Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction Is Extended by Senate Finance Committee

The Senate Finance Committee has approved a two-year extension of the Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction, also known as Section 179D, as part of the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act.

The provision allows a taxpayer to take a deduction equal to commercial building energy-efficiency expenditures made by the taxpayer as part of the building’s interior lighting systems, heating, cooling, ventilation and hot-water systems or building envelope. Certification must be obtained to verify that the retrofits are installed as part of a plan to reduce energy costs by 50 percent or more in comparison to a specified minimum standard.

The bill makes some modifications to the 179D incentive. Tribal governments and 501(c)(3)non-profit organizations would be permitted to transfer the deduction to the architect or designer primarily responsible for designing the energy efficiency project. The ability to transfer the deduction is currently available only for public building projects.

Also, under the new provision the 50 percent energy savings certification would be calculated on energy-efficiency improvements above a new baseline reference. The approved modification moves the baseline to a more current standard.

The Commercial Building Tax Deduction was enacted into law as a provision of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and represented the first performance-based federal tax incentive aimed at energy efficiency improvements in commercial buildings. Congress has acted twice to extend the provision. The last extension was for five years and expired on Dec. 31, 2013.

Companies that Offer Voluntary Accident and Disability Insurance Report Less Workers’ Comp Claims

A new survey released by Aflac, a provider of voluntary insurance in the United States, found that 42 percent of all companies providing access to voluntary accident and disability insurance reported declines in their workers’ compensation claims.

The Aflac Workers’ Compensation Report, an online survey conducted by Lieberman Research Worldwide on behalf of Aflac, asked 600 employers from small, medium and large U.S. companies if they provided employees with access to accident or disability insurance and, if so, whether they noted a corresponding decline in workers’ compensation claims.

When responses were broken down by company size, the survey found that 55 percent of large companies that provide access to accident insurance experienced declines in workers’ compensation claims, while 34 percent of small- and medium-sized companies each reported declines. These findings are important considering workers’ compensation benefits paid to injured workers in 2011 rose, costing American employers $77.1 billion.

“For years, insurance agents and brokers have heard anecdotal rumors linking voluntary accident and disability insurance to reduced workers’ compensation claims, and we learned the anecdotes are true based on our recent study results,” said Tye Elliott, Aflac vice president of Core Broker Sales. “These findings confirm the correlation between accident and disability insurance and reduced workers’ compensation claims. Employers can now weigh the potential positive financial effects of offering accident and disability insurance against the costs of workers’ compensation claims.”

Measuring the impact of voluntary accident and disability insurance on workers’ compensation claims

In addition to asking employers if they could confirm declines in claims, the survey also inquired about the significance of those declines.2 Here are the responses of companies that provide access to voluntary accident insurance:

    · 14 percent of all employers reported declines of 50 percent or more, while 17 percent reported declines of 25 to 49 percent.

    · 12 percent of large-sized businesses reported reductions of 50 percent or more, while 29 percent reported declines of 25 to 49 percent.

    · 13 percent of medium-sized businesses reported reductions of 50 percent or more, while 14 percent reported declines of 25 to 49 percent.

    · 15 percent of small-sized businesses reported reductions of 50 percent or more, while 9 percent reported declines of 25 to 49 percent.

The findings were similar for companies that provide access to voluntary disability insurance — nearly half (47 percent) of large employers reported overall decreases in workers’ compensation claims. In addition, 43 percent of small companies and 33 percent of medium companies reported declines. Respondents were also asked if they could gauge the significance of the declines:

    · 15 percent of all employers reported declines of 50 percent or more, and 15 percent reported declines of 25 to 49 percent.

    · 11 percent of large employers reported declines of 50 percent or more, while 20 percent reported declines of 25 to 49 percent.

    · 18 percent of medium employers reported declines of 50 percent or more, while 7 percent reported declines of 25 to 49 percent.

    · 18 percent of small employers reported declines of 50 percent or more, while 17 percent reported declines of 25 to 49 percent.

What do these findings mean for companies? According to Elliott, “The results demonstrate that by making voluntary accident and disability insurance available to employees, companies can often decrease the frequency and expense of their workers’ compensation claims.”

Roofing Supply Group Opens Florida Location

Roofing Supply Group LLC, a national wholesale distributor of roofing supplies and related materials, announced that it has continued its expansion in Florida with the opening of a new location in Fort Myers. This new location will strategically position RSG to better serve the Southwest Florida market as a whole, including the counties of Lee, Collier and Charlotte.

Jack Gill, Florida district manager, will oversee the new location. It is the 20th branch in the Southeast Region under the direction of Tim Perryman, regional senior vice president.

