Tag Archives: Covid-19

New York City Sees Biggest Negative Impact from Pandemic

The construction industry a took huge hit with coronavirus shutdowns and the ensuing economic downturn. But New York City was impacted more than the surrounding area in the first half of 2020, according to a CIS analysis of its projects.

In some of the most revealing numbers: new public projects put out to bid were down 51 percent. That’s more than 20 percent worse than Long Island and an even larger decline compared to Westchester, and New Jersey.

 Most discouraging was the total value of public projects that were bid in the first half of the year. Those numbers were down 61 percent. It is worth noting, however, that New York City’s project numbers were lower in January, February, and March, as well. The state didn’t shut down nonessential construction until March 31.

Employment in New York City building construction fell by more than 35 percent year-over-year in May, according to the state’s Department of Labor. While there was an immediate rush of activity and rehiring once non-essential construction could resume, that was primarily to catch-up on projects that were in progress. With the reduced number of public projects put out to bid, industry leaders worry that the work and hiring won’t continue.

Data from July backs that fear. According to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), construction employment in July was down 66 percent in 358 metro areas across the country compared to the year before. New York City lost the most construction jobs, down 26,500 (or 16 percent) from the previous July, according to the AGC.

Amid fears that the virus numbers will spike, forcing another shutdown in the city, contractors are pushing to finish work on projects in progress, but there is understandable concern that budget issues will kill any hopes of continued recovery. When the city’s budget passed in July – the first budget that has been lower than the previous year since the Great Recession in 2009 – money for affordable housing and public projects was cut. New York City faces a projected $9 billion revenue loss because of the global pandemic, at the same time President Trump is threatening to cut off federal funding to the city. If federal funding doesn’t come, Governor Andrew Cuomo says vital infrastructure projects and some of the city’s biggest construction plans, including projects at LaGuardia and JFK airports and the new Penn Station, could be put on hold. The AGC says that without federal funding, commercial construction companies will be forced to lay off more workers.

The analysis did show one bright spot: The number of new private projects being planned actually increased from 2019.

This could continue, particularly in private healthcare projects. Industry experts predict growth in healthcare construction for New York City over the next few years. There may even be an opportunity for private projects developing outdoor spaces for restaurants and retail.

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.

NYC On Track for Construction to Restart June 8

New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that New York City is on track to begin Phase I of reopening on Monday June 8. Phase I includes nonessential construction and manufacturing.
“We know where the hot spots are in the city, we want to focus on them next week, be ready to open,” Cuomo said.
All reopened businesses must follow health guidelines. Phase I includes retail stores for curbside pick up and in-store where proper distancing is possible. Cuomo signed an executive order this week mandating masks in stores. Agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, gardening and landscape businesses can also reopen in Phase I.

Non-Essential Construction Can Begin Again Monday, May 18

Today, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced that non-essential construction can resume at 6 a.m. on Monday, May 18.

Construction sites can resume work with the following safeguards in place:

  • Clear posting of safety protocols
  • Preventing overcrowding
  • Prohibiting non-essential visitors
  • Staggering work hours and breaks
  • Ensuring proper sanitation

Murphy reiterated what he has said all along that the data will drive the re-opening process for the state. The state is “not out of the woods yet,” he said, sharing a chart that showed New Jersey is the most impacted state in the country right now. Social distancing and face-covering must continue. If the numbers of illness and hospitalizations go up, he will step back and restart the stay-at-home orders and once again shut down non-essential businesses.

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.

Pennsylvania to Restart Construction May 1

On Wednesday, Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf announced that all construction projects can restart on May 1. Non-essential construction was shut down as part of the state’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic on March 21.
The May 1 date is a week earlier than Wolf’s original green light for construction. As of Wednesday’s statements from Wolf, construction sites will be opened before the rest of the state, which is still scheduled to start a multi-phased reopening on May 8.
Wolf emphasized that federal and state health guidelines must be followed as businesses slowly reopen and any flare-up of coronavirus cases could lead to closing things down again.

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.”