Category Archives: Global

Opportunities in Retrofit and Renovation of Existing Buildings

Addressing commercial typology trends, organizational commitments, levers of transformation, and decarbonization technologies, the report covers a lot of ground. The section “Retrofit and Renovation” discusses how making the existing building stock greener and more energy efficient will help us reach climate goals. The report states:

Retro-commissioning (RCx) is a valuable tool for identifying and maximizing potential
energy savings. For example, every 1% of retro-commissioning market penetration results in energy savings of almost four billion kBtu, the equivalent of over 830,000 metric tons of CO2 e per year—more than the average of two U.S. natural gas-fired power plants operating for an entire year.

According to the data, growth in commercial sector renovations and retrofits is projected to increase up to 11% annually by 2027 with additional funding from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

“IRA amendments to the commercial building incentive known as Section 179D update the financial benefits for energy efficiency retrofits to existing buildings,” shares the report, explaining that buildings constructed before 1980 that have not been renovated since 2000 make up 37% of the national gross commercial floor area; 47% of the tax deductions provided under Section 179D are tied to these buildings.

“If all existing commercial buildings in the United States were retrofitted with energy efficiency upgrades in compliance with their respective states’ current energy code, $314B of tax deductions could be recognized, resulting in $66B in net total tax savings,” estimates the report.

With subsections on whole life carbon savings, building ownership and occupancy, funding and incentives, and commissioning and retro-commissioning market penetration, the report paints a picture of just how many opportunities exist to decarbonize through existing buildings.

For more insights on retrofitting trends and opportunities, explore the State of Decarbonization: Progress in U.S. Commercial Buildings 2023 at

A first-of-its kind report released in early December 2023 by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), an authority on green building and the global developer of the LEED green building program, reviews 30 years of data from the U.S. commercial real estate sector. The State of Decarbonization: Progress in U.S. Commercial Buildings 2023, released at the Conference of the Parties (COP) summit, found the U.S. has made vital, yet unequal, progress in decarbonizing commercial real estate. The report identifies levers and outlines pathways for all 50 states to achieve decarbonization targets.

Produced in collaboration with the global sustainable development firm Arup, the inaugural State of Decarbonization report is the first ever to deliver both key historical data and targeted opportunities for future improvement. Importantly, the report identified high-opportunity areas that can be decarbonized faster, such as deep retrofits in refrigerated warehouses, where emissions grew in recent years; and older commercial buildings, where pre-1980 buildings account for nearly 40% of gross commercial floor area in the United States and could utilize nearly half of the expanded commercial energy efficiency tax deduction in 2022’s Inflation Reduction Act, a key lever for decarbonization, per the report.

The report underscores that the United States has the tools it needs to reduce building-related emissions, and new federal funds provide the real estate sector with a unique, immediate opportunity to deploy critical improvements swiftly and widely across the nation. For example, the investments from the Inflation Reduction Act’s clean energy and climate action provisions could enable the building sector to meet its proportional share of the Paris target early, in 2029.

With proven decarbonization strategies long championed by USGBC becoming available and cost-competitive, commercial buildings have become 37% less carbon intensive and 26% more energy efficient on average. However, despite these significant reductions, the report found that the overall sector emissions of commercial buildings have remained flat since 1990, a result of significant increases in total building floor area.

“This report confirms our progress to date on U.S. commercial building decarbonization and serves as a powerful call to deploy proven solutions at greater speed and scale across all sectors and communities,” said Peter Templeton, President and CEO, USGBC. “We can and must work together—with partners across and beyond the building industry—to seize immediate opportunities for achieving our urgent goals.”

“This report is a crucial resource in understanding where we are presently, where we need to be in the very near future, and the strategies we can leverage to help us meet our critical climate goals,” said Robert Kay, Arup’s Americas Climate and Sustainability Services Leader. “We must accelerate decarbonization progress from where each city and state is at right now in order to reach our objectives.”

The State of Decarbonization report was released as USGBC and other global leaders convened at COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. USGBC has participated in the annual COP meeting since Copenhagen in 2009, where the organization was a lone but influential voice bringing much-needed attention to the central role that buildings must play in addressing climate change.

With full citations, sources, and methodology provided, report analyses focus on energy and operational emissions where data are more robust and actions more mature. This report complements critical new resources for building decarbonization, including the RMI-USGBC report Driving Action on Embodied Carbon in Buildings, released in late September 2023 (available at It will help policymakers, advocates, and companies understand the landscape and develop strategies to achieve the urgent scale of action needed.

Alongside the report, USGBC has announced LEED v5, the forthcoming leadership standard that aligns building decarbonization action with the urgency of the 2030 and 2050 Paris Agreement targets while also addressing critical imperatives related to human health, resilience, biodiversity, and equity.

The State of Decarbonization: Progress in U.S. Commercial Buildings 2023 report can be read in full at

The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has announced the final rule on worker classification, titled “Employee or Independent Contractor Classification Under the Fair Labor Standards Act [FLSA],” scheduled to take effect March 11.

This rule aims to clarify worker status as either employee or independent contractor under the FLSA. It rescinds the 2021 Independent Contractor Rule, which designated “core factors” to evaluate in determining an employment relationship. The new rule considers
multiple factors equally, including:

  • Opportunity for Profit or Loss Depending on Managerial Skill: This considers whether the worker can make money or lose money based on their ability to manage their work effectively, including using their judgment and business skills.
  • Investments by the Worker and the Employer: This factor considers whether the worker or the employer has invested money or resources in a way that resembles a business investment or a more typical worker’s investment.
  • Degree of Permanence of the Work Relationship: This considers the working relationship’s status as long term or ongoing.
  • Nature and Degree of Control: This factor considers whether the potential employer determines the worker’s work schedule, directly supervises how the work is carried out, or imposes restrictions on the worker’s ability to work for other employers.
  • The Extent to which the Work Performed Is an Integral Part of the Employer’s Business: This factor considers whether the specific tasks performed are integral to the overall functioning of the business.
  • Skill and Initiative: This point considers whether the worker uses specialized skills to perform the work, and whether those skills resemble managing a business rather than simply performing a job.
  • Additional Factors: This allows for consideration of other factors not listed that may be relevant to indicate whether the worker is in business for themself, as opposed to being economically dependent on the potential employer for work.

Defining an Independent Contractor

As used in the FLSA, the term “independent contractor” refers to workers who, as a matter of economic reality, are not economically dependent on an employer for work and are in business for themselves. Such workers play an important role in the economy and are commonly referred to by different titles, including independent contractor, self-employed worker, and freelancer. This rule is not intended to disrupt the businesses of independent contractors who are, as a matter of economic reality, in business for themselves.


When the rule was initially proposed, SHRM expressed concerns around the lack of clarity over how to evaluate a worker relationship, which could lead to ambiguity in worker classification. SHRM had advocated for retaining the 2021 classification test, emphasizing its clarity and consistency.

SHRM remains committed to providing updates and resources to help human resources (HR) professionals navigate this final rule, and it continues advocacy efforts aimed at supporting your needs and concerns. For additional summaries of this act or other HR policies, visit

For more information on the Employee or Independent Contractor Classification Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, visit

Musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs, are the most common workplace injury, costing U.S. businesses in the private sector nearly $17 billion a year, according to the Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index. Recognizing the impact these injuries have on workers and businesses, the National Safety Council (NSC) developed the MSD Solutions Index, an annual benchmarking survey, and recently released the inaugural findings in the MSD Solutions Index Pledge Community Report, which focuses on three main pledge commitments of advancing MSD risk reduction, innovation and collaboration, and safety culture.

Respondents represented the manufacturing, professional, transportation and warehousing, healthcare, utilities, and several other industries. Organizations received an overall index result, as well as results for the three pledge commitment subsections, that fell into one of five results categories representing MSD prevention maturity: novice, reactive, advancing, proactive, and innovating.

