Construction Industry Slow to Adopt New Technologies

According to a new report, construction firms are missing the boat in failing to adopt new technologies.
Photo Credit: Construction Dive

According to a new report, construction firms are missing the boat in failing to adopt new technologies. Photo Credit: Construction Dive

According to consulting firm KPMG’s Global Construction Survey, the vast majority of construction industry companies are failing to adopt new technologies now available to improve workflow management and building performance monitoring – including advanced data and analytics, automation and robotics. While project-related risks seem to be increasing, only a small percentage of construction and engineering firms are re-thinking their business models to take advantage of new technologies that could mitigate these uncertainties.

Research indicates that even though the construction industry is well-positioned for technological disruption, most firms don’t want to be first-adopters, even though there is an opportunity to use high-tech innovation to streamline work flows, improve data collection, integrate project management information systems, and gain competitive advantage by using whiz-bang devices such as smart sensors and drones. Cost and scale, perceived as risk in relation to benefits, seem to be hindering investments in the new-new things.

With so few firms adopting tech innovations (only 8% fall into the “cutting edge visionary” category according to the KMPG survey) it would seem there is tremendous opportunity for a few fearless leaders to gain market share and improve the bottom line by embracing the new tech-savvy innovations.

 


Integrated Design-Build Project Delivery Gains Momentum

Many states and municipalities are adopting new rules for commissioning construction projects.

Many states and municipalities are adopting new rules for commissioning construction projects.

The construction industry is re-evaluating the traditional design-bid-build method of project delivery and exploring alternatives. Rather than architects designing a project and then, after the fact, involving a contractor to bid and build, the new trend is for “integrated project delivery” with designers and builders working together from the start of a project with a single contract for both design and construction services. In fact, half of all U.S. states now favor an integrated design-build approach, which reduces the likelihood of schedule-stops and delays, budget over-runs, change orders and other conflicts.

Studies have found that a design-build delivery system can cost 6% less and result in 34% faster project completion compared to the traditional design-bid-build format. New York requires design-build on some state contracts, claiming that infrastructure projects in particular lend themselves to this integrated approach and could save New York City alone $2 billion over the next decade.

There continues to be ongoing dialogue over this practice and trend.

Construction Dive: http://www.constructiondive.com/news/do-contract-types-determine-a-projects-fate/408171/

Building Design + Construction: http://www.bdcnetwork.com/half-us-states-now-allow-design-build-public-projects ;

Engineering News Record: http://www.enr.com/articles/38694-disputed-design-build-study-raises-questions-about-costs?v=preview;

The Design-Build Institute of America: http://www.dbia.org/Pages/default.aspx


Passive Design Projects Worldwide Drive Global Energy Savings

Heidelberg Village in Germany will be the largest residential Passive Design project in the world.

Heidelberg Village in Germany will be the largest residential Passive Design project in the world.

Touted as “the world’s largest passive housing” project, a 162 unit residential complex is currently under construction in Heidelberg, Germany. The solar-powered Heidelberg Village designed by the Frey Architekten firm will feature a wide range of sustainable features, as well as rooftop and vertical gardens. The complex is expected to use 75% less energy than a similar project using conventional building design.

The Passive design concept originated in Germany in the 1990’s, and has now been embraced worldwide as an effective and economic way to cut carbon emissions and reduce energy demand in buildings while still providing high-caliber living comfort, superior indoor air quality and structural resilience. While the movement began with a residential focus, passive “house” building principles have been adopted in major commercial building projects as well, setting new standards for heating and cooling efficiency, total energy consumption and air leakage.

The Herman Teirlinch building is the largest Passive Design commercial project in Belgium. Photo: inhabitat

The Herman Teirlinch building is the largest Passive Design commercial project in Belgium.
Photo: inhabitat

One of the most ambitious “passive design” commercial projects currently underway is in Belgium where Europe’s largest passive office complex is under construction. The Herman Teirlinch government office will be a 66,500 square meter mixed use, low-rise, sustainable building designed by Neutelings Riedijk.

While entire passive home neighborhoods have yet to be created in the United States, passive design residential and commercial buildings are cropping up nationwide. The key components are 1) high-quality insulation and thermal-bridge-free construction 2) airtight construction 3) energy efficient windows and doors 4) mechanical ventilation for air quality.

Sto Corp has been a leader in providing passive design projects with energy efficient exterior insulation and finish systems. StoTherm ® ci continuous insulation, air moisture barriers, and advanced wall cavity systems have been used to meet and even exceed passive design energy efficiency standards in various climate zones across the country.

For more information on the Herman Teirlinch office building: http://inhabitat.com/belgiums-largest-passive-office-building-breaks-ground-in-brussels/

For more information on passive design: http://www.phius.org/home-page

For more passive design case studies: http://nypassivehouse.org/new-york-passive-house-2015-the-nyph-flip-book/)


The History of Sto

Sto's headquarters in Germany symbolizes the company's dedication to innovation, energy efficiency and the building technologies of tomorrow.

