Category Archives: Planning

Check out what’s happening in the local construction scene



The DJC has published its annual Construction & Equipment special section. It’s a mix of industry articles, profiles of local award-winning projects and a few interviews with the contractors who make it all happen.

Read all about it at


General contractor needed for CPAR Board

The state has an opening for a general contractor representative on its Capital Projects Advisory Review Board. Applications are due by March 14.

The board evaluates public capital project construction processes and advises the Legislature on policies related to public works delivery methods. There are 23 members on the board, including four legislators and five political subdivision representatives.

Board members must be knowledgeable about public works contracting. They serve four-year terms and can be reappointed once.

Applications can be found at Questions can be directed to Molly Keenan, or (360) 902-4110.

Public Works Trust Fund Under Attack in Olympia

It’s crunch time in Olympia as the Legislature is taking action on many fronts that will impact funding for all types of construction. Today’s focus is the Public Works Trust Fund.

A proposal in the State Senate would PERMANENTLY redirect existing funding sources out of the PWTF — endangering dozens of infrastructure projects such as water, sewer, stormwater and some local roads and bridges.

The PWTF provides grants and low-interest loans to local governments for public works projects – many that could not otherwise be financed and built by small communities themselves. Dozens of proposed construction projects — such as the City of Port Orchard Marina Pump Station, City of Omak Sewer System Improvements, and the City of Washougal Stormwater Decant Facility — are in danger should the Legislature adopt a proposal that would gut the Public Works Trust Fund.

In addition to loan repayments—at interest rates ranging from 0.25 to 2 percent per year—the PWTF receives revenue from four state tax sources related to the types of infrastructure aided by the fund: 6.1 percent of the revenue from the real estate excise tax, 20 percent of the revenue from the water utility excise tax, 60 percent of sewerage collection tax revenues, and all the revenue from the state tax on solid waste service.

The State Senate’s budget plan would redirect all of the tax streams — except for two percent of the real estate excise tax — away from the public works trust fund and into other government accounts.

PWTF projects facilitate private economic growth and provide jobs for the hard-hit construction industry which, in turn, supports jobs in industries from material supply to food service and a variety of small businesses. Plus, many of the projects funded by the PWTF protect the environment and improve the quality of life in the state.

Urge your Senator NOT to redirect funding out of the Public Works Trust Fund!

The State Legislature Should Fully Fund the Public Works Trust Fund?

Over the past few budget cycles, the Legislature has greatly reduced the amount of funds available in the PWTF through budget transfers and legislation diverting certain revenue streams. Because the PWTF is a revolving loan fund, such actions continue to undermine the PWTF over time, even though the program is a national model that is widely supported throughout the state. These actions negatively impact job growth, economic development, and regulatory compliance in Washington State. During the recent application process, local governments and special purpose districts submitted over $1 billion in project requests for the available $685 million – even the available funding is inadequate to cover the demand for these basic infrastructure loans.

State investment in basic infrastructure is a strong and necessary foundation for economic growth, and the construction industry has yet to fully recover from the recession. The current mission of the PWTF—to fund essential infrastructure including water, wastewater, road, bridge, and solid-waste and recycling projects—is a vital part of the state’s overall economic-development strategy. According to the Department of Revenue, every dollar invested by the PWTF in basic infrastructure yields an additional $3.60 in statewide economic activity. The more than $2 billion total investment by the PWTF has generated $10.7 billion in gross construction-related economic activity.

These benefits of PWTF investment in basic infrastructure include construction contracts; production, transportation, and purchase of equipment and related goods and services; and purchases made by workers employed on PWTF-financed projects. Without this infrastructure funding, many Washington communities could not sustain, expand, and attract businesses vital to economic development, and could not meet the variety of regulatory requirements under the Growth Management Act, Clean Water Act, and other laws.

The PWTF is one of the rare programs in state government that has broad support from the full spectrum of stakeholder interests – business, labor, local government, and the environmental community.

What’s up in the health-care sector?

The health care sector was one of the stronger industries during the Great Recession, helping many contractors get through difficult times. Many of those projects are now finished.

The DJC is profiling some of those projects – along with other issues facing those who design, build and develop health care facilities – in a special section called Health Care Design & Construction.

Read how Mortenson Construction used virtual tools to fast-track Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, how Aldrich and Associates turned a former TV studio into a kidney dialysis clinic, and how lean design is different for every health care project.

Before We can Market within the Industry…

One of the greatest challenges for a construction product is being able to remain relevant when only a small portion of its funding and time is spent with the end buyer.  The masonry industry is one of the oldest construction products around.  Masonry products have proven their durability, flexibility and longevity decade after decade, but yet we, like other construction products, struggle to remain the product of choice and to remain relevant.  We spend thousands of dollars every year on research for our products proving that they are environmentally friendly or energy efficient or fire safe.   Each year, we work with code officials, advisory groups, legislators, in order defend our position in the construction market.

