McGraw-Hill Construction reported a fall in August in its tracking of contracts for new construction.

At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $540.6 billion, new construction starts in August dropped 9%, according to McGraw Hill Construction, a division of McGraw Hill Financial.

The decline followed July’s elevated volume, the strongest so far in 2014, and brought activity back to the average pace reported during the first seven months of this year.

By major sector, nonresidential building fell sharply, after being lifted in July by the start of several large manufacturing plant projects, while nonbuilding construction (public works and electric utilities) also retreated.  Residential building in August ran counter by posting a modest gain, helped by the continued growth for multifamily housing.

What’s the meaning of this? Total construction for the year-to-date (NOT adjusted for inflation or seasonal blips) is +4% for the year, as shown in the table above. Good, but not great.

Both are electrical distributors. BSE is located in Fargo, ND. Read more here.

The brief RenewableEnergyWorld article came with this graphic:


And the reason for the end of “curtailments”….? — They built 3,500 more miles of electric power transmission lines!

From Reuters, dated 9/10/14:

Applications for U.S. home mortgages fell last week to the lowest since December 2000 as interest rates rose for the first time in four weeks, an industry group said on Wednesday.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, fell 7.2 percent in the week ended Sept. 5.

To be fair, it was the week of Labor Day. To be thoroughly fair, previous years each have had a Labor Day weekend . . .

They’re everywhere in the mass media. And they’re also a massive source of energy waste in data centers, according to National Geographic:

In nearly 3 million data centers across the United States, some 12 million machines serve up the emails, web pages, and files we access online every day. They’re the repositories of all our computerized information.

The high energy demand of those servers is well documented, but up to 30 percent of them are drawing power without actually doing anything.

These “zombie,” or comatose, servers are among the examples of energy waste documented in a report about U.S. data centers released Tuesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). If those facilities were to cut electricity consumption by 40 percent—half of what is possible using the tools now available to improve efficiency—the electricity savings would amount to $3.8 billion and 39 billion kilowatt-hours, according to the report.

That’s enough to power 3.5 million American homes


A press release and an 81-second video stake Verizon’s claim to be the greenest company in communications.

Among other things, the co. reportedly will install 10.2 mW of solar PV power-generating capacity. in 2014.

From IndustryWeek: A slide show

07 - DMG-Mori-Lasertec-crowd

. . . and an article.

IMTS = International Manufacturing Technology Show.

From Fun Facts About The Economic Census:



Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 4.57.44 AM

Maybe some are, maybe some ain’t. For $2,995, you can get a report on this from GTM Research. As described in the online promo (which includes the limited-hang-out graphic above) –

Two-thirds of today’s cumulative solar capacity has been installed within the last three years, and PV installations are forecasted to quadruple by the end of the decade, growing from 128.3 GW at the end of 2013 to 528.1 GW by the end of 2020.

Against this backdrop of strong demand, there is growing concern that systemic quality issues will affect an exponentially increasing proportion of PV projects. Yet, so far, the extent of the module reliability problem has been largely misinterpreted and ill-understood.

So claims this Automated Buildings article, which asks: Does worker productivity belong in the short list of building metrics?

This isn’t a new idea. But it’s about time people began to “tackle” it. A slice of this pie (bolding by EleBlog) –

As shown in a recent study by Warwick University, happiness can lead to a 12% improvement in productivity2Happiness goes hand-in-hand with motivation, which is directly correlated to productivity. A study of call centers by Heschong Mahone Group showed that occupants with views of nature were 6% to 12% more productive than occupants without view of nature.

By creating comfortable environments, building managers can directly impact worker happiness.  Some examples of changes to workplace environments include personalized temperature controls, natural day lighting and general control of things like airflow, temperature, lighting, windows, etc.

So why have the vast majority of corporations not latched on to this huge potential?  . . . “When it comes to facility decisions, costs are almost always the predominant consideration. This is due primarily to the ease of documenting cost reductions compared to the difficulty of documenting benefits and value.”  In essence, value is often not measurable right away, or is inherently tough to measure.

Given the large financial return associated with productive environments, it is only a matter of time before more pragmatic companies (mainstream) invest in advanced concepts such as Biophilic design, thermal control and other technologies that put people at the center of the ROI equation. 

As part of these new admissions into this diverse space and the new metrics that will evolve, facility managers and control experts are likely to be at the forefront.  This is good news for our future as building experts.

New initiatives recognizing productivity will help justify good projects and facility managers will become more closely integrated into the formula of a successful company.