Top U.S. cities for women in construction

Men outnumber women in construction, substantially, but more women continue to join the field and often at higher wages than they would in other careers.

Women make up 10% of the construction workforce — 1.1 million women, compared to 9.9 million men — according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Despite the gap in the number of workers, women in construction make nearly $47,000 a year, more than their non-construction counterparts, who make about $43,400.

The opposite is true for men, who often make less in construction than they do in other careers. The pay gap for men and women is also smaller in construction, at 3.7% compared to 19% across all fields.

 

In a new analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Construction Coverage magazine broke down the cities in the U.S. with the highest share of women construction workers.  Here are the top 20 large U.S. cities (population of 350,000 or more) by their share of female construction workers:

Rank City Female employment share Median annual earning
1 Minneapolis 19.1% $54,521
2 Seattle 17.6% $70,966
3 San Francisco 17% $70,711
4 Washington, D.C. 16.1% $52,035
5 Virginia Beach, Virginia 15.5% $52,325
6 Colorado Springs, Colorado 15.4% $55,363
7 Atlanta 14.6% $44,346
8 El Paso, Texas 14.1% $35,710
9 Charlotte, North Carolina 13.6% $36,988
10 Wichita, Kansas 13.4% $40,067
11 San Diego 13.3% $53,990
12 Tampa, Florida 13.3% $53,990
13 Kansas City, Missouri 13.1% $41,742
14 Portland, Oregon 13% $63,892
15 Baltimore 12.3% $50,740
16 Louisville, Kentucky 12.1% $46,560
17 New Orleans 11.9% $37,300
18 Austin, Texas 11.8% $40,595
19 Denver 11.7% $49,437
20 Columbus, Ohio 11.7% $40,913

SOURCE: Analysis of U.S. Census Bureau Data by Construction Coverage

 

The number of women with the title construction manager increased by 101%, from 49,400 to 99,4000, between 2015 and 2019, according to a recent study by Smart Asset.  That made it the third highest grossing position for women in that time period.

More women also began working as construction and maintenance painters (a 64% increase to 53,300) and construction laborers (a 50% increase to 71,800).  The number of women who chose careers as civil engineers also grew by 46%, from 45,400 to 66,000.

The Smart Asset study used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which tracks information on jobs in all industries. Its most recent analysis shows that the construction jobs popular with women have a range of salaries, from about $156,000 for the high end of a construction manager salary to a high end of about $68,000 for laborers and painters.

The statistics show women increasingly are joining the construction workforce, though it’s unclear how that may have been impacted by COVID-19.  Nevertheless, industry insiders still say more work needs to be done to attract women to construction.

“We clearly have much more work to do as an industry to recruit, hire and retain a more diverse population of workers, particularly women,” Brian Turmail, Vice President of public affairs and strategic initiatives at the Associated General Contractors of America, told Construction Dive.  “The good news is we are heading in the right direction.  Moving forward, [the AGC is] committed to redoubling our efforts to attract an even more diverse construction workforce.”

 

Author:  Zachary Phillips, Construction Dive

AR, VR Find More Real-World Applications in Construction

Global Data:  “Technology can improve accuracy, efficiency and safety of construction projects”

 

The construction industry is slowly shifting from years of the wait-and-watch stance to adopting digital technologies to improve the overall project lifecycle from conceptual design to construction.  Considering such developments, alternative reality technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are increasingly finding their use cases to improve accuracy, efficiency and safety of construction projects, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Venkata Naveen, Senior Disruptive Tech Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “While the alternative reality technologies have been used in the gaming and entertainment industries for years, they started to make waves in the construction by merging the digital and physical view of jobsites to address various bottlenecks.  The demand to complete projects within budget and on time has propelled construction companies to leverage AR and VR technologies to save time, reduce errors, prevent rework and create a long-term return on investment.”

The Digital Solutions Map in Construction of GlobalData’s Disruptor Intelligence Center uncovers the use cases of AR and VR across the construction industry value chain.  A few examples:

Virtual Collaboration

Boston-based Suffolk Construction has partnered with New York’s VR startup InsiteVR to help its engineering teams meet virtually to coordinate, plan and resolve issues, irrespective of their geographical locations.  Users can join the platform via their desktops wearing a VR headset to review project designs, spot issues and make changes, all inside the virtual environment.

