Promo for Professor Iris Tommelein, University of California, Berkeley's appearance on Bryden Wood's podcast Built Environment Matters without text

In this episode of our Built Environment Matters podcast, Jaimie Johnston MBE, Head of Global Systems, hosts a thought-provoking discussion with Iris Tommelein, a distinguished Professor of Engineering and Project Management at the University of California, Berkeley. She is also the Director of the Project Production Systems Laboratory (P2SL) at UC Berkeley. Prof. Tommelein is renowned for her extensive research and contributions to lean construction and project-based production management. This conversation delves into the future of construction, exploring lean principles, integrated project delivery, the impact of standardization, and the burgeoning role of AI and technology in reshaping the industry.

Join us as Iris and Jaimie share their insights and visions for a more efficient and innovative future in construction.

Click the 'play button' above to listen in, or read our 5 Key Takeaways from this episode below...

1. Embracing Lean Construction:

Iris emphasizes the importance of this approach for the built environment. She explains that lean construction aims to deliver exactly what the customer wants in the shortest time with minimal waste, though achieving this requires balancing often conflicting objectives. Her insights into lean construction as a mindset, rather than just a set of techniques, underscore its potential to revolutionize the construction industry by focusing on continuous improvement and efficiency.

2. Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) & Collaborative Approaches:

The podcast highlights the significance of IPD and collaborative methods in construction. It delves into how breaking down silos and encouraging cross-disciplinary collaboration leads to more holistic, efficient, and innovative building processes. There is a conversation about contracts like the integrated form of agreement developed by Will Lichtig (Chief of Staff & EVP at Boldt Construction) and how this illustrates the move towards shared risk and reward, encouraging all parties to work together towards a common goal.

3. The Role of Standardization and Modularization:

The discussion points out the tension between the desire for bespoke designs and the benefits of standardization and modularization in construction. By standardizing certain elements, like in the apparel industry, there's potential for increased creativity and efficiency. This standardization can lead to mass customization, where the construction process becomes more efficient, yet the end product can still meet diverse customer needs.

4. Technological Advancements and AI in Construction:

Iris discusses her early work with AI and how it's evolved to present times. She envisions a near future where AI and machine learning will significantly change the construction industry, from better data management and analysis to possibly altering work methods and material handling. However, she also notes the need for cultural changes to fully leverage these technological advancements.


5. Understanding Work Density and Takt Planning:

The concept of work density is introduced as a way to measure the amount of work done in a specific area over time. This metric is crucial for takt planning, a method used to increase efficiency on construction sites by creating a steady workflow. Iris explains how understanding and applying these concepts can lead to faster, more predictable, and higher-quality construction projects.


This podcast offers a comprehensive view of the future of construction, emphasizing the need for lean principles, collaboration, standardization, technological integration, and advanced planning methodologies.