Manufacturing and transportation projects drive gains Total construction starts rose 6% in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.3 trillion, according to Dodge Construction Network. Nonresidential starts rose 40% thanks to a large pickup in manufacturing and transportation buildings. Residential and nonbuilding starts fell 1% and 14%, respectively. Year-to-date through August 2023, total Read more
Manufacturing and transportation projects drive gains
Total construction starts rose 6% in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.3 trillion, according to Dodge Construction Network. Nonresidential starts rose 40% thanks to a large pickup in manufacturing and transportation buildings. Residential and nonbuilding starts fell 1% and 14%, respectively.
Year-to-date through August 2023, total construction starts were 5% below that of 2022. Residential and nonresidential starts were down 18% and 9%, respectively; however, nonbuilding starts were up 22%. For the 12 months ending August 2023, total construction starts were unchanged. Nonbuilding starts were 20% higher, and nonresidential building starts gained 6%. Conversely, on a 12-month rolling basis, residential starts posted a 17% decline overall.
“Despite the August gain, the construction sector is running uphill,” said Richard Branch, chief economist for Dodge Construction Network. “Fear of an imminent recession seems to have abated, which should provide a boost of confidence to the sector. However, higher interest rates, labor shortages and significantly tighter lending standards will weigh down starts in the final quarter of the year. This will persist for the foreseeable future, lasting until interest rates start to move lower.”
Nonbuilding construction starts lost ground in August, falling 14% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $380 billion. The decline follows a strong July which saw the start of a $12 billion LNG project. Nonbuilding starts increased 12% in August when excluding the utility/gas plant category, which fell 45% during the month. Miscellaneous nonbuilding starts shot 39% higher, and highway and bridge starts gained 19%. However, environmental public works starts shed 1%.
Year-to-date through August, nonbuilding starts gained 22%. Utility/gas plants rose 40%, and miscellaneous nonbuilding starts were up 33%. Highway and bridge starts gained 13%, and environmental public works rose 17%.
For the 12 months ending August 2023, total nonbuilding starts were 20% higher than that of August 2022. Utility/gas plant and miscellaneous nonbuilding starts rose 23% and 30%, respectively. Highway and bridge starts were up 17%, and environmental public works rose 18% on a 12-month rolling sum basis.
The largest nonbuilding projects to break ground in August were the $3.5 billion TransWest Transmission Project spanning Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Nevada, the $2.9 billion Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion projects in Port Sulphur, Louisiana, and the $1.5 billion New England Clean Energy Connect Power Line in Maine.
Nonresidential building starts gained 40% in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $475 billion, largely due to a surge in manufacturing activity. Nonresidential building starts would have gained 24% when excluding these large manufacturing projects. Commercial starts rose 8% in August led by gains in parking structures and hotels, and institutional starts rose 35% with all sectors but dormitories increasing. Manufacturing starts rose 285% from July to August, fueled by two large projects. On a year-to-date basis through August, total nonresidential starts were 9% lower than that of 2022. Institutional starts gained 3%, while commercial and manufacturing starts fell 8% and 32%, respectively.
For the 12 months ending August 2023, total nonresidential building starts were 6% higher than that ending August 2022. Manufacturing starts were 2% higher. Institutional starts improved 8%, and commercial starts gained 6%.
The largest nonresidential building projects to break ground in August were the $2.5 billion John Palmour Manufacturing Center for Silicon Carbide in Siler City, North Carolina, the $2 billion VinFast electrical vehicle plant in New Hill, North Carolina, and the $1.4 billion Midfield Satellite Concourse at Los Angeles International Airport in California.
Residential building starts fell 1% in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $418 billion. Single family starts gained 2%, while multifamily starts lost 5%. On a year-to-date basis through August 2023, total residential starts were down 18%. Single family starts were 21% lower, and multifamily starts were down 12%.
For the 12 months ending in August 2023, residential starts were 17% lower than in 2022. Single family starts were 23% lower, while multifamily starts were down 3% on a rolling 12-month basis.
The largest multifamily structures to break ground in August were the $530 million Hub on Campus mixed-use building in Knoxville, Tennessee, the $425 million 250 Water Street mixed-use tower in New York, New York, and the $340 million Ritz Carlton residences in North Palm Beach, Florida.