“We are thrilled about our new branch in Fort Myers, which expands our footprint in the Florida market,” Gill says. “It is exciting to see the exceptional team we are building, one that will continue RSG’s commitment to our customers by providing outstanding service and quality products.”

Perryman adds: “We are excited to continue our expansion in the Southeast and more specifically in Florida. In the last nine months we have opened locations in St. Petersburg/Pinellas, Jacksonville and now Fort Myers. We are committed to the state of Florida and look forward to evaluating additional opportunities for growth.”

The opening of this latest branch in Fort Myers aligns strategically with RSG’s overall expansion initiative which includes organic growth, opening of new locations and potential acquisitions. This marks the 10th new location for RSG in the last year.

Hanley Wood Names Best Products from 2014 IRE

Hanley Wood Exhibitions has announced the selection of six products receiving recognition based on innovation, productivity and cost-effectiveness during the 2014 International Roofing Expo (IRE), held Feb. 26-28 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. A panel of industry experts selected the “Best New Product” and “Best Sustainable Product” from selections found in the Product Showcase at the show.

The IRE Product Showcase, a 2,500-square-foot pavilion, featured 28 displays of the latest products focusing on safety and sustainability – as well as products made in the USA – in a direct, non-selling environment. Judges selected first, second and third place winners in each category.

Carlisle SynTec Systems of Carlisle, Pa., was awarded Best New Product for its Sure-Flex KEE HP PVC Membrane. ERSystems & Elastek of Irving, Texas, was awarded Best Sustainable Product for its ER One Step.

“The 2014 IRE was successful,” said Ryan Blad, Technical Service & Support for ERSystems & Elastek. “The biggest highlight would be OneStep winning the Best Sustainable Product Award.”

Second place in the Best New Product category was awarded to Galaxy Energy Americas of Aurora, Ontario, for its G7 universal standing-seam clamp, while third place was awarded to Metal Plus LLC of Winsted, Conn., for its Roofer’s Helper bracket.

Second place in the Best Sustainable Product category was awarded to Polyglass USA of Deerfield Beach, Fla., for its Polyfresko G SA, while third place was awarded to Freedom Supply of Wendell, N.C., for its Roofer’s and Paver’s Edge.

“We congratulate all six award winners,” said Tracy Garcia, CEM, IRE Show Director. “These companies deserve recognition for the innovative products they created and the significant impact each will have on the roofing industry.”

Other companies competing for the Best New Product award included AVM Industries, Benjamin Obdyke, DI Roof Seamers, Eco Chief Products, Epilay, ERSystems & Elastek, Insulation Solutions, Leister USA, Lifetime Tool and Building Products, MetalSafe Coatings, Polyglass USA, SafePro Guard, Tramex, Vector Mapping / IR Analyzers.

Competing for the Best Sustainable Product award were AVM Industries, Carlisle SynTec Systems, DaVinci Roofscapes, Eco Chief Products, Lifetime Tool & Building Products, Metal Plus and MetalSafe Coatings.

The 2015 International Roofing Expo will be held Feb. 24-26, at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. Online housing reservations can be made immediately and online registration will open in September.

Register Now for International Roof Coatings Conference

Industry professionals can now register for the Roof Coatings Manufacturers Association (RCMA) 2014 International Roof Coatings Conference (IRCC), to take place at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Hotel Baltimore, July 14-17. Offered in partnership with nine industry organizations, the conference will highlight the latest technological advancements and emerging issues of relevance to the roof coating, building envelope, green building, cool roofing, research, and architectural communities.

The second biennial IRCC is back by popular demand following the well-received inaugural 2012 IRCC, which was attended by over 120 industry representatives. This year, RCMA has partnered with nine US and international organizations to bring you the 2014 IRCC. These conference partners include:

    · Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)
    · Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)
    · National Research Council Canada (NRC)
    · Canadian Paint and Coatings Association (CPCA)
    · Liquid Roofing and Waterproofing Association (LRWA)
    · Global Cool Cities Alliance (GCCA)
    · European Cool Roofs Council (ECRC)
    · American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE)
    · Alliance to Save Energy (ASE)

“We are thrilled to partner with such an outstanding group of organizations, each sharing RCMA’s vision to deliver excellent educational content and programming,” said John Ferraro, RCMA executive director. “The conference will feature presentations on topics covering everything from roof coatings to cool roofing to sustainability,” adds Ferraro, “and promises to be highly valuable to both member and non-member attendees.”

