2023 Begins With ‘Positive Momentum’ For Construction

News from the Dodge Construction Network indicates that total construction starts closed 2022 on a winning streak, rebounding in December from the previous month to post a 27% gain for a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.185 trillion. That’s the first monthly year-end jump since 2017.

The sector was led by nonresidential building starts, which grew to $549.6 billion on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, a 51% jump from November. Nonbuilding construction, which includes infrastructure projects such as roads and bridges as well as utilities and pipelines, was also up 30%, at $281.4 billion, while residential construction starts were flat.

For all of 2022, total construction starts were 15% higher than a year earlier. Nonresidential buildings – think commercial properties and plants – gained 38% year over year, while the nonbuilding sector posted a 19% rise. Residential starts, hammered by higher mortgage rates, were down 3% for the year.

“December starts revealed where the current strength in construction lies: manufacturing and infrastructure,” said Richard Branch, chief economist at Dodge, in a press release. “It is those segments that will provide insulation for the sector as the economy softens in 2023.”

Branch said that he expects higher interest rates to weigh on the economy and restrain construction starts in 2023, but “it’s encouraging to know that the new year is starting with a great deal of positive momentum.”

The buoyancy in the sector came just as construction pros received good news on the materials front. Construction input prices fell 2.7% in December, their largest drop since April 2020 early in the pandemic, signaling that meaningful relief from inflation may finally be materializing in the sector, even as recession fears remain.

The starts numbers also show how the construction sector generally – and commercial and infrastructure projects specifically – could offer contractors shelter from any brewing economic storm.

Starts activity in all nonbuilding categories gained in 2022, led by utility/gas plants, which rose 26%, according to Dodge, while highway and bridge starts were up 25% in the year. Environmental public works projects also increased by 15%.

The largest nonbuilding projects to break ground in December were:

  • The $2.2 billion Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission line across several counties in New York.
  • The $1.2 billion New Fortress Energy LNG terminal in Grande Isle, Louisiana.
  • The $535 million Black Diamond solar project in Morgan and Sangamon Counties, Illinois.

For the year, nonresidential building construction rose 38% from 2021, led by the surging manufacturing sector, which rose 185% over the year. Commercial starts were also 25% higher in 2022, led by office and hotel activity. Institutional starts were 19% higher in 2022, led by improvements in healthcare and education starts.

The largest nonresidential building projects to break ground in December were:

  • The $8.5 billion Golden Triangle Ethylene Cracker in Orange, Texas.
  • The $2 billion AltAir/World Energy renewable fuels facility in Paramount, California.
  • The $1.4 billion Stellantis electric vehicle plant in Kokomo, Indiana.

Residential building starts remained flat in December, but multifamily starts gained 8%. Residential starts were 3% lower in 2022 when compared to 2021, but multifamily starts were up 25%.

The largest multifamily structures to break ground in December were:

  • The $350 million first phase of the Hamilton Green complex in White Plains, New York.
  • The $240 million mixed-use project on Dekalb Ave in Brooklyn, New York.
  • The $230 million 54 Crown Street building in Crown Heights, New York.

This article originally appeared on ConstructionDive. The entire article can be found here: https://www.constructiondive.com/news/2023-begins-with-positive-momentum-for-construction/641186/

HydroLite Lightweight Aggregate Plays Key Role in Record-Breaking Structure

As if constructing the tallest building in the western U.S. weren’t enough of an accolade, Hanjin Group set a record when a new addition to its property portfolio set an official Guinness World Record for the highest volume of concrete placed within an 18-hour period.

To make the foundation for the Wilshire Grand Center required more than 2,100 truckloads of concrete – a feat that entered the building in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest continuous concrete placement in history. The structure not only boasts 900 hotel rooms, a 70th-floor sky lobby, and 445,000 square feet of office and retail space, but it is also the tallest structure in the western U.S.

