Tag Archives: building

young.boss

7 ways to impress your younger boss

Aaron McDaniel, author of “The Young Professional’s Guide to Managing, Building, Guiding, and Motivating Your Team to Achieve Awesome Results,” offers seven tips on how older workers can impress their younger boss.

1. GIVE THEM A CHANCE: Pre-conceived notions aren’t effective – they only create a hard hurdle for everyone to get past. Youth & inexperienced doesn’t equal ineffectiveness.

2. REMEMBER YOU AREN’T THEIR PARENT/OLDER SIBLING: Don’t act like a parent or older sibling to your manager. This will generally cause them to clamp down hard and make it harder for you to do your job.

3. FEED OFF OF (AND DIRECT) THEIR ENTHUSIASM & CREATIVITY: Young managers can energize experienced employees. Feed off of their enthusiasm and energy and embrace new and creative approaches. You never know, they may help your results and productivity.

4. EARN THEIR TRUST, THEN OFFER YOUR ADVICE, NOT VISA VERSA: Show our loyalty and alignment with your young boss’ vision and goals before preaching about what is wrong. It is important to share your perspectives and why it would help the team. Odds are, you have had relevant experiences and know pitfalls to avoid that your boss may never have experienced, but make sure you have their trust. Otherwise your feedback will be taken as you telling them what to do.

5. FOLLOW THEIR LEAD, BUT BE A LEADER YOURSELF: Being a leader isn’t about being the boss or telling others what to do. A leader knows her strengths and finds ways to best support the team with them. Align your goals with your boss and find the best way to contribute to the team- your experience fills a big gap that your young boss probably doesn’t have.

6. USE TECHNOLOGY: Younger generations are digital natives and are used to using all forms of communication from email to texting or otherwise. Find ways to reach them through these (multiple) methods to get the help you need.

7. PUT US IN OUR PLACE, ARTFULLY: Your experience is a great tool to help your boss and there will be times when you need to step out and use your experience as a trump card to avoid mistakes your boss may not be able to recognize. In doing this, it is important to consider egos and the boss/employee roles.

By effectively doing these seven things, you will bring out the best in your younger manager. And, it will lead to more fulfillment and empowerment in your job instead of frustration and resentment.

Sundt Construction, Arizona

Sundt Construction Expands To New Mexico, N. Carolina And Texas

Arizona-based general contractor Sundt Construction has expanded its operations, opening three satellite offices in Albuquerque, N.M.; Cary, N.C. and El Paso, Texas. The offices will support active projects in those areas.

“During Sundt’s 122-year history, we have completed projects across the United States and around the world,” said Doug Pruitt, CEO and Chairman of Sundt Construction. “The opening of these satellite offices aligns with our plans for growth, and will help us best serve our current and future clients and partners in those markets.”

The El Paso office supports work underway at the Fort Bliss military installation, including housing projects, tactical facilities and infrastructure, training ranges, tank trails and more. It will also act as the hub for West Texas project work for public agencies and private owners alike.

The El Paso satellite location is the second Texas office to open in the last year and a half. In February 2010, Sundt established a Texas District headquarters in San Antonio in light of its active projects and long history in the Lone Star State, which includes more than 40 years and $1 billion in project work.

In addition to its work at Fort Bliss, the company is working on projects at Fort Hood in Killeen and Fort Sam Houston near San Antonio, as well as the Public Safety Answering Point / 9-1-1 Dispatch Center in San Antonio. The most recent Texas project win came last month when the Texas Department of Transportation awarded Sundt a $24.1 million civil construction contract to renovate the W. Seventh Street Bridge in Fort Worth.

In North Carolina, Sundt’s Cary office supports work underway at Camp Lejeune. The company is working for the U.S. Navy Facilities Engineering Command to construct two Marine Corps barracks facilities with a total of 370 units at Camp Lejeune. Sundt hopes to increase its presence throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions, where it has a history inclusive of federal and private sector projects.

In New Mexico, Sundt’s Albuquerque office supports work at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. Sundt presently serves as the Construction Manager at Risk for the $22 million Chamisa Village project, which includes the construction of three new three-story buildings, associated site development, utilities and self-perform concrete work. The new buildings total 127,000 square feet and will house approximately 300 students in two- and four-bedroom apartments situated around central courtyards.

Designed by Steinberg Architects, Chamisa Village will seek LEED Gold for Homes certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, which would make it the first Gold-certified multi-unit university building in New Mexico.

Reviving the Construction Industry

Plan to Revive Construction Industry Unveiled

The Associated General Contractors of America released a new national plan today detailing measures to stimulate demand for construction. Officials said the plan was needed to reverse construction employment declines that have taken place in 317 out of 337 metro areas since January 2007, according to new data the association released today.

