And just like that, here we are in December. Maybe it’s because most of my friends now are over 40 (and the older you are the faster the years seem to rush by) or maybe it’s because almost everyone I know is so busy (and the busier you are the faster the days seem to rush by), but the end of the year seems to have caught all of us off-guard. “Another year gone by,” they say with a little shake of their heads as if they can hardly believe it.
One of the big stories out of 2018 was the mid-term elections. We’re going to have a Democratically-controlled House of Representatives for the first time in ten years. That may mean changes in the regulatory environment in years to come, although we can probably expect push-back from a Republican Senate and maybe even a veto or two from the President.
The new Congress might also provide a boost for the sustainable energy market (solar, geothermal, etc.) and could even succeed in delivering that Holy Grail of legislation, a comprehensive infrastructure bill. But frankly, the odds of them succeeding where a Republican-controlled House failed look slim.
The best science tells us that global climate change is a contributing factor to both wildfires and extreme weather events, and that we can expect more of the same in coming years.
The other big national news stories out of 2018 were unfortunately familiar ones: natural disasters. For the third year in a row the Atlantic hurricane season saw higher-than-normal activity with 15 named storms, eight hurricanes and two major hurricanes (Florence in the Carolinas and Michael in the Florida panhandle) for a total of approximately $33.3 billion in damages. And all despite predictions for a milder season this year.
Out on the west coast the story was wildfires. 2018 saw California’s most destructive wildfire season on record. Nearly 8,000 recorded fires burned 1,824,505 acres causing nearly $3 billion in damages.
The best science tells us that global climate change is a contributing factor to both wildfires and extreme weather events, and that we can expect more of the same in coming years. Which explains why Greenbuild 2018 in Chicago this November had such an emphasis on resiliency; the acknowledgement that the effects of global warming are already with us, and that the built environment needs to plan for things like heating and cooling under extreme conditions, stormwater management and much more.
Here around the CONTRACTOR office there were two stories that really stood out. The first is that 2018 was a pretty good year for business, with 2019 looking even better. 87 percent of respondents to our print edition reader survey expected their companies to grow anywhere from 0-8 percent, with 6.82 percent expecting growth of more than 9 percent in the coming year.
The second is that back in March I was named CONTRACTOR’s new Editorial Director. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing. I’ve had to take on a host of administrative responsibilities. Invoices, expense accounts, scheduling, meetings – sometimes I feel like one of the plumbers in a column by Dave Yates or Al Schwartz who feels trapped in the office and just wants to get back in the truck!
But all-in-all it has been a fantastic experience. I’ve gotten to meet some amazing people from all over an amazing industry who have been without fail kind, helpful, and passionate about their work. I’d like to extend my thanks to them, and my best wishes to all our readers for a happy, prosperous 2019.