News about Innovation in the Built Environment

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Your building is talking. Are you listening?

Your building is talking. Eric Hall asks, “Are you listening?”

Eric is Founder and Chief Innovation Officer at Site 1001, a smart building performance and operations platform that uses the Internet of Things and data from various sensors as well as the building’s original information (like construction documents) to solve simple and complex problems with potentially expensive repercussions, such as mold detection and air quality monitoring.

Thanks to early travel opportunities which exposed him to both the developed and developing world, one of Eric’s top priorities is the sustainability and longevity of buildings. His motto? It’s more efficient to build it right the first time. And every ounce of waste results in architectural disintegrity.

Eric is a regular speaker about the future of the construction industry, IoT, AI, smart buildings, and smart cities.

Read on to hear Eric’s take on overcoming the silos confronting the construction industry — and that one time he got busted for selling tacos underage.

[Editor’s note: this interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity]

Tell us about what projects you’re currently working on.

I’m working on extending the platform of hardware technologies, including IoT devices. We’re adding more sensors in buildings to get more data. IoT allows us to have data that was 100 times more expensive ten years ago. It allows a broad set of device manufacturers to solve very specific problems at a low cost–everything from mundane to highly sophisticated issues.

The solution can be something as simple as detecting a leak inside of a wall before it collapses. With IoT, once I’ve detected the leak, I can depressurize the water system through an automated valve. We can use thermometers and automated water valves to remove contagens and pathogens from drinking water supplies or use the sensors for indoor air quality monitoring. It’s able to detect mold in the wall cavity. All simple fixes that, at the end of the day, allow people to be more proactive and live in a healthier environment.

How long have you been part of this industry?

I’ve been in the AEC space for almost 25 years. I received an undergrad in architecture and immediately joined the carpenters union. I’ve been in every stage of construction, from swinging a hammer, to national building information model director, to founder and inventor of Site 1001.


What changes have you seen for the positive?

The industry has been criticized for how it’s lacked productive improvement over the past 100 years. People are quick to blame a lack of technology for lack of productivity. I disagree with that. Since I came into the marketplace with a post-grad degree, there has been a huge application of technology in the construction industry. The real problem in buildings is the archaic communication structure under which we build buildings.

We have a historical methodology that creates an adversarial relationship between contractor and owner, between change orders and cost reduction.

What I’ve seen is the application of BIM allows for collaboration between these parties that has never been possible before. BIM allows us to engage people who can’t read these details to see it, understand it, and discuss it. We’re freed up to make more sophisticated design decisions as a result. It allows visual communication. It’s going to change expectations–the days of 30 percent waste and massive change orders are over. Owners are no longer going to accept that.

What changes have you seen for the negative?

Not that we have control over it, but we have a much greater lack of skilled labor than we did before.

When I joined the union, I was surrounded by skilled tradesman. Today, because the unions aren’t able to provide that skilled labor, general contractors have become construction managers. Of course, there were specialized trades, but the general carpentry, the labor, the site conditions, safety, iron working, and masonry were all handled by a single entity–a brotherhood of skilled labor. If we were up against the schedule, and one of the trades wasn’t getting it done, I had dozens of tradesmen on the job to rally around and get the job done because it was in everyone’s best interest.

The market in construction and design is becoming more siloed because we don’t have access to skilled labor. Specialization is starting to push us back towards the problem in communication we had pre-BIM.

 

What draws you to the technology side of things?

My goal in this is to get us back on track to get rid of this abusive triad relationship. What suffers is the architecture, the built environment we deliver. People deserve good architecture.

As a student who’s traveled all over the world, I’ve seen how different cultures and governments place emphasis on good architecture. Here in the States, architecture is driven by capitalism. If you’re building a warehouse for shoes, you’re building the squarest, non-air-conditioning-est building you can build. We compound that issue when we have poor communication. We don’t allow good design to occur.

I want to see more farsighted design than the two-year construction process. It takes two years for buildings to go from hole in the mud to having the keys handed to the owner. Every ounce of waste results in architectural disintegrity.