Regionally, total construction starts in August rose in the Midwest, South Atlantic and West regions, but fell in the South Central.
Watch Chief Economist Richard Branch discuss August Construction Starts here.
In our continuing Industry Forecast series, we talk with John Hazen White, Jr. – Executive Chairman & Owner of Taco Comfort Solutions, on topics such as the short-term economy, supply chain issues, and lessons learned over the course of the pandemic. Here is our exclusive Q & A with John Hazen White, Jr.:   Read more
In our continuing Industry Forecast series, we talk with John Hazen White, Jr. – Executive Chairman & Owner of Taco Comfort Solutions, on topics such as the short-term economy, supply chain issues, and lessons learned over the course of the pandemic. Here is our exclusive Q & A with John Hazen White, Jr.:
MH: We’ve all experienced supply chain shortages, whether it’s industry related or things such as computer chips, plastics, bacon, etc., for example. Do you project a turnaround soon or within the next 6-12 months for certain materials that relate to your specific company?
JHW: Due to the China’s current COVID lockdowns and further supply chain disruptions caused by the war in Ukraine, we believe that chain issues are going to get worse over the next several months. Much of the processing of base raw materials and secondary materials has been shut down, further straining the supply chain. Exacerbating these issues, the skyrocketing costs of fuel and transportation are going to make the delivery of goods more costly.
MH: We are in the midst of some of the highest inflation rates since the early ‘80s. Do you think that higher inflation becomes a “newer normal”? Explain.
JHW: Eventually costs will temper demand and inflation will slow. Unfortunately, this will be accompanied by an economic downturn. The risk is that governments may try to artificially stimulate the economy, which could potentially prolong the inflationary upturn.
MH: In general, how do you see the economy short-term? Give a few examples of how you draw that conclusion (housing starts, commercial construction, etc.).
JHW: The short-term economy appears to be healthy. Orders remain strong and backlogs are at all-time highs. Data such as housing starts point to continued growth in 2022, with low inventory levels and a tight rental market driving that growth. In addition, manufacturing construction is on the rise to meet capacity demands.
MH: Where are you seeing signs of positivity, if any?
JHW: Short-term, the economy appears to still be growing, but at a slower pace. Although the last two years have been very challenging, these challenges can also serve as a catalyst for improvement. Companies are reinventing their structures and processes to adapt to a much faster business pace. We’re seeing step changes in productivity, efficiency, and innovation to keep up with today’s challenges and changing business environment.
MH: How do you as manufacturers work with customers who are dealing with longer lead times and/or higher prices? Is it a matter of open lines of communication?
JHW: Constant communication and strong partnerships are great ways to manage through the current supply chain and production issues. Most customers understand the challenges that all manufacturers are currently dealing with – they just want to be kept informed to minimize surprises and plan their projects accordingly.
MH: It seems that in today’s employment landscape, it’s hard to find good labor, whether it’s truck drivers, waiters at restaurants, etc. In our industry, how do we continue the fight to highlight the trades as a great career choice?
JHW: Social media is a great way to reach future tradesman of our industry. We have been running a social media campaign called #TradePower, which highlights successful contractors in the industry and the pride they take in their craftsmanship and service. Above all else, Taco has benefited by continuing to do what we always do – treat people right.
MH: In spite of COVID, people must move on. How has your company evolved—or continued to march forward—over the past two years, and talk about any new initiatives, expansions, etc.
JHW: The sudden disruption of COVID restrictions in 2020 forced a much faster adoption of planned technology upgrades. A planned rollout of organizational digitization was condensed from 18 month to two weeks, which gave us the ability to continue functioning and growing in the new work-from-home reality. One of the biggest positives we saw during the pandemic was the rise of global collaboration. The quick adoption of virtual meetings boosted our collaboration with our entire global workforce, ensuring the best players were part of any team meeting. This has led to an increased sharing of ideas on everything from safety protocols to operational improvements. More than ever, we are thinking globally to optimize our resources and maximize our growth.
