Alert Notice #14
Latest Industry News, Events, Issues, Products, And Resources
November 20,2008


1. Industry Issues, Forecasts & Trends
2. Business Management
3. Building Design & Trends
4. Codes Standards & Regulations
5. Building Science & Technology
6. Building Performance Issues
7. Green Building & Energy Efficiency
8. Building Products & Suppliers
9. Installation Procedures
10. Information Sources
11. Conferences & Shows
12. Education & Training
13. Computer, Internet & Fun
14. Industry Survey

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  Glass World

  New Home Listing Service

They Say Our Industry Is Slow To Change...That May Be A Good Thing

One of the most valuable, and humbling, opportunities in growing old is that I've had enough time to eventually wake up, understand, and appreciate some of the things I was told almost 30 years ago.

Back in the early 80's yours truly was a neophyte sales rep, bent on convincing Canadian builders and trades that radiant heating was the best thing since sliced bread. I had, I thought, all the data and marketing smarts needed to sell this wonderful new-at-the-time-to-Canada product to the unenlightened masses. It had been used in Europe for decades, it saved energy, it was comfortable, I was a great guy, blah, blah, blah (sounds like symptoms of snake oil to me now). I envisioned selling truckloads of product, setting up franchises, having untold numbers of totally satisfied customers, and naturally - retiring early. But my unbound enthusiasm was short-lived.

Almost daily, my frustration rose as experienced builders and trades kept asking me the same dumb (so I thought) questions. Who else here has used it? How long has it been on the market here? Will all municipalities and inspectors approve it? Can you show me proof of energy savings and comfortable customers in the kinds of homes we build here? How long have you been in business? And almost to a person, they would end our discussion with the same salesman-deflating comment "I think I'll wait a while and watch how it, and you, perform over the next few years. Man, they just didn't get it. They didn't understand how good this stuff was, nor how great a guy I was. I couldn't figure out why on earth these older, obviously un-enlightened dudes, were so slow to accept change? Why did they not want to be leaders in their industry? But now I know.

Benefiting from a few decades of reflection, I now understand that these slow-to-change dudes were, in truth, far more enlightened than I was. Their experience had taught them that there was risk in being leading edge, and even more risk at the bleeding edge. All they really wanted was proof of performance from both the product and the provider...and that takes time. How much time? Oh, about 10 years or more. It took that long for various sectors of our radiant heating industry to figure out what types of homes and customers were best served by this new type of heating, what codes and regulations were relevant/required, how to properly design and install good systems, what benefits were proven-out based on local experience, and ultimately how best to sell it on true merits. Nowadays radiant heating enjoys a fair market share within specific niches, and is supplied by a wide range of credible companies. So why am I babbling about this now? Well, because this ol' greying sales rep senses there might be value in taking a similar slow-to-change approach to the currently fast-tracked green building movement.

Lately, in my pyjama-clad journeys around the Internet, I've observed a growing number of people raising red flags about the almost-sacred green cow called LEED. They are warning us of potential ramifications from too-fast and/or forced adoption of mandatory green building standards. They are cautioning against promoting specific benefits such as energy savings, at least until more of these buildings are built, monitored, and proven to deliver as promised. Now if most of these red-flag wavers were self-interested newbies, climate change deniers, or nay-saying Neanderthals, one might take a pass on their advice. But when a flag is thrown by one of our industry's leading edge building scientists, a dude who is a genuine greenie to the core, it warrants attention. Such is the case in the "Prioritizing Green-It's The Energy Stupid" article by Dr. Joe Lstiburek, mentioned below in Section 7 of this newsletter.

Whether you agree with Dr. Joe or not, it just might be wise to consider what might happen if he is right. Imagine if LEED were to get more broadly mandated on our industry, based on the premise it saves energy. Imagine if those buildings don't actually save the energy as promised? Guess who's butt then ends up on the line then? Methinks a fair load of blame would be quickly directed at those ever-present scapegoats, the so-called greedy developers and shoddy builders. But wait, aren't these the same people who are traditionally so slow to change? Yep, and they are slow to change for a very good reason. That may be a good thing.

