four panelists speaking at the NIBS building innovation conference 2024

ICYMI: Highlights From NIBS’ Building Innovation Conference 2024

CE reports from the National Institute of Building Sciences’ Building Innovation Conference 2024, where industry experts answered questions on sustainability, diversity and inclusion, technology and more.
By Jordan LeGras
June 5, 2024

The National Institute of Building Sciences’ Building Innovation Conference 2024, held in Washington, D.C., from May 22-24, offered attendees insights on incoming shifts within the industry with hard-hitting declarations from experts who broke down what the future of the built environment holds. Chief among the discussion topics were the supply chain, workforce diversification and social equity, and climate adaptation and mitigation.

Here are key takeaways and quotable moments from the opening general session, which presented “A Look Ahead: The Next 50 Years of the Built Environment”:

Diversity and inclusion have been hot-button issues for some time, with many advances in the last several years in terms of women’s visibility and opportunity for advancement. However, panelists still noted room for improvement regarding how women are perceived within the construction industry.

  • “Change often happens when something makes you angry.” — Mónika Serrano, Resilience Program Manager, Turner Construction; Co-Host, “Adapt: Climate Change and the Built Environment” podcast
  • “The men that I work with are intimidated by me. Why is that a problem in 2024? They don’t know how to speak to me, and I’m training men how to have soft skills when interacting with other women. It doesn’t really make me angry. It makes me sad, and of course, you get angry because you want to fix it. There are women out there [in the construction industry] who are very knowledgeable. They’re bringing a different dynamic.” — Christi Powell, Women Business Enterprise Manager, 84 Lumber

The supply chain will continue to be a challenge over the next five decades, both for suppliers themselves and for the contractors who rely on them.

  • “The capacity to either sink or swim for suppliers lies in their ability to change rapidly. This adoption is also fueled by suppliers prioritizing building a relationship or partnership with customers and having detailed table conversations on how they can fulfill needs.” — Amy Marks, Executive Vice President, Global Strategy, Symetri

Climate change has been a hot topic at construction industry events for years, but questions still remain: How will we adapt to severe climate events? How do we change minds within the industry to welcome these adaptations?

  • “People do things when there’s money associated with it. That’s just the reality. So, when it comes to climate adaptation, it just needs to be embedded in everything. It needs to be in your daily job.” — Doug Parsons, Director, America Adapts Media
  • “[Climate change] will affect our built environment where we spend 90% of our time, the way we do business, migration and populations, so it’s really up to us to decide if we’re going to look forward to future climate events and get ready for those effects. The next 50 years of the built environment will be filled with challenges due to the effects of climate change on society, but progress is on the horizon. The only way to ensure a successful future is by changing the way we do things and changing the way we think. We are a very smart industry, so I’m hopeful that we’ll figure all those challenges out.” — Mónika Serrano
by Jordan LeGras
Jordan LeGras is the social media manager for Construction Executive magazine. [email protected]

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