ATAS National Sales Manager Receives Award

Mark Bus, national sales manager of ATAS International, received a Metal Construction Association Triumph Award at METALCON in Baltimore.  He was recognized as being someone who demonstrates excellence, creativity and initiative in his or her business or profession.
 
Jim Bush, vice president of Sales and Marketing states, “I have had the pleasure of watching Mark mature over the years to a young and emerging professional; not only within ATAS but also in the industry.  He has earned the respect of the ATAS sales team, as well as peers and management, through hard work and a sound decision making process.  Mark is also aware of industry initiatives and association activities and brings those into daily communications with staff and customers.”
 
An ATAS distributor, Allan Brock of Brock Associates, says, “During my forty year tenure in the commercial metal roofing and siding industry, I have rarely crossed paths with a young professional like Mark Bus.  I have seen Mark evolve from an inside technical sales person, to a regional product representative, to management.  At each level, he radiated professionalism along with product and technical knowledge.  It’s been a pleasure dealing with an individual as capable as Mark.”
 
Robert J. Bailey, AIA, CSI, CCS, LEED AP, specifications and constructability specialist with IKM Inc., also recommended Mark Bus for this award.  “Mark makes it a point to understand the people who are specifying and purchasing ATAS products.  As a new product rep in western Pennsylvania, he became involved in various CSI (Construction Specifications Institute) chapters.  It was clear to me that Mark knew in order to be prepared for a leadership role in ATAS, he first needed to understand the industry itself and establish important contacts and relationships there.  Mark is an example for other young sales professionals.”

AIA Issues 2016 Election Results Statement

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has issued the following statement on the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, as well as the incoming 115th Congress.

“The AIA and its 89,000 members are committed to working with President-elect Trump to address the issues our country faces, particularly strengthening the nation’s aging infrastructure. During the campaign, President-elect Trump called for committing at least $500 billion to infrastructure spending over five years. We stand ready to work with him and with the incoming 115th Congress to ensure that investments in schools, hospitals and other public infrastructure continue to be a priority,” states AIA Chief Executive Officer Robert Ivy, FAIA.

“We also congratulate members of the new 115th Congress on their election. We urge both the incoming Trump administration and the new congress to work toward enhancing the design and construction sector’s role as a catalyst for job creation throughout the American economy.”

Robert Ivy concludes, “This has been a contentious election process. It is now time for all of us to work together to advance policies that help our country move forward.”

Firm Leaders Reinvest and Expand Businesses as Profitability Increases

U.S. architecture firms have experienced a near complete recovery from the Great Recession, which has allowed firm leaders to reinvest profits back into their businesses. These findings, along with an in depth look at topics such as firm billings, staffing, and international work, are covered in the “The Business of Architecture: 2016 Firm Survey Report”.  The report offers metrics that provide insights into how architecture firms are operating and is available for purchase here.

“More than at any point in recent memory, there has been rise in the amount of renovation projects that architects have led compared to new construction activity over the past decade plus,” said AIA chief economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD.  “A lot this has to do with green building incentives towards renovations, improved construction methods and products that increase the longevity of buildings, and a slower growing population that reduces the need for new construction.”

Key highlights:

  • Net billings at architecture firms were $28.5 billion at the peak of the market in 2008 and had nearly recovered to $28.4 billion by 2015.
  • Percentage of firms reporting a financial loss declined sharply in recent years from more than 20 percent in 2011 to fewer than 10 percent by 2015.
  • Growing profitability has allowed firms to increase their marketing activities and expand into new geographical areas and building types to diversify their design portfolios.
  • Renovations made up a large portion of design work with 45 percent of building design billings coming from work on existing facilities, including 30 percent from additions to buildings, and the remaining from historic preservation projects.
  • Billings in the residential sector topped $7 billion, more than 30 percent over 2013 levels.
  • Modest gains in diversity of profession with women now comprising 31 percent of architecture staff (up from 28 percent in 2013) and minorities making up 21 percent of staff (up from 20 percent in 2013).
  • Use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) software has become standard at larger firms with 96 percent of firms with 50 or more employees report using it for billable work (compared to 72 percent of mid-sized firms and 28 percent of small firms).
  • Newer technologies including 3D printing and 4D/5D modeling are reported being used at only 11 percent and 8 percent of firms respectively.
  • Energy modeling currently has a low adoption rate with 13 percent of firms using it for billable work, although this share jumps to 59 percent for large firms.