The conference will begin with an opening reception on the evening of Monday, July 14 and will continue through noon on Wednesday, July 16. The following speakers will be delivering presentations on a range of timely topics, sharing their research papers with meeting attendees, and participating in dialogues about the future of the coatings industry:

    · Dr. Karma Sawyer, United States Department of Energy
    “The Building Envelope Emerging Technologies Portfolio in DOE’s Building Technologies Office”

    · Alice Kennedy, Baltimore Office of Sustainability
    “Advancing Installation of Reflective Roofing Systems through Community-Based Social Marketing and the Baltimore Energy Challenge”

    · Dr. James L. Hoff, Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing
    “Introducing the RoofPoint Energy and Carbon Calculator: Measuring the Energy and Environmental Contributions of Roofing Systems”

    · Jeffrey Steuben, Cool Roof Rating Council
    “When the Going Gets Rough: The Impact of Substrate Texture on Solar Reflectance Ratings”

    · Dr. Hashem Akbari, Concordia University
    “Advances in Developing Standards for Accelerated Aging of Cool Roofing Materials”

    · Michael D. Fischer, Kellen Company
    “Energy Efficiency and Sustainability in Codes and Standards: Impact on the Roof Coatings Industry”

    · Dr. Justin Jitao Chen, Dr. Steven Jiguang Zhang, Dr. Joseph Rokowski, and Loganathan Ravisanker, Dow Chemical Company
    “Novel PUA Hybrid Chemistry for Elastomeric Roof Coatings”

    · Joe Mellott and Tom Diamond, The Garland Company
    “Overcoming Vapor Drive Issues in Cool Roofing”

    · Kurt Shickman, Global Cool Cities Alliance
    “Cool Surfaces: An International Opportunity”

    · Dr. Michael R. Van De Mark, Missouri S&T Coatings Institute
    “Solvent Reduction Technology – What are the Rules?”

    · Dr. Kaushik Biswas, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
    “Impact of Dynamic Insulation Technologies on Steep-Slope Roof Assemblies”

    · Steve Heinje, Quest Construction Products
    “The Roots and Future of Sustainability”

The RCMA Summer Meeting, open to both RCMA members and non-member guests, will follow the conclusion of the IRCC programming and will continue through the morning of Thursday, July 17. Highlights of the RCMA portion of the event will include guest speakers from Health Product Declarations Collaborative and the American Trucking Association, detailed reports on the activities of each of the Association’s committees, and industry updates on the latest regulatory and technical news.

Discounted “early bird” registration will run from April 8 through May 16, 2014. For more information on the International Roof Coatings Conference, including a complete schedule of events, registration information, and details on hotel accommodations, please visit the association website. Email RCMA Staff Associate Laura Dwulet with any conference questions or to be added to the mailing list to receive conference and registration updates.

Presentation Proposals Sought for 2015 IRE

Hanley Wood Exhibitions has issued a call for presentation proposals for the 2015 International Roofing Expo (IRE). Researchers, educators, consultants, technical experts and industry leaders are encouraged to share their knowledge and business expertise as presenters for IRE the educational conference program.

The International Roofing Expo is the must-attend event for commercial and residential roofing professionals to stay abreast of market directions, trends and cutting-edge technology. Formerly owned by NRCA, the show was sold to Hanley Wood Exhibitions in May 2004. The official show sponsor is NRCA; the official show publication is Roofing Contractor; and the digital destination and official residential publication is Replacement Contractor.

The 2015 event will take place Feb. 24-26 at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. The educational conference historically presents the latest trends in the roofing industry to help attendees expand their technical knowledge and grow their businesses.

“We are seeking top-tier industry innovators well-versed in the most relevant topics and issues facing roofing professionals today,” says Brandi McElhaney, Senior Conference Manager. “To make a significant contribution to the industry, we encourage you to submit a proposal.”

Experienced speakers with proven, dynamic presentation skills and in-depth knowledge are encouraged to submit proposals. Sessions are 90 minutes in length and should contain timely, practical information that can be immediately utilized in the workplace. Submissions should focus on applications-oriented, real world, problem-solving content, and must not include commercial or promotional messages or content.

    The multi-track educational program includes:
    • technical training
    • workplace safety training
    • leadership and management strategies
    • green building trends
    • legal and human resources issues
    • financial management training
    • sales and service best practices

    The primary audience of the educational conference includes:
    • commercial and residential roofing contractors
    • architects and designers
    • building owners and facility managers
    • manufacturers and suppliers
    • owners, general managers, and CEOs of roofing businesses
    • sales professionals and estimators
    • superintendents and foremen
    • industry consultants

“The conference offers speakers the opportunity to establish their position as industry experts to a broad range of roofing professionals,” said Bill Good, Executive Vice President of NRCA, the show’s official sponsor. “We encourage members, associate members and others involved with the industry to submit their proposals as soon as possible.”

