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September 07, 2009
Building Code Improvements Seen as Vital to Climate Change Legislation
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on AECcafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
Each AEC Weekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the AEC industry, AEC product and company news, featured downloads, customer wins, and coming events, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting. Brought to you by AECCafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

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Industry News

Building Code Improvements Seen as Vital to Climate Change Legislation

By Susan Smith

Ed Mazria, founder of
Architecture 2030, a nonprofit that focuses on global warming technology for the built sector, spoke on the topic, “Building Codes at the Heart of the Climate Bill” at a Climate Change Symposia held in Albuquerque, NM in August. Sponsored by the Sierra Club at the University of New Mexico, the event featured four tracks: The Science of Climate Change; Environmental Justice; Land Use and Transportation; and Green Jobs.

Mazria, who has testified in front of Congress on the topic of building codes, and testified in front of the House on jobs, contends that no provision in the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 would do more to reduce energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions than improving building energy codes.

The climate bill, sponsored by Reps. Henry Waxman of California and Edward Markey of Massachusetts and is supported by the president, passed the House by a slim margin on July 26. This bill would establish a cap and trade system for carbon emissions reductions and renewable energy standards for utilities, plus develop programs for building energy performance labeling and large-scale building retrofits.

Although cap and trade is the most talked about segment of the climate legislation, the code improvements, in Section 201, which comprise 28 pages in the 1400-word document, make the bill worth passing, according to Mazria.

The code upgrades would impact new and renovated buildings on both commercial and residential sides, that would demand a initial 30 percent energy improvement. The code targets would rise to 50 percent in 2014 and 2015 and require incremental reductions of 5 percent until 2029 and 2030.

According to Architecture 2030 research, the code targets would reduce building sector energy consumption to more than 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2050, a $218 billion savings in annual energy costs. Carbon emissions from buildings would also decline, falling to nearly 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2050, the group said.

Mazria said the U.S. building sector, comprised of 300 billion square feet, accounts for nearly half of all U.S. energy carbon emissions and ¾ of electricity consumption.

Further, by 2050, 75 percent of the nation’s current built environment will be either new or renovated.

“The targets in Section 201 are set at a reasonable and beneficial pace for change that will achieve the reductions necessary within the timeline called for by the scientific community,” Mazria said.

Mazria made a comparison between implementing Section 201 which would provide 83 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, and the implementation of nuclear. “If you implement nuclear you wouldn’t get close to that,” stated Mazria.

One hundred nuclear plants would cost $750 billion to build, “where does that get us in terms of energy?” he asked. “How much energy would be delivered to your house, plus what is wasted in heat, etc.? This is what a group of senators want to substitute for climate change.”

Mazria said that Section 201 will allow the U.S. to use clean fuel. There are three ways to accomplish this:

Design, planning innovation – better simulation tools, Architects with these tools will be able to get down 60-70% clean fuel.

Add technology

Purchase renewable energy – get utilities to send you clean energy

U.S. Unemployment

There are 7 million people currently unemployed in the U.S., with 9.4 percent general unemployment and construction unemployment at 20 percent. The question is, what does this have to do with climate change?

Mazria stated that 7 percent of total building infrastructure is public building sector and 93 percent of the private building sector comprises building square footage. We can divide private into two parts commercial and housing (mostly housing). 60 percent is the housing sector. In 2008, the public building sector was up to 2 percent. “It didn’t tank – they’re still building from bonds passed four or five years ago, and it is actually increasing now. 2009 commercial was down 7 percent but now is starting to tank. The housing sector from March 2008 is down 66 percent. The housing sector is dragging the economy down.”

The public building sector provides the tax base and jobs for public building. A big piece of that comes from private building sector, which is shrinking because of job losses and construction is way down.

With the Stimulus 786 a lot of money went into the public sector for salaries for cities for shovel ready projects. “They allocated another 1.2 trillion to buy up mortgage backed securities to drive interest rates down to 5% roughly – do you see any construction going on?” asked Mazria. “No one wants to renovate. With people losing their jobs, people are holding onto every dollar. Because the building sector is tanking, it dragged the whole economy down with it, everything is tied to building sector.”

