Resiliency has become a topic of interest among stakeholders in the construction industry due to a recent increase in severe weather and attention to natural disasters. This has led the Q3 2019 Commercial Construction Index (CCI), recently released by USG Corp. and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to focus on resiliency in two aspects for its quarterly spotlight: strategies for making their own businesses more resilient and their perception of efforts to make buildings more resilient.

Extreme weather events have caused schedule delays for 75% of general contractors (GCs) and 56% of trade contractors. According to the CCI, this discrepancy could be due to the fact that the trades’ involvement in a project may be a shorter duration than that of GCs.

Less than two-thirds of general contractors report that they include the potential impact of weather when calculating project bids and only 44% of trade contractors report doing so.

When it comes to having a project risk mitigation plan for natural disasters, less than half of GCs and only 19% of trade contractors report having them. However, the Midwest has the highest percentage of contractors (64%) who include the impact of weather in their bids. The South has the lowest percentage at just 38%.

Both the majority of GCs (76%) and trade contractors (70%) rank building owners as the most influential in making projects resilient. Out of eight project team member roles, architects were the only other group selected by a notable percentage (13% by GCs and 15% by trade contractors). None of the respondents ranked contractors first in terms of influence on project resiliency.

Most GCs and trade contractors believe that building owners are interested in resiliency as a project outcome, however less than a quarter of both groups believe that interest is growing.

While nearly all of GCs and 82% of trade contractors believe that architects and engineers design at least some of their projects with resiliency in mind, they do not see this as a common practice, with less than one-third reporting that it happens on 25% of more of all projects.

GCs have more experience working on resilient projects in the past three years, with 45% of GCs and only 37% of trade contractors reporting having done so. The CCI points out that some trades are less likely to be a part of the resiliency effort, such as those focused on interior work.

More trade contractors (69%) than GCs (65%) agree that resilient building codes are necessary to help buildings withstand natural disasters/severe weather and only a few (20% of GCs and 12% of trade contractors) find resiliency codes burdensome. According to the CCI, small firms are more likely to find these codes burdensome.

The West has the highest percentage of contractors (77%) who believe resilient building codes are necessary while the South has the lowest at 58%. Forty-four percent of contractors in the Northeast most frequently disagree that their company has to devote significant resources to keep up with resiliency codes while only 25% of contractors in the South disagree with that statement.

Most GCs and nearly half of trade contractors find resiliency codes to be moderately effective. Less than a quarter of both groups find them to be highly effective.

When it comes to drivers for contractors to learn more about resilience, 64% of general contractors reported that having a competitive advantage of demonstration expertise on resilience was a major driver. Trade contractors were not as interested in competitive advantage (only 32%) and are also driven by:

  • More work with existing clients (30%);
  • Building better projects (25%);
  • The ability to charge more (24%);
  • Improved client relations (22%);
  • More information on how to build resilient projects (12%); and
  • Improved ability to win green projects (15%).

However, a quarter of trade contractors said that none of these would encourage contractors to learn more while only 5% of GCs said so. According to the CCI, this suggests that GCs consider knowledge about resilience to be more relevant to their business.