Project Planning

London startup XYZ Reality developed a helmet-mounted device combining augmented reality with building information modeling (BIM) to let contractors visualize the structures, eliminating the need for physical floor plans.  It helps to make BIM more precise and allows engineers to identify if the ongoing construction project follows the original model and spot errors in real-time.

4D Modeling and Visualization

Pennsylvania-based infrastructure and engineering software provider Bentley Systems launched mixed reality solution SYNCHRO XR for 4D modeling and visualization of construction projects.  Using Microsoft HoloLens, contractors and engineers can walk around and interact with digital models through intuitive gestures.  The models can help contractors to flag potential errors in project designs and visualize the construction schedule.

Smart Glasses

British multinational infrastructure group Balfour Beatty implemented Vuzix Blade smart AR glasses at one of its construction sites in the US to help with a request for information (RFI) from project stakeholders, who can no longer visit the sites due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Site managers walk through the project site wearing the Vuzix smart glasses, wherein clients can view the project progress remotely.

Virtual Guidance

Aussie tech startup Fologram rolled out an app to merge digital construction models with the physical jobsites to ease laying bricks in complex patterns.  The app pulls data from computer-aided design (CAD) software such as Rhino, translates it into digital instructions and projects them onto Microsoft’s HoloLens heads-up display.  Wearing the headsets, masons can virtually see where to place each brick more precisely.

Naveen concludes: “Despite their immense potential, AR and VR technologies are still falling short of widespread use in the construction industry.  Key concerns such as wearing bulky AR headsets for long hours, susceptibility to harsh jobsite environments and the non-availability of low latency Internet connectivity are hindering the mass adoption of the technologies.  As AR and VR continue to mature, they can be coupled with 5G and artificial intelligence to become an invaluable asset to the construction industry.”

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GM will announced boosting investment for EVs

General Motors Co will roll out details of an expanded and accelerated electric vehicle strategy in an effort to convince investors it can be a serious competitor to Tesla Inc, people familiar with the plans said.

GM Chief Executive Mary Barra, who is scheduled to speak at a conference hosted by Barclays, is expected to say the automaker is ready to spend more on electric models by 2025 than the $20 billion previously outlined, the sources said.

Supplier sources said previous plans to make the Cadillac brand all electric by 2030 are being sped up, possibly to 2025, and other sources said that acceleration will be repeated in other brands and in segments such as commercial vans.

The Detroit automaker is also expected to discuss a new timeline for many of the EVs to follow those already identified, such as the GMC Hummer EV pick-up and Cadillac Lyriq crossover, people familiar with the plans said.

 

Authors: (Reuters) Ben Klayman, David Shepardson

 

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Bentley’s US$100 million fund for digital twins

Infrastructure engineering software company Bentley Systems has announced US$100 million of venture funding to accelerate the development of infrastructure digital twins.  A digital twin is a digital representation of a physical object or system. The technology behind digital twins has expanded to include large items such as buildings, factories and even cities, and some have said people and processes can have digital twins, expanding the concept even further.

Bentley iTwin Ventures will invest in promising technology companies addressing the emerging opportunity for infrastructure digital twin solutions for roadways, railways, waterways, bridges, utilities, industrial facilities, and other infrastructure assets.

Bentley iTwin Ventures is a US$100 million corporate venture capital fund which will co-invest in startups and emerging companies that are strategically relevant to Bentley Systems’ objective of advancing infrastructure through going digital.  The fund will target investments in transformational digital twin solutions supporting the design, simulation, construction, and/or operations of physical infrastructure.

The fund will invest in early and mid-stage companies that demonstrate ability to develop applications and solutions that leverage and extend infrastructure digital twin opportunities, particularly in the public works and utilities, and industrial and resources, infrastructure sectors.

“Taking advantage of the momentum from Bentley Systems’ initial public offering, we are excited to expand our Acceleration Initiatives by formally launching the Bentley iTwin Ventures fund to support the growth of entrepreneurial companies dedicated to infrastructure digital twin solutions,” said Greg Bentley, CEO of Bentley Systems.

