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How sustainable is the construction industry?

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A recent global survey conducted by SAP states that engineering and construction industries across multiple sectors are showing definitive progress toward sustainability in the design phase with 47% of respondents saying sustainability is top-of-mind or a significant concern for executives.

One reason for this progressive thought could be the new generation of workers who are deeply committed to sustainability. The three pillars of sustainability (economic, environmental and social) are at the heart of global efforts to make the built environment green, clean and socially responsible.

According to the World Green Building Council, the construction industry generates about 39% of the world’s carbon emissions while consuming a massive amount of raw materials and natural resources. But as the survey showed, despite conflicting goals and complex challenges, it is becoming more sustainable. More industry players realize that their completed buildings need to reduce energy consumption, which can only be done with sustainable design.

Another reason is the rapid advancements in technology that are addressing construction problems. The industry, known for being traditional and slow to change, is now embracing high-tech and user-friendly software and products that can help deliver projects on time with less labor and in a safer manner. Construction industry leaders are looking at developing innovative projects in the future and deploying new technology to transform the way we live and work.

The construction industry has used building information technology, or BIM, to create 3D renderings to replace the older 2D technical drawings. Combining BIM and virtual design offers more precise measurements and accuracy of already-built environments that reduce the scope of errors. New products are improving on older technology and leveraging it in novel ways, leading to less rework, which has a positive effect on project timelines and budgets.

New technology also includes a visual representation of the job site using artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), and 360-degree cameras. AI helps teams to understand and map the project development without humans. At the same time, VR allows them to interact with a 3D model and understand the spatial relation of the elements in the mix. These have combined with the notion of environmental sustainability to create an energy-intensive construction industry.

Increasing and stringent regulations on health, safety, and sustainability are a cause for review and concern for all industries but perhaps more so for traditional sectors like construction. There is a need to develop structures that are scalable, greener and technologically more advanced. This means focusing on reducing energy costs and carbon footprint while using energy-intensive heavy equipment. These competing pressures need to be addressed ASAP, along with trying to control costs and maintain efficient processes with multiple suppliers and subcontractors. Managing the complexity of construction projects is challenging throughout the lifecycle. Increased process complexity is an obstacle to meeting sustainability goals, especially within supply chains.

Along with increasing government regulations, other factors influencing sustainable change are the need to be more cost-efficient and get more visibility through the lifecycle of the process. As the cost of raw materials continues to climb, controlling these costs is a crucial consideration for construction companies. At the moment, the high price of sustainable materials is a hindrance. If these are lowered, then the industry can reach its goals to improve sustainability efforts further.

To monitor sustainable practices in the processes as well as with their subcontractors and supply chains would require more visibility which can only be addressed with advanced technologies. With the increasing demand for more eco-friendly structures, the investment in software and the right tools is a way to move away from traditional construction methods and sustainable business practices.

To overcome these barriers, the industry is creating a long-term strategy that takes into consideration the costs and current labor shortage issues while considering sustainability in every process from start to finish. They are also focusing on fair humanitarian practices with all subcontractors and suppliers, as well as sourcing materials ethically and ensuring labor standards. Architects and engineers are using technology to design more energy-efficient buildings and, in the process, putting pressure on construction companies to digitize as well.

As we see a focus on new technology and innovation, sustainability is changing the construction industry globally. Construction, energy and technology industries have become intricately connected in an era of transformation on a scale never seen before. As they realize that sustainable choices are good for business, more engineering and construction companies will adopt sustainable practices and set sustainability commitments for their business. Now is the time to balance the bottom line with the green line in the engineering and construction industry.

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Is woodworking becoming more accessible for women?

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Woodworking, like many other trades, has stereotypically been practiced by men while women have historically been discouraged from the field by society. Statistics on the construction trades show that in 2020 only 3.2% of carpenters in the United States were women.

What happens in schools is part of the problem. Industrial arts teacher Tim Zavacki says students have shared stories of guidance counselors pushing female students towards art classes versus shop, trade or engineering classes.

Young women like Alyssa Fiantaco see this as a big problem because for her woodworking has proven very beneficial.

“With woodworking, not only did I develop a really nice skill that I can take off with in the future, but I also learned a lot of life lessons, like that any mistake you make can be fixed as long as you’re willing to fix it.”

She has also learned to look at things at a different angle to get around any obstacle she encounters and concludes, “Woodworking is more than just a life skill, it really teaches you to think outside the box.”

Above and beyond the valuable life lessons she learned from woodworking, she’s making it a career by launching her own business. Even before graduating from Henry Ford II High School in Michigan earlier this month, she had projects lined up.

