Friday, October 22News That Matters

Tag: Building (Construction)

Home Buyers Who Went All In on Evergrande Now Want Out

Home Buyers Who Went All In on Evergrande Now Want Out

Business
China is trying to cool its costly and dangerously debt-ridden housing market, where high prices and go-go levels of borrowing and spending are increasingly seen as a national threat.But as the troubles of a major property developer and its $300 billion mountain of debt drive a government effort to contain the peril, Beijing risks hurting a major driver of its crucial economic growth engine: home buyers like He Qiang.Mr. He was so optimistic about property in China that he bought an apartment from that property developer, China Evergrande Group, then became a real estate agent himself, selling the company’s apartments to hundreds of other families. “It was the peak of Evergrande’s glory,” Mr. He said.He is much more pessimistic these days. Mr. He, who is from the southern city of Yueyang, ...
How an 11-Foot-Tall 3-D Printer Is Helping to Create a Community

How an 11-Foot-Tall 3-D Printer Is Helping to Create a Community

Technology
Square FeetThree-dimensional printing can create nearly any object. A partnership in Mexico is putting that theory to the test, building a village for residents living in poverty.By Debra KaminPedro García Hernández, 48, is a carpenter in the southeastern Mexican state of Tabasco, a rainforest-shrouded region of the country where about half of the residents live below the poverty line.He ekes out a living making about 2,500 pesos ($125.17) a month from a tiny workspace inside the home he shares with his wife, Patrona, and their daughter, Yareli. The home has dirt floors, and during Tabasco’s long rainy season, it’s prone to flooding. Dust from his construction projects coats nearly everything in the home, clinging to the bedroom walls, the pump toilet and the counters of his makeshift kitc...
Beyond Evergrande’s Troubles, a Slowing Chinese Economy

Beyond Evergrande’s Troubles, a Slowing Chinese Economy

Business
BEIJING — Global markets have watched anxiously as a huge and deeply indebted Chinese property company flirts with default, fearing that any collapse could ripple through the international financial system.China Evergrande Group, the developer, on Wednesday said it reached a deal that might give it some breathing room in the face of a bond payment due the next day. But that murky arrangement doesn’t address the broader threat for Beijing’s top leaders and the global economic outlook: China’s growth is slowing, and the government may have to work harder to rekindle it.Retail sales were much more weak than expected last month in China, led by slow car sales. Industrial production has slackened, particularly for large freight trucks. And developers sharply reduced new housing projects over th...
Can a Green-Economy Boom Town Be Built to Last?

Can a Green-Economy Boom Town Be Built to Last?

Technology, World
When the plant scaled back production in the 2000s and closed in 2015, around the time of white-collar job cuts, Normal felt the pinch. Suppliers decamped, and many workers left in search of new jobs. Uptown, an elegant, brick-accented district with a restored 1930s theater and a pair of suddenly too-big hotels, became a monument to the city’s fading prosperity.Local politicians and business leaders embraced Rivian, which is based in Michigan and has locations in other states, Canada and Britain, as a way to fill the vacuum. But in a place that has endured such changes of fortune, residents can be forgiven for wondering how long today’s good times will continue.The Transition to Electric CarsElectric vehicles require fewer workers to make than gasoline-powered ones. And while Rivian’s pros...
California’s Plan to Make New Buildings Greener Will Also Raise Costs

California’s Plan to Make New Buildings Greener Will Also Raise Costs

Business
But in other locations like San Bernardino, a far less affluent city east of Los Angeles, where the typical home sells for about $529,000, the cost of solar panels and batteries can be a bigger burden to home buyers.“If we push it and we do things that are modern and efficient and green, we tend to be able to do it in Los Angeles,” Mr. Marini said. “That’s not entirely true in the rest of the country. We can’t do that in San Bernardino. At the end, the consumer absorbs the cost.”The Sycamore Square townhouses were the last ones developed in San Bernardino before the solar mandate took effect last year. Glenn Elssmann, a partner in the project who hired Mr. Marini’s company as the contractor, said the added cost of the solar requirement would have made construction of the development imposs...
How Government Decisions Left Tennessee Exposed to Deadly Flooding

