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Building Innovation 2020 Moves Online

Posted By Christine Cube, Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, June 17, 2020

It’s not easy when plans change.

But the coronavirus forced a lot of new territory on the world and its global community, requiring change in many ways, especially with regard to health and safety.

So, when it came to planning for our annual meeting – Building Innovation 2020 – it became pretty clear that moving the meeting online would best serve everyone, particularly our members and audience. It would allow for a much broader built environment audience as well as provide a richer experience for those looking for information around building technology, resilience, and workforce.

Plus, it keeps everyone safe, with folks joining from the safety of their homes and offices.

Building Innovation: Virtual Edition

BI2020: Virtual Edition will be a powerfully compact event on August 18-19. Over the course of two days, the meeting will include 16 sessions, covering topics like zero energy, building performance, 3D printing, design and resilience, mitigation, green jobs, workforce development, and the challenges that COVID-19 brings to the built environment.

BI2020 also will feature a “pay what you can” registration fee, ranging from free to a maximum of $395. All registration fees will be used to support the cost of the technology, and the NIBS 501(c)3 non-profit mission to serve the public interest by advancing building science and technology to improve the built environment.

Join us and the architects, engineers, code officials, manufacturers, innovators, public and private sector representatives, officials from building and construction, and local, state and government leaders – who keep and maintain this powerful industry. Register today!

Want to learn more? We’ll be breaking down what’s new for this year’s conference in our next post. Stay tuned! Also, let’s be social! We’re @bldgsciences on Twitter, or you can find us on Facebook.

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Traveling for Work? Hospitality Veterans Discuss How Meetings, Conventions and Hotels Will Change Around COVID-19

Posted By Christine Cube, Wednesday, May 27, 2020

COVID-19 Webinar

As states begin to reopen in phases, it’s important to psychologically prepare your staff to go back to work and attend meetings again.

There’s a lot of anxiety around the future of work, and one industry that’s been particularly affected is tourism and hospitality.

Experts say consistency will be critical toward building trust and credibility.

Arthur C. Evans, Jr., PhD, CEO of the American Psychological Association, says it’s important to communicate with employees and provide ample notice of plans.

Evans was one of the panelists from the second COVID-19 virtual town hall of the National Institute of Building Sciences.

“Your staff needs to know that you have their health and safety at heart,” said Lakisha A. Woods, CAE, President and CEO of NIBS. “Proper sanitization efforts are key. Employees, employers and future attendees should research what is being done to keep them safe.”

NIBS hosted the COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall: Mental Health and Sanitation of COVID-19 Facilities on May 19. It featured more than 800 registrants.

In addition to Evans, the panel included Michael (Mike) Schultz, SES, Chief of Interagency and International Services, United States Army Corps of Engineers; Mac Campbell, CTA, CVP, Deputy Director, Baltimore Convention Center; Shari L. Solomon, President and Founder, CleanHealth Environmental, LLC; and John Hogan, Vice President of Design and Project Management, Marriott Hotels. The town hall was moderated by Mark Dorsey, FASAE, CAE, CEO, Construction Specifications Institute.

Bringing Hotels, Meetings and Conventions Back Online

Marriott Hotels is using a multi-pronged platform to elevate its global cleanliness standard. The effort is being overseen by the Marriott Global Cleanliness Council, which maintains a number of experts and scientists, including epidemiology, and hygiene and technology experts.

The ultimate goal is to keep employees and guests safe.

The aim is to identify and deploy scientifically-supported practices. This includes an intensive deep clean after every guest stay, and more frequent cleanings and disinfection of high-touch areas, elevator buttons, escalator handrails, and public spaces, especially during peak usage.

Other things being considered include the removal of nonessential items from guest rooms, such as throw pillows.

With meetings and conventions, the Baltimore Convention Center is relying heavily on communication with staff and now is working through its plan for future meetings and events.

In March, the 1.2-million-square-foot center was contracted to become a medical station for 250 beds, serving COVID-19 convalescents. It currently has 1,500 medical personnel under its roof.

