Consolidation of Construction News Reports

Construction news services are used by many building product manufacturers to identify and track prospects and to gather market intelligence. At the beginning of the year there were five significant players in the business. Now there are only two.

iSqFt acquired BidClerk and CDC Publishing in May 2015 and then merged with CMD Group in August 2015.
This roll-up creates a powerhouse that competes with Dodge, recently spun-off from McGraw Hill.

While there are several local and regional plan rooms and publications that continue to serve local contractors and suppliers, this consolidation means that building product manufacturers now have just two sources of construction news reports and related lead and research services.

Good or bad news for building product manufacturers?

Depends on your point of view. There are fewer players and hence less competition that may lead to price increases. But my impression is that Dodge was so far ahead of the others in market share and resources, that the roll-up of the smaller firms may actually create an effective alternative to Dodge.

Shortage of Architects?

A recent opinion piece in Wall Street Journal describes a drop of enrollment in architectural schools and predict dire consequences for the construction industry. A drop in enrollment certainly concerns the essay's author, an academic.  Even if the decline in enrollments leads to a decline in registered architects, however, I doubt there will be much impact on the construction industry.
From Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture
Here is why:

1. It is a global market. Plenty of architectural talent around world able to do the drawing and "desk" work without meeting client or seeing site.

2. Perhaps the much touted productivity gains of CAD have become a reality.

3. Much of the work of architecture does not require a registered architect. The person I know that is most efficient at producing a set of construction drawings has a community college degree. The best spec writer I know has an English lit degree.

4. Constructors, developers, engineers, construction managers, and other professionals are taking on "architectural" roles.

5. Manufacturers and contractors are increasingly taking on delegated design and design build responsibility.

6. Many architectural firms have principals that are not architects. Given the complexity of contemporary practice, the management suite can be shared with lawyers, accountants, engineers, interior designer, and individuals that came up through the trades.

7. For most of career, it was widely assumed that the schools of architecture were producing more graduates than required by the profession. A short term correction will not pose a problem.

Still, the trend illustrates a new reality of building product marketing - the market is increasingly complex. Product decision makers do not all have AIA or RA after their names.

Eco-Labels improve performance?

As marketeers, we assume that a "green" label will be good for sales, especially if it is issued by a reputable credentialing agency. But is it possible that the label actually changes the way people behave?  Here is what a recent academic report found:
People tend to idealize eco-labeled products, but can eco-labeling have consequences for performance? To address this question, 48 university students were asked to undertake a color discrimination task adjacent to a desktop lamp that was either labeled environmentally friendlyor conventional(although they were identical). The light of the lamp labeled environmentally friendlywas rated as more comfortable. Notably, task performance was also better when the lamp was labeled environmentally friendly. Individual differences in environmental concern, but not pro-environmental consumer behavior and social desirability indexes, were related to the magnitude of the eco-label effect on performance. Whilst some previous studies have shown similar placebo-like effects of eco-labels on subjective ratings, this is the first study to show an eco-label effect for artifacts in the built environment on performance, and the first study to relate this effect to environmental concern. Psychological mechanisms that may underpin the eco-label effects are discussed.  (Emphasis added.)
 An interesting finding. We must be cautious about generalizing about the conclusions of one small experiment.

Journal of Environmental Psychology 42 (2015) 123-127 
"An eco-label effect in the built environment: Performance and comfort effects of labeling a light source environmentally friendly"
Authors: Patrik Sorqvist, Andreas Haga, Mattias Holmgren, Andre Hansla

NIBS Report Identify Industry Priorities

National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) has released a report, “Moving Forward: Findings and Recommendations from the Consultative Council,” outlining three key priorities for the building industry:

1. labor force: Industry professionals are aging and retiring, required skills are changing, and we underestimate the value of vocational training.

Opportunity for Building Product Manufacturers:
1. Introduce systems that require less labor or less specialized skills.
2. Invest in robotics or move processes from field into factories
3. Create and support career training programs.
4. Show young people how you offer and support a career path in the trades.

2. resilient design: I have been predicting this as the "next new thing" in construction. This category is broad and includes, in my opinion, extreme weather, fire and fire storm, earthquake, climate change, violence and civil unrest, dependence on fragile infrastructure, etc.

Opportunities for Building Product Manufactures:
1. Make your own infrastructure more resilient.
2. Develop rapid response capabilities to move products and skills to needed locations.
3. Identify which of your products can contribute to improved building resilience.
4. Develop new products that offer improved resilience.
5. Train sales team to address resilience concerns of customers.

3 code enforcement: The report encourages federal agencies to work with industry to try to make sense of an increasing number of codes and the disconnect between code making and code enforcing.

Opportunities for Building Product Manufactures:
1. Lead, follow, or get out of the way.
2. Help your customers make sense of the increasing complexity of codes and standards.

Download the report here, than contact me to discuss how you can use the findings to protect your business from risk and take advantage of new opportunities.

Michael Chusid, RA FCSI CCS
+1 818 219 4937 

McGraw Hill is Now Dodge Data and Analytics

McGraw Hill has been a part of my professional life since the day I entered architectural school forty years ago.  It is no more.  The construction related assets of the firm are now an independent company called "Dodge Data and Analytics."

Probably a good move for the company, since their construction products should be more nimble without the institutional inertia of the larger company.  Brands include Sweets, Architectural Record, Dodge,, and others.

Best wishes!



Dodge sold Architectural Record, ENR, and SNAP to BNP in June.

Cruise Ships: a Building Product Market

It could be time for you to put to sea as the cruise ship industry continues to grow. From 2015 to 2016, 17 more new cruise ships will come online, with more to follow.
Many of these are gigantic vessels capable of carrying thousands of passengers plus crew, dwarfing existing craft.
It is probable that vessels will grow in size until they are better compared to small cities or at-sea resort towns that do not put into port but will be tended by smaller ships and aircraft landing on the top deck.

The cost of the structural, motive, and infrastructure systems of these vessels is enormous, and require innovative construction techniques such as this covered dry dock.

The investment in facades, furnishings, lighting, decor, equipment, elevators, and other "building products" will be similarly titanic. Many are replete with shopping, theaters, dining, fitness facilities, and accommodations that would make a Las Vegas hotel seem modest in comparison.

More, older ships will be refurbished to compete.

While there will always be cramped interior cabins and crew quarters, there is also a focus is on elegant suites for those with the resources.

One reason for this tread is that rising sea levels make investment in coastal resorts a risky proposition.  This accounts for the interest in floating platforms that are not necessarily designed for cruising. As population distributions shift in response to global warming, the platform can be towed to more attractive locations.

Beyond the recreational market, plans -- both serious and theoretical -- are underway for floating cities. Part of the appeal is the perception that these private islands are havens from social unrest, regulations, ecological apocalypse, and taxation.

At the (somewhat) smaller end of the spectrum, many personal yachts are now being supersized, as this recent design by Zaha Hadid suggests.

Her's is not the only A/E/C firms have entered the market. They also are active in the development of ports and landside facilities in emerging markets and to accommodate larger ships.

Some terminals will become destinations in their own right with profound implications for the future of travel, conventions, business meetings, and more.


Contrary to the maxim, a rising tide does not float all ships, only the businesses that are prepared.

This is a competitive global market. Many existing architectural products will require modification (or at least additional testing) to prove seaworthy. The decision making process, buyer behavior, contractual and legal implications, and many other business factors are different than land based construction.

Call me to discuss your strategy launching into this growth market. 

Michael Chusid
+1 818 219 4937

Construction News and Big Data

Remember your local "plan room", where bidders and suppliers would go to look at plans and specs for projects that were out-to-bid?  Not likely. This is year 33 APC (After Personal Computer), and news about projects in design, bidding, and construction moves at the speed of electrons.
File:DARPA Big Data.jpg
"'Big Data; refers to a technology phenomenon that has arisen since the mid-1980s. As computers have improved, growing storage and processing capacities have provided new and powerful ways to gain insight into the world by sifting through the infinite quantities of data available. But this insight, discoverable in previously unseen patterns and trends within these phenomenally large data sets, can be hard to detect without new analytic tools that can comb through the information and highlight points of interest." (Caption and image from DARPA)
Retrieving data from Reed Connect, Dodge Scan, and other construction news publishers may now move faster (if you have enough band width), the way we extract and process the data remains much the same as it was BPC (Before Personal Computers). And while The leading vendors of construction leads also publish databases of construction cost, product information, and detail drawings or models. Yet to a surprising extent, each type of information remains in its own, separate silo.

