Construction Technology/News

Construction Industry Trends: July 2024 Roundup

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After a relatively stable May, June 2024 was busy. Several projects were either unveiled, awarded, or broke ground both domestically and internationally. College dorms, utility infrastructure, and a one-of-a-kind nuclear reactor were all part of the June construction news. Also, positive news about construction jobs was released, pointing toward increased year-after-year employment and falling unemployment rates. Here’s what happened in June 2024.

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

Gilbane Awarded Residence Hall While Bechtel Begins Nuclear Plant Construction

Two exciting domestic projects took significant steps forward in June 2024. One of the country’s most prestigious university systems awarded a residence project and a one-of-a-kind nuclear reactor project broke ground.

Gilbane Builds Dorm at Purdue Fort Wayne

According to the company’s press release page, Gilbane Construction was awarded an exciting project at Purdue Fort Wayne. The 213,000-square-foot dormitory project fulfills a long-lived goal of adding housing to the campus. The project includes adding 600 beds across 176 dorm units, as well as a store, fitness center, gaming room, study spaces, lounges, reception, and leasing office areas, with a total estimated cost of $100 million, paid for by a private nonprofit foundation.

The dorm complex isn’t just about adding beds and convenience. It also focuses heavily on sustainability, with Gilbane including “incorporating energy-efficient appliances, water conservation measures, native landscaping, stormwater treatment, and construction waste management,” according to the Gilbane website.

Bechtel Building One-of-a-Kind Nuclear Plant

Bechtel is also embarking on an exciting project. The construction company recently announced on its website that it has broken ground on the Natrium Demonstration Project, a unique nuclear power plant project that is part of the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program.

The Natrium power plant will have the ability to power 400,000 homes, but that’s not its most exciting feature. Instead of water, the plant developed by TerraPower will use a sodium-based technology to cool the reactor. This allows the plant to be “safer, cleaner, faster, and more efficient,” according to the company’s website.

Photo by Mohammadreza Sobhan on Unsplash

Wastewater, Energy Transmission, and Manufacturing Lead Int’l Project News

June wasn’t just hopping in the U.S.—international projects are also making headlines. From a resource-rich country spending billions on stormwater management, connecting a remote island to the Scottish mainland’s electrical service, and a major equipment manufacturer building a new factory south of the border, June was anything but short on international news.

$8B Stormwater System Announced for Dubai

In response to the record rainfall that Dubai experienced on April 16th, an $8B stormwater control project was announced. The City of Gold’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, announced on social media that the project will be completed by 2033 with construction starting right away.

The new stormwater system will be able to absorb more than 20 cubic meters of water per day, increasing Dubai’s drainage capacity by 700%. This will help the city deal with unprecedented weather events, such as the flooding that occurred on April 16 which claimed the lives of four people and prevented the world’s busiest international airport from operating to standard.

Photo by Fons Heijnsbroek on Unsplash

Balfour Beatty to Shore Up Skye Island Power

From the UAE to the UK, construction firm Balfour Beatty announced on its company webpage that it was awarded the first phase of the Scottish and Southern Electricity Network’s Skye Reinforcement Project. The goal of the project is to secure the supply of electricity to the island from the mainland, connecting existing renewable energy sources, and overbuilding the system to withstand the addition of additional renewable sources.

The system will include upgrading not only the transmission cables but also replacing the existing wood structures with steel and sealing the joints between overhead and underground networks.

The first phase of the project involves sensitive natural resource and logistics planning. Balfour Beatty’s environmental and sustainability team will come up with plans to translocate wildlife, manage peat disruption, and create a “Skye workers village” to provide shelter and housing to transmission workers. All told, the project is expected to cost £690 million or just under $874.5 million USD.

Bobcat to Build 700,000 Sq Ft Mexico Factory

Equipment manufacturing giant Bobcat announced that it broke ground on its newest manufacturing facility. Built in the Salinas Victoria municipality in Nuevo Leon, Mexico, the new facility consists of a 700,000-square-foot manufacturing space, increasing the company’s ability to quickly produce machinery.

Bobcat’s new facility is expected to be completed and operational by 2026, to create 600 to 800 jobs in the area, and cost around $300 million to complete. The team consists of U.S.’s Schultz + Associates Architects for design and Mexico’s GP Construcción as the project manager.

Photo by Mirco Bazzani on Unsplash

Jobs Report Shows Construction Added 21,000 in May—And It’s Not Just Infrastructure

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released in early June showed an uptick in jobs created. While non-residential construction saw the biggest gain, it doesn’t tell the whole story—the outlook of which is slightly more positive.

The BLS report shows that construction added 21,000 jobs in May and that 17,100 of those jobs were in non-residential construction. Most experts expected the most growth in this area, with the federally-funded infrastructure projects steering the ship. But the facts are that this latest report shows growth across many segments of the industry, including heavy and civil engineering and residential building:

Jobs added:

  • Non-residential building: 3,000
  • Non-residential specialty contractors: 13,000
  • Heavy and civil engineering: 1,100
  • Residential building: 3,500
  • Residential specialty contractors: 0

While it might seem as though residential specialty contractors are hurting the most, don’t worry. It’s actually one of the largest segments of the industry, with 2,408,700 jobs overall, 44,800 above where it was 12 months ago.

It’s also worth noting that the construction industry’s overall unemployment rate dropped to 3.9% in May from 5.2% in April. Construction is outperforming the rest of all private industries combined, which climbed slightly from 3.9% in April to 4.0% in May. These numbers will be interesting to follow for the rest of the year leading up to the election but generally point to positive signs for the construction industry’s resilience to inflation and higher interest rates.

Posted By

Tom Scalisi is a freelance writer specializing in the construction and construction software fields. As a former contractor, Tom knows the ups and downs of the building industry first-hand. He’s passionate about helping contractors build stronger, more profitable businesses by navigating the wave of new technology revolutionizing the construction industry.