“Our goal is to rebuild a devastated construction market that has left millions jobless, littered cities with incomplete projects and sapped much needed revenue, commerce and customers out of our economy,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Considering the scope and impact of construction job losses, the last thing any of us can afford is a repeat of the past four years.”

The plan, called “Building a Stronger Future, A New Blueprint for Economic Growth,” outlines measures to help boost private sector demand for construction, help tackle a growing infrastructure maintenance backlog and reduce needless red tape and regulations. Sandherr said the association developed the plan to overcome the years-long construction downturn that has left over 2.2 million construction workers unemployed and the industry’s unemployment rate at 21.8 percent, more than twice the national average.

Sandherr released the plan and the new employment figures, during a visit to Phoenix,  which has lost more construction jobs – 91,400 – than any other metro area since the start of the construction downturn in January 2007, a 54 percent decline. Nationwide, 28 cities lost 50 percent or more of their construction jobs, including Boise, Idaho; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Medford, Ore.; and Merced, Calif., Sandherr noted.

The metro areas that lost the most construction jobs during the past four years, besides Phoenix, included Las Vegas (-61,900 jobs, -61 percent); Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (-57,700 jobs, -51 percent); the Atlanta area (-57,700 jobs, -42 percent); and the Los Angeles area (-56,200 jobs, -37 percent).

Lake Havasu City-Kingman (-65 percent, -4,200 jobs) and Bend, Ore. (-65 percent, -5,200 jobs) lost the highest percentage of construction jobs of any metro area. They were followed by St. George, Utah (-62 percent, -5,200 jobs); Las Vegas; and Naples, Fla. (-61 percent, -13,700 jobs).

Only 14 metro areas added construction jobs during the past four years, while employment levels were unchanged in another six. The five metro areas with the largest construction employment gains were all in Texas: Beaumont-Port Arthur (3,400 jobs, 21 percent); Longview (3,100 jobs, 26 percent); Midland (2,100 jobs, 15 percent); El Paso (1,900 jobs, 14 percent); and Odessa (1,800 jobs, 17 percent).

Pascagoula, Miss., experienced the highest percentage increase in construction employment (47 percent, 1,600 jobs) during the past four years. Other metro areas adding a high percentage of construction jobs included Longview; Beaumont-Port Arthur; Lawton, Okla. (20 percent, 300 jobs); and Odessa.

“In too many metro areas, the construction industry is a mere shadow of what it was just four years ago,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, who prepared the new employment analysis. “This new data should make it pretty clear that the sector’s revival is anything but guaranteed.”

Sandherr said the recovery plan emphasizes boosting private sector demand, which once accounted for 76 percent of all construction activity, but now accounts for only 60 percent. It calls for approving pending trade agreements to boost demand for manufacturing and shipping facilities, repealing the alternative minimum tax and making permanent the tax cuts that were first put in place in 2001 and 2003.

The plan also identifies new tax credits to encourage retail and restaurant upgrades, improve the efficiency of commercial buildings and help contractors invest in new, more efficient construction equipment. And it urges Congress and the Administration to finally end the double taxation of U.S-based businesses that succeed in international markets.

Sandherr noted the plan includes measures to tackle infrastructure problems that cost American businesses an estimated $100 billion a year due to delays and lost productivity. It calls for significant reforms to federal surface, aviation and waterways programs. And it urges federal officials to refocus on efforts that are clearly in the national interest, streamline the years-long federal review process, and find new ways to leverage private sector dollars.

Sandherr added that the plan also includes comprehensive measures to reduce costly, time consuming and needless regulatory burdens. It calls on Congress to pass legislation limiting major new regulations, reform the approval process for new highway and transit projects and oppose well-meaning labor and Buy American mandates that do little to create new jobs and a lot to add costs and delay work.

The plan also highlights the need to repeal a costly new mandate set to begin next year that requires governments at all levels to withhold three percent of the cost of virtually all major construction projects from contractors. “For an industry where most firms are lucky to make three percent in profit on a project, this new mandate will either put a lot of people out of work or needlessly inflate the cost of public construction,” Sandherr cautioned.

BIG Green Conference & Expo

Speaker: Kirsten Shaw ~ BIG Green Expo & Conference 2011

Kirsten Shaw, AE3Q

Kirsten Shaw is a Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant, a Building Performance Institute (BPI) Building Analyst and Shell certified professional and a RESNET HERS Rater.She provides certification training for future energy auditors and home performance contractors for both BPI and RESNET. She earned a master’s degree in environmental science from ASU and has been working to improve our built environments for over 15 years.

