January 13, 2006 A Prism Business Media Publication Vol. V, No. 1


CONTENTS
AIA's Architecture Billings Index Rebounds in November

U.S. Department of Labor Issues Grants to Train Workers in Energy Industry

IEEE Revises Transformer
Grounding Standard

USGBC Upgrades LEED Green Building Rating System Documentation and Certification Process

VDC Study Probes Industrial Use of RF/Microwave Wireless Products

Cobo Center Officials Order Reduction in Overtime Rates

California City Seeks Bids for Electrical Work

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Seeks to Retain Engineering Firm

Business Brief

Study Claims OSHA Fails to Ensure Safety of New York Construction Workers

BICSI Winter Conference

Technology for Construction Conference

PEARL's 2006 Annual Conference and Membership Meeting

Lightfair International 2006


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    Around the Circuit
    AIA's Architecture Billings Index Rebounds in November
    Kermit Baker, chief economist for the American Institute of Architects (AIA), reported in December that AIA's Architecture Billings Index made a comeback in November, meaning that U.S. architecture firms are receiving increased levels of business. According to the Index, if architecture firms report modest gains in December, 2005 will be the first year since 2000 that firms reported gains every month of the year. Baker surmises that this trend points to 2006 being the best year for non-residential construction since 2000, given that billings at architecture firms lead construction activity by approximately six months. Firms concentrating in the residential sector are also reporting increased billings after slower levels of activity earlier this year, and commercial/industrial and institutional firms are both reporting strong growth in billings.


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    U.S. Department of Labor Issues Grants to Train Workers in Energy Industry
    U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao recently awarded six grants to train workers in Kentucky, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming for careers in the energy industry. The grants are part of a nearly $27 million investment in support of the nation's energy workforce under President George W. Bush's High Growth Job Training Initiative. Grants awarded in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia will address training needs in the coal mining sector through the use of simulators, distance learning, mobile classrooms, and traditional classroom instruction. With its grant, the University of Missouri will establish a program to train workers in the nuclear energy sector. The College of Eastern Utah will train workers for careers in mining and power generation. The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services will coordinate with the Wyoming Contractors Association to establish a basic safety training program for new workers in the oil and gas sector. The program will prepare individuals to meet industry safety standards and acquire skills through work on a 17-acre simulated oil and gas field.

    IEEE Revises Transformer
    Grounding Standard

    The IEEE, Piscataway, N.J., recently revised its standard for grounding the secondary circuits and cases of instrument transformers for dry-type distribution and power transformers. IEEE C57.13.3, "Guide for Grounding of Instrument Transformer Secondary Circuits and Cases," addresses the grounding of electromagnetic current transformer and voltage transformer circuits, in addition to cases of relays and current and voltage transformers, as well as secondary circuits of opto-electronic current and voltage transformers.

    USGBC Upgrades LEED Green Building Rating System Documentation and Certification Process
    Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently unveiled a series of improvements to the documentation and certification process for its Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system. The changes are due in large part to a technical partnership between USGBC and San Jose, Calif.-based software manufacturer Adobe. USGBC anticipates the changes to the process will reduce the time and cost of LEED certification. LEED credit requirements have not changed, and project teams are still required to verify their achievements through third-party validation.

    VDC Study Probes Industrial Use of RF/Microwave Wireless Products
    In a recent study, Natick, Mass.-based Venture Development Corp. (VDC) reported that a large percentage of users of RF/microwave wireless products for industrial control applications are using wireless technology in both control and monitoring capacities. According to the survey, data communication, controller programming, and controller maintenance are listed as the top three specific applications in which wireless products are used. However, further analysis reveals that wireless products used in control applications are delegated to setup and maintenance, and that concerns about reliability are inhibiting adoption of the technology for operational real-time use. The answers indicate wireless use in machine and process setup and troubleshooting, but not for operational real-time control. The most common cases of industrial wireless operational real-time control are in applications with slowly changing variables, such as temperature and flow control, or where control is manual rather than automatic, such as for cranes and hoists. Finally, according to the survey, signal reception drop-outs/blockage and RF interferences are cited as the most common concerns when using RF/microwave wireless products for industrial monitoring and control.

    Cobo Center Officials Order
    Reduction in Overtime Rates

    Officials at Detroit's Cobo Center recently ordered MSO Electric to reduce overtime rates charged to exhibitors at the North American International Auto Show by as much as 18.5%. The contractor, owned by West Bloomfield, Mich.-based businessman Karl Kado, took over the electrical work at Cobo in 2003 and now bills more than $12 million annually for wiring lights, turntables, and other features used on the show floor. The reduction in overtime will translate into less revenue for MSO and immediate savings for the exhibitors. The new terms apply only to the contractor's markup on labor and don't change the wages paid to individual electricians. Under the new conditions, the straight-time rate for an electrician, including benefits, will remain $76.78 per hour. However, exhibitors will be charged $96 per hour instead of $115 per hour for workers on overtime. In addition, exhibitors will be charged $125 an hour instead of $153 for Sunday and holiday rates. Finally, the memo issued by the Cobo Center asks that MSO reduce its charges for electricity by 25%.


