News & Opinions
The latest news and insights from Hanley Wood’s outspoken experts and key thought-leaders throughout the residential and commercial design and construction industry.
Education and Standards Will Be Key To Combating Building Science Brain Drain
Michael Morris / ECOHOME / April 17, 2013
The U.S. building industry in general is fragmented and slow to change—a problem in the best of times that is now generating serious headwind against the recent upsurge in building activity as the economy regains strength. Reports of new-construction manpower shortages are already making news, along with shortages of building products.
What may be even more critical, according to 2013 Vision 2020 Energy Efficiency + Building Science co-chair Mark LaLiberte, is the “brain drain” of skilled building practitioners over the past few years, and a resulting retreat from building science progress that had been accelerating up to the recession. Many progressive, informed builders left the industry as business dried up, and those that remain seem less interested in creating state-of-art structures, and more concerned with finding skilled labor or simply meeting rising consumer demand. (LaLiberte notes that these issues are location-specific and not equally critical in all areas.) In a similar way, building supply distributors are also being forced to ramp-up quickly with relatively new, untrained staff that are less knowledgeable and understanding of building science; and building inspectors and code officials are equally hard-pressed to keep up. A re-emphasis on builder—and supplier—training in code requirements and green building techniques will be required as the industry revives.