Topic: Defining Energy Audits: With APS & SRP promoting and paying for utility customers to get energy audits, learn exactly what these are and how to know you’re getting the real deal.

Conference Speaker
Friday, April 15, 2011
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Room 157

BIG Green Conference 2011


 

BIG Green Expo
Friday & Saturday
April 15th & 16th 2011
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

 



BIG Green Expo & Conference 2011

Speaker: Kevin Woodhurst ~ BIG Green Expo & Conference 2011

Kevin Woodhurst, Dolphin Pools and Spas

Kevin Woodhurst, Dolphin Pools & Spas

Kevin Woodhurst has been building and promoting energy efficient pools since 1996.

The companies that he has owned or worked with utilize the latest technologies and standards in order to deliver consumer and environmentally projects that save or conserve natural resources. Kevin has been a student to the pool industry for many years and as such has held or holds more certifications than nearly anyone in the country.

In Kevin’s words he says, “It is still not enough, you must go out every day and try to be better and learn something new”. Kevin is a well known industry expert and participates nationally and internationally in many industry forums.

He has won multiple local, state and national awards but still enjoys the smile on the face of a satisfied client more than anything.


Topic: Energy-Efficient Pools

Conference Speaker
Friday, April 15, 2011
1:45 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
Room 155

BIG Green Conference 2011

 


BIG Green Expo
Friday & Saturday
April 15th & 16th 2011
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

 



Sponsors:

Real Estate/Construction in Arizona

Construction Spending Up 0.7%, Driven By Surge In Power, Public Projects

Total construction spending increased by 0.7 percent in October, driven largely by growing demand for power projects and public construction, the Associated General Contractors of America noted today in an analysis of new Census Bureau data.

The new data, however, indicated continued weakness in many construction categories, including private nonresidential and single family construction, association officials observed.

“Without any upward trend in key private-sector construction components like homes and office buildings, it is hard to feel optimistic about the near future,” says Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “With public construction at risk of cutbacks, it is premature to conclude that construction has awakened from its long nightmare.”

Simonson added that power construction increased by 8.8 percent between September and October at a seasonally adjusted rate, although the total remained 3.9 percent below the year-ago level. Public construction, aided by federal spending on stimulus, military base realignment and Gulf Coast hurricane-control projects, edged up 0.4 percent for the month and 2.2 percent year-over-year.

Private nonresidential construction, however, slumped 0.7 percent in October, leaving the total 20.7 percent below the October 2009 figure. All 11 of the Census Bureau’s private nonresidential categories were below year-ago levels, Simonson added, with only private power and transportation showing gains from September.

Private residential investment jumped 2.5 percent for the month. However, Simonson cautioned that the apparent leap is attributable to a 3.2 percent advance in new multi-family construction and a 6.2 percent rise in improvements to existing properties, whereas single-family construction sank 1.2 percent for the month.

Association officials said that a proposal released today by the Deficit Commission to increase investments in highways, bridges and transit system construction provided some room for optimism. They urged Congress to embrace the transportation proposal, noting it would help the economy over the long run while giving a much-needed boost to short term construction demand.

“The best way to reduce the deficit and simultaneously support a strong and expanding economy is to invest in our aging network of highways, bridges and transit systems,” said Stephen E. Sandherr. “Even as the broader report calls for dramatic reductions in federal spending, it is clear that our country can’t afford to neglect its infrastructure.”

Southwest Build-it-Green Expo & Conference

Speaking Opportunities At The Annual Southwest Build-It-Green Conference

Don’t miss out! The annual Southwest Build-It-Green Expo & Conference is scheduled for April 15-16, 2011 and speaking opportunities are still available! Fill out your speaker form (PDF) today.

As the largest sustainability expo in Arizona, this is one event you won’t want to miss. Last year’s expo attracted more than 200 exhibitors and 10,000 attendees, with topics ranging from green awareness, to solar power, LEED certification, water filtration, and many more.

BIG also features guest speakers of local, national and international prominence. Among some of the speakers last year were Anthony Floyd, AIA, LEED-AP Green Building Manager for the City of Scottsdale; Dr. Tom Rogers, professor and Chair of Construction Management at Northern Arizona University; Diane Brossart, president of Valley Forward; James Brew from the Rocky Mountain Institute; Lori Singleton, manager of Sustainability Initiatives and Technologies at Salt River Project and many more.

In addition to the conference, the exhibits showcase products such as eco-friendly appliances and environmentally conscious landscaping techniques that aim to reduce Arizona’s carbon footprint. There are a wide variety of topics and something for everyone – homeowners and businesses alike.

