What you must know about "Build Back Better" and how to make the most of this opportunity?
There is a saying that “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”. President Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan is a response to the crisis COVID-19 unleashed. With the economy down and unemployment rates touching rates unseen since the Great Depression, this time exposed some structural weaknesses.
The three main parts of this plan, The American Rescue Plan, The American Jobs Plan, and The American Families plan focus on investments to create good jobs, rebuild key infrastructure, and build the bridge to economic recovery. Biden’s plan aims to:
- Build a strong industrial base and small-business-led supply chains to retain and create millions of good-paying jobs in manufacturing and technology
- Invest in modern, sustainable infrastructure and sustainable engines of growth — from roads and bridges to energy grids and schools, to universal broadband to build a more resilient economy
- Improve the caregiving and education opportunities for all and create more jobs for a stronger economic return
- Close the racial wealth gap and expand opportunities and affordable housing to all irrespective of race or zip code
The Road Ahead
We must choose to view COVID as the catalyst to bring about a step-change in the way we do things. Build Back Better presents a unique opportunity to the construction industry to recalibrate itself to become more error-proof, secure, and timely.
If we are to benefit from the economies of scale, the construction industry has to now become more active in technology adoption. The use of construction technology and proven solutions such as BIM (Building Information Management) will become more prominent in this narrative to increase efficiencies, radically reduce wastage, optimize asset management, and ensure timely project completion.
When time is of the essence, the lower the errors, the more clarity in projects, and the greater the collaboration, the higher the profits and success will be.
To get the most from Build Back Better, the construction industry should look at:
Driving more accurate capital planning
To improve outcomes, it is essential to reduce wastage. We can only reduce wastage when we increase our planning efficiencies.
Technologies such as BIM enable intelligent data creation that can be employed across the lifecycle of an infrastructure or building project and enable informed project planning. Since BIM provides complete visibility into portfolio health, it allows construction companies to make smart and strategic investment decisions with clarity and confidence.
Identifying probabilities of failure of strategic assets, managing deferred maintenance, and cost and resource savings come to the table by:
- Getting accurate construction cost estimates before the construction phase starts
- Identifying ways to reduce costs by using cost-effective materials
- Identifying the ideal times to buy materials at the lowest market price
- Streamlining construction workflows to reduce human errors and billable hours
- All these contribute to cost and resource savings by driving more accurate capital planning.
Streamline and enable collaboration amongst teams
Increasing the efficiencies through clear communication and collaboration becomes essential today when we need to build back better and fast.
Employing construction technology solutions such as BIM improves the communication between all the invested stakeholders as it operates as a single source of truth. All relevant and updated project information, be it models, design notes, material, and other cost estimates are all stored in and can be shared from a central repository.
With a single source of truth in place, team members and stakeholders can seamlessly work together and proceed to construct based on the most current plans and workflows. With such an information repository, teams can make construction safer, visualize problems before construction begins, predict potential hazards, make design adjustments and help team members understand every step of the workflow that ensures meeting the safety regulations and pass on-site evaluations.
Reduce energy waste and carbon footprint
Focusing on reducing energy waste and the carbon footprint is essential to Build Back Better. Augmenting manual processes such as the design with technology solutions increases the ability to deeply understand a building model. Technologies such as BIM help define physical properties and characteristics, appearance and functionality, maintenance, and operations information. It further helps projects become more energy-efficient and green by:
- Reducing design errors and making it easier to identify problems before they occur
- Eliminating opportunities of conflicts and design clashes that lead to construction changes
- Using sustainable materials to decrease environmental impacts and reduce energy use
- Improving maintenance and operation leveraging historical design data
- Driving construction waste management and identify waste minimization opportunities
- Delivering higher efficiencies and outcomes and shorter project cycles
Construction technologies must be leveraged now to drive high-quality outcomes by increasing efficiencies while crashing project cycles. Since construction technologies such as BIM allow making detailed production-ready models that can later be prefabricated off-site, construction can become more modular. By increasing opportunities for prefabrication and modular construction, we can save time and money and also make complex tolerance calculations with ease. Leveraging the plethora of visualization tools, it becomes easier to make detailed and more accurate models and build high-quality infrastructure and buildings that last.
All these factors increase efficiency and consequently, reduce the time taken for project completion.
During grim times, strong governance and smart policies can bring the country out of crisis and rebuild the economy so that the country can go back to its powerful stature. The Bring Back Better plan is a move in that direction but it will need construction companies to adopt construction technology to tap the opportunity.
Along with looking at construction technology, we also have to make sure that we employ the right solutions and streamline workflows and processes. Having the right technology partner will prove to be immensely valuable to help architecture, engineering, construction (AEC) businesses choose the right tools, design the right solutions and create the adequate processes and workflows that will bring in the economies of scale and help us move towards a more vibrant future.