In today’s news, we will look into 10 service plaza buildings, a project along the New York State Thruway that has been completed by the Nexii Building Solutions. Meanwhile, the Made-in-America’s new restrictions might cause a delay in projects worth one trillion dollars in housing, telecommunications, and electric vehicle charging as Biden committed to “buy American” in his first State of the Union address in March to ensure everything was made in the U.S.
Nexii completes 10 New York rest-area buildings
Original Source: Nexii Completes 10 Highway Rest-Area Buildings in New York
Nexii’s sustainable concrete alternative reduces emissions, build times, cost, and resources.
Nexii Building Solutions has completed 10 service plaza buildings for a project along the New York State Thruway. Nexii, a subcontractor for AECOM Tishman, designed and constructed high-performance building envelopes for rest stops. These 10 public buildings are part of a project that will add 23 additional service plazas along the NYS Thruway by 2024.
Each building is 6,400 to 14,800 square feet and built using Nexii panels utilizing Nexiite. Nexii’s building solution uses fewer resources, creates near-zero on-site waste, and minimizes carbon emissions.
A preliminary Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Nexii’s panels predicts a 36% decrease in embodied carbon for Nexii’s high performance envelope, from extraction to end-of-life.
This project’s building panels are made at the Nexii Certified Manufacturer (NCM) plant in Hazleton, PA and assembled on-site, decreasing build times and construction costs and providing non-toxic, disaster-resistant, highly efficient buildings.
Hazleton NCM is the Vancouver-based company’s first U.S. facility. The facility has created 100 green jobs, with an aim of 250 as more projects commence, including a green data center.
“We’re really proud of the Hazleton team,” stated Nexii Co-founder and CEO Stephen Sidwell. “We’re happy that governments at all levels are developing more sustainably and efficiently. Large-scale projects like this one help us scale our greener future vision.”
Nexii is working to reinvent how the world builds. Buildings and construction account for 36% of global energy consumption and 37% of greenhouse gas emissions. Nexiite buildings use 31% less embodied carbon than standard construction materials2 and one-third less energy overall, due to reduced heating and cooling loads. Nexii’s building process reduces construction waste and shortens build durations by up to 75%. 3 This new method of building is timely, as the Buy Clean Initiative aims to cut infrastructure emissions.
Nexii Building Solutions Inc. (Nexii) designs and manufactures zero carbon structures and goods. Buildings and construction account for 36% of global energy consumption and 37% of greenhouse gas emissions yearly. Net zero buildings require sustainable and scalable solutions. Nexii’s innovative material Nexiite enables rapid assembly of high-quality structures and infrastructure with decreased carbon emissions, near zero waste, and less community disruption. Nexii’s purpose is to establish a sustainable future for people and planet.
Biden has infrastructure ambitions. Made-in-America regulations may slow them
New requirements might delay $1 trillion in housing, telecommunications, and EV charging projects.
Tri-Valley Transit began building a bus facility in Bradford, Vermont, nearly two years ago. The agency’s fleet, which eight towns utilized to commute to work, school, and medical appointments, outgrew its 16-year-old headquarters. They didn’t have the equipment to wash and maintain the larger new buses.
After breaking ground, problems arose. Jim Moulton, the agency’s executive director, said a solar-powered heat pump system would have been cleaner and cheaper to maintain. Officials couldn’t identify a large enough American manufacturer. Two Italian companies could have filled the order, but the project received federal financing, therefore “Buy America” laws needed local products.
Moulton said the agency filed for a federal waiver but was denied, so authorities rebuilt the $3.4 million project and bought a U.S.-made wood pellet boiler system. The agency moved in August 2021, but the debacle added three months and $100,000 in extra costs.
“Frustrating,” said Moulton. “We expected a greater balance of rules.”
It’s a logistical nightmare that could go beyond transit projects.
