Twice year, the American Institute of Architects rounds up projections from various construction economists — working at places like Wells Fargo and McGraw-Hill Construction — and puts together an “industry consensus” on the future of Nonresidential Construction.

It’s out again. The “bottom line” estimate — Nonres in ’14 to come in + 4.9%, followed by a heaping gulp of + 8.9% in ’15.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 4.56.15 AM

Here’s the article. But don’t miss the page presenting the above graphic, which is “interactive” — and worth studying.

On this page, you can not only see the graphic above FULL SIZE, but you can use your computer to see specific data from each of the contributing entities. For example, I discovered that Wells Fargo has the numbers at +2.5% for ’14 and +7.5% for ’15 . . . while IHS Global Insight is at +9.2% for this year and +10.8% for next.

. . . of course, even a low-ball + 7.5% for next year does not sound so bad, does it?

From a US Builders Review article on Davis Pickering & Co. of Ohio:

 “Even throughout the recent recession, when many contractors had difficulty maintaining work for employees, our leadership has been in recovery mode,” he continues. “Our biggest concern was being able to keep profitable work in order to maintain key people.

“Both 2009 and 2010 were slow and we had to reduce staff, but we worked very hard during that recessionary period. We spent a lot of time pursuing education to become leaner and more efficient in our industry. We were able to retain or get a lot of our staff back, which made coming out of the recession easier. We also used our slow time during the recession to further develop our safety program.”

Williamson foresees gradual recovery in the market. “Things are looking up,” he elaborates. “We have a marketing program focused on getting our name out there. The program uses projections of what we want to do each year and then develops strategies to meet those goals. We keep an eye on market trends to decide which areas to grow into.”


So it says here at the Energy Harvesting Journal


That’s what this article tries to do.

power consumption_0

Points worth thinking about (you don’t have to be “sold” on the ZH conclusion to just ponder some of this) –

  • US power consumption peaked in 2006 (red line), approximately in line with the peak in the US housing market, and the trend line has flatlined since.
  • By definition a peak in consumption means that any new capacity additions, for instance to accommodate incremental renewable energy production, will need to be made at the expense of existing production capacity, which in turn will affect plant efficiencies and so forth. That being said, there is a considerable amount of coal-fired capacity, possibly even nuclear, that will be coming off-line in the coming years mainly due to environmental regulations, so it will be interesting to see how all of this will play out in the US power markets.
  • The last intra-cycle power consumption peak was recorded in 2011, broadly in line with the recent global peak in commodity prices. While most commodity price analysis commentary focuses on China as the “marginal” buyer, it seems the US still plays an important role not only as a supplier but also as a consumer.

It’s going to come about due to Climate Change — or the many folks and politicians in the U.S. determined to ignore it — according to this coverage of what Hank Paulson, former Secretary of the Treasury, had to say recently.

This has been remarked upon in various circles — a Republican type is talking about the dangers of Climate Change!!! Here Grist’s concluding paragraph:

In other words: Caution is the new risk. Paulson’s mechanism for mitigating that risk is such a fundamentally conservative approach that it’s a reminder of how much the dialogue on climate change has shifted within the Republican Party. It’s strange to be applauding Paulson for breaking ranks when, just a few years ago, the ranks were exactly where he is now. But hooray anyway.

- – - -

But wait a minute:

1. Market crashes are caused by greed and a lack of fear — in other words, stupidity. So Paulson might have it right.

2. Paulson got a lot wrong, over a long period of time. Unmentioned in the article is Paulson’s key role BEFORE he became Treasury Secretary (2006) — in advocating and urging (on behalf of Goldman Sachs) the destruction of various regulations that held financial speculation in place.

3. Even in 2006, the crash of 2007-09 was foreseeable. Paulson did little or nothing, until it was almost too late. Even some of the things he did, which get “credit” for helping to forestall a Depression, might ultimately be decided (by historians, perhaps) to have been destructive.

4. It is the EleBog’s conviction that (a) we are still IN a Depression, right this very moment, and (b) all of the (somewhat stupid) experimental idiotic attempts going on RIGHT NOW to lessen its impacts will, in the end, ultimately result in yet one more Crash. OF COURSE THIS COULD BE WRONG . . . but it this “next crash” happens, it won’t be Climate Change that caused it.

A report on a recent solar conference included this:

(bolding by EleBlog)

At the 2014 PVAmerica Conference an Expo keynote, Governor Deval Patrick took the stage to explain why Massachusetts has become one of the top solar states in the nation: forward thinking.

