The three leading national trade associations involved with IAQ recently announced that they have combined forces. The unification of the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA), the American Indoor Air Quality Council (AmIAQ), and the Indoor Environmental Standards Organization (IESO) brings together over 5,500 professionals involved with the prevention, investigation, remediation, and research of IAQ problems.

IAQA will serve as the membership and training organization, AmIAQ is the recommended certification body for IAQA, and IESO will be the standard-setting group for the industry.

"Having these three prestigious groups come together will allow IAQA to move forward to elevate the services and training provided to our members," said Glenn Fellman, executive director of IAQA. "This has made our unified voice that much stronger to increase IAQ awareness and effective measures within the industry."

"The sheer number of people affected by mold and other IAQ issues and the associated costs have really been a driving force behind the need to unite the three prestigious groups so that as one unified body we can elevate the training, certification, and necessary standards to a level that the public and industry can count on to deal with their IAQ problems," said Robert Baker, IAQA president. For more information, visit

December construction slips 1%; 2005 up 10%

New construction starts retreated 1% in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $664.6 billion, according to McGraw-Hill Construction, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. For 2005 as a whole, total construction advanced 10% to $651.4 billion. This was close to the 11% increase reported for 2004, and well above the 2% to 5% annual growth during the 2001-2003 period.

"Higher materials prices appeared to dampen the nonresidential sector at the outset of 2005, as developers deferred and redesigned projects to deal with rising costs," stated Robert A. Murray, vice president of economic affairs for McGraw-Hill Construction. "At the same time, market fundamentals such as occupancies and rents improved, and this helped nonresidential building to regain an upward trend as the year progressed. The 2005 construction market also featured a robust performance by single-family housing, which established a new annual high. By year's end, though, homebuilding began to ease back, and the extent to which this cooling off continues will be a major factor shaping the 2006 construction market."

Nonresidential building in December increased 2% to an annual rate of $180.7 billion. Healthcare facilities jumped 27%, boosted by the start of three large hospital projects located in New Jersey ($150 million), Michigan ($148 million), and California ($138 million). Hotel construction also had a strong month, rising 23%, with the push coming from groundbreaking for a $131 million hotel in Saint Charles, MO, a $95 million convention-center hotel in Lombard, IL, and a $92 million hotel tower in Las Vegas. Warehouses and offices advanced in December, with respective gains of 21% and 15%, while manufacturing plant construction rebounded 56% from a very weak November. On the negative side, December showed weaker activity for school construction, down 3%; amusement-related projects, down 14%; public buildings (courthouses and detention facilities), down 17%; churches, down 23%; and transportation terminals, down 50%. The December decline for the amusement category was cushioned by the start of a $315 million sports arena complex in Newark, NJ.

For 2005 as a whole, nonresidential building increased 5% to $171.9 billion, with much of the growth coming from the institutional structure types. School construction climbed 8%, once again showing expansion after the loss of momentum during the previous three years. Murray noted, "There's still a substantial need for more classroom space, both new and renovated, and school construction is not being dampened by tight fiscal conditions to the same extent as what occurred a few years ago." Healthcare facilities construction in 2005 jumped 18%, achieving a record volume for this structure type. During 2005, there were 42 hospital projects valued at $75 million or greater that reached groundbreaking, versus 22 such projects in 2004. The public building category in 2005 improved 9% after a weak 2004, while transportation terminals increased 12%. Major airline terminal projects that started in 2005 were located in Indianapolis ($270 million), New York ($200 million), and San Jose, CA ($125 million). The two institutional structure types that registered declines for 2005 were amusement-related projects, down 3%; and churches, down 11%.

The commercial categories in 2005 were mixed. Store construction advanced 4%, the third yearly gain in a row, as this structure type continues to be supported by the expansion efforts of major retailers. Hotel construction jumped 22%, helped by rising occupancies and room rates. On the negative side, the deferral of projects due to higher costs had a noticeable impact on warehouses, down 4%; and offices, down 11%. While the office market in 2005 showed improving fundamentals, as vacancy rates receded, there were also a fewer number of very large projects that reached the construction start stage. For office projects valued at $75 million or greater, there were nine such projects reaching groundbreaking in 2005, versus 19 in 2004. The manufacturing building category in 2005 grew 5% in dollar volume, helped by the start of three very large semiconductor plants.

The annual statistics for total construction in 2005 revealed growth in all five of the nation's major regions. Leading the way was the South Atlantic, up 13%; followed by the West, up 12%; the Northeast and South Central, each up 11%; and the Midwest, up 4%.