USG narrows loss in fourth quarter
Building products giant USG Corp. posted sales of $696 million in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, down from $720 million in the same quarter last year.
USG narrowed its loss in the fourth quarter, posting a net loss of $121 million for the three months, compared to a loss of $598 million in the same period last year.
“While 2011 is likely to be another difficult year, we think the worst may be behind us,” said James S. Metcalf, president and CEO. “There is still a high degree of uncertainty about the shape and timing of the recovery, but we know that our operating strategies are working and that the fundamentals underlying our core businesses are solid.”
The company recorded full year 2010 net sales of $2.94 billion, down from $3.24 billion in 2009. The loss for the year was $405 million, compared to a 2009 loss of $787 million.
Metcalf explained adjusted operating results improved in a declining U.S. market. He added a note of optimism.
“We remain optimistic about the long-term," he said. "Basic demographics, the aging domestic housing stock, and a general economic recovery in the U.S. will ultimately stimulate demand for our products. The company is poised to capture the significant operating leverage in our business when market demand rebounds from the historic lows experienced recently.”
Home prices hit new lows in nine cities
The S&P/Case-Shiller Index, a bellwether for the new housing market, reported that home prices fell in 19 of the 20 metro markets across the country in November 2010 compared with October 2010. The 10-City Composite was down 0.8%, and the 20-City Composite fell by 1.0%.
In year-over-year comparisons, the 10-City Composite declined 0.4%, and the 20-City Composite fell 1.6% from their November 2009 levels. Only four MSAs (Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.) showed year-over-year gains in November.
“With these numbers, more analysts will be calling for a double-dip in home prices,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor’s. Nine markets (Atlanta; Charlotte; Detroit; Las Vegas; Miami; Portland, Ore.; Seattle; Chicago; and Tampa, Fla.) hit their lowest levels since home prices peaked in 2006 and 2007.
Cleveland museum will build a green home
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History will construct a home that represents the future of energy-efficient housing. SmartHome Cleveland will be built on Museum grounds and open to the public this summer for viewing in conjunction with an exhibition about climate change.
SmartHome Cleveland was designed using the Passive House methodology, a standard of energy performance. The house will be built using a wall system based on structural insulated panels. Construction should be completed in early June, when it will become a temporary exhibition.
Designed without a furnace, SmartHome Cleveland will be 90% more energy efficient than a typical home, according to the exhibit organizers. It will be constructed using sustainable materials and furnishings, advanced stormwater and healthy housing techniques, and biophilic design to connect occupants to nature.
Three elements distinguish "passive house" structures from typical houses: high levels of insulation, with walls up to 18 ins. thick; a carefully sealed building envelope with minimal air leakage combined with efficient heat-recovery ventilation for superior indoor air quality; and ultra high-performance windows — typically triple-paned.
"SmartHome Cleveland will give thousands of people hands-on experience with the most advanced, practical and attractive techniques of green building and energy conservation," said David Beach, director of GreenCityBlueLake Institute, the center for sustainability at the Museum. "It will also raise design standards in Northeast Ohio by increasing awareness of passive house principles, and can help make Cleveland a center for advanced design."
SmartHome Cleveland will be on display from June to September 2011. Afterward, the house will be moved to a lot on Wade Park Avenue in Cleveland’s University Circle neighborhood and become available for purchase.