The Changing Face of Construction

Panelization is part of the move to pre-fabrication as a way of improving speed, value and quality in construction.

In this three-part blog series, we are going to explore how the evolution of design and construction processes have dramatically changed in the past decade, especially as they relate to prefabrication and modular construction.

We’re not talking about the prefabricated kit homes of the 20th century, but rather offsite construction that accounts for a wide range of projects today, from whole-building modular solutions, to prefabricated walls and mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems that can help contractors accelerate production schedules while employing less labor on site. In today’s labor-constrained construction environment, the prefabrication solution is being increasingly adopted where reduced costs, resource efficiency and meeting tight schedules are priorities.

Several industry reports have shed light on these big-picture industry trends, including a study by FMI, a leading investment banking and consulting firm focused on the engineering and construction infrastructure and the built environment, and the BIM (Building Information Modeling) Forum. They surveyed 156 industry leaders most of whom work in the commercial sector and whose businesses, collectively, represent approximately $38 billion in annual revenue.

Some of the findings:

  • In 2010, only 26% of the survey respondents were using prefabricated assemblies on more than 20% of their projects. By late 2016, this number more than doubled: 55% of respondents were using prefab assemblies on more than 20% of their projects.
  • Project inefficiencies and improved technologies are driving prefabrication as a way to mitigate labor shortages and improve construction schedules.
  • Contractors who use prefab on more than 50% of their projects are more productive and efficient compared to those who do less prefab.
  • While many contractors struggle to make prefab pencil out, others plan to increase their investments in prefab over the next five years.

Just how much can prefabrication impact a project’s bottom line, and can it really be a competitive differentiator? Join us next week as we delve deeper into this topic and take a look at the relatively small, fast-growing cottage industry of prefabrication innovators who are driving change and shaping the future of the industry.


Sto To Present at D+D Material Selection Conference

VLC odor neutralizing coatings are one of the innovative products that will be featured including StoColor™ Climasan® 
 an interior wall and ceiling coating that will neutralize odors in the air when exposed to a light source. 

VLC odor neutralizing coatings are one of the innovative products that will be featured including StoColor™ Climasan®  an interior wall and ceiling coating that will neutralize odors in the air when exposed to a light source. 

Durability & Design (D+D), the trade magazine focused on architectural coatings for the built environment, will be hosting a one-day Material Selection Conference, September 26,  2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The program is designed to help owners, architects, contractors and other building industry professionals determine the best coating systems to manage moisture intrusion into exterior walls, and the best liquid-applied air barrier designs to limit heat, air, and moisture transport through walls.

In each of two panel sessions, a panel of industry experts, including manufacturer representatives, will discuss how their specific brands perform in different climates and indoor environments, and on different substrates. Sto will be presenting in both sessions – one focusing on coatings and the other on liquid-applied air barriers.

Attendees should leave with a better understanding of the effect of permeance on exterior wall coatings; learn how to determine the performance, cost and cost-effectiveness of liquid-applied air barriers; and understand the advantages and disadvantages of specific coating brands that are candidates for use on their buildings.

Attendees will qualify for 8 AIA learning credits for full-day participation and 4 credits for a half-day.


An Award-Winning Project that Includes StoGuard®

Disney Springs won an award for its contractor and kudos for a key vendor on the project: Sto. Photo: Chad Baumer

Disney Springs won an award for its contractor and kudos for a key vendor on the project: Sto. Photo: Chad Baumer

KHS&S is an international design-assist specialty contractor with a portfolio that includes more than 5,000 casino resorts, hospitals, hotels, entertainment venues, retail facilities, theme parks, attractions and public works projects around the country and overseas. Founded in 1984, the firm is now the second largest specialty wall and ceiling contractor in the USA.

At the recent Florida Wall and Ceiling Contractors Association (FWCCA) convention and trade show in Orlando, the company picked up the award for Project of the Year for the work they did on Disney Springs, an elegant shopping, dining and entertainment complex at Florida’s Walt Disney World. A key partner in the KHS&S supply chain? Sto Corp, who provided wall components for two stucco buildings, that included products from its leading air and moisture barrier system: Sto Gold Fill® and StoGuard Mesh, Sto VaporSeal®, Sto TurboStick™ and Sto DrainScreen.

Sto worked with Disney’s architects on the specification details. Now that the work is done, the results speak for themselves.

The Disney Springs design team specified StoGuard for the KHS&S project. Photo: Chad Baumer

The Disney Springs design team specified StoGuard for the KHS&S project. Photo: Chad Baumer

StoGuard

The handsome brick facing was constructed using StoGuard Vaporseal for protection. Photo: Chad Baumer


Construction Industry Labor Shortages and the Rise of Robots

The In-situ Fabricator is an autonomous construction robot capable of laying bricks into pre-programmed structures. Can robots mitigate the labor shortage crisis in the construction industry?

The In-situ Fabricator is an autonomous construction robot capable of laying bricks into pre-programmed structures. Can robots mitigate the labor shortage crisis in the construction industry?

Automation has long been considered the harbinger of future unemployment, and experts have in fact predicted that the widespread adoption of robotics and other technological advancements — artificially intelligent (AI) software and smart machines — could lead to millions of people losing their jobs. Many tasks in transportation, manufacturing, even insurance, law and taxation are already being taken over by machines.