If we don’t get a handle on the private building sector and bring that back, we’re into Stimulus 2, said Mazria. This is a 4.5 million jobs plan. “We need 20-year financing for these renovation loans. A 3 percent loan is what you pay over 20 years. That’s why these plans won’t work because you have to pay the money back. No one is going to do this for $10 less on your energy bill.”

Mazria said that Architecture 2030 proposed a 4.5 million jobs plan trying to get the president and Clinton to bring the building sector back a second stimulus is not needed to bring it all back.

What happens when you put federal dollars into public infrastructure projects?

For public infrastructure there is $30 billion. “If you take that into schools and bridges and public buildings, you have substituted the tax base which would have come from taxpayers,” explained Mazria. “You have given states, counties, etc, money to spend, they’re substituting this money for their tax base and getting $30 billion worth of construction. With $30 billion you get about 500,000 jobs.”

What happens when federal government money is put into an investment plan?

“From $30 billion we get $296 billion worth of construction, with that you get 4,500,000 jobs, $20 billion goes to state and local government taxes, so $60 billion goes back to federal government in taxes.”

This last one is a home mortgage rate buy-down which is a home energy reduction target. The bottom line is that homeowners will get a mortgage interest rate reduction: the government will buy your interest down by 1 percent if you bring your energy reduction to HERS 70 (30% below IECC 2006), or a 2.5 percent loan if you bring your building to net zero. (assuming current mortgage rates are at 5%)

According to Mazria, in order to get this you have to spend $40,000 renovating your building:

$240,000 mortgage loan @ 6%

Mortgage balance $210,000

Equity - $30,000

You’re paying $1,439 month, spending $40,000 to renovate your building.

“Would you do this if we give you a 3 percent mortgage and you contract to spend the $40,000 or more – that much has to go for efficiency and you have to meet the HERS rating?” Mazria posed the question.

“You have to borrow $250,000, at 3 percent your monthly payment is down to $1,054 month. You have put people back to work, you are probably saving about $150/month on your energy bill, and saving $385 on your mortgage/monthly. Total monthly savings - $543 month.”

With this plan, the government builds up the tax base. “We put 4 ½ million people back to work.”

“If we put money into public infrastructure, there’s no private spending,” Mazria pointed out. “If we put the $30 billion into private spending we get $296 billion. We can create 4,500,000 jobs instead of 500,000, and could reduce the national deficit by $30 billion.”

Benefits: Top News of the Week

GRAPHISOFT announced ArchiCAD 13, the latest version of its award-winning architectural design software. ArchiCAD 13 includes a state-of-the-art BIM Server (patent pending), introducing a new paradigm in design file sharing. The software allows anywhere anytime access to BIM files and relieves workflow management bottlenecks.

New Autodesk Revit Structure 2010 Element Positioning Extension – available on Subscription Center. Download the Extension from the
Subscription Center under the “Revit Extensions for Autodesk Revit Structure 2010” link.

Autodesk Revit Structure has various tools for adding tags to your structural elements. One can add them to the element one-by-one or, by using the “Tag all” tool, can add them automatically within the current view. However, it would be more practical if it could be able to add tags by defining more than just the current view as well as to be able to set a distance for the placement of the tags and number them by element, type, and/or level.

The latest Service Pack from Autodesk for Autodesk 3ds Max 2010 and Autodesk 3ds Max Design 2010 software includes nearly 30 fixes for issues with undo, performance, responsiveness, viewports, material workflow, and mental ray software. Specific areas addressed are Biped, Bitmap Pager, Bitmap Proxies, Containers, Edit Poly, Interoperability, Licensing, Materials, mental ray, Particle Flow, Performance, Photometric Lights, ProOptimizer, Render To Texture (RTT), Rendering, UVW Unwrap, and Viewports.

Acquisitions, Alliances, Agreements

Meridian Systems announced a new Independent Software Vendor (ISV) relationship with CubisOne, a provider of consulting and IT services to clients around the globe.

Meridian Systems announced a new Value Added Reseller (VAR) agreement with Alliance Solutions Group (ASG). As one of the top VARs for a leading financial and estimating software solutions company, ASG will provide comprehensive software sales and professional services for Meridian's Prolog solution in Florida, California, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Islands.


AUGI announces its newest offering to members—a Web-based career center that connects job seekers with prospective employers in their industry. The new job board, powered by career services leader JobTarget, can be found at
www.augi.com under the
Careers Link. Access at this time is available to AUGI members and nonmembers alike.

