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Weekly Briefing: June 12-16, 2023

Week of June 12, 2023

Finding the Right Use Cases for AI in Construction Takes Effort

  • Construction technology practitioners are leveraging machine learning and AI algorithms, automating tasks such as building inspection and optimizing concrete mixes for sustainability goals.

  • Startups entering the construction tech space must demonstrate a solution to industry problems, while overcoming the challenge of understanding the industry's needs and establishing trust.

  • Drones are revolutionizing construction processes by improving accuracy, safety, and efficiency, from inspecting elevated structures to runway inspections and emergency response scenarios.


A Puzzle in Arizona’s Boom Towns: How to Keep Growing With Less Water

  • Arizona's new construction limits due to water shortages are changing development plans, particularly in cities like Buckeye, as groundwater shortfall forces a reevaluation of growth strategies.

  • Water scarcity in the Phoenix area raises urgent questions about water allocation for agriculture, manufacturing, and urban development, leading to stricter groundwater laws and restrictions on groundwater-dependent subdivisions.

  • The water shortage may increase housing costs, affect affordability, and impact Arizona's appeal, but it also presents opportunities for higher-density development, conservation measures, and exploring alternative water sources like treated wastewater and seawater desalination.

U.S. Proposes to Formalize Deep Fee Reductions for Wind, Solar on Federal Land

  • The Biden administration proposed an 80% reduction in project fees for wind and solar energy developments on federal lands, formalizing the changes through a new regulation to promote renewable energy and combat climate change.

  • The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) aims to accept leasing applications in priority areas for wind and solar development without competitive auctions, while considering additional fee reductions for projects using American-made equipment or built with union labor.

  • The BLM is currently processing applications for clean energy projects that have the potential to add over 37 GW of renewable energy to the grid, with the goal of finalizing the rule next year to support President Biden's clean energy agenda.

House Panel Clears FAA Bill Providing $20 Billion for Airport Grants

  • Congress is advancing legislation to reauthorize FAA programs, with a proposed funding boost of $20 billion over five years for the agency's Airport Improvement Program (AIP) that funds construction grants.

  • The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unanimously approved a comprehensive FAA reauthorization bill, totaling about $104 billion, with provisions supporting airport infrastructure, including terminal projects and alternative project delivery methods.

  • Industry groups, including the Associated General Contractors of America and American Council of Engineering Cos., commend the increased funding levels, protection against rising materials costs, and provisions for unmanned aircraft systems (drones) operations and passenger facility charges (PFCs).

June 2, 2023

Universal Technical Resource Services, Inc. (UTRS), a New Jersey-based provider of engineering services and information technology to both the public and private sector, has acquired Finelli Consulting Engineers (Finelli), a New Jersey-based provider of civil engineering consulting and municipal engineering services across New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The acquisition will aid the RKR Hess division of UTRS which specializes in civil engineering, environmental engineering, surveying, and wetland services. The addition of Finelli's capabilities and a new office in Washington Township, NJ significantly expands UTRS's reach across the river and into Northern New Jersey, tapping into promising opportunities for their business. David Zalcmann, Chief Operating Officer at UTRS, highlighted the synergies between RKR Hess and Finelli, emphasizing the quality work Finelli has consistently delivered to municipalities and private clients over the years.


June 7, 2023

Schneider Geospatial, LLC (Schneider Geospatial), an Indiana-based portfolio company of Align Capital Partners and prominent industry leader in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), has acquired PeopleGIS, a Massachusetts-based asset management software-as-a-service (SaaS) firm focused on public works and permitting / licensing. This acquisition provides Schneider Geospatial with valuable access to PeopleGIS's renowned SimpliCITY software. By leveraging this software, Schneider Geospatial gains the ability to streamline asset management workflows, enhance decision-making processes, and drive operational efficiencies for their clients. Jeff Corns, CEO of Schneider Geospatial emphasized the significance of this strategic move, stating, “We have recognized the increasing importance of asset management to our clients, and this move allows us to provide a holistic approach to geospatial solutions that encompasses traditional mapping, land management and comprehensive asset management.”


June 8, 2023

Huitt-Zollars Inc. (Huitt-Zollars), a Texas-based full-service design firm, has acquired Gavan & Barker, an Arizona-based design group with expertise in civil engineering and landscape architecture services. This strategic acquisition by Huitt-Zollars further strengthens their presence in the Phoenix-area and enhances their capabilities in serving the public works market. Robert McDermott, President of Huitt-Zollars said "This directly aligns with our strategic plan for growth, and we are excited about our future in Arizona.”


June 8, 2023

SOCOTEC Inc (SOCOTEC), a Belgium-based risk management service firm providing testing, inspection, and certification (TIC) in the construction, real-estate, and infrastructure sectors, has acquired Conversano Associates, Inc (Conversano Associates), a New York-based provider of code consulting and permit expediting. The strategic acquisition will bolster SOCOTEC USA's offerings in code compliance, planning, and zoning consulting services. Furthermore, the expertise of Conversano Associates will greatly assist SOCOTEC USA in various areas, including, “obtaining and expediting permits, city agency research, application filing & review, project inspections, plan review & approvals, forensic research of violations, certificates of occupancy, and completion signoffs,” as noted by SOCOTEC USA’s Principal and Practice Leader, Jeremy Schinasi.

June 8, 2023

STV Group, Inc (STV), a Pennsylvania-based provider of engineering, architectural, planning, environmental, and construction management services across North America, has acquired American Engineers, LLC (AEI), a Kentucky-based civil engineering firm. AEI positioned itself in the growing Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky markets with clients throughout the southeast making it a strong candidate for acquisition by STV. AEI’s headquarters sits between the rapidly growing I-75 and I-65 which will allow STV to support the billions of dollars invested into growing and developing this region. Greg Kelly, President and CEO of STV, noted, “The coming together of AEI and STV immediately allows us to scale our services in a rapidly developing region and solidifies STV’s growing presence in the southeast. It will also create exciting new career opportunities for our teams.”

June 13, 2023

Bowman Consulting Group, Ltd. (Bowman), a Virginia-based professional civil engineering firm focusing on both the private and public sectors, has acquired Advanced Applied Engineering, Inc., doing business as Infrastructure Engineers, a California-based provider of professional engineering, planning, environmental, geospatial, and municipal services. The Bowman acquisition expands their presence in California and strengthens their focus on the public sector. Gary Bowman, Chairman and CEO of Bowman expressed his excitement about the acquisition stating “The firm’s focus on public sector infrastructure design and its depth of experience in construction management consulting are extremely complementary to our long-term growth and diversification initiatives… [We] believe this acquisition presents immediate opportunities across our platform for expanded services, revenue synergies, and work sharing efficiencies.”

FlyGirls, a recipient of a grant from the POWER Foundation, offers an immersive educational experience in aerospace engineering to girls in grades four through eight. Through hands-on activities centered around the construction and piloting of drones, FlyGirls fosters an environment that cultivates curiosity and expands young minds. The effects of their workshops has been inspiring, and we eagerly anticipate the continued growth and positive impact of their program on the lives of young individuals.


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