Category Archives: NY

Companies Making HVAC Adjustments To Try To Reduce Spread of Novel Coronavirus

The COVID-19 data is on track for New York City to enter Phase 4 on Monday, but it will do so without reopening indoor spaces like malls and museums as was previously planned. Governor Andrew Cuomo made that announcement on Thursday and didn’t offer a new timeline. While it is likely a disappointment to many hoping to get back to business, it will give shopping centers some more time to meet the state’s new HVAC requirements.

Earlier this month, Cuomo said that malls would be required to have an air filtration system with MERV-13 rating or the highest rating the system will allow–no less than MERV-11. It is believed that the higher level of filtration will reduce the rate of transmission of the novel coronavirus.

Companies in New Jersey have been converting their air filters to MERV-13, according to Air Systems Maintenance, Inc. sales manager Mark Attias.

Attias said the number of requests created a back order and delay in getting the filters. It also doesn’t work for every system.

“You can’t always do that with smaller systems,” he said. “Residential can’t always do it, because it disrupts the air flow too much. It has to be specially designed.”

The other “large-selling” item, Attias said, is UV lights. The lights go into the duct work and kill viruses in the air flow. Delivery of the lights was backed up as well, because of the number of orders.

There are other HVAC modifications that may be helpful as well, including changing the air flow.

As public health officials learn more and state governments move to open more businesses, as well as schools, there will be more demand for HVAC companies and supplies for system modifications.

CIS Breaks Down the Pandemic Impact with a Look at the Numbers of Projects Out to Bid in 2019 vs. 2020

As the industry works to come back from the affect of the pandemic and related shutdowns, CIS looked at the numbers of private and public projects out to bid across its coverage areas for the first six months of 2019 and 2020 to gauge the impact.

Interestingly, both public and private project numbers were down in January and February before governors of many Northeast states put stay-at-home orders in place and paused non-essential construction. Private projects were down nearly 25 percent in January and 14 percent in February. There were fewer public projects as well, down 12.7 percent and 7.8 percent, respectively, in the first two months of the year.

April took the biggest hit by comparison with both private and public projects out to bid down more than 56 percent. In May and June, the numbers are creeping slowly back up but still fall far short of 2019 totals. In June, private projects were down about 30 percent and public projects were down 20.

The total year-over-year change in number of new public projects for January through June is 31.4 percent.

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The total change in number of new private projects for January through June is 34.1 percent.

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HVAC Companies Likely To Be in Higher Demand with COVID-19 Requirements, Reopenings

As the tri-state area begins reopening businesses and camp facilities, HVAC companies are likely to be in high demand.
Youth camps in New Jersey, which can open on July 6, must meet specific HVAC requirements to get approval from the state to reopen their indoor facilities.
According to the NJ Department of Health summer camp standards document, “Camps must ensure that their indoor facilities have adequate ventilation, including operational heating, ventilation and air conditioning (“HVAC”) systems where appropriate. i. Recirculated air must have a fresh air component ii. Open windows if A/C is not provided iii. Filter(s) for A/C units must be maintained and changed according to manufacturer recommendations.”
And it won’t just be camp facilities keeping HVAC companies busy as states transition to the reopening phases for businesses and, eventually, schools.
American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ (ASHRAE) Epidemic Task Force member M. Dennis Knight recommends buildings where HVAC systems haven’t been running–or have been running minimally–since pandemic closures should replicate the process of new construction with regards to inspection, start up, and testing a system. He also suggested building owners recommission or retrocommission their systems. COVID-19 is not the only concern for restarting systems that have been down. There are always concerns for the integrity of a system after it hasn’t been running consistently or had proper maintenance, Knight said.
ASHRAE has put out building safe readiness and reopening guidance, as well as offering information on filtration and disinfection.

Cuomo to Fast-Track Infrastructure Projects Across NY

In his Tuesday press conference, New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state will expedite infrastructure projects as a focus of its plan for economic recovery. He specifically mentioned the new Penn Station and LaGuardia projects, saying that not only does the state need to create jobs, with commuter and air passenger volume down, this is the perfect time to take on those projects with limited disruption.

