Contributed by Jeffrey Potter
The AEC industry is finally recognizing their treasure chest of data. It’s like the explosion of analytics with baseball (aka sabermetrics), it took over 100 years for baseball to realize what data chest they had and how to implement it. The same event is happening within the AEC industry and you better hop on the train now because it’s moving fast. Everything from the design of the building to the construction of the building is using data now in some capacity, but what about the specs, how can data assist or improve the role of specifications? The answer is probably not what you think…
When I realized the treasure chest of spec data I was sitting on, I work with a software where everything is stored on a server, my mind literally had one of those light bulb moments. Initially, from our project history in the server, I was able to figure the most commonly used sections and do two things. First, I cut down our 100-page specifications checklist to 40-pages, and finally to what is now 10-pages, of all the common sections for selections. Second, I created a historical archive where we keep those sections that have only been used once or twice in the past 4 years to be stored. My mind was blown, the possibilities where endless. I got amazing reviews for the two items above, and had so many other ideas on how to extract specification data and analyze it, but was going in the wrong direction until…
A few months later, I had another light bulb moment. There is such a thing as good data and bad/useless data. I was moving into the bad/useless data realm. For one example I wanted to figure or set up a template project with the top X amount of sections. Because every good size project has the same basic sections, it would be easy to set up and save time, but this conflicted with the Revit Model and how we bring specifications into our software. Which essentially does the same thing as a template project, although much quicker and smarter. Then, what would I do on small projects or much larger projects? This wasn’t the solution I was looking for on my data set.
My next train of thought took me down some exciting new avenues on how we can leverage data with specifications: product use and production. Product use is extremely important and I simply define it as “a product specified on a project that was installed”, pretty simple. Why is this important? Because if I am specifying Product A on 85% of my projects, yet on 75% of those projects, the Contractor is substituting for Product B… Why am I specifying this product? Why is the Contractor substituting? Is it because Product A cost more, harder on labor? Is it a regional item where Contractors in a specific region want Product B? Is my firm specifying old technology? Is one office favoring Product A over Product B? As you can see many questions arise, but the big ones are …
Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
In a few short days, Cherise and I will once again jump on a plane and converge on a new locale to spread the Let’s Fix Construction message. A new conference, and with that, a new audience, awaits in Anaheim at the AEC Next Technology Expo & Conference to hear a little about the who and a little more about the why behind what we’re doing.
With LFC being founded steeply in our Construction Specifications Institute roots and beliefs, much of the message of LFC and CSI remains in our closed loop circles if we do not do our part in getting in touch with the onlookers and informing new individuals about the who, the what and the why in 2019 and beyond.
These continued opportunities will never cease to amaze me. Cherise and I go into each one grateful for the chance to spread the message of Let’s Fix Construction and to perhaps spark an AHA! moment for even one of our attendees. For I truly believe that it only takes one person to walk away from one of our workshops to know that we’ve done our part. One person to tell us after attendance that they could feel our passion for what we’re doing. One person to say that they got more out of one session than a year of box lunches.
And Cherise and I are just two voices for Let’s Fix Construction. With our Speed Mentoring session in Anaheim, Let’s Fix Construction becomes dozens of voices, encompassing hundreds of years of construction experience, which will be conveyed to dozens more new receptors of our message and mission.
The AEC industry is undergoing monumental change and culture shifts and the next twenty years are vital to not only our future, but our children’s, grandchildren’s and great grandchildren's future. It’s important for all of us to continue to spread our knowledge and experience, and personally for Cherise and me, our mission and our passion that we deploy within Let’s Fix Construction.
You may not have the opportunity to join us in Anaheim at AEC Next, but there will be other chances. We’re always listening and open for new formats to offer creative solutions, separate myths from facts and erase misconceptions about the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry.
Contributed by Lisa Wetherell
Light is important for creating that warm feeling you get when you step into a building or home. It’s also important for boosting productivity and keeping everyone safe and happy. Not to mention, lights are a big part of the architectural creation and can make a huge difference when used right.
In fact, there is an entire niche dedicated to how we use light to enhance spaces, and it’s called architectural lighting design. Specialists in this niche can tell you that there are different categories of lighting and that the color, type, and even light source are of tremendous importance.
However, even though there are plenty of options available, more and more architects and interior designers lean towards LEDs. Have you wondered why?
If you have, below you can get the answer and learn why LEDs are indeed the best artificial light sources one could use in their projects.
