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Issue 22

April 2009  

New Partnership for AIA

The Green Building Initiative (GBI) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) have signed a memorandum of understanding, pledging to work together to promote the design and construction of energy efficient and environmentally responsible buildings.

Ward Hubbell, President of GBI says "The AIA's support and expertise in the development of the Green Globes Standard, through participation on the ANSI Technical Committee, has been invaluable."

Chris McEntee, Executive Vice President and CEO of the AIA states "The GBI's engagement in life cycle assessment and promotion of post-construction third party review in Green Globes illustrates GBI's commitment to the creation of high performance buildings and supports the role of the architect in creating them."


 First of its Kind...

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a first-of-its-kind Green Building Retrofit Ordinance to upgrade city-owned buildings larger than 7,500 square feet or built before 1978 with a target of achieving LEED Silver-level certification.

"The 'Green Building Retrofit Ordinance' shows how environment and energy policies can stimulate California's economy. It will put people to work in green jobs, generate revenue for local businesses, save L.A. taxpayers up to $6Million in energy costs and cut global warming pollution, " says Derek Walker, director of the Environmental Defense Fund's California Climate Initiative. "Los Angeles is setting an example that cities nationwide can follow."


Home Buyers Taking Advantage of Tax Credits

Nearly 600,000 home buyers have claimed the $8,000 federal tax credit enacted by Congress as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The federal credit is available to first-timers who purchase a principal residence this year and close prior to December 1st. The credit is equal to 10% of the purchase price, up to a maximum of $8,000, subject to certain income limitations. And as long as they occupy the property as their main residence for three years, it need not be paid back.

You can find more information on the tax credit at: federalhousingtaxcredit.com

Unlike the federal tax credit, which is for first-time buyers who buy either a new or existing house, California has instituted a tax credit - 5% of the purchase price, up to a maximum of $10,000 - is targeted just to buyers of newly built homes.

The California tax credit is capped at $10M - enough to cover 10,000 buyers. Nearly 4,000 buyers have already applied.

You can view this complete article at Nation's Building News.


Sustainable Housing in Bulgaria

With no access to water or electrical services, the immediate problem was trying to obtain approval to build on this site.

Using Quad-Lock and some innovative green building methodology, allowed these two custom homes, located in Rudartsi, Bulgaria, to get off the drawing board.

Read the summary on this project.

If you have any further questions about this project, you can contact Thomas Willmen, Sales Manager for Europe.


Recycled-Content Concrete Gains Market Share

According to Freedonia Group, a leader in business research study, recycled-content (e.g. fly ash, slag) concrete sales reached $9.5B in 2008, representing 15% of green building materials. Demand is forecasted to grow at about 8.5% per year, reaching $14.3B in 2013.

Among green building materials, concrete is second only to floor coverings in dollar volume.


LEED 2009 is Here

The new LEED green building certification will launch on April 27th. Projects registered under the version 2 rating system can be transferred to LEED 2009 after April 27th.

New projects will be required to register for LEED 2009 after June 27th.

Credits and prerequisites from all LEED commercial and institutional rating systems have been consolidated and aligned, drawing on their most effective common denominators, so that credits and prerequisites are consistent across all LEED 2009 rating systems.

To get more information on LEED 2009 visit the US Green Building Council website.


 Introduction to ICFs Webinars

There are lots of people out there who have questions about insulating concrete forms. To aid in demystifying ICF, every two weeks DJ Ketelhut is hosting an online webinar introducing insulating concrete forms.

"The goal of these webinars is really education" says DJ, Quad-Lock's Eastern North America Sales Director. "There is a lot of mis-information out there. Really all we are trying to do is be helpful to people who are interested in this building technology - if it helps sell Quad-Lock, that's great; but the real benefit is boosting the ICF industry."

During these 1-hour presentations, attendees will gain:

A basic understanding of ICF
An understanding of the types of structures you can build with ICF
Knowledge to make a more informed buying decision
Insight into the Quad-Lock difference

Reserve your seat in one of these upcoming webinars.


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Spring is in the Air

Spring is coming and it is inspiring most of us to stop thinking about the losses of the past year and to look ahead to better times in the future.

To me, it really looks like we are now turning the corner. Housing is bottoming out, stocks are starting to rise, and even the media is telling us some positive stories again. Most predict that the economic recovery will start between this fall and the spring of 2010.

Many also believe that the housing market plays a key role in this recovery. The US Government has taken bold steps to stabilize this sector by enabling homeowners to make their mortgages affordable again.