To keep everyone safe, the center has been able to isolate the building to serve this purpose, with separate systems for everything – air han­dlers, trash facilities, loading docks, and staff entrances for medical personnel.

Details for its future plan include revisiting front-of-the-house standards; food and beverage, which may be pre-packaged or boxed at the start; and event technologies to support meeting attrition or supplement social distancing.

On Sanitation: Creating a Permanent Cleaning and Disinfection Program

Proper cleaning and disinfection is key to bringing people back into the nation’s facilities.

Whereas in healthcare this always has been a focus, the rest of the world is catching up: We must clean and disinfect all different types of facilities and spaces.

Some things to consider:

  • A comprehensive sanitation procedure will be necessary to ensure continuous infection prevention.
  • Read the label. The time that a chemical must sit on a surface in order to be effective is a necessary consideration when cleaning and disinfecting.
  • Staff training will ensure employees as well as the work environment remains protected.

CleanHealth Environmental’s Solomon said informing building occupants and employees will create assurance, making them more comfortable with returning to the office or facility.

“You must communicate what you’re doing, and that you’re following industry standards,” she said. 

View the Virtual Town Hall Recording and Download the Recap

To view the recording and see the session notes of the virtual town hall, visit The next virtual town hall is scheduled for June 2020.

Want to learn more? NIBS has launched a Building Industry COVID-19 Resource Hub on the WBDG site. Visit Let’s be social! We’re @bldgsciences on Twitter, or you can find us on Facebook.



Tags:  COVID-19 

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Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: What Can Business Continuity Planners Learn from this Nationwide Benefit-Cost Analysis?

Posted By Keith Porter, University of Colorado Boulder and SPA Risk LLC, Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Updated: Monday, May 18, 2020

Mitigation Saves: 2019 Report

U.S. disaster losses from floods, wind, earthquakes, and fires average $100 billion per year.

In 2017, losses exceeded $300 billion—25% of the $1.3 trillion building value put in place that year.

Fortunately, there are affordable and highly cost-effective strategies that policymakers, building owners, risk managers, and others can deploy to reduce these impacts. Strategies include adopting and strengthening building codes, upgrading existing buildings, and improving utilities and transportation systems.

The benefits and costs associated with these mitigation measures have been identified through the most exhaustive benefit-cost analysis of natural hazard mitigation to date and documented in Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves. The table summarizes how mitigation can save up to $13 of avoided future losses per $1 invested.

I recently presented a webinar about Mitigation Saves study for the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Association of Continuity Professionals.

The study was limited to physical modifications. Planners can learn about these limitations to be more aware of how business continuity planning and disaster recovery can complement engineering mitigation. View the video recording of the webinar at

For more information about the Mitigation Saves study, visit

Hurricane and wildfire seasons are right around the corner. Learn more about how you can protect your property and loved ones by visiting Let’s be social! We’re @bldgsciences on Twitter, or you can find us on Facebook.

Tags:  mitigation  mitigation saves 

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NIBS Hosts COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall Webinar Series

Posted By Christine Cube,, Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Updated: Monday, May 11, 2020

Bringing America back to work and restarting the economy will take planning and vision.

Any movement in the direction toward reentering and repopulating buildings, businesses, and transportation systems must follow the health and safety guidelines set forth by science and data, the federal government, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and World Health Organization.

On May 7, the National Institute of Building Sciences hosted its first in a series of COVID-19 virtual town halls aimed at placing subject matter experts before a wide audience of built environment professionals. Our panel included Henry H. Chamberlin, President & Chief Operating Officer, Building Owners & Managers Association; Daniel Nichols, Assistant Director of Fire/Life Safety, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Metro-North Railroad; Pete DeMarco, Executive Vice President of Advocacy & Research, International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, and Thomas H. Phoenix, Principal, CPL Architects & Engineers, PC; Treasurer, NIBS Board of Directors; Fellow, ASHRAE. The town hall was moderated by Carl Hedde, Head of Insurance Practice, One Concern and Chair of the NIBS Board of Directors.