Sto's headquarters in Germany symbolizes the company's dedication to innovation, energy efficiency and the building technologies of tomorrow.

The global giant now called Sto evolved from humble beginnings as a cement and lime factory in Weizen, Germany in the 1830s. More than a century later, entrepreneur William Stotmeister expanded on this operation by introducing a range of revolutionary resin wall coatings, and Sto ultimately evolved into an international technology leader in the design and production of innovative external wall insulation systems, rainscreen cladding, decorative coatings and acoustic systems for regulating room noise.

Now operating as STO SE & Co KGaA, in Stuhlingen, Germany, the parent company launched operations in the U.S in 1979, establishing Sto Energy Conservation in Vermont. In 1986, North American expansion continued in California and Texas and eventually into Canada. In 1987, in order to centralize operations and accommodate unprecedented sales volume, Sto Corp. North American headquarters were moved to Atlanta — also the site of a major new manufacturing facility. In 2014, the company launched operations in Brazil and Chile.

Today, Sto Group is the world’s largest manufacturer of exterior thermal insulation systems, encompassing 35 subsidiaries, more than 5000 employees, and 21 factories operating around the globe. The company has consistently been on the technological leading edge, investing heavily in scientific research and product development.

This has resulted in a stream of innovations, including the introduction of the first exterior wall cladding system offering continuous insulation in 1963, and product breakthroughs such as the first liquid-applied air moisture barrier (2000) and Sto’s patented StoCoat® Lotusan® coating with self-cleaning properties (2005).

The company focuses on supporting the needs of the architecture and design community with educational services such as its London-based Werkstatt exhibition space, AIA/CES professional courses and the aesthetic consulting services provided by Sto Studio in the U.S.

For over 60 years, Sto — still controlled by the Stotmeister family — has continuing to develop innovative, next-generation building and design solutions based on superior product performance, professional expertise and success in building strong relationships through knowledgeable, customized service. Sto wall systems, coatings and finishes continue to be the choice of leading architects, designers, engineers, contractors and building owners around the world.


The Biggest Architecture, Engineering & Construction Firms

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center, Virginia Beach, Va., is only the eleventh building to earn Living Building Challenge status. It generated 83% more energy than it used over the past year.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center, Virginia Beach, Va., is only the eleventh building to earn Living Building Challenge status. It generated 83% more energy than it used over the past year.

For the 40th consecutive year, the editors of Building Design+Construction have ranked the nation’s largest architectural, engineering and construction firms as part of their “Giants 300 report”.  AEC firms are ranked by discipline, specialty and sector with 22 building sectors covered — from airport terminals to healthcare and educational facilities, hotels and sports arenas. Over 50 design firms and their latest innovations are showcased including Green Building firms who are focusing on technology and occupant health to maintain their edge in sustainability. Turner Construction was ranked #1 out of 90 Green Construction Firms with revenues of $5.7 billion and Gensler, not surprisingly, was at the top of most of the architectural lists.


PACE Spurs Building Upgrades for Energy Savings

Now there's financing available to cut energy waste in buildings of all types and sizes.

Now there's financing available to cut energy waste in buildings of all types and sizes.

PACE, which stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy, is a simple and effective mechanism for financing energy-efficiency retrofits and renewable energy upgrades that might not otherwise be affordable for commercial, residential, industrial, and agricultural buildings. PACE financing overcomes the upfront cost barrier these upgrades can pose by providing 100% of the financing for such projects.

The financing is paid back via property tax assessments that can stretch as long as 20 years. In most instances, the related energy savings more than pay for the assessment. Through the use of innovative PACE funding, new energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, insulation, solar and lighting improvements can be immediately rendered cash flow positive.

PACE funding has soared, as owners recognize the opportunity to increase their bottom line by reducing energy costs, to enhance the value of their property and do their part to offset greenhouse gas emissions. Since three quarters of the electricity generated in America is used to heat, cool, illuminate, and otherwise operate buildings, it’s not surprising that Scientific American magazine named PACE one of 20 “world changing” ideas.


Can Green Buildings Make Us Smarter?

Green is good -- outside or inside an occupied building.

Green is good -- outside or inside an occupied building.

A recent study published by Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) suggests that Green Buildings create optimized conditions for health and productivity. In a series of experiments, indoor environmental quality (IEQ) factors for both “green” and “conventional” buildings were simulated in a controlled environment that included office workers, and the researchers measured variables such as carbon dioxide variation, ventilation and exposure to volatile organic compounds in the building atmosphere.

The results? On average, cognitive scores for the two groups of workers were 61% higher for those working in a building with green features than with conventional construction.  In other words, green building can potentially deliver a smarter workforce.