I believe that we will be stronger as people and as companies when we come out of this. We all have learned a lot and are still changing many things in our own behavior and in our surroundings.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel!

Best regards,
Hubert Max Kustermann, CEO

News in the Marketplace

We have been bombarded with negative news regarding suffering global economies, bailout money woes, job losses, the mortgage crisis, increased bankruptcies, etc. There is no question the marketplace has changed, but are we seeing a glimmer of hope on the horizon? For all the negative we hear, there are many businesses and industries that are seeing an improved outlook. Guess what, if you are reading this newsletter, you are likely in an industry that is seeing some revival. There is good news for the construction industry now and in the future; especially if you are involved in offering sustainable building solutions, like Quad-Lock.

The governments in both the United States and Canada are offering significant tax credits, grants and programs to not only build more energy efficient buildings, but renovate existing structures including residential homes. And, there is a loosening of the restraints to obtain financing for these projects. Over the last several months, it was virtually impossible for people or businesses even with good credit to obtain financing for new construction or home improvement projects. Recent changes find many banks receiving federal bailout funds are being held more accountable for the funds to be used for lending in the marketplace. Banks that received no bailout funds are following suit with more lending. That is not to say underwriting these loans has not changed for the worse, but ultimately more loans will be written. This includes large developers and builders also and is not just tied to the residential market. More lending for building projects coupled with some of these government-sponsored programs make it a WIN-WIN for the construction industry. The catch is ALL these government sponsored programs are focused on building a more sustainable building that reduces energy consumption. This is good news for companies like Quad-Lock as we have ICF solutions for the new building market and an energy saving solution for the renovation market with the R-ETRO System.

Here are a few of the programs offered in the United States and Canada for you to research for your benefit.

United States
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Energy Policy Act

Homeowner/Residential

  • Home Tax Credit, 30% tax credit up to $1500
  • $500 tax credit for energy efficient home improvements
  • Residential Builder tax credit of $2000 for building more energy efficient homes

Commercial

  • $1.80 sq/ft tax deduction for buildings that achieve 50% reduction in energy consumption
  • Partial credits of up to $.60 sq/ft are available for upgrades to the building envelope
  • 10 billion allocated for "greening" schools through Collaborative High Performance Schools (CHPS) program

Canada

  • Home Renovation Tax Credit: Up to $1350 on eligible expenditures
  • EcoEnergy Retrofit Grant: Up to $5000
  • EcoEnergy Retrofit Incentive for Buildings: 25% of eligible project costs or $50,000 (up to $250,000 per organization)

Further details can be obtained on our website.

I encourage you to take advantage of these money-saving programs. Whether you are an end-user, builder, contractor, or a salesperson you will gain a competitive advantage by understanding these plans and communicating them with your clients or customers. The ultimate goal is to build better performing buildings, reduce energy and save money. Sounds like a great stimulus plan to me. Quad-Lock can help you get there!

DJ Ketelhut, Sales Director, Eastern North America

Occupational Safety

Bracing or Light Scaffold Safety

In our last article, we reviewed the high number of OSHA-recorded jobsite safety violations associated with scaffolding. As ICF installers who use various scaffold/support systems regularly, you should really be aware of the potential risks and problems that may come up... so you can AVOID as many as possible.

ICF Bracing & Scaffolding SystemIn this article, we'll address the most widely used type of scaffolding: low-level foldable scaffolding that doubles as form support for the ICF wall before the concrete is placed. Scaffold systems are manufactured all around the world under different quality standards, safety regulations and with a variety of material features. For instance, while virtually all scaffold systems specify a load-carrying capacity, the manufacturer may or may not indicate that capacity is only certified at a specific height above grade. The Number One rule with scaffolding is START EARLY by becoming very familiar with the installation manual for your system; know it inside and out, including all the specifications for fastener sizes and spacing, load ratings, etc. Be sure you have all the required pieces gathered at hand before you start to construct your scaffold. This way you won't be tempted to substitute or leave out critical components in the rush of assembly.

The basic ICF scaffold support system incorporates a "strongback" piece that attaches to the ICF form units. This is the first critical safety checkpoint attachment. Your scaffold supplier (whether you purchase or rent the system) should provide you with very specific attachment details, including the exact size and type of screws to use and placement specs. The scaffold system was engineered, tested and certified using specific screw fasteners and you MUST duplicate that on your jobsite in order for the system to perform as designed. All screws are not equal - be certain you use the right screws; a No. 10 pan head sheet metal screw has quite different load and pullout strengths than a No. 10 drywall screw, or a No. 10 wood screw.