My thanks to Herman Rebneris, Natisha Mathews, Wilma Leung, Ben Van Nostrand, Charlotte Argue, Bill Morrison, and Gemma de La Pena for their comments, tips, and resources. I hope you find something of value in this newsletter.

Have a "Top Drawer" day.

Ken Farrish

Update On The New BC Building Info Site
"Where the BC building industry finds and shares information"

Directory Topics With New Links Added
These Topics in our Directory now have a number new links added:
Building Envelope
Automated Buildings
Floor Systems

Send Us Your Industry & Product News
These Alerts contain summaries and links to industry news, events, issues, information, products, resources, and more. If you have any new products, events, or information that you would like to have included, just e-mail me at

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    1. Industry Issues, Forecasts & Trends

    2008 Canadian Housing Observer Summarizes State Of Housing In Canada
    CMHC annual Housing Observer report examines the state of Canada's housing from a variety of perspectives, combining national coverage with provincial and metropolitan detail. The free report discusses influences on housing demand, current market developments, housing finance, housing affordability, sustainable communities, and other topics.

    Price Index For New Housing In Cities Across Canada
    Statistics Canada provides New Housing Price Index for cities across Canada, showing an increase of 2.1% in September on a year-over-year basis, a slower pace than the 2.3% advance in August. Links to other reports are also available.

    Fall 2008 BC Housing Forecast
    BC Real Estate Association Fall 2008 BC Housing Forecast includes information about mortgage rates, impact of US economic weakness, and how rising home inventories and fewer investors are affecting BC housing markets. (PDF)

    What Homes Are Selling & Who's Making It Happen
    Big Builder magazine and Hanley Wood Market Intelligence picked entry-level projects that were outperforming peers, even in this market. They looked at location, product, pricing, and design to determine what combination of elements were getting first-time buyers off the fence in these most uncertain of times.

    BC Home Renovation Intentions Hold Steady In 2008
    RBC Royal Bank 2008 study shows more than two-thirds (69 per cent) of British Columbia homeowners plan to renovate or make home improvements sometime within the next two years, down just one per cent from last year. (PDF)

    2008 Vancouver Island Home Building Industry CARE Award Winners
    CARE Awards announced their 2008 Vancouver Island building industry recipients of awards in categories of new homes, renovations, peoples choice, kitchen & bath, commercial, environmental, customer service & marketing, outstanding achievement, and project of the year.

    2. Business Management

    Online Communities Help Builder-to-Homeowner Communication
    Professional Builder magazine describes two services, catering to builders, for establishing an online community with your customers. LifeAt is a virtual communication platform, and iAccess allows builders to communicate directly with homeowners via customized Web sites.

    BC Small Business & Revenue Tax Seminars
    BC Ministry of Small Business & Revenue offers free tax-related seminars to new and existing businesses throughout BC. Ministry staff are available to meet with you and provide presentations on provincial tax-related topics, seminars tailored to meet your needs, or industry-specific tax seminars.

    WCB Research Grants For Safety Innovation At Work
    WorkSafeBC offers research grants under its program Innovation At Work. Grants available to workplace parties, unions, employer organizations, and educators are intended to support research for development of new knowledge and/or practical problem-solving at the workplace level. (PDF)

    2009 Canadian Compensation Planning Outlook
    Conference Board of Canada report Compensation Planning Outlook 2009: Economic Uncertainty Spells Caution Ahead, addresses reward strategies and priorities; base pay increases and decreases; short- and long-term incentive plans; employee turnover; and wage settlements for the year ahead. Free registration required.

    Free Newsletter On Thinking About Sales
    Dave Kahle offers a free monthly ezine called Thinking About Sales that provides ideas that can help you increase sales.

