Engineers, contractors and owners are boarding the Energy Dept.’s $32.7- billion gravy train, augmented by $12.5 billion in loan programs, as it leaves Washington, D.C. Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s last job was as director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. His familiarity with the condition of lab facilities may be why DOE is pouncing on the $1.6 billion in funds appropriated by ARRA, with half earmarked for construction, infrastructure, equipment acquisition and research at nine national laboratories in seven states (see table below). The largest share for a single project is $150 million to accelerate construction on the National Synchrotron Light
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.