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 BUILDING STANDARDS 02(Photo credit: ICON Architecture)

The Passive House Building Standard requires an integrated design process.   

By Michelle Apigian

With its laser focus on exceptional energy reduction, the Passive House Building Standard is the world’s most energy efficient. Applicable to all building types and uses, it not only dramatically reduces utility bills, operating costs and our carbon footprint, but its natural byproduct is buildings that are far more durable, phenomenally comfortable and healthy to be in, and highly resilient. Just as important, this superior quality and performance does not require a comparable increase in cost. What it does require is an integrated design process committed to a holistic approach toward building envelope and systems. It also encourages a partnership between designer and builder and a return to the craft of building, where attention to detail and pride of quality are truly valued.   

 CONSTRUCTION LAW 01BIM users cannot assume they are protected from liability.   

By Thomas J. Madigan

When building information modeling (BIM) technology first gained widespread use, commentators warned of new legal risks posed by the information sharing and collaboration essential to the process. Contractors and designers became worried that BIM could alter the traditional allocation of risk between them. 

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 BEST PRACTICES 01There’s no time to lose in using tactics to attract and retain workers.   

By Duane Wingate 

Although 36 states added construction jobs between August 2015 and August 2016, construction employment increased in only 24 states between this July and August, according to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), primarily because firms that wanted to increase their headcount could not find qualified workers to hire. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the industry will grow 28.8 percent by 2022, meanwhile tightness in the labor supply will only continue to increase in the years ahead.

 OP RESIDENTIAL 01By Terry McDonough

Even as construction spending is on the rise in the U.S., the construction industry, like many others, is facing a significant challenge: a growing industry skills gap.

In fact, the challenge facing the construction industry might be even more acute than the skills gaps confronting others. The ripple effect of the construction industry skills gap includes altering the way some firms do business, as well as project delays and price increases for many of the businesses and consumers relying upon them.

A 2015 survey by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) found that 86 percent of nearly 1,400 firms surveyed were having difficulty filling available positions. The survey found that carpenters, sheet metal installers, concrete workers, project managers and supervisors were particularly hard to find.

The AGC survey also found that the labor shortages are changing the way some construction industry employers do business, leading some to raise wages or rely more heavily on subcontractors or temporary labor firms. A particularly troubling finding was that some construction industry companies felt the labor shortages had the potential to put worker safety at risk.

 OP INSTITUTIONAL 01By Todd Andrew
  

Orlando might be best known for its tourism industry, but look closer and you’ll find a more diverse economic landscape – one that has been quietly emerging over the past few years. 

Ever since the early 1970s – when the arrival of Disney began transforming the region from orange groves into a top vacation destination – construction projects have been tied primarily to hospitality, homebuilding and retail. Today, however, a budding defense contracting industry built on high-tech modeling, simulation and training (MS&T) is providing new opportunities for commercial and light industrial construction.

Nowhere is this more evident than 15 miles east of downtown at Central Florida Research Park, a 1,027-acre, 126-building campus adjacent to the University of Central Florida (the nation’s largest public university by enrollment). Here, some pretty exciting developments are shaping not only the future of America’s military, but the local construction industry as well.

 OP NYNJ FOCUS 01By Efstathios Valioti

When we think of construction in a metropolitan area like New York City, we conjure images of massive foundations dug three stories below ground and wooden sidewalk sheds on Manhattan streets. Certainly, such scenes are the most visible indicators of the construction boom currently taking place.

However, there is a quieter and perhaps less visible boom taking place in all five of New York’s boroughs, as well as in older, former industrial cities throughout the region. Whether it is gentrifying urban areas where former factories and warehouses are finding new uses as residential developments - such as in Long Island City in Queens or Paterson, N.J. – or parts of Upper Manhattan where nearly century-old housing stock must be revamped, construction on existing properties has become another crucial focus of landlords all across the Northeast.

 OP COMMERCIAL 01By Lou Casale

As we approach the new year, reports across the industry continue to suggest that 2017 will be a great time to be in construction. Several markets across the country are expected to see new all-time highs in construction spending, beating pre-recession levels. The New York Building Congress, for example, forecasts spending on construction this year will reach $43.1 billion, a 26 percent increase from 2015 and the first time that spending will eclipse the $40 billion mark in the city.

 OP CIVIL 01By Eric Krieg

Benefits plans – and specifically health benefits – have long been used as a cost effective and tax advantageous way to support wages in a holistic view of total compensation. In the construction industry, where labor and related benefits costs often have the greatest impact on the bottom line, it’s important to continually manage and review plans to make sure you’re optimizing performance and eliminating waste.

However, benefits managers are consumed with the ongoing struggle to control healthcare costs and manage the structure of the employee health program. This is done with the additional challenge of managing employee noise and dissatisfaction regarding the health plan. This is a big chore, indeed. Unfortunately, what has been happening with such a close watch on health plan management is that many have forgotten about the big picture of total compensation. Without a close eye on compensation in conjunction with health plan decision making, your employees’ disposable income is experiencing dramatic erosion. This is due greatly because of the increase in payroll contributions and skyrocketing plan deductibles and cost sharing.

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