Groovy video from DIRTT on how to build sustainably and with DIRTT Solutions
Sneezing. Coughing. The cries heard ’round the world that result from ever-dreaded vaccinations and shots. Private conversations between a patient and a doctor. News that a patient doesn’t want anyone else to hear.
We’ve all heard these muffled and sometime not-so-muffled sounds as we’ve coughed, sneezed, waited for our own vaccinations, and as we’ve whispered our own vulnerable questions to trusted doctors. If the walls of hospitals, doctors’ offices, and healthcare facilities could talk, they’d tell stories of heartbreak, celebration, healing, and comfort. But it’s fair to say that those stories aren’t for the walls’ to share.
As healthcare facilities navigate this new decade and all that came from the most recent year, the need for patient-focused facilities has become an important topic of conversation. The need for adaptability, technology, innovation, and privacy.
The need for those stories that belong with the patient alone to stay with them. The need for walls that can keep a secret.
“It’s important to design these walls in healthcare facilities in a way that isolates sound as much as possible,” says Jeff Teel, Director of Acoustics at Henderson Engineers.
Confidentiality and privacy in healthcare construction starts with design.
“During design, especially at healthcare facilities, the sound isolation between areas can be very important for speech privacy and for patient confidentiality,” says Teel.
When walls are designed and assembled off-site, like in prefab construction, designers and contractors are able to begin with the end in mind. Unlike drywall that’s installed onsite, these prefab walls are designed using DIRTT’s proprietary ICE software. This software translates CAD and BIM/Revit to DIRTT, and these details translate factory data into installation instructions, which can be cut down to 1/16” of an inch, resulting in less sound transmission.
Sound transmission is measured by STC, or Sound Transmission Class, and is defined as the rating of a wall’s ability to block sound as it travels through the air. The higher the number, the quieter the walls.
Acoustical consultants like Jeff Teel perform field testing that measures the STC rating of a wall. You can watch a recent test Jeff performed for our client, Kansas City Orthopaedic Institute, here.
Because walls like DIRTT’s modular assemblies are designed and assembled offsite to a 1/16” of an inch, they typically carry higher STC ratings than traditional construction. For example, the walls we tested in the patient room at the Kansas City Orthopaedic Institute received a 50 STC rating, meaning loud speech on the other side of the wall is barely, if at all, audible.
2020 caused almost every industry to change, and change quickly. The healthcare industry has always experienced the need to adapt and change, but the past year has accelerated those needs and brought even more questions that need answers.
THE ACOUSTIC TEST RESULTS USING DIRTT WALL SOLUTIONS
Challenges bring opportunity, and today’s construction industry is no exception.
The construction industry looks wildly different today than it did before COVID. From labor shortages to price escalation, the changes have impacted everyone involved.
When asked about the rising prices of materials in the construction industry, Todd Missel, Vice President / General Manager at PARIC Corporation, answered, “I think what we failed to recognize is that the market had a surprise for us in terms of material escalation coming.”
In 2020, the industry hit a stopping point. Missel explains the drastic, swift changes, “Investors and developers got cold feet regarding their deals. Lenders did as well, and most of us experienced between a 20 and 30 percent decrease in revenue, nearly overnight.”
Though the revenue took a hard and fast hit, other changes hit much later.
A year after COVID began, the price of lumber increased by 300-500 percent. The raw materials industry was, like most other industries, impacted by staffing shortages. And those shortages created problems on both the supply chain and material delivery side of commercial construction, resulting in steep price increases.
Along with the price increase of supplies, companies were scrambling to forecast project intake of projects as pent-up demands and other factors were resulting in never-before-seen influxes of projects. Before COVID, construction companies could gauge staffing bandwidth and product availability based on the time of year, but post-pandemic opened a floodgate.
Sherri Balmer, Business Development Executive at PARIC Corporation expresses that from the construction end, “There’s a need to continue things along. The horizontal construction is picking up so fast that we have to work hard to keep up with it.”
Now, commercial construction operates at an even faster rate. While the pandemic forced people to stay home, the projects keep picking up. The more time people had at home, the more time they spent considering home renovation projects.
With a shortage of supply and labor and an increase in prices, construction businesses are realizing they need to think ahead and lean into nontraditional construction methods.
As Missel looks ahead to the next five to ten years, he expects clients will want to know more about maintaining deal costs.
And he sees this challenge as an opportunity for those working in prefabrication construction. Missel explains that prefab construction companies will be able to “use those principles of production from manufacturing to drive waste out of our supply chains, which will help drive value into projects. And we seek those partners who are willing to think outside of the box.”
Prefabrication companies were already thinking and performing with today’s solutions in mind before the pandemic even began.
Balmer expands on the path forward with the right partners. “We can come in as a team with PARIC and Built and educate them on what we can provide as a team and help them have an understanding of what this means on the ROI in the long run,” states Balmer.
HEAR THE CONVERSATION
Commercial spaces can be a revolving door. Literally.
The average turnover for a commercial space is five years. That means any given commercial space could need an interior overhaul up to twice a decade. For building owners and leasing agents, that means time, money, and material waste going into the same space over and over again.
When it comes to tenants, change is inevitable — no matter what you do.
A new tenant brings different needs, and those needs mean costly renovations. Even the same tenant’s needs will change over time, and if the space doesn’t change with them, they’ll eventually seek greener pastures. These days, tenants want a space that isn’t just functional or productive. They want something that inspires; a productive space that people don’t want to rush out of at the end of the day.
At Built, we don’t view change as a challenge. We embrace it. Our solutions are designed to change. They also align with our belief in being environmentally friendly.
Software Led Solutions
The inherent value of our solutions are their amenability. Our custom environments are made to last, but we know that commercial space renovations are frequent. Even reorganizations within a company can create different needs.
