Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
I've been saying it for years now. The public's perception of just what is a construction worker has to change.
Sure, the hardhat and overalls wearing carpenter, working outdoors and swinging a hammer does indeed exist. But construction is SO MUCH MORE.
Construction is the process, art, or manner of constructing something.
Using that definition, if you work within the construction industry you could hold one of well over a hundred different job roles or titles. Due to our heavy involvement in the Construction Specifications Institute and CSI's diversified membership base of ALL players within the built environment, when Let's Fix Construction was founded we chose to view the construction industry as this more encompassing whole. We chose AEC - Architecture, Engineering & Construction - as our definition, a term that is more widely recognized and accepted today.
So whether that is more of a skilled tradesman position, such as a flooring installer, cement mason, painter, welder, ironworker or boilermaker, or perhaps it may be on the design end, such as an architect or engineer (or one of dozens of roles within an office), construction is so far beyond our hammer-swinging carpenter that has become the unfortunate public face.
During this Careers in Construction Month, it’s important that we not only talk to, but inform the younger generation on not just what construction is, but what construction can be.
Today, Monday October 7th, is Careers in Construction Day. Meant to be a day of action on social media for those working within construction, please take a moment to share a picture of yourself on the job and post it to social media with the tag #CICDAY2019 in order to give people a true glimpse into our daily lives. While you're at it, feel free to use our hashtag #FixConstruction
Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
I feel extremely fortunate to live just next door to Burlington, Vermont, in a fantastic little town called Colchester. How next door? I live just six miles from Burlington's City Hall.
For those that have visited Burlington, you know just how special of a city it is. And for all of those that I've talked to that have never visited Burlington, they've heard what you've probably heard. It's beautiful, it's the home of Bernie and Ben and Jerry's and Phish, it's also very left-leaning and it's on the list to visit some day.
Little ol' Burlington, population 42,239 as of 2017, happens to be the first city in the nation to source all energy from renewable sources in 2014. And just two weeks ago, our Mayor, Miro Weinberger, announced a plan to make Burlington a net zero energy city by 2030. In doing so, he said “I know that many Burlingtonians believe, as I do, that we are in a climate emergency, and at the same time, that it can feel tough to know how to respond to the scale of this problem. With this roadmap in hand, we now have clear next steps for what we can do to respond at the local level to this global crisis." This roadmap includes four main pathways which include:
Burlington may be ahead of the curve when it comes to this difficult conversation and gameplan that is quickly becoming a global crisis. Climate emergency is a perfect term for what we are experiencing, not only at a local level, but also at a global level.
This global crisis is under more of a magnifying glass this week as we celebrate World Green Building Week, which is an annual campaign that motivates and empowers us all to deliver greener buildings.
The campaign in 2019 aims to raise greater awareness of the carbon emissions from all stages of a building’s lifecycle, and encourage new practices and new ways of thinking to work towards reducing carbon emissions from buildings.
Did you know buildings and construction are responsible for 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions? 28% of these emissions come from the operational "in-use" phase – to heat, power and cool them, while 11% of these emissions are attributed to embodied carbon emissions, which refers to carbon that is released during the construction process and material manufacturing.
As part of this 10th annual World Green Building Week, the World Green Building Council has issued a bold new vision for how buildings and infrastructure around the world can reach 40% less embodied carbon emissions by 2030, and achieve 100% net zero emissions buildings by 2050.
Burlington may be a few years ahead of the curve, but still needs to hit that goal of 2030. As for you and your firm, what are you doing to ensure we’re building a better future?
Contributed by Roy Schauffele
One of my favorite movie lines is “you’re killing me, Smalls”, from the baseball movie, 'The Sandlot'.
Well in today’s world, especially specifications for air barriers, the construction industry is killing me. I have written about this item before on #FixConstruction, but to no avail. One of the technical data points I hear design folks dig their feet in on is the “perm rating”. Permeance is a measurement of water vapor transmission through a material, often based on testing performed in accordance to ASTM E96, either Procedure A (dry cup or desiccant) or Procedure B (the wet cup). Big note here, the IBC (International Building Code) in Chapter 2, only references Procedure A.
For the record, I love good reproducible usable data, but the ASTM E96 method of testing leaves me flat. At this moment, I’m sitting here looking at the same material, tested by two different accredited laboratories and there is a 300% difference between the two labs between both two (2) Procedure A samples and two (2) Procedure B samples. With that type of difference, how can one rely on this type of data?
The ASTM E96 standard itself states, in part, “A permeance value obtained under one set of conditions may not indicate the value in another set of conditions”. Based on a round-robin testing effort, ASTM reports E96 has about 20% lab-to-lab variability. I bet you are going to have to think fairly hard about another part of your project manual where you’d allow a 20% variability in testing data.
Permeance data is not an evaluation criterion for ABAA (Air Barrier Association of America). The data is listed by ABAA because the design community has requested it.
Going back to the code definitions, the language used in the air barrier business is constantly changing as the industry and technology evolve. Nowhere is this more evident than in Building Code language, which now fully defines Vapor Retarders and Vapor Permeable in Chapter 2 of the 2015 & 2018 IBC (International Building Code).
