/ Trends / March – April 2015 TRENDS

March – April 2015 TRENDS

Matt Ball on April 4, 2015 - in Trends

In this section, Informed Infrastructure compiles infographics from trusted sources that reveal insight on infrastructure spending. We also compile some of the top infrastructure stories that shouldn’t be missed.

Index Gauges City Sustainability Globally

ARCADIS, a global design, engineering and management-consulting company, put together its first Sustainable Cities Index report, which compares cities worldwide on the standard sustainability metrics of people, profit and planet. The global ranking creates a sense of competition and also is meant to unveil opportunity.

Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index 2015 - Infographic (1)

ARCADIS defines city sustainability as:

Sustainable cities build transport systems that enable people to navigate the city quickly and affordably, have clean and safe water supplies, strong social structures and institutions that work predictably and efficiently, a healthy and well-educated workforce, and an environment conducive to strong economic performance. To take the needs of the future into account, cities must take care of their waste, avoid polluting the atmosphere and protect the surrounding water from contamination. Cities also need to guard against rare and unpredictable events such as disasters that can cost lives and set back their development. Sustainable development means meeting current requirements without jeopardizing the potential for future generations of inhabitants.

Takeaways from this comparison include the following:

  • No North American city made the Top 10, with Toronto the highest at 12.
  • European cities top the rankings, with Frankfurt first, followed by London, Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Rotterdam.
  • Cities in the Middle East are most divergent, with Doha and Dubai scoring high on profit but low on planet (environmental sustainability).

Browse the full report and graphics here.

Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure Examined

The Congressional Budget Office recently released a report, “Public Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, 1956 to 2014,” showing that the prices of materials and other inputs began to rise rapidly beginning in 2003, and spending on maintenance has recently outstripped capital expenses.

Public spending has been fairly consistent as a share of economic activity for 30 years, but the purchase of physical capital and labor costs have been outweighed by maintenance and operations costs. Maintenance costs have increased by 6 percent from 2003-2014, while capital investment has decreased by 23 percent in that same timeframe.


As a result of these divergent trends, there was a record gap in 2014 between spending for operation and maintenance, and capital. Spending on transportation and water infrastructure totaled $416 billion in 2014, with most of these funds coming from state and local government ($320 billion vs. federal spending of $96 billion). The report details federal spending initiatives that have been allocated toward capital expenditure as well as the positive impact of lower oil prices on the cost of construction and asphalt paving, with hints that this gap could close.

Read the full report here.

Report Forecasts Global Freight Growth

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, International Transport Forum, released a transport-outlook report forecasting global growth of volume as well as emissions from transportation through 2050. The forecast factors in policy and rapid urbanization on overall transport volumes, CO2 emissions, and health impacts.

Consumption patterns of emerging economies will have an outsized impact on freight volumes in this timespan, and curbing the negative side effects of increased emissions, local pollution and traffic congestion will be a major challenge.

Some findings include the following:

  •  Slow growth of traditional trade routes, but an explosion in corridors that connect emerging economies, averaging 17 percent growth per year.
  •  The trade route between China and the United States will see the highest flow of goods in both directions by 2050.
  •  The North Pacific corridor will surpass the North Atlantic as the main freight corridor by 2050.


Read the full report here.

Construction Compensation Rebounds

The Great Recession was particularly difficult for construction and engineering professions, with more than 1 million workers losing their jobs. The management-consulting firm FMI Corp. recently released a report on Post-Recession Transformations to detail where there have been gains as the economy recovers.

Some of the findings include:

  •  Engineers who shifted to business-development roles saw the greatest salary growth.
  •  Positions in purchasing and cost control saw positive gains.
  •  Field engineers for engineering firms saw less increase than the same position at construction firms.
  •  Salaries for those involved in building information modeling (BIM) dipped in 2014, perhaps signaling a saturation in that sector.
  •  Construction spending is outpacing gross domestic product growth, and this is forecast to continue.

Read the full report here.

TOP Stories

The following are the top stories from the last few months (in terms of traffic) on the Informed Infrastructure Website. This also reflects key coverage areas that are regularly refreshed online and via our weekly e-newsletter. Click on the links below to read these stories in full.




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