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September 2017

WDMA-Northeast News


WDMA-Northeast Winter Conference Scheduled for January 22-23 in Philadelphia


Save the date to attend the WDMA-Northeast Winter Conference in Philadelphia on January 22-23, 2018. The conference will begin with an opening welcome reception the evening of Jan. 22. On Tuesday, Jan. 23, the conference will cover a number of hot topics and the latest updates on key legislative, regulatory and code issues. There will also be a number of networking opportunities for manufacturers and suppliers, as well as sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities. All WDMA and WDMA-Northeast members are encouraged to attend, so save the date! Members interested in sponsorship/exhibitor opportunities should contact Meg Czaikoski at mczaikoski@wdma.com.


In July, Gov. Dannel Malloy (D-CT) vetoed a bill that would have affected consumer warranties for windows in the state of Connecticut after a grassroots advocacy campaign by WDMA members. With the bill defeated for 2017, WDMA is working to address lawmaker concerns and prevent this issue from arising in the future.

The bill, SB 821, would have required require that if a manufacturer of “residential roofing, window, or siding materials” offered a consumer warranty, the manufacturer had 30 days to make determinations on paying warranty claims. After 30 days, claims would automatically be considered approved and the manufacturer must pay the consumer within the following 30 days. The manufacturer would have been required to cover the full price for any materials and the hourly labor rate the consumer was charged for the original product and installation.

After WDMA met with Gov. Malloy’s office and the submission of veto request letters from WDMA members, Malloy vetoed the bill. The Governor cited manufacturers across the country who wrote expressing concern with the bill and that their words had a direct impact on his decision. Over the next several months, WDMA will be meeting with the bill sponsor and others in the General Assembly to discuss the legislation and reemphasize the tremendous concern WDMA has with the language. WDMA will be focused on preventing this legislation from being reintroduced in 2018 and beyond. Members with questions can contact Kevin McKenney at kmckenney@wdma.com.

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Recently, the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Housing considered HB 697, which would create a state program for window falls prevention program.

The bill, introduced by Rep. John Scibak, would establish a window falls prevention program within the Department of Housing and Community Development. The purpose of the program would be “educating the public about the danger to children, age six years and under, of falling from windows…” In addition, the program would emphasize the importance of installing window guards in public housing that are operated by local municipal Housing Authorities and occupied by children age six years and under. It also requires the state to determine how many children under six live in public housing and would require collaboration with “community based partners” to implement the program.

The bill has not been scheduled for consideration by the full House. Members with questions can contact Kevin McKenney at kmckenney@wdma.com.

Northeast Industry News


CityLab (09/26/17) Poon, Linda

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's mandate that the city's existing buildings must significantly reduce their carbon emissions or face penalties also establishes a "fossil fuel cap." The cap will require buildings to be upgraded or retrofitted with greener technologies and features, all of which will have to be implemented by 2030. "[The mandate is] practical because it's combining a clear deadline with financing and engineering help in a way that makes it as easy as possible to meet the climate target we need to meet," says the Environmental Defense Fund's Andy Darrell, who also is on New York City's Sustainability Advisory Board. The mandate is a marked reversal from the more common policy of incentivizing developers and property owners to adopt clean energy solutions via tax breaks and financial grants. Darrell notes many building upgrades will have to be facilitated as systems get older and more outdated, while the 2030 deadline should allow sufficient time and flexibility for owners to plan their course of action. The upgrades will be aided by low-interest loans via the city's Property Assessed Clean Energy program. Real Estate Board of New York president John Banks says although his group supports the initiative to curb climate change, "these proposals require careful analysis, discussion, and debate," as the city's objectives "could inadvertently promote buildings that use less overall energy without regard to how the energy is used." Advocates for low-income families also are concerned that landlords will pass on the high initial retrofitting costs to tenants via the Major Capital Improvement rule.

