A Single Source for High-Performance Building Data

4004085744_ae8f5bb70c_0I wanted to call this post “Telling AEC Truths with Statistics” because of this quote:

It’s easy to lie with statistics, but it’s hard to tell the truth without them.

– Andrejs Dunkels

Imagine a site you could visit to gather stats, numbers, figures – evidence – to support your design and construction decisions.

In the research for my new book on the use of data in the AEC industry, I was surprised to find that something like this doesn’t already exist.

figure 6-34A few days ago I came across a cool site called Quips, part of Zurb.

Quips provides evidence to support a design direction based on empirical data.

Designers especially act volitionally – then rationalize their acts of volition.

figure 6-35What better way to help designers rationalize and justify their design predilections than a site containing design stats you can use:

  • To help make decisions
  • To help sell ideas
  • To help win over constituents
  • And justify decisions to the bottom line.

Factoids that help you design with data.

Design questions.

figure 6-36Designers are seeing the importance of having facts readily available to help them make informed decisions.

Only in this case, it’s referring to web and product design.

Which got me thinking: what if we had a Site for Sharing AEC Statistics?

figure 6-37PR, marketing and construction information technology specialist Paul Wilkinson has presented on sharing AEC data in the past.

But this site would be something different.

A place where owners, contractors, architects, engineers, consultants and tradespeople could go to – to find the statistics and data they need to help make decisions, sell ideas, persuade constituents and justify courses of action.

m-h-statisticsA single source for easy access to High-Performance Building Data.

You would think that something like this already exists, right?

One challenge: Who should host such a site?

They would have to assure the accuracy of the data and keep newly posted stats updated.

measurementPerhaps even feature a stat of the day to assure frequent visitors.

Another challenge: Who would be willing to sift through and collect data, and assure its veracity?

In the evidence-heavy research space, AIA currently partners with EDRA and BRIK.

These sites are fantastic, but they primarily supply lengthy research papers that have to be read and sifted through for usable evidence.

Designers, contractors and other AEC team members need facts and need them fast.

One more challenge: Some lists or indices of stats may come across as building-related trivia.

Like an AEC version of the eminently and addictively readable Harpers Index.

Here are some examples of data that I have referenced in past weeks.

Fatal work injuries involving contractors accounted for 16 percent of all fatal work injuries in 2012. OSHA

Number of construction company employees in the US: 7,316,240 Source

Average construction company employee salary: $45,200 Source

The construction market account for 5.5% of the $14.7 trillion US GDP. Source

LEED projects are responsible for diverting over 80 million tons of waste from landfills, which is expected to grow to 540 million tons of waste diversion by 2030 Source

Buildings represent 73% of US electricity consumption. Source

We spend an average of 90% of our time in buildings-and the air quality inside is two to five times worse than outside air. Source

Worldwide, buildings consume nearly 40% of the world’s energy, 25% of its wood, and 15% of its water. Source

When a young forest is growing, it produces 1.07 tons of oxygen and absorbs 1.47 tons of carbon dioxide for every ton of wood. Source

Buildings use 40% of raw materials globally (3 billion tons annually) Source

Green Benefits for builders:

  • Reduced callbacks and warranty claims
  • Lower material and labor costs during construction
  • Reduced purchase cost of mechanical equipment
  • Less construction waste
  • Higher quality homes = competitive advantage Source

Green benefits for owners:

  • Lower utility bills
  • Greater comfort
  • Better indoor air quality
  • Energy-efficient mortgages
  • Higher resale prices Source

Project expectations in four countries in 2015:

  • Brazil – 83% of firms planning new green commercial projects
  • Singapore – 69% of firms planning green renovation projects
  • United Arab Emirates – 73% of firms planning green institutional projects
  • United Kingdom – 65% of firms planning green renovation projects Source

Compare the amount of energy it takes to produce one ton of cement, glass, steel, or aluminum to one ton of wood:

  • 5 times more energy for one ton of cement
  • 14 times more energy for one ton of glass
  • 24 times more energy for one ton of steel
  • 126 times more energy for one ton of aluminum

Wood products make up 47% of all industrial raw materials manufactured in the United States, yet consume only 4% of the total energy needed to manufacture all industrial raw materials. Source

LEED is referenced in project specifications for 71% of projects valued at $50 million and over Source

Would such a site be of use to you in your work, research or practice?

What would you suggest to improve this idea?

Do you have a favorite AEC industry stat?

Let us know by leaving a comment. Thanks!

Image credits: Top four data images courtesy of Tocci Building Companies

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