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Industry Pulse - August 2010

DOE awards $76 million for energy-efficient building technologies

The United State Department of Energy (DOE) awarded more than $76 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support advanced energy-efficient building technology projects on June 17, 2010. The 58 selected projects are in 24 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Buildings account for about 40% of the energy used in the United States, as well as 39% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.

To boost advanced energy-efficient building technologies, DOE made 45 awards totaling more than $68.4 million, while leveraging an additional $31.4 million from private industry. The projects are in six technical areas:

  • Advanced building control strategies for net-zero energy buildings
  • Improved capabilities to simulate complex interactions between building elements and energy costs
  • New technologies for building envelopes and windows
  • Increased efficiencies for residential and commercial heating, ventilation, and air conditioning
  • Improved water heating
  • Methods to reduce miscellaneous electrical loads

For details, see the DOE press release, the list of awards and the DOE's Building Technologies Program website.

Architecture Billings Index falls back after three months of improving conditions

After three straight months of improving conditions, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) fell nearly three points. 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 May ABI rating was 45.8, down substantially from a reading of 48.4 the previous month. This score reflects a continued decline in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings), and comes on the heels of the highest score since January 2008 when revenue at architecture firms headed into recession. The new projects inquiry index was 55.5.

Key May ABI highlights include:

Regional averages:

  • Northeast (50.6)
  • Midwest (48.5)
  • South (45.9)
  • West (42.9)

Sector index breakdown:

  • Commercial / industrial (51.3)
  • Multi-family residential (46.9)
  • Mixed practice (46.8)
  • Institutional (43.4)

U.S. Conference of Mayors backs green construction Code draft

The U.S. Conference of Mayors is backing The International Green Construction Code (IGCC) currently in development by the International Code Council (ICC) with input from the American Institute of Architects (AIA), ASTM International and other stakeholders. The IGCC includes energy, water, air-quality and safety benchmarks that states and cities may adopt as mandatory provisions for commercial buildings. The code incorporates the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers' (ASHRAE) Standard 189.1 as an optional path to compliance. The draft Code is currently in public comment and is slated for release in November 2010.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution that endorses a draft of the green code, known as Version 1.0, during the more than 1,200-member organization's annual meeting in Oklahoma City in June. The mayoral organization, along with the National Association of Governors and National Association of Counties, have endorsed AIA's goal that all new buildings be greenhouse gas-neutral by 2030.