Major insights included:

  • No organization earned a perfect score, underscoring the complexity of MSDs and their prevention. However, 85% of organizations received overall results in the advancing (39%) or proactive (46%) categories, while 15% were in the reactive category. Further, 54% rated their workplace’s ability to prevent MSDs as either very good or excellent.
  • For the three subsections:
    • Risk Reduction: 44% of organizations received a result of advancing.
    • Safety Culture: Respondents showed slightly higher average scores, with 42% in the proactive category.
    • Innovation and Collaboration: Overall results demonstrated slightly lower average scores, with 31% scoring as reactive, though more than half of organizations exhibited advancing, proactive, or innovating results.
  • Larger organizations, which have more than 1,000 employees, are generally more effective at mitigating MSD risk, as they are more likely to have mature, long-standing safety programs and resources to adopt more complex MSD solutions and technology. In contrast, the majority of small- to medium-sized businesses established their safety program in the last 5 years.
  • Eight in 10 pledge members have some form of MSD prevention or ergonomics program in place, and 65% have methods for tracking MSD rates across their workplace.
  • Nearly two-thirds of organizations regularly conduct employee perception surveys, and nearly 90% have methods in place for workers to share suggestions for safety improvements. Notably, the MSD Solutions Index showed that when it comes to safety decisions related to workstation design, employees’ physical work environment, and workflow, frontline workers are regularly consulted on these issues, which leads to stronger safety cultures.
  • Nearly 85% of organizations reported that psychosocial risk factors contribute to MSDs in their workplace. These risk factors include things like mental health, fatigue, lack of tracking, and lack of personnel and proper equipment or tools.
  • More than 80% are currently using technology in their workplace to prevent MSDs, and just as many are effective at ensuring these best practices are broadcast widely across their organizations.

In addition, the report outlined several steps and actions organizations should take, including:

  • Engaging senior leadership, designating an MSD solutions champion to represent the workforce, and creating and empowering an MSD solutions team to collaborate throughout an organization;
  • Collecting and responding to employee feedback regularly and measuring the progress of an MSD program and safety culture, and tracking the impact, solutions effectiveness, return on investment, and year-over-year change;
  • Identifying risk factors with involvement from frontline workers and implementing appropriate changes; and
  • Ensuring MSD solutions are equitable for all employees.

To learn more about these efforts, visit

The construction industry is considered one of the true pillars of the global economy. In the eyes of many, as the construction industry goes, so goes the world. Millions of people rely on this segment for employment, and the incomes derived from its jobs cycle through economies across the globe. For this reason and so many others, the condition of the construction industry is always in the crosshairs of financial and economic thought leaders. This segment is that important, but it is not immune to trends.

As in any other part of the business world, trends affect the construction industry. Managing them is one of the many factors that separate the market leaders from the rest of the pack, still trying to make their mark and find their way in this critical yet ultra-competitive economic space. This article reviews four of the top trends construction professionals should remain abreast of for 2024 and beyond.

  1. Adopting the Latest Technologies
    In the early stages, when technology began knocking on the doors of the construction industry, professionals were hesitant to infuse it into their mix. Most held fast to the tried-and-true principles and methods that had shaped the industry for centuries. All that has changed, as more and more are beginning to see the value technology brings to the table and are rapidly adopting it. Several factors are driving this shift, with the increasing complexity of projects, the need for efficiency, and recognized improvements in communications leading the way. From CMS systems to building information modeling (BIM), drones, and more, the industry’s race to embrace technology is in full swing.
  2. Being Green and Sustainable
    We have only one planet, and the responsibility of maintaining it rests of every shoulder that calls it home. As the challenge to preserve our world continues to gain momentum, builders, architects, and engineers have become hyper-focused on doing their part. In the coming years, clients will be more apt to partner with and provide lucrative build opportunities to those who mirror their values. With that being the case, those who champion green ideals and a focus on sustainability stand to gain.
  3. Using Prefabricated Materials
    Construction traditionalists are used to building everything on site by hand, piece by piece. Those methods are still present on some sites, but with each year, the prevalence of prefabricated materials grows. Prefabricated materials increase efficiency, reduce labor costs, and align well with green/sustainability initiatives. As professionals continue realizing the value of this method, more and more will look to infuse it into their production mix during 2024 and the coming years.
  4. Increasing Worker Safety Efforts
    It seems intuitive to think that the industry would have programs and resources to ensure worker safety. While no one wants to see a worker injured, the race to finish fast and increase profit margins often overshadows the importance of creating a safe working environment. As the industry continues evolving, worker safety will move to the forefront. Better safety includes improved training, frequent inspections, and more resources allocated to this area. The payoff from these efforts will be seen in terms of injuries and lives: fewer injuries derailing careers, and more lives being saved because proper safety protocols are in place.


Construction is a pillar of the global economy, and there is no getting around it. The
industry provides jobs, circulates dollars, and fuels various market segments. If the goal of any construction entity is to be a contributing force, it is crucial to remain abreast of the trends and directions of the market. Technology is here, so market leaders should not shun innovation. Leaders should use and embrace the many advancements and position their businesses for growth. The planet should be a priority, too, so infusing methods that protect the environment, including use of prefabricated materials, must be a focus. Finally, workplace safety is rising, as more firms work to protect their most valued asset: their people.

Trends are good things; in many cases, they come and go. Those professionals who show a willingness to adapt to and adopt them are likely to be the ones positioned to stay.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided is not legal opinion or legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship of any kind. This article is also not intended to provide guidance as to how project parties should interpret their specific contracts or resolve contract disputes, as those decisions will need to be made in consultation with legal counsel, insurance counsel, and other professionals, and based upon a multitude of factors.

Lynn Pearcey, MBA, is a Copywriter for AIA Contract Documents. AIA Contract Documents has provided this article for general informational purposes only. To learn more about how AIA Contract Documents can help you with your business, visit AIA Contract Documents software allows users to efficiently create, share, and manage the industry’s leading construction documents.

The first major bipartisan overhaul of the nation’s workforce training and development system was announced December 7, 2023. Representatives Virginia Foxx, R-NC, and Bobby Scott, D-VA—Chairwoman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, respectively—introduced a bill to reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the law governing federal funding for a wide range of employment services and programs. Those programs include job training for adults and youth; dislocated worker services; vocational rehabilitation; and the operation of the country’s network of approximately 3,000 American Job Centers, where workers and job seekers can access employment services.

WIOA was signed into law in 2014 and has been up for reauthorization since 2020. The sweeping overhaul, titled A Stronger Workforce for America Act, “makes critical improvements to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that will expand the skills development provided under the law, strengthen the relationship between employers and the workforce system, and put more Americans on the pathway to successful careers,” according to the bill summary.

“This bipartisan bill provides crucial updates [to WIOA] that will help employees compete in today’s workforce, close the skills gap, provide accountability, and, most importantly, facilitate the success of American workers,” Foxx said.

Scott added, “The bill makes an array of key improvements to WIOA programs, such as expanding and improving the quality of skills development, strengthening services for disconnected youth, and codifying grants to help individuals released from incarceration transition back to employment and sustainable careers.”

SHRM Chief of Staff and Head of Public Affairs Emily M. Dickens said that “WIOA is the foundation of federal support for workforce development, and SHRM will do all we can to support the consideration and passage of this reauthorization effort. We are especially grateful that this bill includes key SHRM priorities, including support for external credentialing, improved credential transparency, broadening the definition of ‘business services’ to include HR [human resources] consulting, facilitation of skills-based hiring, and support for employer-led upskilling efforts.”

Key provisions of the bill include:

  • Dedicating 50% of the adult and dislocated worker funding to upskilling workers through “individual training accounts” (ITAs) and on-the-job learning, and providing eligible displaced workers with ITAs worth $5,000 to enroll in high-quality reskilling programs.
  • Prioritizing employer-led initiatives that equip workers with skill sets to fill jobs in critical industries and help the currently employed workforce upskill to avoid displacement and advance their careers.
  • Streamlining the “eligible training provider list” to focus on outcomes and ensure eligible programs are aligned with the skill and hiring demands of employers.
  • Strengthening the performance accountability system in the law to hold states and local workforce boards accountable for achieving positive labor market outcomes for program participants.
  • Strengthening pathways to economic opportunity by placing a greater emphasis on work-based learning for youth and on workforce education programs at community colleges that align with in-demand jobs.
  • Authorizing state and local workforce boards to aid employers implementing skills-based hiring practices.