Pumping No Issue
The project encompassed over 1.2 million square feet of lightweight concrete slab on metal deck. Its structure includes 15,000+ cubic yards of concrete that on metal deck – of which 10,000+ cubic yards that includes HydroLite® Lightweight Aggregate from Arcosa Lightweight. According to Charles Kerzic, Arcosa Lightweight Sales Representative, the lightweight concrete helped meet the fire rating without the need for an additional fire proofing cover. And because the lightweight aggregate is presoaked, pumping it up to the building’s very high floors is easier than if traditional materials had been used.

Kerzic monitored the record-setting build with laser focus. He says that the lightweight concrete needed to finish the deck was pumped at 1,300 feet, 1,100 feet vertically.

Headed up by general contractor Turner Construction, the project also involved Conco Cement Company (the concrete pumper) and Catalina Pacific Concrete (a division of the CalPortland Company).

For the project, Arcosa Lightweight provided the lightweight aggregate for the concrete installed on the metal decking that surrounds the building’s core/elevator towers. “That concrete needed to be lighter than normal concrete for engineering purposes,” says Kerzic. Arcosa Lightweight manufactured the structural lightweight aggregate used for the project at its plant in Frazier Park, California. The ready-mix supplier replaced the “regular” weight granite with the lighter material. “The HydroLite lowers the concrete’s unit weight from 147 pounds per cubic foot to just 115 pcf,” Kerzic says.

Exceeding Expectations
The project is a great example of excellent teamwork among a general contractor, ready-mix concrete supplier, concrete placement subcontractor, pumping subcontractor, and lightweight aggregate supplier. “Everyone worked together to make sure the overall project was successfully pulled off,” says Jeff Speck, Director of Technical Sales for Arcosa Lightweight. “This truly is a testament to the value of having a great team that works together well.”

Quick Facts

  • Location of Project: Los Angeles, CA
  • Project Owner: Hanjin Group
  • Total Project Cost: $1.1 billion
  • Total Size: 73 stories, 1,100 feet high
  • Completion Date: 2017

View the Arcosa Lightweight Case Study Here: https://www.arcosalightweight.com/case-studies/structural-lightweight-concrete/wilshire-grand

Percentage of women in construction higher than ever

The share of construction workers who are women is at an all-time high and has steadily increased since 2016, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As of August, 14% of all construction workers were women, an analysis from The Washington Post found. The previous high point for women workers’ share in construction was in October 2009, when they made up 13.5% of workers.

Hispanic women have largely contributed to that growth. The number of Hispanic women in the industry grew 117% over the last six years, the Post found, and in 2020, the share of Hispanic women overtook the share of White women in construction. The rates include women in office roles.

Washington, D.C., had the highest share of women in construction as of August, with 17.6%. Arizona and Florida nabbed second and third place, with 15.6% and 14.5%, respectively. Delaware had the lowest nationwide, with 6.8%.

The growth of women in construction is due in part to the industry’s continued high demand for workers. The unemployment rate in 2016 for people who had most recently held a construction job was the lowest since at least 2000, according to BLS data. That meant recruiters had to look elsewhere from the usual pools to find new employees, which led to the continued increase.

The difference between the early aughts and the last few years can also be attributed to labor groups and employers removing or lowering hurdles to help broaden the pool of workers in the trades, as the industry grows more desperate for new talent. Though the industry has tried to lower the barrier to entry, it is still there. Women are harder to recruit, experts noted to the Post, because they often have less experience and often require more flexible hours than men for childcare considerations.

To continue this trend, experts say employers should set goals for diversity hiring and focus on inclusion and safety. Often, women may not see construction trades as a career option, so inclusive language on job postings and employee materials is critical to communicate that women already have a place on the jobsite.

In October, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced the Million Women in Construction Initiative. While speaking at the North American Building Trades Union’s Tradeswomen Build Nations Conference, Raimondo highlighted the goal of doubling the number of women in construction — from 1 million to 2 million — over the next 10 years.

