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.
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.
^^ A very typical stock image for "construction" ^^
Contributed by Darren Lester
For as long as I’ve been involved in and around the construction industry, there’s been an underlying consensus that we need to clean up the public's perception of the industry.
Disasters like Grenfell Tower and scandals like the Carillion collapse tend to bring this into sharp focus and we see a renewed energy to show people the positive stuff in construction.
The legitimate worry is that all of the negativity, combined with the image of the stereotypical construction worker, complete with hard hat and hi-vis jacket, will limit our ability to attract younger, smarter, tech-savvy professionals and the must-needed next generation workforce.
So the logical conclusion is to try to push the good stuff even harder.
But perhaps this is the wrong approach.
Unfortunately, the truth is that the public image of the construction industry exists for a reason — it’s mostly accurate.
To portray anything else would be misleading.
Our industry has huge issues, from top to bottom.
We’re embarrassingly inefficient. Rarely deliver as promised. We overspend. We’re huge polluters. We're wasteful with resources. We put people’s physical health and lives at risk on a daily basis. We have a terrible record of mental ill health amongst workers. We’re rife with corruption and 'old boys' clubs. We treat women unfairly. We lack any sort of competent leadership. And we’re pretty much the worst of laggards in adopting digital technology.
I could go on.
If we continue to try to put a positive spin on things, or suppress these issues in order to exemplify the glimmers of hope there are within the industry (and don't get me wrong, they do exist), then we’ll end up with another generation of workers who simply knuckle down and accept that this is as good as it gets.
Ironically, shining a light on these shortcomings, by making them painfully transparent to the whole world and by holding our hands up to say “sorry, things aren’t great”, perhaps we can give ourselves the best chance of driving change.
Because all of the sh*t that’s wrong with our industry is actually what could attract the smartest, most ambitious young professionals and entrepreneurs (and the capital to back them), who see an opportunity to really disrupt and rebuild a huge industry.
Yes, we should continue to educate young professionals about the industry, and show them that there are more options to a career in construction than working on a cold, wet building site. But all industries have their stereotypes - that in itself isn't holding us back from change.
But perhaps we should also share with them our biggest failings, and present them as rewarding opportunities for those willing to challenge the status quo.
Not an easy thing to do, but maybe we'd end up with real change, rather than a slightly improved public image.
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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