Image: Christopher Davis

Breaking barriers to building the world girls want to see

Unfortunately, it is very common for women to be discouraged or afraid of taking up carpentry, she admits. It can appear as a difficult or even dangerous activity and since women aren’t commonly seen in the shop, some feel intimidated.

Zavacki’s former student Alisson Egerer, who took three years of woodworking before graduating from high school in 2019, talked about her fear of using the table saw after it kicked back on her once. Although it didn’t hit her, she was scared it would do something like that again, but her teacher patiently stood near her and encouraged her to try again.

Zavacki himself advises, “Encourage female students to use the equipment and provide them the support needed to operate that equipment independently after being trained how to safely use the equipment. They may be scared at first, but positive reinforcement helps build their sense of comfort.”

Egerer, who has long overcome her fear, now reports, “A month ago I helped my friend build his deck. I was able to cut the wood and all that because I knew what I was doing with measurements and stuff like that. It was kind of cool to do something really big with what I knew.”

Yet, both of the young women we interviewed have seen other girls drop out of woodworking classes. Some have been discouraged by family members, relatives or even friends.

“When I started there was one girl in my group who loved doing woodwork,” recalls Fiantaco. “But other people like her family and significant other didn’t want her doing it and tore her down. I’d encourage her “let’s work on this!” and she’d just spark up while working.”

It is very unfortunate to see young women like her classmate give up great opportunities because of other people’s opinions, notes Fiantaco, who wishes others had the same support she had from her parents, especially her dad. Despite family and friends, a good support system in schools and supportive teachers can be part of the solution.

There are many ways teachers can help students face these challenges and ensure a better experience for them at the workshop.

Emily Pilloton, an educator with a background in architecture and construction, has dedicated herself to creating a supportive environment where girls aren’t afraid to build.

“To give girls the tools to build the world they want to see,” she founded the nonprofit Girls Garage, a design-and-build program and dedicated workspace for girls and female-identifying youth. Since 2013, her team has mentored nearly 500 girls from the East Bay of San Francisco in carpentry and welding who have built real-world projects for their community.

Riding the wave of student interest and engagement

Zavacki also advocates for allowing student choice to keep projects gender-neutral. For example, when teaching about raised panels in woodworking he allows them to choose something that incorporates the procedure that fits their taste.

Image: Christopher Davis

“Allowing project flexibility helps draw students into the course while providing them a sense of ownership instead of making something they have no value in.”

Christopher Davis, Fiantaco’s woodworking teacher, recommends that teachers get away from traditional woodworking projects.

“It was my sophomore year and the first thing our teacher, Christopher Davis, said to us when we walked through that door was, ‘Who wants to build a stand up paddleboard?’ and I was like, ‘We can do that?’” recalls Fiantaco.

“Our projects are all based on student interest. Our main projects are paddleboards, surfboards, skateboards, and snowboards. We call ourselves the “Board Builders” and focus on building projects related to the action sports industry,” reports Davis.

After building these boards, students ride them so they can test how each board rides when different materials, shapes, and molds are used. The kids will build boards to fit the kind of ride that they want and that takes learning to the next level.

Fiantaco, who recently won the 2021 Breaking Traditions Award from the Department of Education, reports that there are many more girls in woodworking classes at her school, which she believes is directly connected with Davis’ beliefs that girls like her are capable of doing a great job if they want to.

Davis himself attributes the growth in the number of females signing up for his classes to girls like Alyssa who’ve taken an interest in the class combined with the projects we are making.

Similarly for Egerer, seeing the different types of projects she could make got her in the woodshop door. “Something caught my eye and I was like ‘wow, I want to do this!’”

Taking action to attract more interest in woodworking

While there’s still a long way to go, these small steps in woodshops around the country are slowly making a difference. In a recent article in Family Handyman, Ashley Papa reports that interest levels in skilled trade careers in home renovation are almost as high for females as males among high school students, partially due to high school class/training programs, social media and actual home improvement project experience.

Mark Smith, industrial technology teacher at Reed-Custer High School in Illinois, has also seen more females in his program the past few years. He points to possible reasons.

“First are changes in the school culture, meaning girls are now encouraged to take CTE classes, which wasn’t the case back when I was young. Another might be setting up a curriculum that’s friendly to both males and females. Thirdly, industry is more open to hiring females in what was traditionally seen as only for males. Finally, high school counselors are steering more females into classes that used to be ‘boys only.’”

As Davis said, seeing other young women creating amazing things in the shop is a huge piece of getting more girls to sign up for woodworking in high school. We also asked the recent graduates we interviewed what they’d say to other girls like them.

“It’s definitely beneficial for girls to try something like this, just because not very many girls know about tools and doing projects like these with their hands. So, I would definitely say ‘just to try it out and see if you like it, because even if you don’t like it, you still learn from it,’” says Egerer.

