Sen. Cardin Reintroduces Bill to Increase Employment and Improve the Energy-Efficiency of Commercial Building Roofs

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), has reintroduced the “Energy-Efficient Cool Roofs Jobs Act,” S. 2388, which would boost job creation in the construction industry and significantly increase the energy efficiency of buildings throughout the U.S., lowering energy costs and saving money. The bill would improve investment returns on building energy-efficiency improvements by shortening the tax depreciation period for the installation of new roofs on existing buildings that meet certain thermal performance and “cool roof” requirements.

“We don’t need to choose between good jobs and helping the environment; we can do both with the same policy,” said Senator Cardin. “Cool Roofs provides an opportunity to reduce energy consumption and add nearly 40,000 jobs to a sector of our economy that still has not felt the full effect of our emergent recovery. It’s no wonder this bill, which provides incentives to install energy efficient roofs and simplifies the tax code, has such broad support across industries and labor.”

S. 2388 is co-sponsored by Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.). Sen. Cardin also filed the Energy-Efficient Cool Roofs Jobs Act as an amendment (S. Admt 3186) to the EXPIRE Act (S. 2260). U.S. Reps. Tom Reed (R-NY) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) have introduced a companion bill in the House (H.R. 4740).

The bill reduces the depreciation period for commercial roof retrofits, lowering the current 39-year depreciation period in the current tax code to a 20-year depreciation period for energy-efficient cool roof systems. To qualify, roofs must include systems with insulation that meets or exceeds the ASHRAE Standard 189.1-2011, a model green building standard, and have a cool roof surface in climate zones one through five.

“Congress recognizes the value of commercial building roofs in terms of both national energy policy and providing an incentive for owners to increase the thermal performance of their buildings,” said Jared O. Blum, president, Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA), a supporter of the bill. “Most buildings in this country were built before modern energy codes were in place, so upgrading the performance of those buildings with more energy efficient roofs can save lots of money.

“The legislation also offers a more fair treatment of roofs under the tax depreciation system. As currently structured, the tax code has created a disincentive for building owners to upgrade their roofs,” added Blum.

The Energy-Efficient Cool Roofs Jobs Act has attracted a wide range of supporters, including PIMA. The bill would create nearly 40,000 new jobs among roofing contractors and manufacturers; add $1 billion of taxable annual revenue in the construction sector; make the tax code simpler and more equitable for small businesses of all types; reduce U.S. energy consumption and save small businesses millions of dollars in energy costs; and reduce carbon emissions by 800,000 metric tons—an amount equal to the emissions of 153,000 cars. Additional supporters include:

Alliance to Save Energy
American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association
Associated Builders and Contractors
Building Owners and Managers Association
Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing
Environmental and Energy Study Institute
Global Cool Cities Alliance
Institute for Market Transformation
Joint Roofing Industry Labor and Management Committee
National Roofing Contractors Association
NAIOP: The Commercial Real Estate Development Association
Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance
United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers

A significant opportunity to increase building energy efficiency lies within the commercial roofing sector. Waterproof membranes on commercial low-slope roofs (i.e., flat roofs) last, on average, 17 years. When these membranes are replaced, building owners could add a reasonable amount of insulation and substitute a white roof surface (i.e., a cool or reflective roof) for the traditional dark colored roof surface, a practice that would save $12.2 billion in energy costs in just the first ten years. The annual savings after ten years would be $2.4 billion. This activity would also avoid and offset 147 million tons of CO2 emissions, an amount that is equal to the annual emissions of 38 coal fired power plants.

NRCA Supports Commercial Roof Depreciation Legislation

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) strongly supports bipartisan legislation introduced in Congress on May 22 to reform the outdated depreciation schedule for commercial roofs. This legislation, which replaces the current 39-year depreciation schedule with a 20-year schedule, will remove an obstacle in the tax code that limits economic growth in the roofing industry, thus facilitating the creation of an estimated 40,000 new jobs among roofing contractors and manufacturers. It also will benefit millions of small businesses nationwide and advance energy efficiency within the commercial building sector.

