Tuesday, May 31, 2016

We’re Inching Closer to Making Solar Power as Cheap as Regular Electricity

It’s been nearly five years since the Department of Energy rolled out plans to make solar power a cost-competitive electricity source by the end of the decade. Also known as the SunShot Initiative, the goal of the program is to drop the cost of solar power 75 percent by 2020. Once prices reach $0.06 per kilowatt-hour, solar power will officially become cost-competitive and could supply as much as 27 percent of the country’s electricity by 2050 as more homeowners, businesses, and communities switch over. And, according to anew study published by researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at University of California and the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, solar power could also generate more than $400 billion in environmental and public-health gains by that year as well.
The switch to solar could bode well economically too. Solar energy currently supports about 174,000 jobs across the country, according to The Solar Foundation. But the SunShot Initiative could create 290,000 new jobs by 2030, and 390,000 new jobs by 2050, if all goes to plan. Further impetus to reach that target: the environmental and public-health benefits widespread solar power could offer. Those benefits include:

  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Reaching the SunShot Initiative could save some eight billion metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere — more than 10 percent of emissions released from the power sector overall — between 2015 and 2050, the study notes. Solar power could also prevent anywhere from $60 to $347 billion in future climate change damages, the study predicts, if used to meet future requirements to reduce carbon emissions like those outlined in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.
  • Air Pollution: SunShot’s target would reduce sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and fine particulate matter emissions from entering the atmosphere, lowering health and environmental damages by up to $167 billion, the study estimates. In North America, particulate air pollution is the 14th leading modifiable risk factor of death. SunShot’s target could prevent as many as 25,000 to 59,000 premature deaths from chronic exposure to sulfur dioxide pollution between 2015 and 2050, and could prevent more than 30,000 hospital trips for respiratory and cardiovascular issues, and 2.5 million missed workdays.
  • Saving Water: Thermoelectric power — which uses steam to generate turbines and create electricity — is one of the biggest water guzzlers in the world. In the United States, the energy sector is responsible for as much as 38 percent of all fresh water withdrawals around the country. SunShot’s solar vision could save some 46 trillion gallons of water from being withdrawn between 2015 and 2050. “Water consumption savings in 2050 alone could supply the annual water demands of more than 1.3 million U.S. households,” the study states.

Solar power installations have grown 17-fold since 2008, from 1.2 gigawatts to 20 gigawatts nationwide, according to government figures. That’s enough electricity to power all of Austin and Seattle for an entire year. The costs of photovoltaic panels have also dropped more than 60 percent since 2010. But even though solar power is cost-competitive in a few states, including California, Hawaii, Texas, and Minnesota, the SunShot Initiative is still about 70 percent into its target overall.
From PS Mag

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606
www.trentcotney.com

Monday, May 30, 2016

ABC Slams Job-Killing Overtime Rule

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 18 – Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) today released the following statement in reaction to the release of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division’s final overtime rule.

“DOL’s overtime rule will rob employers of needed flexibility and employees of career advancement avenues, and it will have a disruptive effect on the construction industry as a whole,” said ABC Vice President of Legislative and Political Affairs Kristen Swearingen. “The unprecedented increase in the salary threshold may force some contractors to consider switching certain employees from salaried positions to hourly. This change may deprive employees of autonomy in their work schedules and may be perceived as a demotion to employees.

“Additionally, the rule’s unprecedented increase in the salary threshold fails to account for disparate income levels in different regions of the country,” said Swearingen. “This will result in an unreasonable, one-size-fits-all mandate, which will have a vastly different impact on employers in regions with a lower cost-of-living.”

ABC has been a vocal opponent of the overtime rule and submitted comments along with more than 900 ABC members opposing the rule. ABC supported legislation that would prevent DOL from implementing the rule and submitted comments as a member of the Partnership to Protect Workplace Opportunity as well.