 

Imagine you’re talking to a high school senior. What would you tell her to major in, and why?

The first bit of advice I would give is: you don’t have to decide today. The longer we have to decide what it is we want to do, compared to the amount of information we receive in that time, is the connection of how we finally get there. I’m fortunate–I don’t work. I do what I love. If you want to achieve that, you’re not going to already know what that is as an 18-year-old. Stay in a general studies program for the first couple years. Don’t close your mind.

 

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?

Travel while you’re young. Travel gives you the widest breadth of experience because everything is done a little differently all over the place. We all learned to pour concrete from the Romans. Get as much project experience as you can. Be willing to move around the country and keep your eyes and ears open.

 

Was there a specific trip that impacted you?

Shock therapy. In college, I had an open year so I decided to take a job in Paris which allowed me to travel Europe on a Euro Pass. I was traveling all over, sketching buildings from the Trevi fountain to canals in Amsterdam and everything in between. I was seeing some of the world’s greatest architecture.

When I flew back stateside. I had a month to kill before classes started. My stepdad was involved in a church program going to Haiti for 14 days. So I flew from Europe to the U.S. to the poorest country in the western hemisphere. There were so few resources that if I had a Bobcat Skid-steer down here, I could have changed the country.

That was the opportunity that drove me to care about society’s impact on architecture, the desire to want what we build to provide residual value. It’s the responsibility of architects to not cut corners and sacrifice quality in order to deliver something in the short term.

What was your first job ever?

I lied about my age so I could make tacos at a fast food restaurant. It only took a month for them to catch me and fire me–I was 11 and you had to be 14.

 

Tech Takes

What is your must-have smartphone app?

I only use eight pages on the entire internet. I’ve been a full iOS ecosystems user for the last 10 years since the iPhone first came out. But I’ve realized that all of this fear and dependency I had on my Apple ecosystems was not true at all. The whole Android OS is my new favorite app. I didn’t have the courage on my own to transition, but now I am a changed person.

 

What are your favorite technology tools you use throughout your day?

Nest cameras are ultra sweet. I carry a Flir infrared camera on my body all the time to go into spaces and look at air infiltration as well as electrical–you can see shorted wires glow in infrared. You can look at a wall panel and see what’s loaded based on what color they are. It fits in a shirt pocket.

 

If you could wave a magic wand and create a new technology, what would it be?

Instant travel. As a guy who flies all the time, I need instant travel.

Thornton Tomasetti President Asks, “Innovation: Theatre or Action?”

This post is written by Ray Daddazio, President of Thornton Tomasetti, from his notes that he took down during a lecture in January of this year. The event was sponsored jointly by Columbia University’s Business School in conjunction with Columbia Entrepreneurship, and was hosted by Chris McGarry, Director for Entrepreneurship in the University Office of Alumni and Development. Rita McGrath, a professor of management at the Business School known for her work on strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship, moderated the discussion. She is also teaching an online course called  “Mastering Corporate Entrepreneurship.” On the panel were Steve Blank, a Senior Fellow for Entrepreneurship at Columbia and serial entrepreneur and Brian Murray, President & CEO of HarperCollins Publishers.

Thornton Tomasetti Project - McCormick Place

Innovation: Theatre or Action?

The motivation of the lecture is focused on the fact that corporate entrepreneurship is a very hot topic these days. However, despite all the talk, actual innovation performance comes nowhere near to delivering on its promise. We are perhaps five years into the latest flurry of excitement about the prospects for innovation-fueled growth. Companies have traveled to Silicon Valley in droves, sponsored innovation boot camps, trained innovation ninjas, and otherwise promised their stakeholders that innovation is front and center on their agendas.

And yet, evidence suggests much of this activity is just ‘Innovation Theater.’ Indeed, how many corporations focus their cultures around an innovation playbook, and train all staff in innovation practices? In a recent McKinsey study, approximately 65% of executives surveyed reported that they were unhappy with their organization’s inability to innovate. That said, McKinsey also discovered that, “On the contrary, senior executives almost unanimously—94 percent—say that people and corporate culture are the most important drivers of innovation.”