Project Team Solutions, an authorized Meridian Global Reseller serving the Eastern and Mid-Western United States, has launched its new Prolog training
website. The site provides access to hundreds of videos covering the features and functions of Meridian Systems Prolog construction project management software.

ZWCAD Software Co., Ltd.
announced the successful conclusion of its inaugural Global Partner Conference held on August 5-28, 2009, in Guangzhou, China. The event was attended by roughly 100 people from 31 countries and regions, making it ZWSOFT's largest and most successful forum to date for international ZWCAD partners to present and discuss the most important sales, marketing and technical issues of ZWCAD.

The Central Park Tower construction project took center stage at Tekla’s special BIM seminar held at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel in Denver, Colorado, August 13, 2009. During an afternoon interactive session, about 75 Colorado-based industry professionals had an opportunity to hear the key members of the Central Park Tower team discuss the use of integrated project delivery and virtual construction and design to deliver the steel and concrete structural elements of this project faster, at a lower cost and with zero change orders.

New Products

LightUp for SketchUp will be available in a French language edition. An additional installer that provides French language dialogs and documentation will be ready for download soon for both Mac and PC.

Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES),
a provider of integrated performance analysis software and consulting services for sustainable building design, announced the release of VE-Pro v6.0. This intelligent software allows engineers to analyze designs in great detail with interconnected performance assessment modules and advanced visual, graphical, and numerical outputs. An enhanced user interface, new Navigator functionality and HVAC developments provide a more intuitive experience and detailed level of analysis.

HEATA (or Home Energy Assessment Tools for ArchiCAD 11/12) is a brand new software plugin for Graphisoft’s leading BIM application. It is scheduled to be released in early September, coinciding with
target="_blank">ArchiCAD Summer School (ACSS) in Nottingham, United Kingdom.

COADE announced the release of an updated video training course on DVD that contains the complete five-day, in-class training course plus bonus material on using, customizing and mastering CADWorx Plant Professional software. Course contents include advanced 3D piping and plant modeling; piping, equipment and steelwork modeling; piping specifications; bills of materials; ISOGEN, exporting to COADE CAESAR II and PV Elite for analysis and much more.

The DVD allows self-paced training for piping and plant designers who are new to CADWorx Plant Professional as well as experienced designers who want to employ best practices to improve efficiency and increase productivity. Information on the CADWorx Plant Professional video training DVD is

BOXX Technologies
, provider of high-performance computing systems for visual effects (VFX), post production, graphic design, and advanced visualization, announced that their workstation series', the
3DBOXX 4850 and
3DBOXX 8500, have been qualified by software developer Autodesk to run their 2010 versions of media and entertainment applications, including Autodesk 3dsMax, Maya, Softimage, MotionBuilder, and Mudbox. All 2010 Autodesk Media & Entertainment 3D software is available from BOXX, an authorized Autodesk reseller and strategic partner.

SmartDraw.com, maker of the SmartDraw announced the release of SmartDraw 2010, a new offering aimed at helping organizations put an end to communication breakdown by enabling the average businessperson to communicate effectively using visuals.

Around the Web

Autodesk designs channel strategy for KSA growth by Andrew Seymour, August 25, 2009, ITP.net

Updated BIN file for Autodesk Product Manager Utility BIM and BEAM

Twilight Render Plugin for Google Sketchup v1.0.6 for Microsoft Windows, zip file available now

AutoTable 3.7 for AutoCAD can be downloaded by visiting the
Cadig website.


September 13 - 16, 2009
Place: Earls Court Exhibition Centre

London, United Kingdom

The No.1 show for the entertainment technology industry takes palce in London at Earls Court Exhibition Center on 13-16 September 2009. PLASA09 is the place to see the technology behind the world's most original shows, venues, events and installations.

September 15, 2009
Place: Orlando, FL USA

You are invited to join us for this complimentary event to see and learn that there is a better way

to build using BIM Technology. Today building enterprises around the globe are applying BIM and

the technology solutions that enable it. HardHat Technologies and Bentley are proud to provide an

overview of the solutions which unite the project lifecycle.

