Changemakers On: Business – Digital Magazine

Image via DIRTT

The content presented in this article is produced by the brand.

Shaped by weather realities and uncertain market forces, the construction, architecture and design industries must embrace business insights that help leaders navigate uncertainty.

To learn what ideas can get us there, three changemakers in industrialized design and construction shared their insights. Our approach: What business ideas do we need the most right now?

A change agent told us how the benefits of sustainable design and construction now clearly align with business objectives, which can have a transformative impact on both the environment and business results.

Another reminds us that the business idea we need most is connected to us at the individual leadership level.

Finally, one has a call to action to move away from a conventional approach to construction projects and instead focus on adaptability and return on investment in these uncertain economic realities.

What is clear from these conversations is that the ideas for building a different business future are out there. It is up to each of us to bring them to life.

Business priorities now drive sustainability goals

“It doesn’t matter if someone believes in climate change, because their insurance company does,” he says. eric corey releasedPrincipal and Director of Sustainability at CannonDesign.

“We have seen that the big insurance companies have gone to great lengths to understand climate risk,” he says, adding that 100% of his clients are focused on sustainability. “We are also seeing a push from shareholders to hold companies accountable for their climate commitments. Exxon was sued by its shareholders for failing to address how climate change is a risk to their investments.”

Freed’s firm frames the benefits of sustainability using something called “life-focused design.” It is an approach that targets vital results for clients, whether they are financial, social or social. The company then uses the design process to look for those benefits. In a recent project, they helped a hospital system dramatically reduce their costs by introducing a geothermal solution.

“I asked them what drove them crazy,” Freed says. “And without hesitation they said they spend $95,000 a year removing snow. So, I explained how we could install a ground geothermal system, which would create melt zones on your site. Basically, they will never have to remove snow again. They can also retire their old steam plants and reclaim that space in the middle of their campus. That geothermal well will provide heating and cooling for the entire campus and it will pay for itself in a matter of years.”

“We still hold out hope that Iron Man will come up with some amazing technology that miraculously sucks carbon out of the air. But that’s pretty unlikely.”


goals set by the United Nations Environment Program and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) call for carbon neutrality by 2030, which requires a 45% reduction in emissions. Now that that deadline is seven years away, Freed stresses the importance of acting now to address sustainability goals.

“We’ve all seen too many Marvel movies where the hero saves the day. I think in all of our hearts, including mine, we still hope Iron Man develops some amazing technology that miraculously sucks carbon out of the air. But that is quite unlikely. We need to take action today to achieve our sustainability goals,” he says.

Main point

A green building is not only more respectful of the environment. They can provide real trading benefits and better results. Focus on results use sustainability to get you there.

How servant leadership unlocks sustainable growth

The key to winning more work is not to focus on closing more deals. It’s about providing value and building long-term relationships.

That is how andre davis addresses his work as a corporate and community engagement executive at built interior construction. It’s a philosophy known as “servant leadership” in which a leader’s goal is focused on providing value—to customers, employees, and stakeholders—rather than solely driving bottom-line financial results.

Davis believes this is the optimal path to accelerate growth.

“I used to be in sales, where you had a script and you were prepared for an answer given,” he says. “It is not authentic. Over time, I’ve learned that people won’t come back to you with that approach, because they see you as a commodity.”

Instead, Davis strives to incorporate a more authentic, relationship-driven approach.

“Once I feel like we’re not a good fit, I’ll offer to bring in another firm that might be a better fit for them. This is truly one of the ways that we add value and how we connect on a much deeper level with our customers. This pays incredible dividends in the long run for his business.”


“It’s simple,” Davis says. “When I meet with people, I usually ask, ‘What are you trying to solve?’”

From now on, it’s all about listening and adding value on the front-end without doing the “asking” for your business, he says.

“Once I feel like we’re not a good fit, I’ll offer to bring in another firm that might be a better fit for them. This is truly one of the ways that we add value and how we connect on a much deeper level with our customers. This pays incredible long-term dividends for your business because no one else does. And the person receiving says, ‘Why would you send me to another company instead of your company? These guys must really want what’s best for me instead of just making a sale.’”

When you become known for this approach, Davis says you’re never busy. “You always get involved in conversations about potential project opportunities.”

Davis shares a story about a lunch he had with the CEO of a healthcare organization. It was a lengthy discussion in which Davis did not speak at all about his company or his services.

“It was a great meeting,” Davis says. “For three hours, we talked about wine and bourbon. His dislike of tomatoes and my dislike of Brussel sprouts. In the latter part of the meeting, I invited him and his executive team to our office to meet with our team over some bourbon. When they came to visit and were walking through our office, he wanted to know more about our work. I said, ‘Wait a minute, I invited you in for bourbon, not to talk about construction.’ He said: ‘Can we do both?’ This is the level of authenticity that delivers great results. Now they are very interested in how we can help them in future builds.

Building sustainable growth is based on delivering value whenever possible. It all comes from building an authentic and intentional relationship, he says. That is the core of servant leadership and long-term business success.

Main point

Building intentional relationships with customers and partners is first about being a servant leader. Add value even when you don’t benefit financially and seek to add value before asking for anything in return.

Conventional construction must adapt to uncertain economic challenges

A perfect storm of economic disruption, pandemic challenges and global uncertainty in nearly every industry has created change in the world of architecture, design and construction, he says mike iannoneDirector of the DIRTT Constructibility Division.

“It’s seismic when you think about the impact on the workforce and the supply chain along with global economic instability and then the competitive downturn and inflationary conditions right now. That is the perfect confluence,” he says.

Despite this unpredictability, some in the construction industry continue to use the same methodology to conduct business, which raises the question: Why would an industry choose an increasingly risky business methodology, ultimately leading to a way of planned obsolescence?

“The reason people stick with conventional construction is that it’s one of the few industries where you don’t need to know how long it will take, how much it will cost, or how it will turn out, and yet have the accepted results.”


The legacy of construction has simply been to build as quickly as possible with the least amount of cost and little, if any, consideration for schedules and quality. However, now is an era where construction is moving in another direction.

Iannone says that beyond the costs, it is time to think about how to maximize the return on investment in construction.

“The way to do that is by using state-of-the-art systems as the foundation of design and construction that easily respond to future needs, whether it’s where a wall sits or, more importantly, what functions are asked of that wall. wall. accommodate,” he says.

But due to economic and global uncertainty, a compromise is being reached in the early stages of design. Limitations are placed on designers and contractors, forcing them to change the space to make it smaller or to use different materials than would otherwise have been used. The price agreed today will inevitably change over the life of the construction phase. Quality deteriorates and, as Iannone points out, “leaving the can by the wayside is a kind of Ponzi scheme.”

Architects and contractors already mitigate risks for clients. “In the world of design, we often say that we have to protect the client from themselves,” says Iannone.

Now, with current market forces, architects and GCs must help further protect their clients by adopting construction approaches that prioritize adaptability and maximize return on investment.

Main point

Conventional construction, the supply chain, and the workforce that supports it are fraught with challenges in today’s marketplace. Maximizing return on investment with the built environment should include considerations from Day 2. Architects and GCs can help protect clients from the headache and cost associated with future change by building with adaptable options to begin with.

Explore more of the DIRTT Changemaker Series

This article is part of a series in which we speak with industry leaders about the issues, changes, and opportunities facing leaders in design, construction, real estate, and business. Explore more topics and hear from more change agents.