For more information visit www.builditgreenexpo.com.

Sluggish Demand for Office Space in Phoenix

Sluggish Demand for Office Space in Metro Phoenix Continues

The Phoenix office market continued to feel the effects of a sluggish and wavering economy, according to Cassidy Turley BRE Commercial’s 3Q 2010 office market trends report released today.

Economic indicators remain mixed causing uncertainty as to whether our economy is headed into a “double dip” recession or a period of slow growth. The best word to describe market conditions during the third quarter is flat. Net absorption was negative for the second time this year and the overall vacancy rate increased 30 basis points to finish at an all-time high of 27.9%.

Tempe/South Chandler and 44th Street Corridor posted the largest gains in net absorption; collectively they gained more than 257,590 SF in the third quarter. Downtown North and Airport Area were the two submarkets with the largest declines in occupancy; they collectively lost 221,927 SF during the third quarter. The majority of leasing activity has been in space that is an upgrade to the tenant’s prior location, otherwise known as “flight to quality.”

This has been a trend for several quarters, as nearly all positive absorption, both the quarter and year-to-date, have come from either Class A buildings or new construction. Class A average asking rates continue
to decline as landlords compete for tenants by offering heavy concessions and discounted rates. Class A rental rates dropped nearly 2 percent in the third quarter to finish at $25.07.

With the extreme over-supply of space, overall asking rental rates will continue to soften but at a slower pace and should reach bottom within the next 12 months. Office market leasing is likely to remain flat through 2010 and improve gradually into 2011 as businesses start to add jobs and tenants take advantage of reduced rates. Landlords that have weathered the recession, remained financially strong and adjusted to current market conditions should start to see some relief as tenant demand gradually improves.

With large blocks of premium office space available, lower rental rates, a high quality of life, affordable housing and great weather, Metro Phoenix is positioned to attract companies looking to relocate or add to their current operations. These factors should improve leasing and owner occupant demand bringing some relief to the office sector.

Vacancy Rising in Phoenix

Vacancy Rising In Phoenix Despite Construction Pullback

Though employment growth will stimulate an increase in retail sales in 2010, the job additions will not be sufficient to prevent the vacancy rate in Phoenix from rising for the fifth consecutive year, according to the latest Retail Research market update from Marcus & Millichap.

Unlike previous years when excessive construction drove vacancy increases, lagging demand has become the anchor on the market. The pace of store closures clearly has slowed, but too few retailers have emerged to open new locations in the vacant space that has amassed. With the vacancy rate nearing its highest level in 20 years, rents continue to fall as tenants exercise the upper hand in discussions with owners.

Rents have yet to settle at a new, lower market level and may not reach their low point until late next year. The upside of reduced rents, however, has been a sharp decline in construction, as many projects simply no longer pencil for developers. After deliveries averaged 5.5 million square feet of new space each year during the past decade, a fraction of that total will come online in 2010.

Although the slowdown in construction represents a positive trend in a market with frequent overbuilding spells, the lack of properties under construction will restrain sales of new single-tenant, net-leased assets. As in other markets around the country, single-tenant properties net-leased to top-rated corporate tenants generate intense bidding when listed. In fact, cap rates for nationally branded drugstores and fast-food properties have fallen about 50 basis points since early this year to around 7 percent, with ground leases commanding even lower first-year returns.

In the multi-tenant segment, buyers have intensified searches for suitable listings, but the ongoing reduction in rents continues to present challenges to arriving at valuations upon which owners and prospective buyers can agree. Current underwriting assumes additional increases in vacancy and further rent reductions, such that cap rates must vary from 10 percent to 11 percent to generate bids. Among specific properties, those with tenants that signed leases at the peak of the market
in 2006 and 2007 invariably face the prospect of re-leasing space at substantially lower rents when leases expire.

2010 Annual Retail Forecast

Employment: Government employment will decline over the second half due to the termination of census jobs and budget constraints at the state and local levels, while private
sector employers will hire conservatively. As a result, total employment will expand 0.8 percent in 2010, or by 13,700 jobs. Last year, 116,000 positions were cut.
Construction: Developers will complete 500,000 square feet of space this year, the lowest annual total in 30 years. In 2009, approximately 2.9 million square feet came online. Planned projects total 28 million square feet, although none has a scheduled start date.
Vacancy: The vacancy rate will increase 70 basis points this year to 12.6 percent, as store closures and a lack of new demand will result in negative net absorption of 721,000 square feet. Vacancy spiked 260 basis points last year and most recently surpassed 12 percent, a level last reached in 1991.
Rents: This year, asking rents will decrease 1.3 percent to $18.11 per square foot, following a 5.5 percent dip in 2009. Effective rents will slide 2.6 percent to $15.13 per square foot, compared with a 9.1 percent drop last year.