Though she revealed no details as to how that goal will be met, Raimondo and the Biden administration hope that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act along with the CHIPS and Science Act will open more doors for women and minorities. The IIJA establishes a Minority Business Development Agency within the Department of Commerce, which could help minority- and women-owned businesses win contracts and grants.

Source material for this article can be found here:

Carson City Location Wins Safety Award.

Adam’s Claim, Carson City, NV

Each year the Nevada Mining Association (NVMA) presents awards to mines in many categories. Arcosa Specialty Material’s Adam’s Claim just outside of Carson City, NV has been the recipient of a safety award in the Small Mine Non-Metal category for many years. NVMA recognizes outstanding achievement in worker safety through the Sentinels of Safety Awards. Sentinels of Safety are awarded annually to the nation’s safest mines with a minimum of 4,000 injury-free hours.

The awards were initiated in 1925 by then-Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover and remain the nation’s most prestigious awards recognizing mining safety. This year the award was presented to Scott Lusty, GM and Randy Pryor, VP on September 10, 2022. Arcosa Specialty Material’s Adam’s Claim location has a weekly Safety Committee meeting dedicated to regular and specific site audits with the purpose of identifying potential safety issues and also finding ways to make our site safe for employees, customers and vendors. The time dedicated to this has been beneficial for safety and MSHA inspections.

Receiving the award on September 10, 2022 are Scott Lusty, General Manager (middle), and Randy Pryor, Vice President (right).

Total Construction Starts Increase in October

Total construction starts rose 8% in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.12 trillion, according to Dodge Construction Network. In October, nonresidential building starts gained 9%, and nonbuilding starts rose 26%. Residential starts fell by 3%.

Year-to-date, total construction was 16% higher in the first ten months of 2022 compared to the same period of 2021. Nonresidential building starts rose 37% over the year, residential starts remained flat, and nonbuilding starts were up 17%.

“October’s gain in construction starts is a further sign that the construction sector continues to weather the storm of higher interest rates,” said Richard Branch, chief economist for Dodge Construction Network. “While the residential sector is feeling the pain, the nonresidential building and infrastructure sectors are hitting their stride. Some weakness is to be expected as the Federal Reserve continues its battle with inflation; however, the damage should be isolated to a few verticals and not as widespread as what the industry witnessed during the Great Recession.”

Nonbuilding construction starts rose 26% in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $277.7 billion. Highway and bridge starts rose 57%, while utility/gas plants increased 19%, and environmental public works were 13% higher. This growth is tempered as miscellaneous nonbuilding starts fell 20% in the month. Through the ten months of the year, total nonbuilding starts were 17% higher than in 2021. Highway and bridge starts were 25% higher, environmental public works were 14% higher, and miscellaneous nonbuilding starts increased 17% on a year-to-date basis. Utility/gas plant starts were flat.

The largest nonbuilding projects to break ground in October were the $576 million TX DOT Interstate Highway 820 reconstruction project in Fort Worth, TX, the $548 million TX DOT Interstate Highway 35 widening project in Austin, TX, and the $364 million repaving project in Honolulu, HI.

Nonresidential building starts rose 9% in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $480.5 billion. During the month, commercial starts rose 19%, led by office and hotel projects. Institutional starts rose 8% due to a surge in education projects, while manufacturing starts fell by 5%. Through the first ten months of 2022, nonresidential building starts were 37% higher than the first ten months of 2021. Commercial starts grew 23%, and institutional starts rose 21%. Manufacturing starts were 157% higher on a year-to-date basis.

The largest nonresidential building projects to break ground in October were the $3.2 billion Texas Industries chip fabrication plant (building 1) in Sherman, TX, the $2.0 billion General Motors Orion EV plant in Orion Township, MI, and the $1 billion Gevo Net-Zero 1 hydrocarbon plant in Lake Preston, SD.

Residential building starts fell 3% in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $366.4 billion. Single family starts lost 3%, while multifamily starts dropped 4%. Through the first ten months of 2022, residential starts were flat when compared to the same time frame in 2021. Multifamily starts were up 26%, while single family housing slipped 10%.

