Appfluence, a project management software provider, recently did a guest post for Construction Junkie that shares the results of a survey the company conducted of 20 different construction project managers, as well as a handful of executives from various construction firms. Their goal was to establish a sort of benchmark by which other construction project management professionals could gauge their own daily progress.

Here is an overview of their findings:

Emails: If you find yourself dealing with more than about 40 emails per day, look for ways to cut back. One way to do this is make sure that each email contains clear, easy-to-follow instructions. This will reduce back-and-forth. For those of you spending too much time digging through your inbox, consider saving important correspondence and document as they are received in a system like Priority Matrix.

Meetings: While meetings can seem like a waste of time, as long as they are run efficiently, they are a great way to share information with your team. To get the most out of meetings, plan your meeting minutes according to pre-existing information about project status and close the meeting with clear action items for each individual.

Construction Document Management: Whether you’re using a software solution or simply shared folders to manage your documents, consider utilizing a project administrator to keep track of it all. If your projects aren’t large enough for a full-time person in this role, this position can act as the point-person for documents on number of projects for your firm simultaneously.

Project Management Software for Construction: Oftentimes, the software used on a project can be determined by factors outside of your control as a construction manager. However, the most important factor may not be the software itself, but earning your teams buy-in to use it consistently in order to keep information centralized in one place for quick access and effective operations.

In my experience, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution in terms of construction project management software. There are plenty of tools that can handle most, if not all aspects of a project, but as pointed out above, you don’t always have control over which tool will be used on a construction project.

The real key differentiator that I’ve seen between OK project managers and great project managers is that the great ones have their own internal workflows and processes that can be adapted to any tool available.

Building Information Modeling, or BIM, is a method of designing buildings using sophisticated 3D software that makes it much easier to visualize how various components and systems come together in a 3D space and how they will interact or interfere with one another. Perhaps most importantly, BIM facilitates identifying potential conflicts/defects prior to construction, and is a very powerful tool for sustainability by supporting the integrative design process.

Unfortunately, the construction industry isn’t exactly well-known for its rapid adoption of the latest technologies and the majority of A/E/C firms have yet to implement BIM as part of its workflow. Since few A/E/C professionals use BIM, even fewer are going to be able to articulate the benefits of using BIM to building owners.

For that reason, the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) has developed the National BIM Guide for Owners. Here’s what they have to say about it:

A building information modeling (BIM) guide for building owners has been developed under the auspices of the National Institute of Building Sciences. The National BIM Guide for Owners is a new guide that building owners can adopt to provide a documented process and procedure for their design team to follow in order to produce a standard set of BIM documents during the design and construction of the facility, and for maintenance and operations of the facility upon handoff. The National BIM Guide for Owners is based on the foreign, federal, state and local BIM guides that currently exist, but geared to a generic facility with uniform requirements for use by a variety of government, institutional and commercial building owners. It references a range of documents and practices, including those contained within the National BIM Standard-United States® developed by one of the National Institute of Building Sciences’ own councils, the buildingSMART alliance®.

You can download the full guide in PDF format directly from NIBS.

Legionnaires’ Disease is a pneumonia-like affliction that affects a minority of people exposed to the Legionella pneumophila bacteria. It was first identified when 221 people attending a reunion for members of the American Legion that took place around the nation’s bicentennial in 1976 fell ill. Sadly, 34 of those people lost their lives and it wasn’t until January, 1977 when the cause of the mysterious illness was discovered.

After a recent outbreak in Hopkins, Minnesota which left one person dead and 23 sick, scientists were able to utilize DNA-sequencing to conclusively determine that the cause was a cooling tower at a manufacturing center. Those infected breathed in air in which Legionella had become aerosolized as a result of the cooling tower. What’s particularly frightening is that this cooling tower is less than 3 years old and exhibited no indication of defective construction. (more…)

Water efficiency is the next major issue impacting the built environment after energy efficiency. (Not that we’ve necessarily solved the issue of energy efficiency…) Despite the fact that our planet’s surface is 2/3 water, protecting this natural resource is of utmost importance to human survival.

The best way to reduce water usage is to reuse water through reclamation. One obstacle to further implementation (including mandatory requirements) of water reclamation systems is a lack of peer-reviewed research including life cycle assessments (LCAs) of such systems.