Other areas of our economy are increasingly shaped by Big Data - the interconnecting of databases so vast amounts of information can be tracked.  Construction, for many reasons, lags behind other industrial sectors.

I was asked to speculate on the future of Big Data in our industry. Here are some of the big link-ups that may effect building product manufacturers in the next five to ten years:
  • Virtual models of complete buildings and building components that can extract, analyze, and process building product data.
  • Integration of product "sustainability" information into the data base.
  • Further wrap-up of local and regional construction news to serve global markets.
  • Linking construction news to building operation and facility management data.
  • Connecting construction news into order-entry and construction project management systems.
  • Seamless integration from the cloud to mobile data platforms.
  • Integration of construction, fabrication, and logistical data.
These developments are already happening in bits and pieces, and there are plenty of incentives -- and risks -- for Big Data to bring the pieces together.

My list is not comprehensive. But like eating the proverbial elephant, the only way I can digest Big Data is one mouthful at a time.

More on GreenFormat -- Comment Deadline is Friday

In a previous post, I expressed concerns about the proposed revisions to GreenFormat. have the following, thoughtful letter from George Middleton, AIA CSI, Chair of the GreenFormat Revision Task Team:
Michael – Thank you for your comments about GreenFormat. You have highlighted an important issue we face in the GreenFormat Task Team where we typically receive two kinds of feedback:

1. Technical Feedback – what gets said, how it gets said, where something goes, what headings should be, etc.

2. Existential Feedback – we need GreenFormat, we don’t need GreenFormat, it should be broader, it should be narrower, give us more, make it stop, etc.

For the moment we answer the existential comments by simply saying that GreenFormat exists. That decision was made some years ago and it is currently a CSI standard. It has moved on to be a standard separate from its earlier iteration as a product search and comparison website. So since we serve at the behest of CSI’s Technical Committee and CSI as a whole, our charge is to bring our best thinking to what GreenFormat could be or should be going forward. Presumably the market will determine whether it is useful or not, and will vote with its support and dollars, using GreenFormat as the basis for useful secondary products not unlike we see today with MasterFormat, SectionFormat, etc.

With that said, I tend to agree with you that perhaps all the materials, products, systems and technologies we deal with could be adequately described using a universal set of salient feature criteria. As you point out, it’s probably true that the industry has no pressing need for a FireSafety Format, a ProductMaintenance Format, or a DecorFormat.

But what separates GreenFormat from those hypothetical formats is an important component of sustainability that historically has been advocacy for a green point of view. There are people in the marketplace for whom GreenFormat’s sustainability-related content is potentially useful in marketing and selecting green products that presumably have lower environmental impacts and are therefore better choices for the planet and its people, than products not having green properties. As you point out, whether or not that ends up being true depends on how those products are actually chosen. Many would agree that a comprehensive life-cycle (holistic) approach is better than depending on single attributes which might in fact lead to choices that don’t perform as intended. There is nothing sustainable about that.

Perhaps GreenFormat’s role going forward can be that of a filter or a sub-set of a much larger set of product selection criteria. It can serve to organize and classify the information that building owners, designers, constructors, suppliers and even regulators exchange as they consider the environmental, economic and social impacts of the products they make and use. The challenge of course will be for the tools based on GreenFormat to enable good decisions by being sound, objective, science-based and comprehensive enough for users to make choices that are actually better.
I have expressed my existential feedback in my blog post. George's letter motivated me to also submit my technical feedback directly to the committee.

If sustainability is an important part of your product marketing, I urge you to send your feedback in the next few days.

You can download a draft of the proposed GreenFormat and a White Paper by its drafters at

Public comments can be submitted until February 28th (02/28/14). Submit comments to

Change to Wikipedia may affect you.

WikipediaIn 2010, this blog posted:
Have you searched for your product category on Wikipedia? Does the page exist? If so, is your product properly represented? Remember that anyone can edit Wikipedia, so add your information if it's not there. Play fair, though. Wikipedia's community of editors will zap you if you don't, and the backlash can be worse for your reputation than missing information would have been.
What's new?
Wikipedia's parent organization, Wikimedia, has proposed an amendment to its terms of use that puts a control on the "anyone can edit" principle. The amendment states: 
you must disclose your employer, client, and affiliation with respect to any contribution to any Wikimedia projects for which you receive, or expect to receive, compensation. (emphasis added) You must make that disclosure in at least one of the following ways:
  • a statement on your user page,
  • a statement on the talk page accompanying any paid contributions, or
  • a statement in the edit summary accompanying any paid contributions.
As I will explain below, this change may impose difficulties and risks on your company that would make Wikipedia less attractive as a social media platform.

