AIA Survey Findings About American Attitudes Toward Public Buildings

A survey by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) finds that a majority of Americans (83 percent) consider public buildings—schools, libraries, community centers, and parks—part of their community’s infrastructure. And, 94 percent of those surveyed say that having well-maintained public buildings are important to the future of their community.

In a key finding for policy makers, 83 percent of survey respondents agreed that investment in these public buildings is just as important as investment in roads and bridges. The survey also found that seven in 10 Americans want their public buildings renovated, and almost three-quarters of Americans consider public schools in good condition a “must have” in the communities in which they live.

These are some of the main findings of the first AIA survey of American attitudes toward essential community buildings. The survey results, conducted by The Harris Poll, were made public at the AIA Build America Summit.

“The survey findings are a clarion call to policy makers at all levels of government that Americans not only want safe roads and bridges, but also desire a serious financial commitment to public buildings that mirror and contribute to the communities in which they live,” says AIA President Russell Davidson, FAIA.

“The purpose of the Build America Summit is to expand the infrastructure discussion to include funding to repair, restore, and adapt the essential public buildings that give communities character,” states Davidson, who conceived the Summit. Nearly 40 speakers and 350 attendees from design and construction, real-estate, education, development, and government will develop recommendations that will be shared with the incoming Presidential Administration and made available to state and local governments and community leaders.

Survey findings:

More than three in four Americans (78 percent) think their local government should take some financial responsibility for supporting the investment in their public buildings. Just under two-thirds (61 percent) think state government should take some financial responsibility. A majority (53 percent) think that community members should support it, and almost half (46 percent) believe private entities should also invest.

A majority of Americans believe that the condition of community buildings can lead to notable benefits, particularly higher property values (60 percent) and improved quality of education (62 percent).
Sixty-nine percent of Americans believe schools are one of the most important buildings to receive a consistent level of public funding.

On average, Americans feel about one third (34 percent) of public funds budgeted for community features should be allocated to public buildings and/or spaces. Of the remaining, they would allocate 37 percent to transportation and 29 percent to public housing.

Gender differences exist in attitudes toward public buildings and spaces. For example, women are more inclined than men (44 percent to 34 percent) to consider public housing options a “must have.” Conversely, older men (44 percent) place the most emphasis on funding transportation.

Almost half those surveyed (48 percent) believe public housing (defined as a combination of senior and affordable housing) is one of the most important community features to receive a consistent level of public funding.

“It is clear from the survey that Americans consider investment in community buildings and spaces a priority,” says AIA CEO Robert Ivy, FAIA. “Not only do they believe that that investment would lead to improvements in property value, education, and public safety, but also serve to attract new businesses and enhance their overall quality of life.”

A copy of the survey results can be found here

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.

GAF Awarded ‘Brand Leader’ Title for Ridge Vent Systems

GAF was awarded the title of “Brand Leader” by the 2015 Remodeling Brand Use Study in all four categories for ridge vent systems.

Readers were asked to rank the industry’s foremost material suppliers to determine who is a true “Brand Leader” and GAF ranked No. 1 for ridge vent systems in the categories of:

  • Brand Familiarity
  • Brand Used in the Past Two Years
  • Brand Used the Most
  • Highest Quality Brand

“We are thrilled to be recognized as a ‘Brand Leader’ in all categories for our ridge vent systems. We focus on the importance of ventilation and always strive to make high-quality products, so this honor serves as support for our efforts,” states Ted Marcopolus, vice president of marketing services at GAF.

The 2015 Remodeling Brand Use Study was conducted by the Farnsworth Group to profile brands used by remodelers in specific areas. Readers were asked about their familiarity, use and opinions about brands in 58 product categories, as well as the importance of factors influencing brand selection within each product category. Seven hundred and twenty-one surveys were completed online with professionals classified as “Remodelers, General Contractors, or Replacement Contractors” whose work consists of at least 50 percent repair/remodel. Another 274 professionals answered at least some of the questions.

NRCA Releases Market Survey on Sales Volume Trends

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) has released its 2014-15 market survey providing information about overall sales volume trends in the roofing industry, roofing experiences, material usage and regional breakdowns. It is an important tool to measure the scope of the U.S. roofing industry, and the data provides a glimpse into which roof systems are trending in the low- and steep-slope roofing markets.

This year’s survey reports sales volumes for 2014 and 2015 projections averaged between $7 million and just more than $8 million, respectively, and revealed a near-steady ratio of low- to steep-slope sales of 72 percent to 28 percent.

For low-slope roofs, TPO remains the market leader with a 31 percent share of the new construction market and 26 percent of the reroofing market for 2014. Asphalt shingles continue to dominate the steep-slope roofing market with a 44 percent market share for new construction and a 58 percent share for reroofing.

Polyisocyanurate insulation continues to lead its sector of the market with 75 percent of new construction and 70 percent of reroofing work.

In addition, roof cover board installation for 2014 was reported as 24 percent in new construction, 46 percent in reroofing tear-offs and 30 percent in re-cover projects.

NRCA’s market survey enables roofing contractors to compare their material usage with contractors in other regions, and provides manufacturers and distributors with data to analyze, which can affect future business decisions.

