1. Trends That Will Transform the Construction Industry Outlook in 2020

    The overall construction industry outlook for 2020 varies by country and region. For example, GlobalData expects a 3.2% growth for the sector worldwide in 2020. That’s the slowest growth in a decade, but the industry is not sluggish everywhere. Although the Middle East is in a downturn, Chinese officials are stepping up infrastructure investments to prevent similar conditions in that market.

    Concerning broader construction industry trends, 2020 is set to be a year that shows some common themes becoming more evident globally. Here are nine to watch, all of which will likely influence the construction industry as a whole as well as its employees.

    1. Modular Construction

    Some estimates indicate that the modular construction market worth will climb as high as $157 billion by 2023, but this trend is already displaying staying power. It involves constructing the modules of a building off-site, then transporting them to the destination for assembly. This method often cuts costs and shortens the construction timeline.

    Marriott plans to open the world’s tallest modular hotel in late 2020. It will feature 26 stories and be built in only 90 days. Projects that include modular construction allow developers to finish faster than before, which could pay off during boom periods or when industry demands change quickly.

    2. 3D Printing

    3D printing constructs items layer by layer and typically much faster and cheaper than conventional methods. The construction industry has shown substantial interest in 3D printing, and people working in it are likely to continue seeing what’s possible in 2020.

    One recent proposal was for a 3D printed “pavilion” inside a roundabout to greet guests that attend Dubai’s 2020 Expo. But 3D printing in construction should result in much more than the creation of pieces meant to impress. In Mexico, construction is underway on 50 3D-printed homes. A specialized printer can create each abode in about a day.

    Much discussion about 3D printing in construction centers on whether the technology might be a realistic way to address the housing crisis. The method is particularly intriguing considering the labor and time reductions it brings. In 2018, a four-person team associated with the Marines used 3D printing to make a concrete barracks building in only 40 hours. Traditional methods usually require 10 people working for five days to build the structure out of wood.

    Due to examples like these and others, 3D printing should continue to revamp the construction sector in 2020 and beyond.

    3. Sustainability Innovations

    Requests from construction clients often include sustainability specifications, especially if customers want to receive eco-friendly designations or tax credits. The sustainable trend in construction shows no signs of slowing this year. Plus, new developments give people even more options for planet-friendly structures.

    Researchers at Heriot-Watt University recently went on a BBC program to show off a new kind of brick. It’s called the K-Briq, and the pioneering product produces only one-tenth of the CO2 emissions associated with conventional bricks. Although it weighs, looks and functions the same way a traditional brick does, the K-Briq’s composition is from 90% recycled construction site and demolition waste materials.

    Construction industry professionals are also excited about the potential of mass timber for sustainable construction. That material naturally captures carbon, which stays trapped inside the wood until the building degrades or gets destroyed. Sustainable construction industry trends in 2020 should remain hot topics, especially as people become more concerned about climate change and how to mitigate it.

    4. Exoskeletons

    Construction work can be grueling on the body, especially since it requires people to stand and perform strenuous physical activities for the majority of their workdays. These aspects of the career have encouraged companies to investigate using exoskeletons for their workers.

    Some construction employees use power gloves to improve grip strength and dexterity when they perform tasks like drilling. However, most exoskeletons are more extensive and appear as full-body suits. One industrial-use exoskeleton offers a strength amplification of 20 to 1, which means hefting 200 pounds feels like lifting only 10 to a suit’s wearer.

    Some Japanese workers wear exoskeletons to continue working past retirement age. That said, with the intensive work demanded by the construction sector, it’s easy to see how the exoskeletons could be useful at any age, particularly for reducing strain-related injuries.

    5. Robotics

    Robots are making impacts in industries ranging from agriculture to medicine. These high-tech machines have, not surprisingly, upended the construction sector too. Some models let workers perform layout tasks at sites more efficiently than traditional mechanical systems allow, for example.

    Potential also exists for the construction industry to get acquainted with collaborative robots — also called cobots. Cobots represent one of the most substantial recent robotics advances for many reasons, including their plug-and-play setup and the fact that they’re mobile instead of fixed.

    Robots could help construction projects stay on schedule and get finished under budget. However, interested companies must investigate which machines make the most sense for helping with time-consuming or labor-intensive tasks.

    6. Construction Companies Hiring More Workers

    Despite the slow growth anticipated for this year, a recent study from the Associated General Contractors of America and Sage Construction and Real Estate showed that construction companies intend to expand their workforces in 2020. The research indicated that 75% of firms would increase their head counts in 2020.

    However, nearly a quarter of respondents (22%) expected hiring challenges when attempting to fill vacant positions. They reported that sourcing workers for salaried and hourly craft positions is exceptionally difficult. These obstacles are likely some of the reasons that robotics, 3D printing and modular construction are becoming more widely used in construction.

    7. Increased Interest in Used and Rented Equipment

    Construction firms will continue to consider renting equipment or buying used merchandise instead of buying things new. Those choices are construction industry trends for 2020 because both of them allow companies to keep pace with technological advancements at lower price points.

    Rented equipment, in particular, enables construction businesses to see if different machines deliver the expected payoffs. If they do, representatives can make decisions later about whether to purchase them. Similarly, used equipment is often made available with the latest software updates and kept in good condition, making the not-quite-new options appealing to firms that want to stay competitive while saving money.