Last year’s $1 trillion infrastructure package strengthened Acquire America requirements, which require state and local agencies to buy U.S.-made products for federally funded infrastructure projects. Iron, steel, and manufactured goods rules have been in existence for decades, but they’ve only applied to transportation and water-related projects like highways, rail, and public transit.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act created a new category for “building materials” that must be made in the U.S. It also permanently added housing, broadband, and electric car charging projects to the list of required infrastructure projects.
President Biden has touted the plan as a once-in-a-generation investment in the nation’s infrastructure, vowing to replace dilapidated roads and bridges, increase access to clean drinking water, and deploy broadband to places without high-speed internet.
Instead of infrastructure week, a joke under my predecessor, it’s infrastructure decade, Biden declared last week.
Biden also highlighted the package’s Buy America provisions, which the administration says would create American manufacturing jobs and increase supply chain resilience. Biden pledged in his first State of the Union address in March to “buy American” to ensure that everything from an aircraft carrier’s deck to highway guardrails was built in the U.S.
Many state and municipal authorities worry the new restrictions might delay infrastructure projects and raise expenses amid the fastest inflation in 40 years. Some say they’re already battling with supply-chain delays caused by the outbreak and fear material shortages could increase if limited to domestic producers. Higher prices could lead to fewer initiatives, reducing the package’s impact.
The impact could go beyond roadwork. Housing advocates fear the Buy America restrictions may slow public housing construction. Millions of Americans without the internet could see broadband expansions delayed.
State agencies, local authorities, and industry organizations have lobbied the feds to delay or clarify the new rules. Several government agencies have issued waivers temporarily delaying the new restrictions.
Mitch Landrieu, Biden’s senior advisor and infrastructure coordinator, said it’s unrealistic to expect state and local officials to “turn on a dime” and that the administration will evaluate waivers case-by-case.
Landrieu: “Pressure testing the system will reveal weaknesses.” Building a system to implement new rules and regulations takes time.
Landrieu said waivers would be restricted and the administration would “aggressively pressure” states and towns to execute the rules, which he claimed would boost American industry and long-term economic growth.
Landrieu: “Lean in, don’t lean back”
Made in America director Celeste Drake said the new guidelines will strengthen the supply chain.
“The enhanced Buy America standards play a strategic role in adopting a 21st-century American industrial strategy,” Drake added.
Transportation projects face tighter requirements.
Before this year’s infrastructure law, Buy America standards were largely a collection of statutes enforced by the Transportation Department (they sound similar, but they deal with materials and products the federal government purchases directly).
Because there was no department-wide norm, each agency interpreted the legislation differently and offered program-specific waivers. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has had a waiver for manufactured products since 1983, so road and bridge constructions only have to employ domestic iron and steel if they’re permanent.
Iron and steel, manufactured items, and construction materials must be made in the U.S.
To be termed “made in the USA,” manufactured goods must contain at least 55% domestic content. Plastic and polymer-based items, glass, timber, drywall, and non-ferrous metals must be made in the U.S. Cement and aggregate products like sand and gravel are exempt.
New transportation project requirements haven’t taken effect yet. The Transportation Department approved a temporary waiver for building materials in May so state and local agencies could adjust. A DOT official said the waiver, which expires on November 10, won’t be extended. The FHWA will examine its manufactured items waiver by November 15.
Many state and local agencies support Buy America, but some have encouraged the Transportation Department to prolong the building materials exemptions.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, which represents transportation departments in 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, said domestic manufacturing “cannot ensure the availability and timely delivery of many materials needed for transportation projects” and urged federal officials to extend the waiver period by 12 to 18 months.
Jim McDonnell, the association’s director of engineering, said state officials favor growing American jobs but worry about how the new standards would be applied and how they could increase costs if demand exceeds supply. Since U.S. supplies are limited, he added, officials import numerous glass beads and metals like zinc.
“Six months isn’t enough time for a new industry to start producing or for current businesses to scale up production,” McDonnell said. “We’re still worried that state DOTs will have problems finding items, even with this six-month waiver.”
