Despite the ongoing downfall of the residential sector, there's some good news on the industrial construction front. The value of industrial projects currently under construction in North America is now more than $260 billion, according to recent analysis by Industrial Info Resources, Sugar Land, Texas. The bad news is this increased activity is putting a strain on engineering and construction resources, labor, raw material supply, and long-lead equipment delivery times — in some cases delaying project implementation. This is especially true in regions with the heaviest amount of construction underway, such as the Great Lakes, western Canada, and the Southwest/ Southeast regions of the United States.

With 324 projects totaling more than $83 billion, the power industry leads all industries in project construction (click here to see Chart). One of the large projects currently under construction is the $2.9 billion Prairie State Energy Campus in Lively Grove, Ill. Built by Peabody Energy, St. Louis, this project represents the next-generation of mine-mouth coal-fired power projects under development in the United States. When completed in 2012, the campus will include a 1,600-megawatt coal-fired power plant sitting next to a 6.5-million-ton-per-year underground room and pillar coal mine.

Following the power industry in momentum is industrial manufacturing with $39 billion, the metals and minerals industry with $35 billion, and the pharma-biotech industry with $30 billion under construction.