The largest multifamily structures to break ground in October were the $564 million Long Island City Center II in Long Island City, NY, the $450 million Waldorf Astoria residences and hotel in Miami, FL, and the $167 million Modera McGavock mixed-use building in Nashville, TN.

The largest multifamily structures to break ground in October were the $564 million Long Island City Center II in Long Island City, NY, the $450 million Waldorf Astoria residences and hotel in Miami, FL, and the $167 million Modera McGavock mixed-use building in Nashville, TN.

This press release originally appeared online here:

Employee Led Safety Program

Arcosa Specialty Materials is 100% committed to creating real change in our safety culture.

Arcosa Specialty Materials met recently to continue its safety journey. Employees from across the company came together in Norman, OK to review its most recent safety initiative and to plan for the future.

These are all part of the ARC 100 program. ARC is short for “Advocating Real Change”. The 100% in the loco stands for 100% committed to safety. These programs are developed by front line employees and deployed company wide.

Previous programs launched recently include Arcosa Safety Briefings, a regular safety meeting where safety issues are raised and discussed. A second, Pre-Op inspections, provides a formal checklist to check equipment prior to operating it. The most recent is Observe-Share-Report, a proactive program designed to catch accidents before they occur.

Together they are the foundation for the safety journey that continues in Arcosa Specialty Materials. However, it’s more than creating safety programs. It’s changing a company’s culture to embrace a “safety first” mentality each and every day on the job. Stay tuned for more safety updates!

UPDATE: Fire and Sound Manual Released

New Fire and Sound Manual released to increase ease of access by architects.

The Fire and Sound Manual
When designing UL assemblies, it’s important to maintain a balance between acoustic isolation and fire protection. Both are essential for safety and comfort. Our designs all conform to the limits specified in the UL Design. This includes variables like insulation thickness, where and how it’s placed in the cavity, and resilient channel spacing, and much more.

Image samples:

Content excerpt from the Fire and Sound Manual:

AccuCrete® and AccuLevel® underlayments are manufactured to rigorous ASTM standards, and have been tested to meet UL 1 and 2 hour fire rated designs. All AccuCrete® and AccuLevel® UL designs incorporate ultra low compressive AccuQuiet Sound Mats.

  • Section 1207.1 of the 2018 I. B. C. scope applies to common interior walls, partitions and floor/ceiling assemblies between adjacent dwelling units or between dwelling units and public areas.
  • Section 1201.2 of the 2018 I. B. C. scope applies to airborne sound for walls, partitions and floor/ceiling assemblies must have a sound transmission class (STC) of minimum 50 when tested in accordance with ASTM E90, laboratory test. Minimum 45 if field tested.
  • Section 1207.3 of the 2018 I. B. C. scope applies to structure borne sound refers to floor/ceiling assembles between dwelling units or dwelling units and a public area must have an impact insulation class (IIC) of minimum 50 when tested in accordance with ASTM E492, laboratory test. Minimum 45 if field tested.

To download the Fire and Safety Manual – Click Here

More Apartments Needed in US

New apartment units needed to mitigate issues related to apartment demand and the shrinking supply of affordably priced housing.

The U.S. needs 4.3 million new apartment units between now and 2035 in order to mitigate issues related to apartment demand and the shrinking supply of affordably priced housing, according to research commissioned by the National Multifamily Housing Council and National Apartment Association.

This number incorporates an existing deficit of 600,000 apartment homes, which the study attributes to underbuilding associated with the 2008 economic downturn. In addition, between 2015 and 2020, the nation’s supply of affordable housing — defined as housing units with rents less than $1,000 per month — declined by 4.7 million units.

Caitlin Sugrue Walter, vice president of research for the NMHC says “The main reason for these units not existing is that we have had a reverse filtering phenomenon occur because of our supply shortage. Because there are not enough available units, it moves the asking rents up, reducing the number of affordable units.”