“When I first walked into it, I really thought I was going to be out of place, that I wasn’t going to be able to do many things or that people were going to look at me differently, but once I started doing it I couldn’t stop. It was different. It made me feel as if I was capable of doing a lot more than I thought I was,” says Fiantaco. “So honestly, I wish more girls would do it.”

Precisely to put the power these young women talk about into girls’ hands around the world, Emily Pilloton wrote “Girls Garage: How to Use Any Tool, Tackle Any Project, and Build the World You Want to See.” The 300-page book released this June features 175 illustrated tool guides, how-to projects, essential skills and inspiring stories from real-world builder girls and women.

Why the book? As Pilloton puts it, “When you search for ‘how to’ books, construction manuals, or even video tutorials on how to use tools, that content is almost always written by men for a primarily male audience. Of course, these books aren’t called, ‘Encyclopedia of Tools for Men,’ but they’re also not very inviting to all readers, especially if you’re a first-time builder.”

“I want girls, who have big dreams, goals, and ideas, to have zero barriers to access the tools they need to be successful. That tool might be a hammer, a little extra confidence to try something new, or the ability to see yourself in the world of STEM.”

Reaching out beyond school walls on social media is also important to both Smith and Davis.

Davis notes that shop teachers from all over the world follow each other’s Instagram accounts, and says, “It just takes a second to post a picture of a project that a student has made so the kids and community can see what you’re doing. The student is proud to be highlighted and it promotes your program.”

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How bollards increase security at commercial and outdoor spaces

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In recent years, we have seen a tremendous shift in the importance of safety, not just inside commercial spaces but outside as well. With the idea of security on everyone’s mind, more and more facilities, including schools, retailers, and private businesses are looking to do their part in preventing ram-raiding, vehicle intrusions, and pedestrian incidents.

Because protecting both your building and infrastructure as well as the pedestrians around your commercial or outdoor space is critically important, many facilities have chosen to install bollards for increased safety and security.

What is a bollard?

A bollard is a round post and is typically embedded in the ground and used for safety or security purposes. Originally meant to be used for ship mooring, bollards are now used mainly to direct or control road traffic. This includes using them to obstruct the passage of motor vehicles, such as outside of storefronts, to separate paved walkways from paved motorways, to block off public parks or outdoor spaces, and more.

Types of bollards

Bollards are typically made out of steel but can sometimes be made out of concrete or other strong materials. There are a variety of different types and models of bollards, including collapsible posts, fixed bollards (embedded or surface mounted), parking bollards (collapsible or removable), and removable bollards (locking or non-locking). Additionally, there are options ranging from low-impact bollards used primarily for visual deterrence to heavy-duty, anti-ram security bollards used to prevent ram-raiding and pedestrian accidents.

Benefits of bollards

Bollards are typically spaced at 4 feet on center; enough room for pedestrians and bicycles to pass through, but limited enough to prevent vehicles from passing through. They are available in many different sizes and styles, and the type chosen depends on the end goal of the bollard.

Here are some benefits of the different types of bollards:

  • Removable and collapsible bollards provide temporary restricted entry or limited access when needed
  • Security bollards protect pedestrians from traffic to ensure safety in busy places
  • Anti-ram bollards provide security for buildings and infrastructures from both accidental and intentional damage from vehicles
  • Removable or low-impact bollards are effective for channeling and diverting traffic, as well as closing off roads and entries altogether
  • Anti-ram bollards mitigate the risk of business owners and government agencies from being exposed to significant liability
  • Anti-ram traffic control barriers provide 24-hour protection for people and property

Industries and locations that can benefit from bollards

Bollards can be used a variety of different locations and industries, including:

  • Airports
  • Bike paths
  • Cemeteries
  • Corporate offices
  • Financial institutions
  • Government buildings
  • Golf courses
  • Marinas
  • Pedestrian bridges and walkways
  • Residential areas
  • Restaurants
  • Schools
  • Stadiums
  • Storefronts
  • Universities
  • and more.

Regardless of the level of security your application or location calls for, essentially any storefront, commercial business, or outdoor space will benefit from the additional safety and protection that high-quality bollards provide.

Why do we need safety bollards?

Bollards are effective at protecting areas and people, which is why they’re so common in public spaces. Because there are so many different options for what kind of bollards to install, they’re ideal for many different uses, no matter if you’re trying to permanently secure a storefront against vehicles, protect pedestrians, or barricade off an area. Bollards are meant to keep people safe and structures protected — and that’s why they’ve become an essential part of perimeter security.

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What’s the difference between 2D drawing, 3D modeling and BIM?

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From cave paintings to complex live 3D models, humans have come a long way when it comes to drawing and visual representation of objects. Architects, engineers, and construction (AEC) professionals can now do everything on a single computer; T-squares and rulers are not as popular as before.