Some of the key takeaways include:

  • Proper hygiene and handwashing, social distancing, and face coverings in public areas remain critical. Office seating density must be thinned out.
  • Elevators should not exceed more than 4 people at a time, depending on the size of the elevator cab.
  • Companies should perform an audit of the HVAC system, making improvements where necessary. If possible, increase outdoor air ventilation and reduce recycled air flow.
  • Buildings that have sat empty must flush stagnant water and replace it with fresh utility water.
  • When it comes to transportation and transit systems, cleaning must be accomplished in concert with disinfection. Social distancing and face coverings remain the best ways to avoid virus transfer.

We had more than 1,800 registrants for the first town hall. In case you missed it, and you’d like to hear the discussion, view the full recording and session notes here.

Our goal is to share as much information as possible so decision-makers and government officials can safely reopen the economy and nation’s business community.

The next town hall is scheduled for Tuesday, May 19.

Want to learn more? NIBS has launched a Building Industry COVID-19 Resource Hub on the WBDG site. Visit Let’s be social! We’re @bldgsciences on Twitter, or you can find us on Facebook.

Tags:  COVID-19 

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Building Safety Month: Keeping the built environment safe, during this critical time

Posted By Christine Cube, Monday, April 27, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, April 28, 2020

May is Building Safety Month.

In this coronavirus world, building safety has taken on greater meaning as the nation’s leaders figure out how to keep citizens safe, while reopening the parts of the economy to business again.

The International Code Council is readying for its 40th annual Building Safety Month, which includes a host of virtual resources to promote building safety in our communities.  

This year’s theme is “Safer Buildings, Safer Communities, Safer World.” It highlights the importance of building codes and regularly updated codes to ensure the safety and resilience of the built environment.

“Safety in the built environment is an essential component of maintaining public health, making Building Safety Month more relevant now than ever,” ICC says.

Building Safety Month

Available tools and resources

The code council has broken down the month of May into specific sub-themes. They include disaster preparedness, water safety, resiliency and sustainability, and training the next generation.

To address safety on a broad scale, ICC is offering a variety of online resources to help promote building safety within the community.

These include a letter to the editor that can be used and sent to a local newspaper on behalf of a company or department, and the code council’s Safety Toolkit with brochures and worksheets on several topics, including alarm safety, permitting, electricity and appliances, and yard/pool tips.

Parents also are invited to educate children on building safety with free, downloadable materials from the Kids Corner.

Building Safety Month 2

Launching the building industry COVID-19 hub

Building safety remains our top priority.

NIBS recently developed a resource for those looking for recent developments, financial assistance information, webinars and events, continuing education, and other impacts of the coronavirus on the building sector.

The Building Industry COVID-19 Resource Hub lives on the Whole Building Design Guide site, and it regularly is updated as new information becomes available. It is personally curated by our team.

WBDG is our comprehensive, web-based portal to a range of federal- and private-sector building-related guidance criteria and technology. It links information across professional disciplines to encourage integrated thinking and “whole building” performance.

Mitigation investment will help keep our communities safe

With the Atlantic Hurricane Season right around the corner, starting June 1, now’s the time to start making preparations to keep homes and buildings safe.

NIBS just released the Natural Hazards Mitigation Saves 2019 Report -- the most comprehensive benefit-cost analysis of natural hazard mitigation, from adopting up-to-date building codes and exceeding codes to the upgrade of utility and transportation infrastructure.

New to this year's report is the extensive coverage – more than 100 pages – addressing the strengthening of existing buildings to prepare for hazards like floods, high winds, fires, and earthquakes. This was funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

When it comes to reducing the impact of natural disasters, mitigation improves safety, prevents property loss, and keeps disruption to a minimum.

Want to learn more? Visit Let’s be social! We’re @bldgsciences on Twitter, or you can find us on Facebook.

Tags:  Safety 

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The building industry has responded in many ways to COVID-19. We’ve compiled information – and it continues to grow.

