Part 1 in a 3 part series on the construction industry and hot weather
As the temperatures go up during this summer’s heat waves, productivity at construction sites across the country goes down.
Already this month, extreme heat has covered much of the U.S. with temperatures approaching and exceeding triple digits, and humidity makes those days feel even hotter. This June was the world’s hottest on record, according to the National Weather Service. July could be the hottest month ever recorded on Earth, according to a Pennsylvania State University climate scientist.
At times like this, construction companies pay closer attention to the health of their workers at construction sites, giving them more breaks, providing shade and water, or altering work hours to do certain tasks overnight. Those measures come with a cost.
“We did a high rise in Nashville two years ago. We began our concrete pours on the tower at 2 a.m.,” Choate Construction founder Millard Choate said. Choate is one of the 10 largest general contractors in Metro Atlanta. “The biggest reason was because it was so dadgum hot, it was almost debilitating.”
But in a world with a changing climate, incidents of extreme heat are becoming more frequent and longer in duration. And that spells complications for an industry extremely sensitive to weather.
“Climate change is driving a lot of debate,” Vantis co-founder Ryan Ware said. “But for construction, it’s driving a lot of costs.”
A day of lost productivity on an active construction project for whatever reason can cost an owner up to $250K due to labor, leased equipment and contractual penalties, officials with Willis Towers Watson told the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 2017.
Extreme heat events in the U.S. are now occurring three times more often a year than than they did during the 1960s, NOAA climate scientist Karin Gleason told Bisnow. At that time, portions of the country could expect higher-than-normal temperatures twice a year; now they are averaging six times a year.
Frequency of heat waves is only one byproduct of climate change and a warming globe. The geography these heat waves impact has grown as well, covering 25% larger land areas today in the Northern Hemisphere than in 1980, according to data provided by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
(Source: Schenke, Jarred. “Costs, Complications Plaguing Construction Industry Amid Hottest Summer Ever.” Bisnow.com, Bisnow Atlanta, www.bisnow.com/national/news/construction-development/heatwaves-changing-costing-construction-industry-100007.)
(Image source: Pixabay/skeeze)
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