Are partnerships the solution to the construction supply-chain crisis? Is working together in consortiums the solution to climate change? It is a start—but is it enough? The documentary Bare Metal has been shown in a number of film festivals and highlights the point that the firms building the digital infrastructure around the globe and the largest construction materials organizations are working on how to partner to solve climate change.
This video hits on an important point that giant companies need to work together—but there is so much more that needs to be done. Coming together is simply the first step.
Now, we need to understand how to work together. The construction industry and manufacturing community must work together from a framework of reducing from the beginning. They need to change how they build it, imagine it, and see the future of it. They must think about and begin with the end in mind.
Stephen Covey taught me this very valuable lesson as part of his second of seven lessons from his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, many years ago, and it has stuck with me ever since. It allows me to become very goal driven and to have clear vision for the entire team. Simply, by understanding his teachings we recognized the most important work was yet to come.
This is something I wrote about in my book Sustainable in a Circular World more than two years ago. The take-make-waste model was successful for many decades. As humans we became comfortable with things, and making more things, and then more things. It has been a very plentiful cycle of take-make-waste. So much so, we became known as the throw-it-away society.
We have now reached a point where we need to think differently. We need words like circular economy, sustainability, and climate change to all become part of the everyday nomenclature. We need to be restorative by design and that starts at the beginning.
Too often we desire to build it and then look to the materials. However, we have to consider what will happen at the end of the life of that road, building, computer, you name it. We need to consider how we will use those materials again within the construction supply chain and how the people will be affected.
Going forward, those working in construction and manufacturing need to envision this part of the sustainability story. This is a conversation I have been having with folks at many of the large technology companies lately. Manufacturing companies are just beginning to recognize the changes that need to occur. I said it decades ago, but they are just beginning to recognize the need to nearshore and reshore in order to reimagine the construction supply chain. This will also be true as we rebuild our communities.
While this video is a good first step, it still misses the bigger picture in understanding how we will really engage young innovators to come into construction and build differently. This was exactly the conversation I had with many of the powerhouse women executives at Bentley Systems Year in Infrastructure at the end of last year. One big consensus is we need to guide the conversation and appeal to the younger generation. As Covey explained, we need to begin with the end in mind. We need those young innovators now.
All this to say, partnerships in and of themselves don’t drive change. Some do and others are simply smoke and mirrors. We are at the point now where we need real action to start happening for our climate and for our construction supply chain. This is the only way to leave a lasting impact on our world and on our infrastructure.
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