“Our iTwin Platform provides a scalable open-source foundation for technical and commercial innovation that will empower a vibrant ecosystem to creatively combine and connect what digital twins now make possible for infrastructure constituents.  Proprietary analytics, data services, benchmarking, and infrastructure-as-a-service commercial models, for instance, are not in Bentley Systems’ direct scope, but we are glad to have a stake in bootstrapping these future successes.”

 

By Andy Brown, November 11, 2020

Liquid-filled window absorbs solar heat by day, releases it at night

While double-glazed windows do help save energy, Singaporean scientists have tweaked the concept to make it even more effective.  Instead of leaving an air gap between the two panes of glass, the researchers have inserted a heat-absorbing, light-blocking liquid.

Developed at Nanyang Technological University, the experimental new “smart window” consists of two panes of ordinary glass, the space between which is filled with a solution consisting of a proprietary hydrogel, water, and a stabilizing compound.

During the day, as sunlight passes through the window, the liquid absorbs and stores that light’s thermal energy.  This keeps the room from heating up, reducing the need to run the air conditioning.

Additionally, as the liquid warms up, the hydrogel within it changes from a transparent to an opaque state.  Although this ruins the view out of the window, it also reduces the amount of visible light that passes through from outside, further helping to keep the room cool.

Before and after photos of one of the smart windows, the bottom half of which incorporates the new technology. Nanyang Technological University

When the sun goes down at night, the gel cools and becomes clear again, releasing the stored thermal energy.  Some of that energy passes through the glass and into the room, reducing demands on the building’s heating system.

And as an added bonus, the smart window reportedly absorbs exterior noise 15 percent more effectively than traditional double-glazed windows.

Based on simulations and real-world testing, it has been determined that use of the windows could reduce energy consumption in office buildings by up to 45 percent.  The university is now looking for industry partners to help commercialize the technology, which is described in a paper that was recently published in the journal Joule.

Scientists at Britain’s Loughborough University have been working on a similar system, although theirs utilizes plain water.  Once that water has been heated by the sun, it’s pumped out of the window and stored in a tank.  At night, the warm water is then pumped out of the tank and into pipes in the walls, heating the interior of the building.

Author: Ben Coxworth, November 05, 2020, New Atlas

Understand the facts about UV-C LEDs and Germicidal Applications

With the COVID-19 pandemic raging, interest in germicidal technologies has surged as well. Ultraviolet radiation, specifically in the UV-C (100‒280 nm) band, is one technology that has gone from a very niche subject to the front pages of major newspapers because UV-C energy can deactivate the virus.  So let’s consider the facts about germicidal UV-C and the sources that can produce such energy, including LEDs.

This column was prompted in part by a document we posted on the Center for Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications (LESA) website at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.  We posted the top 10 questions that we have been asked relative to germicidal UV-C and a coronavirus such as SARS-CoV-2. Being that this column is in LEDs Magazine, we will revisit part of our top 10 list and add information that is specific to the use of UV-C LEDs in germicidal applications.

The first question we are generally asked is whether UV-C radiation can kill SARS-CoV-2.  The fact is that a virus is not technically alive, so killing it is not the goal.  Rather, we seek a technology that can deactivate or suppress the virus.  And yes, UV-C radiation applied correctly can deactivate the coronavirus.

“Applied correctly” is the key phrase.  The application depends on whether you seek to disinfect a surface, water, or air.  Moreover, the germicidal efficacy depends on UV-C dosage.  Dosage is determined by the radiometric power or watts delivered by a UV-C source, the distance from the target, and the duration of UV-C exposure.  Distance is easily understood if, for instance, you want to disinfect a surface.  In an air disinfection application, such as within an HVAC air duct, the distance would not be easy to estimate, as air disinfection can happen along the length of the duct through which UV-C radiation, along with the air, passes.  Distance becomes an even more complex issue were you to try and use a UV-C source to disinfect all of the air in a room.  Digging into the details, UV-C irradiance is measured in watts per unit area (typically W/cm2 in the US) and dose is calculated by multiplying the irradiance by the exposure time in seconds to get energy per unit area [typically joules (J)/cm2].

