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Electrical Marketing's Picks for 2022's Fastest Growing Project Types

Dec. 16, 2021
Data centers, warehouses, offshore wind farms and residential EV charging stations will be markets to watch in 2022.

While most construction economists think 2022’s construction industry overall will provide steady if not spectacular growth, EM’s editors think some project types will really stand out above the pack. Here are our picks for the projects that may shine in 2022.

Mega-warehouses

Dodge Data & Analytics expects another record-breaking year for construction activity in the warehouse niche, with $52.8 billion in warehouse construction starts, a +13% gain. This activity has more than doubled since 2018, and since that time Amazon has spent $9.7 billion blanketing the United States with its monstrous fulfillment centers. Two Amazon warehouses that broke ground earlier this year in Massachusetts and New York give you an idea of just how big these buildings are. The $466-million Amazon North Andover Fulfillment Center in North Andover, MA, is 3.77 million sq ft, and the $410-million Amazon warehouse/distribution center in Rochester, NY, is 2.6 million sq ft.

Data centers

It looks like data centers will be one of the busiest niches in the construction market for yet another year. Dodge Data & Analytics doesn’t expect data centers to top the record $10.5 billion in business we saw in 2018. But the $7.7 billion in construction activity it’s forecasting for 2022 (up +2% from 2021) will include quite a few projects worth at least $400 million in total construction spending. The biggest of them all, according to Dodge data, is the $800-million Facebook Data Center Campus that broke ground in Mesa, AZ, in Aug. 2021. Other sizeable data centers now underway include the $400-million Sterling 144-MW EdgeCore Data Center in Sterling, VA; and two $400-million Facebook data centers in Altoona, IA, and Springfield, NE.

Hospitals

Dodge expects a strong 9% increase to $32.9 billion for hospital construction, after logging an +8% increase in 2021. EM’s editors spotted several mega-projects valued at $1 billion or more. The largest hospital now being built is the $1.2 billion Wexner Hospital Tower on the Ohio State University campus. Not to be outdone by a Big 10 Conference football rival, the University of Michigan’s $900 million Michigan Medicine Tower on its campus broke ground in May 2021.

Down the road, the Mayo Clinic is planning a $6-billion expansion of its main campus in Rochester, MN. Some other impressively sized projects are on the drawing boards, according to Becker’s Hospital Review, including the $3.75-billion University of California-Davis hospital in Sacramento, CA; the $2-billion that Massachusetts General Brigham will be spending on multiple facilities in and around Boston; Seattle’s $1.74 billion renovation of the Harborview Medical Center; and the $1.6-billion Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in West Carson, CA.

EV charging stations for the home

While EV fans are all charged up about the $7.5 billion the Biden Infrastructure Bill has carved out to build out a national network of EV charging stations, the opportunities in the EV niche may actually be much bigger in the installation of residential EV chargers. Owners will quickly see that being able to charge their EV overnight in their own garage will beat scouting around for an available public EV charger.

Depending on the individual application, a Level 1 EV charger will normally work over an existing 120V circuit. However, they take a while to charge up a car, and many homeowners will opt for the Level 2 EV chargers, which require a 240V. Installation costs for these units vary depending on if the service panel needs to be upgraded or replaced, but they can easily top $2000. For distributors, there are sales opportunities in the wire and cable, connectors and grounding equipment, as well as possibly the EV charger itself and a new service panel, if required.

Offshore wind farms

While the installation of the offshore wind turbines will often be done by specialists from Europe who have been doing these projects for years off the coasts of England, Scotland, Holland, Germany, France and Scandinavian countries, the onshore support facilities near ports will provide some nice electrical construction opportunities. New York development authorities are already budgeting hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade some port facilities on New York Harbor to service several offshore wind farms planned for the area.

Along with the types of projects highlighted here, you can also expect single-family construction to be booming in many of the Sunbelt metros, attracting new hundreds and in some cases thousands of new residents. And while it’s tough to put a number on it, the move to hybrid officing would seem to lend it self to some type of wide-scale office renovation.