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July 31, 2007 A Penton Media Publication Vol. 6, No. 14


CONTENTS
New Construction Starts Up in June

Housing Market Remains in Slump

UL Warns of Counterfeit Ground Rods

BCSE Asks Congress to Consider Full Energy Bill

Pump Station Installation and Testing in Birmingham, Ala.

Electrical Work in Albany, N.Y.

Business Brief

Construction Fatalities on the Rise in Great Britain

Mitigating Harmonics in Commercial Environments

ALA Annual Conference

BICSI Fall Conference

ISC East

EC&M Code Change Conferences


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    Around the Circuit
    New Construction Starts Up in June
    New construction starts increased 8% in June, according to McGraw-Hill Construction (MHC), which counts the full value of new contracts in the month they are signed, as opposed to the Census Bureau, which measures spending as it occurs on projects underway. For the first six months of 2007 combined, starts decreased 14% compared to the first half of 2006, reports MHC. A comparison of the latest 12 months to the previous 12 showed a 10% decline. Residential construction climbed 4% for the month but dropped 26% year-to-date and 25% on a rolling 12-month basis. For nonresidential building, the changes were up 29% for the month, a 0% increase year-to-date, and up 5% for 12 months. Nonbuilding construction dipped 12% for the month, increased 4% year-to-date, and jumped 13% for 12 months. Combined, the nonresidential categories increased 12% for the month, jumped 2% year-to-date, and experienced an 8% increase on a rolling 12-month basis.


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    Housing Market Remains in Slump
    Seasonally adjusted housing starts in June increased 2.3% from a downwardly revised May total but were 19% below the June 2006 level, reports the Census Bureau. Accounting for the entire monthly gain, multi-unit houses spiked 5.3% in June, but were still down 15% from a year earlier. Single-unit housing starts dropped 0.2% in June and 22% compared to last year. In addition, building permits hit a 10-year low, dropping 7.5% from May and 25% from June 2006. Multi-unit permits decreased 15% from May and 18% from last year, while single-unit permits dropped 4% from May and 27% from June 2006. Finally, the National Association of Homebuilders reported that its monthly index of builders' expectations for the next six months hit its lowest level since 1991.

    Results from a recent survey by the Associated General Contractors of America indicate that residential activity remains weak, while nonresidential activity is strong and may get even stronger. The largest homebuilder by number of closings, D.R. Horton, Fort Worth, Texas, recently reported a 40% decrease in net houses sold in April through June, compared to those months in 2006. The cancellation rate -- sales orders canceled divided by gross sales orders -- for the quarter was 38%. These figures show a bleaker view of the residential market than the recent drops in new home sales reported by the Census Bureau or the drop in sales of existing homes reported by the National Association of Realtors, Chicago.

    UL Warns of Counterfeit Ground Rods
    Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is notifying electricians, regulatory authorities, and consumers that certain ground rods sold at various hardware and home improvement stores bear a counterfeit UL mark for the United States. The ground rods in question have not been evaluated for safety by UL and are not eligible to bear the UL Mark. It is unknown if the mechanical properties and dimensional tolerances of the ground rods are suitable to ensure an adequate ground path over time.

    • Name of Product: Ground Rod, Catalog Number PWC 588'
    • Units: Unknown quantity
    • Manufacturer: Unknown
    • Date of Manufacture: Unknown
    • Identification: The counterfeit ground rods are similar in appearance to ground rods Listed by UL for Priority Wire & Cable, which bear the UL Listing Mark consisting of the following: PWC, the UL Mark followed by "LISTED E170100," 588, GROUND ROD.The counterfeit ground rods are marked only with the following information: UL, PWC, 588

    To view a photo of this product, visit UL's Web site. UL recommends that users stop using these ground rods and return them to the place of purchase. For more information, contact Joe Hirschmugl in Northbrook, Ill., by phone at (847) 664-1508 or by e-mail at joseph.f.hirschmugl@us.ul.com.

    BCSE Asks Congress to Consider Full Energy Bill
    Lisa Jacobson, executive director, Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE), a coalition of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and natural gas interests, recently issued a statement urging the U.S. House of Representatives to enact a national energy policy that "will enable the country to quickly deploy the clean energy technologies that are currently available to address our country's short- and long-term energy needs." The statement warned that failing to address key provisions would only complicate the debate over climate. Jacobson went on to list the provisions the organization would like enacted:

    • A National Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) that sets national targets for renewable energy use.
    • A National Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) that strengthens efficiency, coupled with strong appliance and building standards.
    • Clean energy tax provisions, including incentives for homes, commercial buildings and building equipment, advanced, high-efficiency appliances and combined heat and power.
    • Increased federal support for smart distributive grid technology, which enhances the reliability and economy of the country's electric grid, and advanced plug-in and next generation batteries.



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    Project Watch
    Pump Station Installation and Testing in Birmingham, Ala.
    The Water Works and Sewer Board of the City of Birmingham is requesting sealed bids for furnishing, installing, and testing all required and specified equipment to complete the construction of Summit Pointe Pump Station in Clay, Ala. Bids will be received until 10 a.m. CST on Aug. 7. The work consists of providing all labor, materials, and equipment, including electrical and controls and piping and plumbing. For more information, visit the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Web site.