Philadelphia Inquirer (09/06/17) McCabe, Caitlin

Philadelphia's housing resurgence is well ahead of the local condominium market's sluggish recovery, according to a study from Allan Domb Real Estate and Philadelphia economist Kevin Gillen. The study found Center City to be the sole local market where condo towers are currently prospering; otherwise, condos are struggling to regain values lost during the Great Recession. Meanwhile, single-family houses and apartments are thriving, and in recent months vicinities across Philadelphia have seen single-family property values soar beyond their 2007 pre-recession highs as prospective buyers, in search of more affordable residences, have pushed into less expensive neighborhoods. The last 10 years saw little condo construction in Philadelphia on account of tighter lending standards and a poor record of success in the city. The study found more affluent baby boomers seeking an urban lifestyle have buttressed Center City's condo market, but younger buyers seeking flexibility have postponed home ownership. Consequently, the popularity of condos in more affordable areas has declined due to rental demand and the growth of new, tax-abated houses in gentrifying neighborhoods. "Citywide condo prices are only up 1.3 percent from a year ago, well below the 9-percent rate of annual appreciation that the single-family houses in Philadelphia are currently experiencing," the report says. The study confirmed boomers are typically drawn to core-area condos near theaters and restaurants, while millennials prefer the single-family market.

Urban Land (08/17) Pyati, Archana

Baltimore officials say the city's new zoning category of "industrial mixed-use" should encourage economic development while preserving neighborhood character throughout the city. The new category is designed to permit residential development in areas that were traditionally industrial but now are appealing to tenants and developers who want to combine light-industrial space with office and residential uses. "We're really hopeful that this new code...will help remove some barriers and provide some new tools to fuel more development in underserved areas across the city," says Baltimore planning director Tom Stosur. In addition, a new "office industrial campus" category has been established to promote developments blending light-industrial and office space. Meanwhile, a new "neighborhood commercial conditional use" category will push inventive uses of commercial buildings or spaces in mainly residential neighborhoods. For example, property owners of closed corner stores or churches will be allowed to convert them into offices, retail space, or service-provider establishments. Several generic use categories were added to keep the new code flexible and updated. These generic categories cover use cases with similar effects on parking, loading, and servicing, minimizing the need to revise the code when a use becomes outdated.

Rhode Island Public Radio (08/07/17) Bever, Fred

Passive housing, a new type of energy-efficient construction, is drawing greater attention in parts of the United States. Such residences, which are built to achieve ultra-low energy use, are proving to be so efficient that developers can eliminate central heating systems altogether. New England, in particular, is joining a surge in large-scale passive housing development. The latest example is Bayside Anchor, a four-story, 45-unit building in Portland, Maine. Architect Jesse Thompson says the project had to be cost-effective enough to get financed by public and affordable housing groups. The building has great insulation, includes triple-glazed windows, and the exterior walls are several inches thicker than basic code would require. There also is no central heating system; instead, each of the 45 apartments has a small baseboard electric heater with an estimated electricity cost of just $125 a year. Beyond thick walls, there is a near-perfect seal on the building's envelope, along with a high-tech ventilation system to purge moisture while keeping warm or cool air in depending on the weather. Thompson describes it as the building's "lungs," but the technical name is a "heat recovery ventilator." Officials at the Passive House Institute say it is still a huge request to finance market-rate units that won't realize full energy-efficiency savings for decades. However, momentum for large-scale passive housing really started gaining in 2016 when the number of buildings the Institute certified doubled—a number that is on pace to more than double again in 2017.

Crain's New York Business (08/02/17) Anuta, Joe

REBNY and 32BG co-authored the Green Building Roadmap, a report containing recommendations for New York City's next administration on increasing the energy efficiency of buildings. The report, also signed by the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects and Urban Green Council, shows the breadth of stakeholders in the real estate industry who believe reducing energy use in buildings is key to New York City's future. Buildings are responsible for 75 percent of carbon emissions in the five boroughs, and many of the facades in New York are less energy-efficient than medieval hovels. "It is important that anyone coming into office realizes that this issue is important to a lot of influential groups—and there is a lot we agree on," says Urban Green Council director Russell Unger. For example, the report calls for the next administration to establish a detailed long-term plan to reduce energy use in all new and existing buildings. In addition, there should be an energy-education component to licenses the city grants to home contractors. City officials also should streamline some of the bureaucratic hurdles that make some energy projects less attractive because of the added time and cost. "The different groups may not agree on the mixture of methods—between incentives, voluntary measures, or mandates—to achieve a particular outcome, but there is remarkable unanimity across the industry that we need to get to these places," Unger says.



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