Until now, that is. Phys.org reports on a new study based on the decentralized water system implemented by Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ Center for Sustainable Landscapes:

“Evaluating the Life Cycle Environmental Benefits and Trade-Offs of Water Reuse Systems for Net-Zero Buildings,” published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology (DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b03879), is the first-of-its-kind research utilizing life-cycle assessment (LCA). Co-authored by Melissa M. Bilec, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt and deputy director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation (MCSI), collaborators at Phipps included Richard Piacentini, executive director; and Jason Wirick, director of facilities and sustainability management. Pitt PhD graduate student, Vaclav Hasik, and Pitt undergraduate, Naomi Anderson, were first and second authors, respectively…

Dr. Bilec noted that while the research found that a decentralized water system operates well for a facility like the CSL, the environmental benefits or trade-offs for such systems are dependent upon their lifetime of use, and may not necessarily be practical or environmentally preferable. For example, a similar system might be more environmentally and economically efficient for a development of multiple homes or buildings, rather than one structure.

Conversely, the relative impact of a decentralized system built in a water-scarce region may be more beneficial than its environmental footprint. The decision of what water system to build and its scale, she says, should be evaluated within the context of the entire life of the structure or site it supports.

(Via Construction Dive)

One of my favorite things about the new Apple TV is the screensaver that comes on after sitting idle for a bit. There are several slow-moving, but highly cinematic low flyovers of several iconic cities. The pass over Abu Dhabi in Dubai is stunning, to say the least.

In a country known for outlandish skyscrapers, and currently holding the record for the tallest building (Burj Khalifa), it should come as no surprise that it will also play host to the world’s first rotating skyscraper.

What is a rotating skyscraper and why would you want one? Mashable says:

The “Dynamic Tower,” which was proposed in 2008 by Israeli-Italian architect David Fisher, will feature 80 rotating stories that make the building look as if it’s in constant motion. Not to mention it’ll produce insanely cool views.

Each different story of the futuristic apartment building will rotate 360 degrees and move independently, so residents can control their speed or decide to stop movement altogether with simple voice commands. The downside? Each unit costs $30 million.

Before you put down a deposit, make sure to check out the promo video:

Back in June of 2015, a relatively unknown company by the name of Daqri introduced an augmented reality-enabled hard hat that they dubbed the Smart Helmet.

While there clearly is not yet massive adoption among the trades for a more than $1,000 hard hat, that doesn’t mean Daqri has ceased innovation. In fact, as Construction Junkie reports, the company unveiled its next wearable device purpose-built for the architecture, engineering and construction industry: Smart Glasses. (Not to be confused with Google Glass, of course…)

Here is a video showcasing Daqri’s products at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show:

And here is a case study produced by Autodesk and Mortensen showcasing the Smart Helmet:

Learn more about the entire product line at Daqri’s website.

Researchers have for years warned the public, various government agencies and building owners/managers of the potential dangers related to older buildings within reach of Southern California’s notorious faults in a major earthquake. In short, what building experts once thought would be sufficient, in terms of structural design requirements, we now know could leave building occupants seriously injured, or worse.

Los Angeles’ city council has been working on a seismic retrofit program for buildings previously identified by various experts as at risk. Beginning tomorrow, Santa Monica will formally announce its own mandatory seismic retrofit program. The LA Times’ Rong-Gong Lin II, Raoul Rañoa and Jon Schleuss have more:

Santa Monica is poised to require safety improvements to as many as 2,000 earthquake-vulnerable buildings in what would be the nation’s most extensive seismic retrofitting effort.

Santa Monica’s safety rules would go beyond what Los Angeles has done by requiring not only wood apartments and concrete buildings to be retrofitted, but also steel-frame structures.

Steel buildings were once considered by seismic experts to be among the safest. But after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, engineers were stunned to find that so-called “steel moment frame” buildings fractured.

Santa Monica City Council has already established a website to serve as a central repository for the latest info regarding the program. Of the six building types listed, the first to require a structural evaluation report to be submitted will be unreinforced masonry buildings, which must submit their evaluation within 3 months and have retrofits completed within 2 years.

As this is a developing story, expect to hear much more about this issue over the coming months.

You can download the complete list of addresses identified by the city in Excel format from the city’s GitHub repository (meaning the file will likely be updated over time).