Construction industry technology predictions and what’s ahead for 2023

December 6, 2022 | 28 minute read
Rick Bell
Senior Content Marketing Manager
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As access to advanced technology in the construction industry becomes even more ubiquitous—drones, robotics, and reality capture among them—every facet of a project seemingly offers data that can be analyzed to make jobsites safer, more predictable, sustainable, and more efficient. As a torrent of industry innovation continues, four of the construction industry’s leading innovators gathered to provide their keen insights during a lively LinkedIn discussion, “Construction Technology Predictions 2023.”

The panel featured Jeff Yoders, associate technology editor for Engineering News-Record; Jennifer Suerth, vice president at Pepper Construction; Jim Barrett, chief innovation officer for Turner Construction; and Keith Churchill, chief innovation officer for Bechtel.

Burcin Kaplanoglu, vice president, innovation, Oracle Industry Lab, led the discussion.

Burcin Kaplanoglu: We are so excited to have all of you join today to talk about topics related to construction technology. Our first question: What technologies will help shape the construction landscape in 2023?

Jeff Yoders: The construction industry is looking at how they can better use their data because risk is going up in the construction business, and technology has become a way to mitigate risk and use this data in ways that go beyond just a project. So I think that's the biggest pivot I've seen in the last year.

2023 construction technology predictions
 From top left: Jennifer Suerth, Jeff Yoders, Jim Barrett, Keith Churchill.

Keith Churchill: I think the most interesting thing that I've seen in the industry, especially this year and in the last couple of years, is a pivot toward sustainability. If you think about it, we're really seeing a third aspect of project delivery being considered by a lot of our owners and our clients. As we work with them to understand their priorities, they really want the ability to minimize cost, minimize schedule, but now they want to minimize carbon footprint, minimize waste, and some of the other aspects of the projects that we're developing.

We think that's going to be key in terms of how we develop projects in the future in terms of iterating on cost, iterating on schedule, and then iterating on sustainability aspects to provide the most efficient solution for our clients. All three of those aspects were in the previous terms, it was really cost and schedule.

Jim Barrett: I see an opportunity here to diversify the business just fundamentally. I think we're recognizing that I know these for Turner, we've maxed out our presence geographically. We're in every major metropolitan area by product type. Now we're asking ourselves, “How can we diversify our revenue streams to grow opportunities, business opportunities?” Technology creates a whole new landscape of opportunities. We want to look at how can we build, buy, or potentially partner with software and technology companies to create new services, new capabilities, or just generally invest in these new technologies in adjacent spaces to grow us. We see this, everything that's been happening over the past five to 10 years is creating new opportunities for us to diversify our revenue and go into completely new areas for us.

"The construction industry is looking at how they can better use their data because risk is going up in the construction business, and technology has become a way to mitigate risk and use this data in ways that go beyond just a project."

Jeff Yoders, Associate Technology Editor, Engineering News-Record

Jennifer Suerth: I agree with everything everybody said. We look at becoming a data-driven company. There's no concern not having enough data. It's doing something with that data. And obviously, then taking it to the next level with sensors and things like that, but just starting to make actionable data-driven decisions based on that. Additionally, to what Jim said, looking at diversifying our revenue streams, we're now in the solar market. And looking at that, we've learned a lot from the general commercial construction side and leveraging technology, how can we build faster? But a big thing that we're seeing as a trend in this industry is looking at new roles and completely new organizational structures. You can even look at this panel. Since data is becoming such a big piece of our business, we're building differently, we're seeing technology positions coming into the C-suite and becoming more common, titles, and positions in companies across the industry. There's been a huge focus on technology. And while we talk a lot about BIM and virtual construction and all of that, it really comes down to data, and workflows, and recognizing that it starts at the top and making sure it trickles through our business. I'd argue that changes in [organizational] structures are a big pivot that we're seeing with all of our peers in the industry.

Construction industry topics that shoud be on your radar

Burcin Kaplanoglu: What is the one thing nobody's talking about that will have a major impact on the construction and engineering industry in the next five years?