What’s Next for Corporate Innovation?

Similar research shows that corporations are spending a lot more of their profits on things like share buybacks and dividends than they are on innovation. So, what’s next for corporate innovation? The speakers identified five major categories of executive movement:

  • Large corporations are world-class executions engines, and they now need to move at the speed of a start-up and don’t have the talent to do so. For example, Macy’s/Sears versus Amazon.
  • McKinsey’s three horizons of innovation:
    1. Incremental innovation around core business – 60%-70% of resources
    2. Adjacent business (extend and tweak portfolio) – 15%-20%
    3. Transformational (disruptive: Kindle, iPhone, long term bets) 10%-25%
  • Most CEOs come from the first horizon:
    • Leaders align budgets, promotions, other incentives for execution not innovation
    • Going from idea to good idea to acceleration of good idea is difficult
  • Providing an incentive for innovation:
    • Finance and HR are usually out of sync
    • We cannot shoot the core business, because it pays the bills
    • Balance (between sustaining core vs. disruptive innovation) is tricky and difficult to achieve
    • Need a “re-factoring group” or process that sits between innovation and execution to help work proceed seamlessly understanding limitation of each side.
  • Executives must know the difference between “innovation” and “entrepreneurship”:
    • Anyone can be innovative; the CEO just needs to get rid of the obstacles
    • McKinsey’s Horizons 1 and 2 just need innovation and continuous improvement
    • The CEO sets and ingrains a culture of quality as a mindset of the organization

Best Chance for Success at Thornton Tomasetti

The information shared in this excellent lecture reaffirms Thornton Tomasetti’s approach. These are the driving issues that lead to success or failure of most corporate innovation attempts. Setting up the TTWiiN incubator and hiring The Combine addresses the main issues identified by panel.  And, this model offers us the very best chance for success.

 

In Service Companies, There Is No Line Item for R&D

Originally posted on The Combine.

K.P. Reddy: "No line item for R&D in service companies"

Recently, Matt GrayBuiltWorlds founder and co-chairman of Graycor, a 90-year-old, Chicago-area general contractor, interviewed The Combine Co-founder and Partner, K.P. Reddy. We captured the interview on video, which is important, because this interview is one of the very few times you’ll ever see K.P. Reddy in a collared shirt and a coat. Here’s the video.

Notable Quotes from K.P.

The capital requirements to start an architectural firm are nothing. All you need is a customer.

The Combine works with large companies to spin out new tech companies.  Especially in service companies, they are so close to the customer’s problem. They understand the problem. They’ve studied the problem. Then they start trying to solve that problem, by launching a new service unit to focus on that problem. Or, these days, everyone wants to build a new piece of hardware or software.

There is no line item for R&D

But in these companies it’s about billable hours, project revenue, project margin. There is no line item for R&D. So we’re able to go into these companies and mine these really cool innovative ideas and spin them out as tech startups.

Higher ROI outside of their core business

The large companies also retain ownership in the startup. Startup valuations are very different than services firm valuations, and particularly engineering and architectural firms. So we’re able to in many ways generate higher ROI outside of their core business than within their core business.

Civil Engineers Rule The Future!

When you hear the term “civil engineering”, your eyes and ears usually don’t perk up in anticipation like they do when you hear “new iPhone” or “driverless cars” or “Artificial Intelligence.” Instead, you think bridges, roads, dams, airports, traffic patterns…buildings. Civil engineers are boring, right? [Read more..]

Coming Soon to Hotels: AI for Building Maintenance

August 21, 2017 – The hospitality industry is trying to find the X factor to get back on top. With competitors like Airbnb entering the scene as unique places for travelers to stay and brand loyalty becoming less important to guests, hotels should tap pause and look back to the basics.[Read More…]

Look to the Past for a Better Future

head shot of Cliff Moser

The AEC workflow looks nothing like it did thirty years ago.

