While there are many negatives associated with the recession, there can be ample opportunity as well. Opportunity obviously comes from stimulus spending and the myriad of projects that it generates, but it can also come in ways that perhaps have a greater long-term affect on our industry and how it is served in the future. This opportunity comes by way of training and education and the development of new techniques, means, methods, and technologies to further efficiency, safety, and project costs. When you think about it, the AEC industry has plodded along pretty much unchanged for the past few generations—although there have been leaps in areas like the use of CADD. In general, however, the way we design and build has seen little change.

The current recession should be a time to get things right; expand on recent technologies such as BIM/VDC, prefabrication, sustainability, and training our industry’s resources so when we advance beyond the current economic conditions, we are stronger, leaner, and far more efficient. Designing and building more efficient models of care will not disappear, rather only have more stringent requirements placed on us all—and rightfully so. We will be asked for new and more efficient ways of spending a dollar. The old question of “What do I get for my investment?” is taking on a whole new level of meaning.

By closely developing the AEC’s use of technology (BIM/VDC, Lean principles, sustainability, and prefabrication), we should be able to design and construct far more efficient structures that are, in themselves, smart and able to morph with needs. Efficiencies need to be looked at from the smallest of tasks like how many times an electrician goes up and down a ladder to install a single device. These issues have real consequences on time, money, and quality that will help drive the industry in new directions. Those that take the time and make the investment to understand this will come out stronger and better able to respond to the changing needs of the industry we are a part of