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Goodbye 2018 and hello 2019! A look back and a look ahead

By Gregory Ceton, CSI, CDT posted 01-11-2019 17:18


Happy New Year! It’s easy in the day-to-day to overlook milestones. Maybe you had a party, but in the end, a change of year is just another day.

I think it is important to mark the passage of time, if only so we can measure how our ideas and capabilities are progressing, not only personally but in the world at large. It also helps us use the past and our experiences to fit the whole puzzle together, to see how things may play out before they do. Without the element of time, change can feel like chaos, but it’s directed and almost predictable, at least with hindsight.


So, what happened?

In short, it’s been a good year. Despite the increased costs fomented largely by tariffs placed on material imports and ongoing labor shortages, commercial construction experienced a greater than five percent rate of growth in the United States in 2018. Absent a global economic downturn, this rate of development is likely to continue in 2019, following a growth trend that has persisted for close to a decade.

As is often the case, in times of growth there have been technological and social developments to help increase our efficiency and make us more productive. Some of them even came out through the topics we covered over the last few months.


Smart cities

You may recall the column about smart cities from August. Shortly before that column was published, the International Standards Organization (ISO) published the first standard for certification of smart cities and their underlying technologies, ISO 37106:2018, Sustainable cities and communities -- Guidance on establishing smart city operating models for sustainable communities.

While standards do not drive cutting-edge technologies, they do require substantial evidence of performance to underlie their normative content. In that respect, this new standard not only shows smart cities have come of age, it also provides a necessary baseline for measurement and comparison of these new technological epicenters.


Modular and offsite construction

Another topic that we discussed in the July column promises to take on a bigger role in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry in the coming years. Modular construction provides solutions to many of the current issues facing the construction marketplace, including limited availability of skilled workers and ability to maintain schedule with fewer delays from weather, logistical, or supply challenges.

Noting that, the ConsensusDocs Coalition has begun the process of empaneling a modular construction taskforce charged with developing the first series of standard forms of agreement for modular and offsite projects. The taskforce will have representation from the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) Off Site Construction Council and the Modular Building Institute (MBI) among other experts. As a participating member of the ConsensusDocs Coalition, CSI has also been asked to provide a representative to participate in this work.

This volunteer opportunity will be available on the CSI volunteer portal shortly. To ensure you hear about it and are ready to throw your hat in the ring, ensure your profile is active in the volunteer pool and is filled out (you’ll need to be logged into the site for this step).


So, what’s next?

More than anything, I appreciate you reading these articles, asking questions, challenging what I write, and sharing great comments. Since learning is always a two-way street, I want to hear from you even more. Tell me and all the other readers what interests you. Tell us what you think would make good topics for these articles, so we can all hear others’ responses and share ideas throughout the year.

To do so, please leave a comment below or e-mail me.

Until next month, onward!


Gregory Ceton, CSI, CDT, is CSI director of strategic initiatives and special projects. He lives in the D.C. area and likes disruptive technology, good food, and cats.