Contributed by Roy Schauffele
Late fall and during all winter, concerns and problems arise with air barrier applications on CMU (Concrete Masonry Unit). I know because I get the phone calls. Generally speaking, the fluid applied water-based vapor permeable air barriers go on OK but take a long time to cure or set.
Additionally, I’ve observed a myriad of job site problems with self-adhered vapor impermeable sheets, flashings and tapes. The vapor impermeable materials were applied properly but exhibited blistering and lack of adhesion within days. When investigated there was always liquid water on the adhered side of these sheets.
Observations of quite a few jobs leads me to state that, in this investigation, the vast majority of “problem” jobs had the following in common:
OK, let’s deal with what will lead to an excellent new construction air barrier installation and long-term performance:
1. If the Architect/Specifier has specified a dry water repellent in the CMU, it is already causing a potential problem with the adhesion of a water-based air barrier or primer. This issue has been written about previously in an article in Coatings Pro Magazine July 2018 “Legacy Specifications, Wall and Air Barrier Performance”. The Air Barrier installer absolutely needs to make the Architect/Specifier aware of this prior to bid.
2. If the project is wide open with doors, bay doors and windows not finished or openings not protected from water entry, then a tremendous amount of water can enter the CMU causing some of the problems referenced above. The top of the walls and window openings should be treated in such a way as to prevent water from running in to these open areas.
One of my friends and great technical writer in Austin, TX, Mr. Dave Watts, RA, has the following statement in his specifications: Section 04 20 00, 3.18 PROTECTION OF FINISHED WORK, 3.18.e “Protect tops of masonry with waterproof coverings secured in place without damaging masonry. Provide coverings where masonry is exposed to weather when work is not in progress.”
Contributed by Jori Smith
So, you have a non-Design-Bid-Build (DBB) project on the boards? Hurrah!
Collaborative project delivery methods such as Construction Management At-Risk (CMAR) have a proven track record of improving project outcomes for everyone. This is a different way of doing things though, and we all must adapt to the new normal. Are you evolving, or hanging on to old habits? Here are some ways that the A/E (Architect/Engineer) team can short circuit a successful process.
Having Meetings Without the Contractor
Anticipate that your builder will be included in all project planning activities and emails. A truly collaborative team works together as much as possible and appreciates the extra brain cells solving problems. The project benefits from builder attendance even at programming sessions with users, where the opportunity to learn about the priorities of both the client and the designer will affect feedback down the road.
Not Taking Advantage of Your Partner's Field Skills
Camera scoping of existing piping, roofing cores, investigative demolition inside walls or above ceilings, and surveying. I've had to BEG designers for lists of field verifications helpful to the project. This is a chance to change the reliance upon as-built documents provided by the Owner. Can we reduce, or even eliminate "unforeseen" conditions? Dare to dream!
Figuring it Out on Your Own
The construction team brings access to trade skill sets and constructability experience. In addition, they have been exposed to a diversity of project experience with multiple designers - some of whom might have had a great idea or two. We want to help you solve system/assembly problems while the project is still in design.
Letting the Engineers Put Off Progress Until You Finish "Moving Walls"
This is one of the most effective ways to cut the pre-construction process off at the knees. The builder cannot provide the estimating and constructability services we've been contracted to do when provided empty floor plans on the engineering sheets. Anyhow, BIM is forcing the team to make decisions earlier too, so this is a habit that needs to be broken.
Leaving Out the Details
The project will still be competitively bid by, all or most of the subs, and they need that information for an accurate scope. Sure, the builder at the pre-construction table heard you say “that” months ago (and may even remember), but she/he can’t be charged with communicating your design decisions to the bidders –unless you want to let her/him have the authority for those decisions. To maintain control of design and protect the Owner from unnecessary change costs, a fully complete set of construction documents must be provided.
Forgetting About the Bidding Documents
Again - the subcontracts are still being competitively bid. Additionally, all of Division 01 likely still applies and will require a thorough review by both teams, as changes are generally needed to align the requirements with the project delivery method.
Not Taking Advantage of Scheduling Options
Changes are inherent in the pre-construction process. We're working together to make them now, instead of later – because later costs the owner money in change orders. This is an opportunity to reconsider putting out incomplete or uncoordinated drawings just to hit a milestone date. Ask how your builder can adapt the schedule to give you more time to finish. Early work packages are a fantastic tool. Give me the foundation and steel, I'll get started while you finish the door hardware schedule. Fast track concepts are easily incorporated into these projects.
I’ve had several A/E professionals tell me that public procurement must be DBB. Not so! There are several states which are allowing CMAR and Design-Build. Encourage your lawmakers to open the process and allow other project delivery methodologies. While no delivery method is perfect, there are definite advantages to be had from partnering with the construction team - leading to a more successful project for all.
Let's Fix Construction is an avenue to offer creative solutions, separate myths from facts and erase misconceptions about the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry.
Get blog post notifications here