Computer-aided 2D design, 3D modeling, and BIM may all seem similar to a layman, but their differences are far more prevalent in reality. This article aims to explore the use of these three techniques, as well as their advantages and disadvantages.

2D Drawing

Before computer-aided design (CAD) came to be in the ’50s, architects and designers everywhere had to use the pen-and-paper method. However, the goal was always the same — to create a true-to-life graphic representation of an object. Besides allowing us to capture existing buildings, drawings helped us conceptualize, plan, and execute them.

Of course, CAD was a game-changer. Many architects, engineers, and designers were quick to adopt it, as it gave them new possibilities that they didn’t have before. While drawing by hand has its perks, such as unlimited creativity, CAD has simplified and accelerated the process. What’s more, today’s software can do unbelievable things and has much fewer limitations than before.

2D Drawing Software

Artists and graphic designers today use programs like Adobe Illustrator, Procreate, Sketch, and Autodesk Sketchbook. They provide a wide artists’ toolset, including a range of different brushes for more realistic textures.

On the other hand, AutoCAD is by far the most commonly used software in the AEC industries. Other programs, such as SolidWorks, FreeCAD, and LibreCAD, but none of them can even come close to matching AutoCAD’s popularity. What’s more, Autodesk has been consistently evolving over time, now offering a mobile version, 14 different language options, dozens of other AutoCAD expansions, and other useful software for AEC experts.

3D Modeling

The emergence of 3D modeling has taken visualization to the next level. We can now create more realistic, dynamic, and accurate object depictions than ever. Apart from buildings and their systems, 3D modeling can also be used to replicate furniture, vehicles, even human organs, neurons, and chemical structures. The best part is — 3D modeling made 3D printing possible.

However, 3D modeling may have had the most significant influence on the AEC industries. It has changed the way we conceptualize buildings and structures forever, allowing us to predict the end-product. It’s never been easier to manage every detail, which is crucial for large-scale construction projects.

3D Modeling Software

The most popular 3D modeling software includes Modo, Blender, Rhino 3D, SketchUp, and, unsurprisingly, AutoCAD. In the late 90s, Autodesk came out with AutoCAD Architecture (ACA), which had the added option of 3D modeling.

Besides that, ACA today offers an incredible architectural toolset, which includes over 8,000 intelligent styles and objects. If you can’t decide which is more suitable for your needs, we suggest you consult this AutoCAD Architecture vs. AutoCAD breakdown.

Thanks to 3D design software like ACA, we can now design using realistic objects instead of plain lines and circles. What’s more, 3D modeling has brought about efficiency. The model can quickly adapt to every modification you make, eliminating all the tedious, mundane, and repetitive tasks involved with it.

Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Unlike 2D drawing and 3D modeling, which amateurs and professionals of various industries use, BIM is specific to AEC experts. In addition, while we use drawing and modeling primarily in the design phase, BIM is a process that follows the full life cycle of a building. That also includes maintenance, renovation, and demolition.

BIM uses 3D modeling for visualization, but it’s much more than that. The model is the base, always providing up-to-date and accurate data for each sector to go by. Aside from improving communication, BIM also helps with time and budget management. All in all, the goal of BIM is to increase workflow efficiency as much as possible.

BIM Software

Once again, Autodesk has come on top, this time with its top-notch BIM software, Revit. Other popular programs include VectorWorks, ArchiCAD, Tekla Structures, etc. Software like Revit is the basis of BIM, allowing you to create and control the whole project from a single computer.

What’s more, as technology is evolving, so is BIM software. With the implementation ofAI and machine learning, it will most likely become an even more powerful tool. In the future, we can expect most tasks to be automated — from simple calculations to design itself. What’s more, fed with information on past projects, AI can analyze and easily detect errors, discrepancies, and potential accidents in the current model.

Despite the common misconception, AutoCAD is not a BIM software, and neither is AutoCAD Architecture. Autodesk has other programs intended for BIM — Revit and, as of recently — the Autodesk AEC Collection. However, they have made them interoperable, so you might be able to import some AutoCAD elements to Revit and use them together.

Conclusion — Which One Should You Choose?

While they share the same principle, these three techniques are quite different in almost every sense of that word. Today, 2D modeling is used primarily by artists and engineers, whereas 3D modeling has a wide spectrum of potential uses — from sculpting to 3D printing. On the other hand, BIM is an all-encompassing tool designed specifically for AEC projects.

Thus, if you want to create a simple initial draft, 2D drawing is the fastest and most effective choice. However, 3D modeling software will let you visualize the structure or object in its final form and help you design more intelligently. Finally, for complex construction projects and maximum efficiency throughout the whole building process, you should use BIM software.

