Top Navigation

“White Hot” 2007-09 NYC Construction Forecast Bodes Well for Green Building

At an industry breakfast forum held on Tuesday in Midtown, the New York Building Congress released its three-year outlook for construction activity in the New York City metropolitan area. Richard T. Anderson, President of the Building Congress, introduced the report and emphasized the robust figures across all sectors of the industry. $83 billion in construction is projected between 2007 and 2009- an eighteen percent increase over the 2005-2007 period. While Mr. Anderson was obviously extremely enthusiastic about these fantastic projections, he also cautioned the industry not to fall victim of its own success. His comments were directed at the industry in general, but the report itself suggests important considerations for green building both here in New York City as well as across the rest of the country.

First, non-residential construction in New York (which includes the commercial office sector) has doubled since 2005, from actual spending of $4.1 billion to $8.3 billion projected this year. By 2009, the Building Congress anticipates $11.2 billion, which includes the major green projects already underway at the World Trade Center site. The residential sector here is proving more resilient than that nationally; this year, $5.6 billion, up from $4.9 billion in 2007, though projected to level off by 2009 at $5.2 billion. Government spending, from schools to mass transit and other infrastructure, will increase from $11.9 billion last year to $12.6 billion by 2009. As the numbers demonstrate, all sectors of the construction industry are booming. Traditionally, when one sector is up (e.g., residential) another will be down (commercial office), but demand remains strong as Gotham continues to add more workers to a healthy local economy.

The outlook also specifically cites the World Trade Center site as a catalyst for the recovery of Manhattan’s office market in the aftermath of September 11, and though it was perhaps an inevitability that the new towers would incorporate sustainable design features, it is impossible to ignore the sheer volume of green construction that will be well underway at the site by 2009. Still, as Mr. Anderson pointed out on Tuesday, success does bring potential pitfalls, particularly with respect to green development. Construction costs continue to rise (according to the report, at a rate of one percent each month) which will make it increasingly difficult to sway skeptical developers that remain convinced of a green building premium. The integrated design process that sustainable construction demands is also threatened by the sheer volume of construction that’s taking place. Overextended contractors and fast-track schedules may jeopardize the truly collaborative approach that yields high performance green buildings.

Nevertheless, as the outlook makes clear, New York City is enjoying an unprecedented construction boom, and for the first time all five boroughs are involved. A strong economy is thus allowing Gotham to position itself as America’s premier urban laboratory for green building across a diverse number of construction sectors and neighborhoods. Provided the industry remains mindful of the challenges it will continue to face, the next three years should be extremely instructive for local green development.

, , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply