The Dodge Momentum Index increased to 126.3 (2000=100) in February, a gain of 4.3% from January’s 121.1, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. The Momentum Index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for nonresidential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year.

The Momentum Index has been exhibiting somewhat of a saw-tooth pattern of late, up in December, down in January and now up in February. Despite the volatility that is sometimes visible in planning data, the overall trend for the index continues to be positive, painting the picture of a broad-based yet still moderate recovery for nonresidential building projects at the planning stage. The index now stands 17% higher than one year ago.

The increase for the Momentum Index in February was due to a rise in planning activity for both the commercial and institutional sectors. The institutional sector increased 6.0%, while the commercial sector rose by 3.3%.

There were seven projects exceeding $100 million that entered planning during the latest month, comprised of six commercial projects and one institutional project.

On the commercial side, these projects entered planning: the $180-million Liberty Mutual Insurance Service Center Building in Plano, Texas; a $145-million office tower and a $106-million hotel, both in Chicago; a $105-million warehouse in Bethlehem, Pa.; a $100-million hotel in Sarasota, Fla.; and a $100-million hotel in Windsor, Colo. On the institutional side, a $225-million public safety complex in Philadelphia entered planning.