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With the New Year, industry leaders are watching for new architecture and construction trends to enter the arena. The most notable trend in 2012 will be reconstruction projects that boost construction activity and generally keep architects, engineers, contractors and developers busy. Whether it’s a LEED upgrade to a building, a remodel, historic improvement or an addition, reconstruction will be the backbone supporting the construction industry until the economy returns to a normal pace.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) reported that LEED-certified existing buildings are surpassing their new construction counterparts. During USGBC’s first decade, new construction on LEED projects led the charge until 2008, after which it slowly began to change. A year later, LEED for existing buildings (LEED-EB) projects outpaced those certified under LEED for new construction (LEED-NC) for the first time, a movement that has continued over the last few years.

“At KMA, we welcome the trend of working to update existing buildings with retrofits and sustainable upgrades, especially as new construction slows,” said Robb Walker of KMA Architecture and Engineering. “These modest improvements in greater volume will make a powerful impact on our overall energy use and reduce our greenhouse gases.”

This trend will be further supported through President Obama’s Better Buildings Initiative, which passed in February 2011. With the initiative, Obama’s administration pledged to fund $2 billion in public and private investments in building upgrades, working to set a national target of improving energy efficiency in commercial buildings by 20 percent by 2020. Improving energy efficiency through reconstruction and LEED upgrades will create more jobs in the construction industry, save building owners money and increase energy savings.

Overall, analysts foresee that the construction industry will see slight growth by the end of 2012 or hold steady. California especially leads the pack in a nationwide construction recovery and will have the most construction dollars spent among the states over the next four years. As California comes off of low levels of construction activity, the initial growth rates will be very high. With the state’s economy slowly growing, there will be notable near-term economic growth, which will ultimately translate into greater construction activity.

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