Jimmy Christianson, Associated General Contractors of America vice president of government affairs, said the organization needed clearer federal guidance on what defines a construction material versus a manufactured product.
“Fiber optic glass is a construction material, but it’s normally wrapped in rubber or plastic,” Christianson explained. “Is it a construction material or a produced product if it’s plastic? We’re clueless.”
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced the first guidelines in April that defined a manufactured product as two or more construction materials mixed through a manufacturing process. In coming months, OMB will release more advice.
Christianson encouraged the federal government to grant further waivers. Some state and municipal agencies say they’ve been discouraged by the procedure and told waivers are unlikely to be granted. Certain resources aren’t manufactured in sufficient numbers in the U.S., the project cost will increase by more than 25%, or the rules aren’t in the “public interest.”
93% of Associated General Contractors of America poll respondents reported material shortages, and most construction businesses said meeting the new Buy America criteria would be challenging. Steel, non-ferrous metal, plastic items, electrical equipment, and HVAC systems are hard to find domestically. Some electrical equipment has two-year lead times, and ductile iron piping and roofing materials have one-year waits.
In several situations, the rules inhibited authorities from seeking federal subsidies to buy emission-reducing technology. Northwest Seaport Alliance, a marine freight operating partnership of the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma, aims to purchase zero and near-zero emissions equipment to boost cargo handling efficiency.
In most situations, ports can’t identify a Buy America-compliant American manufacturer. Even though some manufacturers have U.S. production facilities, parts are often supplied elsewhere or corporations don’t track steel sources, McFarland said.
Because the technology is more expensive than typical diesel versions, the ports can’t afford it without federal subsidies, McFarland said, making it difficult to eliminate emissions by 2050.
“We can’t fulfill those goals alone,” he remarked.
Democrats and Republicans support domestic content standards, says Jeff Davis, a senior fellow at the Eno Center for Transportation. There’s little study on how Buy America has affected domestic job creation.
Since the start of the Biden administration, the manufacturing sector has added thousands of jobs, and several corporations have begun establishing production facilities in the U.S. Siemens stated in March it will invest $54 million and create 300 jobs to build electric vehicle charging equipment.
A 2014 Duke University study revealed that Buy America initiatives “mitigate the safety risks of employing inferior-quality foreign inputs while delivering larger economic benefits to the US economy than outsourced programs.” In a case study of two large-scale bridge projects, the researchers discovered that the project not subject to Buy America laws outsourced 27% of the monies invested.
Steel, iron, and other manufacturing industry associations have encouraged federal officials to speed up the implementation of the new standards, which they claim will create American jobs, improve infrastructure, and strengthen the domestic supply chain.
Steel and iron makers can satisfy demand, said Alliance for American Manufacturing president Scott Paul. He urged the federal government to let current blanket waivers expire, saying firms would spend more in domestic production if the laws were enforced.
Paul said, “Get going.” Some waivers can be extended forever, which wasn’t Congress’s goal.
The restrictions don’t create many American employment, according to other data. A 2018 study from Victoria University found that Buy America laws boosted American manufacturing jobs but reduced other jobs and increased project costs.
The authors, Peter Dixon, Maureen Rimmer, and Robert Waschik, calculated that abolishing local content rules may cost 57,000 manufacturing jobs but create 306,000 employment in retail, restaurants, and nursing homes. Eliminating the laws could allow the government to fund additional projects or “return the savings to the private sector in the form of tax cuts,” increasing consumption.
Victoria University economics professor Dixon says these policies create manufacturing jobs. Few and expensive.
Gary Hufbauer and Jeffrey Schott, senior fellows at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, projected that from 2009 to 2011, state and local governments paid an additional $5.7 billion to acquire domestic steel over imported steel for ARRA projects.
New initiatives include housing, telecommunications, and EV charging.
