Canadian Construction Industry Conference Notes

by | Nov 3, 2017 | News

This I had heard before: 30% of global greenhouse gases are attributable to buildings. This one I hadn’t: 50% of solid waste in the U.S. is produced by the construction industry.  Today I attended the Canadian Construction Innovations (CCI) Conference 2017: Construction on the Precipice of Massive Change . Here are some notes.

Smart Cities – Peak Hype?

Jesse Devitte of Borealis Ventures reckons we may be near peak hype for Smart Cities – he saw it mentioned in USA Today.  That being said, he still sees that for the built environment digital transformation is the answer to the challenges of sustainability and urbanization.  Jesse recommended “Climate of Hope” a new book by Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope.

I was chuffed to see Impact infrastructure listed on one of Jesse’s slides as a “Built Environment Investment Opportunity”. You might be able to make out our company name just to the left of Barack Obama’s left ear:

Building Bridges – Neat-o

The coolest featured project (IMHO) was “Dutch startup plans first 3D printed steel bridge to span Amsterdam canal” . The MX3D company video and pictures are here. Well worth a look.

Lifecycle Cost Analysis

One other trend I noticed was that construction firms are finally starting to care about life cycle costs of buildings as well as the community benefits for infrastructure projects. This is because, with public private construction and alternate procurement, they are part of consortiums and so are becoming part of not just the construction but also the operation of these building and infrastructure projects. Mathew Kattapuam of Aecon highlighted that his firm was getting involved in bigger and more complex projects. They were using Building Information Modelling (BIM) to manage these complex projects. Because they were not just building projects, like the $5.3 billion Eglinton Crosstown the light rail transit project in Toronto, but also operating project when in operation, they needed to know the impact of design decisions on not just capital expenditure but also operating costs.

Triple Bottom Line

The Canadian government through Public Works & Government Services Canada (PWGSC) owns and leases a lot of real estate. Most is 40 years old. Should they renovate or build new? The latter is likely cheaper from a capital cost perspective. But Triple Bottom Line Cost Benefit Analysis (TBL-CBA) will likely inform the decision according to Terry Homma Director, Real Estate Services, PWGSC. The Canadian government has to be commended for its “moonshot” approach to aggressively reducing carbon emissions from its owned and leased buildings.

Also looking at the Triple Bottom Line is Diamond Schmitt Architects says Michael Szabo, Principal. This is because of the diverse stakeholders in a building project who usually have differing objectives. Michael highlighted 6 very innovative Diamond Schmitt projects as well as their “Ecometrics” database of projects to measure the improvement of their designs along several metrics.

Droning on and on 

There was lots of talk about using drones for data capture. Rather than cool flyover videos that I have seen at conferences over the last two years, it seems the industry now is actually finding ways of doing image recognition. The result is that the data from the images can now be pulled into a BIM model, schedule for earned equity or percent completion analysis.

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