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5 ways to increase productivity in manufacturing

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Productivity in the manufacturing process is critical as low work levels equate to money lost. If your company’s production output isn’t aligning with the business hours, examine how to improve efficiency. Not only does quickening and organizing the workflow save time, but it also allows you to produce more goods to increase profits.

It’s important not to cut corners as this will likely diminish the quality and lead to complaints or even recalls. Examining the current practices will help you discover what’s slowing down the process. If you aren’t sure what changes will enhance productivity, here are five factors to consider.

1) Upgrade machinery

Using outdated and slow technology will waste time and make it difficult to keep up with competitors. While purchasing new equipment is a big expense, it’s worth the investment if your existing machinery has passed its peak. However, you can hire the equipment if there’s not enough room in the budget to buy outright.

Stud welding is a popular system used across the manufacturing sector, which involves fusing fastenings to metal sheets.

During the quietest times of the workday, schedule routine maintenance tasks to prolong the equipment’s lifespan. Otherwise, you could face disruptive and costly breakdowns. Although, outdated models will require more upkeep than up-to-date machines, causing more repair costs.

2) Planning and scheduling

Creating an organized schedule with deadlines can increase efficiency as it avoids confusion around what tasks need prioritizing.

Also, arrange inventory deliveries in advance to avoid running low on stock and deliveries occurring at your busiest times.

Instead of manually managing admin duties, use online platforms and software to minimize mistakes and quicken the process.

3) Hire experienced employees

Recruiting skilled staff will help you achieve high-quality results quickly, with minimal mistakes. To attract experienced employees, offer a desirable salary and benefits.

If you hire employees with less or no experience, provide sufficient training to help them operate quickly and prevent costly and dangerous errors from occurring.

Continuously training staff, of all skill levels, on the latest technology will help you offer advanced services and stand out against competitors. All workers will need safety training, too.

Regularly communicate with your employees as well. Find out what they need to work more efficiently as they may have ideas on improving processes.

4) Set targets

Creating goals can help you keep track of your productivity levels and motivate your team. However, make sure the aims are realistic. Otherwise, you’ll be setting up your staff to fail and cause disappointment and frustration. Also, factor in any peaks and troughs in demand that your company usually encounters.

When employees meet targets, celebrate and acknowledge the achievement to avoid demotivating your employees for future goals. Poor morale can hugely impact productivity.

To encourage your team further, offer incentives when they meet certain milestones, such as a bonus, extra annual leave, or prizes.

5) Organize the workspace

Optimize the layout so that staff can conduct tasks as quickly and smoothly as possible. Ensure all equipment is easily accessible and close to other relevant gear to minimize disruption from unnecessary movement.

Use labels and categories in storage so that stock and tools are easy to locate. If you lack space, remove any unused inventory or equipment, ideally by recycling or selling.

When mess accumulates, it can disrupt the workflow and become a safety issue if it blocks fire exits. Avoid clutter by hiring a cleaner of creating a staff rota for tidying the environment.

After implementing these changes, regularly review how they’re impacting productivity as you may need to keep updating the process to maximize efficiency.

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6 ways construction companies can lower carbon emissions

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Recent reports from the United Nations Environment Programme found that the construction industry accounts for 38% of global energy-related CO2 emissions. Under the Paris Agreement, the building sector must operate at “net-zero carbon” by 2050. For this target to be possible, building carbon emissions need to halve by 2030.

All construction firms need to do their part by following environmentally friendly practices. Here are six methods to implement for lowering your company’s carbon footprint.

1) Work with green materials

Concrete is one of the most-used building substances, but it’s extremely carbon-emitting. Where possible, consider offering or replacing concrete with more sustainable alternatives such as recycled plastic, bamboo, and Timbercrete.

For building frames or external cladding, timber is an excellent option as it absorbs carbon dioxide rather than emitting it. It can also be recycled or reused as biofuel, it breaks down naturally, and it’s highly thermally efficient.

2) Check materials are sustainably sourced

To verify your supplier has sourced the construction material ethically, request evidence that they have met sustainable policies.

Wood-based materials, including timber cladding, should be harvested from certified forests that are continuously replenished and don’t cause environmental harm. Otherwise, you could be unknowingly contributing to deforestation.

International Timber, the UK’s leading importer and distributor of bespoke and sustainable timber, aim for a full Chain of Custody certified timber. The company only purchases timber from sustainable sources and ensure all products meet legal requirements.

3) Alter the job site

Construction sites are prone to generating waste, energy usage, and pollution, but you can reduce the environmental impact by incorporating:

  • water dust control systems
  • sweeping equipment for dust
  • a waste management process
  • energy-efficient equipment

Using construction management software also eradicates the need for on-site paper documents.