Jennifer Suerth: The big one that I would say is insurance. I know we're starting to hear conversations, but I think it's more of a pipe dream where we say the more you use technology, maybe we'll see a trend of insurance premiums going down. The reality is when you look at some of the technologies helping us mitigate risk—we could talk IoT [the internet of things], we could talk sensors, any of that—we're seeing a lot of GCs and owners taking that on and carrying the brunt from a cost perspective because we see the value. I think we're going to start to see changes with insurance and insurance agents getting smarter.

That could be anything from adjusting premiums, or there are even startup insurance companies or bigger ones that are creating branches and saying, “Maybe we'll take on that sensor IoT cost because we believe that can help lower our risk as an insurer to help with premiums.” It's a win-win for both parties. Another thing people think about is, “What if we're not doing things right? Could we be hurt by our insurance premiums?” Any of us on this panel could say we're hopefully doing all the right things and putting things in place. I'd like to say it's positive and a win-win.

Jeff Yoders: Jen is completely right. And the major construction insurers, the thing they love most is cost certainty. And these sensors, the better amounts of data that we're saving in databases, those are what enable them to give better rates. It is something that trickled up from, you put the sensor in your car for auto insurance and, it bothers you a little bit. And there's an app on your phone. They've been noticed by construction insurers and they're trying to apply them to all the processes we have, whether that's concrete trucks arriving to the site and having the right temperature or cranes making so many movements a day. All of the metrics are now being catalogued, and having that much data is very powerful for the insurance industry.

Jim Barrett: I'll build off what Keith was saying before about sustainability but go a little bit further in terms of the next five years for us. I think the next five years is about ESG—environmental social governance. There's a regulatory environment coming. We're seeing it because we're associated with more global organizations. We see the ESG requirements that are coming out of Europe, but we're embracing them rather than looking at it as something being imposed. We are embracing it. It's growing beyond just the sustainability realm. It's looking at your entire supply chain. I could see the complete reimagining of the supply chain. If in the CSP environment where you talk about ethical sourcing, you must have complete visibility in all tiers back to raw materials wherever they're coming to make sure that child labor is not being used.

It's a radical reimagining of our business. It requires culture change, process change, and structure change. There are different funding sources. We're going after green bonds because there's new pools of funding in this ESG world. You're seeing it with our owners. I was talking to the Commissioner of GSA. They were in the recent Inflation Reduction Act, they got $6 billion, $7 billion to spend on upgrading buildings, but they're looking for certain types of partners. I think in the next five years, that ESG is something that's going to come at us in a way that people aren't necessarily expecting. But I think you can either wait for it or you can get ahead of it. Our goal is to get ahead of that because there are huge opportunities that will be created.

Keith Churchill: Whenever I get the chance, I like to talk about the labor shortage. I think that it's something that has been communicated a lot more in the last five years, but I still think it's the dirty little secret of the industry in terms of what's going to impact our company's ability to deliver projects for our clients at a reasonable price. As skilled craft labor continues to decrease and the exits of the industry continue to outweigh the entrance, we've got to figure out ways to leverage technology to attract new talent pools, bring them up to speed faster, train them quicker, be able to do more with less, and in the end build the next generation of construction craft professionals.

What construction technology startups should expect in 2023

Burcin Kaplanoglu: How will the environment in 2023 impact construction technology startups?

Jeff Yoders: We've never seen more investment in construction technology startups in the last five years. One major reality-capture company we saw a merger in just last month. I think you're going to see a lot of startups emerging or a few going out of business and coming together to shake things out because there's been so much investment in the startup space. Things are going to shake out more. That being said, we don't see venture capital coming out of the construction industry. It's still a hot market to invest in. There is a lot of opportunity. All of these startups see an opportunity to get more efficiency out of the industry than we've ever seen.

Jennifer Suerth: We're going to see that trend of money coming in. And Jeff said it well, we're going to see things really shake out. When we saw this huge influx of money coming into the industry, we saw a huge amount of tech startups. When there's a lot of money out there, people get hungry. And I love that there's competition. I love that there's new people coming into the industry. But part of this shakeup is, we're going to see some tech startups that will struggle. There's probably a lot of tech startups listening in on this discussion. And when you see all this money coming in, we're seeing a trend of some technology companies not proving their value before they're going after those large sums of money, or they're seeing an opportunity and figuring out what problem they're solving and finding a solution. Or on the flip side, maybe they have a great solution, but they haven't set themselves up to properly scale.