    2008 ProSales Excellence Awards For Construction Supply
    ProSales online magazine Excellence Awards honour dealers with outstanding achievements in construction supply in showroom design, facility design, technology, marketing and customer service, advertising, and Web sites.

    3. Building Design & Trends

    2008 Builders Choice Awards For Practical Design
    Builder Magazine presents, with pictures and descriptions, 2008 winners of their Builders Choice Awards that honour industry pros who set the bar for great, practical design.

    BC Landscape Awards Of Excellence 2008 Winners
    British Columbia Landscape & Nursery Association presents annual BC Landscape Awards of Excellence that recognize and profile the high standard of landscaping excellence in BC.

    More Consumers Want Their Kitchens Connected
    US National Association of Home Builders article says with technology becoming more prominent in homes, connected kitchens with their advanced appliances and networking are adding convenience and smart technology to cooking, shopping and other household needs.

    Designing The Useful Attic
    Remodeling magazine article offers some design considerations for renovating an attic space into an enjoyable and functional area.

    Resources On Home Adaptations For Seniors
    CMHC provides information on how homes can be adapted to meet the changing needs of seniors including financial assistance, secondary suites, and renovations & adaptions.

    What Are Industry Members Saying About BC Building Info?

    Bryan Shrake, president of New Home Marketing Group says: "It is quite apparent that your BC Building Info is growing at a steady rate as a result of good material and hard work. I wish you great continued success".

    Please feel free to let others know about BC Building Info.

    4. Codes Standards & Regulations

    ICC Mandates Residential Fire Sprinklers In New US Homes
    Building Online article says voting members of the leading building code body in the US, the International Code Council, overwhelmingly supported a residential fire sprinkler requirement for all new one- and two-family homes and townhouses.

    Proposed Changes To 2010 Canadian National Plumbing Code
    Canadian Institute of Plumbing & Heating outlines Standing Committee on Building and Plumbing Services proposed changes to the National Plumbing Code for the 2010 Edition.

    AIBC Practice Note On Letters Of Assurance For Phased Or Partial Occupancy
    Architectural Institute of BC Practice Note 15 is expected to be the standard referenced in the emerging new guide to Letters of Assurance under the BC Building Code. It provides information, advice, examples and recommendations. (PDF)

    WCB Partners Program Offers Incentives To Employers
    WorkSafe BC voluntary Partners in Injury and Disability Prevention Program offers incentives to employers who create and adhere to health and safety management systems aimed at improving workplace safety and helping injured workers return to work in a safe and timely way.

    Floor Assembly Testing For Tile To ASTM Standards
    Terrazzo Tile & Marble Association of Canada has a Universal Type Floor Tester available for carrying out testing for an ASTM C-627 designation to verify the suitability of a flooring system for a particular type of tile installation.

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    5. Building Science & Technology

    Need For Ventilation Distribution In Single Family Homes
    Building Science study of single family ventilation showed that all ventilation systems benefited from periodic operation of the central fan, giving excellent uniformity of ventilation air distribution. Systems without central fan recirculation showed poor air distribution for closed rooms where there was no ventilation system duct.

    Online Presentations From Energy Efficient Building Conference
    Energy and Environmental Building Association offers online access to some presentations from their 2008 Excellence in Building Conference & Expo. You will find links to PDFs of presentations below the session description.

    Canada Risks Losing Edge In Building Envelope Technology
    Daily Commercial News article says Canadian building envelope experts are in demand in the US, and Canada may risk losing its edge in building envelope technology.

    6. Building Performance Issues

    VOC Concentrations In New Houses
    Building Science reports on concentrations of 54 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and ventilation rates, measured in four new manufactured houses and seven new site-built houses located in hot-humid and mixed-humid climates.

    Not Sufficient Data To Conclude Granite Countertops A Radon Hazard
    US Environmental Protection Agency Q & A says they do not believe sufficient data exist to conclude that types of granite commonly used in countertops are significantly increasing indoor radon levels.

