Three construction-focused economists discussed the state of the US construction economy in a panel presentation/webinar presented by CMD iSqFt at Greenbuild on Thursday.

Where the construction economy is now compared with where it was

“The US economy is where it’s at,” Alex Carrick told me in an interview prior to the panel discussion. He noted that the monthly foreign trade deficit, on a seasonally adjusted annual rate, has dwindled from a range of minus $600 billion to minus $800 billion to a range between minus $400 billion to minus $600 billion, a very positive sign for the GDP. (read more…)

James Cameron, filmmaker and deep-sea explorer, says there are strategies individuals can take to help mitigate climate change, and he offered suggestions to the 10,000 attendees at Greenbuild in Washington, D.C., during the plenary session. Cameron is passionate about climate change, calling it a “clear and present danger” that will “destabilize the world” and “exacerbate” the increasing violence we’re experiencing.

“Climate change is insidious, and will require unprecedented international cooperation,” Cameron said, adding that little will be done until the public notices the devastating and frightening effects climate change wreaks. (read more…)

Financial industry leaders and policy experts addressed the thorny issue of migration in Europe after the Paris attacks during the Weathering the Global Storms: Perils and Possibilities panel discussion at CME Group’s 8th annual Global Financial Leadership Conference.

Nouriel Roubini, chairman and co-founder of Roubini Global Economics, pointed out that Europe’s economy benefits from migration in the long-term, though addressing integration and public apprehension remains challenging.

“The issue becomes even if out of a million you have five of them or 10 of them or one of them ends up being a terrorist, and attacks like in Paris, then the reaction, gut reaction of course is panic,” Roubini said.

However, Roubini noted military and diplomatic tactics are only part of the solution and that there must always be an economic aspect to any plan aimed at solving migration issues.

In addition, Roubini noted the economic downturn in Europe further alienates even European citizens, raising the risk of violence. (read more…)

Access to capital – in both large and small amounts – plays a huge role in the global water crisis. If you don’t believe that, then go ask the Terminator.

Actor and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger took the stage at CME Group’s 8th annual Global Financial Leadership Conference this week and ticked off numerous examples of how a lack of political will and the accompanying infrastructure capital is stifling efforts to solve the water crisis affecting California and other regions around the world.

“We need our leaders to develop the political will to invest in projects that won’t be ready for photo ops or the next election cycle, but will be ready for the next generation,” Schwarzenegger said.

Schwarzenegger said the way California infrastructure is designed to deal with rain water is one example of outdated infrastructure that can’t be updated without capital commitments. Right now, the system is designed to funnel water back into the ocean. (read more…)

Ten thousand people from 86 countries have gathered for Greenbuild in Washington, D.C., this week where the theme is “monumental green.” And that was certainly hammered home by Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and one of the founders of the US Green Building Council during his plenary address.

First: Green, lots and lots of green

Some say LEED, USGBC’s is losing its allure, particularly as alternative rating systems for sustainably designed and built buildings proliferate, including the Living Building Challenge, Green Globes and others. Fedrizzi certainly wasn’t buying that, noting that LEED was the touchstone, the thing that led to the creation of other green building initiatives, such as the Green Building Certification Institute’s own Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies, or EDGE, program; USGBC’s stakeholder role in the Sustainable Sites Initiative and GREBS, an organization driven by industry that tries to assess the “performance of real estate portfolios (public, private and direct) around the globe” and on whose board Fedrizzi sits. (read more…)