Posted By Christine Cube, Wednesday, April 15, 2020


The global pandemic has changed much of how we live, work, and operate.

So, the National Institute of Building Sciences has developed a resource for those looking for recent developments, financial assistance information, webinars and events, continuing education, and other impacts of the coronavirus on the building sector.

The Building Industry COVID-19 Resource Hub lives on the Whole Building Design Guide site, and it regularly is updated as new information becomes available. It is personally curated by our team.

Why the Whole Building Design Guide?COVID-19 HUB

WBDG is the largest repository of building information.

It’s our comprehensive, web-based portal to a range of federal- and private-sector building-related guidance criteria and technology. It links information across professional disciplines to encourage integrated thinking and “whole building” performance.

WBDG also features a library of more than 12,000 design criteria, construction documents, and executable programs from federal and private organizations.

Send us a news item!

COVID-19 is affecting millions of Americans. This includes our members and member organizations, whether it’s been to cease business operations, lay off workers, shelter at home, physically battle this difficult illness – or some combination of all of the above.

NIBS is Congressionally mandated to assist the built environment. This remains our chief responsibility – bringing experts to the table to discuss and tackle challenges that face our industry. We aim to improve lives through collaboration, and it’s our hope that the COVID-19 resource hub is exactly what you’ve been looking for.

If you have a news item that you would like to share, you can do so on the Whole Building Design Guide website,

We will continue to stay on top of this situation. For more information, visit You can also follow us @bldgsciences on Twitter or on Facebook.


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Operating in today’s new “normal” – what you need to know

Posted By Christine Cube, Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Updated: Monday, March 30, 2020

All eyes are on the COVID-19 situation, watching things unfold.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), different parts of the country are seeing different levels of COVID-19 activity.

“The duration and severity of each pandemic phase can vary depending on the characteristics of the virus and the public health response,” the CDC reports, on its situation summary.

The National Institute of Building Sciences continues to closely monitor the situation, particularly as it relates to the built environment and how it affects the industry and our people.

Our chief concerns are those affected – those in self-quarantine, the health care and law enforcement officials on the front lines, critical infrastructure trades officials who must report to work to keep things running smoothly, the businesses whose operations must cease, and the children and students whose institutions have closed.

NIBS will continue to bring experts to the table, as we grapple with this new reality and face head-on what’s needed as it relates to off-site construction and any other resources needed to keep the built environment safe, healthy, and sustainable.

Who’s considered critical infrastructure during this time?

There are 16 critical infrastructure sectors whose assets and systems are considered so vital to the U.S. that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, public health, or safety.


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) identifies these sectors as chemical, commercial facilities, communications, critical manufacturing, dams, defense industrial base, emergency services, and energy, among others.

Bloomberg has reported how power and gas utilities are keeping energy flowing. For example, there’s no working from home for control room staff, who must physically be present to keep systems operating.

Even The Hill reported that the U.S. power industry may ask essential staff to sleep on site, as the coronavirus outbreak continues to grow.

“Electric power plants are considered ‘critical infrastructure’ by the federal government, meaning as local and state governments impose shutdowns, they will still have to go to work,” the Hill reports.

Industry trade groups and electric cooperatives have said that companies are stockpiling beds, blankets, and food for those employees.

Also critical: water and wastewater systems

Safe drinking water is a prerequisite for protecting public health and all human activity, says CISA.  

“Properly treated wastewater is vital for preventing disease and protecting the environment,” it says. “Thus, ensuring the supply of drinking water and wastewater treatment and service is essential to modern life and the nation’s economy.”

The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials recognizes the announcement that plumbers fall into the category of “essential critical infrastructure workers.”

In an initial list of critical infrastructure workers, CISA Director Christopher C. Krebs said these folks would help “state and local officials as they work to protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security.”

There are approximately 153,000 public drinking water systems and more than 16,000 publicly owned wastewater treatment systems in the United States, according to CISA. More than 80 percent of the U.S. population receives their potable water from these drinking water systems, and about 75 percent of the U.S. population has its sanitary sewerage treated by these wastewater systems.

Are there small business loans available?

The answer is yes.

The U.S. Small Business Administration provides low-interest disaster loans to help businesses and homeowners recover from declared disasters.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000.

SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application, and this loan advance will not have to be repaid.

There’s also the Paycheck Protection Program, which prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses.

Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards.

Under this program, eligible recipients may qualify for a loan up to $10 million determined by 8 weeks of prior average payroll plus an additional 25% of that amount. Loan payments will be deferred for 6 months.

Nonprofits eligible for financial help

A coalition of 40 of the nation’s largest charities asked lawmakers for $60 billion in COVID-19 pandemic relief and economic stimulus, The NonProfit Times reports.

On March 27, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was passed by Congress, and it included a universal charitable deduction as part of the COVID-19 stimulus relief.

This creates a new above-the-line deduction that applies to all taxpayers for total charitable contributions of up to $300, The NonProfit Times reports. The incentive applies to donations made in 2020 and would be claimed on tax forms next year.

“Nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees will be eligible for $10 million in Emergency Small Business Loans (emergency SBA 7(a) loans),” the Times reports. “The loans can cover costs of payroll, operations, and debt service, and provides that loans be forgiven in whole or in part under certain circumstances, according to guidance from the National Council of Nonprofits. The loans would be eligible to be turned into grants.”

We will continue to stay on top of this story. For more information, visit You can also follow us @bldgsciences on Twitter or on Facebook.

Tags:  COVID-19 

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World Water Day: It’s important to consider the role of infrastructure.

Posted By Christine Cube, Monday, March 23, 2020
Updated: Sunday, March 22, 2020


March 22 officially was World Water Day.

It reminds us of the strong link between water and climate change.

Adapting to the water effects of climate change will protect health and save lives, says United Nations Water (UN-Water), which coordinates the efforts of UN entities and international organizations working on water and sanitation issues.

WWD infographicEveryone has a role to play, and in the built environment, it’s our infrastructure that brings water in to our homes and cities.

Using water more efficiently will reduce greenhouse gases.

Consider these facts, from the Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves study:

·       Lifeline retrofit. Society relies on tele­communications, roads, power, water, and other lifelines. Case studies show that upgrading lifelines to better resist disasters helps our economy and society. A lifeline retrofit saves society $4 for every $1 invested.

·       One leading option for natural hazard mitigation of utilities and transportation infrastructure includes replacing specific water supply pipeline segments to create a “resilient water-supply grid” that better resists earthquakes. There currently are at least 2 West Coast water utilities designing a resilient grid. The Mitigation Saves team estimates this measure would save up to $8 per $1 spent, depending on local seismic hazard.

·       Mitigation measures. There are affordable and cost-effective strategies that policymakers, building owners, and the building industry can deploy to reduce the impacts of natural disasters. Strategies include adopting and strengthening building codes, upgrading existing buildings, and improving utilities and transportation systems. U.S. disaster losses from wind, floods, earthquakes, and fires now average $100 billion per year. In 2017, it exceeded $300 billion.

·       Above-code design could save $4 per $1 cost. Building codes set minimum requirements to protect life safety. Stricter requirements can cost-effectively boost life safety and speed functional recovery.

These are just a few things to keep in mind as we build a more resilient and sustainable built environment.

Ultimately, if we take care of our infrastructure, it’ll lead to stronger systems when disaster strikes. And in doing that, we do more for the greater goal of responsible water usage.

Want to learn more? Visit Let’s be social! We’re @bldgsciences on Twitter, or you can find us on Facebook.

Tags:  infrastructure 

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#IWD2020: Celebrating Women’s Achievement and Raising Awareness About Continued Bias

Posted By Christine Cube, Friday, March 6, 2020

International Women’s Day is March 8.

According to the IWD site, “The race is on for the gender equal boardroom, a gender equal government, gender equal media coverage, gender equal workplaces, gender equal sports coverage, more gender equality in health and wealth.”