With the help of ICE® software, DIRTT solutions offer easy flexibility and adaptability for a space. You can negotiate better rates with your landlord to stay longer, knowing your DIRTT solution will grow with you. For property managers, the solutions can be repurposed for new tenants. These changes could be as simple as changing a wall or two for personalization, or a more comprehensive overhaul.
Our solutions can be repurposed into the new designs or recycled if they aren’t needed. Unlike consumer tech products, our solutions don’t have generations. A solution installed tomorrow will forever mesh with future materials, allowing changes to be made without much hassle.
Our clients want to save money. But they also understand the importance of being good stewards to the environment. When it comes to the intention behind our custom environments as well as all the efforts and materials that went into making them, sustainability is front of mind.
Why is sustainability so important to us?
For one, our clients demand it, and what is sustainable is often cost-effective. But we’re also part of an industry that has historically been a big part of the problem.
Approximately 40% of all materials in the landfill come from conventional construction, renovation, and demolition. Just one commercial space can create a massive amount of waste due to numerous renovations over the course of its lifetime.
We are in the business of solving problems. Our solutions help clients create innovative and sustainable environments that can evolve with the needs of the space.
Recycled and Recyclable Environments
With off-site prefabrication, we require smaller crews and much less material waste. As our solutions are manufactured to the 1/16th of an inch, there is little waste from cutting or preparing materials on site. Any unused materials are recycled at the end of the process.
From the products itself to the design, manufacture and installation processes, our solutions are sustainable without compromising functionality or innovation.
Our clients create environments where people actually want to be, while also alleviating headaches for building managers dealing with constant change.
I don’t watch much TV (I’d rather be working or fishing), but every once in a while I get sucked in to an episode of Myth Busters. It’s fascinating to me how we believe things that may appear true but in reality, they’re far from it.
Now and then our team at Built has to perform our own version of that show, busting a few myths and preconceived notions about prefabrication. These notions are well-intentioned, but like most myths, they’re just not very well formed.
For our industry, most of the preconceptions can be boiled down to three main myths. Allow me to bust them.
1. The Concept of Prefabrication is a recent development.
This one is pretty straight forward. Prefabrication techniques are actually hundreds of years old dating back to the 17th century. An example of early prefabrication that you are familiar with would be the Eiffel Tower. In our world when you say prefabrication, we like to think of it as working smarter, not harder. We all do enough of the latter, but we could all use some more of the former.
Even though it’s not a recent concept, prefabrication is the current trend in construction, especially for progressive firms. In our process we embrace and utilize innovative technology and we’re helping push our rather dated industry forward. It’s a trend we like being a part of.
2. Prefabrication takes away the chance to customize your design and it provides poor acoustics.
Perhaps this one comes from a bad experience with a partner who pushed a bad product or solution. The truth couldn’t be further from this misconception.
People don’t just want a modern office space with clean lines; they want a space engineered for productivity. That’s exactly the sort of capabilities we have with DIRTT. From a design standpoint, the options when building with DIRTT are truly endless. We can create and build a unique design to meet the needs of any given space.
Whether it’s scraping and rebuilding a space or smaller changes to parts of your existing space, our system can help create a solution tailored to your needs and allow you to see what the final result will look like before anyone shows up to the worksite.
Our team of designers are most intent on listening to you the customer and understanding your hopes and vision for your environment and then articulating it in a plan. If you can imagine it, we can build it.
And then the acoustics. This one may be able to get drawn back to some contractors from the old guard who resist the way technology is pushing our industry to change. Here’s the reality. If you build using poor traditional construction or a poor prefabricated system, your acoustics will suck. We take a holistic approach to acoustics and use the best engineered system made. DIRTT was completely developed with acoustic performance in mind. When you work with us and use our system you will find it performs acoustically as well or in many cases better than traditional construction.
3. Prefabrication is always going to cost more than traditional construction.
Just ask my lovely and loyal wife, Beth Anne, words like “always” and “never” are not good words to use. These two words have very definite connotations and frame a conversation in the context of “at all times” or “not ever”. They are not very “customer-centric” words or concepts. Every project is different, and there are complex considerations as it comes to cost.
But this is one preconception we hear often.
To use rough math here, when you break down project budgets, traditional construction typically consists of 70% labor and 30% materials.
Our projects typically consist of the inverse: 70% materials and 30% labor.
With this equation, we allow you to minimize both risk and uncertain labor costs, with the bulk of the cost going to manufacturing and quality materials, rather than on-site labor.
With our technology, we design your space and tell you exactly how much our prefabricated materials will cost to manufacture and assemble – and exactly how long it will take to assemble. That sort of cost and completion transparency is just something that you can’t get with traditional construction methods.
Some of our projects, we’re 5-6% premium, some maybe 2%, many are cost neutral.
But to us, “how much does the project cost?” is the wrong question to ask. We prefer questions like:
- “What is the value to have and retain happy and engaged employees?”
- “When you’re competing for top end talent, what do candidates look for in an office environment?”
- “What’s the 5-, 10-, 15-, and 50-year vision of your space?”
- “How will your traditional construction project hold up over time?”
- “What will you do when you want to alter the space?”
- “What is the perfect environment worth to you?”
Our questions could go on, but I think you get the point.
Sure, cost matters. It’s one common measurable when evaluating your building options. But we’re far from always costing more, especially when you consider a broader and more valuable set of questions. Here’s one time I think the word always is appropriate, we think the customer should always get the best value for their dollar.
I understand why you may have preconceived notions, but I hope I’ve busted a few of your myths.
Sometimes it just takes people who have resistance towards prefabrication in construction to come to our showroom or a work site and actually see the awesome things our system is capable of.
If you’re curious, we’d love to have you come by, so we can show you what prefab — and Built Interior Construction — can do for you.