After 12 months of ups and downs, the final tally for 2015’s total construction starts ended the year with an 8% annual increase, representing $646 billion in new work, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. The strongest growth came from the non-building sector, which was up 23% to $176 billion for the year. Residential construction also posted a healthy 14% annual increase, to $265 billion. Holding growth down was an 8% decline in non-residential building starts, which ended last year with $204 billion in new work. “The construction-starts statistics reveal continued expansion for construction activity during 2015, although the path over the course of the year was not smooth,” says Robert Murray, Dodge’s chief economist. “A strong first half of 2015 was followed by a 20% loss of momentum in the third quarter and then a slight 1% rebound in the fourth quarter, as the expansion began to show that it was getting back on track,” Murray says. In the first half of the year, the statistics were skewed by four massive LNG-related projects that totaled $24.4 billion. Overall, the gas-plant segment was more than four times 2014’s level, while electric powerplants rose 69% and public works remained flat.