This has been a work in progress over several years, but we’re not there yet. Women’s equality is not just a women’s issue. It’s an everybody issue.

Recent news reports have found women constantly work against big barriers, from being underrepresented in New York’s construction sector to female firefighters in California and New Zealand who must wear uniforms made for men. Even Forbes has reported that women in STEM leave the field twice as often as men do and released a piece on 9 ways to recruit and promote women in STEM.

Recently, the National Institute of Building Sciences wrote about #GirlDay2020, which aims to inspire youth entering into STEM careers. We found this type of education needs to start early.

It’s Time

According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, fewer than 5 percent of skilled construction jobs are held by women. The Society of Women Engineers reports that just 13 percent of engineers are women.

An equal world is an enabled world, says International Women’s Day. But, how do you help forge a gender equal world? It starts with celebrating women’s achievement and raising awareness against bias.

Taking action.

In recent months, the NIBS board of directors approved gender-neutral bylaws. This is just one step of many.

Last fall, NIBS hosted female leaders from across the built environment to network and discuss industry issues, diversity, and thought leadership at the Women Executives in Building (WEB) Summit. The event drew dozens of association leaders to talk about challenges and address possible solutions.

Welcome to WEB

On Sept. 23, we plan to host the next WEB event in Nashville.  The details still are coming together.

For the inaugural summit, the NIBS team hand-picked the executives to attend. Going forward, the event will be open to female business owners and C-suite leaders across the built environment.

Stay tuned. For questions about this event, contact Jennifer Hitzke at

Want to learn more? Visit Let’s be social! We’re @bldgsciences on Twitter, or you can find us on Facebook.

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It’s #GirlDay2020 – A Day to Recognize that Inspiration in STEM Starts Early

Posted By Christine Cube,, Thursday, February 20, 2020

girl day 2020

Happy #GirlDay2020!

Inspiring today’s youth to enter into STEM careers begins with education, and it must start early.

According to the Society of Women Engineers, just 13 percent of engineers are women. More than 32 percent of women switch out of STEM degree programs in college, and 30 percent of women who have left the engineering profession cite organizational climate as the reason.

Thankfully, the tides are changing with regard to higher education: Since 2012, there’s been a 58 percent increase in bachelor’s degrees awarded to women in engineering and computer science. Further, 6.1 percent of bachelor’s degrees in engineering were awarded to women of color.

GirlDay2020 is a program of DiscoverE, which “works to ensure people everywhere understand how engineers, technicians, and technologists make the world a better place.” The organization mobilizes and supports the engineering and technology volunteering communities. It also provides engineering activities for kids and students.

The GirlDay2020 program is part of EWeek, which runs from Feb. 16-22. EWeek was founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers in 1951. It’s dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers.

Formally, EWeek is a coalition of more than 70 engineering, education, and cultural societies, and 50+ corporations and government agencies. Every year, EWeek reaches thousands of schools, businesses, and community groups across the country.

Tackling workforce issues at BI2020

At the National Institute of Building Sciences, we’re putting the finishing touches on our speaker lineup and educational sessions for the Building Innovation 2020 Conference & Expo.

We have an entire day dedicated to workforce, which is being affected across the board in the built environment. It starts with a labor shortage and not finding enough skilled workers to fill job openings.

Among the highlights of the BI2020 sessions is one being led by Marjan Sadeghi, a VDC Engineer at VIATechnik. Sadeghi holds a doctorate in construction engineering and management, and she has a background in civil engineering.

Her session is entitled Extending Virtual Design and Construction for Facilities Management.

This talk will look at the power of computational building information models (BIMs) in facilitating automated workflows to generate data-rich FM deliverables, retrieve and verify model data for the transition to FM systems, and carry out analysis for downstream FM tasks.

Building Innovation 2020 is scheduled for April 6-9. It’s a premiere event for the built environment that brings together innovators, government leaders, public and private sector representatives, and officials from building and construction. Register today to attend.

In other news, here’s another date to put on your calendar: March 4. It’s World Engineering Day. 

Tags:  workforce 

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