Dodge Starts Up 4% for Year

Through the first eight months of this year, the dollar value of total construction starts was $361.4 billion, which was 4% above the same period of 2013, according to McGraw Hill Construction Dodge's data for August. However, on a monthly basis, construction starts in August were down 9% from July. "The broad trend for construction activity remains upward, but, on a month-to-month basis, there are still the occasional setbacks," says Robert Murray, chief economist for McGraw Hill Construction. "Non-residential building over the past two months was boosted by several large, energy-related manufacturing projects, so the pullback in August was not unexpected," says Murray. Commercial building continues to see modest growth, and there is evidence the institutional market has stabilized after a five-year decline, Murray says.

Savannah's Port Dredging Gets Boost After 20-Year Effort

The nearly 20-year effort to proceed with a 5-ft dredging of the Port of Savannah's harbor could start this year. The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) was slated to sign, on Oct. 8, a formal project agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that will allow contract bids to begin for the $706-million effort to deepen, to 47 ft, the inner harbor and, to 49 ft, the entrance channel. James McCurry Jr., senior director of administration for the GPA, notes that, for July and August, the GPA moved 595,711 20-ft equivalent container units, up 12.9%from the same period of last year.

DOE Looks to Next Generation

The U.S. Dept. of Energy says it is soliciting proposals for advanced nuclear- energy projects that reduce, avoid or sequester greenhouse-gas emissions. In a Sept. 30 draft solicitation, the DOE said it would provide up to $12.6 billion in loan guarantees for advanced nuclear-energy projects to enable "the construction of the next generation of safe and secure nuclear-energy projects," said Secretary Ernest Moniz. Although any project that meets the eligibility requirements may apply, the DOE has identified key areas of interest: advanced nuclear reactors, small modular reactors and upgrades at existing facilities.

GEF Offers $3-billion Fund For Climate-Change Response

The efforts to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change around the world will get a boost by an infusion of funds from the Global Environment Facility. In a Sept. 23 announcement, GEF said it would support developing countries with more than $3 billion for financing actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change over the next four years. The GEF's $3 billion is expected to have $30 billion leveraged from other sources. Up to $1.2 billion is for disaster risk reduction. Moreover, GEF will dedicate funding for three "high-impact" programs: the Sustainable Cities program, a program to strengthen carbon sequestration in sub-Saharan Africa and a focus on preventing deforestation.