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In the construction industry, one word heard time and time again is “concrete,” as builders frequently turn to the composite material for their projects. There doesn’t appear to be any shortage of its use in the near future. In fact, recent news seems to indicate that its use will increase, thanks to its key component, cement. A recent report from the Portland Cement Association (PCA) showed that U.S. cement consumption would meet 2014 forecast expectations.

“The United States’ cement market is expected to grow 8.2 percent in 2014, followed by similar rates of growth in 2015 and 2016,” PCA Chief Economist and Group Vice President Edward Sullivan said. 

What do a swimming pool and commercial kitchen have in common? A lot more than you would think. As any restaurant owner will tell you, the one place that is never dry is the floor of a commercial kitchen. Everyday occurrences include slick floors resulting from overflowing pots and pans, power washers and liquid cleaning products. Although these scenarios can spell disaster, the right flooring and waterproofing systems can prevent leak damage as well as damage to a restaurant owner’s bottom line.

First things first: Not all waterproofing and flooring systems are created equal. Unsuitable waterproofing systems can bring about everything from mold growth and property damage to ensuing lawsuits and to health department citations. Also, for establishments located above operational businesses, owners must be prepared to prevent water damage to their own spaces as well as the mechanical and electrical systems below.

In industries around the world, technological advancements continue to bring greater cost and productivity efficiencies to business owners. Yet, in the construction industry, when it comes to non-destructive testing (NDT), many continue to use tools – pencil and paper – that were introduced hundreds of years ago to collect data that is vital to their businesses.  

Doing so costs heavy duty equipment owners countless man hours, ultimately impacting their bottom line. Given that, isn’t it well past the time for owners to begin taking advantage of the hardware and software innovations available to improve efficiencies across their fleet workforce, increase visibility into potential problems, and better manage ROI on what amounts to very large capital investments?

While the past decade has seen a significant shift in the way that many in the construction industry view risk management, implementing a successful corporate-wide risk management program still poses a challenge. According to KPMG’s 2013 Global Construction Survey, 77 percent of respondents reported underperforming projects due to delays, poor estimating processes and failed risk management processes. A separate survey from risk management society RIMS found that only 21 percent of companies across all industries and sectors even have a fully-integrated risk management program. 

Green building only continues to rise. According to the Canadian Green Building Council, the 574 projects that received LEED certification in 2013 represented the highest number of any year up until then. And although the 2014 numbers were not yet available at press time, last year remained on that trajectory. Still, some building owners and developers are nervous to jump onto the eco-bandwagon because the factors for earning credits toward LEED certification can be daunting and they don’t know if it’ll work out to be green economically as well as ecologically.

Navigating today’s toughest construction challenges while increasing job site productivity is becoming more challenging than ever, especially as construction schedules become more condensed and complex. Savvy engineers and contractors are turning to BIM coordination, coupled with prefabrication and modularization, to help drive  productivity and improve their bottom line. 

Today’s most innovative projects rely on smart preplanning, as early preparation and collaboration on concepts, designs, coordination and prefabrication lead to a higher probability of increased productivity and meeting of deadline demands. 

Sustainability – one word, many meanings. For some, it refers to whether a business’ Styrofoam coffee cup or coffee pod is recyclable or to a data center’s energy use for computing power and cooling. For others, it refers to material use within the supply chain or to a cumulative assessment of all measures across a corporation’s operations – with full disclosure to shareholders and the public markets. 

Within the built environment, sustainability also has many meanings, but is now a mainstream priority, commanding higher prices from buyers and tenants due to the long-term benefits. Beyond building code compliance, owners and tenants alike in all types of buildings – retail, institutional, government, sporting, educational and industrial – are clamoring for sustainable buildings. The reasons for this include wanting to minimize ongoing energy and maintenance costs, improve the health of the occupants, and/or to reduce environmental impact as part of a corporate social responsibility plan.

According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, buildings are responsible for 39 percent of total energy consumption for heating, cooling, lighting and plug loads in the United States. This far exceeds the energy used by the transportation or industrial/manufacturing sectors. 

For developers and construction managers, this critical need presents a great opportunity to modernize our nation’s buildings and work towards sustainability.

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