NRCA wishes to commend Reps. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) and Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) for sponsoring the House bill (H.R. 4740) and Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) for authoring the companion legislation (S. 2388) in the Senate. NRCA looks forward to working with these and other lawmakers to enact this legislation as the congressional tax-writing committees consider possible changes in tax policy that will help grow the economy and create jobs.

There has been a need for depreciation reform since the depreciation schedule for nonresidential property was increased from 15 to 39 years between 1981 and 1993. The average life span of most commercial roofs is only 17 years, according to a study by Ducker Worldwide. This has caused building owners to delay the full replacement of older, failing roofs in favor of limited, piecemeal repairs. Moreover, building owners who install new roofs before the current 39-year schedule has elapsed are required to depreciate roofs at different schedules, causing paperwork burdens for businesses.

This legislation will rectify this problem by providing the 20-year depreciation schedule for commercial roof retrofits that meet a benchmark energy-efficiency standard. Depreciation reform for energy-efficient commercial roofs will provide significant energy, environmental and economic benefits by reducing energy costs for businesses of all types that install new roofs.

Depreciation reform for commercial roofs enjoys the support of numerous business, labor and energy efficiency groups, including the National Roofing Contractors Association; United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers; and the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association. For more information, please contact NRCA’s vice president of government relations Duane Musser, or manager of federal affairs Andrew Felz at (202) 546-7584.

METALCON Heads to Denver, Exhibitors Are Optimistic

METALCON International is heading to Denver for the first time and it’s a good thing … signs are that construction business is definitely improving.

METALCON, scheduled for Oct. 1-3 at the Colorado Convention Center, annually attracts thousands of attendees looking to learn more about metal: contractors, architects, specifiers, roofers, designers, developers and suppliers from more than 50 countries.
METALCON’s first-ever visit to Denver allows manufacturers and suppliers with offices in the Rocky Mountains to reach out to thousands of potential customers. According to the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., Denver’s employment growth was more than 1 percent higher than the national average.

“Metro Denver will have quite a strong employment growth in three leading sectors of our economy in 2014—natural resources and construction (8 percent), professional and business services (4.3 percent) and education and healthcare services (3.5 percent),” says Patty Silverstein, chief economist for the Metro Denver EDC. “Growth in these industries sends positive ripple effect through other areas of our economy.”

That can only be good news for METALCON exhibitors and attendees.

Clay Trapp, Sales Representative for DECRA Roofing Systems in the Denver area is looking forward to his first METALCON. “I’ve been with DECRA for only a few months, so this is a great opportunity for me,” Trapp says. “We’ve got some good partnerships in the area.” DECRA manufactures a range of stone-coated metal roofing shingles. Most of the work for DECRA in the area is in the residential segment.

For AMSI Supply of Douglasville, Ga., the opportunity to visit a new venue should lead to a boost in business. “We do a fairly decent amount of business in the Rockies,” says David Trefzger, general manager at AMSI. “Still, most of our business is east of the Mississippi River. We hope to have another good show at METALCON, generate some new business.”

AMSI’s business in the Rocky Mountains is approximately 60 percent in the commercial market, 25 percent for government projects and the remainder in residential. AMSI Supply manufactures metal roofing components: roofing clips, bearing plates, measuring, cutting and seaming tools and much more.

“We’ve identified the Rockies as one of our seven important regions because of the weather there, metal roofing is user-friendly there, it sheds snow,” says David Rowe, Director of Product Management-Building Envelope at Englert Inc., a manufacturer and supplier of standing seam metal roofing. “Are we looking forward to METALCON being in our backyard? You bet!” Rowe says of Englert’s roofing projects in the Rocky Mountains, about 80 percent are commercial with the remaining 20 percent residential projects.