From paper and pencil to CAD and now BIM, Cliff Moser is a prime example of how to adapt and evolve in an industry that isn’t always receptive to change.

Based in Oakland, California, Cliff is an architect currently using BIM to facilitate the design and construction of 500P, the new Stanford University Hospital for Stanford Healthcare. This $2B project for an 824,000-square-foot facility features advanced diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical technologies, and will provide an additional 368 beds, as well as a new Emergency Department with twice the floor space of the current facility.

A leading voice in Design Solving methodology, Moser is the author of Architecture 3.0: The Disruptive Design Practice Handbook; outlining innovation and disruption in the practice of architecture. His other works include BIM Disruption 2016: The Disruption of Interoperability and the AIA Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice (14th and 15th editions), where he authored the chapters on Quality Management.

He also authors a bi-monthly column for Constructech Magazine on the travails of the owner requirements for design and construction deliverables.

How long have you been part of this industry?

Cliff Moser: Over thirty-five years. I studied architecture, and also got a Master’s in quality assurance. That combination has made me very focused on using the lean approach and Toyota method on the job. My motto has become quality has to be embedded during the entire process, not just checked at the end.

What changes have you seen in the industry since you started out?

Cliff Moser: The apprentice/mentor model has disappeared, and we have no good replacement for oversight. We’ve lost that opportunity for managers to be engaged with what new hires were drawing and how they were drawing it. When I first started, you’d be drawing on a desk and leave your drawings out overnight when you went home. That gave the managing principles a chance to look at your stuff at the end of the day or in the morning, leave notes on it, and work through it with you the next day, guiding you.

Now, with everyone’s models locked into a computer, we’ve lost the opportunity for that feedback loop. The people who model and draw work in isolation until it’s time to hand the designs off. That means instead of catching mistakes internally under mentor review, firms transfer those mistakes to the customer. The customer becomes QA, rejecting what they receive, changing the schedule, adding additional costs, even pursuing lawsuits. We need a better way.

Why do you think this industry lags behind in tech?

Cliff Moser: Without the mentor/apprentice model, everyone learns by doing. So we have to do things wrong 3, 4, 5, 6 times. Some believe there’s no better way than the old way. I’ve seen 24-year-olds say there’s no better way than the old way. That to me signals a complete process breakdown: they’re frustrated with trying to improve things, so they give up. But in Kanban I learned the issue is never the person; it’s the process. The problem is never the tool; it’s the culture. Unfortunately, the way we’ve always done things is: if you have a new idea, we’ll wait you out and make you miserable until you come back to our way of doing things.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in AEC?

Cliff Moser: Study the classics. Read old books, watch old movies. Travel. I’ve noticed with this current generation, there’s a sense of non-understanding or non-awareness of the past. 20-29-year-olds: When they discover Andy Griffith on TV they wonder, “what the heck is this?” But if you’re supposed to be building something that lasts for 30, 60 years, connected to a world that started before cars and will continue way after, it’s important for people to see how things were back in those days.

Go out and build. One of the ways I really learned how to do things was by gardening – building garden sheds and systems like that. That gives you an opportunity to learn how to nail things together and learn how when you draw something it doesn’t really work that way in reality.

What was your first job ever?

Cliff Moser: Newspaper boy – that’s how I got my early morning chops in! By waking up 4 am to deliver newspapers at nine years old. In my house, you had to toe the line for an allowance so I earned my own cash.

5 Tech Takes

What is your must-have smartphone app?

Cliff Moser: Feedly – I use that all the time. It’s like browsing the library. If you only go after your own interests you never see anything new.

What are your 3 favorite technology tools you use throughout your day?

Cliff Moser: Smart phone camera for photographing and sharing everything on the job-site, especially as-built conditions. Bluebeam for grabbing information from files and turning photos PDFs. Google Maps.

If you could wave a magic wand and create a new technology, what would it be?