4) Sustainable construction methods

Using green construction techniques will help minimize the company’s environmental impact.

Prefabricated construction is a popular building method. It involves producing components in a factory environment and then transporting them to the construction site for assembling. Working in controlled indoor conditions lowers waste, pollution, and energy usage, compared to operating this task on the job site.

Operate under a fabric-first approach by prioritizing the fabric’s insulation quality, natural ventilation, thermal mass, and airtightness to enhance the building’s energy efficiency.

Increasing the building’s solar gain with solar panels, window positioning, and window glazing will also minimize the property’s ongoing energy consumption.

5) Recycle excess inventory

At the end of a construction job, you may have leftover stock that you have no use for, but don’t just send it to landfill and instead either:

  • recycle any recyclable materials
  • donate the stock to community projects
  • sell the inventory to venders
  • check whether your supplier offers a take-back scheme

If you frequently have too much stock, adjust your order nearer to the exact amount you need.

6) Raise awareness to the cause

Once your company has established these sustainable practices, continue spreading the message and educating those around you by:

  • training your staff on how to be kinder to the environment
  • showcasing your environmental policies online
  • advising customers on sustainable materials and construction methods
  • sharing social media posts on how the construction industry can become more sustainable
  • giving talks at industry events on sustainability

Making these environmental adjustments to your company will help to reduce the sector’s carbon emissions. However, it doesn’t stop there. Continue progressing your policy by researching other ways to improve and speaking with experts on the topic.

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Balancing compassion and performance in a pandemic world

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This article first appeared in Kivo Daily.

Service leads to results. Put people first and productivity follows.

When I served in the Marines, we had a saying: Mission first, people always. Everything about leading Marines came down to achieving results in times of challenge, chaos, and uncertainty while taking care of your people. Now, as an executive coach, as I’ve helped my clients navigate pandemic times, often I’ve been guiding them in demonstrating service-based leadership.

Leading with service is about acting selflessly on behalf of others to ensure their success. It’s about the simple actions you take to support others so they can thrive. To be productive in a pandemic, teams need service-based leadership.

The great news for leaders is that service can be demonstrated in the simplest ways. The key is to shift your mindset from a focus on your needs to a focus on identifying and taking the steps to meet the needs of others.

One of the most compelling stories of service-based leadership I’ve witnessed recently is when an executive learned that one of his most talented mid-level managers had turned in her resignation. Even though she wasn’t his direct report, he made time to reach out to her and find out why she was leaving. He realized quickly that she was quitting so she could better support her children while they were learning virtually amidst the pandemic. While leaving her job was a short-term fix, it would create a long-term challenge for her family and the company.

The executive realized instantly that service and flexibility would solve the problem. He worked with the employee’s manager to determine how they could flex her hours, including some weekend work, allowing her to both be available to her kids and productive on the job. Today, her kids are back in the classroom, and she’s a deeply loyal and committed team member, grateful for the above and beyond support her company gave her during her time of need.

Here are four ways you can bring service-based leadership into your team:

1. Take action to meet needs.

When people feel cared for because you’re looking out for their needs, they feel safe and experience your commitment to them. They’re able to focus less on themselves and more on their team and the results they are seeking.

What’s important is not just thinking about all the unmet needs you could contribute to resolving – it’s actually taking steps to make a difference. Simple actions, like listening to a team member, connecting with a colleague spontaneously to just catch up, or recognizing when someone needs additional resources and making that happen, are all examples of taking action to serve.

2. Share information.

In today’s world where uncertainty is often the norm, sharing what you know, as you can, is a powerful act of service. While none of us can predict the future, we can always work to communicate clearly and consistently. Sharing knowledge and facts not only keeps people informed, it helps them anticipate how they can best contribute to future needs.

3. Do what’s difficult.

True service is not about coddling or enabling. In the moment, it can often seem easier to let poor performance slide or opt not to address issues that are contributing to less than best results. Yet, one of the most valuable aspects of service-based leadership is sharing constructive criticism in an empowering way so that your colleagues have an opportunity to be supported while leveling up. Resist the urge to lower performance standards. Instead, coach, mentor, and develop those you lead.

4. Recognize the barriers.

There are two common barriers to bringing a sense of service to the teams you lead: awareness and pace. Most people just don’t know about service-based leadership and some feel it’s just too simple to be effective.

Simple practices, like demonstrating empathy, seeking to understand how you can be of value to someone else, or just learning someone’s story, can seem unimportant, or perhaps something for someone else to do — “That’s HR’s job.”

Work is busy; it can become a habit to keep your head down and focused on the tasks at hand. While that might seem helpful to productivity in the short-term, it eventually leads to more time-consuming challenges as team members begin to feel disconnected from, or misunderstood by, management. It does take extra time and discipline to make time for other people amid all you have going on. Yet time in service to others is time well spent towards creating a culture that contributes to teamwork and results.