Not everyone exhibiting at METALCON has tapped into the Rocky Mountain market. Franklin Manufacturing Inc., a global leader in high quality hydraulic steel fabrication equipment based in Russellville, Ala., is looking for new customers. “We haven’t done a whole lot of business in that area,” says Dale Moore, sales and project development at FMI. “That’s one of the reasons we wanted to make sure we were at this show. Plus we’ve made every METALCON the last umpteen years.”

Moore believes his potential customers would rather put their hands on FMI products than watch a video online. “I have no doubt that a first-time show in Denver will be a very good one,” Moore says. “We’re very upbeat about this show.”

Polyiso Industry Praises Proposal for Reduction in U.S. Carbon Emissions

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft proposal under Section 111 (d) of the Clean Air Act calling for greenhouse-gas emissions reduction of 30 percent by 2030. The new rule is geared to cut carbon-dioxide emissions from coal- and gas-fired power plants across the United States by providing states with a flexible menu of policy options for compliance.

“The proposed regulation from the EPA and the White House provide the tipping point in coalescing this country’s already strong technical capabilities to lower our carbon output,” said Jared Blum, president, Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA). “It is PIMA’s strong belief that energy efficiency in buildings can achieve much of what needs to be done.””

According to the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, America’s total annual energy consumption in 2013 was 5.0 percent below 2007 levels. This long-term trend was in part prompted by the economic downturn of 2008-2009, but as economic growth has returned, energy use is not growing at a commensurate rate, and today our economy is far more energy-efficient than before.

“Our military, industrial and scientific leaders have requested that our government provide an actionable path forward. The 111(d) proposal is one such path that deserves broad business support,” added Blum.

A significant opportunity to increase building energy efficiency lies within the commercial roofing sector. Waterproof membranes on commercial low-slope roofs (flat roofs) last, on average, 17 years. When these membranes are replaced, building owners could add a reasonable amount of insulation, a practice that would save $12.2 billion in energy costs in just the first ten years. The annual savings after ten years would be $2.4 billion. This activity would also avoid 105 million tons of CO2 emissions, an amount that is equal to the annual emissions of 27 coal-fired power plants.

This Week: NRCA and United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers Jointly Support National Safety Stand-Down

This is a joint statement attributable to William Good, executive vice president of the National Roofing Contractors Association, and Kinsey M. Robinson, international president of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers

On behalf of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers (UURWAW) and National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), we would like to voice our support for the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, organized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), taking place throughout the U.S. from June 2-6, 2014.

The latest statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show 65 workers in the roofing industry died in 2012 from falls that occurred as they were doing their jobs. Those numbers are not just cold statistics but reflect 65 families that have been changed forever by the loss of a loved on—a spouse, father, mother, son or daughter whose death has left a void in the hearts of family and friends.

The National Safety Stand-Down is an effort to focus company and worker attention on the significance of fall hazards in construction and emphasize the importance of effectively implementing fall-protection systems on every project. NRCA and UURWAW encourage their members and all involved in the roofing industry to participate in the National Safety Stand-Down by delivering focused fall-protection awareness toolbox talks at the start of each day during that week and throughout the year. Special materials have been developed by UURWAW and NRCA for this purpose that can be accessed on our websites and printed for use each day.

Let’s pledge to continue the efforts to increase awareness of fall hazards, not just that week but throughout the year so all workers are safe performing the critical, quality work they do and are able to go home to their families each day!

Equipment Leasing and Finance Industry Confidence at Two-Year High for Third Consecutive Month

The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation (the Foundation) has released the May 2014 Monthly Confidence Index for the Equipment Finance Industry (MCI-EFI). Designed to collect leadership data, the index reports a qualitative assessment of the prevailing business conditions and expectations for the future as reported by key executives from the $827 billion equipment finance sector. Overall, confidence in the equipment finance market is 65.4, relatively unchanged from 65.1 last month, peaking at the highest index level in two years for the third consecutive month.