“From a practice standpoint, digital modeling is firmly entrenched in the early phase of design work and expanding into subsequent phases, with the potential for more involvement for architects through the construction and facility management processes,” said AIA senior director of research, Michele Russo. “In the coming years we expect firms will be adding technological dimensions to their design work through more utilization of cloud computing, 3D printing and the use of virtual reality software. This should help further efficiencies, minimize waste and project delivery delays, and lead to increased bottom line outcomes for their clients.”

ABI Posts Decline in Demand for Design Services

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) posted consecutive months of a decline in demand for design services.  As an economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the September ABI score was 48.4, down from the mark of 49.7 in the previous month. This score reflects a decrease in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings).  The new projects inquiry index was 59.4, down from a reading of 61.8 the previous month.

“This recent backslide should act as a warning signal,” states AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD.  “But this drop-off in demand could be continued hesitancy in the marketplace to move forward on projects until the presidential election is decided. The fact that new work coming into architecture continues to slowly increase suggests that billings will resume their growth in the coming months.”

Key September ABI highlights

  • Regional averages: South (53.4), Midwest (50.1), West (49.5), Northeast (44)
  • Sector index breakdown: commercial/industrial (50.4), mixed practice (49.8), institutional (49), multi-family residential (48.8)
  • Project inquiries index: 59.4
  • Design contracts index: 51.4

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.

Architecture Billings Index Falls Below Positive Mark

On the heels of six out of seven months of increasing levels of demand for design services, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) fell just below the positive mark. As an economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the August ABI score was 49.7, down from the mark of 51.5 in the previous month. This score reflects a decrease in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings).  The new projects inquiry index was 61.8, up from a reading of 57.5 the previous month.

“This is only the second month this year where demand for architectural services has declined and it is only by a fraction of a point,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD.  “Given the solid numbers for new design contracts and project inquiries, it doesn’t appear that this is the beginning of a broader downturn in the design and construction industry.”

Key August ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: South (55.2), Midwest (52.8), West (49.0), Northeast (44.9)
  • Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (51.8), multi-family residential (50.9), commercial / industrial (50.8), institutional (50.7)
  • Project inquiries index: 61.8
  • Design contracts index: 52.7

Survey Reports Health Impacts of Buildings Influence Design Decisions

Nearly three quarters of U.S. architects say the health impacts of buildings are influencing their design decisions. That finding parallels the market demand by building owners, with a solid two-thirds surveyed also reporting that health considerations affect how they design and construct buildings.

These findings and others were released in a ground-breaking report The Drive Toward Healthier Buildings 2016 by Dodge Data & Analytics, in partnership with Delos and the Canada Green Building Council, and with the participation of the American Institute of Architects as a critical research advisor and partner.

The report documents the value and need for more of the research, education, collaboration and outreach efforts that are hallmarks of the AIA’s Design and Health initiative. Since 2013, AIA has invested in expanding the body of knowledge on the connection between design and health, including professional continuing education and the 17-university Design & Health Research Consortium.

“As a society, we spend nearly 87 percent of our time indoors,” said AIA chief executive officer Robert Ivy, FAIA. “Designing and constructing ‘healthy buildings’ is important to our own well-being.”

“Working with architects, we can accelerate this need for healthier buildings and improve quality of life across the country,” Ivy said. “This report documents how architects can help clients have a positive effect on human health – through the built environment.”

That positive result includes increasing employee participation and fulfillment, the report found. Sixty-nine percent of owners who measure employee satisfaction and engagement reported improvement in both attributes due to their healthier building investments.

According to the report, the top five healthier building features implemented by architects are:

  • Better lighting/daylighting exposure.
  • Products that enhance thermal comfort.
  • Spaces that enhance social interaction.
  • Enhanced air quality.
  • Products that enhance acoustical comfort.

Use of nearly all of these is expected to grow considerably along with further pioneering approaches like the use of biophilic design features, spaces that enhance tenant mood and opportunities for physical activity, the report found.

