Boom Times for Construction Industry – $1 Trillion in New Infrastructure Spending
The construction industry is primed for major boom times under the Donald Trump administration, according to experts. That means a surge in new equipment orders for massive infrastructure spending – some estimates put it at $1 trillion – just as the industry contends with climate change regulations geared toward reducing emissions and saving fuel.
In a sweeping review of the major trends facing the construction industry this year, ConstructionDive.com focused on how the push for sustainability and new technology will combine to create unprecedented challenges – and opportunities – for the industry.
‘Sustainable Construction,’ Green Technology Crucial
“Sustainable construction and the green building movement will continue to make strides in 2017,” ConstructionDive reports. The year ahead will bring “the next step of building green,” with more owners and tenants demanding energy-efficient features in new buildings. Sustainable construction will be more of the norm rather than the exception going forward.
Even with the promised surge in investment, though, industry experts are concerned about the escalating cost of doing business. With rising material and labor costs, firms will likely struggle to maintain their margins in the coming year.
That means new advances in fuel-saving technology and other green technology that can limit emissions and thus extend engine life will be crucial. Contractors have been expecting an impending bump in material costs after several years of relatively flat growth. The Associated Builders and Contractors organization called the most recent decline in material prices “the calm before the storm.”
The ‘Internet of Things’ on the Construction Site
But the technology on the horizon is staggering. Many experts say the Internet of Things (IoT) will likely make a big leap onto construction sites beginning in 2017. As contractors and subsidiaries continue their quest to cut costs and improve efficiencies, many are turning to IoT options to improve site operations.
A key technology will be “wearables,” which can track workers in the field and ensure that they are protected from or at least aware of job site hazards and other potential injuries. Other important technology like equipment sensors can monitor whether machinery is in need of repair.
A much-used buzzword is “interoperability” – coordinating all of the data your tech is collecting on different devices and sensors, and translating it into quality information.
“The challenges become where you reach the point where there’s this tidal wave of information,” Tony Colonna, senior vice president for innovative construction solutions at Skanska USA, told ConstructionDive.com. “Being able to transform a lot of disconnected information into what we’ll call the actionable, something that gives me context, takes data from multiple sources and turns it into data we can use.”
The Return to Cities Worldwide Driving New Construction
The construction industry is still in the process of embracing new technologies, with a group of progressive contractors leading the way, according to ConstructionDive.com. “Companies that fail to keep up with the newest technologies risk getting left behind.”
One trend driving the rosy outlook is the return to cities from the suburbs worldwide. According to a recent World Economic Forum report, “Shaping the Future of Construction: A Breakthrough in Mindset and Technology,” urban centers are growing by 200,000 residents per day. The sustainable development of cities, as they are the anchors of education, innovation, financing and governance, will trickle out into the suburbs in a surge of more construction.
Overall, 65 percent of the construction industry’s growth over the next 10 years will be taking place in emerging economies, according to the report. The forum estimates at least another $1 trillion in construction spending outside of the United States in the next two decades.