Moving to UV-C sources, LEDs are progressing as an alternative to mercury-discharge lamps in all types of UV-C applications.  But just as early visible-light LEDs struggled to usurp legacy sources, UV-C LEDs face similar challenges.  Generally speaking, UV-C LEDs have relatively higher cost, lower output power, and shorter lifetime. We’d expect the LED manufacturers to overcome those limitations over time.

However, LEDs are viable in some UV-C applications.  The technology is already used embedded inside various water-disinfection systems ranging from a home kitchen faucet to pumps for water processing to water supply for soda dispensers.  Indeed, mercury lamps would be tough to deploy in such applications due to size and potential contaminant concerns.

Most of the UV-C systems that have been in the news of late, however, are more focused on surface or air disinfection. And most of those systems use legacy lamps. For example, LEDs Magazine covered a United Airlines application for disinfecting surfaces in the jet cockpit and a Jet Blue application that uses robots to disinfect the passenger cabin of a jet.

The output power restrictions of UV-C LEDs would limit the effective use of the components in some such applications, or the number of LEDs required could be prohibitively expensive.  Other applications such as deployment in HVAC ducting might be a different story.

When you think about LEDs relative to a legacy source such as a mercury lamp, you have to think about how a system based on the source would operate.  Source lifetime is very important for a mercury lamp because lamp warmup time and lifetime reduction with repeated on/off switching will require continuous operation even if the utilization rate (e.g., airflow) isn’t continuous.

LEDs can be powered on and off and achieve virtually full power output instantaneously. Cycling power does not damage the components. In an HVAC system, the UV-C LEDs could be turned off when air is not circulating.  So the consideration of product lifetime changes.  There is also evidence that LEDs used in pulse mode can deliver greater germicidal efficacy in some applications.  Some research has shown such efficacy improvement in water disinfection and E.coli.  The reason is not fully understood at this point and more research is needed.

We are also asked about LEDs at the so-called far UV-C wavelengths in the 222-nm range.  For now, there are no LEDs available at such short wavelengths and the challenges of delivering such LED components appear stout.  Our message, however, remains that only a thorough analysis of the application and the model of system usage will determine whether LED or legacy sources are the best choice in a project.

Author: Robert Karlicek, PhD, Director of the Center for Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications (LESA) for LEDs Magazine

Fieldcrest Illinois School District banking on wind farms to help pay for school upgrades

TOLUCA — Not often does road work being done in a lonesome corner of a largely rural county imply encouraging financial news for a school district facing the challenge of making multi-million dollar upgrades to two of its buildings.

But the work being done now in the far southeast corner of Marshall County is literally paving the way for one of the wind farms under development that Fieldcrest School District officials see as key factors in financing up to $35 million in improvements to the high school in Minonk and the middle school in Wenona.

The district is banking heavily on future income from at least two of those projects to hold down the taxpayer cost of the upgrades. That point that was underscored when a parent asked at a recent public hearing here how much it was going to cost taxpayers to pay back the bonds that the district tentatively plans to issue for the wide-ranging repairs, renovations, alterations, and additions slated for the two buildings.

District Superintendent Kari Rockwell couched her answer in terms of the two wind energy projects that are farthest along in development. The one in Marshall County, which has received zoning approval, has been projected to generate some $12 million in tax revenue for Fieldcrest over its 25-year life, while the estimate for one in Woodford County at an earlier stage of development is about $30 million.

“If we get (those) two wind farms,” taxpayers would be seeing an increase of about $26 or $27 a year on a $100,000 home, Rockwell indicated.

“That is not a final number,” she quickly emphasized. “Obviously, it will depend on what our final bond amounts are, and on how many of (four possible) wind farms actually come to fruition and become revenue sources for us. But that is our hope at this point.”

To put that in perspective, a $29 million referendum that the district floated two years ago to pay for new schools in both locations would have added some $390 a year to the taxes on that home. That plan was rejected by about 70% of voters.

Wind farms began to appear on the district’s horizon soon after that, as a largely different school board with Rockwell as a new superintendent began to consider alternatives. They now promise to transform the financial landscape of the district just as they alter the physical landscape of the countryside.