When asked about the outlook for the future, MCI survey respondent, Valerie Hayes Jester, President, Brandywine Capital Associates, Inc., said, “We have experienced a transaction flow that appears to be returning to a more normal state after the winter slowdown. Companies seem to be getting back on track and ordering equipment that should have been delivered in the first quarter. I am still concerned with the longer term effects of the many changes in our healthcare system as well as still undetermined tax policies that have great impact on small businesses.”

May 2014 Survey Results:
The overall MCI-EFI is 65.4, relatively unchanged from the April index.

When asked to assess their business conditions over the next four months, 31.4% of executives responding said they believe business conditions will improve over the next four months, down from 37% in April. 68.6% of respondents believe business conditions will remain the same over the next four months, up from 60% in April. No one believes business conditions will worsen, down from 2.9% the previous month.

34.3% of survey respondents believe demand for leases and loans to fund capital expenditures (capex) will increase over the next four months, down from 37% in April. 65.7% believe demand will “remain the same” during the same four-month time period, up from 60% the previous month. No one believes demand will decline, down from 2.9% who believed so in April.

28.6% of executives expect more access to capital to fund equipment acquisitions over the next four months, unchanged from April. 71.4% of survey respondents indicate they expect the “same” access to capital to fund business, and no one expects “less” access to capital, also both unchanged from the previous month.

When asked, 40% of the executives reported they expect to hire more employees over the next four months, an increase from 37% in April. 51.4% expect no change in headcount over the next four months, down from 60% last month. 8.6% expect fewer employees, up from 2.9% who expected fewer employees in April.

2.9% of the leadership evaluates the current U.S. economy as “excellent,” 91.4% of the leadership evaluates the current U.S. economy as “fair,” and 5.7% rate it as “poor,” all unchanged from April.

37% of the survey respondents believe that U.S. economic conditions will get “better” over the next six months, an increase from 34.3% who believed so in April. 62.9% of survey respondents indicate they believe the U.S. economy will “stay the same” over the next six months, unchanged from April. No one believes economic conditions in the U.S. will worsen over the next six months, a decrease from 2.9% who believed so last month.

In May, 45.7% of respondents indicate they believe their company will increase spending on business development activities during the next six months, an increase from 40% in April. 54.3% believe there will be “no change” in business development spending, a decrease from 60% last month. No one believes there will be a decrease in spending, unchanged from last month.

Survey results are posted on the Foundation website, included in the Foundation Forecast newsletter and included in press releases. Survey respondent demographics and additional information about the MCI are also available at the link above.

IBHS Encourages Hurricane Preparation Despite Predictions of a Quiet Year

With the NOAA Climate Prediction Center announcing its forecast of a normal to below-normal Atlantic hurricane season recently, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) urges residents not to let predictions keep them from preparing for the season.

“Early-season predictions do not always come to fruition,” said Julie Rochman, president and CEO of IBHS. “In fact, the 2012 season was initially forecast to be below-average, partially because of a predicted El Nino event. The El Nino did not develop as expected, and the season was extremely busy, with 19 named storms and 10 hurricanes, including Sandy, which slammed several Northeast states.”

It only takes one hurricane to significantly damage an entire region. Hurricane Andrew was the first storm during the 1992 season, which resulted in devastating damage to south Florida.

While the Gulf and Atlantic states are the most at risk of damage from a tropical system, hurricanes and tropical storms can travel far inland, causing high winds, heavy rain and tornadoes in areas not expecting the damage. Hurricane Hugo, which struck 25 years ago in South Carolina, maintained high winds all the way inland to Charlotte, North Carolina, and caused damage in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Connecticut. More recently, Hurricane Ike made landfall in 2008 on the Texas coast and traveled all the way to Ohio, where it caused $1 billion in damage.