And every year, we run up against codes and agencies who want to prove how it’s just not enough.  Recently, I was sitting with a group of academics and consultants who are looking to mandate building product manufacturers provide data on lifecycle assessments to the State.  As we sat in the comfortable room, along Lake Union, with the perfect temperature and lighting, enjoying the view and conversation, I posed the question – “When did the building products industry become the bad guy?” In this particular room, we weren’t being very well received.

The industry spends an absorbent amount of money to maintain its market in a tough construction economy, then an additional amount of money is spent to educate code officials, building officials, elected officials, etc. on why were not a bad choice; and once were done defending our position to those who have no say in whether our product is selected, we must spend time and money educating the designers and general contractors about the actual product.  We don’t mind doing this, as we know why masonry products are the best choice; and why we provide the greatest flexibility for making a lasting statement.

So, the next time, you have the opportunity to have a free lunch through our Lunch and Learn Series, either in your office or ours, or call our technical experts and ask for free advice.  Or if you choose to join us at our September 7th MIW Golf Tournament where design and construction industry representatives play for free, please take a second to listen to the quick marketing message that is being delivered.  We don’t need to do the hard sale – our product really does stand on its reputation, but we did have to spend a lot of time convincing people of that before, we could market it to you.

Watch a 30-story hotel get built in 15 days


The Chinese are at it again. Last year, they built a 15-story hotel in 6 days. Now, the Broad Group has built a 30-story hotel in 15 days.

A big question that immediately pops up: “Is the building safe?” Well, Broad Group claims it can withstand a 9 magnitude earthquake and is 5 times more quake resistant than traditional buildings, thanks to a unique diagonal steel bracing system.

It also is 5 times more efficient than a traditional building, with 4-pane windows, exterior solar shading and interior window insulators. Building air is 20 times purer, thanks to a heat recovery system with 3-stage filtration.

Pretty cool stuff.

Urban Development special hits the street

The DJC is publishing its annual Urban Development special today. This year’s version has an interesting article by upcoming architect Daniel Toole on alleyways. Toole recently toured alleys of cities across the U.S. and in foreign countries such as Japan and Australia.

You also can learn about what’s changed in Seattle’s multifamily code, Sheraton’s Garden Walk project and who the new apartment renters are.





Guess What Construction Has Done for Washington’s Economy


For years, many years, the State of Washington has depended on the construction industry for economic growth and sustaining the economy. Yes, Washington appreciates companies like Boeing, Microsoft and Starbucks as well as the many mom-and pop businesses in other markets, but the construction industry whether it be residential or commercial has been credited for consistent, stable growth and jobs. But as this recession continues into full tilt, some people have forgotten just what the construction industry offers to Washington.  As the industry continues to struggle as the one of the top three industries hit hardest by the recession, the 2011-2013 Capital Budget investment is a key factor in the employment and economic future of Washington’s residents.  Did you know,

Employment & Economic Impact in 2009
More than 216,000 workers were employed by contractors, construction services and material suppliers in the state (private sector only, doesn’t include government).

•The construction industry represents 9.4% of the state’s private sector workforce.
•Construction sales were more than $27.1 billion in 2009.
•The construction industry has a total payroll of more than $11.4 billion.
•15.3 of all sales in the state of Washington are directly related to the construction industry.
•The construction industry represents 10.5% of total state non-government payroll.

For each $1 invested in new construction:

•The state’s economy generates an additional $1.97 in economic activity throughout the state.
•Household earnings are increased by .64 cents, all households, not just those with someone employed in the construction industry.

Washington’s budget crisis has everyone scrambling to eliminate government waste, find savings and possibly ending entire state programs. Despite all the bleak days in Olympia there is one ray of hope still left coming from the capitol dome – Washington’s capital investment plan.

The Capital Construction plan would mean nearly 62,000 new family-wage jobs and $4.6 billion in increased economic activity throughout the state in the next two years. Now we just need to make sure the legislature doesn’t throw a brick through the window of opportunity by using capital funds to feed the general government budget.

More jobs and economic activity are created by capital investments than by general government spending. Investing $1 billion in the capital budget will create nearly 1,000 more jobs and $55 million more in wages than if that same money is spent in the general government budget.

With Capital Investments

  • More family-wage jobs- $1 billion spent creates 13,820 jobs and  $723 million in wages
  • Community resources- Schools, universities, safe drinking water, low income housing, parks, local voter approved school construction, prisons, local bridges and road repair.
  • Public and Environmental Safety – Stormwater and sewage treatment systems, salmon recovery, safe drinking water.

Without Capital Investments

  • 62,700 fewer jobs.
  • $3.3 billion less in wages.
  • $4.7 billion less in economic activity .
  • $1 billion in job-creating school construction threatened (for every $3 of local voter approved school construction bonds, the state matches $1)
  • Planning and design work for future projects will stop (essential projects will cost more in the future)

Contact your legislator at the Legislative Hotline: 1.800.562.6000– ask them to spend the people’s money wisely – jobs and our Washington economy depend on it – Fund the Capital Budget for next 2011-2013 biennium.

Let them not forget!