We're going to continue to see money. We're going to see more partnerships. I think we're going to see some that just won't make it. And we may see some VCs that aren't going to necessarily hold back money but be a little bit more strategic because I think everybody got really hungry in the beginning. And it's all for good things. We want to see money. We want to see competition. Otherwise, prices won’t be competitive, and the value stream might not be there for some of these solutions. We're seeing labor shortages. The only way to combat that is to use technology and work more efficiently. We need to have the money in technology and we're going to need to see these startups continuing to grow. But I think we're going to see some people learning from other people's challenges based on how hungry everybody was.

Jeff Yoders: There will be a lot of opportunities. When I say shakeout, that could mean a solution becoming a part of a larger company's platform. There's going to be a lot of opportunities for startups to become part of a larger company or simply reinvent themselves.

Jennifer Suerth: I see the partnerships. We're already seeing it. You mentioned one, but we're seeing these companies starting to merge or partner or even bigger companies support these smaller companies. And that's all a win-win overall because we all want best-in-class solution, but we also don't want 20 different point solutions. The more people work together and integrate or in some cases merge, it's a win for all of us.

"People are going to have to be very strategic, not just from the VC side, but from the startup side in terms of how they structure their business, what markets they go after, and what their value proposition is. Understanding that sooner is going to be critical to secure the capital they're going to need to progress through the startup lifecycle."

—Keith Churchill, Chief Innovation Officer, Bechtel

Keith Churchill: Jen, I really like the comment about not having 20 point solutions. Jeff, you mentioned in the last five years, there's been such a huge influx. It's made my job significantly harder as all these tech companies are coming to the table, figuring out which ones apply to our businesses is extremely difficult. But I will say that it's been fantastic, the amount of innovation that's happened over the last five years, and the amount of new technology that's been there. Like Jim was alluding to, people are going to have to be very strategic, not just from the VC side, but from the startup side in terms of how they structure their business, what markets they go after, and what their value proposition is. Understanding that sooner is going to be critical to be able to secure the capital they're going to need to progress through the startup lifecycle. That lifecycle might be a little bit shorter than some founders would prefer, but at the end of the day, we're still seeing the influx of cash. It benefits the business and it's going to benefit our ability to deliver in the future. And I think that we're still high on what's to come.

Jim Barrett: I think contact space is always going to be a brutal environment. It's only going to get worse in the next year or two. Because contact is such a tough place to sell into for a startup. We're incredibly fragmented, dispersed decision-making, you have influencers, you have buyers, you have users, they're scattered all over the place. Then you have the different stakeholders, whether it's an owner, the architect, engineer, contractor, or the trade company. It's such a tough market to sell to. I think there's going to be a huge, ugly shakeout. I think that's a necessary shakeout. But what's going to come out of this is the realization what these startups really do, and I think I'm piling on everybody else's comments, they have to partner, and they need a safe harbor, a shelter from the storm. They're going to partner with the large GCs or architects, engineers, owners, whomever. They'll need that shelter because it's such a tough place and you need to be incubated before you can launch. And so, we're very much working in that realm. We've started our own, what we call entrepreneur residence program, where we're building our own startups and finding early-stage founders and early-stage startups to incubate and support them because it's just such a tough market.

Construction technology with staying power

Burcin Kaplanoglu: One of the questions we frequently get is, there are technologies that become a nice-to-have compared to a must-have during the pandemic. When you look back and look at the technologies that you implemented during that time, what tech and use cases do you believe are here to stay?

Jim Barrett: Certainly, progress capture, progress monitoring. Like I was saying, this is a very traditional industry, at least from a construction standpoint. I think COVID accelerated the awareness and adoption of new technologies. The past two years probably accelerated interest in adoption and technology by 10 years. We were forced to look at these technologies. Again, the sort of photometric technologies that are capturing and monitoring progress that you can watch that are remote and are virtual, you can convert that into point clouds or into models.