Offers Help Homeowners, Commercial Businesses Save Money on High-Efficiency Boiler Purchases Growing awareness of the benefits of energy efficiency and increasing performance standards for heating systems are important drivers in the boiler market. Focused on these trends, Weil-McLain, a leader in hydronic heating systems, recently launched EcoRebates industry-leading rebate tools on its website. The tools Read more
Offers Help Homeowners, Commercial Businesses Save Money on High-Efficiency Boiler Purchases
Growing awareness of the benefits of energy efficiency and increasing performance standards for heating systems are important drivers in the boiler market. Focused on these trends, Weil-McLain, a leader in hydronic heating systems, recently launched EcoRebates industry-leading rebate tools on its website. The tools automatically highlight rebate and incentive savings available to homeowners and commercial entities based on their location when they research and view qualified energy-efficient boiler equipment.
EcoRebates tracks thousands of rebate programs offered by utilities and energy service providers that offer cash-back to homeowners and commercial entities that purchase energy efficient hydronic heating equipment. Using the rebate tools on the Weil-McLain site, homeowners can easily find rebate savings, up to $2,500 in some areas, with higher savings available to commercial entities purchasing larger equipment.
“The rebate center is a powerful tool that is simple for homeowners and business owners to use and automatically displays location-based rebates and savings on energy efficient products in real-time,” said Scott Butterfield, VP of Marketing and Business Development at Weil-McLain. “We are excited to offer this solution to our sales team and dealers to provide a valuable way to present savings to customers throughout their high efficiency boiler purchase journey.
“Weil-McLain is the North American leading boiler manufacturer who remains strong in the high-efficiency boiler market,” added Brett Battles, Co-Founder and CEO at EcoRebates. “We’re pleased to work with them to deliver these valuable savings opportunities into the hands of their customers.”
More information on rebates for Weil-McLain residential and commercial boiler systems is available at www.weil-mclain.com/rebate-center.
Bosch Thermotechnology introduces its first-ever non-condensing gas furnace, rounding out the company’s product portfolio with a complete residential system for heating and cooling. The Bosch 80% AFUE Gas Furnace, BGS80 Series offers a compact size and four-way multipoise design, making it an ideal replacement for aging non-condensing furnaces. With a cabinet height of 33.75 inches and a Read more
Bosch Thermotechnology introduces its first-ever non-condensing gas furnace, rounding out the company’s product portfolio with a complete residential system for heating and cooling. The Bosch 80% AFUE Gas Furnace, BGS80 Series offers a compact size and four-way multipoise design, making it an ideal replacement for aging non-condensing furnaces.
With a cabinet height of 33.75 inches and a multipoise design, the Bosch furnace can fit into tight places, including basements, attics and crawl spaces, allowing for easy integration into homes. The unit’s control board is equipped with LED Fault Codes, which display common errors as combinations of LED “flashes,” making it easy for contractors to quickly diagnose, troubleshoot and service units.
- Compact Size – Cabinet height of 33.75 inches allows for easy integration in tight places
- Energy Efficient – Converts up to 80 percent of the fuel purchased to heat a home
- Complete System – Integrate Bosch BGS80 Furnace with its IDS Outdoor Units and Cased Coils
- Quick Diagnostics – LED Fault Codes displays common errors as combination of LED “flashes”
“Bosch continuously seeks ways to enhance our product portfolio,” said Goncalo Costa, director of air conditioning regional business unit, North America at Bosch Thermotechnology. “Our customers have been asking for Bosch to design a non-condensing gas furnace for their homes, and contractors wanted to be able to offer them one. This new offering fills those gaps, and represents another step in Bosch’s product portfolio journey.”
The furnace offers numerous installation conveniences for contractors. All units come standard with a natural gas-to-LP conversion kit, making the unit field configurable. The design features a left- or right-hand connection for gas and electric service, and the furnace comes equipped with a removable bottom closure panel for bottom return applications and knockout holes to aid in left/right return applications.
Consumer benefits include lower energy bills, as the furnace converts up to 80 percent of the fuel purchased to heat a home, and peace of mind, with a 20-year limited warranty on the heat exchanger and a 5-year* limited warranty on parts. Pairing the furnace with Bosch IDS Outdoor Units** and Cased Coils** allows the heating and cooling system to switch between fuel sources, keeping homeowners comfortable in any temperature and saving money.