Currently, the U.S. has a population of 36.8 million apartment residents living in 21.3 million apartment homes. Approximately 266,000 new units need to be built each year to meet the demand for more, according to the report.

The full study estimates apartment demand from 2022 through 2035 at the national, state and top 50 metro level. Variables in this estimate include the homeownership rate — projected to increase by 3.8% — and immigration. While the immigration rate stands at a record low, a reversal of this trend could significantly raise apartment demand, according to a press release on the report.

The site also offers a calculator to estimate the economic contributions and impact of building in a given area, with variables based on building size and type.

Making progress
At the state level, Texas, Florida and California account for 40% of future demand. The report estimates that these three states together will require 1.5 million new apartments by 2023.

Walter noted that many jurisdictions in Texas are performing well toward the apartment construction estimates outlined in the report.

“[This] is good, because they comprise the bulk of the demand going forward,” Walter said. “[The] Dallas metro area has been leading for quite some time in terms of the number of projects being built.”

The report outlines a number of policy recommendations that the NMHC and NAA say will help solve the issues it presents. They include:

  • Policies at the local level that support housing construction, such as by-right housing development and reduced parking requirements.
  • The expansion of public-private partnerships.
  • The enactment of state laws that override local restrictions.
  • Federal policy in support of new construction, particularly affordable housing.
  • “There are some things that can be done at the federal level, such as creating incentives for localities to examine their local policies,” Walter added. “Regulations are a huge driver of construction costs, which makes it difficult to build at lower, more affordable price points.”

This article appeared on the website “Multifamily Dive” and can be read in its entirety here: https://www.multifamilydive.com/news/to-meet-demand-us-needs-43m-more-apartments-by-2035/628358/

PROJECT PROFILE – Twin Hills Country Club, Oklahoma City, OK

This renovation of an iconic country club put AccuLevel® G-40 to the test.

Twin Hills Country Club had a real problem. Fortunately, AccuLevel® G-40 was the perfect solution. The golf course in Oklahoma City, OK was in the middle of a major renovation and addition to their iconic clubhouse.

The history of Twin Hills dates back to 1920 and has hosted several prestigious tournaments over the years including the PGA Championship, with players including Johnny Revolta, Arnold Palmer, and Gene Sarazen.

After removing the existing floor, they facing a huge challenge with the subfloor. The previous design used cinder block slabs, a common practice 80 years ago, but it left a big problem. How do you get a level floor when that subfloor looks like a gravel road. And just capping it with concrete was not a solution due to needing to remove the supports. 

Bill Ritchie and John Lowry of Gypsum Floors of AR/OK, Inc. were called to see if they could help. After a review of the structure, they recommended AccuLevel G-40. “I’ve poured it as thin as half an inch to as much as 2 inches” said Ritchie. “We have used it for several jobs and we always get excellent results.”

With the seasoned crew from Gypsum Floors of AR/OK onsite, the project took less than a day to complete. Working around the obvious challenges of the sublfloor, the end result was a remodel and the new addition now have a smooth flat surface that is as hard as a rock.

“The client was very happy” Ritchie said, “they got a floor better than what they hoped for.”

To view the case study – click here

Plenty of reason for optimism, industry stakeholders say

Aggregate demand has not been a problem of late for the industry, and expectations are high for healthy demand in 2022.


That’s the word aggregate industry stakeholders use to describe their outlooks for 2022. But while the year promises no shortage of projects, the industry finds itself playing a supply-and-demand game: keeping up with the increased aggregate demand while navigating shortages and delays in the supply chain.

Boosted demand

Producers, equipment manufacturers and dealers tend to agree demand is up across the board. This is due, in part, to the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA), which passed with bipartisan support in November.

Karen Hubacz, president and CEO of Massachusetts-based Bond Construction Corp., says the infrastructure bill’s components – namely industry exemptions, the ROCKS Act and enhanced permit streamlining – provide producers a much-needed confidence boost.

