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2014 Predictions

As we head into the new year, we take this time to reflect on the year that's passed and look ahead to what's to come. This usually means offering up predictions on trends from everything to business to financial to what the newest and greatest electronics offering will be in the coming year.

While things started to look up in 2013, there's still a lot of uncertainty that remains, especially with the federal budget and debt ceiling, along with expected cuts in the federal government's spending. Additionally, energy and oil costs, along with the upcoming Affordable Care Act are all things that will affect the economy.

In its 2014 Dodge Construction Outlook, McGraw Hill Construction predicts that the total U.S. construction start for 2014 will grow 9 percent to $555.3 billion. This is higher than the 5 percent increase to $508 billion that was estimated for 2013.

"We see 2014 as another year of measured expansion for the construction industry," says Robert Murray, McGraw Hill Construction's vice president of Economic Affairs. "Against the backdrop of elevated uncertainty and federal spending cutbacks, the construction industry should still benefit from several positive factors going into 2014. Job growth, while sluggish, is still taking place. Interest rates remain very low by historical standards, and in the near term the Federal Reserve is likely to take the necessary steps to keep them low. The bank lending environment is showing improvement in terms of both lending standards and the volume of loans. And, the improving fiscal posture of states and localities will help to offset some of the negative impact from decreased federal funding."

"The 2014 picture bears some similarity to what's taking place during 2013, with single-family housing providing much of the upward push; multifamily housing showing a slower yet still healthy rate of growth after four years of expansion, and commercial building gradually ascending from low levels," Murray adds. "One change that's expected for 2014 is that institutional building will no longer be pulling down nonresidential building and total construction."

Other predictions include an increase in total construction spending from 6 to 10 percent per year from 2014 through 2017, according to Ken Simonson, chief economist with the Associated General Contractors of America, and an estimated growth of 7 percent for 2014 construction-put-in-place to $977 billion, up from the $909.6 billion that was predicted through 2013, according to FMI's 2014 U.S. Markets Construction Overview.

Jerry Yudelson, a green building consultant, puts together an annual Top 10 of green building megatrends. This year, at the top of the list is that green building in North America will continue its strong growth in 2014, with the continued expansion in the commercial real estate, government, university, nonprofit and school construction sectors. Second and third on this year's list is a growing focus on energy efficiency, including an increased role of building automation, and the design and operation of net zero energy buildings. The rest of Yudelson's list can be found here.

For us at Metal Architecture, it means talking to industry experts to get a gauge of what they think will happen in 2014. Editorial Director Paul Deffenbaugh talks to several experts in the metal construction and architecture industry to learn what they think will happen in the coming year and beyond.

What are your predictions for 2014? We'd love to hear what you think is going to happen in the coming months.

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