“We’re in a good spot with our wind farms,” board member Jordan Meyer said at the public hearing. “That takes a lot of the burden off our taxpayers.”

The current plan, which entails $21 million in Health Life Safety bonds and up to $14.5 million for general obligation bonds, does not require a referendum because it doesn’t involve new construction, board President Mykin Bernardi explained. Citizens could force a “back-door referendum” on the GO bonds with petition signatures, but there have been no indications of that; only five people attended the hearing, and none objected to the plans.

“This project is long overdue,” Rockwell noted in an email. “In talking with (community members), it seems apparent that our residents want to see the work done, along with a solid future maintenance plan so we don’t have many of these same issues in the future. Deferred maintenance has been a consistent theme and sticking point for many of those I’ve spoken with.”

Board member Joe Stasell said maintenance issues were a key factor when he ran for office about 18 months ago. But the buildings now need major work to be restored to safe and solid condition, he added.

“We’ve got to get this done. We’ve got to stop putting Band-Aids on stuff and get it done,” he said. “It sucks, it’s going to hurt, but we’ve got to do it.”

The Marshall County wind farm, called Bennington Wind, is to have 33 turbines in the township for which it’s named. Plans call for installing the turbines next spring and operation to begin in the fall, a developer representative told the County Board when the permit was granted.

The road work being done now is part of a road use agreement that is typically required of developers to ensure that the rural roads can accommodate the large loads without additional cost to the county or township. The upgrades are probably costing the developer $800,000 to $900,000, county engineer and zoning administrator Patrick Sloan estimated.

Author: Gary L. Smith, Peoria Journal Star

Green roof project completed at Binghamton City Hall

A new green patch has recently been planted in Downtown Binghamton, only it’s not on the ground. It’s on the roof of Binghamton City Hall and the City Council Chambers.

The completed green roof was unveiled on Sept. 22, after construction began this past March. In a statement on March 11, Mayor Richard David said the vegetated 22,500 square-foot roof will catch approximately 325,000 gallons of stormwater runoff annually, with eight stormwater catchers and water intake from plants.

“Binghamton’s green roof will be a symbol of ongoing progress in sustainability, resiliency and innovation,” David said. “We continue to lead the region by embracing and securing funding for smart green [projects] as we face the environmental challenges of the 21st century.”

$1.6 million of the $2.1 million project was funded by the Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC), a New York state company which provides financial assistance to infrastructure projects related to water quality. The funding came through its Green Innovation Grant Program, a grant from the EFC for regional stormwater infrastructure.

The project, which was originally announced in David’s 2017 State of the City address, is expected to decrease the strain on the sewage system which catches water runoff, oftentimes polluted from substances on the street. According to Robert Holahan, associate professor of environmental studies and political science at Binghamton University, the roof will put rain into more productive use.

“In the combined sewer system areas of the city, this means less volumetric flow during heavy rain events that would otherwise trigger a combined sewer overflow into the Susquehanna River, in the municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4) areas of the city,” Holahan wrote in an email. “This means less volumetric flow picking up garbage and petroleum residue flowing directly into the river.”

In addition, green roofs help alleviate the urban heat island effect, a human-caused phenomenon that shows warmer temperatures in urban areas compared to their nearby rural areas. Because of the positive effect green roofs can have on urban heat, Gabriella Vallario, a junior majoring in geography, supports the green roof initiative.

“This project will reduce urban heat, thus contributing to aid [the fight against] global warming,” Vallario wrote. “Any projects that help reduce human interference with the environment is valid and should be promoted.”

The green roof can also provide a habitat for birds, bees and other animals, according to Holahan. Saheel Raut, a second-year graduate student studying computer science, said he believes green roofs are a good move by the city and advocates for more solar projects.

“[For] buildings where green roofs are difficult to implement, solar roofs would be a perfect replacement,” Raut wrote. “I heavily support the green roof [initiative], as it clearly shows how it would not only have financial benefits over time but also environmental benefits. Green roofs would be a stride in the right direction.”

Although green roofs provide benefits, they are not without their potential downsides, Holahan wrote.

