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Lean Construction

What a crazy transition it has been from winter to spring! I am writing this from the confines of my warm home, putting off the inevitable: At some point I have to go outside, in the snow, and try to remove the thick layer of ice that Mother Nature poured all over my car last night. It is the middle of March, and after a warmer than normal February and a winter without much snow, the D.C. area got socked by Snowstorm Stella.


In the days before the storm, meteorologists were predicting up to 12 inches of snow for us. What we ended up getting was more ice than snow. If you’re like me, you’d rather deal with 12 inches of snow than half an inch of ice. Am I right?


The last time we experienced a big snowfall in this area, I enjoyed the camaraderie of my neighbors. People helped each other out. I was new to the neighborhood at the time, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my next-door neighbor has a snow blower and was kind enough to do my driveway. He saved me a lot of time and backaches. In return, in the spring I gifted my neighbor with several pounds of fresh-picked strawberries. (Picking berries is also back-breaking, but it’s much sweeter work.)


But this year, during this particular snowstorm, my neighbors are keeping to themselves. To find our sidewalks, driveways and cars, we need ice picks more than we need shovels. It’s not fun work. Comparing the last snow event to this one got me to thinking about the lean construction. (You know I had to eventually get to the point.) One of the things I learned from the article that begins on page 34 is that being lean involves everybody who works on the construction of a building. It’s not just the drywall contractor or the ceiling contractor—it’s all the trades. The more, the merrier. Kind of like my neighborhood show-shoveling effort of a few years ago. And like this year’s snow, when no one works together, nothing gets done, or the job does get done but at a much slower pace.


Just how much the lean concept is growing was surprising to me as well. Last year when we covered the subject, it was somewhat difficult to find contractors to interview. This year? Not a problem. Because more wall and ceiling contractors have embraced lean construction techniques. Why? You’ll have to read the article.


This issue also puts the spotlight on the steel framing work done by Performance Contracting Inc. on the renovation of the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences Academic Center in Kansas City, Mo. As you can see from our cover and the article on page 52—wow! It’s LEED® Silver for commercial interiors, the contractor used a 3D model to make things more efficient, and the geometry alone made me flash back to dreaded high-school math classes.


Finally, flip over to page 40 to view our annual AWCI Contractor Directory. It’s where you’re learn about AWCI member contractors and their fields of service.


And now it’s time for the inevitable. It’s still snowing, but I must go outside and do some winter work. If the snow is as heavy as they say it is, I’m sure to burn some calories and come out a little leaner.

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