May 2011 OverView

Energy Savings

Typical Household Could Save $10,000

National efficiency standards for appliances, lighting and other equipment will save consumers and businesses more than $1.1 trillion and dramatically reduce greenhouse-gas pollution and other emissions by 2035, according to a study by the Washington, D.C.-based American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and Boston-based Appliance Standards Awareness Project.

The study finds existing standards will save 200 quads of energy by 2035 with another 42 quads of savings achievable with new standards. A “quad” is a measure of energy—the U.S. economy uses a total of about 100 quads per year. Even greater savings could be achieved, ACEEE says. Updates to existing standards and new standards for other products that can be completed between now and 2015 could net consumers and businesses another $170 billion and reduce pollution even further.

A typical household will save about $10,000 between 2010 and 2025 simply by purchasing products compliant with minimum standards.  A typical household’s total electric bill during this period would be about 33 percent higher absent efficiency standards. Although efficient products typically cost more up front, the report found the cost of more efficient products pays back in lower utility bills within about three years with net benefits outweighing costs by 4 to 1.

To view the report, visit


(use LIRA graph)

Remodeling Activity

Recovery Expected to Strengthen

Remodeling activity is expected to pick up later this year, according to the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) released by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.  Stronger pending home sales and continuing low interest rates are contributing to the rise. The LIRA projects annual spending will see healthy growth in 2012, ending the year up 5.9 percent.

“Hopefully, we’re finally moving beyond simple volatility in the home-improvement spending numbers to a period of sustained growth,” says Eric S. Belsky, managing director of JCHS.  “The recent upturn we’ve seen in home sales should translate into more remodeling activity later this year.”

Construction Employment

Number of Residential Construction Workers Dwindles

The latest data from the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey show that 8.7 million people worked in construction in 2010. The National Association of Home Builders, Washington, estimates out of this total close to 3.4 million people worked in residential construction, accounting for 2.4 percent of the U.S. employed civilian labor force. These numbers reflect significant employment losses that took place in home building during the housing downturn. In 2005, when NAHB Economics last estimated residential construction employment by state and congressional district, the industry employed 4.8 million workers and accounted for 3.5 percent of the U.S. employed labor force.


More Housing Markets Improving

The list of housing markets showing measurable improvement expanded slightly to include 101 metropolitan areas in April, according to the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index. Thirty-five states are now represented by at least one market on the list.

"While housing markets across the country continue to struggle under the weight of overly tight lending conditions and other challenges, the April IMI indicates at least 101 individual metros are showing measurable and consistent signs they are headed in the right direction," says NAHB Chairman Barry Rutenberg, his title, company name, location. "A total of 35 states are now represented on the list with 10 states having four or more entries. This positive news is in line with what our builder members have observed regarding firming conditions and improved buyer interest in certain locations."


Jobs Site Created for Kitchen and Bath Industry

The Hackettstown, N.J.-based National Kitchen & Bath Association recently launched, a website designed to help employers and recruiters fill staffing needs. Job seekers can post their resumés or search for positions by state or province, category, level, type, country and education. Openings can be filtered by salary. 

Building Performance

Certifications Grow

The Malta, N.Y.-based Building Performance Institute Inc. reports certifications in 2011 grew 120 percent over 2010 figures.

  • A total of 14,571 certifications were awarded in 2011, bringing total active certifications to 31,662.
  • Growth in the number of BPI test centers continued with 304 test centers in 2011, up from 242 in 2010.
  • BPI's credentials or standards were specified in 120 state, local or utility energy-efficiency programs by the end of 2011.

Home Builders

Builder Confidence Slips Three Notches

Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes declined for the first time in seven months this April, sliding three notches to 25 on the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. The decline brings the index back to where it was in January, which was the highest level since 2007.

Home-improvement Spending

Homeowners Expect to Spend More

The majority of homeowners today are committed to maintaining the value of their homes and making them more comfortable through modest home-improvement projects, according to a recent survey of more than 1,000 homeowners in North America conducted by Malvern, Pa.-based Principia, a marketing consulting firm specializing in the building products industry.

Compared to what they spent in 2011 for home improvements, 38 percent of homeowners expect to spend "somewhat more" or "a lot more" in 2012 while 32 percent expect to spend less or not at all. Thirty percent expect to spend the same as they did in 2011.

In 2011, nearly two-thirds of surveyed homeowners completed an average of 1.4 home-improvement projects. In 2012 and through 2013, nearly 90 percent of homeowners surveyed indicate their intention to upgrade their home and anticipate completing an average of 1.7 projects during that time.

Housing Starts

Single-Family Housing Starts Virtually Unchanged

Single-family housing production held virtually unchanged in March as a double-digit decline in the more volatile multifamily sector brought combined nationwide starts activity down 5.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 654,000 units, according to data released by the Washington, D.C.- based U.S. Commerce Department. 

 “While combined U.S. housing starts lost some ground in March, this was almost entirely due to typical month-to-month volatility on the multifamily side," says David Crowe, chief economist for the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Home Builders. "The fact is that single-family and multifamily starts and permits were all stronger in the first quarter of 2012 than they were in the fourth quarter of 2011, indicating the market continues to slowly strengthen, albeit in fits and starts."

Home Buyers

Investment- and Vacation-home Sales Surge in 2011

Sales of investment and vacation homes jumped in 2011 with the combined market share rising to the highest level since 2005, according to the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Realtors. NAR’s 2012 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey, covering existing- and new-home transactions in 2011, shows investment-home sales surged an extraordinary 64.5 percent to 1.23 million last year from 749,000 in 2010. Vacation-home sales rose 7 percent to 502,000 in 2011 from 469,000 in 2010. Owner-occupied purchases fell 15.5 percent to 2.78 million.

Vacation-home sales accounted for 11 percent of all transactions last year, up from 10 percent in 2010 while the portion of investment sales jumped to 27 percent in 2011 from 17 percent in 2010.

 International Trade

NAHB Signs Agreement with Chinese

The Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Home Builders has signed a memorandum of understanding with a major Chinese trade association that will bring a large number of additional manufacturers and product options to the annual NAHB International Builders' Show in Las Vegas in January 2013.