“Because these are designed to store water, there is a lot of engineering that goes into making sure that water doesn’t seep into the roofs [and] leak into the building,” Holahan wrote. “To maintain that over time requires regular, costly maintenance. Unfortunately, quite often a green roof is built, and, then, everyone moves on without spending the resources to make sure it is still effective in the long term.”

As the city continues to push for ways to become sustainable and cooperative with the environment, Holahan wrote that flooding should be the main issue on the table when it comes to considering green infrastructure projects. In 2005, 2006 and 2011, the city experienced catastrophic floods that damaged already dilapidated buildings. The 2011 flood displaced nearly 20,000 Binghamton residents. In response to the flood, there were many buyback programs which has increased the green space in the floodplains, Holahan wrote.

“The most important thing in Binghamton’s case is simply to recognize that we are at the confluence of two rivers and that the floodplain zones of the city should not be rebuilt up,” Holahan wrote. “Leaving the floodplain zones as unconstructed areas is the single, simplest and best thing we can do to prevent future flooding.”

Raut wrote that the city should be producing more sustainable projects similar to the green roof.

“Climate change is not a hoax, whether or not people acknowledge it,” Raut wrote. “Project like these will reap rich dividends over time.”

Vallario shared similar sentiments about the environment.

“Our world [and our environment] is what we rely on and right now it is being compromised,” Vallario wrote. “Global warming is an immediate threat, and any project that helps reverse its effects should be in motion.”

Author: Kimberly Gonzalez , PIPE DREAM

GE Renewable Energy Upgrades the Haliade-X Wind Turbine

GE Renewable Energy says its Haliade-X prototype, one of the world’s most powerful wind turbines operating to date, has been optimized and is now operating at a 13 MW power output. During the following months, this prototype will undergo a series of tests to perform different types of measurements and obtain its type certificate.

The Haliade-X 13 MW, which is an upgraded version of the prototype that has been successfully operating in Rotterdam since November 2019, recently secured its provisional type certificates and set a new world record by generating 288 MWh in a single day.

This uprated 13 MW Haliade-X version will continue to feature 107-meter long blades and a 220-meter rotor and will be able to generate 4% more annual energy production (AEP) than the previous 12 MW version of the prototype

“With three years in the making, the Haliade-X platform has proven to be a successful story,” says Vincent Schellings, CTO of offshore wind at GE Renewable Energy. “Combined with almost 5 GW of customer commitments and an international testing and R&D program, the 13 MW uprated version is a true testament of how we continue to innovate and develop our Haliade-X technology to address our customers’ needs.”

The Haliade-X 13 MW offshore wind turbine will be used in the first two phases of the U.K.’s Dogger Bank Wind Farm, with a total of 190 units to be installed starting in 2023.  This will mark the first installation of the world’s most powerful wind turbine in operation to date at what will be the world’s biggest offshore wind farm.

The Haliade-X technology has also been selected as the preferred wind turbine for the 120 MW Skipjack and 1,100 MW Ocean Wind projects in the U.S.

Launched in 2018, GE’s Haliade-X offshore wind platform is helping to drive down offshore wind’s levelized cost of energy (LCOE) and is making offshore wind energy a more affordable source of renewable energy, notes the company.

 

Author: Michael Bates, North American Wind Power, October 22, 2020

SMART Competition Opened Registration

There are no official competition beginning or ending dates on the competition schedule.  The SMART Competition has made the schedule completely flexible.  The actual dates and specific deliverable dates are subject to the decisions made by each individual team.  Each team has the flexibility to create their own project plan and schedule. 

 “While we believe the Competition can be completed in 1-2 months, we want each team to control the time they spend on the competition”.  According to Michael Andrews, one of the SMART Competition leadership team, “providing flexibility and emphasizing team decision making is one essential element of success.”  

 One of the first activities each team completes is their schedule using the project management system within Bentley ProjectWise.

 The Competition is an excellent educational program that compliments studies in sustainability, LEED design issues, and renewable power generation.

The SMART Competition (www.smartcompetition.org) is a global STEM and Career and Technology Education (CTE) education program.  The competition is open to all high school and university students.  The competition is designed to attract all students without regard or bias of gender, race, socio-economic or academic performance level.

For additional information, contact Mike Andrews, m.andrews@smartcompetition.org

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