Before forming predictions for the new year ahead and how commercial construction will look, let’s reflect on 2021 and the major themes, dumpster fires aside. Pressure on general contractor’s bottom lines demanded teams to act smarter and harder at the same time. Whether it’s negotiating prices with suppliers or automating sales workflows, construction companies need to prioritize efficiency and cost-saving opportunities to succeed. With the pandemic exposing global supply chain vulnerabilities, teams were forced to navigate a lack of key materials and still adhere to project timelines.

Looking toward 2022, I foresee these experiences leaning the industry towards some defining “out of the box” ways of staying protected against disruptions such as:

A Push Toward New Materials

To answer the need to maximize profits and sustainability, industry-leading construction management companies need to evaluate the development of new construction materials.

This means seeking alternatives to conventional products that are strained and backordered. It would not only reduce material costs, but also allow the opportunity for more sustainable building materials.

As a result, the following building materials are currently trending.

A Quickbooks CRM, Method, recently put together a blog highlighting the following I thought were worth sharing:

  • “Engineered Cementitious Composite (ECC) — aka bendable concrete. As the name suggests, ECC can be bent without breakage. ECC contains small, polymer-derived fibers that make it much stronger and crack-resistant than traditional concrete. The result is a material that uses less cement and has a smaller carbon footprint. ECC’s durability also means less time and money spent on repairing cracks and breakage.
  • Engineered timber — this refers to timber products that are created by bonding several types of softwood. The result is a lumber material that is strong enough to be used as a replacement for steel and concrete. The benefits? Fewer emissions and less waste during the manufacturing of engineered timber than steel and concrete.
  • Recycled materials — using recycled materials certainly isn’t new. But considering the issues discussed above facing construction companies, recycled materials are now being used to construct entire structures (small ones for now).
  • 3D printed building materials — this includes concrete, walls, floors, and other essentials needed in construction. More on 3D printing and construction below.
  • Another strategy construction firms use to reduce material costs is modularization and prefabrication. By adding a module assembly yard to a construction site, materials can be fabricated and assembled on-site, reducing material and shipping costs.”

The Concept of “Connected Construction”

A recent report from Deloitte preparing for 2022 and the engineering and construction trends to watch mentioned enabling new technologies to further connect those involved in the building process – this especially resonated as something exciting to look forward to.

Technologies that allow different firms in the project delivery process to stay connected are helping assets, people, and job sites all be managed on one platform – making everyone and every project component work smarter and optimize asset utilization with the increased visibility into operations.

Deloitte expands that, “At the core of connected construction are emerging technologies and the data and advanced analytics that these new capabilities can enable. As the industry moves toward connected construction, developing data, analytics, and user-based insights capabilities could be critical. In 2022, connected construction will likely be a catch-all for major digital investments to connect, integrate, and automate operations and bring the entire value chain onto a secure, intelligent infrastructure.”

What are some of the tools and systems you believe will be most beneficial to teams seeking to be on the cutting-edge in the new year?