*10-year limited parts warranty, if product is registered within 60 days of installation, see boschheatingandcooling.com for full limited warranty details.
**IDS Outdoor Units (BOVA Models) and Cased Coils (BMAC Models)
For residential plumbers, there have been two schools of thought for plumbing a house: home run and trunk and branch. Both have their positives and negatives, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish with the plumbing system. However, you may not know there’s a new (and smarter) way to design and install a residential plumbing Read more
For residential plumbers, there have been two schools of thought for plumbing a house: home run and trunk and branch. Both have their positives and negatives, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish with the plumbing system.
However, you may not know there’s a new (and smarter) way to design and install a residential plumbing system that installs faster, uses less materials, requires fewer connections, minimizes your liability and operates more efficiently.
It’s called Logic plumbing.
A Logic plumbing design can only be used with PEX piping, but since PEX is now used in more new-home construction than copper and CPVC combined, you’re most likely already using it. (And if you’re not, you need to check it out. PEX is highly durable, flexible and more cost-effective compared to copper and CPVC.)
The Logic approach leverages the flexibility of PEX pipe to minimize connections and reduce potential leak points while also incorporating multiport tees located near fixture groupings to both limit the amount of pipe and connections needed while also improving installation efficiencies and system performance.
What’s a multiport tee?
I’m sure right now you’re wondering, “What’s a multiport tee?” It’s essentially a bunch of tees all molded together to create one long tee with multiple outlets. This innovative product minimizes connections and is the heart and soul of a Logic design.
For example, six regular tees will have 18 connections, but a flow-through multiport tee with six outlets will only have eight connections (six connections for the ports, a main flow-through inlet and a main flow-through outlet). Think about how much faster you could install a system when you’re making half the number of connections.
And get this — while multiport tees may resemble a manifold, they have the benefit of being hidden behind walls without the need for an access panel. Yes, you heard that right. No need for an access panel, minimizing costs and labor to help keep your projects on schedule and on budget.
Multiport tees are made of engineered polymer (EP), a thermoplastic material that has been used in plumbing applications for more than 20 years. EP has superior mechanical, chemical and thermal properties that provide dimensional stability in demanding applications, including areas of high stress, heat and moisture.
And, like PEX, the EP material in multiport tees resists corrosion, pitting and scaling, so it creates a highly durable system that’s engineered to last. Best of all, multiport tees (as well as all EP fittings) are approved for direct burial in the soil or concrete slab, so they are ideal for in-slab plumbing applications.
The Logic layout
So what exactly is a Logic plumbing layout? It’s quite simple: a main line connects to a multiport tee with distribution lines going out from the tee. These individual lines extending from the single multiport tee provide water to all fixtures in a single or adjacent grouping.
This design uses significantly less pipe than a home-run layout, with just a few more connections. Plus, it requires considerably fewer connections compared to a trunk-and-branch installation.
For example, a 2,300-square-foot, two-story home using a Logic design requires only 637 feet of pipe while a home-run system uses 1,515 feet of pipe. That’s more than twice the amount of piping necessary.
In addition to the added costs required to install all that extra pipe, the system performance is also greatly reduced due to added pressure loss and longer wait times for hot water. Plus, all the extra pipe can lead to issues isolating hot and cold water lines. This increases heat transfer and energy inefficiencies within the plumbing system.
And, while it’s true a Logic installation uses slightly more connections than a home-run layout (59 vs. 48 in the 2,300-square-foot, two-story home example above), the amount of pipe savings is significantly more beneficial with the labor and material savings you get with less pipe to install (not to mention the efficiency of the system).
A Logic layout also installs much faster compared to a trunk-and-branch system due to the vast reduction in connections. With the two-story home example above, a Logic layout uses a mere 16 fittings and 59 connections compared to a whopping 96 fittings and 165 connections for trunk and branch. That’s six times the number of fittings and nearly three times the amount of connections!
All those added connections greatly increase your liability with more potential for leaks, plus it also limits the performance of the system with increased pressure loss.
So there you have it! Just a few “logical” reasons why you should consider a smarter approach to plumbing a home that will improve your installation times, limit your liability and offer an all-around better-performing system for the end user.
Kim Bliss is the content development manager at Uponor. She can be reached at email@example.com.