“There is no better time to build than right now,” Cuomo said.
With a battered budget, the state can’t take the lead on all projects, of course, so Cuomo is going to Washington, DC, on Wednesday to discuss funding with President Trump. Projects that would require federal support include the next piece of the Second Avenue Subway, the AirTrain at LaGuardia and, of course, the new Hudson River tunnel.
On Tuesday, he also talked about pushing forward on renewable energy projects like a cross-state power transmission line and a Canada-to-New York City power line to deliver clean energy.
“Let’s stop talking and let’s start doing,” he said. “Let’s do something creative. Let’s do it fast.”

NY Construction Restarts in Mid-Hudson Today, Long Island Tomorrow

Nonessential construction and manufacturing can resume today in the Mid-Hudson region of New York as Westchester, Rockland, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Sullivan and Ulster counties enter Phase I of reopening after the ordered shutdown to attempt to contain the novel coronavirus.

In Phase I, nonessential construction and manufacturing can resume along with wholesale businesses, retail for curbside or in-store pickup and agriculture, forestry and fishing. All businesses are required to follow new public health guidelines and have safeguards in place. Social distancing must be adhered to where possible and masks worn, as well as following more stringent cleaning and hygiene protocols.

Long Island’s Nassau and Suffolk counties will enter Phase I tomorrow.

Officials will be watching the number of positive tests, hospitalizations and deaths closely. If the numbers stay on track and any outbreak is contained through contact tracing and isolation, the regions could enter Phase II in about two weeks. Testing facilities are now open across the mid-Hudson region and Long Island.

The PAUSE order limiting which construction sites and businesses can be open remains in effect in New York City where the needed metrics for reopening have not yet been met. There is no estimated date for the five boroughs to enter Phase I but the mayor has said he hopes it can happen early- to mid-June.

With a Preview of the Industry Post Pandemic, Construction Sites Alter Procedures to Meet Health Guidelines, Operate in NYC

As governors begin the slow, phased process of easing stay-at-home restrictions and allowing businesses to open, the construction projects that are currently operating in New York City provide a preview of the what sites will look like in New York and surrounding states in the near future.

At jobs where developers and contractors are adjusting quickly and attempting to meet new guidelines, workers are wearing masks, even on breaks, and adhering to social distancing rules of six feet between people throughout the day. There are more handwashing stations and tools are being disinfected and not shared among workers. When deliveries arrive, the driver is not getting out of the vehicle.

In some places, employees’ temperatures are checked when they arrive at the site, and construction workers are being told to stay home if they aren’t feeling well.

City inspectors are expected to stop at sites frequently to confirm contractors are sticking to the rules.

There is even the possibility of a drastic change in work hours. According to the New York Times, “Representatives of labor groups and contractor companies are pushing the city to permit 24-hour construction at some locations to reduce the number of laborers on site at any one time.”

Over the weekend, governor Andrew Cuomo said that construction and manufacturing jobs that could follow the health guidelines would be among the first sectors of business to start up again in Phase I of the re-opening plan as New York–as well as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Connecticut–try to get people back to work in hopes that the worst of the pandemic is over for the area. For New York, it will begin upstate after May 15. The governor said he will extend the PAUSE order beyond May 15 for New York City and the surrounding area as he waits for the novel coronavirus numbers to decline there.

New York To Restart Construction, Manufacturing in Upstate New York in Mid-May As Part of Reopening Plan

On Sunday, New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced the state’s general reopening plan, which will have a regional phased approach. After May 15, Phase One would begin in lesser hit areas and include construction.

“Phase one of reopening will involve construction and manufacturing activities, and within construction and manufacturing, those businesses that have a low risk,” said Cuomo Sunday.

It will start upstate.  The hard-hit downstate areas, including New York City, Long Island, and Westchester County are likely to have an extension of the PAUSE guidelines beyond the May 15 expiration of the current order.

When projects restart, workers will have to abide by public health guidelines. Industry leaders are working with the state and individual businesses will be tasked with creating a plan to get back to work while keeping the novel coronavirus infections at bay.

There will be 14 days between phases with the state monitoring health numbers and looking for flare-ups before moving to the next step.

Phase two will open certain industries based on priority and risk level. Businesses considered “more essential” with inherent low risks of infection in the workplace and to customers will be prioritized, followed by other businesses considered “less essential” or those that present a higher risk of infection spread. As the infection rate declines, the pace of reopening businesses will be increased.