From ABC 


Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606
www.trentcotney.com

Friday, May 27, 2016

U.S. agencies issues rules to protect workers from Zika

U.S. health and safety officials issued new guidelines on Friday to help protect workers from exposure to Zika, a mosquito-borne and sexually-transmitted virus that causes the birth defect microcephaly and other neurological disorders.
The new rules, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, urge employers of outdoor workers to inform them of the risks of exposure to Zika through mosquito bites and to train them on how to protect themselves.
Specifically, employers are asked to provide insect repellents and encourage their use, and to urge workers to wear clothing that protects their hands, arms, legs and other exposed areas. It also urges employers to consider providing workers with hats with mosquito netting to protect the face and neck.
The guidelines also call on employers to remove standing water from work sites to reduce mosquito breeding grounds. They also ask employers to consider reassigning female workers who are pregnant or may become pregnant and male workers whose partner is pregnant or may become pregnant to indoor jobs to reduce their risk of mosquito bites.
The guidelines encourage the workers themselves to wear insect repellant and protective clothing and to empty standing water on job sites.
From NRCA


Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606

Thursday, May 26, 2016

4 Questions with Chris Meyer, president of Turner Roofing

Chris Meyer is owner and president of Turner Roofing and Sheet Metal Inc. The full-service residential and commercial roofing company launched in 1966 and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

1. How did you get into the roofing business?
In 1996 I went to work for a window company in Houston, Texas, as an outside salesperson. One of my cold calls in 1998 was on a nationwide wholesale roofing distribution company by the name of ABC Supply. The district sales manager at the time allowed me to come in to discuss the opportunity of carrying our window line.

Our first meeting went very well. He called me back for a second meeting, at which time he told me he was not interested in windows but rather was wondering if I was interested in coming to work for them in a management capacity.

Two weeks later I was the assistant manager in a wholesale roofing company and had no clue about anything that had to do with roofing. I worked for them for 10 years before acquiring Turner Roofing in January 2008.

2. Turner Roofing is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. What’s the company’s secret to longevity?
We have six employees who have been here 30 years, 5 employees with 20-plus years and several others with 10-plus years. When a customer that used us 10 years ago and then calls us back for a new roof and can speak to the same person they did originally, that’s comforting for him or her.
We pride ourselves on doing great work at a fair price. We are also very diverse — meaning we do residential new construction, residential re-roof, commercial new construction, re-roof commercial, and have both residential repair crews and commercial repair crews.

3. In what ways has Turner Roofing changed over the decades?
Like all companies we had to adapt to new building codes, specifically with safety. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has really pushed all roofing companies to change the way we run our safety programs.
Computers and the Internet are by far the biggest game changers. Not only does the technology allow quick communication, it also opens up the door for homeowners to become much more educated about products and companies.
Labor is the other big change. For more than 30 years, our employee makeup was 95 percent white males. Today it is the opposite. Most of our employees now are Hispanic.

4. How does severe weather season impact your business?
Spring weather affects our business in many different ways. Residentially, as we have storms like the other night, we receive a lot of calls asking us to come and inspect their roofs for possible wind and hail damage. Incoming calls follow storms, but most of the time there is very little damage across a large area. It is mostly localized to a certain geographical area.
Spring storms also affect our commercial roofing department. On Wednesday, following the storm that came through Tuesday night, we were out in south Bixby at a strip center where most of the roof blew off. They needed to get it cleaned up that day so that their tenants could get their businesses open.

From NRCA

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

National Women in Roofing Announce Association Management

National Women in Roofing (NWIR), a national organization focused on the empowerment of women within the roofing industry, is proud to announce the retainment of Ellen Thorp as the Executive Director of NWIR. Thorp will be instrumental in the start-up functions of the new association along with membership and sponsorship launches.

Known as a person who finds things out and gets things done, Thorp is well known in the roofing industry as the Associate Executive Director of the EPDM Roofing Association (ERA).  She is currently responsible for the day-to-day operations of ERA along with financial management, governance, government and regulatory relations as well as administrative oversight and consultant coordination and supervision.

As Executive Director of NWIR, Thorp will continue in her role at ERA while helping NWIR with start-up association management functions including day-to-day operations, financial management and governance. Thorp will also be instrumental in helping the NWIR Board of Directors launch of membership and sponsorships.  These important endeavors will kick off with a membership drive in June of 2016 and initial sponsorship opportunities in May of 2016.

As founder of Meridian Consulting, a small association management company specializing in general association management and government relations consulting to trade and professional associations, Thorp brings 20 years of management experience. She has held a variety of positions with associations and educational institutions and holds a Bachelor Degree in political science and Master Degree in education policy and leadership.  In December 2015, she completed over 100 hours of professional development in association management and passed the rigorous exam for the Certified Association Executive professional designation, which is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).

