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>>Construction Employment Rises in 44 States and D.C. Between March 2015 and 2016
Forty-four states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs between March 2015 and March 2016 while construction employment increased in 28 states between February and March, according to analysis of Labor Department data released by AGC of America. Association officials noted that the five states experiencing year-over-year construction employment declines are all energy producing states where construction demand has likely suffered from declining prices for coal, oil and other fuels.
>>DOE Announces Major Expansion of Crowdsourcing Initiative for Building Technologies
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a major expansion of its distinctive online crowdsourcing community for building technologies this week. Seeking to draw on the creativity and technical expertise of the American public, citizens can now submit their ideas to six open calls for innovation, with the chance to partner with a DOE national laboratory and a leading private sector partner.
>>Fannie Mae Unveils "HomeStyle Energy" Mortgage
Consumers now have a new way to finance energy and water efficiency improvements in their homes. Last week, Fannie Mae introduced the HomeStyle Energy mortgage which enables borrowers to finance energy-efficient upgrades when purchasing or refinancing a home. This mortgage may be more affordable than a subordinate lien, home equity line of credit, Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loan or unsecured loan.
>>Google Home Services Test Expands to HVAC & Insulation
Google is constantly changing the way local search engine results appear. Last July, in a test that was confined to plumbers and locksmiths in the San Francisco Bay Area, they introduced a new form of paid ad called a "Home Services Ad" or HSA. At the time, many of us following this closely figured this was the future of Google Local Search--the inevitable moment when the search giant made the local pack pay to play. Sure enough, the experiment has now expanded to some categories in the HVAC and home performance industry. While the test is still confined to the San Francisco Bay Area (local search guru Mike Blumenthal has the exact cities), it is a major change to how service businesses get found and searched, and we’re watching it closely.
>>Home Improvement Catalyst: Bringing Energy Efficiency to More Homes Across America
The home improvement market represents $150 billion in annual investment, with more than 14 million projects that involve replacement or upgrades of heating and cooling systems, windows, siding and roofs, insulation, and other measures. A new DOE initiative, Home Improvement Catalyst, is focusing on this multibillion dollar market, shifting investments toward high-impact energy efficient solutions. Home Improvement Catalyst (HI Cat), is encouraging households to make smarter decisions when making home improvements or repairs, helping them save money while increasing the health, safety, and comfort of their homes.
>>Commission Recommends Energy Efficiency Requirements for Rental Homes
Columbia renters might soon have greater reassurance that area properties will not have high utility bills. The Environment and Energy Commission has recommended the city require new rental units to pass an energy-efficiency test before awarding a rental certificate. The proposed policy offers two options for an energy-efficiency test: the Department of Energy’s "Home Energy Score" or a similar energy-efficiency score through Columbia Water and Light.
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