The regional and sector data is formulated using a three-month moving average.

 

Green marketing, architectural news, architectural sales, LEED, advertising, public relations, USGBC, AIA, CSI, green consultants, sustainability consulting, architecture, design build, project management, CAD, Building Information Modeling, BIM, Home Star, Cash for Caulkers, jobs report, solar energy, renewable energy, solar power, architect, branding, AIA Provider, CEU, continuing education

 
New LEED Regional Credits Coming PDF Print E-mail
Written by Paul Nutcher   
Wednesday, 20 October 2010 12:27

There are many reasons product manufacturers should get involved in the U.S. Green Building Council's local Chapters, but especially now with a new version of LEED coming out in 2012. The development of the new version of the green building rating system is an ongoing process and the chance to provide input will be starting soon. Click here to download the existing version of LEED. The current version of LEED 2009 was the first time since the initial development of the rating system that Regional Environmental Priorities (REPs) were included to encourage project teams to address geographically specific environmental issues when it comes to the design, construction and operations of buildings.

If you have been complaining that your product's green attributes are not addressed in the current LEED v.3.0, now is the time to get involved. The USGBC announced to its chapter leaders yesterday (Oct. 20, 2010) that the chapters will be involved in identifying what Regional Environmental Priorities are needed within their climate zone or Zip Code.

The best way to explain what an REP LEED Credit is to provide a few examples. The desert southwest for example might want an REP for water conservation, since water shortages are a big deal in that climate. In New York City, there are issues with landfills that are too full or space is limited. That region would want to give LEED projects extra credit for addressing waste management credits or recycled or reuse credits, among some others within the LEED Materials and Resouces section. If you have a building product or service that addresses either of these areas or perhaps energy efficiency but currently the benefits are not reflected in the LEED rating system, here is a chance for change.

By participating in the process of determining the weight of LEED Credits within the REP section, a product manufacturer can undo some unfair treatment of its product benefits in past versions of the rating system. This can be accomplished by more than just local participation. The USGBC has Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs), which meet regularly to discusss LEED and other technical issues. These committees meet at the national level and changes to the LEED program are typically the brainchild of the TAGs. Some credentials are needed to gain a seat at the table, but are worth pursuing if your product is green but ignored by LEED.

Once the LEED 2010 rating system has been drafted, there will be other ways to participate in shaping the debate about your products benefits to sustainable building project teams. Because the USGBC develops LEED by a consensus-based process, the latest version of the rating system will go out for public comment, probably in the summer or fall of 2011. The public comments will be collected and changes incorporated to the final draft before the full membership votes to adopt the new version of LEED.

Both the LEED for Homes and LEED for New Construction rating systems will be revised for 2012, so product manufacturers targeting residential and commercial segments of the building industry would benefit from getting more involved in the process. Sometimes being a good corporate citizen means more than just improvements in your own business practices and the process in place at the USGBC is one way to make positive changes for the green building industry.

 

LEED, green marketing, sustainablity consultants, public relations, advertising, branding, Green Apple Group, green advertising agency, USGBC, Construction Specifications Institute, Technical Advisory Group, consensus, Regional Environmental Priorities

 
GreenBuild Requies "Greener" Booths PDF Print E-mail
Written by Paul Nutcher   
Tuesday, 19 October 2010 11:58

Starting with the 2010 Greenbuild conference in Chicago, exhibitors at the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) annual conference must meet the Greenbuild Mandatory Exhibition Green Guidelines (GMEGG).

Failure to satisfy these guidelines could make companies ineligible to exhibit the following year. Documentation was due to USGBC on October 13, 2010, but an extended deadline expires today (Oct. 19). Specific measures include:

Reporting of materials used in booth construction;

Indoor air quality provisions for booths with compliance either by avoiding new materials (flooring, signage, counters, paneling) or using only zero-VOC or low-VOC paints, varnishes, and glues;

Either avoiding added flooring or using sustainable elements in the flooring (salvaged, recycled-content, or recyclable materials);

Signage made from sustainable elements (salvaged, recycled-content, or recyclable materials);

Satisfying at least one of the following with collateral (literature and other handouts): eliminating print and promotional giveaways; limiting the quantity of handouts and giveaways to 5,000 combined; or providing collateral made from prescribed sustainable materials;

Restrictions on shipping that include at least one of the following: avoidance of polystyrene; reuse of padding material; consolidation of shipments; exhibit crates made from certified sustainable material; exhibitor providing direct carbon offsets; or selection of a logistics partner that participates in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay partnership program or a similar program from another country;

Water reclamation for any exhibitor using water in its booth; and

Required education of booth staff using materials that will be distributed by USGBC.

