Contributed by Randy Nishimura
A cozy group gathered at the Eugene Builders Exchange this past Thursday for the May chapter meeting of the Construction Specifications Institute-Willamette Valley Chapter. The topic for the meeting was repurposedMATERIALS, the successful enterprise at the vanguard of the rapidly growing materials repurposing industry.
CSI-WVC member Alorie Mayer, who has a background in energy and resource conservation management, organized the presentation of a webinar by repurposedMATERIALS president Damon Carson. Damon founded the company in 2011, and it has only grown by leaps and bounds since then. In Damon’s words, repurposing occupies the intersection of affordability and sustainability. The repurposedMATERIALS business model involves taking byproducts out of the waste stream and extending their maximum practical benefit while minimizing waste and the expenditure of new energy to ready them for new uses.
Damon introduced the topic of repurposing materials by having us think about what many of us did naturally as preschoolers: taking an empty Quaker Oats canister and transforming it into a drum or a container for Lego blocks, or reimagining a Maytag refrigerator shipping box as a medieval fort or a space-age rocket. This, in his words, was our “substitutionary thinking” at work. Repurposing isn’t a new concept; fundamentally, it is an innately human behavior.
Damon cited the waste hierarchy pyramid and how reuse occupies a perch near its peak. Repurposing is not the same as recycling, which typically involves energy-intensive processing of the materials (e.g. chipping, shredding, grinding, or melting) before reuse is possible. Repurposing is a means to extract the maximum practical benefit from products while minimizing the cost to the environment. As a waste-management strategy, repurposing minimizes emissions of greenhouse gases, reduces pollutants, saves energy, conserves resources, creates jobs, and stimulates the development of green technologies. Repurposing rather than reprocessing previously-used items also saves time and money, making quality products available to people and organizations who may be of limited means.
Of course, repurposing isn't a new concept. Artists (like my friend and former co-worker Rosie Nice) have long fashioned sculptures and other works out of what most people would consider junk. Habitat for Humanity ReStores and Eugene/Springfield’s own BRING Recycling sell salvaged materials but tend to emphasize reuse rather than repurposing. For example, salvaged doors or windows sold by Habitat for Humanity ReStores or BRING are typically used by the purchasers for the same ends they originally were originally intended for. What distinguishes repurposedMATERIALS is its procurement of large amounts of discarded products no longer suitable for their original purposes but are otherwise practical for altogether different uses.
Contributed by Eric Weisbrot
Construction as an industry has noticeably lagged in moving operations toward a more digital realm compared to other business verticals. A report published by McKinsey in 2017 highlighted this truth, citing a near stagnant rate of productivity growth among construction businesses. Comparing that to the 1,500 percent growth of industries like manufacturing and agriculture, it is clear construction is ripe for disruption. But those who have earned a living from the construction business, including licensed and bonded contractors and project managers, have been slow to adopt new technology over the years.
Now, however, the industry is in dire need of change. Many statistics show a labor shortage in construction, high occurrences of waste and inefficiencies on job sites, as well as skyrocketing budgets and capital spending for substantial projects. In order to combat these growing concerns and bring technology into the fold, the construction environment is starting to grasp the power of the following revolutionary changes fueled by technological tools and resources. Here are seven ways technology is influencing construction today.
Countless technology firms are focusing their energy on developing autonomous construction machinery, some led by former tech company engineers and designers. Self-operating machines, including bulldozers, excavators, and cranes, are already operating on sites around the world. Their mainstream entrance into the market is imminent in the next several years. Machines that do not require a human touch can be used to tackle repetitive, simple tasks that take skilled workers significant time and effort to complete. The inclusion of robotics in construction has the potential to reduce waste and inefficiencies across the board.
Drones and 3D Printing
In addition to self-operating machinery, the technology behind drones and 3D printing is also making its debut in the construction field. Drones have been used to help monitor job site progress, as well as lend a hand in the inspection process for projects both small and large. 3D printing offers a new way of designing projects and creating some structures that would otherwise require ample time and effort by individual construction professionals. These technologies have other far-reaching implications in construction as they become more developed and more widely used.
Contributed by Emily Conner
American’s spend more than 90% of their lives indoors. The majority of those daytime hours are set inside the office walls. Despite the rise of e-commerce and remote workers, most businesses still operate out of traditional, energy-hogging buildings.
Collectively, our country’s building stock accounts for almost half of our annual total energy usage, 3/4s of our electricity consumption, and pumps out more than 39% of CO2 emissions produced in the U.S. The World Economic Forum also reports that the Engineering & Construction (E&C) industry is the nation’s single largest consumer of raw materials like steel. The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) predicts that, conservatively, by 2025 energy use in the business sector will cost more than $430 billion – about the same as our annual Medicare spend.
Businesses have a major opportunity to reduce their environmental impact. Where do they begin? Easy. A better-built environment starts with a more sustainable building sector. We’ve collected some climate-friendly ways to make a positive contribution.
But first, some quick business.
Potential CO2 and Energy Savings
The lifespan of an average building is 50-100 years. During that time, they produce tons of CO2 emissions every day. With new construction breaking records every year, we have the ability to make huge gains regarding energy efficiency.
As ESSI points out, “If half of new commercial buildings were built to use 50% less energy, it would save over 6 million metric tons of CO2 annually for the life of the buildings—the equivalent of taking more than 1 million cars off the road every year.”
So, there it is. Problem solved, right? New builds for everyone and our climate is saved? We think taking a more realistic course is a better plan of action.
Building Better with Sustainable Solutions
Let’s face it, not every business can afford to erect an entirely new LEED-certified green building and still have money to operate out of it. But there are ways businesses and construction companies both large and small can help transform the built environment.
