The input prices of steel, cement and lumber are all rebounding from recession lows, but overall inflation is not budging. Well, maybe a tiny bit. Lumber prices have taken full advantage of the housing recovery, rising 16% above a year ago, according to ENR’s 20-city average price for the most commonly used species of 2x4 lumber. Structural-steel prices are expected to increase 8% this year, reversing two years of declines, IHS Global Insight predicts. The forecasting firm is also calling for a 3.7% increase in cement prices this year.
“Cement prices are on a run,” says Deni Koenhemsi, senior economist at IHS. “Industry consolidation and strong demand are keeping prices high, but we do expect escalation to ease off in the coming years, from 3.7% in 2017 to 1.7% by 2020,” she says.
Because it can moderate the damaging effects of earthquakes, base-isolation is a technique used primarily in seismically active regions. ENR takes a look at some of the largest applications of base-isolation technologies in the world.