Home Sales And Prices Fall Unexpectedly
Sales of previously owned U.S. homes plunged in February and prices hit their lowest level in nearly nine years. The data indicates a housing market recovery is still a long way off.
The National Association of Realtors reports that sales fell 9.6% compared to the previous month, and down 3% compared to 12 months ago. The percentage decline was the largest since July, and was twice the decline that experts predicted. Sales were down in all categories, with multifamily dwellings declining 10% and single-family home units dropping 9.6%.
“This is a frustrating number.” said David Carter, chief investment officer at Lenox Advisors in New York. “The U.S. residential real estate market doesn't seem to want to turn around despite better affordability."
Nationally, home prices also continued dropping. The median home price is down 5.2% compared to 12 months earlier, and is the lowest since April 2002.
Falling prices are being driven by a glut of homes on the market and the flood of foreclosure properties. Foreclosures and short sales, which typically occur below market value, accounted for 39% of transactions in February,
Arxx Has New Canadian Distribution Partner Arxx Corp., the Cobourg, Ontario-based ICF brand, has teamed up with Broadleaf Logistics to distribute their forms throughout Canada. Broadleaf Logistics Company is the number one seller and supplier of brand-name building materials across Canada.
The primary benefit of the partnership is that it allows Arxx to ship products to dealers on an less-than-truckload (LTL) basis. Full truckload orders will continue to be shipped through Arxx’s regular distribution channels.
Broadleaf Logistics, a former Weyerhauser subsidiary, operates 14 distribution centers across Canada which will be used to stock and ship all three lines of ICF Arxx currently markets. This will allow for faster delivery on LTL shipments, available inventory at Broadleaf warehouses, and national as well as local area sales and merchandising support.
“This strategic relationship establishes the best-of-both-worlds support, says Gael Mourant at Arxx. “Through the Arxx and Broadleaf partnership, we will continue to support our customers with a world-class level of merchandising, contractor training, technical project support, and lead generation. This partnership will enhance the ability of dealers to respond to market needs and opportunities.”
LOGIX Platinum Now Greenguard Certified LOGIX Platinum Series ICFs have received Greenguard certification. According to the ICF manufacturer, the silver-gray colored ICF is the only insulated concrete form in the world to be certified by Greenguard under both their Indoor Air Quality and Children & Schools criteria.
The Greenguard Environment Institute certifies products and materials for low chemical emissions and provides a resource for choosing healthier products and materials for indoor environments.
With its Greenguard certification, LOGIX Platinum Series can be used to gain additional points under LEED For Schools v3 and can help achieve points in a variety of green building programs.
Greenguard Certification is widely recognized by other green building programs and accepted by major energy building codes worldwide such as:
US Federal Facilities Environmental Stewardship & Compliance Assistance Center
US General Services Administration Building Specifications
The American Lung Association Health House Builder Guidelines
Association for Retail Environments Green Purchasing
Canada Green Building Council’s LEED Rating System
City of Boston Environmental Department Guidelines for High Performance Buildings and Sustainable Development
Green LA Coalition Environmentally Preferable Purchasing
LOGIX Platinum Series is made with BASF’s graphite-enhanced Neopor, and provides more R-value per inch than traditional white EPS.
European Decision May Affect EPS
In a move that’s sure to affect both sides of the Atlantic, the European Union announced in late February that five chemicals—including one used to make EPS foam—will be banned from use within the next three to five years.
The targeted substances include three phthalates (BBP, DEHP and DBP) used in many flexible PVC products but are hormone-disrupting reproductive toxicants, MDA - a potent carcinogen used in the manufacture of polyurethane foams, and HBCD.
HBCD is widely used in the ICF industry as a flame retardant in EPS foam. However, it’s classified as a persistent bioaccumulative toxicant (PBT), a chemical that has been shown to accumulate in humans and eventually cause serious health concerns.
Tom Lent, policy director at the Healthy Building Network explains, “The phthalates and flame retardant subject to the EU ban have also been targeted by LEED Pilot Credit 11… We can expect a fierce effort by some companies to obtain authorizations to continue production beyond the scheduled sunset dates, but those authorizations can only give temporary reprieve.”
The EPS Molders Association has prepared a fact sheeton the importance of using HBCD in foam, and notes that there are no viable substitutes for the chemical. Additionally, they point out that the vast majority (86%) of HBCD in the environment comes from the textile industry.
When it comes to North American regulations, HBCD is not a listed chemical for the U.S.Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program. It is not a listed by Environment Canada , either, although it is currently under review. This magazine will take an in-depth look at the topic in the August 2011issue.
Taking Advantage of the Green Revolution
Even in the worst construction downturn since the Great Depression, green building is making astronomical gains. Due to their energy-efficiency and incredible durability, no product is better for Green Building than ICFs. Yet there’s still much to be done to maximize the industry’s positioning.
The Large Residential Winners These striking homes are some of the greenest on the continent. And they’re built with ICFs.
Green Dream Home This unassuming house at the end of a quiet street was built by students at the local trade school. But that’s not all that makes it unique. It’s actually a net-zero energy home—a fully functional year-round residence that generates as much energy as it consumes. » Read the Complete Profile Here
Park-Raines Residence Built on a small urban infill lot in Chicago, this green home features a green roof with panoramic views of the city---and unprecedented energy savings thanks to the ICF walls.
» Read the Complete Profile Here
SAlero Residence The Salero Home in southern Arizona is a beautiful example of an attractive, sustainable, well-built home that blends seamlessly into its surroundings. It’s also an outstanding example of how enormous design and logistical challenges can be overcome with ICFs and an experienced contractor with a can-do attitude.
» Read the Complete Profile Here
By coupling an innovative fabric form with adjustable supports, it’s now possible to “monopour” footings that are level and square at the same time as the first few courses. Besides eliminating a cold joint and saving time, it eliminates one of the pumper’s trips to the jobsite.
Taking Your Residential Business Commercial By Ian Giesler
Predictions indicate a record number of home foreclosures this year will hinder new home construction. By comparison, commercial and publicly funded construction looks quite promising. Many smaller ICF installation outfits look only at the vast volumes of wall square footage and drool with the expectation that they can make more money based strictly on the fact that one large commercial project is equivalent to many smaller residential projects.
However, the requirements for commercial work are daunting. Let’s look at the two most immediate hurdles a residential contractor will have to overcome before even being able to bid: Paperwork and Bonding.
The ICF industry has become complacent in what it takes to get their product integrated into specifications throughout construction.
An owner can want it, a builder can request it, but ultimately if your design team is not on board, it will not see the light of day.
Many times, the only thing an architect gains when specifying ICFs added cost !
What follows are several of the most common marketing bullet points used by the ICF industry and how these arguments look from the architects perspective.