    Innovations In Sound Control For Homes
    Journal Light Construction slide show and article says reducing or eliminating noise transmission through wood-frame houses is harder than it seems, and offers strategies builders can use to solve common noise problems in homes they build.

    Builder Guide For Rehabbing Flooded Houses
    US Housing & Urban Development department online guidebook Rehabbing Flooded Houses: A Guide for Builders and Contractors, describes methods for determining how badly the building has been damaged, how to repair it, and safe practices.

    7. Green Building & Energy Efficiency

    Initiatives For Next Generation Of LEED In Canada
    Canada Green Building Council has embarked upon a multi-year development project to introduce the next generation of LEED in Canada through the LEED Canada Initiative. In parallel to this effort, the CaGBC also launched the Green Building Performance Initiative—a focused effort to develop an affordable and easily accessible tool for energy and environmental management for both new and existing buildings.

    Battle Over Green Rating Systems For High-rise Residential
    Journal of Commerce article says the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for New Construction rating system is facing competition from the Built Green Society of Canada rating system for Built Green Multi-Storey & Residential Towers.

    Prioritizing Green-It's The Energy Stupid
    Building Science article Prioritizing Green—It's the Energy Stupid, says green buildings don’t save energy, because they have too much glass, are over-ventilated, leaky to air, fraught with thermal bridges and rely on gimmicks and fads rather than physics.

    Course On Valuation Of Green Residential Properties
    Appraisal Institute is helping real estate appraisers evaluate green building techniques and elements in new homes with a new course being offered for its members. This course offering should facilitate recognition that energy, water and resource efficient homes can command higher prices than traditionally built ones.

    Education Needed To Sell Green Remodeling Jobs
    NAHB article says before going out and trying to sell green remodeling jobs, remodelers starting out in this growing segment of the market need to learn the fundamentals of green and develop a growth plan to gradually expand the capabilities of their company.

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    8. Building Products & Suppliers

    Weekly Pricing Reports On Lumber & Panels
    Random Lengths online Lumber & Panel Market Report contains brief excerpts from their full newsletter, which includes the prices of more than 1,600 lumber and panel items, plus detailed summaries of market activity.

    Online Canadian Technical Publications On Wood
    Canadian Wood Council online technical publications on wood cover building performance, case studies, durability, fact sheets, sustainability, software, and more.

    Canadian ecoEnergy Program Covers Emergency Furnace & Boiler Replacement
    Canadian federal ecoEnergy Program has adopted a process for emergency heating system replacement effective October 15, 2008 until March 30, 2009.

    New Web Site For PowerHouse Building Solutions
    PowerWood Corp has launched a new Web site for its building envelope products division. The site is split into three sections to convey the most relevant information to: architects, engineers, and design professionals; contractors & applicators; their dealers. They offer general product and industry information, installation guidelines, and testing data, plus CAD drawings for architects and engineers. Their product range includes rain screen and building envelope products such as Driwall, Sure Cavity, Home Slicker, Typar, and more.

    Are Combined Heat & Power The Next Wave Of Home Energy?
    Fine Homebuilding article says micro-cogenerators, or combined heat and power (CHP) systems, are both environmentally friendly and a money saver.

    Tools To Help Manufacturers Develop New Products
    US Partnership for Advancement of Technology in Housing offers tools to help homebuilding product manufacturers with the new building products development process. Included are New Building Products Development Guide, Collaboration Forum, and Lead-User Panel.

    BC Public Safety Product Alerts
    BC Safety Authority provides Information on recent product recalls and alerts on barbeques, furnaces, boilers, outdoor appliances, controls & accessories, ranges, dryers, refrigerators, electrical components & equipment, venting, fireplaces, and water heaters.

    9. Installation Procedures

    Best Practices For Preventing Damage To Underground Infrastructure
    BC Common Ground Alliance has developed best practices for optimum levels of diligence towards preventing damage to underground infrastructure.

