How the Cloud Is Changing the Construction Industry

Ensuring sustainable urban development starts with establishing a consistent line of communication throughout the construction process. Technology can help.

Fixing mistakes on a construction project can carry heavy costs for the environment and for business. One report published in the journal “Quality - Access to Success” found that as much as 5 percent of the contract value of a given building project is typically spent on fixes. Why do so many jobs require so much rework? The root of the problem, more often than not, is poor communication.

Tech troubles

On average, more than 35 percent of construction projects require a major change, according to the Independent Project Analysis Group. If texts and emails alone are the only means of tracking updates about those changes, crucial information can get lost in the shuffle. That’s why thousands of general contractors and project managers around the world have turned to cloud technology to ensure that all contributors working on a project are seeing the most accurate data in real time.

In real time

Procore Technologies, based in Carpinteria, California, has built the leading cloud-based construction management platform and an award-winning suite of project management tools. This technology allows general contractors and project managers to create, share and manage all the relevant information for a building project — including drawings and blueprints, safety and regulation details, and budgets — all accessible on their computers and mobile devices. Every team member can access this information in real time, which reduces the risk of miscommunication.

Sped-up solutions

Construction is a complicated and often risky undertaking. Close collaboration is required for success, which is why it’s important that everyone on a project has access to all steps, every step of the way. When everyone is in the loop, workflows are sped up, costly mistakes are minimized and fewer materials are used. This makes for customers who are truly satisfied and development that’s truly sustainable.

As demand for environmentally friendly buildings grows, more planners and developers are working toward an ultimate goal of zero net energy (ZNE). This classification recognizes buildings that meet certain sustainability standards to reduce energy use, utilize eco-friendly materials and minimize their impact on the environment, so that the amount of energy used by the building equals the renewable energy it generates on-site.

According to a report released last quarter by the New Buildings Institute (NBI), there are currently 332 buildings that have been either verified as, or are on their way to, achieving ZNE. That’s a 74 percent increase since the last count, roughly a year before. And 53 projects have now been verified by NBI as having achieved ZNE for at least one full year, up from 33 projects in 2014.

The power of technology

While many factors are contributing to the increase in these sustainable buildings, according to the U.S. Green Building Council, data is a major driver ushering in a new era of green performance.

Advances in technology allow urban developers and construction managers to track energy efficiency and consumption, and capture performance data that informs better decisions and helps prove that financial benefits and environmental benefits go hand in hand.

Data-driven decisions

“…according to the U.S. Green Building Council, data is a major driver ushering in a new era of green performance.”

In addition to giving users a look at real-time performance so they can uncover opportunities for innovation, data drives green building by creating a holistic picture of sustainability efforts that allows developers to see how their efforts are working and compare them to others in the field. They can also then share that data across teams and with industry colleagues to ensure they’re performing at the highest level.

Data also enables builders to capture data that allows them to set benchmarks for improvement, both within their own projects and against others. Then they can see results based on specific performance indicators. 

To support the utilization of data to achieve ZNE, several platforms have been developed that allow developers to track a wide array of performance data. It’s data initiatives such as these that will continue to enable this focus on energy performance. Because the more that projects harness the power of their data, the more they’ll be able to help buildings, communities and cities around the world benchmark and improve green performance and better our quality of life.