Gary LaBarbera, the president of Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, released a statement, agreeing with Cuomo’s decision to put construction first.

“It makes perfect sense for the construction industry to be at the front end of the remobilization of the work force,” Labarbera said in a statement.

New York and New Jersey Stay-at-Home Orders, School and Business Closures Extended to May 15

In their daily coronavirus press conferences on Thursday, New York governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey governor Phil Murphy extended their stay-at-home orders in each state until May 15. Murphy made the announcement, specifically discussing the closure of NJ’s public schools, but said he remains hopeful that with public health guidelines in place longer he can make a “different” announcement in a month.

Murphy mentioned construction when asked about the Turnpike Authority’s planned April 28 meeting, which would address possible toll hikes, and if he is allowing that meeting to go forward as planned. He said it could, but only if it was done in a virtual setting and allowed a longer period for public comment. Figuring out the budget is the key to continuing vital infrastructure projects.

“Transportation money needs to be the main source of transportation projects,” he said and noted that the state must continue to provide

“Construction as a general matter for rest areas [and] big highway projects, that’s going on because NJ goes on,” he said.

Cuomo discussed the strategy for reopening New York, which will actually be the strategy used by seven Northeast states–NY, NJ, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island–in an alliance of I-95 corridor states created this week. (The plan will be created by a group consisting of a head public health official, a chief economic development officer, and the governor’s chief of staff from each state.)

Cuomo tweeted the guidelines for the plan, reiterating what he has said in the past–this will not be a reset to the way things were before the shutdown, but the beginning of a new way of doing business until a viable treatment or widespread public vaccine is established.

“Employers will need to develop new practices around workplace social distancing rules, transportation, customer interactions, and more,” he tweeted. “We need proactive protocols in the event of an infection at a workplace.”

The return to business will be phased in on a “priority scale,” he said.

“Business will reopen based on the risk posed,”  he tweeted. “We will work on a regional basis.”

New York Shuts Down Non-Essential Construction

Today governor Andrew Cuomo will order the closure non-essential construction sites around the state, as of Friday April 3. The new order will mean most work at residential and commercial buildings will not continue. Public works, transportation, and infrastructure projects will be exempt, along with construction involving hospitals and medical facilities and work on affordable housing.
All non-essential work must be shut down by Friday April 3 and sites will be closed until April 21.
There had been growing concern for the safety of workers in the pandemic. The Building Trades Employers Association (BTEA) supports the decision, the organization’s president and CEO Louis J. Colletti said in a statement.
“We have supported the governor’s efforts to keep construction sites open,” Colletti said. “However the current state of escalating COVID-19 cases confirms the Governor’s prudent action today.”

Employment and Spending Data Analyses Offers Cause for Celebration—and Concern

In the last two weeks, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) released two reports, which combine to show a mixed picture of construction industry employment and spending.

Last week, AGC released an analysis of federal employment data from October 2018 to October 2019 that showed construction employment increased in 65 percent of U.S. metro areas. Despite the overall positive numbers nationwide, the Northeast took a hit. New York City had the largest number of job losses over that time period, losing 6,200, or four percent, of its construction jobs, according to the report. (Fairbanks, AK, had the biggest decrease by percentage, dropping 13 percent which was a loss of 400 jobs.)

The report also showed hourly craftworker positions remain difficult to fill despite the overall job gains. In response to that, the AGC officials “urged the Trump administration and Congress to make it easier to bring in workers for specific jobs that cannot be filled domestically and to strengthen career and technical education opportunities for students seeking alternatives to college.”

second analysis released this week showed construction spending declined .8 percent in October from September. The $1.291 trillion spent in October 2019 remained better than spending in October 2018 by 1.1 percent but, this year, decreases in private nonresidential, multifamily and public projects were too much to override an increase in construction of single-family homes, according to AGC’s analysis of federal spending data. The association blamed trade conflicts for the negative impact.

“Trade friction drags down U.S. economic growth,” AGC’s chief economist Ken Simonson said in a statement, adding, “Businesses that have been hurt by existing tariffs and retaliatory actions by U.S. trading partners or firms facing uncertainty over future trade policy are likely to hold off on construction projects.”