“Government has an important role — we need to govern for the next generation, rather than the next election or news cycle. My administration has consistently had an eye towards that future…that’s what our emphasis on clean technology is all about,” he said. “If it establishes clean energy tomorrow and jobs today, why on earth would we not pursue that path…It exemplifies what it means to bear our generational responsibility.”

Indeed, the Massachusetts government has seemingly been practicing what it preaches. Over the past seven years the Massachusetts economy has grown 60 percent faster than the nation as a whole. It has not only regained all jobs lost since the recession, but it is at the highest level of employment in 25 years. According to Patrick, clean energy is a big part of that rebound.

“Conventional thinking often says that clean energy is an economic drag. It turns out that that is false. The Massachusetts economy is not only unharmed, but stronger because of our investments,” said Patrick.

It’s an article — and also a large infographic (both found here).

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 4.29.55 AM

The total cost — adding up taxes, essentials, extras, and savings — gts to $130,000. The slice above is just essentials. This is for a family of

Perhaps you can trim the $17K in “extras” (vacation, entertainment, etc.). But you can’t get rid of the taxes. And maybe you can avoid “Savings” ($17.5K for the 401K, $5,000 for college savings for the kids) — but you almost certainly should not.

Of additional note: This “American Dream” estimate — and lifestyle — is not about living like some sort of royal family:

In an interview, co-author Thomas Hirschl, a professor at Cornell University, stressed that for the dozens of people they surveyed and interviewed, the American dream was not about becoming one of the 1%.

“It’s not about getting rich and making a lot of money. It’s about security,” he said. It’s also as much about hope for the next generation as it is about the success of this one. “They want to feel that their children are going to have a better life than they do,” said Hirschl.

- – - – -

EleBlog perspective:

1 – of course, relative to many billions living right now on Planet Earth, living this $130K lifestyle IS tantamount to living like a king-and-queen.

2 – what’s really going on is that — over the longer term — the U.S. has squandered the huge advantages it had (primarily in the period 1946-1964, or extend that to 1972 if you like) that made the middle-class lifestyle so idyllic.

3 – is the cost of extending a slightly higher global standard of living — think of the millions in India and China that are living better now than in 1972 — a reduction in the things an average American can afford? It’s a question worth dwelling upon, and not for just the next 4 seconds!


Energy storage offers advantages — but at a high cost. Deployment of ES, according to this Greentech Media analysis, “will remain limited to high-power-cost markets” — where it will help electric power companies integrate distribute solar power.

Graphic from the piece (one of several) –

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 4.25.52 AM

A word-slice:

Battery storage can combine the speed and granularity of power electronics with the dispatch of both real and reactive power. This gives many battery solutions significant advantages over traditional grid infrastructure and newer power electronics-based solutions, especially when used for the mitigation of the negative effects of high-penetration solar and intermittent generation sources.

However, high prices are expected to continue to limit its wide-scale deployment to remote grids, leaving opportunities for other secondary and substation-based power electronics solutions in continental grids.

Screen Shot 2014-07-26 at 5.07.17 PM

From an MIT news release:

A new material structure developed at MIT generates steam by soaking up the sun.

The structure — a layer of graphite flakes and an underlying carbon foam — is a porous, insulating material structure that floats on water. When sunlight hits the structure’s surface, it creates a hotspot in the graphite, drawing water up through the material’s pores, where it evaporates as steam. The brighter the light, the more steam is generated.

The new material is able to convert 85 percent of incoming solar energy into steam — a significant improvement over recent approaches to solar-powered steam generation. What’s more, the setup loses very little heat in the process, and can produce steam at relatively low solar intensity.

This would mean that, if scaled up, the setup would likely not require complex, costly systems to highly concentrate sunlight.

From US Builders Review’s article on Rydalch Electric (REI):

eBay has decided to call Draper, Utah, its new corporate home. The 36-acre, two building campus was designed by the San Francisco office of architecture and engineering firm SmithGroupJJR and constructed by Okland Construction, also a Salt Lake City-based company.

Due to the team’s notable work, REI won a spot on the high-profile project as the lead electrical contractor on the design-assist project. The site consists of the main office, or marketplace, a three-story, 188,835-square-foot facility with an open-office environment, 37 conference rooms and other support spaces.

The second structure on the campus is the single-story community building. At 52,260 square feet, this building features a 400-seat, high-tech auditorium, six large training rooms, a 300-seat dining area, a gym, coffee bar and gift shop.


“eBay is one of the most significant design-build projects we have ever completed,” reveals Rydalch. Despite a tough timeline and a variety of trades working simultaneously, construction and electrical outfits of both buildings were completed in just 11 months.