The deadline for submitting Call for Presentations proposals is April 15, 2014. Session proposals should be submitted via the automated submission form. Questions should be directed to Brandi McElhaney, Senior Conference Manager, via email or by calling (972) 536-6392.

Tampa Bay Chapter of Construction Angels to Hold First Fundraiser

The public is invited to the inaugural fundraiser in Plant City, Fla., May 1 for the Tampa Bay Chapter of Construction Angels, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that helps with financial support for families of construction-industry employees killed on the job.

Dean Sims II, vice president at Sims Crane & Equipment Co. in Tampa, is the founder of the Tampa Bay Chapter of Construction Angels, which originally was begun in Broward County.

According to the Florida Department of Labor, fatalities on construction jobs in Florida increased from 41 in 2011 to 55 in 2012 – a 26 percent jump. Numbers for 2013 are not final yet.

“With all of the industry’s dedication to safety education and safety on the job, the fact that on-site deaths in the construction industry are on the rise is of major concern to everyone involved,” said Sims. “And the reality is, in most cases, the families of loved ones killed on the job need all the financial help they can get. That’s where Construction Angels comes in.”

The fundraiser, hosted by Sims Crane and open to the public, will be held at Keel & Curley Winery, 5210 Thonotosassa Road, Plant City, FL 33565, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 1. Festivities include live music, silent auction, raffle, commemorative photos and locally grown and distilled strawberry and blueberry wine. Registration/donation is $25 online and $30 at the door.

Register on the Sims Crane or Construction Angels websites.

NRCA Testifies about OSHA’s Proposed Crystalline Silica Rule

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) provided testimony on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) proposed rule to amend its existing standards for occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica. The testimony was part of a three-week public hearing process held by OSHA.

“In roofing, as OSHA understands very well, our overriding safety concern is falls. The best safety practices in the industry include keeping roofing workers away from the edge of the roof, protecting them from tripping on the roof, and minimizing their trips up and down ladders,” said NRCA Executive Vice President William Good, who testified on behalf of the association. “Unfortunately, we fear the new rule will dramatically increase the risk of falls, because of the nature of roofing work.”

Good explained that in the roofing industry, silica exposures are limited to operations where tile roofs are being installed because the tiles need to be cut to fit in place on the roof. The proposed rule’s engineering controls would require roofing workers to either use wetting or vacuuming, both of which could introduce new tripping hazards because they involve placing hoses on rooftops. In addition, wetting would result in slippery tiles, which is particularly dangerous on steep-slope roofs.

Visuals of a typical tile roofing job site were presented during Good’s testimony to illustrate NRCA’s concern.

“Ours is a unique industry with unique hazards, and a one-size-fits-all approach to reducing silica exposures not only won’t work for us but will likely, in fact, create other hazards that are more immediate and life threatening,” Good continued.

OSHA’s public hearing on the new crystalline silica rule is scheduled to conclude April 4.

Investment in Equipment and Software Is Expected to Grow

Investment in equipment and software is expected to grow 4.2 percent in 2014, according to the Q2 update to the 2014 Equipment Leasing & Finance U.S. Economic Outlook released by the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation. The Foundation increased its 2014 equipment and software investment forecast to 4.2 percent, up from 3.1 percent growth forecast in its 2014 Annual Outlook released in December 2013. The Q2 report expects equipment and software investment to steadily grow over the next six months as economic conditions solidify and business confidence continues to recover. The Foundation report, which is focused on the $827 billion equipment leasing and finance industry, forecasts 2014 equipment investment and capital spending in the United States and evaluates the effects of various related and external factors in play currently and into the foreseeable future.

William G. Sutton, CAE, President of the Foundation and President and CEO of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association, said, “The Foundation’s Outlook report reflects a strengthening economy and positive trends in equipment investment. These findings align with data from the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s recent Monthly Leasing and Finance Index and the Foundation’s Monthly Confidence Index. We know the cold winter has had some negative impact on the economy; however, with reduced policy uncertainty, stronger economic fundamentals and replacement demand, we remain optimistic about growth.”

Highlights from the study include:

  • The U.S. economy is expected to grow 2.8 percent in 2014, the fastest pace since the 2008-09 recession.
  • The severe weather this winter may have trimmed GDP growth by a full percentage point, but it is expected that some of the loss will be made up in subsequent quarters.
  • Equipment and software investment grew at an annualized rate of 8.9 percent in Q4 2013, following modest growth of 2.2 percent in Q3.
  • Credit supply continues to improve, and credit demand has rebounded for all business sizes.