The bill will need to first clear the House labor panel before being approved in both the House and Senate, which could be tough in a narrowly divided Congress barreling into an election year.

The WIOA reauthorization follows another bipartisan effort expanding Pell Grants for short term job-training programs, signifying that workforce development is one policy area where Republicans and Democrats can find agreement.

The digital frontier is a bustling marketplace, but it is also a battleground for malicious actors. As we enter 2024, business owners cannot afford to be complacent. Hackers are refining their tactics, and new threats emerge daily. But fear not. Here is your essential guide to the five major cybersecurity trends shaping this year. By knowing about what is happening in the cybersecurity landscape, you can better prepare your digital shields and discover proactive strategies to ensure your business thrives in the face of digital adversaries.

Here are the crucial cybersecurity trends that will shape this year:

  1. Cybersecurity artificial intelligence (AI) rises
    AI is no longer a futuristic trope; it is now a potent weapon in both offense and defense. Hackers are wielding AI-powered tools to automate attacks, discover vulnerabilities, and launch sophisticated phishing campaigns. Conversely, businesses can leverage AI-driven security solutions for real-time threat detection, proactive mitigation, and anomaly identification. Recognize AI as a double-edged sword, and invest in solutions that utilize its power to bolster your digital defenses.
  2. Ransomware attacks escalate
    Ransomware has become a pervasive and lucrative tool for cybercriminals; and in 2024, there will be an alarming escalation of such attacks. Expect double extortion tactics, targeting not just data but also operational systems, further crippling victims. Moreover, attacks will increasingly target critical infrastructure, potentially creating ripple effects across entire industries.
    To safeguard your business against ransomware, prioritize data backups, test incident response plans, and consider cyber insurance to mitigate the financial impact of potential attacks.
  3. Social engineering gets AI boost
    Human error tends to be the weakest link in the security chain. Hackers are exploiting this vulnerability with increasing finesse, utilizing AI to personalize phishing attacks and predict human behavior. These highly targeted campaigns will appear more believable than ever, making it crucial for employees to undergo cybersecurity awareness training and develop healthy skepticism toward unsolicited communications.
  4. Zero trust takes center stage
    The castle-and-moat security model is crumbling. In 2024, the zero trust philosophy will gain wider adoption. This approach does not assume the inherent trustworthiness of users or devices, requiring continuous verification and granular access control.
    Move toward zero trust architecture by implementing multifactor authentication, segmenting your network, and adopting least-privilege access. Doing so creates a layered defense that minimizes the impact of potential breaches.
  5. Cyber insurance is no longer optional
    As cyberthreats multiply and evolve, cyber insurance will become an essential safety net for businesses of all sizes. This insurance mitigates the financial burden of cyber incidents, including those arising out of data breaches and physical theft. Before it is too late, evaluate your risk profile, explore insurance options, and ensure comprehensive coverage to weather the storms of the digital world.

The year ahead promises both challenges and opportunities in the realm of cybersecurity. Embracing the trends above and implementing proactive measures will be key to securely navigating the dynamic digital landscape in 2024.

Reprinted with permission from Tech Advisory ( Copyright © 2024

As of December 7, 2023, Ohio became the 24th state to legalize recreational marijuana, hitting a new “high” or low, depending on your view.

Back on November 7, 2023, Ohio voters passed Issue 2. Contrary to many reports, Issue 2 is not a constitutional amendment. Instead, Issue 2 creates a new law, Chapter 3780 of the Ohio Revised Code. This is an important distinction because with a new law, not a constitutional amendment, the Ohio legislature can propose changes to Issue 2, and it has already done so. While recreational use of marijuana in certain circumstances is likely here to stay, further restrictions are expected to be passed in the near future.

Employers and Recreational Marijuana

What does this mean for Ohio employers? Not as much as some feared.

Under the current statute, Ohio employers retain the following rights.