Arizona Home & Building Expo

Home & Building Expo 2010

The 2010 Arizona Home & Building Expo took place September 10th through 12th. Typically 20,000 people attend the annual Expo where they find companies involved in home improvement, interior design, solar energy, home building products and services, and more. Exhibits are targeted to the residential consumer and those in the design and building industry. Arizona Home & Building Expo for 2010

Bejewelted Poolz

Envizon

eXpress

H20 Concepts

Hardscape

Harper's

Innovative Wine Cellar

Kinetico

Lumber Liquidator$

Masterscapes

Pep Solar

Rosie on the House

Sanderson Ford

Sentsy

Arizona Stone

Sun Valley

Waste Management

South West Build it Green


Housing Development

Shea Homes Again Ranks Highest In Customer Satisfaction Among New-Home Builders In Valley, Report Indicates

For the third straight year, Shea Homes ranks highest in customer satisfaction with new-home builders in the Phoenix market, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 New-Home Builder Customer Satisfaction Study released today.

“The downturn of the housing market — along with intensified competition for a very limited pool of home buyers — has reinforced the importance of customer focus for new-home builders,” says Dale Haines, senior director of the real estate and construction industries practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “In this buyers’ market, builders that are attentive to customer needs and focus on relationship building stand the best chance of enduring through the market recovery.”

The study, now in its 14th year, includes satisfaction rankings for builders in 17 markets. Nine factors drive overall customer satisfaction with new-home builders: builder’s sales staff; builder’s warranty/customer service staff; workmanship/materials; price/value; home readiness; construction manager; recreational facilities provided by the builder; builder’s design center; and location.

Shea Homes achieved a score of 922 on a 1,000-point scale in 2010 — which represents an increase of 19 points from 903 in 2009 — and performs particularly well in the Phoenix market in six of the nine factors: builder’s sales staff; builder’s design center; construction manager; workmanship/materials; home readiness; and builder’s warranty/customer service staff.

The average customer satisfaction index score in the Phoenix market is 872 — 46 points above the 17-market average of 826. Satisfaction has improved substantially in the Phoenix market in 2010 — up 29 points from 2009.

Overall customer satisfaction across all 17 markets has improved for a third consecutive year, averaging 826 — the highest level since the inception of the study in 1997. Markets with the highest levels of overall satisfaction in 2010 include Phoenix, Las Vegas, southern California, Orlando, Fla., and Sacramento, Calif. Overall satisfaction has increased in 15 of the 17 individual markets that were also surveyed in 2009.

Centex Homes ranks highest in new-home quality in the Phoenix market. Home quality in the Phoenix market has improved considerably from 2009, averaging 856 in 2010 — up by 26 points from the previous year.

The problems reported most often in this market include: landscaping issues, exterior paint, and kitchen cabinet quality/finish.

Overall new-home quality across all 17 markets has increased notably to an average of 844 in 2010, reaching a record high. Home quality has improved from 2009 in 15 of the 17 markets. Overall, the most commonly reported quality problems include issues with landscaping; kitchen cabinet quality and finish; and heating and air conditioning.

New-home builders have improved from 2009 in raising awareness of the “green” features of their homes. Approximately 61 percent of new-home owners in the Phoenix market in 2010 perceive that their home is environmentally friendly, compared with just 31 percent in 2009. In addition, the proportion of new-home owners in the Phoenix market who indicate that their builder did not identify the home as green has declined to 51 percent in 2010 from 63 percent in 2009.

“In this hypercompetitive market, green features have become a crucial selling point, since new-home buyers are seeking to save on energy costs, as well as to increase the value of their home,” Haines says.

To be included in the studies, Phoenix-area builders must have closed 150 or more homes in the market in 2009. The new homes are located in Maricopa and Pinal counties.

The studies are based on responses from more than 16,400 buyers of newly built single-family homes that provided feedback after living in their home from 4 to 18 months, on average. There were 1,641 respondents in the Phoenix market.

For rankings for all 17 U.S. markets, visit www.jdpower.com/homes.

Illustration of suburb with recycle logo

Sustainability Is Possible In The Suburbs. Really.

Is it possible to build a sustainable suburb? The answer depends largely upon your perspective.

Of course, sustainability is a word freely associated these days with eco-friendly building materials, alternative energy and “living off the grid,” and is usually used in conjunction with the concepts of urban living, light-rail and transportation-oriented development. However, some of the first sustainable buildings were lovingly referred to as “land ships,” and built far from cities.