IBHS encourages residents to be prepared, and start their hurricane protection efforts now. A variety of resources on strengthening buildings against the high winds and wind-driven rain of tropical systems, including the following:

5 Ways to Protect Your Home From Water Damage During Hurricane Season
Keeping a Roof Over Your Head: Hurricane Season Ready
Business Emergency Preparedness for Hurricane Season
Getting the Roof Right Animation Video
Building a Continuous Load Path Animation Video

MBMA Recognizes Metal Building Systems Manufacturers for Safety in the Workplace

The Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA) annually recognizes metal building systems manufacturers which show exceptional commitment to assuring workplace safety. The 2013 Safety Awards recently were presented at the MBMA Spring Dinner Meeting.

“A total of 47 plant facilities participated in MBMA’s Quarterly OSHA Injury Statistics Program,” states Charles Praeger, Assistant General Manager of MBMA. “Awards were presented based on our analysis of the submitted data.”

MBMA and its members are committed to the safety of everyone who works in the metal building systems industry. The organization has had a long-standing Safety Committee and Safety Awards Program, which was revamped in 2010 so that it is patterned after OSHA safety rules. “Our members are focused on the safety of their employees and MBMA is very happy to recognize them with these awards,” says Praeger.

From the 47 manufacturing facilities nationwide that submitted data, a total of 20 awards were presented. Of that total, some awards were given to multiple locations within the same company. MBMA patterned the awards program to conform to OSHA safety standards. MBMA¹s criteria, though, stipulates that winning firms must have work-related accident and illness rates that are at least 50% below OSHA-reported averages for the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Code 332311. For the incident rate award, the industry average is 6.6 as reported in the NAICS Code 332311. Therefore, MBMA¹s minimum starting point was 3.3.

The Superior Overall Safety Record, under the rules of the Safety Awards Program, was awarded to those plants that achieved no recordable injuries or incidences for the 12-month period, which is a significant achievement.

A fatality precludes any awards for an individual plant or company. A plant without a fatality within a company can qualify for an award. In addition to recognizing a company in the Superior Overall Safety area, MBMA has Safety Improvement Awards that recognize performance improvements.

Awards were presented at the following levels to individual plant locations:

2013 Superior Overall Safety Record ­ In recognition of having no recordable incident rate

BLUESCOPE BUILDINGS NORTH AMERICA INC.
San Marcos, Texas

DEAN STEEL BUILDINGS INC.
Cedartown, Ga.

DEAN STEEL BUILDINGS INC.
Thomasville, Ga.

RUFFIN BUILDING SYSTEMS INC.
Oak Grove, La.

2013 Safety Performance Award ­ In recognition of having achieved an incident rate equal to 50 percent or better than the industry average as reported by OSHA

AMERICAN BUILDINGS COMPANY
Eufala, Ala.
El Paso, Ill.

BEHLEN BUILDING SYSTEMS
Columbus, Neb.

BLUESCOPE BUILDINGS NORTH AMERICA INC.
Rainsville, Ala.
St. Joseph, Mo.
Jackson, Tenn.
Laurinburg, N.C.

GULF STATES MANUFACTURERS
Starkville, Miss.

KIRBY BUILDING SYSTEMS INC.
Portland, Tenn.

NCI BUILDING SYSTEMS INC.
Atwater, Calif.
Lexington, Tenn.
Houston

NUCOR BUILDING SYSTEMS
Brigham, Utah

SCHULTE BUILDING SYSTEMS INC.
Hueytown, Ala.
Hockley, Texas

SBC BUILDING SYSTEMS LLC
Ambridge, Pa.

ERA Challenges LBNL Study about White Roofs

The Bethesda, Md.-based EPDM Roofing Association (ERA) is challenging a study released by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, Calif., which cites white roofs as the most “cost-effective” roofing option over a 50-year time span. The study, published in the March 2014 issue of Energy and Buildings, also calls for the phase-out of black roofs.