While all spaces need artificial light, we must consider the level of energy consumption. This becomes even more important when we’re talking about commercial and office spaces, where the amount of energy consumed by the lighting system is significant.
LED lights are among the most energy efficient artificial sources because they use 80% of the energy to create visible light and only lose 20% as heat. When you compare this with incandescent lights, where 90% of energy is wasted through heat, you can see why so many architects and designers choose this option.
Further, LEDs don’t break easily because they don’t contain glass and they don’t need a lot of energy to create light. Moreover, LEDs come in a wide range of shapes and fixtures, and they can be recycled (which is no true about incandescent lights)!
One of the reasons why LEDs are favorite in commercial and architectural application is their long life. LED lights have an expected lifetime of up to 50,000 hours and they don’t break if left on for a long time (since there is no heat and glass to deteriorate). According to specialists, if left on 8 hours a day, seven days a week, it will take about 10 years for an LED light bulb to burn out.
LED lights are expected to last 25 times longer than halogens and incandescent lights, which is why they are used for difficult to reach places or commercial settings where lights need to on at all times.
Contributed by Brian M. Fraley
To automate or not to automate? That is the question many AEC firms face when it comes to social media. Like everything else in life, there are pros and cons.
My assessment is that the cons outweigh the pros for most AEC firms. This blog; however, will attempt to objectively lay out both sides and allow you to draw your own conclusion.
What is Social Media Automation?
Social media automation may sound intimidating if your AEC firm hasn’t even mastered social media itself, but have no fear. It’s simply the use of a software or app to pre-load, schedule, and post social media content. You can also monitor relevant topics, review performance metrics, and more.
Bundle Posts and Save Time
One of the greatest benefits of automation is the ability to log in and front load multiple posts for the coming day, week, etc. Instead of logging in repeatedly and struggling to come up with content, you can sit down in a more intentional way, chunk your work, and get back to designing.
Less Interruptions, More Flow Work
Staying active on social media is disruptive to your schedule. When you’re immersed in a project, the last thing you want is to break your concentration by logging in to LinkedIn, unless your brain needs a rest, that is. For those that subscribe to the belief that interruptions stymie productivity, automation is a godsend.
Stay Social When You’re Off the Grid
Consistency is key on social media. Letting your social accounts go dormant for days or weeks can cause followers to drop off. Social media automation can allow you to post when you’re traveling or consumed by a time-sensitive project for an extended period of time.
Use Multiple Platforms
Automation software and apps are usually designed as a control center for all of your social media activity. You can connect multiple accounts and see things like retweets, mentions, new followers, and inbox messages on a single dashboard. This obviously saves time because you don’t have to log into multiple accounts.
Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
While hosting a Let’s Fix Construction workshop at the AIA Conference in New York City this past Friday, a theme struck me during a discussion after a team was presenting their real-world solutions to the question that was posed to them. By nature, this theme seems opposite of the AEC industry in general.
One of the many reasons why Cherise Lakeside and myself have been travelling and presenting over the last year is to help eliminate the phrase “we’ve always done it this way” in construction. The industry remains stuck in many ways and tends to not implement changes easily, nor quickly.
So, I find it nothing short of ironic that the theme that struck, the term “FAST” seems so prevalent, including one long term usage, one definition that is on the cusp and one that I’m declaring.
While not an official project delivery method on its own, the term fast-track construction seems so common in the industry nowadays, that one almost assumes the term refers to the overall pace of the construction schedule.
However, according to the CSI Project Delivery Practice Guide, ‘Fast-track (construction) is the process of overlapping activities to permit portions of construction to start prior to completion of the overall design. The project schedule may require that portions of the design and construction occur concurrently.’
It’s my belief that the presumed definition and the true definition of fast-track construction are now blurred. Overall project construction schedules and durations have been shortened for years now, even while lead times are longer than ever for certain material procurement and the workforce isn’t supporting these timelines.
Before a shovel can be put in the ground and create the new blurred definition of fast-track construction, demands are being put on designers more and more in 2018 by Owners to create what I’m going to call “Fast-track design”.
The first six (of eight) stages of the life cycle of a facility traditionally moves from project conception to project delivery to design (schematic design and design development) to construction documents to procurement to construction. While these phases could take anywhere from a few years to upwards of twenty years in the past, a new norm has compressed this timeline upwards of eighty percent in some cases. While discussing public school design with a specifier recently, they recollected how a new high school design used to be allotted eighteen to twenty-four months for design in the past and what has become all too common is the same design is now being drawn and bid in as little as six to nine months.
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.
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