“The increased attention to building health impacts is just beginning,” says Stephen A. Jones, senior director of industry insights at Dodge Data & Analytics. “In a similar way several years ago, companies engaged in green construction because of the demonstrable business and financial benefits they were able to achieve. The findings of this report demonstrate that the focus on buildings that enhance the health and well-being of their occupants is likely to follow a similar trajectory, boosted by those who have committed to sustainability in their organizations.”

Additional highlights from the report:

  • Most owners are not aware how healthy building investments result in business benefits like leasing rates (52 percent) and asset values (58 percent). However, among those that report an effect, 73 percent report faster rates and 62 percent report higher values.
  • According to architects and interior designers, the top driver for greater investment in healthier buildings is improved public awareness of the health impacts of buildings.
  • Public health professionals report that the most common policies currently in place to support healthier building practices are requirements to avoid the use of hazardous materials in buildings (65 percent). The key policy areas that are currently being considered include incentives that encourage physical activity (47 percent) and requirements for ongoing building air quality measurement (46 percent).
  • Ninety-two percent of public health professionals also report that their institutions are actively conducting research on the influence buildings have on occupant health and well-being.
  • Architects are most aligned with their clients (owners) when it comes to understanding the goals of healthy building investments, as compared to other industry players, recognizing that improved tenant/employee satisfaction and happier and healthier occupants is the primary focus for owners related to their investments.
  • The largest percentage of owners, at 42 percent, identify that they are very interested in partnering with architects to help increase their ability to implement healthy building practices. While low, it is notably more than the next two highest potential partners – facility managers and educational institutions, both at 31 percent.

Download the full study The Drive Toward Healthier Buildings 2016: Tactical Intelligence to Transform Building Design and Construction SmartMarket Report.

The report also received support from CBRE, Dewberry and the U.S. Green Building Council, with additional support from Armstrong Ceiling Solutions and the Regenerative Network. Other organizations that participated in the research process include the American Society of Interior Designers, the National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers and the World Green Building Council.

Forecasters Predict Healthy Outlook for Construction Industry

After a strong 2015, there is a growing sense that the construction industry expansion will be more tempered over the next eighteen months. However, continued demand for hotels, office space, and amusement and recreation spaces will ensure continued growth in the overall construction spending market over this time period.
The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) semi-annual Consensus Construction Forecast, a survey of the nation’s construction forecasters, is projecting that spending will increase less than six percent for 2016, with next year’s projection being an additional 5.6% gain.

INFOGRAPHIC: To see each of the panelist’s projections, click here.

“Healthy job growth, consumer confidence and low interest rates are several positive factors in the economy, which will allow some of the pent-up demand from the last downturn to go forward,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, hon. AIA. “But at the same time, the slowing in the overall economy could extend to the construction industry a bit – with the biggest drop off expected in the industrial facility sector over the next year and a half.”

Market Segment Consensus Growth Forecasts 2016 2017

Overall nonresidential building 5.8% 5.6%
Commercial / industrial 11.7% 6.5%
Hotels 17.9% 7.6%
Office space 14.7% 7.5%
Retail 7.4% 5.2%
Industrial facilities -2.1% 2.9%
Institutional 4.5% 5.8%
Amusement / recreation 10.0% 5.7%
Education 6.5% 6.3%
Healthcare facilities 2.3% 5.0%
Religious -0.4% 1.9%
Public safety -3.7% 3.3%

Baker added, “The issues that could derail continued expansion in the construction sector include: weak U.S. manufacturing output, struggling economies in key international markets, the ripple effect from the Brexit decision, and the typical uncertainty leading up to a U.S. presidential election that results in reluctant investors.”

AIAU Launches New Series of Online Learning Modules

The AIA launches an online learning series on AIAU called Emerge by AIAU. Developed by the AIA Center for Emerging Professionals, with the goal of helping Associate AIA members gain credits in the most challenging Architectural Experience Program (AXP) practice areas, this series offers comprehensive and evergreen content through convenient online learning modules.

