• AGC warns materials prices going up sharply. The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) is warning owners, budget setters, and contractors to expect greater materials and labor cost increases in 2008 than they have experienced in the past 12 months. “The worsening slide in homebuilding and turmoil in the credit markets threaten some types of nonresidential construction. At the same time, some materials costs are beginning to turn up again, and labor costs have started to accelerate,” said AGC chief economist Kenneth Simonson.
• London could lose almost half of planned office buildings. CB Richard Ellis, the world's biggest property agent, says the current financial crisis could lead to a major downgrade in the number of office buildings built in London's financial center. The report estimates that instead of the planned 4.5 million sf of new offices completed in and around the city per year, just 2.5 million sf will be built. That's like losing two to four skyscrapers a year between 2009 and 2011.
• Schwarzenegger signs a slew of green building laws. Environmental groups are pleased with the number of bills California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed last month as the 2007 state legislative session came to an end. Schwarzenegger signed 18 of 25 bills on the Sierra Club's priority list, or 72%—the highest in the four years since the Republican took office. One new law will require more energy-efficient indoor light bulbs by 2009. Another will require toilets to use less water. Schwarzenegger did, however, veto a bill that would have imposed the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Gold rating standard on commercial structures of more than 50,000 square feet in California.
• Silverstein plans another Ground Zero project. World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein is planning to build luxury condominiums, a five-star hotel, and restaurant just a block from the trade center site. Silverstein has selected architect Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture, to design the hotel and residential tower on the site.
• Swastika-shaped Navy barracks to get makeover. The U.S. Navy will spend as much as $687,000 to modify the appearance of a 1967 barracks in Coronado, Calif., that resembles a swastika from the air. The Navy approved the spending for changes to the four L-shaped buildings' walkways, landscaping, and rooftop solar panels after satellite images from Google Earth revealed the swastika-like aerial view.
• Green Building Initiative releases new version of Green Globes. The Green Building Initiative has released an update of its Green Globes environmental rating system that will streamline design entry and review. Green Globes users will be able to see changes to their scores during the entire process. The interface also has a new project dashboard. www.thegbi.org For more: www.BDCnetwork.com.
• Mesirow Financial to offer green building insurance.Mesirow Financial is offering green insurance to help green building owners deal with an evolving set of risks that are specific to sustainably designed buildings. Mesirow is the second company to offer green insurance. A year ago, Fireman's Fund started giving 5% discounts on property insurance for LEED-rated buildings.
• Orlando pays $500,000 to make sure its new arena is toxin-free. The city of Orlando will pay a consultant $500,000 to make sure there is no pollution lurking under the sneakers of the Orlando Magic when the team moves to its new home court. The Orlando City Council recently voted to hire Geo-Cleanse International of New Jersey to clean up chemical contamination in underground water and topsoil at the site of the city's future downtown arena.
• Nonresidential construction adds 10,000 more jobs in September. Nonresidential builders and their subcontractors added 10,000 more jobs in September after two months of no net hiring, according to the latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Homebuilding jobs fell another 20,000 bringing the decline in the last three months to nearly 50,000. For more: www.BDCnetwork.com.