By: Victoria McCoy, Senior Marketing Coordinator
It’s no surprise that many view the weather as one of the first benefits you think of when discussing California. However, with a population of nearly 40 million people spanning approximately 163,696 square miles, California is home to multiple different climates and cultures. As one of the few places one can experience five major climate types in close proximity, each market throughout the Golden State comes with its own distinct needs and focal industries. With offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco, Clune Construction has had a presence throughout California for more than 25 years. We’ve built nearly 24 million square feet of space across 117 California cities.
Aside from the occasional rainy day, California offers the availability to complete exterior work throughout the year. However when working in California’s desert region, or other locations that experience extreme heat, precautions need to be taken. Work such as roofing, which is restricted during the hottest times of the day, is often required to be performed overnight.
Clune Project Superintendent Gregg Guzman has worked on major tech industry projects in Northern California, entertainment projects in Southern California, and in several neighboring states that Clune’s West Region services. Because of the increased demand for these types of spaces, Guzman notes the main difference he’s seen is the increased sense of urgency with California projects. This creates a fast-paced, exciting environment in which to build.
Safety and Sustainability as Second Nature
Sitting atop three major fault lines, California has more stringent structural requirements to brace for seismic activity. These considerations are fundamental to building in California. For example, kickers and supports are incorporated into relevant projects from the beginning.
“When you come up in this environment, you automatically understand the need for these techniques,” says Joe Carroll, a General Superintendent and Vice President who has worked throughout Clune’s West Region. “These safety measures are ingrained. It’s just like putting on a seatbelt.”
California is also known for its sustainability efforts. In 2020, the state boasted 417 LEED certified projects, accounting for 78.9 million square feet1. But even when a project is not specifically seeking LEED or WELL certification, Green and Wellness initiatives are often incorporated. For most of Clune’s projects, the teams track demolition and waste to report to the city where the project is located. Inspectors also make sure the job sites are running clean duct systems and that environmental concerns are covered throughout construction.
“The beauty of working in California is that it’s such a diverse market—we have a little bit of everything,” says Sean Healy, Business Development Manager of Clune’s West Region.
This breadth of vibrant industries allowed California’s construction industry to be more resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic. While typical office spaces went mainly unoccupied, industries like Entertainment in Southern California and Gaming in Northern California kept going strong.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the large amount of people staying at home increased the demand for streaming content. This led existing streaming services to expand and increase the construction of production facilities. At the same time, new streaming services also began to launch.
“These types of projects have a creative vibe,” says Carroll. “It’s really fun to work with the unique design that goes into these builds.”
Clune has also seen a high volume of banking projects throughout the state, specifically retail branches. As the need for medical research and innovation have moved to the forefront, we have seen a greater need in the Health and Biotech industries. And with less people in and out of offices, many companies have found this past year as an ideal time to work on their assets and complete the improvement projects they needed to do.
The pandemic and the recent push to return to the office has affected California’s various markets differently. While Southern California’s Orange County roared back to life earlier this year, with Los Angeles County close behind, the state’s June “re-opening” date was a major factor. Commuters in these counties overwhelmingly have begun returning to work in the safety of their own cars.
The Bay Area tells a different story. With little to no parking capacity in San Francisco’s commercial districts, the driving factor in getting back to the office has been much more reliant the millions who commute on public transportation.
In addition, Clune has been seeing the city’s office design needs influenced by the trend of many workers who have relocated out of the city. Many companies are moving away from the standard workstation in favor of touch-down stations and more meeting and event space. This has also led to an uptick of new opportunities in the surrounding suburbs.
When it comes to these, or any other challenges in the California market, Clune’s team is up for the task.
“When it comes down to it, you can build anywhere. But I love working with the complexities that come with building in California,” says Errol Lolin, a Vice President and Project Executive in Clune’s San Francisco office. “And to be able to do it with the people you care about really makes it worth it.”