    8. Redesigned Protective Equipment for Women

    Personal protective equipment (PPE) such as safety vests were, until recently, primarily made for men’s bodies. That meant women had no choice but to wear uncomfortable gear that often presented safety hazards because it was so loose.

    In the United Kingdom, a brand called Multiplex recently began offering a dual-tone women’s waistcoat for construction workers in supervisory roles. It was not previously available in a version sized for females. Similarly, Skanska toured multiple worksites to get feedback on several vests made for female bodies. After committing to creating new garments for females, it now has customized attire.

    Construction professionals should expect continued progress in this area moving forward. There’s a continued emphasis on diversity in today’s society, and although women are minorities in the construction industry, they are valuable contributors and need protective equipment that keeps them safe and is suitable for the work they do.

    9. Technology That Keeps Project Costs Down

    Although a wide variety of issues and inefficiencies can make projects cost too much, industry experts have weighed in to say that technology could reduce those budgetary excesses. For example, drones can capture high-resolution photos of a site faster than other methods, and virtual reality can let clients see what new additions would look like before construction professionals start working on them.

    Construction firms will continue to choose technology to support their labor needs, save time and improve processes. However, while looking for options that accomplish those goals, many will also want assurance that the investments will have positive effects on project costs.

    Construction Industry Trends in 2020 Will Have Lasting Impacts

    This list gives a glimpse of some aspects of the construction sector that will shape the remainder. As the topics covered here gain more attention, people should anticipate that many of them will forever change how construction brands keep clients happy and run their operations.

  2. Exoskeletons for Bricklayers

    Exoskeletons for Bricklayers: Science Fiction is Now Reality

    Words: Corinne Dutil
    Photos: MASONRY Magazine

    When we think of exoskeletons, the image of Iron Man might be the first thing that comes to mind…of course, who wouldn’t want to try out a suit like that! But the exoskeleton for the masonry industry, which we will be sharing with you today, didn’t come out of a movie script. It came from the collaboration between an innovative company, Mawashi Science & Technology, and a visionary entrepreneur and bricklayer, Mr. Armand Rainville, who wanted to better the lives of the men & women working in that trade.

    Armand Rainville knows everything about bricklaying. He has done it, he has run teams who did it, he bought a company that manufactures tools to help people do it, and now, 28 years later, Fraco Products is a leader in the mast climbers and hoist industry. His daughters, Emmanuelle & Julie, are now the co-presidents of Fraco, but Armand is still there, supporting them and staying one step ahead of competition, with innovation on his mind.

    One day Armand had an idea, “What about a suit that could help bricklayers stay healthy, avoid injury, help more women join the trade and keep the aging workforce laying bricks longer?” He knew exactly where to go to transform into reality, his vision of a suit, made specifically for the masonry industry. He got in his car and drove about 20 miles, to Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, to meet with the team at Mawashi who had already developed a suitable solution for his vision; a passive load-bearing exoskeleton.

    Mawashi Science & Technology is a Canadian leading-edge defense innovation company that develops game-changing human augmentation systems, exoskeleton technologies and wearables. With a unique combined expertise in human factors engineering, biomimicry, new product development, multi-physics engineering, industrial design and system integration, Mawashi assures to its clients a technological advancement, a competitive advantage, and superiority in the industry.

    They understand the operational needs of war fighters and Armed Forces in terms of protection and survivability, mobility and flexibility, load carriage and distribution, as well as heat evacuation and management. Armand asked them to do all that, but instead of a soldier, it was going to be for a bricklayer. So how does a company that makes exoskeletons for the army, go about switching it up for the needs of a bricklayer? Mr. Jean-Marc Sheitoyan, Chief Strategy Officer at Mawashi, explains it like this:

    “In order to adapt our tactical passive exoskeleton for the needs of the masonry industry, we started by looking at the various tasks performed by bricklayers in collaboration with the team at Fraco. This study outlined the need for an upper limb exoskeleton structure to support the weight of heavy bricks and masonry tools during repetitive movements. We then imagined an ergonomic low-profile and body-molded aluminum structure, comprising mechanical joints aligned with the elbow and shoulder articulations, to ensure compatibility with human biomechanics and maximize the ease and range of motion of the upper limbs.”

    Five months later, we have the Fraco Exoskeleton by Mawashi! Created specifically for bricklayers, this hybrid system combines passive and quasi-passive actuation to support and assist the worker in lifting and placing masonry blocks as well as manipulation of masonry tools. It does not restrict the mason’s ease and range of motion when using the trowel to apply mortar and it reduces muscle fatigue during various tasks involving the bricklayers’ upper limbs.

    The exoskeleton’s quasi-passive joint locking mechanism is positioned directly at the arm’s articulations, which can support up to 15 lbs. per arm when the arm is outstretched, and 26 lbs. per arm when the arm is in a 90-degree angle. It is very low in energy consumption and the battery can last several days for standard masonry tasks. The passive lifting assistance mechanism consists of an elastic system coupled with an optimized spring-cam mechanism that can lift up to 10.5 lbs. per arm.

    The project will be carried out in 3 phases: the initial prototype, the final prototype, and the finished product ready for distribution.

    Fraco brought the initial prototype to the World of Concrete in February 2020, where crowds gathered at their booth every hour to see what most called, “the coolest innovation at the show”. The next phase involves fine-tuning the exoskeleton, and incorporating things like a safety harness, to make it even better for masonry workers.