“Our members make both black and white roofing membranes. We strongly oppose any recommendation that irresponsibly promotes the use of one of our products over another based on faulty science. We question the validity of this study since it is based on a sample size of only 22 roofs, and we are challenging the conclusions that the authors draw from the data,” says Ellen Thorp, ERA’s associate executive director. “Due to the complexity of roof and building science, prescriptive requirements that limit design choices are not in the best interests of architects, design professionals or building owners.”

To help provide clarity regarding roofing-system choice and refute some errors in the study, ERA convened a panel of experts to review the LBNL science and its conclusions. A complete analysis can be found on the ERA website.

Overall, the LBNL study was marked by “a systematic failure to understand that roofs are systems, not a single component,” says Thomas W. Hutchinson, AIA, FRCI, RRC, principal of Hutchinson Design Group Ltd., Barrington, Ill., an internationally recognized expert on roof system design and a Roofing editorial advisor. “Additionally, the study completely ignored
ballasted EPDM systems that, in other studies, have proven to be the roof system that provides the greatest service life and energy savings. To suggest that a comparatively ‘new’ roofing material will have a longer service life than EPDM, a material proven to last over 30 years, is naïve.”

“Our members—Firestone Building Products, Carlisle SynTec Systems and Johns Manville—have a vested interest in providing accurate information to our customers,” Thorp adds. “Their knowledge is based on marketing, installing and maintaining thousands of roofing systems. We hope that architects, specifiers and roofing consultants will continue to rely on their field-based knowledge about the comparative costs and effectiveness of roofing systems, rather than on flawed science based on flimsy and biased data.”

Benjamin Mandel, a research assistant in the Heat Island Group at LBNL and an author of the LBNL study, recently responded to ERA’s remarks on Today’s Facility Manager’s website.
Read Mandel’s reaction at bit.ly/1hcD0HR.

Weather-resistant Barrier Market Will Grow

According to a new report, “Weather Resistant Barriers 2014”, from Malvern, Pa.-based Principia, total demand for weather-resistant barriers (WRBs), including building wraps, roofing underlayment, membranes, wrapped sheathing, rain screens, insulating board stock, spray polyurethane foam and building paper will grow at about 7 percent per year from about $3.7 billion in 2013 to $4.5 billion in 2016.

Multifunctional products are leading the growth in WRBs. These products have higher average growth rates and gross margins and represent about 45 percent of the industry’s total value, yet only account for 20 percent of the total volume. Code changes and installation efficiencies are the primary factors driving the product mix shift away from traditional barriers and wraps toward products that offer multiple functionalities.

Sue Ross, project manager for the report, comments: “Many new products have been recently launched by current industry suppliers, as well as new entrants. The new products and systems are designed to prevent air, vapor, water and thermal transmission from transferring across the building envelope, whether it’s inside-out or outside-in, thus reducing a building owner’s heating and cooling costs and improving the integrity and comfort of the building. Balancing energy transfer and moisture management within the building envelope has driven major changes in WRB material demand and will continue to drive product innovation.

“Many new WRB market entrants have roots in other product categories that are used in and around the building envelope and already have established distribution and contractor customers, including waterproofing and coatings, sheathing and panels, foamed insulation, roofing and roofing underlayment, and traditional wraps and membranes,” she continues. “Companies are combining several material technologies to form multifunctional products that are easier and faster to install and are going to market through established channels to take advantage of existing relationships and expand the value of their product portfolios.”

The report contains key market data, trends and strategic insight into all aspects of the business from supply through distribution to designers and end users. Principia conducted discussions with 600 industry participants, including contractors, architects, specifiers, building-envelope scientists, dealers, distributors and manufacturers to compile its comprehensive assessment.

Principia’s interactive Market Model and Forecasting Tool is included with the report. This tool allows subscribers to model hypothetical market performance based on their own assumptions of metrics, such as housing starts, commercial-construction growth, remodeling rate and material market share.