>> Construction Firms Add 17,000 Jobs in May
Source: agc.org
Construction firms added 17,000 jobs in May and 273,000 over 12 months, as the sector's unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent, the lowest May rate since 2006, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that the job gains come as the private and public sectors are increasing investments in construction services.
>>Establishment of the Chemical Safety Advisory Committee
Source: epa.gov
On June 12, EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention announced the establishment of the Chemical Safety Advisory Committee (CSAC) and solicited nominations for membership on the Committee.  The purpose of the CSAC, which is established under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, is to provide expert scientific advice, information, and recommendations to the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics on the scientific basis for risk assessments, methodologies, and pollution prevention measures or approaches.
>>5 of the Hottest Home Trends So Far in 2015
Source: builderonline.com
Homeowners may be ready to give up square feet for walkability, and home automation products are about to go mainstream. According to Fortune's Marianne Cusato, the biggest trends in home design prioritize efficiency--of both energy and space--and customization more than ever before. Cusato writes:

Technologies that reduce energy consumption combined with designs that create clever spaces that are easier to afford are big steps forward. So is the increased awareness of the value that comes from communities where we residents can take physical steps outside of the home and are not completely auto-dependent.
>>New Environmental Justice (EJ) Mapping and Screening Tool: EJSCREEN
Source: epa.gov
In order to better meet the Agency’s responsibilities related to the protection of public health and the environment, EPA has developed a new environmental justice (EJ) mapping and screening tool called EJSCREEN. It is based on nationally consistent data and an approach that combines environmental and demographic indicators in maps and reports. 
>>Defining Zero Energy and the Pathway to Achieving It -- ASHRAE Conference, June 27-July 1
Source: ashrae.org
Zero energy buildings (ZEBs) eliminate the use of non-renewable energy sources by decreasing energy use and producing enough renewable energy to meet the annual energy use attributable to their buildings. While the concept of ZEBs is generally accepted in the building industry, no common definition exists. This creates a challenge in trying to incentivize such buildings and in developing common design strategies. Paul Torcellini, Ph.D., P.E., National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, Colo., will address this topic during a seminar at the ASHRAE 2015 Annual Conference, June 27-July 1, in Atlanta, Ga. The seminar, "What is a Zero Energy Building, and How Can We Get There?," is part of the Conference Technical Program, which features some 100 sessions, with more than 300 presenters and 103 paper presentations..
>>You, Me and the QAP
Source: airbarrier.org / Mr. Peter Spafford, Quality Assurance Manager, ABAA
The Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) has implemented a comprehensive Quality Assurance Program (QAP) to address many of the problems that design professionals and general contractors have struggled with for many decades. Air barriers are a relatively new technology in the construction of buildings, and few people in the construction industry fully understand the concept of air barriers and exactly what role they play in the performance of the building. To access the ABAA master specifications, visit www.airbarrier.org.  Go to Supporting Documents and see Master Specifications. You can choose the type of specification that best meets your needs. The ABAA specifications include all of the QAP requirements. For assistance, email abaa@airbarrier.org or call 866-956-5888.
>>Work More, Refuel Less: Efficiency Opportunities for Heavy-Duty Pickups and Vans
Source: ACEEE.org / Siddiq Khan
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation are now working on Phase 2 of the Fuel Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Heavy-Duty Pickups and Vans, a major element of the president’s climate action plan. It offers an opportunity to narrow the efficiency gap between light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles and deliver major savings at the pump to buyers of heavy-duty pickups and vans. ACEEE’s new research report Fuel Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Heavy-Duty Pickups and Vans: Phase 2 assesses the technologies available to reduce fuel consumption in these vehicles. 

>>Spray Polyurethane Foam: A Key Component to Any Net Zero Solution 
Source: retrofitmagazine.com / Dr. Richard Duncan, SPFA Technical Services Director
In July 2014, California initiated the revision process to the 2016 version of Title 24, California’s building energy efficiency codes, which are designed to move the state’s residential and commercial buildings toward zero net energy (ZNE). All new residential construction is to be ZNE by 2020, and all new commercial buildings are to achieve ZNE by 2030. While aggressive, these goals are achievable with the right design implementation and accessibility to proper building materials. Read more here.

>>Construction Employment Increased in 232 Out of 358 Metro Areas Between April 2014 & 2015
Source: agc.org
Construction employment expanded in 232 metro areas, declined in 66 and was stagnant in 60 between April 2014 and April 2015, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America.  Association officials said even as contractors in many parts of the country continue to expand their payroll, many firms remain concerned about the potential impacts of federal transportation funding shortfalls.
>>EPA Releases Technical Guides to Support Vapor Intrusion Assessment and Mitigation Activities 
Source: epa.gov
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released two technical guides to support assessment and mitigation activities at sites where vapor intrusion is an actual or potential concern. The Technical Guide for Assessing and Mitigating the Vapor Intrusion Pathway from Subsurface Vapor Sources to Indoor Air applies to all sites being evaluated under federal land cleanup statutes by EPA, other federal agencies, state and tribal governments and brownfield grantees. A companion document, the Technical Guide for Addressing Petroleum Vapor Intrusion at Leaking Underground Storage Tank Sites addresses any sites where vapor intrusion related to petroleum contamination from underground storage tanks is a potential concern. Both guides are applicable to residential and non-residential settings.
>>Race to Zero Student Design Competition
Source: energy.gov
Fostering the next generation of architects, engineers, and building science professionals is the goal of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Race to Zero Student Design Competition (Race to Zero). With the success of the 2015 event, DOE has announced the new dates for the next competition. The event will be held April 16–17, 2016, at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. As part of DOE’s Building America and Zero Energy Ready Home programs, the Race to Zero is designed to provide students with:
-A two-day building science training from recognized experts and educators
-An opportunity to learn and apply critical skills for designing, analyzing, and documenting high-performance buildings
-Experience working in a multi-disciplinary team, which is vital to professional work
-Interactions with thought leaders about zero energy buildings and future housing innovation
-A tour of award-winning high performance buildings.
The competition will challenge collegiate teams to apply sound building science principles to create cost-effective, market-ready designs that meet DOE's Zero Energy Ready Homes program requirements.