Did you know with jeff bell? building excellence the edmonton region leads in the construction sector.

Building Excellence: The Edmonton region leads in the Construction Sector

Global Logistics
Published On
June 8, 2023

Part 1 of 3Construction Activity 

The Edmonton region is young, educated, and growing. In my last blog I explored data showcasing the significant growth of our population. This time, I examine data that indicates the city itself is also experiencing remarkable expansion, as measured by construction activity in comparison to other jurisdictions. 

Those familiar with the region won’t be surprised by the significance of the construction sector to our regional economy. Afterall, the Edmonton region serves as the headquarters for some of North America’s largest construction companies – and there is a large and growing cluster of companies that are global leaders in areas such as building material manufacturing, architecture and design, engineering, construction management, construction-tech, and logistics. 

In 2022, the construction sector accounted for more than 9% of Edmonton region’s GDP – surpassing any other major city in Canada in terms of proportion. Over the past two decades, the region’s GDP from construction has grown from $5.6 billion in 2002 to $9.3 billion in 2022. 

Real Estate 

The year 2022 proved to be prosperous for real estate in the Edmonton region. Figure 1 illustrates that during the fourth quarter of last year, Edmonton outperformed every other city in Canada, except Toronto, in terms of the total area of industrial real estate absorbed and the new supply of space added to the local market. 

Figure 1. Net Absorption and new supply of industrial real estate by Canadian city (Q4 2022) 
Source: CBRE


When using the number of cranes as a measure of construction activity in the city, the Edmonton region performs favourably compared to peer cities in the United States. Figure 2 presents a comparison of 2022 data from RLB’s biannual Crane Index for US cities, juxtaposed with data from the city of Edmonton. To derive a yearly number for US cities, I averaged the two index reports published in 2022 (Q1 and Q3). As for Edmonton, because data for cranes in the larger region was unavailable, I tallied the building permits issued by the City of Edmonton in 2022, specifically focusing on those descriptions that mentioned a crane. The data suggests Edmonton is experiencing greater construction activity than major US cities like New York City or San Francisco.



Figure 2. 
Source: Edmonton Global based on data from RLB and the City of Edmonton


Major Projects

The region has a long history of delivering on massive infrastructure and industrial projects. When comparing Edmonton to Calgary over the last 15 years, the Edmonton region consistently outperforms in terms significantly higher investment levels (Figure 3)- stemming from the major industrial and commercial projects within the region.


Figure 3.
Source: Government of Alberta- Alberta Regional Dashboard


I find it particularly intriguing to observe the shifting nature of the funded major projects. By examining the same data, we can identify a significant change starting around 2015-2016. There is a noticeable decrease in funding for oil and gas projects, accompanied by a corresponding rise in industrial projects (Figure 4). It will be interesting to determine whether this shift represents a temporary surge of investment aimed at capitalizing on lower feedstock costs or a more enduring trend towards increased investment in value-added industrial manufacturing.


Figure 4.
Source: Government of Alberta- Alberta Regional Dashboard



The abundance of construction activity occurring in the Edmonton region should provide confidence to international investors in the region’s project delivery expertise. Even now, there are a number of major projects underway and planned for the region including:

  • Air Products $1.6 billion investment to build the world’s largest net-zero hydrogen complex
  • The Government of Canada’s $100 million investment into expanding cargo facilities at the Edmonton International Airport
  • Dow Chemical Company’s intentions to expand its existing facility in Fort Saskatchewan to be the world’s first net-zero ethylene facility (potential to be an estimated $10 billion investment)
  • Heidelberg Materials recent MOU with the government of Canada to explore the expansion of their facility to include the cement industry’s first global full-scale carbon capture and storage facility 
  • and many more…

I will be keeping an eye on these projects and others to see how they develop.

In Part 2 of this blog, I will delve further into the data on local talent available to support construction projects in the Edmonton region.

Read Part 2

Reach out to Jeff if you know of an innovative business that should be tied into his network.

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Jeff Bell

Jeff Bell is the Director of Research and Business Intelligence at Edmonton Global. His knowledge is a mile wide and an inch deep – and when a question arises, he enjoys digging deep into the data to provide solid defensible research that can inform strategy. His network includes a broad range of experts, so if he doesn’t have the answer, he knows where to get it. Reach out to Jeff if you know of an innovative business that should be tied into his network.