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SFI seeks proposals for conservation partnerships

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Washington, D.C.-based Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) forest certification program is inviting applications for its Conservation and Community Partnerships Grants program. 

The program is now in its third year and continues to support research and outreach on responsible forestry.

“SFI Inc. has invested over $1.1 million in 24 projects since 2010,” SFI President and CEO Kathy Abusow said. “With the help of the over 125 partners involved, the SFI Conservation and Community Grant Program has directly supported activities and community events which improve forest management activities and engage the younger generation in responsible forestry.”

The SFI 2010-2014 Standard is based on 14 core principles that promote sustainable forest management, including measures to protect water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, species at risk, and Forests with Exceptional Conservation Value, and encourages community involvement. The SFI program is the only forest certification standard in North America that requires participants to support and engage in research activities to improve forestry forest health, productivity and sustainable management of forest resources. 

The complete 2012 RFP and the latest information about the SFI Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant program are posted here.

 

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More cities join NAHB’s list of improving markets

BY Brae Canlen

The list of housing markets continued to show improvement, according to a measurement by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), which expanded its “Improving Markets Index” to nearly 100 metro regions in February 2012. A total of 29 markets were added, bringing the total to 98 entries on the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI). Thirty-six states are now represented by at least one market on the list. 

The index identifies metropolitan areas that have shown improvement from their respective troughs in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months. The February index adds some metropolitan areas that have been particularly weak; this is due to the fact that the IMI measures improvement from a bottom, and some of the hardest hit markets are showing signs of coming off of extreme lows. Keeping this in mind, notable new entrants to list in February include Miami; Boston; Detroit; Kansas City, Mo.; Portland, Ore.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Salt Lake City.

"While relatively small metropolitan areas continue to dominate the list of improving housing markets, it’s important to note that several major metros in diverse parts of the country have now joined the field as well, including such metros as Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Nashville and Philadelphia," said NAHB chief economist David Crowe. "This is an encouraging sign that gradually strengthening economic conditions are starting to take hold across a broader swath of America."

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Losses narrow at USG Corp.

BY Ken Clark

Fourth-quarter sales increased 8% for the Chicago-based building products company as the operating loss narrowed to $42 million.

“While some markets remain at or near historically low levels, all of our businesses continue to benefit from the strategic actions we have taken to reduce costs and strengthen our operations,” said James Metcalf, chairman, president and CEO. “United States Gypsum Company and L&W Supply Corporation, our two largest businesses, reduced their reported operating losses in 2011 compared with the prior year, while many of our other key units achieved an operating profit in 2011.”

A highlight for 2011 was the performance of the company’s Sheetrock Brand UltraLight wallboard products, Metcalf added.

USG fourth-quarter sales were $750 million, compared with $696 million in the same quarter last year. For the full year, sales were $3.024 billion, up 2.9% compared with $2.939 billion in 2010.

Operating loss for the quarter was $42 million, compared with a loss of $95 million in the same period last year. The company’s operating loss of $197 million for the full year compares with an operating loss of $260 million in 2010.

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