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Ruth Favela
By Ruth Favela
Ruth Favela
Ruth Favela
Ruth Favela is Tomorrow.io's AI Marketer. She draws on over 5 years of experience as an editor, writer, and social media manager for AI startups, B2B SaaS, and B2C products. In her role, Ruth focuses on using AI tools to create customer-first content for the various industries Tomorrow.io has solutions for. She writes about weather innovations, AI/ML modeling, weather API applications, weather AI use cases, and much more.
May 21, 2024· 6 min, 36 sec

Building Resilience: How Construction Navigates Weather Challenges

    TL;DR:

    • Weather poses significant challenges for the construction industry, leading to delays, increased costs, and safety hazards.
    • PCL Construction has been navigating weather challenges for over a century, adapting to diverse climates and mitigating weather impacts proactively.
    • Safety is a top priority, with measures in place to protect employees in extreme conditions.
    • Embracing new opportunities in the water and wastewater sector, construction firms are positioning themselves for long-term success.
    • Finance leaders play a crucial role in navigating climate challenges, understanding business issues beyond traditional accounting and finance.

    Weather is a force to be reckoned with in the construction industry, causing an estimated $4 billion in losses annually in the United States alone. From hurricanes and heatwaves to cold snaps and heavy rainfall, adverse weather conditions can lead to significant project delays, increased costs, and potential safety hazards for workers.

    Recently, Tomorrow.io’s Director of Marketing, Kelly Peters, sat down with Mike Kehoe, Vice President of Finance for PCL Construction, to discuss the impact of weather on the construction industry.

    PCL, a 100% employee-owned group of companies with offices throughout the US, Canada, and Australia, has been navigating the challenges of weather for over a century.

    Let’s explore Mike’s key insights and how construction firms like PCL are adapting to the ever-changing climate.

    The Most Significant Weather Impact in Construction

    “The most significant impact from my perspective is really schedule delays. When weather delays a project schedule, it exposes us to increased costs both from a general conditions perspective as well as for potential liquidated damages. Delayed completion affects our clients as well,” Mike explained when asked about the most significant impact of weather on the construction industry.

    These delays impact not only the construction firms but also their clients, who have financing, delivery dates, and opening dates to consider.

    Weather-related supply chain disruptions and material availability also contribute to these delays, making it crucial for construction companies to have contingency plans.

    Dealing with Devastating Disasters In Construction

    The construction industry is no stranger to storms.

    In 2022, Hurricane Ian struck Cuba and Florida before reaching the Carolinas, impacting many businesses and organizations.

    Mike talks about the aftermath of Hurricane Ian on PCL Construction, where they did $150 million worth of repair work for a client in Naples, Florida.

    Mike described the extent of the damage, particularly to a hotel project close to the water.

    “That project, the main project, was a hotel project located very close to the water. The storm surge ended up washing out the first floor of the entire operation. On that first floor were all of the electrical and mechanical capabilities for the hotel, and that had to be completely replaced,” he shared.

    This highlights the devastating impact of weather events on construction projects and the importance of being prepared to handle such situations.

    How Construction Plans for Diverse Climates

    With decades of construction experience, firms like PCL have developed a deep understanding of working in various climates.

    “We work from the north end of Canada, from Yellowknife, all the way down to the south side of Australia. That experience helps us to prepare and plan for weather events and the climates that we work in,” Mike noted.

    To prepare for weather events, construction companies build them into their overall project schedules, adjust labor productivity rates, and take appropriate measures to protect employees and projects.

    Historical weather patterns, water and snow accumulation, and temperature fluctuations are all considered in the planning process to ensure that projects can be completed on time and within budget.

    Mitigating Weather Impact: A Proactive Approach

    The construction industry takes a proactive approach to mitigate the impact of weather on their projects. This involves thorough planning, executing the plan, and adjusting as needed.

    “We certainly try to plan, and then we try to execute the plan. Plans are going to change, and so you have to adjust as you go forward. And what we try to do is take advantage of the good weather opportunities and really react to the poor weather and make sure that we’re on track,” Mike explained.

    Communication with clients and subcontractors is also crucial to ensure everyone understands when the construction plan has changed and how to adapt accordingly.

    The Importance of Safety: Protecting Employees in Extreme Conditions

    The #1 priority in construction? Safety.

    In locations with rising temperatures, companies have implemented heat illness protection plans. “We monitor the temperatures on the job sites. We make sure that we have both water and shade stations available. We encourage employees to put down their tools and take a break if they need to. They need to manage their own health as well as how we manage it,” Mike said.

    “And we wanna make sure that everybody goes home safe at night,” he continues, “So it’s important that we manage the issues related to heat exposure, and heat exhaustion.”

    In colder climates, construction firms incorporate winter planning conditions into their project plans, clearing sites of snow and ice and using heaters and blankets to complete temperature-sensitive scopes.

    By prioritizing the safety and well-being of their employees, construction companies can ensure that projects are completed efficiently and without incident.

    Looking Ahead: Embracing New Opportunities in a Changing Climate

    As the world faces increasing challenges related to water scarcity and droughts, construction firms are finding new opportunities in the water and wastewater sector.

    “Droughts are affecting the entire world, and our water and wastewater business will increase 400% in a six-year period. Water is now considered the new oil, and it’s an important part of what the world is facing and our business opportunities going forward,” Mike revealed.

    By embracing these new opportunities and adapting to the changing climate, construction companies can position themselves for long-term success and contribute to building a more sustainable future.

    The Role of Finance in Navigating Climate Challenges

    As construction firms navigate the challenges posed by weather, the role of finance leaders like Mike Kehoe is becoming increasingly important.

    “Today’s CFO needs to understand more than just the traditional accounting and finance areas of the business. We need to understand more business issues like contract risk management, insurance risk management, cybersecurity and fraud protection and prevention, and the changing workforce and how that affects our business overall,” Mike explained.

    By taking a holistic approach to risk management and staying attuned to the evolving needs of the industry, finance leaders can help their companies weather any storm that comes their way.

    Enhancing Construction

    As weather continues to disrupt construction operations, firms like PCL Construction serve as an example of how proactive planning, adaptability, and a focus on safety can help mitigate the impact of climate change.

    By leveraging their extensive experience, incorporating historical weather data, and embracing new opportunities in the water and wastewater sector, construction companies are well-positioned to weather any storm that comes their way.

    As Mike Kehoe put it, “We really try to incorporate weather into overall business strategy.”

    By doing so, construction firms can ensure they build a resilient and sustainable future for future generations.

    Building Resilience With Tomorrow.io

    Tomorrow.io helps organizations enhance operational resilience by providing AI-powered hyper-local weather intelligence. With precise forecasts, real-time alerts, and actionable insights, businesses can proactively plan for and mitigate weather risks.

    From optimizing staffing and inventory to ensuring employee safety and minimizing supply chain disruptions, Tomorrow.io empowers construction companies with weather AI to make informed decisions based on weather data.

    By integrating weather insights into their operations, construction companies can reduce costs, improve efficiency, and maintain continuity in the face of increasingly volatile weather conditions.

    See how companies like Walbridge are seeing success or book a consultative call to learn more.

     

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