Increased automation is expected to dramatically disrupt worldwide employment as early as 2020, but in the construction industry, which suffered massive job losses in the Great Recession,  automation could help mitigate the impact of current labor shortages and improve efficiency.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, the construction sector lost more than 2.3 million workers (40% of the workforce) between April 2006 and January 2011. The share of builders reporting serious labor shortages skyrocketed from 21% in 2012, to 46% in 2014, 52% in 2015, 56% in 2016 according to Construction Dive. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms that almost 200,000 construction jobs were unfilled in the United States as of February 2017.

Can an industry plagued by labor shortages get help from automated systems and machines? A number of AI-powered systems that could help alleviate the construction industry’s woes are currently in development. These include a mobile construction fabricator as well as a 3D-printer for buildings, both of which are capable of adapting to their immediate environment. And equipment giant Caterpillar has just invested $2 million in Fastbrick Robotics to develop and sell the Australian company’s robotic bricklaying technology. These construction systems are typically able to finish their tasks more efficiently and quickly than their human counterparts, so construction companies may benefit from certain  automated systems.

Some critics are wary of intelligent automation because they view it as an attempt to shut out and replace human workers. But in an industry that is already suffering from a lack of skilled labor,  intelligent automation is making inroads. In the race between man and machine, the pace is now quickening


Atlanta Ranks Third in Nation for Green Office Buildings

Atlanta ranks #3 in the nation for green office buildings according to a recent study. The Georgia Tech Living Building in Atlanta,  pictured here, will be one of most environmentally friendly buildings in the Southeast.

Atlanta ranks #3 in the nation for green office buildings according to a recent study. The Georgia Tech Living Building in Atlanta, pictured here, will be one of most environmentally friendly buildings in the Southeast.

According to  a new study, Atlanta is one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the country when it comes to office buildings.

The fourth annual Green Building Adoption Index a study conducted by researchers at the Commercial Real Estate Services (CBRE) and Maastricht University in the Netherlands — showed that more than half (55%) of Atlanta’s office space is “green certified,” either through the USGBC LEED program or through Energy Star.

Out of the 30 largest office markets in the United States, Atlanta ranks third on the list of eco-conscious office spaces, following San Francisco (#2) and Chicago (#1). Almost 25 percent of all offices in Atlanta are Energy Star labeled—second only to Manhattan and nearly double the national average.

In 2015, the city of Atlanta adopted the commercial buildings energy efficiency ordinance requiring that commercial buildings spanning at least 25,000 square feet, must annually measure and publish their energy and water use. The goal is to see a 50 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from commercial buildings by the year 2030, according to Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed.

Less than 5 percent of U.S. office buildings in 2005 were certified as “green” or “efficient,” researchers wrote. Since then, the statistic jumped to 38 percent. The CBRE study confirmed that institutional owners of office buildings continue to pursue green building certifications in the 30 largest U.S. markets.

As the trend for green design and renovation continues, clearly, these top 30 cities nationwide are receptive target markets for all those in the sustainable, environmental building and design sectors.


The First Sustainable Tourist City in the World Planned in Mexico

Amaitlan is a new tourist city being planned along the Mexican coast that will be totally sustainable.

Amaitlan is a new tourist city being planned along the Mexican coast that will be totally sustainable.

With its cultural heritage, endless beaches and amazing landscapes, Mexico is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. It will soon be home to the world’s first sustainable tourist city.

The new city will be called Amaitlán which means “The Land of Rest” in Nahuatl – a Uto-Aztecan language native to Central Mexico. It is being built near Mazatlan on the Pacific coast of Mexico.

Amaitlán will boast a “tropical architecture” with green technologies and renewable energies, extensive recycling, residue management, green recreational areas, clean transportation and an environmentally friendly lifestyle for its residents and visitors. The city’s residential areas, recreational zones, hotels, parks, schools and hospitals will cover close to  5000 acres.  It’s estimated that the project will create over 370,000 jobs.

Architect Jaime Lerner is the master mind behind the master plan. Lerner, who has been recognized by the United Nations as the “greatest urbanist humankind has ever seen”, hopes that this project will prove that a balance between environment, society and quality of life can be achieved, and that these elements are not necessarily contradictory.


Sealant, Waterproofing & Restoration Institute (SWRI) Taking a Lead

SWRI logo

SWRI is an international non-profit trade organization comprised of member companies in the commercial sealant, waterproofing and restoration construction industry. A valuable industry resource, SWRI has taken the lead in providing important technical data and training via its educational programs and publications, thus promoting industry-wide standards of application and products.

The Institute provides a forum for contractors, manufacturers, design professionals and consultants to learn about current trends and new products, as well as to exchange ideas, discuss new methods of application and network with other professionals. The organization has developed technical and safety manuals, as well as training videos, and twice a year they host a technical conference – the next one will be October 1-3, at the Minneapolis Marriott City Center where workshops, seminars and training will be offered. The Winter Technical Meeting with be in San Juan Puerto Rico March 4-7, 2018, at the La Concha Resort.

SRI has also developed validation programs that offer third-party verification of products and services offered in the industry. Additional sealant, waterproofing and restoration information may be gleaned from their trade magazine The Applicator which provides technical updates and news impacting the industry (available in print or digital format).