    Electrical Work in Albany, N.Y.
    The Office of General Services (OGS), Design & Construction Group (D&C), Contract Administration, Albany, N.Y., will accept sealed bids for Project Nos. 43008-C and 43008-E, comprising separate contracts for construction work and electrical work, on behalf of the Office of Children and Family Services, until 2 p.m. EST on Aug. 15. Prospective bidders will be allowed to visit the job site to take field measurements and examine existing conditions of the project area at 10 a.m. EST on Aug. 2. For more information, view the complete request for bids.


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    Web Exclusives
    Business Brief
    Duke Energy Carolinas, a unit of Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy, recently awarded an engineering, procurement, and construction contract to Baton Rouge, La.-based Shaw Group to build a new 800MW supercritical coal-fired electric generating plant and a flue gas desulfurization (FGD) system at Duke's existing Cliffside Steam Station in Rutherford and Cleveland counties, North Carolina. The new plant is part of the Cliffside modernization project. The value of Shaw's EPC contract is approximately $1.29 billion.

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


    ADVERTISEMENT

    ClearTrax Lay-In Connectors
    ILSCO has introduced ClearTrax® lay-in connectors. ClearTrax range-taking connectors feature easy lay-in installation of aluminum or copper conductors and accommodate a wire range of 1000kcmil - 6. Benefits are a faster and safer connection resulting from reduced cable manipulation during installation. Fabricated from 6061-T6 aluminum alloy to ensure strength and conductivity, ClearTrax is clear plated for low contact resistance. The compact body is designed as a single piece and is engineered for heat dissipation. www.ilsco.com


    Eye on Safety
    Construction Fatalities on the Rise in Great Britain
    The number of construction-related fatalities from 2006 to 2007 increased by 28% compared to the year before, reports the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), London, the enforcing authority that works in support of the Health and Safety Commission, which is responsible for health and safety regulation in Great Britain. Bucking a downward 15-year trend that has experienced an average 3.9% drop in the number of deaths per year, last year there were 77 construction-related fatal injuries, while in the same period the year before there were 60.

    The figure marks the highest number of fatalities since 2001 to 2002, when 80 workers lost their lives at a rate of 3.8% per 100,000. Based on an average of the past five years, construction fatalities have accounted for around 30% of all worker deaths, making it the highest total of fatal injuries among all sectors in the U.K. To address the increase in construction-related fatalities, HSE said it will continue focusing on its inspection program as well as working closely with stakeholders to address the problem.

    Shows and Events
    Mitigating Harmonics in Commercial Environments
    This free live conference will be presented by John DeDad, EC&M magazine, on Aug. 16 at 10 a.m. Eastern and Pacific times, in the EC&M e-Tradeshow. To gain access to the event, visit the EC&M Web site, sign in or register as an attendee, and follow the signs to the presentation room. And be sure to take a look at the On-Demand Theater, where you can view past online conferences 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.


    ALA Annual Conference
    The 2007 American Lighting Association (ALA) Annual Conference is scheduled for Sept. 9-11 in San Antonio. General sessions include Dr. Kevin Freiberg discussing the reciprocal relationship between employees and employers, Steve Mulvany on how an active strategic plan is a critical factor in a company's success, and the Industry Open Forum addressing the issues facing all ALA members. In addition, the Certified Lighting Manufacturers Representative (CLMR) Accreditation Program will present educational seminars on outdoor landscape lighting, trends in kitchen and bath lighting, and understanding lighting hardware. For more information and to register, visit ALA's Web site.








    BICSI Fall Conference

    The 2007 BICSI Fall Conference will take place in Las Vegas from Sept. 10-13. Seminars for this year's event include discussions on wiring trends in high-performance optical data centers, smart estimating practices, horizontal cabling, and applying codes and standards in data center design. For more information and to register, visit the BICSI Web site.


    ISC East
    The International Security Conference (ISC) East 2007 will be held from Sept. 11-12 in New York. Topics featured at the event will include access control, alarms and monitoring, biometrics, CCTV, fire control, remote monitoring, systems integration, wireless applications, and urban security. For more information and to register, visit the ISC Web site.


    EC&M Code Change Conferences
    Where do you turn when you need accurate information on changes to the National Electrical Code? Acknowledged as the leaders in providing information on the NEC, EC&M magazine and EC&M Seminars have been the preferred sources of this information for more than 60 years. Seven Code change conferences have been scheduled in the fall of 2007. Host cities include: Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Orlando, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Seattle.

    As an approved provider with the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), through its Registered Continuing Education provider Program (RCEPP), professional engineers attending any of our 2008 Code change conferences will receive Professional Development Hours (PDHs), a requirement for re-licensing in many states. The conferences are also approved by every state that has a continuing education requirement for contractors and electricians.

    For additional information on the dates and locations of these events, download a pdf of the schedule from the EC&M Web site.

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