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5 Questions with Public Sector Expert Stephen Hagan

head shot of Stephen Hagan

Stephen R Hagan, FAIA CCM is recognized as an industry expert on technology innovation, real estate, and the construction marketplace. He spent over three decades in the public sector, ending a 37-year career with the US General Services Administration’s Public Buildings Service (PBS), which he describes as “essentially the nation’s landlord.” PBS owns, operates, and leases over 370 million square feet of building space across the U.S., for over 1.1 million federal government employees.

Stephen is now president and CEO of Hagan Technologies LLC. He recently worked on projects involving strategic planning and road-mapping with the National Institute of Building Sciences, is serving a ten-year stint on the AIA Documents Committee, and speaks at major conferences around the world.

As a Built Tech’s Labs advisor focused on government and industry, Stephen specializes in emerging and innovative technologies supporting smart, connected, sustainable, and resilient cities and urban eco-districts. Here’s his advice to newcomers in the industry, including the problem with the emergence of venture-backed startups in AEC.

Why do you think this industry lags behind in tech?

The fragmentation is an issue, no question. It’s a trillion dollar industry with no major players big enough individually to influence everyone else. Even the biggest players are a drop in the bucket compared to the market leaders in other industries like FinTech, Automotive, technology, or aerospace. Most architecture firms are small and not very prosperous. How do you monetize and take advantage of technology? We have to think through what it is people will get as a return.

These startups looking at construction tech are individual point solutions. They’re getting money from venture but I have a sense few are thinking about the bigger picture or how these solutions fit together.

What draws you to the technology side of things?

My father worked for AT&T, the Bell Labs, and finally Mountain Bell and he worked in huge networks around the country. Ever since my start as an architect, I’ve been drawn to the power associated with how networks work and how it brings everyone together. And I get excited about how we can make tools to make lives better.

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

The kids these days… my 2-year-old granddaughter looks at a cell phone and it’s already becoming part of her life. The coding is becoming easier, so the idea of building stuff is really important. Building virtually and in reality is important.

The other thing is to travel. And not just to Europe. Travel to other cities; see the world. Keep a journal. Start writing about what you want to see and do and make that a lifelong habit. Be upbeat about it — they’re under so much pressure. Whatever next steps you have, think in terms of lifelong learning. Spend enough time with people as well. That’s very important.

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

Be optimistic. Have confidence in yourself. But there’s a reason why we have apprenticeships: you’ve got to learn and take your time. That’s some of the challenges you see with the younger generation — they think they’re ready to step in and they’re not ready to build buildings or even talk to the client. Have patience and keep your eyes open about what’s going on. And then I’d say get a mentor. Find someone who can be supportive of you, lead you, and challenge and encourage you along the way.

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

We are actually working on that, but I’d have to give you an NDA to talk about it. If you look at the trillion dollar industry we have and all the fragmentation — a way to unify them to get the positive network effect. That’s something we need and something I’m personally working on.

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.

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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.

 

Exploring the Scale and Scope of the Architecture, Engineering & Construction (AEC) Industry at Spar 3D and AEC-STE

While keynotes from industry stalwarts like Paul Doherty and Aaron T. Becker and plenary presentations by Greg Bentleyand Burkhard Boeckem were considered by many to be the highlights of the SPAR 3D Expo and Conference, the biggest news from the show had actually come a few weeks earlier. In March, SPAR 3D and AEC Science & Technology (AEC-ST) announced that they would co-locate in June of 2018 in Anaheim, California.

The post Exploring the Scale and Scope of the Architecture, Engineering & Construction (AEC) Industry at Spar 3D and AEC-STE appeared first on AEC-ST

Source: AECST

 

SGA uses virtual design and construction technology to redevelop N.Y. building into modern offices

Spagnolo Group Architecture (SGA), the lead architect for the project, is making use of virtual design and construction (VDC) technology to help design, construct, market, and manage the redevelopment. Through the use of the VDC technology, SGA is able to visualize the building improvements and make design changes in real time.

The post SGA uses virtual design and construction technology to redevelop N.Y. building into modern offices appeared first on Building Design + Construction

Source: BDC Network

5 trends shaping the future of offsite construction

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The construction industry has found itself at a crossroads. While the industry has been resistant to change, the built world around it has not been — and the need for additional housing, offices, schools, hospitals and more in shorter timeframes is only growing. As product manufacturers of all kinds have retooled with replicability and expediency in mind, construction companies are taking note of their success.

The post 5 trends shaping the future of offsite construction appeared first on Construction Dive

Source: www.constructiondive.com

 

ConstructConnect Partners with Construction Technology and Data Leaders to Streamline and Simplify the Preconstruction Process

ConstructConnect, North America’s leading construction information and technology provider announced today that it and other leading solution providers are transforming the construction industry by delivering a complete line of integrated solutions to meet the preconstruction needs of their customers.

The post ConstructConnect Partners with Construction Technology and Data Leaders to Streamline and Simplify the Preconstruction Process appeared first on prweb.

Source: www.prweb.com