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Building Green: Contractor's Leveraging Technology

By Jeff Frank, Vice President of Preconstruction, Tutor Perini Building Corp.

Building Green: Contractor's Leveraging TechnologyJeff Frank, Vice President of Preconstruction, Tutor Perini Building Corp.

The emergence of Green Building into mainstream construction 20 – 30 years ago, brought new ideas of how buildings were designed, built and maintained. Since, the term ‘Green Building’ has evolved to encompass a much wider range of scope, much the same as the construction industry’s use of technology and actionable analytics.

Initially the concept was met with skepticism by the building community, as the means and methods of commercial construction had largely been unchallenged for generations. Similarly, the integration of technology into construction has been met with resistance by some.

However, the market brought a demand for a more efficient workforce, constructability certainty and modernized processes. While much of Green Building technology is driven by design and the end user, the contractor plays a key role in implementing progressive tools, developing the talent, and advancing the means and methods of how Green Building technologies are constructed.

The contractor’s primary role on any project is to safely deliver a project, as intended by the Owner and design team, on-time and under budget. Experience has shown the industry that Green Building is a principal driver in new building concepts, systems and materials. Many of the new technologies implemented in Green Building projects often present challenges relative to schedule and budget. Leveraging technology to combat these challenges before and during construction has become a fundamental requirement to achieve success.

The virtual environment– VDC, VR and AR - have provided contractors the ability to visualize and virtually construct these elements long before fabrication. Virtual construction allows the contractor to review all systems and components of the project for constructability, potential impacts to field production, trade sequencing, and cost.

This capability to identify challenges during the preconstruction phase further supports the effort to increase safety and efficiency in the field, while minimizing exposure to the budget and schedule. Additionally, virtual construction provides the opportunity to recognize components that lend themselves to prefabrication or modular building techniques, which reduce the amount of waste, time, energy and resources to build.

Real estate is driven by the demand of the market, which the current demographic and generation is instigating that demand. 

People respond to an increased level of sophistication in the built environment, and many feel they are entitled to that level of sophistication.

Sustainability and technology will continue to be how that sophistication presents itself and the fact that these complement each other so well makes it a great match. The smartest properties that have the least impact on the environment will continue to be in high demand.

For the end user, the ability to work or reside in a high performing, technologically advanced building, will positively influence the occupant’s comfort level, productivity output, and overall living experience. Companies that want to remain at the forefront, or companies that aspire to be the leaders in advancing technology within their industry do so with a strategic vision by hiring and developing the best people, which in turn, are often the same people attracted to these types of projects.

A contractor’s ability to leverage technology to build these types of projects combined with a continuous commitment to cultivate an environment that challenges traditional means and methods, is an indicator of success.

Being part of a team that comes together to create these amazing structures is fascinating. Every time the industry appears to have reached the capacity to meet a challenge, technology and human ideology show that that capacity may well be limitless.

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