Research + Tech

Recent trends driving construction tech adoption

The construction industry traditionally has been slow to adopt new technology, but the industry’s investment in technology has increased significantly during the past few years, according to

During a live simulcast March 16, Aaron Toppston, managing director for Walsh Investment Group, Chicago, offered the following four reasons why the construction industry is experiencing a more rapid rate of technology adoption:

  1. The talent pool and technology are changing. New talent is entering the industry and bringing increased willingness and ability to use technology. Additionally, construction technology is being designed to be more accessible and familiar, which makes workers on job sites more comfortable using it.
  2. Projects are becoming more complex. Toppston says: “Ten years ago, a $500 million project was enormous. Today, there are billion dollar and multibillion dollar procurements both in the private sector and the public sector.” Because projects are larger, administrative reporting requirements grow exponentially.
  3. Traditionally, builders and those in the trades were not always viewed as “professional services,” but that is changing. Now, everyone on a job site is viewed as providing professional services. Project owners expect to be able to trust all stakeholders on the project to do good work, which has led to more collaboration between various project entities, such as builders, architects and engineers.
  4. Technology costs have been reduced. Construction typically is a low-margin business, and more affordable technology has played a significant role in its adoption in the industry.

New York City pilots remote video-inspection program

The New York City Department of Buildings recently piloted a remote video-inspection program using standard digital video technology, according to The city has continued to use in-person inspections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The voluntary six-week program, which ended April 30, replaced in-person visits for some construction inspections in Staten Island and Brooklyn. Inspectors viewed job sites via phones or other mobile devices. The program has numerous requirements, including a strong, reliable internet connection on the entire property; a device with a camera that can easily move through the facility, such as a phone or tablet; adequate lighting for good picture quality; a separate light source, such as a flashlight, for darker areas; and an authorized attendee with a tape measure for measuring certain dimensions. If an inspector observed elements unsuitable for virtual inspection, the New York City DOB required a physical inspection.

New York City DOB personnel are working to identify operational challenges and address new processes for how virtual inspections in the city could work. If the program is deemed successful, it will expand to the rest of the city.

Remote inspections of construction projects have become much more common during the pandemic, and inspectors from various states have indicated the practice could continue in the future. The availability of tools such as Skype, Zoom and Microsoft Teams offer building inspectors an accessible way to view and inspect job sites from a safe distance.

However, the International Code Council® found about 60% of building departments surveyed said they did not yet have the capacity to perform remote inspections. The ICC published a series of guidelines and recommendations for agencies to follow and rapidly adopt the practice while maintaining COVID-19 guidelines.

ASTM International committee proposes air barriers standard

ASTM International Committee E06 on Performance of Buildings has proposed a standard to help engineers better understand how various climates affect water vapor transmission of water-resistive barriers and air barriers in building envelopes, according to

WK51917, “New Guide for Specifying Water Vapor Transmission Material Properties of Water Resistive Barriers and Air Barriers,” will explain how water-resistive barriers and air barriers function in various wall and roof assemblies.

“The proposed standard is focused on factors affecting water-resistive barrier and air barrier performance, best practices to test and ways to easily report water vapor transmission characteristics,” says Danko Davidovic, senior building scientist for Huber Engineered Woods and an ASTM International member. “The standard will be easy to follow and reflect the current best building science practices regarding how water vapor transmission properties of water-resistive barriers and air barriers impact moisture transport through wall and roof assemblies.”

Architects, designers and other professionals will be able to use the standard to better specify water-resistive barrier and air barrier transmission properties in design documents, and regulatory agencies will be able to improve water vapor transmission property requirements for water-resistive barrier and air barrier materials and systems in building codes.



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