Health care, K-12, and higher education will be among the hottest markets for design and construction firms in 2005, while the power, air pollution, and ports markets will struggle, according to the "2005 AEC Industry Outlook: Strategy And Insight For Design & Construction Firms," a report from ZweigWhite.

The architecture, engineering and construction business has outperformed the U.S. economy as a whole in recent years, including in 2004. The general opinion of the design and construction industry is that 2005 will bring similar results. In an exclusive survey conducted in conjunction with the ZweigWhite report, 40 percent of respondents expect the AEC business will outperform the U.S. economy in 2005, while only 20 percent expect the design and construction industry to lag behind the U.S. economy.

Respondents indicate that 2004 produced strong results for their firms, and they predict their businesses will improve in 2005. Fifty-seven percent of respondents expect their businesses to be "outstanding" or "excellent" in 2005, an increase from the 47 percent of respondents who report their businesses have been "outstanding" or "excellent" in 2004.

The survey also asked respondents to rank 25 markets in terms of their expected strength in 2005. Respondents named health care, K-12 schools and higher education as having the strongest outlook for 2005.