ABC's 'Construction Backlog Indicator' Hits Record High

The Associated Builders and Contractors measure of its members' backlogs for new work reached a record high during the second quarter of this year, when its Construction Backlog Indicator (CBI) hit 8.5. That was up 5.6% from the previous quarter and 3.6% above a year ago. "The long-awaited, brisk non-residential building recovery may be upon us," says Anirban Basu, ABC chief economist. "Backlog gains were nearly ubiquitous during the second quarter, with gains registered in every industry segment in nearly all geographies and for firms of virtually all sizes," he says. Further increases in backlogs are likely due to job growth and rising consumer confidence, he adds.

EPA Warns That Water Diversion Project May Be Harmful

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has warned that a $25-billion proposed water diversion project in California could violate the Clean Water Act. The letter to the National Marine Fisheries Service released Aug. 28 said the proposed new intakes on the project upstream of existing intakes could increase salinity as well as concentration of harmful toxins such as bromide and pesticides. This could prove harmful to aquatic life and endangered fish species, the EPA said.

One day before the EPA announcement, the California Dept. of Natural Resources said it would publish a revised version of the plan and environmental impact statement some time in early 2015. The California Dept. of Natural Resources contends the project would restore natural flows of water along the California Bay Delta that have been drastically altered by man-made levees, reservoirs and dredge waterways to the point that a number of aquatic species, including salmon, are threatened.

Pact Likely To Advance LEED Green Building Rating System

The American Chemistry Council has announced a new partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council, to bring "technical and science-based approaches" to USGBC's LEED rating system. The two groups, long at odds over plastics and LEED credits, say they will now work together to ensure the use of sustainable and environmentally protective products. "Modern energy-efficiency gains, building-safety advances and carbon-footprint reductions would not be possible without the products of chemistry," says ACC President Cal Dooley. "The looming impact of climate change favors collaboration and engagement as key strategies," he says.