  • Employers are not required to permit or accommodate an employee’s use, possession, or distribution of marijuana.
  • Employers are still permitted to refuse to hire, discharge, discipline, or otherwise take an adverse employment action against an individual because of that individual’s use, possession, or distribution of marijuana.
  • Employers are still permitted to establish and enforce drug-testing policies, drug-free workplace policies, or zero-tolerance drug policies.
  • If an employer terminates an employee because of that individual’s marijuana use in violation of the employer’s drug-free workplace policy, zero-tolerance policy, or other formal drug program or policy, the employee will be considered to have been discharged for just cause.

Even though the statute retained employers’ rights to address marijuana, employers should still take time to review their current policies and decide if employee use of recreational marijuana, even off duty, is something they want to prohibit or permit.

Some questions you will want to consider:

  • Do you want to prohibit employees from using marijuana, on or off duty?
  • Do you want to include marijuana in your pre-employment drug-testing panels?
  • Will your position on marijuana impact your ability to hire?
  • Do you want to prohibit only working under the influence of marijuana?
  • Do you have federal contracts that impact your drug and alcohol policy? Remember, marijuana use is still illegal under federal law.
  • Do your current policies reflect your desired outcome, given that now marijuana will not automatically be covered by a prohibition on “illegal drugs”?
  • Do you have safety-sensitive positions that require special treatment under your drug and alcohol policies?

Workplace Safety

Speaking of safety, studies across the country show a statistical correlation between legalized recreational marijuana and increased workplace injuries. As such, some employers are considering amending existing policies, including adopting post-accident drug testing.

OSHA does not have a standard addressing drug use or intoxication in the workplace, nor does OSHA dictate when post-accident testing may or may not be conducted. However, OSHA does require that employers ensure their post-accident drug testing policies are not designed to deter or discourage injury reporting.

According to OSHA, employers’ post-accident drug testing should promote workplace safety, and not penalize employees for reporting work-related injuries. That means employers may conduct drug testing to evaluate the root cause of a workplace incident that harmed or may have harmed employees. But, if employers choose to do so, they should test all employees whose conduct could have contributed to the incident, not just employees who reported injuries. That is, OSHA does not want employers to only conduct drug tests for injured employees.

That is not true if you participate in the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Drug Free Safety Program. Employers that are enrolled in the Drug Free Safety Program may conduct mandatory post-accident drug testing for all employees injured at work, regardless of what caused the injury.

If you are not enrolled in the Drug Free Safety Program, it is best to only conduct post-accident drug testing for employees whose conduct may have been the result of intoxication, without regard to whether that employee was actually injured.


There is no one-size-fits-all approach to addressing recreational marijuana in your workplace. Each workplace has its own challenges, and each state has its own law addressing marijuana use and testing.

For more information regarding potential OSHA, workers’ compensation, and employment issues relating to legalization of marijuana, visit to reach Auman, Mahan, and Furry Attorneys Amy Mitchell, Abbie White, or Doug Jenks. Jenks and White also host a Health and Safety Law Report podcast, and have an episode on this topic, “Legal Recreational Weed and Work: What’s an Employer to Do?” available on
Spotify at



Safety is crucial in the construction and insulation industries, and every project manager wants to complete a project safely. As you are planning your 2024 health and safety training program, here are resources to help your company improve in the areas OSHA most frequently finds violations. Resources for companies and trainers can be found at Work stress, suicide prevention, and crisis resources can be accessed at

The following is a list of the top 10 most frequently cited standards following inspections of worksites by federal OSHA for all industries during 2023. OSHA states that it publishes the list to alert employers about these commonly cited standards so they can take steps to find and fix recognized hazards addressed in these and other standards before OSHA shows up. To encourage improvement, available OSHA safety resources are listed with each of the standards in the 2023 list. For comparison of safety trends and weaknesses, the most frequent violations for 2022 follow the 2023 list. OSHA’s fiscal year is from October 1 to September 30, which represents the time period for these citations.


Fall protection, hazard communication, and ladders remain top safety concerns. Violations increased for scaffolding, while respiratory protection safety increased, thereby moving it down the list from fourth to seventh. Violations for powered industrial trucks increased for 2023. Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), fall protection training, eye and face protection, and machinery and machine guarding all remained in consistent ranking for both years. Hopefully, by utilizing the resources provided, the violations and injuries will be reduced for 2024.

