I came across an insightful post by Phil Bernstein entitled: “The Destruction of Trust,” which talks about the current state of AEC groups during this economic downturn. Generally speaking, the combination of high-unemployment, low-balling fees, cut-throat bidding and skepticism within the building industry has created a climate of distrust between AEC groups. The biggest fear, according to Bernstein, is that the surviving AEC groups and the building industry as a whole could be permanently damaged if these trends continue. The key to avoiding this fate would be for all project stakeholders to maintain a vested interest and commitment to long-term sustainable practices (not only environmental, but also economical and social), which would include not low-balling fees and the discouraging of highly competitive bidding practices.
The practice of developing healthy relationships between stakeholders might be a good credo or mission statement, but I believe it is much harder to put into practice. So how can this goal be achieved in a practical fashion; how do you create trust in a distrustful environment? Well, as I explain in Chapter 5 of my thesis, my theory is that “collaboration can happen earlier in the design process and new relationships can solidify faster with the use of BIM.” I realize that BIM, in and of itself, is probably not a panacea for eliminating the ills currently afflicting the building industry, but this economic downturn presents an opportunity for AEC groups to use BIM as a means for holding everyone to a higher standard of accountability and creating more transparent decision-making workflows. I believe this opportunity will determine which AEC groups will survive over the long-run and will inevitably shape a lasting impression on the building industry as a whole.