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    Project Watch
    California City Seeks Bids
    for Electrical Work

    The City of Huntington Beach, Calif., is accepting proposals to perform electrical work in the City Hall computer room. The scope of work includes the installation of a rack-mount power distribution unit, upgrade of the main electrical panel, installation of vertical power strips and an emergency power-off switch, and the removal of excess conduit and electrical panels. A pre-proposal meeting is scheduled at the site on Jan. 23 at 10 a.m. PST. Bids will be accepted until 4 p.m. PST on Jan. 30. To download a pdf of the bid request, visit the City of Huntington Beach's Web site.

    Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission
    Seeks to Retain Engineering Firm

    The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission requests proposals from mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering firms for an open-ended contract to perform design and construction services for a variety of building facility-related projects in the western part of the state. Services include but are not limited to: studies, concept plans, preliminary/final designs, production of construction documents, review of project submittals, and construction phase services for multiple projects. In addition, the firm selected may be required to attend construction meetings with the Commission. The contract will be for a maximum cost of $750,000 over a 24-month period. For more information, contact Carl M. Mittereder at (717) 939-9551, ext. 5620, or by e-mail at cmittere@paturnpike.com. To download a pdf of the requirements, visit the Turnpike Commission's Web site.

    Web Exclusives
    Business Brief
    Nashville, Tenn.-based engineering design and facility consulting firm Smith Seckman Reid (SSR) was recently awarded contracts for more than 140 projects. The employee-owned company, which has eight offices across the United States, specializes in consulting services related to facility and infrastructure design, operation, and management. The awarded contracts include electrical and fire protection design services at the Disney Vacation Club Contemporary Resort in Orlando, Fla., the University of Tennessee's Walter Life Science Systems Improvement in Knoxville, Nashville's Vanderbilt University's south garage and Phase II of the masterplan project, and the Tampa General Hospital expansion in Tampa, Fla.

    For more business briefs, visit EC&M's Web site.

    Eye on Safety
    Study Claims OSHA Fails to Ensure Safety of New York Construction Workers
    A recent study by the New York State Trial Lawyers Association (NYSTLA) asserts that OSHA fails to ensure the safety of New York's construction workers. The study, Lives in the Balance, Part 2: Low Penalties, Too Few Inspections Undermine OSHA's Ability to Deter Unsafe Practices in New York's Construction Industry is based on information OSHA provided NYSTLA under the Freedom of Information Act, including abstracts of the 156 catastrophic accidents the agency investigated in New York since January 2001. Among the study's major findings are that OSHA construction industry enforcement is so understaffed that in 2004 there were fewer than six inspections of construction and renovation sites per day on average in New York State and northern New Jersey. When OSHA did inspect and found violations of its safety rules, the penalties were so small they provided little or no incentive to follow safety rules in the future. NYSTLA also looked at previous OSHA inspections of construction companies whose workers were killed or injured in one of the 156 catastrophic accidents and found that the penalties -- generally less than $10,000 -- did not deter subsequent safety violations. The NYSTLA study calls for raising OSHA penalties, which were last increased in 1991, increasing OSHA's budget, and substantially expanding enforcement. To download a pdf of the complete study, visit NYSTLA's Web site.

    Shows and Events
    BICSI Winter Conference
    BICSI's 2006 Winter Conference is scheduled for Orlando, Fla., from January 22-26. Seminar topics include labeling, cable sharing, managing thermal demands, and optical-fiber termination technology. Attendance fulfills the requirement for RCDD renewal. For more information on the conference, visit BICSI's Web site.

    Technology for Construction Conference
    McGraw-Hill Construction will present the Technology for Construction conference at World of Concrete from Jan. 16-20 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas. The conference will feature software and telecom products for project management and project collaboration, among other applications. On Jan. 17, the Executive Forum will focus on the exchange of IT-centric business strategies and management concepts. Also featured in the conference will be an information technology marketplace showcasing the newest products and tools for the construction industry from software and systems providers. To download a pdf of the complete conference schedule, visit the World of Concrete Web site.

    PEARL's 2006 Annual Conference
    and Membership Meeting

    The Professional Electrical Apparatus Recyclers League (PEARL) will present its annual Conference and Membership Meeting from Feb. 25-28 at the Disney Yacht Club Resort in Orlando, Fla. Conference and meeting events include seminars on trademark and labeling and reconditioning standards, molded-case and insulated circuit breaker maintenance training, a golf tournament, the awards presentation, and the unveiling of a new PEARL standard. For the complete agenda, visit PEARL's Web site.

    Lightfair International 2006
    Lightfair International 2006 will be held from May 28 to June 1 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas. The institutes and trade show and conference will offer 76 courses, totaling more than 240 hours of programming. Conference topics will address subjects such as lighting software and applications, business and lighting fundamentals, design innovation and product updates, and project case studies. Core curriculum provides AIA, ASID, IIDA, IESNA, and IFMA accreditation (upon individual association approval), and conference participants may choose from 12 daylighting institute workshops, a two-day daylighting fundamentals course, six two-day Lightfair Institute immersion courses, 19 three-hour workshops, seven masters courses, and 30 seminars. New for 2006 is Lighting Fundamentals (Fundamentos de Iluminación) in Spanish. For a complete agenda, visit Lightfair's Web site.

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