NOTE: This article is Part 2 of 2. See Part 1 with Dodge's predictions for commercial and residential building here.
While performance by all residential and commercial construction sectors is expected to grow in 2016, Dodge has more rocky predictions for some of the other segments next year in its 2016 Dodge Construction Outlook, released Friday. As a whole, Dodge expects institutional construction to expand 9%, manufacturing to fall 1%, public works to remain unchanged, and electric utilities/gas plants to plummet 43%.
However, some of those declines are the result of sectors returning to normal after an exceptional year. Overall, Dodge expects construction starts to grow 6% to $712 billion in 2016.
Educational building predictions
2015: +2% starts; 127 million square feet
2016: +9% starts; 138 million square feet
As enrollment in both K-12 schools and colleges/universities continues to grow, demand for construction on new facilities will strengthen. "K-12 school construction is larger and more volatile than universities," Murray said during the conference. Dodge expects improving fiscal conditions for both school districts and higher education institutions, as well as the dry spell for building new facilities in recent years, to spark a "renewed focus on investment in education infrastructure."
Healthcare facility predictions
2015: +0% starts; 68 million square feet
2016: +1% starts; 69 million square feet
The healthcare industry has been hesitant to make significant capital investments into major construction projects due partly to the "uncertainty that continues to plague the healthcare market" after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Murray said. However, Dodge predicts the industry will soon move past that environment of uncertainty and face the need to serve an expanding elderly population and replace older facilities. Once the industry reaches that point, "healthcare construction is likely to see stronger increases given the speed with which changes are happening in both the population and the healthcare industry itself," Dodge noted.
Public building predictions
2015: -6% starts; 15.4 million square feet
2016: +3% starts; 15.9 million square feet
Dodge predicts public building construction, which includes courthouses, capitol buildings, and police, fire, detention and other administrative facilities, will fall for the eighth-straight year. Those steady decreases have been largely due to tight fiscal conditions for governments. On the plus side, Dodge said 2015 will likely be the bottom of the public building cycle, and the sector will bounce back in 2016 as governments can be less strict with their budgets.
Religious building predictions
2015: -5% starts; 9.3 million square feet
2016: +3% starts; 9.6 million square feet
Religious building construction has contracted for 13 consecutive years. Dodge cited falling church membership and attendance as the main reasons for this steady slide. Next year, however, Dodge expects church building starts will finally inch up due to to recent gains in the dollar amounts of charitable donations to churches.
Amusement and recreational building predictions
2015: +4% starts; 45.9 million square feet
2016: +15% starts; 52.7 million square feet
After strong gains in 2014, amusement and recreational construction starts are predicted to see a more modest rise this year, as square footage and dollar volume of projects in 2015 have slipped. The Detroit Red Wings Arena led the pack of largest projects started this year. Dodge expects stronger growth in amusement and recreational building next year as the economy continues to improve.
Transportation terminal predictions
2015: +5% starts; 21.2 million square feet
2016: +17% starts; 24.8 million square feet
Transportation terminal construction has grown since 2014, but it was held back from stronger growth this year due to funding uncertainty involving the Highway Trust Fund. Dodge expects Congress to soon pass a long-term solution for infrastructure funding as well as a multiyear surface transportation bill, which would boost terminal construction in 2016. The rise of public-private partnerships will also continue to spur more of these projects, as private and public entities share the costs, according to Dodge.
Manufacturing building predictions
2015: -22% starts; 60 million square feet
2016: +5% starts; 63 million square feet
Dodge found the environment for plant construction to be "less favorable" this year than in 2014, as plummeting oil prices resulted in the slowdown and stoppage of several energy-related projects. The strengthening U.S. dollar has also resulted in higher prices for American goods overseas, and lower prices for foreign goods in the U.S. However, Dodge expects oil prices and the dollar value to stabilize next year, which will result in an improving manufacturing construction sector.
Public works, electric and gas
Highway and bridge construction predictions
2015: +13%; $65.4 billion
2016: -4%; $62.8 billion
Dodge called the gains in highway and bridge construction this year "surprising," as Congress has been unable to agree on a long-term solution to the Highway Trust Fund. Despite that climate of uncertainty, highway and bridge projects have seen significant gains in 2015. Next year, however, Dodge expects a slight dip in the sector. Even if Congress does pass a multiyear bill, as expected, the new funding won't reach the actual projects for a while, Dodge noted.
Environmental public works predictions
2015: +0%; $33.7 billion
2016: +4%; $35.1 billion
Dodge attributed the flat level of environmental public works construction to the EPA's unchanged funding for state programs. Next year, however, Dodge expects an overall bump for the sector. Within environmental public works, dams and water resource building is predicted to grow 5%, buoyed by several large environmental projects expected to break ground in 2016. Sewer construction is predicted to grow 3%, and water supply construction will see a 5% rise, according to Dodge.
Electric power and gas plant predictions
2015: +159%; $60.0 billion
2016: -43%; $34.0 billion
Murray called electric power and gas plant construction the "most volatile category," as the sector has seen major swings each year. Dodge attributed 2015's skyrocketing results to several major solar farm and natural gas projects. In 2016, however, Dodge expects a heightened sense of uncertainty for the sector, as President Obama's Clean Power Plan will likely reduce the number of coal-fired power plants and spur the construction of more solar and wind facilities. After the plan's release, several states sued the EPA — resulting in "uncertainty regarding the timing of its implementation," Dodge said.