The deserts of Taos, N.M., for example, still host these forward-thinking renegade buildings dating back to the late 1960s and 1970s, and were colorfully branded by many as “crazy hippy stuff.”  And certainly these buildings are a far cry from the buildings and locations we think of as locations of sustainable development today.

Arizona has long been associated with sprawl, and frankly it’s the reason why the sustainable movement has been slow to catch. However, with a struggling economy and real estate development virtually at a standstill, it’s important to think beyond our limited frame of reference. But the suburb? Can it really be sustainable?  Our twin love affair with privacy and the automobile has made the suburb far from a likely place to orchestrate sustainability. Places where garages line streets instead of trees and retail buildings have walls around them virtually imposing a drive instead of a walk. But there is a sustainable sun on the horizon.

Arizona State University’s Stardust Resource Center has created a Growing Sustainable Communities Initiative, and its strategies for growing sustainable communities in the Valley of the Sun include:

  • Promoting mixed land uses
  • A range of housing types
  • Thriving economies
  • Environmentally responsive design
  • Having a variety of transportation choices
  • Compact development
  • Making places safe
  • Promoting healthy living
  • Community engagement

 

I could write four pages about each of those points, but essentially they mean: building sustainably occurs block-by-block, street-by-street, house-by-house. It is an organic process and there is no cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all approach. In fact, the standard of cookie cutter replication is what has created much of the challenges in every community built after 1950 in Arizona.

To be successful, it is imperative that we change our standard “square mile” approach to development, where commercial businesses exist only on the edges and residential homes on the interior and there is virtually no interplay between them. No parks, and no tree-lined streets. A better strategy is to develop on the quarter-mile, where neighborhoods have work and play uses and schools and shopping centers interact with residential neighborhoods through a network of paths and pedestrian/bike connections — just like the village concepts of the historic neighborhoods built prior to the 1950s. Ask any Midwesterner what they miss about home and I’ll bet they say their “neighborhoods.” There’s a reason why.

What the sustainable movement is advocating is greater creativity on the developer side and less regulation and restrictions on the government side. Scott Carlin, an associate professor of geography at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University, makes an excellent case for a deeper theory of sustainability. He suggests we re-invigorate ties to cities and villages, by building new homes only where there are existing water and sewer lines, sidewalks, schools, businesses and the other infrastructure within a reasonably close radius. In other words, so we can get out of our cars and walk.

What about existing neighborhoods? Well, they can be re-imagined as sustainable by relaxing zoning code to allow for commercial uses consistent with vibrant neighborhoods and by resisting the status quo. It will also happen when residents advocate for and pursue the creation of public amenities like parks and pathways and tree-lined streets. Even the Urban Land Institute recognizes the opportunities suburbs represent because it’s where the biggest gains could be made. Still, it cautions that connecting the dots between suburban projects through effective sub-regional planning is essential.

It is possible for us to focus on more than buildings when we think of sustainability.  With a bit of imagination, and the commitment to integrate the principles of sustainability even on the outskirts of town, we can succeed. Surprisingly, in fact, we won’t be creating anything new. Because, it’s when we look to the past and incorporate the best of what it means to live in an American neighborhood we win. Sustainability is certainly a look to the future, but its reality and its secrets are grounded in our American past.

E012850

Greater Phoenix Economic Forecast 2011: “Painfully Slow”

The economy may be better in 2011 than it was in 2010, but the road to full recovery will remain long and full of potholes. But hey, it could be worse. It could be 2009.

That’s according to economist Elliott D. Pollack, CEO of Elliot D. Pollack & Company. Pollack was speaking at the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Outlook 2011 breakfast today at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa.

Pollack said population growth in the Valley should settle at 1 percent this year and rise to 2 percent in 2011. Net job growth will contract by 1 percent in 2010 and climb by 2 percent in 2011. Retail sales will increase 1 percent this year and rise by 8 percent next year. Building permits will increase by 20 percent in 2010 before jumping 50 percent in 2011.

In summarizing his 2011 forecast for the Valley, Pollack read a laundry list of good news and bad news:

  • The housing market is at or past bottom, but there are many negatives still trumping a full recovery, most notably slower migration flows.
  • The commercial real estate market is at or past bottom, but recovery will be slow and “take a long time.”
  • Sales tax revenues are no longer falling, but they aren’t growing quickly enough to fix the state’s battered budget.
  • Retail sales have past bottom and there is pent-up demand among consumers, however, those same consumers are still so worried about personal debt that they will continue to curb spending, thus thwarting a big recovery.