Product manufacturers can comply by reusing the booth they assembled last year even if it contains elements that are not very green as reuse is one of the tenants of sustainability. Still, a better option is to start planning a booth with greener materials and offsetting of its carbon footprint, especially in the area of shipping and transportation as well as a minimalist approach to the booth's design.

Details of the GMEGG are available through the online Exhibitor Resource Center. USGBC says that 10% of exhibitors will be randomly audited for compliance with the new guidelines.

For more information:

Greenbuild Exhibitor Resource Center
www.greenbuildexpo.org/expo/Exhibitors/Exhibitor-Resources.aspx

 

TAGS: GreenBuild, booth graphics, trade show, green marketing, advertising, branding, public relations, marketing consultant, sustainability consulting

 
Mid-Year Outlook for AEC Firms Not Good PDF Print E-mail
Written by Paul Nutcher   
Tuesday, 19 October 2010 00:35

There could be some growth in construction of schools, healthcare facilities, and airports as well as other transportation infrastructure projects, but the remaining sectors of the AEC industry will be flat, according to the 2010 Mid-Year Outlook Update for AEC Firms, published by ZweigWhite.

The end of stimulus funds and first-time home buyers incentives will leave most of the construction industry without much potential for growth. The areas of architecture, interior design and landscape architecture could be hardest hit, the report said.

 

TAGS: green marketing, market research, advertising, branding, public relations, marketing consultants

 
Cash for Caulkers Could Help Building Industry PDF Print E-mail
Written by Paul Nutcher   
Friday, 15 October 2010 13:00

In a jobless economic recovery surely a measure known as the "Cash for Caulkers" bill would provide jobs for the building industry and help those currently underemployed or out of work. The unemployment rate in the construction industry is about triple the current overall unemployment rate.

The legislation needs Senate approval but little has happened to The Home Star Act of 2010 since May, when the House passed the measure.

Home Star would create jobs in the building industry and renewable energy sector "by providing short-term incentives for energy efficient improvements in residential buildings," according to the Home Star Coalition (www.homestarcoalition.org), a coalition of business owners that pushed for the bill.

"Among the provisions of the legislation is the creation of a $6 billion rebate program to encourage inmmediate investment in energy efficient appliances, building mechanical systems and insulation, and whole home energy effiiency retrofits," the coalition reported. Manufacturers of energy conserving products would also benefit from the program as would consultants, contractors and building scientists.

To keep up on the status or the legislation or show your support, here is a great site to visit: www.efficiencyfirst.org/home-star/. There needs to be more support from those who will benefit from the a better economy as the trend leading up to the mid-term elections is to distrust government incentives. I'm not sure why people think this way when you look at the incredible amount of federal money that pours into the corporations selling us fossil fuels. Where is the "free market" in that?

When the car manufacturing industry was about to go bust, there was the Cash for Clunkers measure that in combination with the government bailouts of the car makers does seem to have helped the car industry and leveled off job losses within that sector. The first-time home buyers incentives, which have now expired, did boost home sales for a while. Still, both did not do what a Home Star bill can do and that's leave the country's housing stock (more than 100 million households) more efficient. Many of the new cars bought were not exactly fuel savers and nor were most of the homes sold to first time homeowners.

The Home Star legislation would not only save money for homeowners, it would help the environment through a reduction of energy generated from fossil fuels and create jobs for Americans.

The initiative is apart from the energy tax credit of up to $1500 that was part of the stimulus act in 2009. That credit for energy effiency upgrades expires Dec. 31.

Supporters estimate that 3 million households would make use of the new program, saving $9.2 billionin energy costs over a 10-year period, according to a USA Today report in May. They said it would create 168,000 jobs, mainly for the construction industry.

Critics of the bill, said the government cannot administer the rebate program fairly and a $4.7 billion weatherization program within the economic stimulus act was slow to provide grants to states, the USA Today report stated.

Under Home Star, home owners would save money to create more efficient households from an environmental and economic standpoint. Homeowners (or consumers) would save on monthly energy bills from now until their energy efficient product wear out.

The rebates or discounts would be provided to homeowners at the time of sale. The retailer or contractor then would submit documentation to a processing office, which would verify the informationa nd foread the requiest to the Energy Department for payment.

To me, this seems like a win-win for the economy. So what is the Senate waiting for. Oh yeah, mid-term election fever and partisan politics.

I'd be interested in your responses to the above, send me an e-mail anytime at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or go to Green Apple's contact us page (http://www.greenappleconsult.com/index.php/contact-us.html) and send us a reply. We will use some constructive feedback in the blog.

 

Tags: Home Star, Cash for Caulkers, Energy Retrofits, Energy Efficiency, Construction Jobs, Building Industry, Building Product Marketing

 

 
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