Overcast Insights
The Accelerating Pace of Construction Technology

28/03/2024

The Accelerating Pace of Construction Technology

When many people think about the AEC industry, images of cranes, framing, and architects looking at drawings flood their vision. But for those within the industry, the reality, while encompassing these perceptions, is very different. In this reality, standing next to the crane are a Superintendent and a Safety Specialist reviewing the detailed safety plan they built on their new software.  Standing opposite the crane by a job trailer is the architect reviewing images of the specified HVAC technology that may be a better design option for the planned ceiling. No matter what area or role within the industry you are, innovations are being developed daily to make construction more efficient, equitable, and sustainable.

The Pace of Acceleration of Construction Technology

According to a study by McKinsey, from 2020 to 2022, an estimated $50 billion was invested into AEC-specific technology. This is highlighted by the 30% increase in projects during that same time, but why are we seeing this increase and why is it occurring at the pace it is? Like any other aspect of the AEC industry, supply and demand is a key factor. Owners and designers are seeing that their dreams are possible given the right support, and they are looking for innovative ideas that facilitate this while dealing with lower budgets and higher maintenance costs. When you combine this with the rising global need and interest in sustainability, equity, and technology, the development of new products to address these areas within the built environment is both understandable and inevitable.

But why are we all going so fast? Even with the increasing amount of financial support investing in new technologies, the race to become the top choice for customers (which drives interest by potential investors and potential mainstream partners) is alive and well. Additionally, the reliability of working with technology supported by well-known manufacturers and associated vendors and companies brings confidence to many clients that outweighs the risk of working with new companies. So how does this pace impact the projects and clients who are utilizing these products and programs?

The Impact of Construction Technology on Projects and Clients

Innovative new products and programs are changing the construction process and timeline at every phase. With the development of better drawing and design software, architects and engineers bring better results to their clients while maintaining quality. New tools and phone apps help create safer job sites. Premanufactured assemblies, such as the Overcast Cloud, reduce installation times and consolidate systems to make better interiors that enhance user experience.  These changes are just a few of the endless possibilities for positive results from our increase in innovation in the built environment.

Project: The Catalyst Building, Spokane, WA

A prime example of the benefits of embracing new technologies at this increasing pace is the Catalyst Building in Spokane, WA. The Catalyst Building is a five-story, 159K sq. ft. facility becoming Spokane’s first – and one of the world’s largest – zero energy and zero carbon building (currently pursuing ILFI ZE/ZC certifications). Catalyst was built using 500 locally sourced cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels and special weather-focused exterior sheathing. The building also features the latest smart building technologies and energy systems.

Given the complexity of product development that benefits all parties in a given project, Overcast worked closely with the project’s MEPF engineers to realign equipment layouts to create an efficient integrated ceiling system housing the building technology. In parallel, Overcast developed standardized product families that accommodated the various space and use case types. The standardization of product families enabled engineering, manufacturing, and field installation efficiencies in addition to higher quality standards for the installation of building technology devices.

Throughout the lifetime of the construction industry, change has always been present and necessary, but not always welcome. As the industry moves further into the future, the number of opportunities and needs for innovation will only increase and the benefits we will see because of them will be a direct result of the industry’s willingness to embrace that innovation.  Working with the innovators and game-changers like Overcast Innovations puts our clients in the position of being at the forefront of the advancement of our industry, as well as the position of becoming the game-changers themselves within their respective markets.