September 15 - 16, 2009
Place: International Conference & Business Center

6465 N. Quail Hollow Road, Suite 200, Memphis, TN 38120-1417 USA

This course is designed to train students on how to leverage the design data, provided through the Road and/or Site products, and to design a storm drainage system. Seminar and hands-on sessions cover the design of drainage area, inlets, pipes and networks and the production of drainage reports. This class uses imperial units, and is applicable to both GEOPAK and PowerCivil.

September 16 - 18, 2009
Place: The Sandia Resort and Casino

30 Rainbow Road NE, Albuquerque, NM USA

The Central Reprographic Association is a non-profit association comprised of businesses providing digital and analog printing services, equipment sales and services, and allied products. Services include both color and monochrome printing in both large and small format configurations.

September 18 - 21, 2009
Place: McCormick Place Lakeside Center

Chicago, IL USA

Participate in the largest gathering of landscape architecture
professionals in the world and reach more than 7,000 attendees by
exhibiting at the ASLA 2009 Annual Meeting and EXPO on September 18-21
in Chicago.  This is a unique opportunity to connect with the top
decision makers in the industry—influential specifiers you won’t meet
anywhere else.
September 21 - 22, 2009
Place: Mission Bay Conference Center at UCSF

1675 Owens Street, San Francisco, CA 94107 USA

You will learn how BIM and IPD are delivering real business value for owners, design professionals and contractors on a variety of project types and delivery methods. Come see the future of our industry.

September 22 - 23, 2009
Place: The Inn at St. John's

Detroit, MI USA

At PLM Road Map™ 2009 join leading industry analysts from CPDA, key industry players, and front-line implementation experts as they discuss their experiences in addressing strategic PLM topics. Find out about their successes in making technology work by linking it across the whole product lifecycle, the obstacles they encountered on the way, and how they developed strategies to overcome them. PLM Road Map™ is a strategic conference focused on the critical trade-offs that shape product development. At PLM Road Map™ 2009, find out first hand which issues are confronting end users.

September 22 - 24, 2009
Place: 404 BNA Drive, Suite 302

Nashville, TN USA

This course is designed for experienced CAD users who want to transition existing CAD knowledge to MicroStation skills. To ease the transition to MicroStation, parallel references are continually given, showing how MicroStation handles operations familiar to the CAD user. Subjects covered range from the initial setup of a new design file, to incorporating existing data from non-MicroStation CAD products. Plotting and other output considerations are covered, including PDF creation.

September 22 - 25, 2009
Place: International Conference & Business Center

6465 N. Quail Hollow Road, Suite 200, Memphis, TN USA

Students will learn to use GEOPAK for road design using the design standards of Tennessee DOT (TDOT). This hands-on training walks students through the project design cycle including: setting up a project, existing ground data, geometry, superelevation, volume calculations and drawing (plans) production. This hands-on course uses a workflow focused to meet the delivery needs of TDOT, but teaches skills in GEOPAK that are applicable for any customer.

September 25, 2009
Place: USA

Join us to explore how software for project information management supports a more integrated practice by facilitating e-discovery and transparent digital workflow.

Time: 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

September 27 - October 1, 2009
Place: The Westin Riverwalk

420 W Market Street, San Antonio, TX USA

The annual international conference is a great opportunity to share your knowledge and experiences in the transportation engineering technology field with colleagues from around the world.  As with previous meetings, the meeting format will include presentations and demonstrations on the latest technological advances of interest to departments of transportation and their business partners.

September 28 - 30, 2009
Place: NC-Cary ModernTech SI

Cary, NC USA

This course is designed for experienced CAD users who want to transition existing CAD knowledge to MicroStation skills. To ease the transition to MicroStation, parallel references are continually given, showing how MicroStation handles operations familiar to the CAD user. Subjects covered range from the initial setup of a new design file, to incorporating existing data from non-MicroStation CAD products. Plotting and other output considerations are covered, including PDF creation.

October 6 - 7, 2009
Place: Grand Hyatt

Berlin, Germany

Today especially, businesses must focus on delivering more, in less time and at lower costs. So the theme for ISEIT this year is 'Effective execution - from Concept to Operations'. Whether in design and construction or plant operations, information, and the technology and work processes wrapped around it, holds the key to effective execution.

You can find the full AECCafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, AECCafe.com Managing Editor.