    Flashing A Flanged Window
    Journal Journal Light Construction slideshow on flashing a flanged window describes how to install a window so that any water that gets behind the siding will drain safely to the outside.

    Flashing Replacement Windows
    Fine Homebuilding article, with pictures, by building science specialist Joe Lstiburek describes method for flashing replacement windows that are installed from the exterior.

    10. Information Sources

    Resource Site On Construction Specifications, Terminology & Technology
    Construction Specifications Institute offers information, descriptions and resources on a wide range of topics such as specifications, terminology, construction technologies, industry organizations, and more.

    Online Videos On Building Products & Technology
    Code College online training site contains about 100 videos covering a wide range of topics on building products, technologies, and procedures.

    Blog On The Business Of Remodeling
    Case Institute of Remodeling offers a free blog with regular comments and contributions from some of the leaders in the industry.

    11. Conferences & Shows

    Canadian Building Design & Construction Show
    Construct Canada, held in Toronto December 3 - 5, is a building and construction industry show featuring product exhibits, seminars, and demonstrations. The show includes Construct Canada, HomeBuilder & Renovator Expo, PM Expo, Concrete Canada, and Design Trends.

    12. Education & Training

    Online Course On Introduction To Canadian Objective Based Codes
    Canadian National Codes online course helps Code users understand the new objective-based approach of the 2005 NFC. Seven Modules (listed near bottom of page) explain new terminology and concepts, supported by examples using Code provisions. Course modules include Introduction to the Course, Organization of the 2005 Code, Applying the Code Using Division B, Intent Statements, Application Statements, History of Objective-Based Codes, and Introduction to Alternative Solutions.

    BC Construction Industry Workshops & Seminars
    Vancouver Regional Construction Association regularly offers construction industry workshops covering a wide range of topics including business management, safety, legal, and more.

    2008 Survey Of BC Apprenticeship Completion
    BC Construction Association presents the report from BC Labour Market Information Committee survey into construction apprenticeship completion rates in BC that provides an in depth look into why apprentices join the trade, why they do or do not complete their program, and influences that employers bring to the table. (PDF)

    Effective Leadership Workshop
    On November 27th the Greater Vancouver Home Builders Association Academy of Housing is presenting Effective Leadership, a workshop designed to give insight into your leadership style and offer tools to help maximize your effectiveness as a team leader.

    13. Computer, Internet & Fun

    80-Plus Online File Hosting & Sharing Sites
    Mashable lists more than 80 sites that offer free and paid-for online file backup, hosting & sharing.

    Clustering Search Engines Can Help You Find Related Information
    FUMSI describes some alternative search engines that offer a visual results page... something more informative than the plain list of search results you get with Google or Yahoo. Many of these ‘cluster' results so as to help you find related search terms and resources.

    Collect The Dots
    Don't start playing this one if you have other things to do within the next few minutes...or more. It's simple. But it's one of those time wasters that keeps forcing me (OK, I'm forcing myself) to try one more time...and one more...and one more.

    14. Industry Survey

    Today's Survey:   

    Is There A Significant Risk Of Green Buildings Not Performing As Promised?

    Some in our industry are beginning to caution against a too-fast, broad-market adoption of green building standards. Do you think there is any risk in this?

    Yes, I think there is significant risk if we implement things too fast
    No, I don't think there is a great risk

    Last Survey: What Are The Chances Of The Canucks Making The Playoffs?

    • 7% Said: Good
    • 64% Said: Slim
    • 21% Said: None
    • 8% Said: Who cares!

    Thanks for your participation

    Dittie For Today: On Opinions

    These, gentlemen, are the opinions upon which I base my facts. - Sir Winston Churchill

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    © Copyright 2008               Ken Farrish               All Rights Reserved

    ISSN: 1703-5597 - National Library of Canada