Cliff Moser: Self-updating models. Walk into a room with a tablet or phone, and the model updates itself based on IoT sensors and photogrammetry. However, now, I’m going to be taking a Revit model that we paid millions for, hand it over to a facilities team who has to find someone who knows Revit, in order to see what’s in there. All that knowledge trapped in one person and one platform just doesn’t make sense.

Windows/MAC/Linux?

Cliff Moser: Windows — it’s the most written-to platform.

iOS or Android?

Cliff Moser: I tend to go with iOS – I have nothing but iPhones that companies have given me. Plus, Instagram on iPhone changed my wife’s life by helping her run a small business.

Stop, Collaborate, and Listen

head shot image of Brian Skripac

For Brian Skripac, the key to implementing new technology is to try not to get bogged down in the technology.

Counterintuitive, right?

But for him, tech is less about the “what,” and more about the, “how.”

He asks, “How do we plan our work and work the plan?”

In other words, it doesn’t matter so much what a tool can do unless you know how to use it. And knowing how to use it requires a thoughtful approach to teams and processes. It’s about being focused on operational excellence.

Brian Skripac is currently a Vice President and the Director of Virtual Design and Construction at CannonDesign, where he continually drives innovation by merging technology and practice. He has 21 years of industry experience, with the last 11 focusing on the integration of BIM to transform the design and project delivery process.

Brian Skripachas also successfully developed and managed BIM-enabled delivery systems for large efforts in Design-Led Construction. In addition, he focuses on the use of BIM to capture and structure relevant facility data, implementing the value BIM brings to facility owners from an interoperable lifecycle management strategy. A thought-leader in this field, he is an advisory group member and past-chair of the AIA National Technology in Architectural Practice Knowledge Community and serves on the BIMForum committee responsible for authoring the LOD Specification.

How long have you been part of this industry?

Brian Skripac: I’ve been part of AEC industry since 1996, and then I really started with a BIM focus back in 2005. I was working as a post-graduate architect looking to get into a project architect role, and I was teaching a college-level 3D modeling class in the evening and on the weekends. Someone mentioned an opportunity to work with an Autodesk reseller consulting firm, and it was there that I came across Revit for the first time. I thought to myself, “This is a game changer.” In that moment I saw that it wasn’t just about using a new software. It’s about driving a whole new process about how we practice architecture.

What changes have you seen for the positive in the AEC space since then?

Brian Skripac: A better focus on collaboration and integration. The more we work with these new technologies, the more we start to embrace processes where we work more collaboratively. We’re doing a better job of breaking down the silos of architect and builder. We’re able to take advantage of information and knowledge on the construction side to come back to the design side and raise the bar on how we deliver projects.

This BIM wave we’re on is certainly something that’s facilitated that. More owners have adopted this model, which gives you better deliverables, reduced cost, improved schedule. It used to be you could get two out of three: cost, time, and quality. Now we do a better job of planning out our work and sharing knowledge and information.

A tool like BIM can be a catalyst but it’s not the easy button. It gives you the ability to know and plan for what you want to capture, but you need great teams and processes to take advantage of it.

What changes have you seen for the negative?

Brian Skripac: With BIM, the constraints of sharing information is a concern. But that’s also an opportunity. It’s not about risk avoidance, but risk management. In the industry, at a project manager level, there’s still trepidation to share what we’re doing. That’s the difference between the people who are excelling and the people you aren’t: the ones who are sharing, collaborating, are excelling. At CannonDesign, we’re embracing this Virtual Design and Construction idea, and we have a design-led construction team. Part of our delivery model is the larger idea of being a single source environment. When we can do it, we’re much more collaborative and the sharing of information goes further to building repeatable, collaborative engagements.

What draws you to the technology side of things?

Brian Skripac: For me, when I first came out of school, I had to do the same mundane things over and over; repeat the same change ten times across a set of drawings. Initially, I was attracted to the technology, but when I got to really learn the tool, I quickly saw beyond the visualization aspects and realized it’s about a larger project performance idea. As an architect, I’ve always been intrigued by the construction side, and having project opportunities to work with owners on how to set delivery standards as it relates to BIM has been a full circle endeavor.