    At the time of this writing we are in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, so the project might be delayed, but we are aiming to complete the finished product so that it could be ready for distribution by summer 2021. Only the upper part will be marketed, but eventually, if the demand is there, a full-body exoskeleton could be made available.

    If you are a bricklayer, you are either ready to buy yours, or you are thinking this is too good to be true…but it’s real! It is not action movie stuff! Fraco believes that this is the tool of the future for bricklayers. The weight of the upper limb system will be between 8 and 12 lbs. depending on the selection options. Once the exoskeleton has been adjusted to the right size, and the user is acclimatized to the system, it will take about 60 to 90 seconds to suit up.

    Will it make you win speed contests? No. But what it will do is take off the load of the bricks that weighs down your body every day, and allow you to have the same endurance at 4 PM as you do at 8 AM. It will also level the playing field for the workforce in masonry. Women who want to join the industry will be able to have more endurance, and the same thing goes for older bricklayers who have slowed down physically, because of endurance, age, or injury.

    Technology can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. When combined with the skills and brains of experienced tradesmen and women, technology becomes a lever, an added tool to help the industry and the well-being of the worker. There are many different tools to help bricklayers, but this one is the only tool that can greatly reduce the impact of bricklaying on the body of the worker.

    At Fraco, they believe the most important asset of any company or industry is the people, their health and well-being. A tool like the exoskeleton can help the physical health, but also the mental health. It can keep people whose bodies are forcing them to step down working. It can help with the lack of labor, by bringing more women to the industry. It can’t hurt anyone—it can only improve productivity, safety and well-being.

    To follow the exoskeleton progress closely, feel free to like the Fraco LinkedIn page to get all the updates.

    So, what do you think? Is this too good to be true, or are you ready to order yours?


    Keeping Construction Workers Safe During the COVID-19 Pandemic

    Every construction project is different and unique, and what is feasible and appropriate for any one
    project will depend on its unique characteristics. That said, the prevention tips that construction
    contractors may want to implement, include the following:

    • Any employee/contractor/visitor showing symptoms of COVID-19 will be asked to leave
    the jobsite and return home.
    • Safety meetings will be by telephone, if possible. If safety meetings are conducted in-person,
    attendance will be collected verbally and the foreman/superintendent will sign-in each
    attendee. Attendance will not be tracked through passed-around sign-in sheets or mobile
    devices. During any in-person safety meetings, avoid gathering in groups of more than 10
    people and participants must remain at least six (6) feet apart.
    • Employees must avoid physical contact with others and shall direct others
    (employees/contractors/visitors) to increase personal space to at least six (6) feet, where
    possible. Where work trailers are used, only necessary employees should enter the trailers
    and all employees should maintain social distancing while inside the trailers.
    • All in-person meetings will be limited. To the extent possible, meetings will be conducted by
    • Employees will be encouraged to stagger breaks and lunches, if practicable, to reduce the
    size of any group at any one time to less than ten (10) people.
    • The Company understands that due to the nature of its work, access to running water for
    hand washing may be impracticable. In these situations, the Company will provide, if
    available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers and/or wipes.
    • Employees should limit the use of co-workers’ tools and equipment. To the extent tools
    must be shared, the Company will provide alcohol-based wipes to clean tools before and
    after use. When cleaning tools and equipment, consult manufacturing recommendations for
    proper cleaning techniques and restrictions.
    • Employees are encouraged to limit the need for N95 respirator use, by using engineering and
    work practice controls to minimize dust. Such controls include the use of water delivery and
    dust collection systems, as well as limiting exposure time.
    • The Company will divide crews/staff into two (2) groups where possible so that projects can
    continue working effectively in the event that one of the divided teams is required to
    • As part of the division of crews/staff, the Company will divide employees into dedicated
    shifts, at which point employees will remain with their dedicated shifts for the reminder of
    the project. If there is a legitimate reason for an employee to change shifts, the Company
    will have sole discretion in making that alteration.

    • Employees are encouraged to minimize ride-sharing. While in vehicles, employees must
    ensure adequate ventilation.
    • If practicable, each employee should use/drive the same truck or piece of equipment every
    • In lieu of using a common source of drinking water, such as a cooler, employees should use
    individual water bottles.
    Workers entering Occupied Building and Homes
    • Construction and maintenance activities within occupied homes, office buildings, and other
    establishments, present unique hazards with regards to COVID-19 exposures. Everyone
    working within such establishments should evaluate the specific hazards when determining
    best practices related to COVID-19.
    • During this work, employees must sanitize the work areas upon arrival, throughout the
    workday, and immediately before departure. The Company will provide alcohol-based wipes
    for this purpose.
    • Employees should ask other occupants to keep a personal distance of six (6) feet at a
    minimum. Workers should wash or sanitize hands immediately before starting and after
    completing the work.
    Job Site Visitors
    • The number of visitors to the job site, including the trailer or office, will be limited to only
    those necessary for the work.
    • All visitors will be screened in advance of arriving on the job site. If the visitor answers
    “yes” to any of the following questions, he/she should not be permitted to access the
    o Have you been confirmed positive for COVID-19?
    o Are you currently experiencing, or recently experienced, any acute respiratory illness
    symptoms such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath?
    o Have you been in close contact with any persons who has been confirmed positive
    for COVID-19?
    o Have you been in close contact with any persons who have traveled and are also
    exhibiting acute respiratory illness symptoms?
    • Site deliveries will be permitted but should be properly coordinated in line with the
    employer’s minimal contact and cleaning protocols. Delivery personnel should remain in
    their vehicles if at all possible.
    Keeping Construction Workers Safe During the COVID-19 Pandemic
    Page 3 of 3
    Personal Protective Equipment and Work Practice Controls
    • In addition to regular PPE for workers engaged in various tasks (fall protection, hard hats,
    hearing protection), the Company will also provide:
    o Gloves: Gloves should be worn at all times while on-site. The type of glove worn
    should be appropriate to the task. If gloves are not typically required for the task,
    then any type of glove is acceptable, including latex gloves. Employees should avoid
    sharing gloves.
    o Eye protection: Eye protection should be worn at all times while on-site.
    o NOTE: The CDC is currently not recommending that healthy people wear N95
    respirators to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Nevertheless, employees should
    wear N95 respirators if required by the work and if available.
    • Due to the current shortage of N95 respirators, the following Work Practice Controls
    should be followed:
    o Keep dust down by using engineering and work practice controls, specifically
    through the use of water delivery and dust collection systems.
    o Limit exposure time to the extent practicable.
    o Isolate workers in dusty operations by using a containment structure or distance to
    limit dust exposure to those employees who are conducting the tasks, thereby
    protecting nonessential workers and bystanders.
    • Institute a rigorous housekeeping program to reduce dust levels on the jobsite

  4. Social Distancing on Jobsites

    Gilbane Looks to Social Distancing on Jobsites and Finding the New Normal

    Working during a pandemic prompts new approaches

    The Proximity Trace wearable tag from Triax Technologies is custom-designed to promote social distancing and provide contact-tracing information for jobsites operating during the pandemic.

    Image Courtesy of Triax Technologies

    April 22, 2020

    [For ENR’s latest coverage of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, click here]

    “We’ve got it deployed on one job already, and it’s going to be beneficial for projects that are starting back up,” he says. “Right now it’s one more tool in the tool chest.”

    The Proximity Trace wearable tag made by Triax Technologies is a variation on the company’s Spot-r safety monitoring tag that had already been used on an ad-hoc basis for monitoring monitoring social distancing on jobsites. But Pelkey wanted something more purpose-built to deal with operating jobsites under the threat of COVID-19.

    “I reached out to them and I found that they were on the same page I was,” says Pelkey. “I think there’s a use case for IoT to work for social distancing, since it’s all about knowing where people are.”

    Triax Technologies existing Spot-r tag can detect when workers experience a sudden fall and also locate them on a jobsite within predefined zones. For the new social-distancing tag, the Proximity Trace fits onto a standard hardhat with a 3D-printed mounting clip, and unlike the Spot-r does not need mesh network base stations set up at the site. The tag beeps when it detects another tag nearby, and internally logs all other tags it encounters, reporting them to a web-based portal when it syncs with a unit at the site’s entrance gate. The audible alarm can be deactivated for a preset period with a button press for specific tasks that require multiple workers to be close together. Developed and manufactured in less than a month in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Triax has already begun shipping the tags out to customers.

    “It has some of the same internal components but it’s an entirely new product,” says Robert Costantini, CEO of Triax Technologies. “No location data is being collected, what it collects is interactions. We’re looking to balance the privacy needs of workers while helping them get back to work.”

    Pelkey has already deployed the Proximity Trace on a hospital jobsite in New Jersey that was deemed to be essential construction. “That job currently has 120 people working on it, which is a fraction of the size it was prior to this,” he says. Pelkey plans to roll them out to other Gilbane sites across the country. “We have six other jobs already in queue to deploy these on, we think it will help them with their crews,” he says.

    In addition to reminding the wearers that they may be standing too close, the tags also provide invaluable data for contact tracing if someone on the jobsite tests positive for COVID-19. “The contact tracing is an important aspect for us: the faster you can track, the better. It provides us with that information much faster than checking daily work logs and making educated guesses,” says Pelkey.

    Finding the New Normal

    But a few beeping tags alone won’t solve the broader problem of running construction sites while an infectious disease is running rampant. Pelkey says it will take more than a few clever technology products to stay ahead of the COVID-19 virus. “The stuff we’re doing now—temperature checks for workers, smaller crew sizes, distributing work through multiple shifts, separating out the work schedule—those are all going to become normal things now.”

    Pelkey says Gilbane is considering how they can adjust their scheduling going forward to avoid having very large crew sizes all packed into the same area. “Owners are asking us, subcontractors are asking us, ‘what are you going to do to keep the jobsite safe?’”

    It won’t just be a matter of dictating new approaches, but uprooting a lot of current jobsite culture, he adds. “Our safety team is spending a lot of time doing that, breaking bad habits and trying to change the culture,” he says. “They have to explain to people that the way you were working before was fine, but now it all has to happen 6 ft apart.”

    Pelkey hopes other construction technology makers will step up with new ideas, but he stresses that general contractors and other project stakeholders need to step up and re-evaluate their own practices. “Things like how do we better structure work packets, crew assignments, and scheduling—we don’t have a ready-made solution for that,” he says.

    Scheduling software can help with that workload, but having to redo everything to meet social distancing often falls to some low-tech solutions. “I’ve pushed a few [software] vendors on this but no takers so far. The way these new [crew assignments] are managed today require a superintendent to sit down and say ‘OK this crew is here’ with a greaseboard,” says Pelkey.

    Going forward, Pelkey says the industry is going to have to distinguish between the sort of short-term triage being done to work through projects already underway and the new business practices that may be needed for projects yet to start. “For the jobs already going because they are essential jobs, the teams there are down in the trenches and don’t have time to thing about these big ideas. What we need to do is start thinking about what we are going to do in the future.

    Recent Articles By Jeff Rubenstone

  5. How Fungi can help create a green construction industry

    How fungi can help create a green construction industry

    Ian Fletcher, Senior Lecturer in Architecture, Leeds Beckett University
    The Conversation
    Hy-Fi, The Living, MoMA. Jessica Sheridan/FlickrCC BY-SA

    The world of fungi has attracted a lot of interest and seems to be becoming very fashionable of late. A new exhibition at Somerset House in London, for example, is dedicated to “the remarkable mushroom”. No surprise: we’re being promised that mushrooms may be the key to a sustainable future in fields as diverse as fashiontoxic spill clean ups, mental health and construction. It’s in this last field that my own interests lie.

    Climate change is the fundamental design problem of our time: buildings are hugely complicit in the crisis. Together, buildings and construction contribute 39% of the world’s carbon footprint. Energy used to heat, cool and light buildings accounts for 28% of these emissions: households are the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases since 2015, accounting for a quarter of total UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2017.

    The remaining 11% of buildings’ carbon emissions consists of those associated with construction and building materials. The UK construction industry, for example, uses around 400 million tonnes of materials each year and approximately 100 million tonnes become waste. Cement alone is responsible for a whopping 8% of global CO₂ emissions. Compare this to the much maligned global aviation industry, which emits 2% of all human-induced CO₂ emissions. Buildings and, by association, the construction industry, are profoundly responsible for climate change.

    <span class="caption">Cement – the key ingredient of concrete – is responsible for an astonishing 8% of all carbon emissions.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Ricardo Gomez Angel/Unsplash">Ricardo Gomez Angel/Unsplash</a>, <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:FAL">FAL</a></span>
    Cement – the key ingredient of concrete – is responsible for an astonishing 8% of all carbon emissions. Ricardo Gomez Angel/UnsplashFAL

    There is evidently a real need for the construction industry to reduce the impact of its material and energy use and to take part in the transition towards a more sustainable economy by researching and using alternative materials. This is not an absurd ask: such materials already exist.

    Mushroom materials

    And yes, one such material happens to be derived from fungi: mycelium composites. This material is created by growing mycelium – the thread-like main body of a fungus – of certain mushroom-producing fungi on agricultural wastes.

    Mycelium are mainly composed of a web of filaments called “hyphae”, which acts as a natural binder, growing to form huge networks called “mycelia”. These grow by digesting nutrients from agricultural waste while bonding to the surface of the waste material, acting as a natural self-assembling glue. The entire process uses biological growth rather than expensive, energy intensive manufacturing processes.

    <span class="caption">Close-up image of mycelium showing interwoven fine hyphae.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">© Ian Fletcher</span></span>
    Close-up image of mycelium showing interwoven fine hyphae. © Ian Fletcher

    Mycelium materials offer an exciting opportunity to upcycle agricultural waste into a low-cost, sustainable and biodegradable material alternative. This could potentially reduce the use of fossil fuel dependant materials. The materials are low-density, making them very light compared to other materials used in construction. They also have excellent thermal and fire resistant properties.

    Fungal architecture

    To date, mycelium materials have been used in a number of inventive ways in building projects. One particular company of note is The Living, a New York based architectural firm which designed an organic mycelium tower known as “Hy-Fi” in the courtyard of MoMA’s PS1 space in midtown Manhattan. Designed as part of MoMA’s Young Architects Program, the structure illustrates the potential of this biodegradable material, in this case made from farm waste and cultured fungus grown in brick-shaped moulds.

    <span class="caption">Mae Ling Lokko, Mushroom Panels and Pentagram interactive work. Part of Somerset House exhibition: Mushrooms The Art Design and Future of Fungi.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">© Mark Blower</span></span>
    Mae Ling Lokko, Mushroom Panels and Pentagram interactive work. Part of Somerset House exhibition: Mushrooms The Art Design and Future of Fungi. © Mark Blower

    Another project of note is MycoTree, a spatial branching structure made out of load-bearing mycelium components. This research project was constructed as the centrepiece for the “Beyond Mining – Urban Growth” exhibition at the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism 2017 in Seoul, Korea. The project illustrates a provocative vision of how building materials made from mycelium can achieve structural stability. This opens up the possibility of using the material structurally and safely within the construction industry.

    Mycelium materials have also been analysed for uses ranging from acoustic absorbers, formed packaging materials and building insulation. And NASA is currently researching using mycelium to build habitable dwellings on Mars.

    Recycled buildings

    I am investigating the development of mycelium materials using locally sourced materials such as wheat straw. Wheat straw is a cheap and abundant source of waste in the Yorkshire region, so would be a fantastic raw material for construction. My main objective is to develop a material for use in non-load bearing applications, such as internal wall construction and façade cladding. The material displays similar structural properties to those of natural materials like wood.

    <span class="caption">Close-up image of mycelium of P. ostreatus growing around wheat straw.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">© Ian Fletcher</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span>
    Close-up image of mycelium of P. ostreatus growing around wheat straw. © Ian FletcherAuthor provided

    The development of mycelium materials from locally sourced agricultural waste could reduce the construction industry’s reliance on traditional materials, which could improve its carbon footprint. Mycelium composite manufacturing also has the potential to be a major driving force in developing new bioindustries in rural areas, generating sustainable economic growth while creating new jobs.

    The construction industry is faced with a choice. It must be revolutionised. If we carry with business as usual, we must live with the potentially catastrophic consequences of climate change.

    Click here to subscribe to our climate action newsletter. Climate change is inevitable. Our response to it isn’t.

    This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

    The Conversation
    The Conversation

    Ian Fletcher does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.


    Mace Group builds working on top of under-construction skyscrapers

    The six-story factories eliminated the need for tower cranes, and increased productivity to the point where crews could complete 18 floors in 18 weeks.

    AUGUST 05, 2019 |
    Prefab factory in the sky: Mace Group built working factories on top of under-construction high rises

    U.K.-based general contractor Mace Group built working factories on top of two high rises while they were under construction in Stratford, England. The 47,355-cubic-meter factories allowed Mace to complete 18 stories in 18 weeks. Matt Gough, Mace’s Director of Innovation and Work Winning, says the factories were “cost neutral.” Photo: Mace Group


    Mace Group is London’s largest contractor, and has been associated with some of that city’s signature projects, including its 95-story skyscraper The Shard; the 443-foot-high cantilevered observation wheel known as London Eye; and Heathrow Terminal 5, which at nearly four million sf on 640 acres is the largest freestanding structure in the United Kingdom.

    Since its inception in 1990, Mace has explored where production and construction might intersect. That inquest is suddenly urgent today, as U.K. cities will need 10,500 new homes to be built per month every year through 2038. To meet that demand, the country’s construction industry must rev up its productivity by 30%.

    Recently, Mace took a step toward shifting from construction to production when it literally built factories on top of two under-construction residential towers in Stratford. Workers within those factories poured concrete, and assembled and installed prefab MEP systems, bathroom pods, risers, and façade components. The firm showcased its factory during a presentation at Autodesk University in London in June.



    The six-story factories each weighed 510 tons and were 35 meters wide, 41 meters long, and 33 meters high. Some of their spaces were dedicated to materials delivery, façade installation, and assembling sub-assemblies. The structural engineer Davies Maguire helped Mace figure out how the building would manage that weight load.


    BD+C AEC Innovators, Mace Group, prefab factories in the sky, high-rise constructionPhoto: Mace Group


    Matt Gough, Mace’s Director of Innovation and Work Winning, tells BD+C that the factories were “cost neutral” in that they eliminated the need for tower cranes, and increased productivity to the point where crews could complete 18 floors in 18 weeks. The factories reduced the project’s transportation by 40%, and its waste by 75% compared to a more conventional construction site. This project’s “gross value added” per worker, at £80 ($101.41) per hour worked, was higher than the U.K.’s average for construction and manufacturing.

    “We changed the process for delivering high rises,” says Gough, even as it struggled at first to get some trades to work “in a different way.”


    SEE ALSO: Upbrella Construction builds the roof of a structure early in the construction process, and then raise it up as the building progresses


    In January, Mace handed over the two residential towers to their developer, a joint venture between Qatari Diar and Delancey. Stratford is Mace’s sole project with onsite factories. The contractor is open to doing more projects like it in the U.K. and elsewhere (it has a construction management office in New York). Mace’s goal is to be “manufacturing” 85% of its projects 50% faster by 2022 via just-in-time logistics and sharper site management abetted by technology.

    The contractor is doing modular construction on some projects, and intends to rely more on offsite prefabrication, which could result in safer jobsites with fewer workers needed.




    How do you construct one floor of a building in just 55 hours? At N08, our project at East Village in Stratford, Mace used the ‘rising factories’ – an new method – to deliver a step change in productivity and efficiency. Watch our latest video:

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    BD+C AEC Innovators, chart displays the benefits of Mace Group's patented prefab factory construction techniqueZInfographic: Mace Group



    By  August 23, 2019

    Whether it’s your alma mater, a local team, or a family tradition, college football fans bleed their team’s colors and logos. There are 125 Division 1 football teams spread out across the United States. Some cheer to beat rivalries, some cheer for pride, and some cheer for national titles. Then, their favorite players move on to play in the most expensive professional stadiums in sports.

    To honor the start of the college football season, here are the facts behind the stadiums of the top 5 teams from the Associated Press preseason rankings.

    1. Clemson Tigers

    clemson tigers

    Name: Memorial Stadium

    Built: 1942

    Capacity: 81,500


    • It was designed by a Clemson graduate, Carl Lee, and Professor H.E. Glenn of the engineering facility. Originally 20,500 seats, the original stadium is now the lower south grandstand of the current stadium.

    • Most of the original construction work was done by scholarship athletes. Two football team members, A.N. Cameron and Hugh Webb, staked out the stadium. The stadium has gone through renovations over the years and now seats 81,500.

    • Clemson Memorial Stadium is often referred to as “Death Valley,” which is named after the Death Valley National Park in California and the Clemson University cemetery that used to overlook the field before the upper decks were built.

    2. Alabama Crimson Tide

    Name: Bryant-Denny Stadium

    Built: 1929

    Capacity: 101,821


    • When completed in 1929, Bryant-Denny Stadium only had a capacity of 12,000. The original name is Denny Stadium in honor of the school’s president from 1912 to 1932, George H. Denny. In 1975, former coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s name was added to the stadium.

    • Since opening, Bryant-Denny Stadium has gone through renovations to increase the seating capacity 11 times. Today, at 101,821 seats, it’s the eighth-largest stadium in the world but only fourth-largest in the Southeastern Conference (SEC).

    • Unlike most stadiums, Bryant-Denny Stadium didn’t have a logo at midfield until 2002. The school wanted to have a traditional field design with the only logos being “ALABAMA” in the end zone.

    3. Georgia Bulldogs

    Name: Sanford Stadium

    Built: 1929

    Capacity: 95,723


    • Because the original Sanford Field was too small, the team had to travel to Georgia Tech’s Grant Field in every year to play its rivalry game. After a loss to their rival, Sanford vowed to “build a stadium bigger than Tech.”

    • To fund the stadium, Sanford had members of the athletic association sign notes guaranteeing a bank loan. Whoever contributed would get lifetime seats. The stadium got funding in 1928 and cost $360,000 to build.

    • With the open west end-zone view of the rolling hills, Sanford Stadium is referred to as the most beautiful on-campus stadium in college football. It’s also one of college football’s loudest and most intimidating stadiums.

    4. Oklahoma Sooners

    Name: Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium

    Built: 1923

    Capacity: 86,112


    • Designed by architectural firm Layton & Hicks, Gaylord Family Oklahoma Stadium is the 23rd largest stadium in the world. It’s currently undergoing a two-phase, $160 million renovations to add a press box, club seats, new facade, offices, and training center.

    • After 16,000 seats were built in 1925, the stadium was named Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in honor of the students and faculty that died during WWI.

    • Coach Bennie Owen raised the money himself to build the stadium, which cost $293,000. The playing surface is named Owen Field, but the stadium itself is also commonly referred to as Owen Field.

    5. Ohio State Buckeyes

    Name: Ohio Stadium

    Built: 1922

    Capacity: 102,082


    • The previous stadium, Ohio Field, became too small for the growing popularity of football in Ohio. The project to build a new stadium was funded by a public-subscription campaign, raising over $1.1 million.

    • Designed by architect Howard Dwight Smith, the stadium was built with 66,210 seats, making it the largest concrete poured structure in the world at the time. After renovations over the years, it now has a seating capacity of 102,082.

    • To build the stadium, Smith used revolutionary techniques. There is a slurry wall at the stadiums base to keep out water from the Olentangy River, the upper deck was designed to hang over part of the lower deck, and double columns to allow for more space between columns.

  8. OSHA’s Winter Safety Tips

    1. Monitor Physical Conditions

    Working in a cold environment can cause various adverse effects on the human body and its ability to perform, and it can increase the risk of common hazards and cold-associated injuries. To maintain healthy temperatures in colder environments, the body is required to work harder, but when temperatures drop drastically and wind chill increases, heat is apt to leave the body more rapidly. The ability to quickly recognize the symptoms of cold stress is important for preventing cold-related injuries. According to OSHA, cold stress occurs by driving down the skin temperature and eventually the internal body temperature, or core temperature. Common risk factors for cold stress include but are not limited to wetness/dampness (e.g. sweating), dressing improperly, exhaustion and poor physical conditioning.

    While it is important to be aware of your own physical conditions on the jobsite, it is also imperative that you pay close attention to your fellow coworkers’ well-being in order to best prevent any cold-related injuries on them as well.

    2. Wear Appropriate Clothing

    A main preventative of cold stress is dressing appropriately for the weather conditions. When low temperatures and adverse environmental surroundings cannot be avoided, there is apparel that will ensure you are properly equipped for the cold:

    • Multiple layers for better insulation and wind protection
    • Looser clothing that will not inhibit warm blood from circulating throughout the body
    • Mask to cover the face, mouth and neck
    • Warm hat to reduce the amount of heat released through the head
    • Insulated gloves
    • Insulated, waterproof boots for foot protection

    When incorporating these items into your winter jobsite wardrobe, high visibility clothing and personal protective equipment (PPE) must still be worn. It is common this time of year that the day begins beautifully with sunny, warm temperatures but ends with a below-freezing snow. Therefore, it is important to remember that, as we add or remove clothing, jackets and coveralls throughout the day, we always maintain our high-visibility clothing on the outer-most layer.

    Pro Tip: For cold stress prevention and added safety, keep extra clothing on hand in case you get wet on the jobsite and need a change.

    3. Review worksites and Upcoming Weather Conditions

    Actively monitoring weather conditions during the winter, having reliable means of communicating with other workers and being able to stop work or evacuate when necessary are safe work practices to protect from injuries, illnesses and fatalities, according to OSHA. It is important to also be aware of the specific public warnings provided by the community: sirens, radio alerts and television. If you are notified of a winter storm watch, advisory or warning, follow instructions from your local authorities. Take those warnings seriously and adjust your work schedule, transportation plans and clothing choices accordingly.

