Why Building CATALYST

“…construction appears to be stuck in a time warp. In the United States since 1945, productivity in manufacturing… has grown by as much as 1,500 percent; productivity in construction has barely increased at all.”


So says the McKinsey Global Institute in their 2017 study: Reinventing Construction: A Route to Higher Productivity.  The McKinsey study is just the latest in a decade’s long quest to solve our productivity dilemma. A variety of great tools and processes - like BIM, IPD, and Lean Construction – have helped. But because they have been added on top of – rather than replacing – a fragmented and archaic contracting structure, their impact is only a shadow of their potential. As a result, construction costs continue to escalate two to three times faster than the rest of the economy and projects take far longer than necessary to produce. In spite of the technology advancements, more than 90% of all labor is non-productive.

Building CATALYST enables building teams to start fresh with a clean slate – by removing manual, archaic, and fragmented structures; and replacing them with a highly automated and streamlined Systems Approach. This approach integrates and automates programming, design, and cost management technologies, processes and organizations. When called for by owners, and when lead by upper management among architects and builders, the Systems Approach will effectively reduce uncertainty, rework and waste – enabling projects to efficiently flow through the production process. 

Building CATALYST starts by providing impartial valuation of likely project outcomes. This means that value improvement can be measured against unbiased standards. It also means that contract incentives can be based on impartial budgets. Design/Build profit increases based on reduced, rather than increased, hours and costs. Here are some of the key benefits:

  1. Greater certainty of outcome 
  2. Rapid modeling multiple building solutions for better infomed decision-making
  3. Reduction in redesign effort due to over or under-budgeting 
  4. Reduction in overall design effort/costs and billable preconstruction hours
  5. Compressed programming and design time
  6.  Reduced supply and assembly time and cost

An incentive-based, full Systems Approach produces a "real value equivalent" potential from these benefits that will far exceed 5% of the otherwise expected design and construction cost. This compares to less than 1%, the cost to implement the Systems Approach, including the technology and integration applications, standardized templates, libraries, coding and processes, contracting methods and documents, kit-of-parts cataloging, measurement-based quality support, and more.

The Systems Approach rolls out in three stages:

Stage 1 - Knowledge-based Planning and Cost Management

Building CATALYST provides a self-contained statistical modeling and analysis solution to predict a project’s program, design parameters, schedule and cost. It provides a powerful decision-making resource based on the owner’s business case and other key attributes that impact outcomes. Typically, owners will engage a Building Catalyst expert to help in the planning process and provide cost certainty.  Learn more

Stage 2 - Programming and Design Integration and Automation

Building CATALYST allows standardized, detailed project data and technology apps to be networked into an overall system. CATALYST-based templates and standards dramatically reduced the manual and error prone handling to data and automates the preconstruction process. Implementation of this requires a new form of Design-Build or IPD where the owner, designer and builder are all connected into a common data/tech system.  Learn more

Stage 3 - Construction as a System

Building CATALYST enables builders to think like manufacturers – moving from the one-off mindset to a high production system. We “build the plant” and then we “produce the product”.  CATALYST-based standards, libraries and content are prototyped as functional, space and elemental object levels, rather than at the whole-building level. This enables buildings to be a customized assembly of standard “kit-of-parts”. CATALYST then provides impartial analysis, which is essential to objectively measuring and managing improvement. Learn more

The Systems Approach is for owners and building teams who understand that something more radical is needed – a new management philosophy. W. Edwards Deming is the physicist and statistician that led Japan’s reconstruction and the development of today’s lean process improvement.  He developed a management philosophy grounded in systems theory. Deming  puts it this way, “A change in philosophy requires unlearning industrial thinking evident in departmentalization (i.e., silos, fragmentation), scarcity of knowledge and information competitiveness”.  We must be systems thinkers, and we must acquire knowledge that abounds –being willing to share the wealth of data ready to be mined.