The extended Buy America requirements affect non-transportation projects. Housing, communications, and future electric vehicle charging initiatives are now permanently covered under the statute.
Some housing groups have opposed to the new restrictions and asked the federal government to omit public housing projects, saying the requirements could increase prices and delay the development of affordable housing units. They say housing authorities lack employees to check if materials and goods meet domestic content criteria.
OMB says projects consisting primarily of the building or rehabilitation of a private residence for personal use are not infrastructure projects, but some grant programs that send federal funds to public housing authority could be subject to the regulations, according to a HUD study.
Sunia Zaterman, executive director of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, said this has produced confusion. HUD’s waiver delaying the implementation of new financial aid standards expires on November 14.
Zaterman: “We’re exempt because we operate residential buildings.” They’re not schools. Not courts Residential properties”
Bellingham and Whatcom County Housing Authority executive director Brien Thane said officials were already facing supply problems. Thane said the authority is trying to repair 100 windows in a property for seniors and people with disabilities, but lead times are four to six months, substantially longer than before the pandemic, when it took 30 to 45 days to acquire a shipment. Thane said officials feared water ingress because the windows are 50 years old and “failing.”
When Buy America restrictions were related to money in the Obama administration’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, authorities had a “hard time” procuring toilets, refrigerators, and other equipment, Thane said.
Thane: “The infrastructure bill doesn’t include public housing.” Why extend domestic procurement to public housing?
Some broadband groups have praised the infrastructure law’s $65 billion in funding for reliable internet, but said Buy America regulations could hamper projects. In January, a consortium of organizations requested federal officials to suspend internet infrastructure standards because they don’t “reflect global supply chain reality.” A broadband network includes switching and routing equipment, and devices in each element often incorporate hundreds of components from around the world, according to the letter.
Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, which signed the letter, warned smaller broadband providers may struggle to obtain supplies if limited to domestic manufacturers and compete with larger corporations. Bloomfield said some members are suffering delays of “far over a year” for fiber optic cable delivery and shortages of handholes and pedestals. Bloomfield anticipated the government would encourage American suppliers to increase production.
“They’ll have to make sure the big guys don’t take all the resources so small carriers can build in remote areas,” Bloomfield added.
Some contractors say the new Buy America regulations make them hesitant to pursue federally sponsored projects, says Associated Builders and Contractors’ Ben Brubeck. Brubeck said contractors are worried about delays in acquiring goods and how that could affect costs, especially because input prices are up more than 40% since the pandemic began.
If they can earn a profit in the private sector without uncertainty, extra costs, and regulatory risk, they will, Brubeck said.
Some state and municipal organizations are worried about the supply of U.S.-made electric vehicle chargers.
Patrick Murphy, sustainability and innovations project manager at the Vermont Agency of Transportation, warned that every state will want EV chargers and equipment like transformers and switchgear at the same time, straining supplies and increasing costs. Vermont, which will get $21.2 million over five years to establish its network, has identified 15 charger spots.
FHWA proposes relaxing Buy America rules for EV chargers and components until January 1, then phasing out sections of the waiver through 2024. Murphy said he believed American manufacturing will need more time to build up.
Murphy: “We’re already witnessing extreme climate change” “We must construct infrastructure to encourage more people to buy electric cars as soon as feasible. Anything that interferes will be a problem.”
Summary of today’s construction news
Overall, we discussed today about the ten service plaza structures along the New York State Thruway that were constructed by Nexii Building Solutions. An additional 23 service plazas will be constructed along the New York State Thruway, with construction on these 10 public structures set to be completed by 2024. During his first State of the Union speech in March, Vice President Biden made a commitment to “buy American” to ensure that all manufactured goods, from the deck of an aircraft carrier to highway guardrails, were produced in the United States. That made many state and municipal officials concerned that the new constraints may delay infrastructure projects and increase expenses due to the fastest inflation in 40 years.