How Government Decisions Left Tennessee Exposed to Deadly Flooding

Technology, World
The floods that killed at least 20 people in Tennessee last weekend arrived with shocking speed and force — seemingly a case study of the difficulties of protecting people from explosive rainstorms as climate change gets worse.A closer look at what happened in the days, years and even decades before the storm reveals that a series of government decisions — where and how to build, when to update flood maps, whether to join the federal flood insurance program and how to warn of dangerous floods — left residents more exposed to flooding than they had to be.Record rainfall, at times exceeding 3 inches an hour, swelled rivers and creeks in Middle Tennessee on Saturday, destroying homes, cutting off power and cellphone service and washing away bridges. Among the dead are 7-month old twins, a 15-...
California Solar Panel Mandate for New Buildings Advances

California Solar Panel Mandate for New Buildings Advances

Technology
LOS ANGELES — California regulators voted Wednesday to require builders to include solar power and battery storage in many new commercial structures as well as high-rise residential projects, the latest initiative in the state’s vigorous efforts to hasten a transition from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources.The five-member California Energy Commission approved the proposal unanimously. It will now be taken up by the state’s Building Standards Commission, which is expected to include it in an overall revision of the building code in December.The energy plan, which would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023, also includes incentives to eliminate natural gas from new buildings and to make it easier to add batteries to existing solar systems in single-family homes.“The future we’re trying to...
Wooden Buildings Reach for the Sky

Wooden Buildings Reach for the Sky

Technology, World
The small city of Vaxjo, population 94,000, sits in the middle of the timberlands of Smaland Province, in southern Sweden. Among municipalities in Sweden, many see Vaxjo as the leader in timber construction, as wooden buildings have been at the center of the city’s strategy since the 1990s. The city government reached its target for at least 50 percent of all new buildings to be timber-framed as of last year, and the municipality says it is now working on new and more ambitious plans for building with wood.When I visited Vaxjo last summer, Catharina Winberg offered to show me around the city. At the time Ms. Winberg was a local politician and chairwoman of the Vaxjo Kommun Foretag, which oversees much of the building as well as energy production in the city. (Earlier this year she left her...
Nooses, Anger and No Answers: Inside the Uproar Over a Future Amazon Site

Nooses, Anger and No Answers: Inside the Uproar Over a Future Amazon Site

Technology
Representatives for Amazon and the other companies involved say they have done everything they can, delaying construction twice, adding security and cameras at the site and putting up $100,000 in award money for anyone who can provide information about the nooses. Those are unusual steps, particularly for Amazon, which often avoids getting caught up in local affairs. The companies also say their power is somewhat limited, because there are dozens of subcontractors that have a hand in the project and are not under their direct control.Adding to the turmoil is disagreement about even some of the most basic facts of the case, like how many nooses have been found. The N.A.A.C.P., which has held multiple news conferences in Windsor, says there were up to eight nooses. The police say two were ac...
‘A Wild 15 Months’: Pandemic Spurs Conversion of Offices to Labs

‘A Wild 15 Months’: Pandemic Spurs Conversion of Offices to Labs

Technology
The pandemic dealt a gut punch to landlords of office buildings. Aware that work can go on with employees logging in from home, businesses across the country shrank their spaces or eliminated them entirely, creating a cascade of reduced construction and plummeting office rents.The collateral damage of this remote work revolution has been millions of square feet of vacant office space. The vacancy rate for downtown office buildings across the nation has risen to 16.4 percent over the past year, according to Cushman & Wakefield.But there is hope for anxious landlords: The life sciences industry, flush with cash from a record $70 billion of private and public capital investments in North America last year, is swooping in to claim that empty space.Across the six largest U.S. life sciences ...