Friday, March 26, 2010

EPA Issues Second Annual Ranking of U.S. Cities with the Most Energy Efficient Buildings

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a list of U.S. metropolitan areas with the largest number of energy efficient buildings that earned EPA’s Energy Star in 2009. The list is headed by Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Houston, Lakeland, Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta and New York. Energy efficiency saves building owners money and fights climate change.

"These cities see the importance of taking action on climate change," said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “Communities from Los Angeles to Louisville are reducing greenhouse gases and cutting energy bills with buildings that have earned EPA's Energy Star."

EPA first issued its ranking of cities with the most Energy Star labeled buildings last year. This year, Los Angeles remains in first place; the District of Columbia picks up second; Denver and Chicago move into the top five; and Lakeland and New York City are new to the top 10.

Continuing the impressive growth of the past several years, in 2009 nearly 3,900 commercial buildings earned the Energy Star, representing annual savings of more than $900 million in utility bills and more than 4.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Since EPA awarded the first Energy Star to a building in 1999, nearly 9,000 buildings across America have earned the Energy Star as of the end of 2009, representing more than a 40 percent increase over last year’s total. Overall annual utility savings have climbed to nearly $1.6 billion and greenhouse gas emissions equal to the emissions of more than 1 million homes a year have been prevented.

Energy use in commercial buildings accounts for 17 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at a cost of over $100 billion per year. EPA awards the Energy Star to commercial buildings that perform in the top 25 percent of buildings nationwide compared to similar buildings. Thirteen types of buildings can earn the Energy Star, including schools, hospitals, office buildings, retail stores and supermarkets.

View a list of the Top 25 Cities in 2009 with Energy Star labeled buildings:

Access EPA’s real-time registry of all Energy Star labeled buildings 1999-present:

Learn more about earning the Energy Star for commercial buildings:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Energy Film Uses Nanoparticle Technology to Save Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy has stated that 60% of a rooms heat load in summer is due to solar heat through the windows. They have also stated that 25% of energy loss in winter is through the windows. Energy Film is a cost-effective solution to saving energy by reducing heat gain in summer and reducing heat loss in winter. To read full article, click here.

Construction Backlog Indicator (CBI) Down 9 Percent in January

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) today reports that its Construction Backlog Indicator (CBI) sharply declined by 9 percent between November 2009 and January 2010. CBI has slipped 16.3 percent during the last year and currently stands at 5.5 months, the lowest point reported in the 15 months ABC has gathered data. CBI is a forward-looking indicator that measures the amount of construction work under contract to be completed in the future.

"The fact that the CBI is now at its lowest point since ABC began measuring the statistic in November 2008 indicates that the nation's nonresidential construction industry remains mired in its own recession," said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu.

"Nonresidential construction tends to lag the overall economy by 12 to 24 months. With the broader economy having been in a slow recovery for roughly three quarters, and with the stimulus package still having an impact, the hope had been that some signs of backlog stability would be apparent by now. However, all indications continue to point toward an ongoing decline in the commercial and industrial construction industry."

Regional Highlights

Between January 2009 and January 2010, average backlog was down in each of the geographic regions, except for the Middle States.

Particularly sharp declines occurred in the Northeast and the South, which have both experienced declines of roughly half a month of backlog during the past two months.

The sharpest regional decline occurred in the South, falling from 8.12 months in January 2009 to 6.03 months in January 2010.


"While most regions experienced a decline in average backlog during the latest two-month period, with the exception of the Middle States, the pace of decline was quite modest. Overall, the data are consistent with the notion that while the pace of decline continues to slow, the downward trend is evident in virtually every region of the nation."

Industry Highlights

The average backlog fell in all three industry segments – commercial, industrial and infrastructure – between January 2009 and January 2010.

Between November 2009 and January 2010, average backlog in the infrastructure category fell by precisely two months.

At 5.3 months, backlog in the commercial and institutional category now stands at its lowest level in the survey's history.


"The data indicate that infrastructure-related work, attributable to the stimulus package passed in February 2009, is no longer generating substantial new backlog now that the funds have largely been obligated to current projects under way. The elevated backlog readings of previous months are associated with substantial levels of ongoing construction, but the decline in backlog signals an eventual downturn in infrastructure-related construction spending."

Highlights by Company Size

With the exception of firms in the $30 million to $50 million category, average backlog declined for every size category.

No firm in the $75 million to $100 million category reported an average backlog of more than five months, and many reported backlog between three and four months.

Firms with annual revenues in excess of $100 million reported the lengthiest backlog, although backlog for this group has been declining overall in recent months.


"Average backlog is now at its lowest level in both the $50 million to $75 million and the $75 million to $100 million categories. Many of these firms appear to be general contractors that continue to be underbid by larger firms with greater resources and greater capacity to undertake projects with little or no profit margin built into their bids. Larger firms also may be more likely to maintain productive banking relationships, allowing them to more nimbly access available contractual opportunities."

To read more about the latest CBI, click here.

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) is a national association with 77 chapters representing 25,000 merit shop construction and construction-related firms with two million employees. Visit ABC at

AIA Billing Index Shows Slight Increase in Demand

According to the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) moved slightly higher in February. The index for last month was 44.8, compared to 42.5 in January. The February index indicates a continued decline in demand for design services. Any reading above 50 indicates an increase in billings.

The ABI is widely viewed as a leading economic indicator of construction activity. The ABI tyoically reflects an approximate nine to 12 month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending.

"We continue to hear that funding dedicated for construction projects in the stimulus package has not yet been awarded, resulting in a bottleneck of potential projects that could help jump-start the economy," said Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA, chief economist at the American Institute of Architects, which compiles the ABI. "That, coupled with a persistently rigid credit market for private sector projects, is a key reason why the design and construction industry continue to suffer at near historic levels in terms of job losses." The AIA conducts a monthly survey of architectural firms to build the index.

Key February 2010 ABI highlights:

Regional averages: Midwest (49.4), Northeast (44.1), West (43.6), South (40.7)

Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (47.3), institutional (44.2), mixed practice (43.3), commercial / industrial (43.2)

About the Architecture Billings Index

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) is a diffusion index derived from the monthly Work-on-the-Boards survey, conducted by the AIA Economics & Market Research Group. The ABI serves as a leading economic indicator that leads nonresidential construction activity by approximately 9-12 months. The indexes are developed from the monthly Work-on-the-Boards survey panel where 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.

Monday, March 22, 2010

IceStone Announces Contest

IceStone, the NY-based maker of green, durable surfaces used for countertops, bar-tops, bathrooms, flooring and other applications, annouced a contest for commercial installations. The Annual IceStone Installation Competition – showcasing ecofriendly, green, sustainable surfaces and how 100% recycled glass and concrete surfaces can help make our environment a better place.

Owners and contractors that have completed an IceStone commericial installation shot could be eligible to win a trip for two to Arctic Norway. For more information on the contest, visit the IceStone Contest Page. The contest ends April 30, 2010; Winner will be announced in May 2010.


We are proud to have on our 2nd Installation Competition panel the following pioneers and thought leaders:

- Rick Cook, Principal, Cook + Fox

- Rick Fedrizzi, President, United States Green Building Council (USGBC)

- Eric Corey Freed, Founder, OrganicArchitect

- Lisa Foster, Founder, One Bag at a Time

- Sven Lindblad, President, Lindblad Expeditions

- Tish Tablan, Environmental Manager, McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry