What’s New in the Construction Management Industry
Growing global populations and the increasing popularity of sustainable construction, renewable materials, and “green” building are changing the construction industry for the better. A student in a construction management program today should focus on building their core skills while looking towards the future for potential market shifts.
What to Look Forward to in Construction Management
As technology becomes more advanced and building materials grow scarcer, certain realities will be forced upon the construction industry. Recycled building materials will become the rule instead of the exception, and processes that were once done manually or on paper will be computerized and possibly even automated altogether. Here are some important innovations to be familiar with as a student or construction manager, especially for those interested in becoming entrepreneurs or freelance workers.
- Renewable Energy: Growing in popularity for industrial, business, and residential, are the usage of solar and wind power. As a construction manager, it will help to know about the various options for renewable energy sources.
- Recycled Materials: The recycled building materials industry is steadily growing. One way this is implemented in construction is by taking down old buildings brick by brick so that the blocks can be reused to fabricate new materials out of sawdust and polymers. Construction managers who can develop relationships with reliable “green” vendors, will be sought out as more consumers demand houses made from eco-friendly and sustainable materials.
- Grey Water Systems: Built in water recycling systems are not mainstream yet, but as sustainability efforts gain momentum they will become more popular. Water that goes down the sink or shower drain can then be used to flush the toilets. This allows for water to be re-purposed before being sent to a treatment plant. This is low hanging fruit as far as efficiency is concerned, and more businesses and residences will use it as time goes on.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a building certification standard designed by the U.S. Green Building Council. There are several levels of LEED certification that can be awarded to buildings that use recycled, non-toxic materials, and are built to minimize energy consumption. Silver, gold, and platinum LEED certificates are bestowed upon buildings that use nearly all sustainable materials, but other factors are also considered in the certification process. Construction managers who know the LEED standards can build structures that fit them while also satisfying the customer, and will be well positioned to get better contracts in the future.
Getting LEED certified means more than building an eco-friendly structure. Factors outside the construction process also influence how “green” a building can be. LEED credits are awarded to structures that are easily accessed by public transportation routes, cyclists, and people on foot. Energy metering and regulation is also a major component of earning LEED points. This is done through monitoring the energy use of each room, or even each power outlet and appliance in a building. The U.S. Green Building Council takes the whole picture of ecological consciousness into account when rating a building.
The LEED rating system has been gaining popularity for the past decade. If it keeps picking up steam, construction managers and workers, interior architects, designers, and all those involved in the building of residences and infrastructures, will need to learn a whole new set of rules for their careers.
Organizational Tech for Construction Managers
Even the most analog careers are being transformed by software. Construction managers can make their jobs easier by utilizing a wide array of software that is available for project management, client relationship management, cost/time-frame estimation, and other functions necessary for transforming a construction project from idea to completion.
One especially complex issue in the construction industry that has been made substantially easier by software is project management. There may be dozens to hundreds of employees on any given project, each with a variety of tasks and deadlines. Keeping a central database of this information up-to-date is difficult, but is becoming less so as more sophisticated project management software is developed. Here are two project management programs that construction managers should consider becoming familiar with.
- Prolog: This is a feature-rich program that lets construction managers automate tasks, track budget, store important documents and scanned paperwork, and manage multiple construction projects through the same user-interface.
- Procore: This program has similar features to Prolog, as well as both iPhone and Android apps. Procore can be useful even before a project begins, with its bid-tracking functionality that helps people remember which projects they have bid on and which contracts that have already been secured.
Choosing between Prolog and Procore and the bevy of other construction project management software out there will largely be a matter of preference. Most of the programs available offer similar functionality, though pricing may vary, and the look and feel of the application on your computer or mobile device is different for each program.
Online Education for Construction Managers
The same advances that have revolutionized project planning and the entire construction industry, have also changed the way that people enter the industry. Degrees in construction science and construction management are increasingly common, and can even be earned partly or completely online. With such a hands-on subject as construction, it would be difficult to convey all the necessary information electronically, so any student in this field should look for internships or volunteer opportunities to get practical experience. However, the tools used in online education are improving. Below are a few of the ways online colleges provide education and support to their students.
- Online Webcast Class Sessions: Depending on the course, these may be live sessions where the professor and all the students log on at the same time and interact in real time in a video-chat setting. These can also be pre-recorded lectures made by the professor.
- Document Banks: All course materials should be downloadable so that you can refer to assigned readings and past exams any time. Having a permanent record of all completed school work and the books, essays, and other class materials learned from, is a great resource offered by online colleges.
- Web-Based Exams: One of the most convenient parts of online education is that the majority of the work can be electronically graded, making a student’s score available much more quickly than if a professor had to manually score it.
An online education is a wonderful option for many students. In addition to that, the best workers in any industry are the autodidacts; people who teach themselves new skills regularly, and who vacuum up new knowledge like their job depends on it, which it very well might. The capability to self-teach and learn on the job will be increasingly important in this competitive job space. The graph below illustrates the rate of increase in employment for construction managers versus overall employment and management-level employment in assorted industries.
Staying on Top of New Technologies and Trends
With the rapid pace of innovation at every level of the construction industry, from recycled, super-lightweight, and energy consuming materials, to the software that is used to design buildings and manage construction projects, it can be hard to stay updated. There are trade organizations for professional construction managers that provide educational resources and even continuing education courses or recommendations. Membership in these organizations can provide the opportunity to build professional contacts, and stay current with the advances of the industry.
Even if you don’t want to pay for membership, regular visits to the websites of the National Association of Homebuilders and the American Society of Civil Engineers, along with other similar sites, can help readers keep abreast of what’s happening in the world of professional building.
Why Even Get the Degree?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics endorses pursuing higher education in construction management due to its increasing difficulty. It is also important for students to develop a well-rounded education applicable to the construction industry. This can mean obtaining degrees in addition to construction management in areas such as architecture or landscaping. Interested students can check out the links available to learn more about the fast-paced field of construction management.
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