“It’s vitally important,” Hubacz says. “It’s really like an insurance policy for us in that we feel much more confident to put money into ourselves, specifically to maybe do plant improvements – things that cost a lot of money – because we know we’re going to invest this money in ourselves. But it’ll pay for itself sooner than later based on what we anticipate happening.”

IIJA’s passage was an added 2022 bonus for Unified Screening & Crushing, but the company was already planning for increased demand without it.

“There’s a lot of building, a lot of construction projects going on,” says Andrew Lentsch, COO of Unified. “So even without the infrastructure bill, I think there was still going to be an increase in demand. But, hopefully, that drives it even more.”

Similarly, The McLean Co., an Ohio equipment dealer, expects 2022 growth. Chris Reiser, the company’s crushing and screening specialist, describes his outlook as “cautiously optimistic” because of IIJA funds rolling out this year and his customers’ projections.

“You can forecast all you want on your own,” Reiser says. “You can say: ‘OK, we had 10 percent growth last year, let’s shoot for 15 percent this year.’ But at the end of the day, you’re only going to supply what’s needed. So if everybody you would otherwise sell to is growing, that’s a pretty good outlook for yourself as a business.”

Still, each year presents challenges. While increased demand and additional funding bodes well for industry stakeholders, supply shortages and delays aren’t going away anytime soon.

As of January 2022, Hubacz, Lentsch and Reiser each saw varying lead times for equipment, supplies and parts.

“Some are days,” Hubacz says. “Some are weeks. Some are months and months. Or, you get the ‘sorry, we just don’t know.’”

Hubacz adds that not knowing when parts will arrive can impact when projects get done.

“Even now, we can barely keep up with demand,” Hubacz says. “And then there’s a breakdown. We find out with the breakdown all we need is a simple sensor to fix the issue. You call your dealer [and] your dealer can’t tell you where one even is or when we will get it to you. So it is a giant problem.”

The McLean Co. supplies equipment coming from overseas. While its manufacturers have done a good job of getting equipment over as quickly as possible, Reiser says equipment sometimes gets stuck at backed-up shipping ports. It’s an issue that’s outside of a dealer’s or manufacturer’s control.

“So much of it depends on what these other countries are doing and what our port looks like,” Reiser says. “You could have a machine that you ordered six, eight months ago that’s finally coming in, but it might sit at [the] port for two to four weeks.”

Companies are also cautiously watching rising costs as 2022 unfolds. For Bond Construction, fuel prices are a factor to follow closely this year.

“The cost of doing business is on the rise,” Hubacz says. “This is mainly due to the elevated energy costs associated with gasoline and diesel. Everything from our aggregate production to our equipment needs are transported via trucks, plus all the different oil-based products we utilize every day. We’re all going to need to look at our bottom lines and make adjustments as needed.”

Unified Screening & Crushing, meanwhile, is hoping to see steel prices begin to level out at some point this year.

“Hopefully, the costs stabilize in the next 12 months,” Lentsch says. “There’s been quite a bit of increases over the last year to year and a half.”

Proving resilient

The concerns Hubacz, Lentsch and Reiser share are, of course, not new. These three and other industry leaders have been navigating the muddled supply chain and rising costs for the better part of the last two years.

Most industry leaders at least agree 2020 and 2021 were, all things considered, better years than expected for the aggregate industry. In fact, Reiser says he’s already seeing minor signs of improvement with supply delays versus 2021.

“I don’t think it’s anything really different than it has been, at least last year, as far as delays go,” he says. “I don’t think anything’s more delayed. If anything, we’re probably less delayed on our side of things.”

The year ahead is promising, Hubacz, Lentsch and Reiser say, with funds from the infrastructure bill, the return of large trade shows and an increased number of projects. And there’s no doubt among stakeholders that the industry is primed for another year of success.

“The demand for aggregates is up,” Hubacz says. “Pricing for aggregates is holding steady and even improving. These two factors together will give producers a solid foundation to invest in their companies, which will be great for the whole industry.”

To view the original article – click here