22A — January 17 - 30, 2014 — Mid Atlantic Real Estate Journal


2014 F orecast By Michael Shaw, Senior Principal, GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc. “Bring on 2014”


spite of our government’s ac- tions. Talking with colleagues and friends, opinions abound with respect to the specifics and why, but frommy vantage point (with a technical bent), several common themes seem to emerge. For what they’re worth – here they are: Fracking and Natural Gas - It seems quite clear that natural gas, and thus fracking, are here to stay, at least for the next couple of decades, and will be a major economic en- gine for the local Pennsylvania and broader US economies in the years ahead. While many would like renewables like

solar and wind to supplant fossil fuels now, they frankly are just not ready to serve such a major role. Thank- fully, natural gas is a relatively clean fuel, so increased use of natural gas versus other fuels should result in an overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. My hope is that we don’t squander the opportunity provided by this technological advancement in resource re- covery to conduct additional research and refine renewable and other low carbon emission technologies so that they can indeed play a major role in the future.

nuclear facilities’ emergency preparedness and ratcheting up requirements. This has resulted in a healthy review process and some changes along the way that have made our nuclear facilities even safer- which is a good thing. The industry, however, took a second hit by the more recent decline in natural gas prices which have hurt nuclear power economics. Despite this, however, nuclear power remains a viable, carbon-free power source that is ready right now to provide signifi- cant quantities of safe and reli- able power. Today nuclear power pro- vides about 20% of the electric- ity we consume as a country. With renewable sources still incapable of effectively and reliably assuming a signifi- cant role in our energy supply, nuclear is the primary means we have right now to dramati- cally reduce carbon emissions. In addition, many technologi- cal advancements have been made already (and more are in the works) to make new nuclear plants safer, smaller andmore efficient, as well as to utilize new nuclear fuels and even waste materials. Assum- ing world pressure on carbon emissions continues, I suspect we will see a rebirth of sorts in the nuclear industry over the next several years, which will help us reduce carbon emissions while the renewable industry and supporting tech- nologies (like better batteries and more efficient long dis- tance transmission) continue to evolve. Brownfields Redevelop- ment – Despite the seemingly excessive fanfare at times, brownfield redevelopment (i.e., the re-use of used property) is not a short-lived, gimmicky trend, but a sound strategy for sustainable and efficient development. In the coming years, it should continue to spawn exciting new oppor- tunities for savvy communi- ties, private developers and entrepreneurs. An evolving opportunity in this area is the reuse of retired coal-fired power plants. While some may be refitted for gas-fired plants, others will be redeveloped for other uses. The redevelopment of these properties that vary considerably in size, location and historical significance, will likely present unique Continued on page 28A

ith another year in the rear viewmirror, our focus naturally

Nuclear Power – Prior to the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, the nuclear industry seemed poised for growth after a couple of de- cades with no new plants being constructed. With an emphasis on curbing carbon emissions, nuclear power seemed well positioned to play a larger role in our country’s energy portfolio. Immediately fol- lowing the disaster, however, U.S. and world public confi- dence declined (more so than I think warranted) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commis- sion (NRC) in the U.S. re- sponded by re-evaluating our

shifts to the year ahead and the pro- verbial ques- tion – What will it bring? While noth- i n g s e ems certain any- more in this

Michael Shaw

sound-bite driven, politically dysfunctional world, there seems to be a reasonable de- gree of optimism that the econ- omy will continue to slowly improve – to some degree in

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