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2018 HB Industry Spotlight , Construction – February 1, 2018

Construction Industry Outlook 2018

presented by BIA Hawaii
Photo: Aaron Yoshino

The Solutions: Looking ahead, moving forward

While the challenges facing the construction industry can seem daunting, those in the know look toward the future with a positive perspective.

“There is a general understanding of what is needed here in terms of construction (e.g. housing and infrastructure),” says Gerry Majkut, president of Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company. “People are working toward addressing those areas.”

Dietz suggests both land-use and financial strategies to help promote growth in the construction industry. As part of land-use strategies, he suggests tactics for our government to tackle. These include allowing for smaller lots through the use of efficient zoning, permitting accessory dwelling units, and providing regulatory relief. When it comes to financial strategies, Dietz again suggests actions that our government could employ: providing financing from other sources, such as sales taxes, reducing or even eliminating impact fees, and providing property tax or tax credit relief.

Two solutions with perhaps the most potential lie in seemingly unrelated sectors: technology and transportation.

Technology

Just as with other industries, such as healthcare and education, the construction industry is also poised to benefit from improvements stemming from technology. These technological advances can help to lower the overall costs of projects while maintaining or even improving on quality.  Some people often joke that Hawaii is behind the rest of the world when it comes to technology, but that is not the case.

“More and more changes in technology will be happening in our industry, and I believe the way construction is being done today will become more efficient in the future,” says Majkut. “We have implemented Building Information Modeling (BIM), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), drones and new software on our projects.”

We are ahead of many other states and countries as well, and there are many local firms open to advanced construction/design technology who are paving the way.”

Terrance Arashiro, President of Austin, Tsutsumi and Associates, Inc.

Arashiro agrees. “We are ahead of many other states and countries as well, and there are many local firms open to advanced construction/design technology who are paving the way,” he says. “Our isolation definitely makes it challenging to undertake large-scale projects at a comparable cost to similar projects on the mainland … but there are natural resources that are unique to our island state that have been tapped but still underutilized and/or are being explored.”

Arashiro points to some of the small-scale, net-zero energy facilities that have been undertaken. “I look forward to seeing this on larger scales that will highlight our island’s design and construction capabilities—using Hawaii resources,” he says.

Transportation

When it comes to any industry, we have to look at other changing sectors if we want to move forward in a positive way. With the inevitable changes in the transportation sector, it follows that construction poised to work along with these changes will work best. Arashiro refers to transit-oriented development (TOD) as carrying a great deal of potential for the industry.

“Within TODs, more affordable and public housing and rentals will sprout and spur more business growth, especially small business opportunities. Vertical development and higher densities are already being planned by the City, which will allow development costs to be more manageable,” he says. “It will take a generation to change the culture of commuting. Therefore, it will be the next generation that will fully utilize transit and multi-modal forms of travel. Rail is just one backbone component to allow in-fill development. Reinvestment in infrastructure will be required if we want to see this happen.”

It is our hope that construction will naturally advance to areas of transit-oriented development that would ideally carry the industry for the next 20 years.”

Terrance Arashiro, President of Austin, Tsutsumi and Associates, Inc.

Embracing a culture of commuting by way of establishing partnerships to improve infrastructure surrounding that transit may be a major component to sustaining the construction industry, at least on Oahu.

“It is our hope that construction will naturally advance to areas of transit-oriented development that would ideally carry the industry for the next 20 years,” Arashiro says. “There is already momentum in planning TODs, but public-private partnerships will be necessary to make it economically viable.

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