NEW YORK – With some of the nation’s most iconic infrastructure badly in need of repairs, retrofits and updates – from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to New York’s Brooklyn Bridge – it is more important than ever for Congress to pass a new infrastructure package. And, with the current highway and transit spend bill set to expire on September 30, the Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Owner/Operator (AECO) industry must prepare now for new legislation that could potentially authorize more than $100 billion in increased infrastructure spending and create new jobs, putting thousands of Americans back to work.

"In order to successfully accomplish a major overhaul of U.S. infrastructure, AECO firms are going to be challenged to find new ways to become more efficient, effective and budget-conscious than ever before," said Michael DeLacey, principal of Microdesk. "To truly rebuild America’s infrastructure, AECO firms need to reconsider where they fit into the scope of the entire design and construction process, and look to tools and techniques, such as Building Information Modeling, to improve the way the industry works. If we became twice as efficient in our processes, we could effectively cut the U.S. infrastructure problem in half."

The pending infrastructure spend comes on the heels of several reports that have given U.S. infrastructure a failing grade – from the American Society of Civil Engineer’s "D" ranking, to an upcoming World Economic Forum report that drops America from sixth to 16th place in terms of national infrastructure. With the goal of helping AECO firms prepare to address the nation’s infrastructure problems, Microdesk has compiled the following tips, calling for a review of:

•TECHNOLOGY: AECO firms should do a full review of all project technologies. With many advanced building information modeling (BIM) and virtual design and construction (VD&C) programs on the market, firms can apply these tools now in order to improve design efficiency and reduce project conflicts.

•WORKFLOW: The U.S. AEC industry passes on $15.8 billion in costs associated with data interoperability, so there are significant cost savings to be had if companies can share construction documentation seamlessly. This helps to avoid expensive errors and eliminate additional costs of change orders during construction.

•PROJECT ANALYSIS: In order to streamline design processes, companies should analyze all projects for performance. Closely examining opportunities for improved performance, strategies for incorporating sustainability elements and eliminating conflicts early helps to cut costs at all stages of the project lifecycle.

•PROJECT COMPLETION: Companies should review the mechanisms they have in place to distribute more intelligent post-construction documentation. By extending the life of BIM models beyond the construction phase to facilities operations and maintenance, AECO firms will deliver significantly more value to the owner.

•EDUCATION: Firms must get educated now on all of the pending legislation before Congress – from a proposed infrastructure job bank to a dedicated fund for transit and highway modernization. AECO firms who stay ahead of the legislation, as well as facility owner regulations around BIM technology, will find themselves ahead of the competition during the bid process.

"While increased infrastructure spending is vital to improving our nation’s roads, bridges and buildings, it can’t just be about throwing money at the problem," added DeLacey. "We need to fix our infrastructure the right way, using the technologies we have available to increase collaboration, improve design processes, cut costs and ensure that we rebuild America with infrastructure than can stand the test of time."