The walk platform is attached to the strongback piece and is another critical safety checkpoint - one that often gets "shorted" when the scaffold is being erected. The walk platform must be 18 inches wide and must include a toe board if the walk surface is more than 8 feet above adjacent grade. The platform boards are held in place by specific brackets that keep the boards from flipping, tipping or sliding out of place. These platform brackets attach to the strongbacks with specified pins. Substituting another bolt, or short piece of rebar, or perhaps a spike is NOT sufficient and creates both a safety risk and a sure-bet safety violation when the OSHA inspector shows up.

The load carrying capacity of the walkway platform boards is not strictly specified by law. You, as the contractor are mandated to use an "appropriate" material for the load your walkway will carry. In other words, you must calculate the weight of your crew members themselves, the weight of their equipment, materials, etc. and then choose platform boards with sufficient strength to support that load. In lieu of the head damage (and engineering calculations/costs) to figure out how to use dimension lumber from your local lumber yard, the more cost-effective and safety conscious alternative is to purchase an OSHA-rated LVL plank from a scaffold supply house. These come with load ratings up to 500 lbs. when used with standard support spacing.

The scaffold element that presses the strongback and walk platform against the wall surface is called a turnbuckle or leg kit. It is the angled brace that forms a triangle between the vertical wall and the "horizontal" ground. It provides the essential bracing and plumb adjustment for the wall and uses the ground as its support base. The turnbuckle is key in jobsite safety since the angle between the turnbuckle and grade cannot exceed 60 degrees and proper staking into the ground is crucial. The best situation is when the turnbuckle footplate is 90 degrees to the turnbuckle thrust and usually requires excavation so the footplate can be staked to the ground. After a rain or snow storm, all of the attachment stakes must be checked for tightness before the staff starts working on the scaffold system.

The pin that attaches the turnbuckle to the strongback also holds the walkway brackets. Remember, no substitutes are allowed - use only the pin provided and specified by the scaffold manufacturer.

Using turnbuckles that are too short for your wall height will result in an angle of support that is over 60 degrees, or insufficient support at the top of your ICF wall which is a disaster in the making. As a rule of thumb, an 11 foot turnbuckle is useable to about 8 feet above grade and will work for about 10 feet of wall height.

The final piece for many scaffold/support systems is a handrail assembly installed perpendicular to the walk platform. The height of the handrail must comply with requirements for guardrails or balconies. In addition, the handrail must be able to support a load placed perpendicular to the handrail of 250 pounds. This means that soft lumber with a low fiber bending value is not acceptable for the handrail pieces. Metal piping is a much safer alternative that will likely avoid an OSHA violation and fine.

Miscellaneous Tips and Notes: Keep on hand an extra supply of the pins that attach the turnbuckles and walkways to the strongbacks. These are absolutely essential to your jobsite safety but do tend to get lost, dropped, and left behind.

Know your scaffold system's wind rating. Some systems are rated for use in winds up to 40 mph, and some systems are certified for use only in 10 pounds of wind force. By comparison, a 40 mph wind creates about 25 pounds of force and a 90 mph wind will rip a shingle roof off. Bottom line: Be prudent in getting your crew off the scaffold when the winds pick up.

If your scaffold walkway surface is over 8 feet above grade, safety harnesses and other fall protection equipment may be required. At 10 feet above ground, additional rules concerning tools, electrical cords and fall protection are required. Even a top notch, well constructed scaffold system isn't the end of the jobsite safety story.

In summary, advertising literature may seem to indicate that merely purchasing a standard support/scaffold system will keep you in compliance with jobsite safety regulations. This is simply not true. Knowing the specifications of your system, refusing to shortchange or substitute components and staying alert to potentially dangerous jobsite conditions or staff behavior is essential.

In an upcoming article, we'll cover the safety issues involved with scaffold systems over 10ft. tall - they're everywhere on jobsites, but are they SAFE?

So, as Red Green would say, "If the inspector doesn't find you handsome, he should at least find you.....SAFE!" Don't get hurt out there!! Any questions? Contact John Hatfield.

John Hatfield - Regional Sales Manager, Rocky Mountain Region

We Need Your Help...

Proven Energy Efficiencies

As part of our on-going development of materials to assist in the sale of Quad-Lock, we want to create a library of statistics about structures built with Quad-Lock Insulating Concrete Forms. You can help us by submitting your energy bills, along with the bills from a comparable house in your neighborhood for us to add to our library. When you do this Quad-Lock will pay your highest month's energy bill for your troubles.

Contact us for more information.


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Best regards,
Quad-Lock Building Systems


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