I think that that accelerated that adoption. It was on the path, it accelerated dramatically. I think that's absolutely here to stay. That's why we're seeing so many startups moving into that space now with more mature solutions. But that is very encouraging. I think it's also just opened people's eyes to new opportunities, to use technology, to better understand our work. We use that almost like a jumping off point. Your typical superintendent or project manager is now embracing these technologies. Then we say, look, let's start to explore other things, extended reality, virtual reality, augmented reality. There are huge opportunities there as well. And we're starting to build off that. We took that little door that was opened a little wider with COVID. And now we're trying to grow it beyond that. COVID was obviously a very devastating thing for our country and for our people, but there was a bit of a silver lining in that regard.

Keith Churchill: I’ll piggyback on the reality capture side. I think that the amount of information that we were forced to disseminate to people who were working offsite provided opportunity within the company to look at ways to evaluate information around the progress of our jobs and the performance of our people in a different lens. And the way that we process that, the way that we structure our data to leverage it for future applications, for new estimates, for new projects is something that we're seeing extreme value in as we approach clients and new markets. We believe that it's going to be significantly impactful for us to continue to gather the information in different ways. But I see the ability to process it, the ability to analyze, the ability to identify trends quicker and pivot on projects as things go right or go wrong to help us perform from a cost and schedule aspect of our project is going to continue to be driven by what was basically handed to us throughout COVID from a technology adoption perspective. But now that we have this data, how do we leverage it and how do we continue to analyze it in a way that provides actionable data for our projects?

Jennifer Suerth: We know our industry is a people business, but the pandemic really, really had us focus on our people coming first. Everyone started to appreciate and understand the family members and the people in their personal life and what matters. And so that needs to trickle into the business as well. Making sure we're retaining and attracting the right people. And if people are working inefficiently or traveling a lot, they're not necessarily going to be happy. We saw this increase of one, being focused on people, but two, this acceptance and accelerated awareness of people embracing and in fact demanding more technology now. Since even the last six months here, we've started enhancing and rolling out new platforms, maybe sunsetting old ones and focusing on how our people work. And then, while we typically do a lot of our work in the Midwest, we will travel outside the Midwest if it's the right partnership.

But in general, we're located in the Midwest, but we have design partners and clients that aren't located there. You can't be fully remote in the construction industry, but I think we've found a balance. With some of this progress monitoring, access to sites remotely and allowing ourselves and our partners to be more strategic about the travel and a shout-out to the Oracle Industry Lab. That was an example of a design team who wasn't local. And because of the pandemic, they came to the jobsite at the very end. That would have been way too late for us to have any surprises with punchlist items. We relied heavily on remote monitoring and progress tracking. And honestly, that's carried through on a lot of our projects. You see these big design firms that are like, wait a second, I'm doing work all over the world and I don't get to get to site enough. And now they're starting to realize there's ways to get there. The pandemic just helped us get there faster.

Jeff Yoders: The pandemic allowed the industry to look at a lot of processes that were justified by having a human sign off on things. One of the stories I did was on the way the concrete industry would send trucks and you had to measure the temperature and everything else. Now there are a lot of apps serving that process. And as Keith pointed out, we're not getting more people fast enough. The skilled labor shortage is a real thing. And so all of the technologies applied to automating processes that used to be paper-based, very people-based, those are here to stay. Those are things that quite frankly needed to be looked at and the pandemic forced our hand on them.

Looking forward: drone, robotics technology

Burcin Kaplanoglu: Now I'm going to pivot a little bit. How do you see the drone technology and robotics progressing in the next three, five, 10 years in our industry?

Keith Churchill: We've been leveraging drones for the last five, six, seven years. And to see the expansion of the use cases for drone technology has been fantastic. The drone capture technology has been paramount in our ability to develop more analysis tools that provide information around progress, around safety, around quality, and so on. I just see that continuing for the next decade in terms of how we capture data that can be used in multiple ways, and that's a beauty of visual data. From a robotics perspective, we're in a phase where we're still trying to find the right use cases. We're developing point solutions like we were with the apps at the beginning, as construction tech really ramped up. We're seeing a lot of value within those point solutions, but I think that there's going to be a point of inflection in the next five or 10 years where there's going to be an influx of collaborative robots that can do more than one application that we've got to plan differently.

