How the challenges of 2021 can be solved by construction innovation in 2022
Denver, Colo. (December 13, 2021) – From building the data centers that power the remote world to reshaping the future of sports arenas, experts say the critical role construction plays in everyday life will be brought to the forefront in 2022. PCL Construction executives from across the company share the challenges, solutions, and opportunities the new year offers the industry.
Manufacturing will move stateside to alleviate supply chain woes and security concerns
After a year of watching shipping containers pile up in ports, more American companies may begin to bring manufacturing back to the States in 2022 and 2023. While the move is in no small part a response to deficiencies in the U.S. supply chain, Andrew Ahrendt, PCL’s director of manufacturing, says the trend of reshoring operations was started before the pandemic’s onset.
“Global supply chains are complex. For many reasons, even before COVID-19 we were beginning to see microchip manufacturing move back to the U.S. out of security concerns raised by the U.S. defense department surrounding hardware made overseas,” Ahrendt says. “These are the same microchips that power everything from smart phones to electric cars to satellites.”
Politics play a role too. Both the recently passed U.S. Infrastructure and Jobs Act and the Build Back Better Act, currently being reviewed by the U.S. Senate, include “Buy America” requirements. Ahrendt says many countries are also bringing manufacturing back home to become less dependent on foreign governments.
“Canada is a great example – they had to wait to begin vaccinations until COVID-19 vaccines could be imported. Throughout North America we’re beginning to see growth in construction of pharmaceutical manufacturing plants as countries strive to become self-reliant,” Ahrendt says.
From bio-life to household goods, 2022 could offer opportunity for contractors ready to take on the extremely technical projects of constructing manufacturing facilities, Ahrendt says.
Stadiums will be renovated with millennials in mind as World Cup adds to growing soccer enthusiasm
As many of the country’s top stadiums turn 20, PCL’s sports experts say 2022 could bring a wave of renovations. A lot has changed since the stadium construction boom of the late 90s (the advent of smart phones, for one) which means many of the country’s top arenas will likely keep millennials top of mind as they plan their updates.
“A game is no longer enough to attract people to the stadium,” says Dale Koger, vice president of sports and convention centers for PCL. “Millennials need more to hold their attention, which is why we’re seeing arenas install craft cocktail bars and lounges for phone charging. Sometimes a ticket doesn’t even include a reserved seat – it’s an access pass to the new entertainment sections built in the arena.”
Gary Birdsall, also vice president of sports and convention centers, worked on renovations to the Qatar stadiums that will host the FIFA World Cup in 2022. He predicts November’s tournament will bolster growing enthusiasm for the sport.
“The mostly non-stop 90-minute format of a soccer game fits some millennial attentions spans more than an entire Sunday watching football,” Birdsall says. “Over the past few years, there’s been growing interest in constructing soccer stadiums in the U.S., and I expect this trend will continue to grow.”
The Los Angeles Football Club’s Banc of California Stadium, completed by PCL in 2018, serves as an example of the next generation of stadiums. The award-winning facility offers 100,000 square feet of space for guest entertainment, including a cocktail lounge and relaxing terrace where visitors can enjoy refreshments. The world-class facility has been proposed as a potential location for the 2026 World Cup.
Diversity, equity and inclusion efforts will be critical as contractors work to grow the labor force
While the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act could offer billions of dollars in government contracts for the construction industry, the continued labor shortage has many wondering if there will be enough workers to get the job done.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 92% of contractors reported moderate to high levels of difficulty finding skilled workers in Q3 of 2021, with 42% having to turn down work due to the skilled labor shortages.
“Recruitment will continue to be a focus for all major construction players in 2022,” says Deron Brown, president and chief operating officer for PCL’s U.S. operations. He adds that diversity, equity and inclusion, among other efforts, will be critical to growth. “If the industry is going to build our workforce, we need to make sure our job sites create an open and welcoming environment for all with clear paths for growth and development. This includes reaching out to often overlooked populations and offering new opportunities to those who may not have previously considered a career in construction.”
Through its workforce development program, PCL partners with local organizations that reach out to women, veterans, previously incarcerated individuals and other groups to invite them to start a career in construction.
Innovation in sustainability will accelerate – starting with data center construction
From sun to sea, tech giants are working to minimize the environmental impact of data centers. As part of their efforts to achieve carbon neutrality, companies are building data centers powered by solar panels and experimenting with liquid immersion cooling, where servers are submerged in tanks of specially designed fluid to keep them from overheating. Companies are also looking for renewable fuels to power currently diesel backup generators.
“Scrutiny of the environmental impact of data centers is only going to intensify as our society becomes increasingly reliant on cloud computing – thanks in no small part to the work from home revolution,” says Sean Mulligan, PCL director of data centers and mission critical. “Data center owners are really leading the charge, so I expect advancements in green computing to accelerate as it increasingly becomes a requirement from the communities they build and operate in.”
About PCL Construction
PCL is a group of independent construction companies that carries out work across the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, and in Australia. These diverse operations in the civil infrastructure, heavy industrial, and buildings markets are supported by a strategic presence in more than 30 major centers. Together, these companies have an annual construction volume of more than $6 billion USD, making PCL one of the largest contracting organizations in North America. Watch us build at www.pcl.com.