In some codes, more emphasis on ventilation
With the new requirement in the 2012 International Residential Code (IRC) stating that builders must install mechanical ventilation in all homes, it is more important than ever that builders understand what ventilation solutions are available, according to Mike Moore, PE, LEED AP, Research Associate, Newport Partners, LLC, Davidsonville, Md.
Moore was a panelist in the “Clearing the Air: Smart Ventilation for Today’s Tighter Homes” seminar presented during the recent 2012 International Builders’ Show (IBS) Green Building & Sustainability track in Orlando, Fla. The seminar addressed the importance of home ventilation and its integral role in green and sustainable building practices, and offered a primer on helping builders navigate through the many new building codes, standards and regulations.
“In the past, mechanical ventilation was optional in homes, but the new 2012 IRC code now requires mechanical ventilation,” said Moore. He explained that several states are already early adopters of the new IRC code – Maryland, District of Columbia and Illinois – and many other jurisdictions have this new requirement under review. “By the summer, we’ll begin to see this new code adopted by many more jurisdictions, and builders will be looking for assistance from manufacturers to help them select the appropriate mechanical solutions,” Moore added.
The panel was moderated by Karen Collins, APR, marketing communications manager, Broan-NuTone, LLC, Hartford, Wis. Other panel members included Brian Wellnitz, marketing manager, kitchen ventilation, Broan-NuTone and Patrick Nielsen, marketing manager, ventilation fans, Broan-NuTone.
In addition to the new 2012 IRC code, the panelists addressed the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), ASHRAE 62.2 and CALGreen, offering tips on how best to communicate the importance of ventilation and energy-efficient building practices to homeowners. The panelists also shared some principles of air movement and how energy-efficient ventilation products, especially those that are Energy Star-qualified, save homeowners money.
Of particular interest to attendees was the discussion on proper ventilation sizing techniques and proper ducting required throughout the home. According to Moore, Broan-NuTone is the first manufacturer to develop an online tool to help builders identify code-compliant, customized whole-house ventilation systems, based on factors such as home size, number of bedrooms, whether or not the home is Energy Star V3 or LEED-certified and even homeowner preference. The Broan-NuTone CodeKey sizing tool will be available online this spring.
Bernanke to builders: More needs to be done
Orlando, Fla. — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, addressing a crowd of home builders on the last day of the International Builders’ Show here, did his best to explain how low mortgage rates — his chief weapon to stimulate the housing market — have fallen short of their goals. But Bernanke’s speech before a crowd of more than 200 attendees was not an apologie; on the contrary, Bernanke seemed a little frustrated about a lack of action in other government and business sectors and seemed worried about the overall effect of the housing crisis on the general economy.
“One of the effects of the decline in housing worth is to reduce the ability and willingness of households to spend,” Bernanke said. Underwater borrowers may have trouble paying for emergency health expenses, financing their children’s educations, or moving to a new location for a job opportunity because they can’t sell their current house.
“The state of housing and mortgage markets may be holding back the recovery of our financial system and the normalization of credit conditions,” Bernanke said. Although he acknowledged that lax lending standards helped precipitate the housing meltdown, now “the pendulum has probably swung too far in the other direction.” Current lending practices have been denying mortgages to creditworthy houses, even those who meet the standards of Government Sponsored Entities (GSEs). Private-label mortgage securities and their loan have virtually disappeared, Bernanke said.
“Lending to first-time home buyers has dropped precipitously,” he said, noting the ripple effect on move-up homebuyers.
With one-fourth of the excess supply of vacant homes for sales in the second quarter of 2011 owned by banks and other creditors — commonly referred to as REO properties — Bernanke worried that these homes will continues to exert downward pressure on home prices. The Feds estimate that an additional one million more foreclosure homes could be added to the REO pile over the next few years. In a “white paper” released last month, Bernanke’s staff outlined several proposals to get these homes off the market, converting them into rentals or turning them over to non-profit “land banks.” An REO-to-rental pilot program is currently under way, and the Feds have identified six other metro areas — Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas, Chicago, Phoenix, and Riverside, Calif. — where the concept could work.
In a question-and-answer session with the audience, Bernanke was asked how much he, as Federal chairman, could do to move forward on his ideas. The answer: Congress, the FHA and other government agencies will have to implement (or not) the proposals he put forth in his 26-page white paper called. “The U.S. Housing Market: Current Conditions and Policy Considerations.”
“Our goal was to put out there some main issues for people who have to make these decisons, and to make people realize how central to the economy housing is,” Bernanke said.
Bernanke’s staff is also communicating to the banks that now is not the time to be stingy.
“As regulators, we have been very clear to the banks that we do not want them to turn away creditworthy borrowers, and that includes home builders,” Bernanke said.
The NRLA tips its hat to regional leaders
A memorable roll call of northeastern lumber industry leaders was a highlight of one of the country’s premier lumber-industry events: the Northeastern Retail Lumber Association’s LBM EXPO.
The three-day Expo held last month at Foxwoods in Connecticut offered the usual interaction between vendors and northeastern dealers, and an extra dose of recognition for the people who make the NRLA one of the strongest regional associations in the country. NRLA chair Rita Ferris introduced the Lumber Person of the Year from each of the state and local associations that comprise the NRLA, during its Industry Recognition Dinner.
Ferris presented the New York and Suburban Retail Lumber Assn. Lifetime Achievement Award to Joseph Lauto of Great Jones Lumber.
“The ingenuity needed to run a profitable lumber business on three floors in New York City can only be learned over a lifetime,” Ferris said. “The ability to anticipate how new building materials will hold up under the fire code can only be learned over a lifetime; the impact that Joe has made to his community through his charitable works can only be achieved in a lifetime. And the long-term relationships Joe has cultivated can only be as deep as his are when cultivated over a lifetime.”
Other honorees included Tim Wiley of the Eastern New York group. “Tim is known for his passionate work on behalf of our industry, his dedication to completing every task perfectly — but most of all Tim is known for his modesty,” said Ferris, when inviting him to the stage.
Sheldon Kahan of Interstate + Lakeland Lumber was Lumber Person of the Year from the Connecticut association. “Whatever Shelly takes on, it must be done to the highest standard. For example, if he’s going to build a website or a showroom, it’s going to be the best website or showroom in the country,” Ferris said.
In the Mid-Hudson Lumber Dealers Association, Karen Page of H.G. Page & Sons was recognized. “Karen’s many years of dedication and leadership with the Mid-Hudson Association is as well known as her generosity, modesty and hard work. Karen has contributed countless hours of service, which has benefitted us all,” Ferris said.