China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative heats up
The construction, which will connect Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa is back at the forefront with the recent forum on the “One Belt, One Road” strategy Established in 2013 by President of China Xi Jinping, the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative has been the subject of discussion this month as a result of the recent forum, where leaders have looked at China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ strategy. With funding predominately from China, the road would formally link Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe, building on current global and economic ties. Linking over 60 percent of the world, the route incorporates the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and Maritime Silk Road (MSR), strengthening existing infrastructures, connectivity and long-term trade networks.
News surrounding the initiative has been heating up since the forum, with Pakistan keen on participating in the project through the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Approximately 60,000 Pakistanis have received employment opportunities as a result of the initiative, and have travelled to China to receive the essential skills required surrounding the impending construction work, according to The Financial Times. China has also placed significant investment in the country’s businesses, such as the Karot Hydropower Station, which is part of the country’s Silk Road Fund. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has also expressed enthusiasm over the project, with the notion of increased employment and business opportunities. The country is already undertaking a large number of infrastructure projects with China, supporting the country’s new focus on diversifying its economy and highlights a decreased focus on the oil sector.
It is hoped that the OBOR initiative will also boost investment opportunities and tourism within Africa and the Maldives. Tourism Minister for the Maldives Moosa Zameer recently informed the Global Times that the project will not only bolster tourism figures, “because of the initiative, there are many Chinese businesses coming in, mainly into tourism” and “because of the One Belt One Road, Maldivian investors are also aware the best option is to buy products and materials from China."
However, a number of countries have voiced their concerns surrounding the project for a number of reasons. Not only are there a number of different rules and regulations for trade, the EU has a complex trade policy, which is only set to become increasingly difficult as a result of the Brexit negotiations, to which the EU has yet to formulate how to navigate the OBOR initiative. Additionally, many believe this is an attempt by China to increase its global presence, although the country is doing its utmost to ensure it remains an initiative which is universal, with a number of countries worldwide able to participate. Nonetheless, the US and Australia have decided not to join the project, to which it will be interesting to see how plans for the initiative will be finalised.
Skanska invests $225m in Houston office project
Skanska is investing US$225m in an office development project, 1550 on the Green in Houston, with construction expected to begin in June and scheduled to be completed in 2024.
The construction contract is worth US$125M, which will be included in the Q2 order bookings. International law firm Norton Rose Fulbright has signed a 15-year lease for about 30 percent of the building.
Located at 1550 Lamar Street, adjacent to Discovery Green, in downtown Houston, Skanska plans to develop and build a 28-floor, 34,800 square meter office tower.
1550 on the Green will be the first part of a three-block master plan by Skanska, which will transform the parcels into a distinguished district known as Discovery West and consist of 3.5 acres of mixed-use development full of restaurants, retail and lush green space. The project will target LEED and WiredScore Platinum certifications.
Since 2009, Skanska has invested a total of US$2.8 billion in commercial and multi-family projects, creating more than 1 million square meters of sustainable and community focused developments in select U.S. markets. Skanska USA had sales of SEK66 billion in 2020 with 7,600 employees in its operations.
Skanska’s flagship London office has set the standard in sustainable workspaces by becoming the first in the UK to achieve WELL Platinum under the new v2 pilot scheme.
The accreditation from the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) was awarded through the v2 pilot, the newest version of the WELL Building Standard. It looks at all building features and management processes – from air and water quality to lighting, acoustics, nutrition, thermal comfort and mental wellbeing. It’s widely recognised as the industry yardstick for measuring how workspaces can contribute to the wellbeing of occupants.
The offices – which span three floors of the newly developed 51 Moorgate – contain floor-to-ceiling windows for extensive natural light, dedicated wellbeing and quiet spaces, as well as stringent air and water quality monitoring, among a range of other features that have helped earn the standard.
The company has also been exploring drone flights for use in industrial environments.
Peter Cater, Development Manager, said it was invited to carry out trials because of its use and knowledge of drone capability. "The trials have benefited everyone involved: sees.ai get to test their equipment and remote use of the drones and we get access to accurate, real-time data on our construction activities which benefits us and our customer, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation."
“Projects like this – at the forefront of innovation – go to show what an exciting industry construction is to be involved in. We are always looking for innovative ways of working, ways to be more sustainable so we can find better solutions for our customers. These trials are just one small part of our digital transformation journey.”