Economic Future: Swiss Cheese

A number of industry professionals gathered in the nation's capital in October to hear business and construction experts' take on how the economy will fare next year. Unfortunately, the news was not heartening. Aside from health care, labs and pharmaceutical projects, says Ken Simonson, an economist with the Associated General Contractors, the rest of the non-residential market is "appalling.

11/01/2002


A number of industry professionals gathered in the nation's capital in October to hear business and construction experts' take on how the economy will fare next year. Unfortunately, the news was not hear tening.

Aside from health care, labs and pharmaceutical projects, says Ken Simonson, an economist with the Associated General Contractors, the rest of the non-residential market is "appalling."

More disturbingly, Simonson noted, the warehouse market—a strong sector for M/Es—may experience a "permanent shift downward," as many stores such as Walmart look to expand just-in-time delivery.

Simonson was among a number of economic experts speaking at Reed Construction Data's annual North American Construction Forecast.

Scott Simpson, an architect with Cambridge, Mass.-based Stubbins Assocs., was a little more optimistic, likening the market to Swiss cheese. "It's mostly solid, but there are a few holes."

Simpson's firm, however, resides in the hotbed of the bio-tech/pharmaceutical world, a market that is a little too busy. "We already have 2003 booked."

But with that full docket has come an onerous workload. "The big issue is speed," he says. "We're beyond hypertrack, and now on 'psychotrack' jobs where we need to be setting casework five weeks later."

Work should also continue to emerge from the government sector, most notably from the General Services Administration, as the federal government may need to carry the economy. GSA is specifically looking to significantly improve its under-performing buildings, which should mean lots of retrofit opportunities for M/Es, according to Bill Gueren, GSA's deputy assistant commissioner. "We've identified $4 billion worth of modernization projects," he says.

GSA is also in the midst of an aggressive courthouse building program (see "Hot Sun, Cold Justice," p. 30).

Elsewhere, work on university projects remains healthy, but that market is expected to dip, as donations are curtailing. Along the same lines, the elementary school market also might begin to dry up, as referendums are not passing at the community level.





Product of the Year
Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
40 Under Forty: Get Recognized
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
MEP Giants Program
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
August 2018
MEP Giants, lighting designs, circuit protection, ventilation systems, and more
July 2018
Integrating electrical and HVAC systems, emerging trends in fire, life safety, ASHRAE 90.4
June 2018
Chilled-water system design, NFPA 99, Grounded power supply systems
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Data Center Design
Data centers, data closets, edge and cloud computing, co-location facilities, and similar topics are among the fastest-changing in the industry.
click me