The introduction to the amendment explains:
Contributing to the Wikimedia Projects to serve the interests of a paying client while concealing the paid affiliation has led to situations that the community considers problematic. Many believe that users with a potential conflict of interest should engage in transparent collaboration, requiring honest disclosure of paid contributions. Making contributions to the Wikimedia Projects without disclosing payment or employment may also lead to legal ramifications. Our Terms of Use already prohibit engaging in deceptive activities, including misrepresentation of affiliation, impersonation, and fraud. To ensure compliance with these provisions, this amendment provides specific minimum disclosure requirements for paid contributions on the Wikimedia projects.
What does this mean to you?

Wikipedia depends on the willingness of users to share what they know. Since many building product companies have a great deal of expertise in-house or on retainer, it serves the community spirit of Wikipedia to have your experts contribute information to the online, community-sourced encyclopedia. Under the proposed guidelines however, your employee or consultant would have to disclose that he or she has a financial relationship with your company.

I have three concerns:

1. Will disclosure of your expert's relationship hurt or improve the public's acceptance of the expert's edits. Some people will assume that the pecuniary relationship makes the information biased and untrustworthy. I posit that disclosure of the expert's qualifications could also make the information more credible by establishing it as originating from a source that can be vetted.

2. The new rule may make many real experts want to avoid Wikipedia. As it is now, your expert can make edits with a certain amount of anonymity. Others can (and usually will) change what your expert contributes, but there is no repercussion on the individual.  By disclosing the individual's relationship with an employer or client, the expert loses anonymity, and may be expose to harassment or other tribulations. 

3. Of most consequence, your employee's or consultant's statements may be interpreted as a warranty issued by your company. (A warranty is any claim you make about your product's performance, not just the things covered in your company's warranty form.) As it is now, edits are made by individuals acting as individuals, not acting on their employer's behalf. The proposed change, therefore, could impose a new legal liability and risk.

Take a look at the proposed changes, discuss this with your PR person and attorney, and let me know what you think about this.

New Internet Top Level Domains for Building Products

Move over .com and .net, the internet will soon have many more top level domains that will offer exciting branding possibilities for the building products industry.  Imagine, for example:

These and other extensions will be released soon, and internet service providers are already taking reservations.  

Even if you do not actively use one of these top name domains, you may want to buy your brand name to prevent mischief by competitors and to protect your trademarks.  For example,,, and

Of course, labor organizations and professional societies may want to get into the game. Consider, for example:

FTC Issues Revised "Green Guides

The Federal Trade Commission issued revised “Green Guides” that are designed to help marketers ensure that the claims they make about the environmental attributes of their products are truthful and non-deceptive.
The revisions to the FTC’s Green Guides reflect a wide range of public input, including hundreds of consumer and industry comments on previously proposed revisions.  They include updates to the existing Guides, as well as new sections on the use of carbon offsets, “green” certifications and seals, and renewable energy and renewable materials claims.

“The introduction of environmentally friendly products into the marketplace is a win for consumers who want to purchase greener products and producers who want to sell them,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “But this win-win can only occur if marketers’ claims are truthful and substantiated.  The FTC’s changes to the Green Guides will level the playing field for honest business people and it is one reason why we had such broad support.”
In revising the Green Guides, the FTC modified and clarified sections of the previous Guides and provided new guidance on environmental claims that were not common when the Guides were last reviewed. 

