Industry News & Announcements


>>OSHA's New Rule on Confined Spaces Goes Into Effect Aug. 3 
On May 4, 2015, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a new standard for construction work in confined spaces, which will be effective starting August 3, 2015. Confined spaces can present physical and atmospheric hazards that can be avoided if they are recognized and addressed prior to entering these spaces to perform work. The new standard, Subpart AA of 29 CFR 1926 will help prevent construction workers from being hurt or killed by eliminating and isolating hazards in confined spaces at construction sites similar to the way workers in other industries are already protected.
More Information: 
Frequently asked questions about the new standard are addressed on OSHA's website.
SPFA's Richard Duncan sheds some light on the topic in the Health & Safety section of this newsletter. posts a summary of the new standard.
Dean McKenzie, deputy director of OSHA's Directorate of Construction, discusses the new standard at the 2015 Remodeling Leadership Conference. provides a short summary of the new standard.
For compliance assistance regarding application of the final rule contact: Directorate of Construction, Room N3468, OSHA, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20210; (202)-693-2020.

>>Crowdsourcing Initiative Seeks Buildings-Related Problems to Solve -- Deadline July 15
Calling all building technology innovators! The Building Technologies Office is partnering with the successful SunShot Catalyst crowdsourcing initiative to identify and solve problems related to software development, data, and/or automation.

In the first, "Ideation" phase of the initiative, those working in the building technology space are invited to submit problem statements describing challenges that need to be overcome in order to promote better engagement with building occupants and to improve the ability to balance energy and occupant comfort objectives in a building. In addition to submitting problem statements, participants are invited to vote and comment on ideas that have already been submitted.
Browse buildings-related statements that have been submitted. Individuals who submit a problem statement will have a chance to win a $1,000 cash prize! Submission deadline is July 15, 2015.
>>"Moments of Truth": Customer Service as a Foundation of Marketing Sales and Profitability Webinar -- July 20
Can you explain clearly who you are and what you do? Is a customer more or less likely to sign an $8,000 contract with you if you took steps to avoid getting dirt on their carpet? Who is more likely to get my business, Contractor A who responded within 24 hours, Contractor B who took three weeks, or Contractor C who never got back to me? Many of the "secrets" of successful, profitable contractors center on providing excellent customer service and dealing with customers on their terms. This session will feature insight from Mike Rogers, president of OmStout Consulting, LLC, and explore some simple things your competitors get wrong and that you can get right to generate more leads, more sales, happier customers, and higher profits.
Click here to register for the July 20 webinar at 3 p.m. (EDT). 
>>ASHRAE High-Performance Building Design Professional Certification Earns ANSI Accreditation
ASHRAE’s High-Performance Building Design Professional (HBDP) certification has received accreditation from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), becoming the first certification from the Society to earn the recognition.
The accreditation comes as ASHRAE kicks off its 2015 Annual Conference taking place June 27-July 1, in Atlanta. An exam for the HBDP is being offered as part of the Conference. ASHRAE received word June 25 that the ANSI Personnel Certification Accreditation Committee had granted the accreditation under International Organization for Standardization (ISO)/International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 17024:2012.
Some 171 individuals hold the certification. More information about the program can be found at

>>House Approves TSCA Reform with a 398-1 Vote
The U.S. Congress took a major step toward updating the country's federal chemical safety law, when the House of Representatives passed a bill to reform the decades-old Toxic Substances Control Act by a 398-1 vote in June. The TSCA Modernization Act (HR 2576) was taken up under the suspension of rules procedure, which is usually used to fast track non-controversial measures. This meant that no amendments could be made to the bill. It had already been approved unopposed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy.
The next step is for the Senate to pass its own TSCA measure, the Udall-Vitter bill. If this happens, a conference committee of the two chambers will work to reconcile differences between the two bills. The unified version would then go back to both chambers for passage, before heading to the president's desk for his signature. The Senate bill is expected to receive floor consideration in July.

>>ACEEE Releases Report About the Past and Future of Energy Efficiency
In 1980, energy efficiency researchers formed the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Over the past 35 years old this year, energy efficiency has changed a lot. This report by ACEEE looks at the past 35 years and the next 35 years, as far as energy efficiency is concerned.
>>ACC Publishes 2015 Comprehensive Economic Profile of $801 Billion Business of American Chemistry
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) issued its 2015 edition of the Guide to the Business of Chemistry, a detailed economic profile of the chemistry industry and its contributions to the U.S. and world economies. Prepared annually by ACC’s Economics and Statistics Department, The Guide to the Business of Chemistry divides the $801 billion business into more than thirty categories of production, ranging from inorganic chemicals to plastic resins; from adhesives and sealants to oilfield chemicals; and from fertilizers to pharmaceuticals and consumer products. Within each segment the report highlights distinct characteristics, including growth dynamics, markets, new developments, and other issues affecting each sector.
>>Today’s Tech Innovations Could Make U.S. the Energy Efficiency Superpower of Tomorrow 
The future of energy efficiency technology often seems more like science fiction than reality, but according to energy thought leaders at last week’s 26th Annual Energy Efficiency Forum, cutting-edge efficiency advancements are already practical and implementable. At this year’s Forum, Johnson Controls and the United States Energy Association (USEA) convened energy thought leaders and experts to discuss not only the innovations we’ll see in coming years, but how they will help make the United States a global leader in energy efficiency.

>>Senate Panel Approves Drastic Cuts to HOME Program
Drastic cuts to the Home Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program, which would essentially eliminate the program, were approved June 25 during a Senate Appropriations Committee markup of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies’ spending bill for fiscal 2016. The HOME program is the largest federal block grant to state and local governments designed exclusively to create affordable housing for low-income households. The full Senate will move forward funding HOME at $66 million in fiscal year 2016, compared to the fiscal year 2015 level of $900 million.