ARC Document Solutions, Inc., a leading document solutions provider for the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry, recently conducted its 2015 Construction Trends Survey gathered from more than 1,000 AEC professionals. The survey aimed to reveal current attitudes among AEC professionals on a variety of North American construction priorities, trends and technologies. When asked to rate the importance of projects types in North America, an overwhelming majority of respondents chose projects that benefit the public good and ensure future prosperity over private projects or achieving individual or company success.
At 83 percent, the overwhelming majority chose “Rebuilding Aging Infrastructure” as the most important priority. Zero percent felt that reclaiming the world’s tallest building status was at all important.
The top five most important priorities in North American construction
- Rebuilding Aging Infrastructure (83%)
- Building Clean Power Plants (51%)
- Expansion of Projects Aimed at Securing Water (48%)
- Expanding on rail transit in cities (28%)
- Building High Speed Regional Rail (21%)
When asked to choose what is most likely to influence the practice of architecture and construction most in the coming years, AEC professionals see technology as the overriding issue (72 percent), followed by collaboration (45 percent), two issues that increasingly go hand-in-hand as demonstrated by the industry’s growing use of three-dimensional building information modeling (BIM), integrated project delivery (IPD) techniques, and document management and file sharing applications.
Similar to industry issues like collaboration, however, demographic and environmental conditions each recorded more than 40 percent of respondents’ choices as having primary impacts on the way we design and build in the future. Only 31 percent believed new building materials are likely to make a big impact.
What will have the biggest impact in North American architecture and construction?
- Technology (72%)
- Collaboration (45%)
- New Building Materials (31%)
- Rising Population and Housing Needs (45%)
- Global Warming/Energy Efficiency (41%)
In terms of rating trends in the construction industry itself, 93 percent of AEC professionals believe increases in productivity and decreases in cost are most dependent on new technology tools. They rank universal online access, communication tools and the ability to track budget in real-time as the top three capabilities that increase productivity and reduce project cost.
What are the most important capabilities to increasing productivity and reducing cost?
- Communication tools to keep project team on track (79%)
- Online access for all project participants (69%)
- Tracking budget in real-time (62%)
- Intelligent scheduling needs and mobile access to project management lifecycle on any device (tied at 59%)
- Centralizing all projects in one place (45%)
Consistent with their responses regarding the importance of their communication capabilities, nearly 50 percent of all respondents indicated that leading cause of project delays were the use incorrect or faulty drawings or specifications. Considering that the survey also revealed that 1 in 4 (24.14 percent) AEC professionals personally print 200 to 499 documents a week, managing documents and information with or without technology is a clear contributor to both successes and obstacles in AEC industry practices.
Not surprisingly, humanitarian projects were considered the most important to finish on time, while the importance of completing infrastructure and new energy projects mirrored the priorities demonstrated in earlier questions.
AEC professionals ranked New York City as the number one city in North America for architecture, beating out the perennial favorite Chicago, which came in at number two. West Coast cities San Francisco and Seattle round out the top four.
In terms of exhibiting the best design by project type, AEC professionals ranked museums as the number one (66 percent) type of building that inspired the best and most creative designs, followed by places of worship (41 percent). Sports complexes and business building rounded out the top four, followed by schools and hospitals.
“The results of the survey demonstrate that AEC professionals have their priorities squarely on the most important issues facing our society today, and they are increasingly turning to communication and collaboration technology to address them,” said Evan Casey, National Director of Business Development at ARC.