We've got to design differently. There's going to be an overhaul in terms of how we approach projects where we intend to use robotics in the future. And they're going to have to be planned from the beginning to be leveraged and incorporated into the overall proposal and execution plans for the job. So I'm really excited to see where robotics head.

Jim Barrett: When we talk about robotics, I'm always reminded of that Bill Gates quote that we always overestimate what will happen in one year, but underestimate what is possible in 10 years. I think about drones, I think robotics, there's some maturation that has to happen. The technology is coming to fruition. For drones, that's a given, technology is there. Robotics is being developed, but we're seeing some impressive things happening. We talk a lot about purposeful innovation at Turner. Why are we doing this? What problem are we solving? There's so many solutions where I feel like they're looking for a problem.

And we're trying to figure that, but there's clearly something interesting there. I think about things like, again, we have labor shortages, the idea of pop-up factories. Where you have stationary robots that are doing some of the welding and fabrication, some of the automated workflows, there are opportunities there. Transportation and logistics. And we think about on a jobsite, people move things around a lot. Materials come to a loading dock, and they have to move around a building to get to the right spot. I can think about, and I've seen, and we're working with some interesting Japanese companies right now on some transportation robots that can move things automatically from one place to another at night.

"We are going to see more transformation in the industry in the next five years than we've seen in the last 50 years."

—Jim Barrett, Chief Innovation Officer, Turner Construction

I think the form factors we're seeing now are going to be radically different than the ones that we're going to see in five, 10 years. I think the possibilities are interesting. We have an inevitable trend, like we started this discussion around the loss of skilled labor. I think there's a role to play. Now's the time, truthfully if it's 10 years from now, now's the time to start exploring it. If you're waiting five years from now, you're going to be too late. I think the opportunities to explore are now.

Jennifer Suerth: We've come to a point right now where we've proven the use case. Let's look at drones, for example. Hardware pricing is coming down, we're seeing an expansion of different use cases. When you talk about drones, honestly, most of the time I'm not even talking about photos. For example, when we're flying our drones and using it to get an understanding of our cut-fill analysis of all the earthwork that's happening out on the jobsite, and then that's capturing some other items on the jobsite, we're now getting pressured to say, well, can we just fly the drone instead of scanning the outside of that building? It's so much faster and so understanding and saying, all right, what's the right tool for the right use case? But it is allowing us to challenge ourselves. And you look at drones now, there are drones with lighter scanners and the pricing's coming down and I think it'll continue to do so.

We're seeing an expansion of people having the ability to fly these drones and having more resources where a decade ago you might've seen just one drone pilot at a company. But switching to the robotics, so the concept has become a reality. I think we've seen some robots that have proven their use case. I 100% agree that when I'm starting to look at an ROI for robotics, I'm trying to understand, can it do more than one thing? And if it's out there, might as well have it also do this other item, as long as it doesn't disrupt the original purpose. I think we'll see it scale up. The other piece that hasn't been mentioned is when you think about robotics, people think it's taking away jobs while studies show that it creates more. But the other piece that we didn't talk about is, robotics includes exoskeletons augmenting our workers.

This is a very labor-intensive field. People aren't coming into the industry. We have field people that are getting injured or retiring way earlier than you would with a traditional office job. Leveraging exoskeletons and things like that to augment our workers so that they can go home safe and healthy and hopefully meet their retirement goals and those are things that we're starting to see where it's not necessarily a full replacement. Again, I would argue, you're never fully replacing that person, just doing something else of more value, but augmenting those workers to put less strain on them.

Jeff Yoders: The cycle that Jim initially talked about. When you look at drones, the economies of scale are there. We're past the Ford Model T stage to the Model A. They're already ubiquitous and out there in all the sites. Robotics, we're still in that Model T stage, but we've seen so many good point uses of robotic excavators on major solar projects, the semi-automated masons that repeat the task of building a wall. We've got the layout robots that do simple layout, freeing up a skilled laborer to do a more important job than spending a day just doing layouts. It's a good position to be in where we're at right now. I expect a ton more innovation and robotics to come in the next two years, where we're going to see a lot of those Model T points switch to the Model A and become mass market accepted.