Read more about NWIR here: https://nationalwomeninroofing.org/about/


From The Roofer’s Coffee Shop


Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Nonresidential Construction Expands, Industry Unemployment Rate Plunges

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 6- The U.S. construction industry added just 1,000 net new jobs in April according to an analysis of today’s U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) release by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). Although industrywide job growth was marginal, the nonresidential construction sector added 6,600 net new jobs for the month. Revisions to the previous two months of construction data produced a net decrease of 3,000 jobs, with March’s construction employment estimate raised by 4,000 jobs but February’s downgraded by 7,000 positions.

"There has been a significant volume of data indicating that residential construction has been slowing, including today’s report,” said ABC chief economist Anirban Basu. “This may be due in part to growing concerns in various parts of the nation that the multifamily rental market is on its way to being overbuilt.

“Since these are April data, one can no longer attribute results to meteorological forces,” said Basu. “There is a conventional notion that residential construction leads commercial construction. Nonresidential contractors have benefitted from the surge in multifamily residential construction in recent years because developers frequently incorporate retail or other commercial components into their projects. The slowing in residential construction may partially explain the recent softness in nonresidential construction spending. If that softness persists, the pace of nonresidential construction job growth will of course also slow.

“For now, increased spending on hotels, office buildings, data centers and warehouses related to e-commerce is helping support nonresidential job creation,” said Basu. “The bigger issue for contractors is not excess labor, but difficulty locating appropriately skilled labor. The construction industry’s unemployment rate is down to 6 percent. This represents the largest month-over-month decrease in the unemployment rate since April 2005. Firms are responding by offering more hours to current workers. The average workweek expanded by four-tenths of an hour in April to 39.1 hours per week, and average weekly earnings rose by nearly $14.”   


From ABC


Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606

Monday, May 23, 2016

New OSHA Electronic Recordkeeping Rule Creates Series of Problems

ABC today released the following statement in reaction to the release of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) final rule on Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, commonly referred to as “electronic recordkeeping.”

“OSHA created a rule that does nothing to achieve its stated goal of reducing workplace injuries and illnesses and ignored the concerns from industry that this rulemaking will have unintended negative consequences,” said ABC Vice President of Health, Safety, Environment and Workforce Development Greg Sizemore. “Associated Builders and Contractors is committed to working with our members and OSHA to create safe construction work environments. However, in departing from its current ’no fault’ recordkeeping system, OSHA has empowered itself to disseminate records and data to the public that fails to show the complete narrative of a company’s safety record or its efforts to promote a safe work environment.

“Additionally, OSHA has exceeded its authority by forcing companies to reveal confidential business details to the public,” said Sizemore. “In the past, OSHA has recognized sensitive information, such as the number of hours worked by employees on a project, as ‘privileged and confidential.’ However, in departing from this opinion OSHA will give competitors undue access to business processes that should remain confidential.” 


From ABC


Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606

Friday, May 20, 2016

Construction spending rises 0.3 percent in March

Total construction spending increased to $1.138 trillion in March, which was 0.3 percent higher than the revised February estimate of $1.134 trillion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The March figure is 8 percent higher than the March 2015 estimate of $1.053 trillion.

In March, private construction rose 1.1 percent, reflecting a 1.6 percent increase in residential construction and 0.7 percent increase in nonresidential construction.

Public construction projects in March decreased 1.9 percent. 


From NRCA


Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Roofer registration legislation could help consumers

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Legislation to register roofers to protect consumers in Missouri is moving forward after discussions over whether to license the contractors or to ask them to register.
After some discussion, the industry decided to push for the less regulatory and burdensome registration process, rather than a strict licensing process.
The goal of the legislation is to protect consumers from bad-actors who come in after a storm and ultimately cause more damage than they were trying to fix, as Jason Shupp, a third-generation roofer, president of Ferguson Roofing and past president of the Roofing and Siding Contractors Alliance, Inc, emphasized.
“The genesis of this whole process was to protect customers. With my business, we have seen this for many generations, but any roofer who’s reputable and has worked in the industry for a period of time is going to have their share of cases that they had to come behind and pick up where a couple of homeowners had been taken advantage of and it’s becoming more of a chronic practice,” he said.
The roofing industry has generated more than 500 attorney general complaints over the last couple of years and Shupp says it’s consistently rated as one of the top 10 disreputable industries by the Better Business Bureau. The goal of the legislation, SB 1022, would be to allow the reputable contractors to operate without being plagued by bad-actor contractors who see a way to make some quick money after a storm.