To be of true service is to give. That’s it. While the rewards of service are stronger teams, greater results, and a more empowered workforce, it’s important to remove any sense of quid pro quo from your actions. A sincere focus on working to recognize and meet others’ needs creates an environment that motivates people to act because they want to, not because they have to. And in pandemic times and beyond, that’s how greater results happen.

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Will the lodging industry’s supply growth outpace demand?

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The COVID-19 vaccination rate is climbing steadily in the U.S. At its current rate, three in four people, or 75% of eligible residents, will be vaccinated by June. Businesses are reopening. The U.S. economy is now operating at 88% of its pre-pandemic level, with hope for continuous improvement.

People want to travel again. In mid-March, Disneyland announced it would reopen on April 30. Now, all reopening day reservations for both single-park and park-hopper tickets are sold out already.

On April 2, the Friday before Easter, TSA screened over 1.58 million people at airport checkpoints, the highest number since March 12, 2020. By comparison, TSA only screened 129,763 people (about 8.2% of 1.58 million) on April 2, 2020.

The U.S. lodging industry reported the best weekly performance since March 2020

According to STR, a world-leading provider for data benchmarking, analytics, and marketplace insights for hotels, the U.S. lodging industry reported the highest demand and occupancy levels since the pandemic for the week ending April 10:

  • Occupancy at 59.7%, about two percentage point increase from the previous week
  • Average Daily Rate (ADR) at $112.22
  • Revenue per Available Room (RevPAR) at $66.99

Over 50% of the hotels posted an occupancy above 60% for the week. Tampa and Miami, two of the U.S. top 25 lodging markets, reported an occupancy of 83.7% and 74.1%, respectively.

The demand for the week ending April 10 reached 3.2 million room/nights per day, about three times more than a year ago. Only 37 out of the 166 U.S. markets did not report a week-to-week increase for that week. Furthermore, 46% of all hotels were in the “recovery” or “peak” categories when using STR’s matrix to measure market recovery (i.e., an RevPAR index against the market’s comparable week in 2019).

Airbnb and Vrbo are actively recruiting more hosts to meet the surging demand for short-term residential rentals

The home-sharing and extended-stay sectors are more resilient to the pandemic. Airbnb booking resumed to a pre-pandemic level in June 2020. Even hotels’ home-sharing arms have been doing well. Likewise, the economy extended-stay hotel segment reported a 75.4% occupancy rate during the time when the U.S. lodging market was running at 42.2% occupancy.

Airbnb’s CEO, Brian Chesky, told CNBC on April 16 that Airbnb had 4 million hosts now but would need millions more to meet the surging demand. Meanwhile, Expedia’s Vrbo wants Airbnb’s “superhosts” by poaching them with incentives.

The U.S. opened the largest number of new hotels and rooms in Q1 2021

The U.S. opened 220 properties or 26,057 rooms in the first quarter of 2021. The U.S. led both China (12,418 rooms) and Japan (2,499 rooms), the second- and third-ranking countries, with the highest number of new openings by a significant margin. Additionally, 186,269 rooms are under construction, with 214,287 rooms in final planning and another 237,703 rooms in planning.

To some extent, new hotel construction in the U.S. has already slowed down. The current number of rooms in construction is down 34,000 from its all-time peak at 220,207 rooms in April 2020. Moreover, more hotel projects changed to “abandoned” or “deferred” in the last 12 months.

While we are feeling optimistic about the future of the lodging market, businesses in the hospitality and travel industry are not expected to see a full recovery until 2023 or beyond. A full recovery will not take place until groups and business travelers come back to hotels. Thus, adding supply could be concerning, although construction activities have been moderated.

Companies are now selling real estate at the fastest pace, some of which may add to the hotel supply

In the global real estate market, companies are now selling their assets at the fastest pace. One-third of those sales were office properties, probably because more companies let employees work from home permanently.

Although it is uncertain how long the work-from-home “bleisure” trend will stay after the pandemic, the lodging industry is finding ways to embrace such changes. Strategic hoteliers may also take the opportunity to grow their portfolios through mergers and acquisitions. Another strategy to grow is to convert delinquent or distressed office buildings into hotels.

Other buyers may want to turn the office buildings into apartments, restaurants, or other commercial spaces for sales or leasing. Back in 2018, Airbnb had begun investing in the real estate market, building Airbnb branded apartment projects in cities across the U.S. Will Airbnb and Vrbo get into the game of converting office buildings into rental units to meet the surging demand for home-sharing facilities too?

It is likely that a number of office buildings will be converted into hotels or apartments. Hence, the supply of lodging facilities will go up accordingly.