While Pollack said the Valley’s economic recovery will be “painfully slow,” he points out that a recovery is indeed underway. For example, the state’s standing in employment growth compared to the rest of the nation is gradually improving — but only after a precipitous decline. In 2006, Arizona ranked second in the nation in job growth; that dropped to 22nd in 2007; 47th in 2008; and 49th in 2009. Up to July of this year, the state had moved up to 42nd in job growth.

Another indication that the Valley’s economy is showing improvement is in the number of economic sectors that have shown net job gains. Of the state’s 12 major economic sectors, five have shown net job gains so far this year (education and health services; trade; leisure and hospitality; professional and business services; other services). That compares to the same time last year, when no economic sectors reported net job gains.

But, Pollack pointed out again, the Valley and state can’t expect the robust and recoveries that have accompanied past recessions.

He says the Valley’s housing market continues to be weighed down by:

  • Weak job growth
  • Tough underwriting standards
  • Negative home equity
  • Loan modification failures
  • High foreclosures
  • Option ARMs (adjustable rate mortgages) peaking in 2011

In terms of equity, 51 percent of houses in the state have negative equity. The national average is 23 percent. Such negative equity severely curtails people’s ability to buy and sell homes. In addition, supply still outstrips demand in the single-family home market, with an excess inventory of houses somewhere between 40,000 to 50,000 units, Pollack said. A balance between supply and demand will not be fully achieved until about 2014, he added.

The picture is bleaker for the commercial real estate market, with delinquencies on loans still very high. In the office market, Pollack cited forecasts from CB Richard Ellis that said vacancy rates would peak at 25.6 percent in 2010 before dropping to 23.9 percent in 2011. As Pollack pointed out, there currently is no multi-tenant office space under construction in the Valley. In fact, he expects “no significant office building in Greater Phoenix for the next five years.”

Industrial space vacancy rates are faring only slightly better, with CB Richard Ellis predicting year-end vacancy rates of 16.4 percent for 2010 before falling to 15.2 percent in 2011. As for the retail market, the vacancy rate will rise to 12.3 percent in 2010 and hit 12.9 percent in 2011.

For office, industrial and retail commercial real estate, Pollack said he did not expect vacancy rates to reach normal levels until 2014-2015.

Still, Pollack maintained that the economic outlook for the Valley “remains favorable,” thanks to the recovering national economy, increased affordable housing in the Valley, a rise in single-family home building permits, unemployment bottoming out, consumer spending improving and continued problems in California.

Flagstaff lost the highest percentage of construction jobs

Flagstaff Tops The Nation In Percentage of Construction Jobs Lost

Flagstaff lost the highest percentage of construction jobs between July 2009 and July of this year, as 276 of 337 metro areas nationally saw declines, according to the Associated General Contractors of America.

Flagstaff lost 700 construction jobs, a 32 percent dip from last year. The Chicago-Joliet-Naperville area lost the most construction jobs — 32,900, or 23 percent.

Statewide, Arizona lost 13,900 construction jobs (down 114,000 from 128,000), an 11 percent decrease. It was a decrease of 54 percent from the state’s peak in 2006, according to the AGCA.

The Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale area lost 8,600 construction jobs (down 86,600 from 95,200), a 9 percent loss; and Tucson lost 2,300 construction jobs (down 14,200 from 16,500), for a 14 percent dip. Yuma fared the best, experiencing just a 7 percent loss.

The employment figures, based on an analysis of federal employment data, demonstrate the widespread decline in demand for construction services that continues to outpace stimulus-funded work, association officials say.

“There is no doubt that we have seen an increase in stimulus activity this summer,” says Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Unfortunately, that increase in stimulus activity is largely being overshadowed by continuing declines in overall demand for construction that are likely to persist well into next year.”

Other areas experiencing large declines in construction employment are: Las Vegas (14,800 jobs, 24 percent); Houston (14,700 jobs, 8 percent); Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale (10,700 jobs, 9 percent); and Seattle-Bellevue-Everett (10,400 jobs, 14 percent).

Simonson says that 31 metro areas actually added construction jobs over the past 12 months, while another 30 areas experienced no change in construction employment.

The construction economist said the impacts of the stimulus can be seen in the fact that many of the construction employment declines metro areas are experiencing are less severe than just a month ago. The year-over-year construction employment declines in cities such as Las Vegas, Houston and Seattle are less severe than the figures recorded in June, Simonson adds. However, he says that too few cities were adding construction jobs to have any widespread impact on construction employment.

“As much as we would hate to see how much worse the construction employment figures would be without the stimulus, the fact is our industry is continuing to suffer even as some areas of the economy have begun to expand,” says Stephen Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “And with regular, long-term infrastructure bills stalled in Congress, it looks like construction workers will have little opportunity to continue rebuilding our economy.”

