Contractors should consider new innovations to increase energy efficiency and reduce long-term project costs.

With the country’s recent economic upturn, construction jobs have been on a steady incline. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, 201 out of 339 metropolitan areas saw an increase in construction jobs between 2012 and 2013. Construction employment saw an increase in more than half of the states in the U.S., with much of the demand in states high in oil and gas activity.

The face of construction is changing. In an industry that requires extensive knowledge of every project, contractors and project managers are taking on a much more comprehensive, all-inclusive approach to their job responsibilities.

Project managers and contractors are getting involved on the ground floor, taking clients from start to finish and bringing their visions to life. Now, they are becoming more involved in all aspects of the project. Clients are getting project leaders, including contractors, on board while undergoing lease negotiations, which is relatively new for the construction world.

This shift is positive for multiple reasons. By becoming involved in lease negotiations, the project manager or contractor is instantly aware of cost and expectations from the property owner’s standpoint. This knowledge makes the job easier, since that information doesn’t have to be relayed. When contractors are included in this discussion, the main objectives and goals of the project are clearly defined.

Serving the Client

Project managers and contractors can also serve as experts to the client, offering the client an inside take on the condition of the property. These project leaders can advise on the current status of the building, know what to expect going into the project and provide insight into building guidelines and permissions—conversion from retail to restaurant, entitlement of the building, etc. Project managers and contractors are now in the front seat, serving the best interest of both the client and property owner.

A great way for contractors to keep clients happy and projects on the cutting edge is to keep up with current market and construction trends. The ever-evolving world of construction and design holds contractors accountable to be in the know about any surfacing innovation. Incorporating any new or creative idea could take the project in an entirely different direction—for the better.

Puesto at The Old Police Headquarters in San Diego, Calif. This restaurant project incorporates technological innovations that promote energy conservation and control lighting and air conditioning on automated systems via smart control panel.

Standards for Energy Use

An up-and-coming trend in the construction field is the use of energy management systems (EMS). EMS are a set of automated controls that will monitor and optimize the use of energy. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has guidelines for EMS use, but the systems can be implemented in most projects.

The ACHR NEWS projects that energy market revenue will more than double from the 2013 level by 2020. EMS cover all aspects of the building, including electrical and a-track automation, which is a type of auto-tracking device that allows you to automatically track temperatures, energy and consumption inside a building and helps create the most comfortable environment possible at the lowest possible cost. EMS gives construction managers a comprehensive energy solution, making it easy to select materials that will help conserve energy.

Both design and management teams are taking energy conservation seriously, now more than ever, in order to save energy for clients, which also saves cost. Every material possible should be recycled, including wood, flooring and aluminum wire. states that projects that incorporate any kind of EMS will generate revenue, which is a great incentive for clients. With the industry being driven by technological advances, any type of EMS will save overhead for both the immediate project budget and the client down the road. The standards for energy use are becoming more restricted, and EMS is an effective way to comply with increasing regulations. By installing a system that uses energy efficiently, clients are playing a proactive role in reducing energy consumption on behalf of their customers.

Energy Manager Today followed a study done by Groom Energy Solutions, which found that of all of the EMS options on the market, not one particular system met all the needs of any given project. Energy management can mean anything, from energy conservation to sustainability. Because of the vast interpretation of the words “energy management system,” many different technologies can be considered EMS. Clients are encouraged to evaluate the project’s exact needs and prioritize the areas which use the most energy and why.

Pros and cons exist in terms of wireless EMS, according to Facilities Net. A wireless system gives designers creative freedom, since the system doesn’t need to be a factor in the design. When configured correctly, wireless systems are also more secure than their wired counterparts. The downsides include limited bandwidth and the need for a power source, which, in some cases, would require a wire anyway. The biggest incentive for going wireless is that it provides opportunities in locations that may not be able to support cables. In historic or renovated spaces, this proves to be the case. Older buildings and renovation sites may not be able to handle the high voltage and heavy metals required to wire an EMS.

Incorporating EMS into a project is a valuable challenge for contractors to take on. Aside from the money saved in the long term, an EMS can save the client from frequent system updates down the road. Some great ways to begin increasing efficiency are to understand your state’s energy code and to know the different energy-efficient driver options.

Implementing an EMS plan goes further than installation. Being dedicated to energy management is different than being energy efficient. Energy management requires a plan designed by the contractor and project manager and must include the client’s commitment to energy conservation. The benefits of energy management are huge and reach further than just saving cost. Once EMS is in place, you can improve energy performance at a faster pace and standardize processes so that any improvements are sustained over time. By responsibly controlling your carbon footprint, you are publicly demonstrating your corporate social responsibility.

By incorporating new trends in construction management, contractors across the country will continue to flourish, showing clients a sense of loyalty and commitment with an individualized experience.

Commitment to the client and the project will advance construction in every aspect for years to come. By taking the project from leasing negotiations and saving energy and cost through implementation of an EMS, contractors are taking their careers and their projects to the next level.