Why do you think this industry lags behind in tech?

Brian Skripac: I’ve seen this problem from multiple sides. Sometimes in architecture, it lags because a majority of architecture firms are ten people or less. There’s a financial constraint of switching over systems, and a human capital constraint of who’s going to lead that. With large firms, it’s like turning a cruise ship, so pushing standards and process changes have its own unique time constraints to get a full adoption.

Imagine you’re talking to a high school senior. What would you tell her to major in, and why?

Brian Skripac: Whatever they’re interested in. Find something that you like doing and go all in. My kids explore different things and I want them to be savvy and creative at the same time. A lot of their activities in school are very tech-focused and I just want them to keep learning. My son had a class this year where they were using modeling systems and 3D printers and my daughter just attended a summer camp called Camp Invention, which had a STEM focus. There are so many opportunities to innovate.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?

Brian Skripac: Don’t be bogged down by, “that’s how we’ve always done it.” Find new ways. That’s the biggest killer: “that’s not how we do it”, or “we’ve always done it this way.” No. We’ve got to evolve.

What’s the worst advice you’ve ever gotten?

Brian Skripac: At a previous firm, we were doing testing and vetting new sustainability tools. We were looking at analysis software, trying to figure out how to integrate it into our design process. My CEO at that time was in our presentation. He stood up and told us, “You guys are just wasting your bonus checks spending your time on this. We’re not going to waste money on this and you’re just wasting your time.” Needless to say, I started working on my resume and left that firm shortly after that.

What was your first job ever?

Brian Skripac: I cut grass when I was 10 or 12, around the neighborhood and the front yard of my dad’s office on weekends.

Tech Takes

What is your must-have smartphone app?

Brian Skripac: Cozi. That is our family calendar app. Everything’s color-coded, so you know who’s going where at what time: who’s traveling for work, who’s got baseball after school. It’s a sanity check.

What are your 3 favorite technology tools you use throughout your day?

Brian Skripac: I love Twitter for staying up to date and sharing and gathering information. Trello is a great one, using cards to manage to-do lists, get feedback on ideas, and communicate with our team. We also use join.me for communications. I spend a lot time on the phone with our offices around the globe, so being able to connect with people that way is pretty important.

Windows/MAC/Linux and why?

Brian Skripac: For whatever reason, I’ve never been in a working environment besides Windows.

iOS or Android, and why?

Brian Skripac: I love my iPhone!

6 Paths To Automated Construction Site +Why Geometry Is More Important To Offsite Construction Than Data + Tech Will Help Close Performance Gap +More

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Today’s Daily is sponsored by  6 Paths to the Automated Construction Site  | @asmedotorg While automation has transformed the world of manufacturing, construction remains relatively untouched by self-sufficient machines. That is about to change. Artificial intelligence, 3D printing, and robotics are poised to bring automation to building construction. Why geometry is more important to offsite …

The post 6 Paths To Automated Construction Site +Why Geometry Is More Important To Offsite Construction Than Data + Tech Will Help Close Performance Gap +More appeared first on BUILTR.IO.

Source: BUILTR

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Why your construction firm is really in the business of construction technology

The construction industry has a technology problem..
A 2016 survey by strategic advisory firm, KPMG, shows that the industry is ambivalent about technology uptake. While 61% of construction companies are using Building Information Modeling (BIM), the survey also found that firms are not investing in single, fully integrated project management information systems. Instead they are using multiple software platforms that are manually monitored, an inefficient use of software at best. This can lead to a perception that they are not getting full value from BIM because information is lost as it moves from design processes and into construction.

The article Why your construction firm is really in the business of construction technology appeared first on Built Worlds

Source: www.builtworlds.com

 

Bridgit brings digital transformation to construction sites

The construction site is rapidly transforming through the adoption of digital tools. Innovators are developing technology to help stakeholders deal with tasks in an effective and efficient way. Startup Bridgit is right at the heart of that effort.