Road Made Out of Glass

Driving on Glass — Solar Roads of the Future

When I browse around the internet searching for the latest green news to write about on my blog I’ve come across some pretty cool stuff. But this takes the cake (so far) for providing me with a jaw-dropping moment of admiration.

A co-worker sent me an article from Scientific American titled: Driving on Glass? Inventor Hopes to Lay Down Solar Roads.

This sure got my attention.  Scott Brusaw, of Sagle, Idaho-based Solar Roadways hopes to make this headline a reality. He is working on building a prototype of his so-called “Solar Road Panel” —basically a road that will generate power every time you drive on it. Sounds crazy? That’s what I thought at first but then I read a little further.

The solar road panel prototype is 1,024 modules, with each containing a solar cell, a light-emitting diode and, someday, an ultracapacitor for storage—placed between a layer of some yet-to-be developed glass as well as a layer of conducting material.

Glass is certainly not what comes to mind when one thinks of building material for roads, but this won’t be your average glass. It will be textured to allow for water run-off and tire-grip for vehicles. Heating elements — similar to those you find in your car’s rear windshield — will help melt snow or ice and the road will be self-cleaning. And of course, it will be super strong and able to handle the extreme stress of having mass amounts of weight on it.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. This type of glass doesn’t exist — not yet anyway.

Brusaw is hoping to partner with researchers at Pennsylvania State University’s Materials Research Institute to develop it.

With $40,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Brusaw is currently building a prototype from chemically hardened glass panels and experimenting with various types of solar cells. The ultimate goal is to create a cross-country highway system that doubles as a national electricity generator and power grid.

The prototype is due to be tested in February of 2010. I’m curious to see how this turns out and what lies on the road ahead — literally.

Read more about solar roads here

construction companies

Construction Companies Can Be Exposed To Lawsuits When Assisting The Government During An Emergency

Imagine that you own a construction company and one of your employees comes in and tells you that the two largest buildings in town have collapsed. You receive a phone call a few days later from a government official who informs you that the police and fire department need your construction company to send heavy equipment and demolition crews to the site of the collapsed buildings to help remove large pieces of debris in order to save people’s lives.

Some large construction companies in New York were faced with that exact situation after the Sept. 11 attacks. The construction companies that helped clean up the World Trade Center disaster site were responsible for removing one-and-a-half-million tons of debris that covered many city blocks. Before long, the workers who were removing the debris started getting sick, as did police officers and firefighters who were stationed at the disaster site. Many of them have filed lawsuits against numerous entities, including the construction companies that were called upon to help with the debris removal effort.

The construction companies failed in a recent attempt to dismiss the lawsuits on grounds that they were immune from liability because they responded to an emergency situation.

Any business that decides to help in an emergency must protect itself, or face the legal consequences of the almost inevitable mistakes and accidents that will happen. With careful planning and prudent oversight, you can protect your business from lawsuits related to its help in an emergency or disaster situation in the state of Arizona.
Arizona’s immunity statute

The statute A.R.S. § 26-314(A) provides immunity for the state of Arizona and its political subdivisions (i.e., counties, cities and other local governments) for the actions or inactions of its “emergency workers.” The statute states that “emergency workers” shall have the same immunities as agents of the state of Arizona and its political subdivisions performing similar work. The term “emergency worker” is defined in part as “any person who is … an officer, agent, or employee of this state or a political subdivision of this state and who is called on to perform or support emergency management activities or perform emergency management functions.” Therefore, the only way to be sure your business is immune from lawsuits related to its assistance to the state or city government in a disaster or emergency situation is to wait until the government “calls on” your business to provide help.

Your business must always operate as an “agent” of the government to be considered an “emergency worker” and maintain its immunity. Your business will be considered an agent of the government if the government has the right to control the conduct of your business as it performs its work. Thus, you should determine who is in charge of the emergency site, and you should offer assistance to that person. You should seek detailed instructions from the person in charge and make sure it is clear that your business is operating under that person’s authority.

Should your business enter into a contract with the government to perform emergency services, then the rules change significantly. The provisions of the statute would still apply; however, a business that enters into a contract with the government would be considered an independent contractor. An independent contractor is an “agent” only if the government instructs the independent contractor on “what to do, not how to do it.” Therefore, when your business enters into a contract to help the government in an emergency situation, you must make sure the contract provides your business with control over the process and/or methods that it uses to do its work.

Of course, the Arizona Legislature can amend the statute to include immunity for any business entity that renders assistance during an emergency. If businesses were provided with clear protection under the statute, there would be no need for them to worry about being an “agent” of the government, and it would persuade more businesses to render assistance to the government in an emergency.