Revisions to Previous Guidance. Among other modifications, the Guides caution marketers not to make broad, unqualified claims that a product is “environmentally friendly” or “eco-friendly” because the FTC’s consumer perception study confirms that such claims are likely to suggest that the product has specific and far-reaching environmental benefits.  Very few products, if any, have all the attributes consumers seem to perceive from such claims, making these claims nearly impossible to substantiate.
The Guides also:
  • advise marketers not to make an unqualified degradable claim for a solid waste product unless they can prove that the entire product or package will completely break down and return to nature within one year after customary disposal;
  • caution that items destined for landfills, incinerators, or recycling facilities will not degrade within a year, so marketers should not make unqualified degradable claims for these items; and
  • clarify guidance on compostable, ozone, recyclable, recycled content, and source reduction claims.
New Sections.  The Guides contain new sections on: 1) certifications and seals of approval; 2) carbon offsets, 3) free-of claims, 4) non-toxic claims, 5) made with renewable energy claims, and 6) made with renewable materials claims.
The new section on certifications and seals of approval, for example, emphasizes that certifications and seals may be considered endorsements that are covered by the FTC’s Endorsement Guides, and includes examples that illustrate how marketers could disclose a “material connection” that might affect the weight or credibility of an endorsement.  In addition, the Guides caution marketers not to use environmental certifications or seals that don’t clearly convey the basis for the certification, because such seals or certifications are likely to convey general environmental benefits.

Finally, either because the FTC lacks a sufficient basis to provide meaningful guidance or wants to avoid proposing guidance that duplicates or contradicts rules or guidance of other agencies, the Guides do not address use of the terms “sustainable,” “natural,” and “organic.”  Organic claims made for textiles and other products derived from agricultural products are covered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program.
The FTC first issued its Green Guides in 1992 to help marketers avoid making misleading environmental claims.  It revised the Guides in 1996 and 1998, and proposed further revisions in October 2010 to take into account recent changes in the marketplace.  The guidance they provide includes:
  • general principles that apply to all environmental marketing claims;
  • how consumers are likely to interpret particular claims, and how marketers can substantiate these claims; and
  • how marketers can qualify their claims to avoid deceiving consumers.
The Guides issued today take into account nearly 340 unique comments and more than 5,000 total comments received since the FTC released the proposed revised Guides in the fall of 2010.  They also include information gathered from three public workshops and a study of how consumers perceive and understand environmental claims.

The Green Guides are not agency rules or regulations.  Instead, they describe the types of environmental claims the FTC may or may not find deceptive under Section 5 of the FTC Act.   Under Section 5, the agency can take enforcement action against deceptive claims, which ultimately can lead to Commission orders prohibiting deceptive advertising and marketing and fines if those orders are later violated.

The FTC has brought several actions in recent years related to deceptive recyclability, biodegradable, bamboo, and environmental certification claims as part of its overall effort to ensure that environmental marketing is truthful and substantiated.

Consumer and Business Education.  The FTC today also released several business and consumer education resources designed to help users understand the Guides.  These include: 1) “Environmental Claims – Summary of Green Guides,” a four-page summary of the changes in the Guides; 2) “The Green Guides,” a video explaining highlights of the changes; 3) a new page on the FTC Business Center, with links to legal documents, the Guides and other “green” content; 4) a Business Center blog post; and 5) related consumer information.

From, 2012-Oct-01


The most recent accomplishment in rapid building in China is getting a lot of press coverage and internet traffic.  "30-story building built in 15 days" is a short, slick video that includes time-lapse photography of a slender, 30-story hotel being erected very quickly.  The video includes a wealth of claims about the efficiency and sustainability of the building, the safety of the construction process, and the speed.

It is a remarkable achievement, as it was designed to be.  The claims bear close scrutiny - the meaning of "20 times more purer air" is not entirely clear, for example – but the basic achievement is still impressive.  In fact, one almost suspects that the projects was designed more for the impression than anything else.

The video subtly implies that the 15 days of erection is the same thing as 15 days of construction.  Prefabricated floor sections are seen being built, shipped, and installed, but that was almost certainly not the case.   

What the editing eliminates is the foundation which must have taken a number of days if not weeks to excavate and pour, not to mention 28 days (hopefully) to cure before the video begins.  It also eliminates the prefabrication time, which was doubtless considerable.

In a way, it's a pity they left out most of the pre-fabrication process.  It may be the most interesting aspect of this project.  One of its best lessons from the project is the power of pre-fabrication

Upcoming Events

Michael Chusid looks forward to seeing you at these upcoming events:

2012-Sep-11 through 2012-Sep-14
CONSTRUCT 2012 and CSI Convention
Phoenix, AZ
Michael Chusid will accept an award for Excellence in Construction Information

Michael Chusid and Vivian Volz present a CSI Webinars
Guide Specifications: A Marketing Tool for Manufacturers and Sales Reps
2:00 PM Eastern
2012-Oct-22 through 2012-Oct-24
Construction Writer's Association Annual Conference
Washington, D.C.
Michael Chusid will be a speaker at the conference.