Though this list is by no means comprehensive, here are seven moves that can inch us toward a better-built building stock.
Registration is now open for CONSTRUCT 2018, our MUST attend construction industry conference of the year.
The co-founders of Let's Fix Construction, Eric D. Lussier and Cherise Lakeside met at CONSTRUCT in Phoenix in 2012 and have returned in each successive year since. AT CONSTRUCT 2017 in Providence, RI, Eric and Cherise were invited to participate on the CONSTRUCT Education Advisory Council with a group of other industry professionals. This effort has continued for the 2018 Conference and much work has been done to put together a dynamic program for the conference this coming October 3-5, 2018 in Long Beach, CA.
In addition to the Education Advisory Council, CONSTRUCT 2018 will be keeping Eric and Cherise busy on all three days of the conference.
On Day 1, they are both involved in the fourth annual Young Professionals Program, Cherise will be moderating the Archispeak Interactive Luncheon titled 'Real Talk About Challenges, Opportunities & Innovations Surrounding AEC Teams' and later that day, the Let's Fix Construction interactive problem-solving workshop will return for a second consecutive year.
On day 2, Eric and Cherise will co-host a new program 'Facing Danger: Public Speaking for Non-Public Speakers' and the evening will conclude with the 2nd annual Let’s Fix Construction 'Partners & Pints' party, sponsored by ClarkDietrich.
Day 3 will feature a new addition to CONSTRUCT in 2018, as Cherise will moderate the 'Millennial Power Panel' session, with more details below.
While Cherise and Eric (Let’s Fix Construction) will be busy this year at CONSTRUCT in their continuing total world domination effort, there are a host of great educational sessions from many well respected members of the AEC Community in addition to project tours, networking events, parties, show floor education, product information and much more. Check out the official CONSTRUCT Press Release below and register soon and save up to $230 with Early Bird Pricing when you register by 06/13.
CONSTRUCT, the only national show dedicated to commercial building teams that spec and source materials, has announced a slight change in the show’s format for 2018. CONSTRUCT is introducing Thought Leader and Power Panel Sessions this year, replacing the Keynote Speaker and Game Changer Speaker. These four new sessions will feature key industry leaders speaking on trending topics that are affecting the AEC industry today. The Thought Leader speakers include Rosa T. Sheng, Brok Howard, and Paul Doherty. The Power Panel session will involve successful millennial professionals.
Rosa T. Sheng, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, is a Principal and Director of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion at SmithGroupJJR and AIA SF President 2018. She is also the Founding Chair for Equity by Design, which has launched a national movement for achieving equitable practice and design in architecture since 2018. Rosa’s session, titled ‘Why Equity Matters for everyone – A New Value Proposition for Design', will frame the discussion on how we can adopt a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion.
Brok Howard, is a Technical Account Manager at dRofus Inc. where he leads the effort in implementation, training, and support for all North America. He has over 20 years of experience in the AEC industry, including teaching at Washington University in St. Louis and as a BIM Manager at HOK. Brok’s session titled 'Knowledge Transfer – An Ethical Responsibility for AEC Professionals', will focus on our responsibility and duty to prepare the next generation with the knowledge we share.
Paul Doherty, the President and CEO of the Digit Group, is an award-winning architect, specifier, and adviser to Fortune 500 organizations and government agencies. He is also one of the co-founders of the AEC Hackathon. His current work is focused on Smart City real estate developments for the USA and abroad. Paul’s session titled 'The Digital Transformation of Specifications' will discuss a new age of specifications driving digital transformations that could only have been dreamed about just a few years ago.
Contributed by Justin Havre
The blockchain is a type of decentralized public ledger that makes it easier to organize, verify, and protect information. While it's mainly been associated with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, the technology has much more potential than that. It's been theoretically applied to almost every sector of the economy and is slowly transitioning from the possible to the practical.
Blockchain may be able to tighten up construction deadlines, prevent fraud, and cut out the middlemen all while encouraging new ideas and partnerships.
What the Blockchain Does
The blockchain is a revolutionary way to input information and secure it from anyone who shouldn't have access to it. Not only can it keep financial transactions safe from prying eyes, but it can also streamline construction projects with multiple moving parts. Between investors, developers, and construction workers, it's easy for information to slip through the cracks. But the blockchain isn't like any other project management tool anyone's ever used before.
Using Smart Contracts
A smart contract is a series of if/then statements that are set up according to the rules of each project. The blockchain is dominated by the logistics of the programmer, so it can be adapted to small and large projects alike. Construction companies can use these smart contracts to essentially control every aspect of the project. So, if a painter needs to wait for an inspector to first check the drywall before painting, there will be an unhackable log where they can plainly see whether or not an inspector has held up their end of the bargain.
The blockchain makes it easier than ever for construction crews to keep up with new technology on the scene. For example, Building Information Modeling (BIM) tools may have helped to improve precision during construction, but it's also led to a lot of confusion on the actual job site. When changes can be made faster than ever, workers need a single source to receive updates in real-time. The blockchain can update everyone that the developers want a new color of paint in the bathroom or slightly different dimensions in the master bathroom.
Finding the Right People
There is a lot of segregation in construction, which leads to the isolation of ideas and talent. This separation is (in part) due to the fact that it's difficult to both find and coordinate with the right partners. Much like with picking the right real estate agent to work with, if there isn't an easy way to assess a company's reputation, it can lead to undue competition. The blockchain can both facilitate coordination and inspire partnerships between companies with different specialties. This type of cross-pollination of skills can lead to some truly innovative results in the industry.
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