The Foundation Releases MCI-EFI Regarding Business Conditions and Expectations

The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation (the Foundation) released the February 2015 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 $903 billion equipment finance sector. Overall, confidence in the equipment finance market is 66.3, a slight increase from the three-year high level reached by the January index of 66.1.

When asked about the outlook for the future, MCI-EFI survey respondent William Verhelle, chief executive officer, First American Equipment Finance, a City National Bank company, says, “The economy continues to improve. First American is seeing increased equipment acquisition activity among the large corporate borrowers we serve. We are optimistic that lower energy costs, if they remain at current low levels, will drive increased U.S. economic activity in the second half of 2015. We are more optimistic about the U.S. economy today than we have been at any time during the past six years.”

February 2015 Survey Results:
The overall MCI-EFI is 66.3, a slight increase from the January index of 66.1.

  • When asked to assess their business conditions over the next four months, 30.3 percent of executives responding said they believe business conditions will improve over the next four months, up from 23.3 percent in January. 63.6 percent of respondents believe business conditions will remain the same over the next four months, down from 76.7 percent in January. 6.1 percent believe business conditions will worsen, up from none who believed so the previous month.
  • 42.4 percent of survey respondents believe demand for leases and loans to fund capital expenditures (capex) will increase over the next four months, up from 20 percent in January. 51.5 percent believe demand will “remain the same” during the same four-month time period, down from 80 percent the previous month. 6.1 percent believe demand will decline, up from none in January.
  • 27.3 percent of executives expect more access to capital to fund equipment acquisitions over the next four months, down from 33.3 percent in January. 72.7 percent of survey respondents indicate they expect the “same” access to capital to fund business, up from 66.7 percent in January. None expect “less” access to capital, unchanged from the previous month.
  • When asked, 39.4 percent of the executives reported they expect to hire more employees over the next four months, a decrease from 50 percent in January. 57.6 percent expect no change in headcount over the next four months, up from 50 percent last month. 3 percent expect to hire fewer employees, up from none who expected fewer in January.
  • 6.1 percent of the leadership evaluate the current U.S. economy as “excellent,” up from 3 percent last month. 90.9 percent of the leadership evaluate the current U.S. economy as “fair,” down from 97 percent in January. 3 percent rate it as “poor,” up from none the previous month.
  • 45.4 percent of the survey respondents believe that U.S. economic conditions will get “better” over the next six months, an increase from 43.3 percent who believed so in January. 54.6 percent of survey respondents indicate they believe the U.S. economy will “stay the same” over the next six months, down from 56.7 percent in January. None believe economic conditions in the U.S. will worsen over the next six months, unchanged from last month.
  • In February, 48.5 percent of respondents indicate they believe their company will increase spending on business development activities during the next six months, a decrease from 50 percent in January. 51.5 percent believe there will be “no change” in business development spending, an increase from 50 percent last month. None believe there will be a decrease in spending, unchanged from last month.

February 2015 MCI-EFI survey comments from industry executive leadership:

  • Independent, Small Ticket
    “Demand remains moderate and competition is strong. We remain bullish for 2015 as we expand channels and products. We are planning on muted GDP so we are focused on making our own opportunities versus waiting for the general economy to expand.” David Schaefer, CEO, Mintaka Financial LLC

  • Bank, Small Ticket
    “Things just seem to be better. Gas prices and unemployment are headed in the right direction. I am concerned about the negative effect of lower gas prices, such as, higher fail rates of energy loans and energy stock value.” Kenneth Collins, CEO, Susquehanna Commercial Finance Inc.

  • Bank, Middle Ticket
    “I see continued strength in the transportation segment of the economy. That segment of our business will remain strong. The opportunities in oil and gas have substantially declined. I expect the decline to depress the volume of business during 2015. 2015 will be a mixed year with some industries doing well and others in decline.” Elaine Temple, president, BancorpSouth Equipment Finance

  • Bank, Middle Ticket
    “All signs have been pointing to a ‘break-out’ year in 2015. However, investment in capital assets continues to be sporadic. Companies continue to be cautious in expanding their production capacity. Let’s hope the economists are correct in their predictions for 2015.” Thomas Jaschik, president, BB&T Equipment Finance

Why an MCI-EFI?
Confidence in the U.S. economy and the capital markets is a critical driver to the equipment finance industry. Throughout history, when confidence increases, consumers and businesses are more apt to acquire more consumer goods, equipment and durables, and invest at prevailing prices. When confidence decreases, spending and risk-taking tend to fall. Investors are said to be confident when the news about the future is good and stock prices are rising.

Who participates in the MCI-EFI?
The respondents are comprised of a wide cross section of industry executives, including large-ticket, middle-market and small-ticket banks, independents and captive equipment finance companies. The MCI-EFI uses the same pool of 50 organization leaders to respond monthly to ensure the survey’s integrity. Because the same organizations provide the data from month to month, the results constitute a consistent barometer of the industry’s confidence.

How is the MCI-EFI designed?
The survey consists of seven questions and an area for comments, asking the respondents’ opinions about the following:

  • 1. Current business conditions
  • 2. Expected product demand during the next four months
  • 3. Access to capital during the next four months
  • 4. Future employment conditions
  • 5. Evaluation of the current U.S. economy
  • 6. U.S. economic conditions during the next six months
  • 7. Business development spending expectations
  • 8. Open-ended question for comments

How may I access the MCI-EFI?
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.