Supreme Court: Architectural Reps ineligible for overtime

A "detailer", in pharmaceutical parlance, is a person that calls on doctors to introduce new drugs and provide samples. There are also building product detailers, the factory representative that calls on architects or engineers, but does not negotiate or handle sales to dealers or contractors. Also known as "Architectural Reps", they introduce products, provide samples, offer continuing education programs, and assist in specification writing.

A recent Supreme Court decision may affect the way Architectural Reps are paid.

Federal law exempts outside sales people from overtime-pay regulations. This was challenged by several drug detailers, in a class action supported by the US Dept. of Labor, that argued pharmaceutical sales representatives were different from traditional salespeople because they don't actually sell medicines to doctors but merely promote them. Court, in a 5-4 decision, didn't by this prescription.

Justice Alito dismissed that argument as "quite unpersuasive," saying drug representatives effectively function as salespeople "in the unique regulatory environment within which pharmaceutical companies must operate," an environment that prohibits MDs from reselling drugs.

Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the dissenters, said the representatives' primary duty is to provide doctors with information about drugs. If a particular drug is the best treatment for a patient, a doctor will prescribe it "irrespective of any nonbinding commitment" he made to a sales representative, Justice Breyer said.

Pharmaceutical sales representatives are typically paid a combination of base salary and performance-based commission, earning a median pay exceeding $90,000 a year.

It is not clear how this decision will effect industries outside of pharmaceuticals. Building product manufacturers with detailers may want to discuss the new ruling with their HR lawyer.

Photo by RayNata used under Creative Commons License.

New Internet Top Level Domain Candidates

The governing body of the Internet, ICANN, has been taking applications for top level domains (TLD) that can be used as alternatives to the common .com, .org, .edu and other TLD. For the application fee of $185,000 plus $25,000 per year, you to can own a TLD named for your company, brand, or industry.

For example, Lanxess, a global chemical company that makes pigments for concrete has their current website at If their application is granted, you will be able to find them at "" or even by entering the stripped down url "lanxess". Email could have addresses such as colors@lanxess, john.doe@lanxess.

The first batch of applications of "sponsored" TLDs was announced yesterday. It contains a handful of building industry terms, including: 
  • architect
  • build
  • builders
  • codesconstruction
  • contractors
  • design
  • engineer
  • engineering
  • equipment
  • diy
  • lighting  but not light
  • solar 
Only a few construction brands are are on the list, and these mostly by firms with interests that extend into many industries:
  • bosch
  • bostick
  • dupont
  • dwg (the file format used by Autocad)
  • homedepot
  • lanxess
  • rockwool 
Mitek has applied for several names, including "connectors".

Many of the applicants for TLDs are brokers that buy and then resell terms. for example: "glass" is applied for by a domain holding company, making it unclear whether their intention is to use it for window glass or for beverages. Other construction-related terms have been applied for by companies with other applications in mind: Microsoft has applied for "windows" for example.

There are no industry sector names such as:
  • ceiling
  • concrete 
  • lumber
  • steel
  • stone
  • wall
  • wood
There are no construction industry publishers on the list, no trade associations, and few major manufacturers.

Most of the construction industry has, apparently, taken a wait and see attitude towards TLDs. Perhaps the price will decline. And it remains to be seen whether owning a TLD gives a competitive advantage. For example, if Pepsi saw no reason to register their brand, why should Lafarge or USG or other building product companies. When I need a url, I generally just type the company name into a search engine; for Lanxess, I just guessed and went straight to

The industry seems to be saying, "ICANN wait."

LEED revision postponed to 2013

With environmental criteria driving selection of many building products, manufacturers have to stay aware of revisions to the US Green Building Council's LEED program. A major revision was due for publication this year, but has been postponed 2013 to allow more public comment.

According to USGBC:
LEED 2012 was envisioned as a significant step that would raise the bar on performance. During public comment, we heard repeatedly that our community need more time to absorb the changes we’re proposing and to get their businesses ready to take the step. Most importantly, they want more visibility into the infrastructural improvements — forms, documentation, education and LEED Online – to inform their internal adoption strategies.

Therefore we’ve decided to delay ballot on LEED until June 2013. We see this ballot date change as an opportunity to begin to refer to this next version as LEED v4.