Jennifer Suerth: We saw a shift of a lot more work happening upfront than downstream and we saw that value. With robotics, I think that's going to continue to expedite that because when you have a laborer in the field, and we'll use layout as an example, sometimes they're learning the job while they're out there laying out or they're figuring stuff out. And now with robotics, it's taking that and shifting it forward, which also lowers our risk, all those issues that could happen in the field. It's going to continue to amplify that and shift a lot more upfront work, but it'll have a way bigger return.

Jim Barrett: And if I get one observation, my personal opinion, we are going to see more transformation in the industry in the next five years than we've seen in the last 50 years. I think it's either an existential threat to some people who aren't getting that, or it's an opportunity. It depends on your framework, but I think we are going to see massive transformation in the industry.

Jennifer Suerth: I agree.

Jeff Yoders: Opportunity often looks like work, you know?

Burcin Kaplanoglu: I agree with all of you, drones are a lot more mature, right? You said it's past the Model T. And then robotics, same way, right? It's looking for problems to solve right now. But for drones, there is also a robotic component to it. So today the drone use that we discussed, which is a lot more mature, is human controlled. We are working with autonomous drones. And the benefits of that is also going to come to the market. In some ways, that automation and robotics, drones flying themselves, coming up with its own paths, figuring out how many images or videos it needs to take, and autonomously doing that mission, that's for data capture.

For safety incidents, you have these docked drones sitting on your sites and there's an incident, it can take off itself and provide live imagery to emergency services for the people who have to see this. Drones, in addition to other robotic solutions, are going to go through another evolution. We can't just look at what happens on a site. We have to look at how repetitive they are. I recently had a discussion with a BIM manager, and we were discussing what it takes for him to drive to a site and take images and use that. And we were discussing when the process is automated, what will it do? The next day, you don't have to drive to the site. You can automate that process. And you can use your time for valuable tasks. The data is captured.

Examining sustainability in 2023 and beyond

Burcin Kaplanoglu: The last question is about sustainability. All of you mentioned it, but I want to get deeper into it. How is the industry keeping up with the global push for greener technology and more sustainable practices? And where do you see this heading?

Keith Churchill: This is the area that I'm most excited about in the industry because I think that our industry is in a unique position to make a significant impact on our carbon footprint, on waste reduction. We build things and we impact our environment more than perhaps any other industry on earth. There's a lot of technology being developed. We have a long way to go. A lot of our companies have announced our carbon goals for 2050, 2040, 2030, whatever it is. We've got a long way to go to achieve some of the goals that we've put out there. There's some things that need to happen to expedite the process in terms of development, helping new technologies go through testing, and encourage our supply chain to adopt these greener technologies. And then even from a code standard, like from concrete or steel, how do we get these things adopted faster than we've seen in the past? How do we get the buy-in from those people sitting on the committees to approve these solutions, to be able to incorporate responsibly into our designs and ensure the quality of the sites that we're building over the course of the next 50 or 100 years?

Jim Barrett: Again, it is one of those things that you can look at as a constraint or opportunity. I think there's the requirement, the need, the necessity to move to net zero, or more sustainable practices require entirely new technologies that don't exist right now. That's a given. If we're going to achieve our goals, I know Turner, for instance, says by 2045, we're going to get to net zero in our entire supply chain. You have to invent entirely new solutions to solve these problems.

I don't look at it as a daunting thing as much as an opportunity. It's something that drives us. We're actively out talking to startups. We're partnering with organizations. We have a partnership with an organization in New York called The Clean Fight, which this year has a challenge to startups where they'll incubate, they'll fund them, and the goal is to look at electricity storage solutions. We want to electrify our jobsites. It's partnering with organizations that are going to help you achieve these very ambitious, but necessary goals. I love that pressure of necessity. It drives you to innovate. That's what's interesting around this push for greener technologies. And that's why it's an exciting opportunity.

