ICF Firms Join CFA

Two ICF manufacturers have joined the Concrete Foundations Association (CFA). The move is significant, as the CFA has historically seen ICF systems and contractors as competing with their membership, which is composed of cast-in-place concrete foundation contractors. According to the CFA website, “Members consist primarily of foundation contractors with firm sizes ranging from six to over 100 employees. Member firms construct anywhere from twelve to 1,200 basements annually.”

As ICF basements have become more popular, and with a new executive director at CFA, the organization has welcomed two ICF manufacturers in the 2018 calendar year. In late January, Quad-Lock Building Systems joined CFA. In late April, NUDURA joined the association.

Concrete Foundations Association members have access to education and technology resources, networking, and more. The Concrete Foundations Association is online at cfawalls.org.

Lumber Prices Continue to Rise

The cost of wood framing lumber has been rising since late last year, and shows no signs of leveling off in the near future.

Prices soared to a record-high $543 per thousand board feet for the week ending May 11 and futures contracts are selling in the $600 range, something the National Association of Homebuilders calls “previously unthinkable.”

Skyrocketing wood prices have increased the price of an average single-family home by more than $7,000 compared to the beginning of the year. In a few areas of the country, ICFs are now comparable in cost to stick-frame construction.

As detailed in last issue’s News Roundup, the price escalation began in November, when Pres. Trump slapped a 20% tax on imported Canadian softwood lumber, claiming the industry was unfairly subsidized.

The NAHB is encouraging its membership to “take action now by writing the White House and… urge the president to resume talks with Canada to find a long-term solution to this trade dispute.”

Net Zero Rises in Popularity

The number of net zero commercial buildings under construction in the U.S. and Canada rose by nearly 50% last year. That report, released by Building Design and Construction earlier this spring, positions Zero Energy (ZE) among the fastest-growing segments of the construction industry.

The report continues, “Though the total number of emerging net zero buildings—279—is small, observers say interest in pursuing these projects has never been stronger and is growing quickly. ” Zero Energy refers to buildings that generate at least 100% of their own power from renewable sources onsite or built specifically for the project.

The New Buildings Institute states 67 ZE commercial buildings have been verified in the U.S. and Canada so far. They speculate that steep drops in the cost of solar panels and improvements in their performance have been a key driver of the trend.

Codes and incentives are also influencing the growth of net zero buildings. California’s stringent new energy code requires all new state buildings to be designed for zero energy performance by 2020, and more than half the emerging identified by the New Buildings Institute are in that state.

New Website for Construction Professionals

A new digital media site for the construction industry is available. It is owned by ExakTime, a two-decade leader in digital time and attendance solutions for construction and field services.

Billed as a “multimedia news, education, and entertainment website for construction professionals,” it features construction-related legal, technology, health, and finance news and issues.

“We want to provide the latest and greatest information to the important people who are building our cities, towns, and roads,” says content supervisor Amy Bourne. The site publishes original reporting every week, as well as industry-related content from the Associated Press and other news outlets on a daily basis. The site can be viewed at fuel.exaktime.com.