The construction industry is facing challenges related to the pandemic.From the management of people and planning, to the actual site work, what was normal is now informed by an entirely new set of factors. At the same time, innovation is thriving and at work to solve these problems.


Prior to COVID-19, the industry was in the midst of a technological evolution. Simultaneously, a host of young  have been working to improve the industry and take advantage of technologies available in other sectors, while established firms have been exploring how their operations could change as well.  From analytic tools to improve operations, project delivery workflows and occupant satisfaction within buildings the industry has been adding new capabilities that greatly increase efficiencies. Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) platforms have begun to gather the volumes of data used to transition projects from concept to reality. 


People

Construction, by definition, is a people business. It takes thousands of people to design, engineer, construct and operate a modern commercial building. That’s compounded by the thousands of products that go into a project with complex and diverse supply chains that reach around the globe.  A necessary element of all of this is the  reliance on product manufacturers to provide the products (aka: the ingredients) for  projects come to life. Adding to the complexity of the work, in instances of government, higher ed, and other sectors, product and material data are required as much as the people who bring a building to life.  

Project teams composed of designers, engineers, contractors and consultants have to meet and discuss the project design and construction on a regular basis; the bonds formed during those phases of the project typically  improve the output of the team.  Those necessary  meetings have shifted to a more digital format and take place alongside a host of other work we juggle.   As a result, sites  differently now as we work  to limit exposure and mitigate our risks as it relates to  the virus. A number of  job sites have implemented COVID protocols with the same rigor as the rest of their OSHA related health and safety standards. The  striking as they’ve kept infection spread to a minimum.  


Buildings

Buildings are going to have to adapt to keep occupants comfortable and safe.  r Creativity and ingenuity in how buildings adapt over the next 6-24 months will be worth watching.  As  transportation around the world adapted following the events of  9/11, COVID-19 will usher in a set of design, engineering and construction changes across all buildings.   Analysts have projected a  coming boom in residential construction to fill the large gap in supply and demand.  While growth is expected across all types of housing, multi-family will see  sizable growth in new projects in 2020-2021. At the same time, single family residential housing is going to also grow based on the desire for more space between occupants  and their neighbors.  While  commercial buildings have had reduced occupancy as a result of stay at home orders, as people begin returning  to  work, buildings will need to be reconfigured and remodeled to be safer for its occupants.  New considerations will need to be examined based on building type, usage and operational characteristics.  Human health and sustainability related factors have never been more important in the real estate, design and construction industries.  Buildings will need to be adapted to take into consideration important elements such as:

  • Design and Layout: Occupant density and Flow
  • Touchless / Contactless operations
  • HVAC: Fresh Air Ventilation, UV-C disinfection, Filtration
  • Daylighting
  • Environmental Sensors
  • Cleaning and Maintenance protocols and Chemicals


Technology

This pandemic has affected the entire world. .  As a result,  technology will shift to meet a new set of needs.  Design, engineering and construction software platforms will be  adapted and improved to help project teams make better decisions. As a result  will see  buildings that improve performance and operational effectiveness.. From airflow, to how we enter and exit a facility, to sensors that provide building operators information on a wide range of building and occupant characteristics, the built environment will be optimized for safety and human health. 


For the remainder of 2020, we will be highlighting interesting products and solutions that will help contractors improve their projects and help their clients be ready for reopening and optimize the operations of those buildings.