Jennifer Suerth: I love change, but a lot of people don’t. Our industry, especially, until we're forced into something, we don't necessarily change. And we're seeing this recognition across the industry that my peers here have already mentioned, where we're realizing that we have to start making differences. The ESG that was mentioned, like I know our company, for example, is taking a deep dive from the corporate level all the way down to the supply chain on ways we can improve. But we also need to practice what we preach. I'll give you an example where we bought a new building in Cincinnati, we're renovating it, we're going to be moving our office. Our plan is for that to be net zero. And through that, we're trying to figure out where are the opportunities that we can start educating our clients. A lot of our clients are also pressuring GCs to start thinking about net zero. When you look at companies like myself and Turner and Bechtel and all the ones on this call, we're already thinking about this and planning for it.

"The conversations around sustainability are looking different. It's not just about getting an RFP in the door and answering the questions. It's conversations that we're leading, we're looking at as an opportunity."

—Jennifer Suerth, Vice President, Pepper Construction

The conversations around sustainability are looking different. It's not just about getting an RFP in the door and answering the questions. Now, when you look at sustainability and some of the greener technologies, it's conversations that we're leading, we're looking at as an opportunity. And another quick example is, we started talking years ago about, not just looking at first costs, but looking at performance costs on our project. Now we've pivoted to, yes, we're talking about all of that, but now we're talking about, what are the carbon savings? And like, are we tracking carbon as well on our projects and making that part of what we do on our projects? Not every client is building new buildings. Some are wanting to retrofit and talking about sensors and ways that we can improve. And you can't improve what you don't measure. If we want to hit things like net zero, we need to understand where we're starting, and then make sure that we're not just checking the box and saying we did something but making sure that holding us all accountable and saying, we're going to continue to monitor this and make sure that our plan was executed and works. And we really do have a net zero facility.

Jeff Yoders: Jen hit on a very important thing there. The conversation about measurement has gone to, what can we do with the measurement when it comes to ESG? I wrote a feature with the great Nadine Post, ENR buildings editor, about concrete and how that major material, the process to create it really hasn't changed much in the last 50 years. And there are now experiments in the concrete sector to reduce the amount of clinker or clean the process of creating clinker in concrete alone. And that is a fundamentally different approach than just measuring the amount of concrete, which was what it was before. Steel is still a process that creates a blast furnace to create beams and things.

But there are now a number of less carbon-intensive steel products that are made in electric arc furnaces, that there are several of them in the market. Engineers and architects can have two competitors to send in specifications for a building. There are things that are happening that go beyond just measurement. That's the most exciting thing right now is the construction industry by being the largest consumer has pressured its suppliers to take a more holistic look at the products we create and the infrastructure and buildings we create.

Burcin Kaplanoglu: I want to thank all of you for joining today, but end this on a point that is related to sustainability and leave everyone with this thought. You all mentioned the importance of design. We all talked about construction and operations. One other topic I want to mention is what happens after that? What happens during decommissioning? What happens when the building or the structure that we built is at the tail end? We see this with a lot in technologies and a good example is electric vehicles. There's a lot of research done on sustainable batteries and then you use them for 10 years or so and the question is what happens at the end.

It's very similar concept. It's one thing to look at the design, the construction and what happens at the end. We built a new lab in London. It is focused on transportation and when we did it, in terms of design itself, we picked some design elements that is sustainable. In terms of construction, from the materials we use, from the lighting to solar panels, the site is LEED-certified, LEED-build certified. Our goal is to measure the energy that the lab uses and match it with the energy that's produced with the solar panels to get as close as we can to be self-sustainable. But we also have tried something new. The lab that's built in London can break apart and be shipped to another location.

We designed it in a way that those two structures could be broken into three pieces that we can put on the back of a truck and ship it somewhere. We already made plans of how to repurpose some of those structures that we're going to use.

I want to leave everyone with that thought. I think we also must start looking at, in terms of sustainability, what happens at the end of the life, not just demolition and breaking things down

As access to advanced technology becomes even more ubiquitous—as every facet of life becomes data that we can analyze—we will start to see a torrent of innovation, and this will proliferate in 2023. at the end. I want to thank Jeff, Keith, Jen, and Jim. It's been a great conversation. We will come back early next year with other discussions.


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