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Owens Corning joins forces with T. Boone Pickens

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Owens Corning, a leader in building materials systems and glass fiber reinforcements, is partnering with T. Boone Pickens, author of the Pickens Plan, in an effort to advance energy independence and energy efficiency in homes and buildings, the Toledo, Ohio-based company announced.

The Pickens Plan, which came into the national spotlight during the 2008 presidential election campaign, calls for reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil through investment in domestic renewable resources — such as wind and solar — and through the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel. For the first time, the plan will now also call for increased energy efficiency in homes and buildings.

The goals of the Pickens Plan are consistent with key elements of the energy program being discussed by President-Elect Barack Obama and Congressional leaders, the company said. Part of this is achieving greater energy efficiency in buildings.

“Buildings consume 40 percent of our nation’s energy. That’s more than industry or transportation,” said Mike Thaman, chairman and CEO of Owens Corning. “Energy efficiency in homes and buildings is critical to the achievement of true energy independence.”

According to Pickens, increasing energy efficiency in homes and buildings can save the U.S. the equivalent of more than one billion barrels of oil per year. “Owens Corning shares the same concerns that millions of Americans share: reducing our dependence on foreign oil, which has threatened our security, economy and environment,” he said.

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In Canada, concern over housing

BY HBSDEALER Staff

After years of robust growth, the Canadian housing market has cooled off significantly, new data reveals.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reported last week that new home construction fell to a seven-year low in November. This, coupled with October’s news that existing homes sales plummeted 14 percent in October, the largest drop since June 1994, has given Canadian housing experts a sense that more pain is forthcoming.

“It will get significantly worse because housing starts are a lagging indicator,” said Brian Johnston, president of Monarch Corp., one of Canada’s oldest and largest real estate companies.

Housing starts in Canada have been trending downward since they peaked at an annual rate of 277,000 two and a half years ago. The rate in October was 212,000. (By comparison in the United States, November’s seasonally adjusted annual rate came in at 625,000.) Market analysts believe that pent-up demand for homes has been increasingly satisfied over the past few years; the slowdown was not unexpected.

With one eye on the deteriorating housing situation in the U.S., the Canadian housing industry has been preparing for a decline in demand by cutting back construction, according to John Kenward, chief operating officer of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association. But while the industry is making the necessary adjustments, Kenward cautioned, “It is coming down faster than we would have anticipated.”

Statistics Canada, a widely used research firm, reported that existing home sales have fallen for four consecutive months, and year-to date sales are running 15 percent below last year’s levels. The firm reported that the softening housing market is mostly due to Western Canada, with the cities of Calgary (down 14 percent in home sales) and Edmonton (down 55 percent) moving into what it termed “buyers’ territory.” Those two cities were at or near record highs two years ago.

While the Canadian housing market is going through a significant slowdown, observers say it’s not nearly as pronounced as the U.S. market downturn because the housing market up North is fundamentally different. Analysts said the U.S. housing collapse stemmed from a home-price bubble that burst, taking down the overall economy; whereas the key influence on Canada’s generally healthy market is the drag from a U.S. recession.

As with the U.S., the inventory of unsold new homes has been expanding in Canada; but again, not nearly to the same degree. Most analysts believe the construction decline in Canada will speed up in 2009 as a slowing economy puts more pressure on prospective buyers.

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Illinois Ace store wins economic award

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Grayslake, Ill., Economic Development Commission has selected Grayslake Ace Hardware as recipient of the 2008 Economic Development Award, the News-Sun newspaper reported.

The award was presented to Paula Arthon, store manager, at the Grayslake Chamber of Commerce’s recent holiday installation dinner.

“Grayslake Ace Hardware is an excellent addition to the distinguished list of businesses and individuals that have positively contributed to the growth and development of Grayslake,” said Phil Harris, chairman of the commission. “The building and property provide a significant tax base and jobs to the Grayslake community.”

The Economic Development Award is presented to a business or individual that brings increased awareness and positive recognition to the village.

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