While nonresidential construction is still feeling the effects of the pandemic and the gridlock in Congress on the proposed Infrastructure bills, residential building was supposed to be the glimmer of hope for the future. Unfortunately, that glimmer is a dull one so far.

Existing homes are, indeed, selling at a good clip. The current supply of homes on the market is at an all-time low and, with the recovering economy, more buyers are entering the market. Because there is a limited supply of housing inventory, home prices continue to rise even with the current low-interest-rate situation.

Hackers, spoofers, phishers, and all the virus-planters floating throughout the ether of the Internet have wreaked havoc on governments, consumers, and businesses for ages. Often ignored, rarely understood, and frequently accepted as a price of doing business, cybersecurity-related risk is rated as the second-highest source of risk for the enterprise, following regulatory compliance risk. However, relatively few directors feel confident that their company is properly secured against a cyberattack.

Workers beware: robots are building houses, onsite, and on time. According to SQ4D, homes built by robots will help solve the affordable housing crisis and they have proof. SQ4D has listed for sale the first 3D printed home in the United States, a residential property printed on site using SQ4D’s ARCS (autonomous robotic construction system). They say this is the first 3D printed home slated to receive a certificate of occupancy and is listed on MLS for sale as new construction for $299,999.

The 3D printed home, on Long Island in Riverhead, NY, features over 1,400 square feet of living space plus a 750-sq.ft. 2 ½ car garage on a ¼ acre. The home includes 3 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, and features an open floor plan. Built with concrete, it delivers more strength and durability than conventional wood-frame construction and includes a 50-year limited warranty on their 3D printed structures.

With most convention halls shuttered by the COVID-19 pandemic, trade shows have gone digital, many for the first time. Gone is the opportunity to touch the metal, sit in the seat, or participate in the live demo of the latest tools and equipment. But all is not lost, virtually speaking, as video and news releases are popping up in droves from events like the IBS (Intl. Builders Show).

For example, Schneider Electric showcased its Wiser Energy Monitor, Square D Energy Center, and new connected wiring device ranges for builders seeking ways to drive efficiency and sustainability. These new smart solutions allow builders to differentiate their homes through increased electrical system connectivity, transparency, and enhanced energy control.

The city of Minneapolis recently instituted an incentive program to promote the construction of affordable housing to help meet the city’s climate emergency obligations by using the Passive House Standard. The immediate reaction has been, “What is the Passive House Standard?”

Passive House is an international building standard and methodology, applicable to buildings of all kinds from office buildings to hospitals, new buildings, and renovations, that results in a dramatic drop in operational energy use, and more comfortable and healthy occupants. The Standard is meant to aggressively mitigate the climate crisis while providing resilient adaptation.

During the decades since World War II and the “prefab” movement, the idea of off-site construction of major sections of a building that are then assembled onsite has been considered somewhat a fringe concept, primarily for use in lower-cost residential developments. However, today modular construction is anything, but restricted to residential or low-cost. Multi-story, multi-family and multi-use buildings are going up in modular fashion and attracting new investments and new companies annually.

In Finland, where forests are literally everywhere, using wood for buildings makes sense. Research there showed that materials like concrete and steel had a larger “environmental footprint” than wood. This fact hasn’t been overlooked by the organization that represent the concrete and cement segment.

The (PCA) Portland Cement Assn., representing cement manufacturers in the United States, has initiated an industry-wide project to reduce carbon emissions and further address the impacts of climate change. Members will continue to drive down the carbon intensity of their operations and products, and PCA is developing a roadmap, due by the end of 2021, to facilitate its member companies achieving carbon neutrality across the concrete value chain by 2050.

Would you believe how much wood can save in environmental damaging emissions? A Finnish research report claims buildings around us create one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions –about ten times more than air traffic worldwide. In Europe alone, about 190 million-sq.meters of housing space are built each year, mainly in the cities, and the amount is growing at nearly 1% a year.

A recent study by researchers at Aalto University and the Finnish Environment Institute shows that shifting to wood as a building material would significantly reduce the environmental impact of construction.

As companies grow, their products mature and become well-known in their industries. Since 1989, Maestro Technologies of Canada has been a leading supplier of ERP (enterprise resource planning) software to the construction segment. Maestro’s technology solutions help contractors to optimize their project management and finance processes and provide the specialized accounting, job cost, estimating and bidding, project management, equipment, and mobile software required for today’s contractors.

JDM Technology Group, a global group of software providers for the architecture, engineering, and construction industries, has acquired Maestro Technologies, closing the deal on November 2. Having acquired numerous companies since 2004, the JDM Technology Group has a proven strategy for integrating acquired companies into its existing infrastructure. Maestro Technologies will continue to operate as a separate company with its existing staff out of its Varennes, Quebec headquarters.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused worldwide changes in the way companies do business, internally and externally. With shutdowns, lockdowns and remote workers, companies have found they are more and more dependent on their IT infrastructure than ever before. Digital connections are often the only connections with suppliers, employees, customers and jobsite.

According to Gartner, IT spending is forecast to contract across all categories and regions in 2020. While businesses in most industries have begun to reopen, pandemic mitigation measures such as lockdowns, social distancing, travel restrictions, and border shutdowns have created financial burdens, with the transportation, manufacturing, and natural resources industries the most severely impacted.

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