Emerge by AIAU offers online video-based courses to supply Associate AIA members with knowledge that is not always available at architecture firms. Associates can gain experience hours in NCARB’s Architectural Experience Program by completing each course, worth one hour of HSW credit, equal to one hour of experience in AXP. Incorporating short quizzes and activities in the videos and by allowing Associates to gain experience on their own terms, Emerge will help members adjust to new practice models in the profession.

Log-in to AIAU to check out the Ethics in Architecture and Economics in Architecture courses in Emerge, as well as 4 promotional courses selected to accompany them. New courses will be added each month to the Emerge series.

Visit Emerge by AIAU here: https://aiau.aia.org/emerge-aiau or learn more about it here: https://vimeo.com/173811499

AIA Comments on the Passing of the Energy Policy Modernization Act

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate passed S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act. The legislation repeals targets for reducing fossil fuel consumption in federal buildings contained in Section 433 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by then-President George W. Bush.

AIA President Russell Davidson, FAIA, says: “Cutting fossil fuel consumption in new and renovated federal buildings by 2030 is clearly something we can achieve as a nation. My fellow architects are already designing buildings that are “net zero” consumers of energy. According to government statistics, better designed buildings have already saved our country approximately $560 billion in energy costs since 2005.

“Therefore it makes no public policy sense for Congress to cave in to the oil and gas lobby and kill requirements to reduce fossil-fuel consumption in federal buildings. As we have noted before, residential and commercial buildings account for almost 40 percent of both total U.S. energy consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Last December, nearly 200 nations, including the U.S., committed in Paris to reducing the planet’s carbon footprint.

“Uncle Sam must continue to be a leader worldwide in energy conservation and reduced dependence on the use of fossil fuels. Yet we are effectively abrogating this role with this short-sighted vote, which will continue to hold federal taxpayers hostage to the whims of global energy markets.

“We were gratified by the White House’s announcement in December that the President would veto the House energy legislation, specifically citing the repeal of Section 433 as one of several major objections. We hope that lawmakers come to their senses and strip this provision from any final bill.”

AIA Committee on the Environment Studies Award-winning Sustainable Design Projects

In order to examine how the architectural community is evolving in regards to sustainable design practices, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE) undertook an in-depth study of nearly 200 COTE Top Ten Award winning projects encompassing almost 20 years.

The findings have been compiled in a report, Lessons from the Leading Edge, that reviewed a variety of performance measures, including energy efficiency, water conservation and indoor environmental quality to evaluate how these exemplary projects demonstrate COTE’s mission to “enhance both the design quality and environmental performance of the built environment.” The research represents the most comprehensive study of the COTE Top Ten program to date.

“Top Ten winners are an extraordinary group of case studies from the leading edge of sustainable design over the past two decades,” says Lance Hosey, FAIA, lead author of the report and a member of the COTE Advisory Group. “The projects have been studied and published widely as individual projects, but never as a group—until now. What we found is that Top Ten winners are outpacing the industry by virtually every standard of performance, but they also exemplify the integration of design excellence and sustainable performance.”

Key takeaways from report:

  • Many project examples show extraordinary performance at very low or average costs, dispelling the misperception that higher building performance requires higher costs.
  • Projects range in size from small houses under 1,000 square feet to community master plans at millions of square feet.
  • The average energy savings for these projects is 54 percent better than industry standards. In the past five years, the average energy savings has improved to 65 percent, exceeding AIA 2030 Commitment targets.
  • The average water reduction is 52 percent better than industry standards.

The majority of projects are in urban locations, while less than one fifth are found in rural areas. One third of all Top Ten winners are located on the West Coast of North America.
COTE founding chairman, Bob Berkebile, FAIA, adds: “We have seen a significant transformation in how these project examples have evolved and advanced. Initially, the design teams were acutely focused on efficiencies within an individual building and in recent years they are also looking at more horizontal and far-reaching economic, ecological, social equity, public health and resilient outcomes.”

Recommendations for architecture and design industry:

  • Embrace design before technology to improve performance and quality.
  • Study best practices for higher performance at lower costs.
  • Pursue post-occupancy evaluations as standard practice to understand better how actual performance aligns with design intent.
  • Promote more ambitious adaptive reuse projects to preserve existing building stock and conserve resources more extensively.
  • Drive greater awareness of the health impact of building materials and need for better indoor air quality.