Equipment and software investment is expected to steadily grow across most verticals, according to the Foundation-Keybridge U.S. Equipment & Software Investment Momentum Monitor, a newly expanded addition to the Outlook report. According to the Momentum Monitor, which track 12 equipment and software investment verticals:

    o Agriculture machinery investment will likely see slow growth in the first half of 2014 as both farm yields and commodity prices ease.
    o Construction machinery investment will see stronger growth later in the year, but the year-over-year growth figures will appear weak due to a high base year effect.
    o Materials handling equipment investment will experience slightly stronger growth over the next 3 to 6 months.
    o All other industrial equipment investment will likely see moderate growth over the next 3 to 6 months as the manufacturing sector’s competitiveness improves.
    o Medical equipment investment will grow, but at a more moderate pace than in the second half of 2013.
    o Mining & oilfield machinery is currently decelerating, but looks to rebound later in the year.
    o Aircraft investment will likely slow after a strong Q4, and growth will be about average for the year.
    o Ships & boats investment will likely continue at a below-average pace over the next year.
    o Railroad equipment investment will improve from its recent contraction toward modest growth.
    o Investment in trucks will exhibit high-single digit growth over the next 3 to 6 months as economic activity improves and diesel prices remain competitive.
    o Computers investment will be muted in the next 3 to 6 months after strong replacement demand over the past few quarters.
    o Software investment will be moderate in the next 3 to 6 months as companies focus on upgrading to new technology.

The Foundation produces the Equipment Leasing & Finance U.S. Economic Outlook report in partnership with economics and public policy consulting firm Keybridge Research. The annual economic forecast provides a three-to-six-month outlook for industry investment with data, including a summary of investment trends in key equipment markets, credit market conditions, the U.S. macroeconomic outlook and key economic indicators. The Q2 report is the first update to the 2014 Annual Outlook, and will be followed by two more quarterly updates before the publishing of the 2015 Annual Outlook in December. Download the full report.

RISE Announces New Certified Solar Roofing Professional Eligibility Track

Roof Integrated Solar Energy (RISE) has announced a new eligibility track for its Certified Solar Roofing Professional (CSRP) designation, which will enable a greater number of solar roofing professionals to qualify for this certification.

The new eligibility track allows those who have three years’ experience, involvement in a minimum of five projects installing commercial and residential roof-mounted PV systems, and 40 hours of recognized education and training eligibility to sit for the CSRP exam.

In the past, RISE had identified three eligibility tracks to qualify to take the exam. Candidates were required to demonstrate they meet at least one of these tracks.

The new track has been added to the list of the previous three minimum entry tracks, which are:

  • Three years’ experience installing roof systems as a roofing contractor or employee of a roofing contractor in addition to completing 40 hours of recognized education or training.
  • Three years’ experience providing technical roof system consulting services that include a minimum of five installed roof system projects in addition to completing 40 hours of recognized training programs.
  • Two- or four-year construction-related degree from a college or university accredited by an accrediting agency or state-approved agency recognized by the U.S. secretary of education or training.

“The RISE board of directors recognized that many rooftop solar professionals possess the unique roofing and PV system experience critical to the roles of a CSRP, but who previously were not eligible to sit for the exam,” explains RISE executive director, John Schehl. “The new eligibility track opens a door of opportunity for these professionals and provides greater choice to the public.”

RISE and the CSRP credential benefit roofing professionals by demanding a higher standard for all rooftop solar installations by providing a distinguished, nationally recognized professional credential that can enhance a career, satisfying consumers by protecting their roofing and solar investments, increasing the number of successful rooftop solar installations, providing the public with tools to identify skilled rooftop solar energy professionals, promoting a healthier roofing industry by differentiating between those who understand how to integrate those systems with the roof safely and effectively from those who simply understand PV systems, and ensuring roof-mounted PV systems work is overseen by individuals who are knowledgeable and experienced in roofing and PV system technologies, safety and construction processes.

RISE was created by the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing and the National Roofing Contractors Association to provide a means of evaluating and certifying solar roofing professional to support the widespread use of rooftop solar energy. RISE evaluates and certifies solar energy installers for knowledge about critical roof system construction and maintenance practices necessary to support successful rooftop solar energy installations based on principles regarding the installation and maintenance of rooftop solar energy systems without adversely affecting roof system performance and service life. RISE also provides the public with tools to identify skilled rooftop solar energy professionals.