    4. Be Prepared for Freezing and Thawing Effects

    When temperatures vary on an hourly basis during this time of year, it is critical to be aware of the potential effects of freezing and thawing on a construction jobsite. The aforementioned temperature variations can make for very slippery conditions on both roofing and decking. Thermoplastic olefin (TPO) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) roofs can be especially hazardous during cold weather. Unfortunately, there is very little that can be done to address this occurrence, because most ice-melt chemicals void a warranty when applied. As well, shoveling can tear and rip these thin membranes. In most cases, the only redress in this situation is to begin work later in the morning and give the snow/ice time to naturally melt. Walking on decking is also especially dangerous in the winter. Unlike with TPO/PVC roofing, we can typically clear the decks by shoveling. However, before applying any chemicals to melt the ice and snow, it is important to check with a supplier to inquire if certain melting chemicals are recommended.

    5. Pay Special Attention to Walking and Working Surfaces 

    Walking around a jobsite can be extremely dangerous under even the best conditions. When freezing rain, snow and frozen ground are added to the mix, safety on the job site becomes increasingly challenging. OSHA’s General Industry Standard 1910.22(a)(3) requires that walking/working surfaces are maintained free of hazards such as sharp or protruding objects, loose boards, corrosion, leaks, spills, snow and ice. We encourage our site teams to develop site logistic plans that include clearly delineated travel paths around the site, early start times for snow removal and salt crews and later start times when bad roads could cause vehicle accidents. We also recommend adding line items to Job Safety Analyses (JSAs), equipment, tool and scaffold inspections to address possible accumulation of ice and snow.

    Given these five ways for construction site teams to keep safety first this winter, this list is not exhaustive, nor can you ever be too cautious or too safe. For more comprehensive information on how to better prepare for and respond to severe winter weather, visit OSHA’s Winter Weather webpage


    Home Educational Materials and Resources Training Media Resources

    Welcome to OSHA’s Fall Prevention Campaign
    FALLS ARE THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH IN CONSTRUCTION. In 2017, there were 366 fatal falls to a lower level out of 971 construction fatalities (BLS data). These deaths are preventable.
    Since 2012, OSHA has partnered with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) – Construction Sector on the Fall Prevention Campaign to raise awareness among workers and employers about common fall hazards in construction, and how falls from ladders, scaffolds and roofs can be prevented.
    PLAN ahead to get the job done safely
    When working from heights, employers must plan projects to ensure that the job is done safely. Begin by deciding how the job will be done, what tasks will be involved, and what safety equipment may be needed to complete each task.
    When estimating the cost of a job, employers should include safety equipment, and plan to have all the necessary equipment and tools available at the construction site. For example, in a roofing job, think about all of the different fall hazards, such as holes or skylights and leading edges, then plan and select fall protection suitable to that work, such as personal fall arrest systems (PFAS).
    PROVIDE the right equipment
    Workers who are six feet or more above lower levels are at risk for serious injury or death if they should fall. To protect these workers, employers must provide fall protection and the right equipment for the job, including the right kinds of ladders, scaffolds, and safety gear.
    Use the right ladder or scaffold to get the job done safely. For roof work, if workers use personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), provide a harness for each worker who needs to tie off to the anchor. Make sure the PFAS fits, and regularly inspect it for safe use.
    TRAIN everyone to use the equipment safely
    Every worker should be trained on proper set-up and safe use of equipment they use on the job. Employers must train workers in recognizing hazards on the job


    What is OSHA?

    More than 90 million American spend their days on the job. As a nation, they are our most valuable resource. And surprisingly until 1970, no uniform and comprehensive requirements existed for workplace safety and their protection against health hazards.
    How did OSHA Form?
    In 1970, Congress considered annual figures such as these:
    Job related accidents accounted for more than 14,000 worker deaths.
    Nearly 2 1/2 million workers were disabled.
    Ten times as many person-days were lost from job-related disabilities as from strikes.
    Estimated new cases of occupational diseases totaled 300,000
    In terms of lost production and wages, medical, expenses and disability compensation, the burden on the nation’s commerce was staggering. Human cost was beyond calculations. Therefore, the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1979 (the Act) was passed by a bipartisan Congress “…to assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources.”
    What does OSHA Stand For?
    Under the Act, the Occupational Safety and Health administration (OSHA) was created within the Department of Labor.
    Simply stated, OSHA is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and is responsible for worker safety and health protection.
    Since its inception in 1970, OSHA has cut the work-fatality rate by more than half, reduced the overall injury and illness rates in industries where OSHA has concentrated its attention, virtually eliminated brown lung disease in the textile industry and reduced trenching and excavation fatalities by 35 percent.
    OSHA is administered through the Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL regulates and enforces more than 180 federal laws. These mandates and the regulations that implement them cover many workplace activities for about 10 million employers and 125 million workers.
    Who Does OSHA Cover?
    OSHA determines which standards apply to your workplace and requires you to follow these standards and requirements.
    All employees and their employers under Federal Government authority are covered by OSHA. Coverage is provided either directly by federal OSHA or through state programs. OSHA does not cover the self-employed or immediate members of farm families that do not employ outside workers.
    OSHA offers an extensive Web site at that includes sections devoted to training, state programs, small businesses, construction, as well as interactive eTools to help employers and employees.
    OSHA also offers training programs for employers and employees to get hazard recognition. Some states currently mandate training.