From NRCA

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A simple way to track your everyday exposure to chemicals

For one week, 92 preschool-aged children in Oregon sported colorful silicone wristbands provided by researchers from Oregon State University. The children’s parents then returned the bands, which the researchers analyzed to determine whether the youngsters had been exposed to flame retardants. The scientists were surprised to find that the kids were exposed to many polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), chemicals that are no longer produced in the U.S., as well as to organophosphate flame retardants, which are widely used as substitutes for PBDEs.
The results from that wristband study (Environ. Res.2016, DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.02.034) remain qualitative—they tell parents whether their child has been exposed to a particular chemical but don’t provide information regarding the amount of exposure. The researchers, led by environmental chemist Kim Anderson, are now working on ways to extract quantitative exposure data from the bands.
Silicone polymers are an attractive material for wristbands because they are more elastic than polymers made from carbon, Anderson says. Silicone polymers are also good mimics of bioavailability because they contain long chainlike structures that form spaces similar in size—about 1 nm in diameter—to pores created by biological polymers in a human cell membrane, she says.
The wristbands are being promoted to the public by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), an environmental group that teamed up with MyExposome on a small project last year. EDF recruited 28 volunteers, mostly EDF staff and board members, to wear the bands for one week. Participants filled out a short activities survey. MyExposome analyzed their bands qualitatively for the suite of 1,400 chemicals.
EDF reported 57 chemicals were found in the bands, including PAHs, pesticides, plasticizers, phthalates, fragrances, preservatives, and flame retardants. Each band contained at least 10 and as many as 27 of the screened chemicals, with an average of 15.
The environmental group has since recruited a more geographically diverse group of volunteers, representing all 50 states and some international regions, to further test the wristbands. “We have now about 5,000 people who have signed up,” says Sarah Vogel, vice president of health programs at EDF.
From NRCA 

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Contractor Confidence Down, But Not Out

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 14—Associated Builders and Contractors’ (ABC) Construction Confidence Index (CCI) showed a slight dip in the second half of 2015, although all three components of the index showed optimism for continued economic growth. The diffusion index measures forward-looking construction industry expectations in sales, profit margins and staffing levels, with readings above 50 indicating growth.
  • Sales expectations fell from 69.4 to 67.0 during the most recent survey administration;
  • Profit margin expectations edged lower from 62.9 to 62.8;
  • Staffing level intentions dipped from 66.2 to 63.9.
“An abundance of considerations have rendered the typical nonresidential construction executive somewhat less confident regarding near-term business prospects,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “These include jittery financial markets, stubbornly low commodity prices, unpredictable Federal Reserve policy and rising consumer delinquencies and corporate defaults. Outside of financial concerns, the industry is concerned by skilled construction worker shortages, the unpredictable presidential election cycle and expanding geopolitical risk. Still, construction executives collectively expect nonresidential construction’s impressive recovery to persist, in large measure because backlog remains high.

“A number of key nonresidential construction segments continue to blossom, including hotels, data centers, outpatient centers, industrial facilities, education and power,” said Basu. “While a handful of states are now in recession (including North Dakota, Alaska, West Virginia and Wyoming), most of the nation continues to experience ongoing recovery. Consumer spending growth continues to lead the way. Exports have sagged, however, and business investment remains tepid. The most optimistic data continues to be associated with the labor market. The nation continues to add better than 200,000 jobs per month on average and unemployment is down to 5 percent. The recent uptick in labor force participation also supplies reason to believe in near-term economic expansion and construction continues to generate a disproportionate share of the nation’s net new jobs.


From ABC

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606



Monday, May 2, 2016

Relocated historic North Olmsted home gets roof reattached at Frostville

ORTH OLMSTED, Ohio – Thompson House, a historic North Olmsted landmark that was recently moved from Butternut Ridge Road to its new site in Frostville, had its roof reattached Friday morning. The building had been separated meticulously into four sections and made a March 24 trek on trailers to its new location in the Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Reservation. 
Using slings, metal bars, manpower and a large crane, the two roof sections were each hoisted above the lower sections of the house. Due to the fragility of the circa 1840 home, some shoring had to be done to avoid possible collapse before lifting the roofs.
"This actually took some thinking," said Paul Schumann, past president of Olmsted Historical Society and current North Olmsted councilman. "We had to make sure the weight was distributed evenly. This was a combination of Jack Boss (of Boss Concrete, which has moved other Frostville structures) and myself. We're not engineers, but it worked."
From NRCA 

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606