Keeping informed and preparing for the future

As we get knee-deep into Q3 2019, it’s worth taking a look at construction industry trends to stay on top of them, keep your company from failing behind and see what can be implemented to prepare for the future.

The construction industry is ever-evolving and it’s important for businesses to stay up-to-date in order to remain competitive. Here are 5 construction industry trends that will carry into next year.

Going green

More and more construction plans are incorporating green technology. Projects designed to be more environmentally responsible, sustainable and resource-efficient are growing and becoming more commonplace. This includes every step of the project: planning, design, construction, maintenance and demolition.

The construction industry accounts for about 20% of global emissions. While the trend towards LEED certification actually started a number of years ago, contractors continue to incorporate green building practices into a high percentage of their projects as the aim to construct environmentally-friendly buildings is not just about being better for the environment, but also the overall longevity of the building.

Use of drones

If a practice continues year after year, is it truly a trend? This question may now be asked about drone use as it has become one of the hottest trends over the last couple of years and look like it is here to stay.

These unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with photo and video cameras and other electronics have become a great construction tool as they can access remote locations, survey sites, collect data, capture project progress, complete safety inspections and much more.

As technology advances, additional options become available, providing construction professionals with the ability to gather information in ways that are more cost effective. Over time, expect the cost of drones to fall as the demand becomes greater.

Modular, prefabricated construction projects

This is a rising trend because of the ability to save construction companies a lot of time and material costs. Modular buildings tend to be quicker to build and less expensive because leftover materials can be immediately recycled.

Office buildings, stores, hotels and other similar commercial designs work great as modular and prefabricated building options. In residential building, modular homes constructed off-site provide a faster way to develop areas with less impact on the surrounding landscape. This is especially beneficial for telecommuting professionals looking for housing outside metro areas where they can be closer to nature and near more mature tree growth.

Better safety equipment

Safety has always been a priority in the construction industry and a recent push toward better equipment is due to a demand to counter the higher number of construction-related accidents and fatalities seen in recent years. (Reports from the National Safety Council indicates that while injuries decreased between 2016 and 2017, the construction industry still has the highest number of fatalities, all of which are said to be preventable.)

Some advancements include lighter and more effective cooling vests and moisture-wicking fabric and “smart boots” that connect to Wi-Fi and send information about whether the wearer has fallen or is becoming tired.

It is worth noting, however, that as more women join the construction industry, manufacturers are not necessarily taking women into account as they design construction safety equipment, such as harnesses. While some employers tend to minimize the need for properly fitting personal protective equipment, the International Safety Equipment Association recently reached out to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to address what it says is a “safety hazard.”

“It’s time to act,” ISEA President Charles D. Johnson said in a statement. The problem is “some employers find it easier to order one or two common sizes in bulk — often Large or XL — without regard for physical variations in employees.”

Decreased labor force

Sadly, not all trends are positive. Because the unemployment rate is still very low, there are nearly a quarter of a million available construction jobs in the United States. Thus, addressing the labor shortage is a trend that will continue for a while.

Reports currently show 60% of contractors expect to add to their payrolls in the coming year, and yet almost 95% report some level of difficulty finding qualified workers. This persistent lack of labor is also forcing some contractors to turn down work and driving up manpower costs. Companies will have to find ways draw in new people and retaining the next generation of workers.

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