We’re also committing to a fifth public comment, and it will open on October 2, 2012, and run thru December 10, 2012. At Greenbuild in November, we will hold public forums and educational sessions. (source, edited for brevity.)
BOTTOM LINE: Take advantage of this delay to:
  1. Participate in comment process to position your product.
  2. Educate your staff.
  3. Align your products with new credit opportunities. And,
  4. Prepare new marketing materials.
Contact Chusid Associates for additional information and assistance.

Brand Names and the QWERTY Effect

Type the name of your company or brand.

How many of the characters are typed with the right hand? With the left hand?

According to recent research related to QWERTY keyboards, words typed primarily on with the right hand are associated with greater positivity than are words typed primarily with the left hand.

Published in Psychonomic Bulletin and Review [Kyle Jasmin and Daniel Casasanto, The QWERTY Effect: How typing shapes the meanings of words], the research abstract says:
The QWERTY keyboard mediates communication for millions of language users. Here, we investigated whether differences in the way words are typed correspond to differences in their meanings. Some words are spelled with more letters on the right side of the keyboard and others with more letters on the left. In three experiments, we tested whether asymmetries in the way people interact with keys on the right and left of the keyboard influence their evaluations of the emotional valence of the words. We found the predicted relationship between emotional valence and QWERTY key position across three languages (English, Spanish, and Dutch). Words with more right-side letters were rated as more positive in valence, on average, than words with more left-side letters: the QWERTY effect. This effect was strongest in new words coined after QWERTY was invented and was also found in pseudowords. Although these data are correlational, the discovery of a similar pattern across languages, which was strongest in neologisms, suggests that the QWERTY keyboard is shaping the meanings of words as people filter language through their fingers. Widespread typing introduces a new mechanism by which semantic changes in language can arise.
How does the word "feel"
The research raises many questions that should be explored before we understand the implications of handedness on marketing.

It clearly does not determine the fate of a brand:
  • BASF, a firm with many building product brands, has prospered despite being typed entirely with the left hand.
  • Pulp, a specialty glass manufacturer, cannot attribute its growth exclusively to being typed entirely with the right hand.
It is only in the past few decades, since the widespread acceptance of personal computers, that QWERTY has become such an important form of mediating communication; it is already on the decline among young folks who text with their thumbs, and future technologies may render it obsolete.

Still, the research offers an important reminder:  

When selecting a new corporate or brand name, 
consider how it feels to type. 

Your customers may be typing the name more frequently than they speak it. So the feel of typing the word must be considered along with the sound, look, and meanings associated with it.

Photo by MichaelMaggs,, accessed 2012-03-10,  and used under a  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. 

Good News for 2012

The Architecture Billings Index climbed to 52.0 in November, marking the first time it has cleared 50 since August (a score above 50 denotes an increase in billings and below 50, a decrease). The inquiries score hit 65.0, up considerably from 57.3 in October. This could portend increased sales opportunities for 2012, since architectural work precedes construction.

Red Listed Products

Living Building Challenge Version 2
Acceptance is growing for a "Red List" of materials that are considered environmentally hazardous. The Red List, created by Living Building Challenge, precludes usage of the following:
  • Asbestos
  • Cadmium
  • Chlorinated Polyethylene and Chlorosulfonated Polyethlene
  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
  • Chloroprene (Neoprene)
  • Formaldehyde
  • Halogenated Flame Retardants
  • Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Petrochemical Fertilizers and Pesticides
  • Phthalates
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
  • Wood treatments containing creosote, arsenic or pentachlorophenol
These compounds are found in many building materials; finding and adopting suitable alternatives will require a significant investment for many manufacturers.

The investment may be worthwhile, however, since the number of developers prohibiting Red List materials is increasing. For example, Google is among organizations that have banned the use of Red List products. Google is alleged to be building facilities at the rate of 40,000 sq. ft. a week.

Anthony Ravitz, Google’s project coordinator for real estate and workplace services, says the firm's decision is based on an economic analysis of the true costs of using a material, including the health and vitality of its employees and avoiding expensive claims for illness due to exposure to potentially dangerous materials. He calls upon manufacturers to provide better transparency about what is in their products, saying, “We don’t have complete information about what’s in our products. It’s not readily available. Until we have that, it will be difficult to make the best decisions.”