In summary, the lodging industry is expected to see both supply and demand growth. Still, we must pay attention to a few critical questions:

  • Will lodging supply growth outpace its demand?
  • What type of lodging products should be considered when planning a new project?
  • What will be the best use of real estate assets?

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What’s the BIG Idea? Episode 2: Steve Jurash on leading through crisis

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In this episode of What’s the BIG Idea? Hank Boyer visits with Steve Jurash, president of the 5,000-plus member Manufacturing Alliance of Philadelphia (MAP), one of the largest regional trade associations in the eastern United States. MAP represents several hundred thousand manufacturing employees.

In March 2020, Jurash led MAP through an incredibly challenging period, dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, an event that brought manufacturing everywhere to a sudden halt. With several hundred thousand employees’ lives affected by his decision-making, Jurash faced one of his most challenging periods of leadership. He shares more than 20 best practices effective leaders use to navigate during periods of crisis.

About What’s the BIG Idea?

What’s the BIG Idea? was born during the global pandemic of 2020. I spoke with a number of business leaders about how the pandemic was changing the ways they ran their organizations. I heard some amazing accounts of how the crisis brought out innovative and creative approaches to address the challenges these leaders were suddenly facing. I wanted to find a way to capture their authentic stories and energy and share it with others who might be similarly inspired to overcome their own set of challenges.

Each edition of What’s the BIG Idea? is a six to eight-minute conversational interview with a high achiever who is making a difference in his or her organization, field, or industry. What’s the BIG Idea’s host is Hank Boyer CEO and founder of the international management consulting firm, Boyer Management Group, and host of the No. 1 national syndicated business radio show, Executive Leader’s Radio. What’s the BIG Idea? is provided to viewers in partnership with the self-improvement team at Achiever’s Circle.

For more information about What’s the BIG Idea? or to inquire about being a guest, contact hank@boyermanagment.com.

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How AI is affecting commercial real estate now and what to expect in near future

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is a technology that is currently transforming almost all industries, from the IT sector and marketing to agriculture and everything in between. Commercial real estate is not an exception.

As agents and business owners want to optimize their operations, the use of additional CRMs or software for transactions has become more popular. There’s nothing strange here, as these tools can optimize effectiveness by allowing you to arrange a one-stop place where you would seamlessly manage your leads and clients. With AI entering the real estate market and integrating these tools, they can open completely new horizons.

So, let’s see what AI trends are becoming popular in the commercial real estate niche:

Chat assistants

Smart chat assistants, more commonly known as chatbots, are a great help for all support departments because they ensure the visitor gets faster and more accurate responses to their queries. In real estate, speed is critical. If you cannot help a customer, they will leave for the competitor. And since the market of real estate is oversaturated, not being able to serve your customers in time can play a bad trick on your reputation.

How it works: Chatbots analyze the client’s query based on the keywords and provide the relevant answer depending on the context or search for the most suitable guides from your knowledge base to share them with clients.

Advantage: Your website visitors receive top-notch customer service and quick help without long waiting times. Chatbots can work 24/7 and never get tired. Besides, you save on support personnel, saving human efforts for less typical requests.

Smart analytics

With AI applied to analytics, you can rest assured that your promo efforts, competitor analysis, and the behavior of your potential and existing customers will be processed in the best possible way, delivering powerful insights to act on.

How it works: Algorithms used to analyze data run on big data, gathering tons of information. Thus, their results will be more accurate due to the higher number of samples. They can be also used in making forecasts and predictions, because based on the previous results, the system will be able to provide you with the probability of an action.

Advantage: With smart analytics, you will be able to do user segmentation to better target your ads and offerings, analyze marketing campaigns, and assess the performance analysis of your campaigns to maximize ROI.

Data processing

Dealing with a big amount of data is a usual thing for real estate agents. Often, this information is not properly sorted and is coming from different places, which means that your agents will have to unify it to be able to match the information with the available data to fulfill clients’ requests.

How it works: Smart algorithms use the aggregated information about the client or property from the listing and structure it in a way that it’s easily accessible for real estate agents and act on these data by contacting this client, matching the property.

Advantage: When manually done, this process requires a lot of time that can be used much more efficiently. Thus, with smart data processing, your agents will be able to put the efforts into some other important activities. With intelligent processing, you will be able to automate certain workflows and simplify operational management.


As AI is in its development stage at the moment, it’s still far from perfect and has a lot of flaws and inaccuracies.

But taking into account the pace of its evolution, we can expect that machine learning algorithms will become more complex to resolve more sophisticated tasks and make the life of real estate agents easier.

Delegating all the routine tasks to smart assistants to focus on building a long-term relationship with the client is a dream at the moment, but may be a reality that is coming sooner than we expect.

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