2023 Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards

The Top 10 most frequently cited workplace safety standards for fiscal year 2023 are:

  1. Fall Protection: 7,271 violations
    Safety resources: and General requirements, construction (29 CFR 1926.501)
  2. Hazard Communication: 3,213 violations
    Safety resources: General industry (29 CFR 1910.1200)
  3. Ladders: 2,978 violations
    Safety resources: Construction (29 CFR 1926.1053)
  4. Scaffolding: 2,859 violations
    Safety resources: Construction (29 CFR 1926.451)
  5. Powered Industrial Trucks: 2,561 violations
    Safety resources: General industry (29 CFR 1910.178)
  6. Control of Hazardous Energy (lockout/tagout): 2,554 violations
    Safety resources: General industry (29 CFR 1910.147)
  7. Respiratory Protection: 2,481 violations
    Safety resources: General industry (29 CFR 1910.134)
  8. Fall Protection Training: 2,112 violations
    Employer Training Guide:
    Training requirements (29 CFR 1926.503)
  9. Eye and Face Protection (Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment): 2,074 violations
    Safety resources: Construction (29 CFR 1926.102)
  10. Machinery and Machine Guarding: 1,644 violations
    Safety resources: General industry 29 CFR 1910.212)

2022 Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards

  1. Fall Protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.501)
  2. Hazard Communication, general industry (29 CFR 1910.1200)
  3. Ladders, construction (29 CFR 1926.1053)
  4. Respiratory Protection, general industry (29 CFR 1910.134)
  5. Scaffolding, construction (29 CFR 1926.451)
  6. Control of Hazardous Energy (lockout/tagout), general industry (29 CFR 1910.147)
  7. Powered Industrial Trucks, general industry (29 CFR 1910.178)
  8. Fall Protection Training, construction (29 CFR 1926.503)
    9. Eye and Face Protection (Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment),
    construction (29 CFR 1926.102)
    10. Machinery and Machine Guarding, general industry (29 CFR 1910.212)


Artificial intelligence (AI) is a field of computer science that focuses on creating intelligent machines that can think and act like humans. AI is used in a wide variety of applications, including self-driving cars, virtual assistants, and medical diagnosis. AI is still under development, but it has the potential to revolutionize many aspects of our businesses and lives.

This article delves into the transformative potential of AI for small businesses in the insulation industry, with a specific focus on the comparative analysis of two advanced AI tools: Google Bard and OpenAI ChatGPT. These technologies are viable solutions for businesses in the mechanical insulation industry, presenting opportunities to revolutionize operational approaches and customer interactions, and visualize their future. Both are also user friendly and accessible, and are offered at no or minimal cost.

Large engineering and architecture firms have the ability to purchase and implement more expensive technologies, while mid-sized or smaller companies across the mechanical insulation industry often need to find ways to do more with less human and technological resources. Despite this, insulation contractors, distributors, fabricators, and manufacturers play a vital role in job creation, community development, and the pursuit of the American Dream. In an era defined by rapid technological advancements, access to tools that enhance efficiency and bolster competitiveness becomes paramount. AI emerges as a transformative force in this context, offering insulation contractors and suppliers the means to amplify impact and streamline operations by automating critical tasks and providing real-time insights, essentially replicating the output of a much larger team.

Google Bard and ChatGPT have both gained significant attention in the realm of AI (see sidebar, “How They Work”). While they share some similarities, there are also notable differences between the two.

Data Sources and Access

One of the key distinctions between Bard and ChatGPT lies in their data sources and access. Bard has real-time access to the internet, allowing it to supply the most up-to-date information. In contrast, ChatGPT’s training data—and, therefore, its knowledge level—is limited to sources available up to January 2022. Because it does not have access to current economic indicators or events, ChatGPT would not be the best tool to help you prepare your 2024 business plans, but it may help support the development and evaluation of plan scenarios by performing data analysis, creative generation, and communication, it can be a valuable partner in navigating the scenario and maximizing your success in the mechanical insulation market. ChatGPT Plus (or version 4), the paid version, can surf the web to find the latest info and double-check its facts, but it is limited to Bing search results. While this covers a considerable amount of information, it does not encompass the entire internet. ChatGPT Plus has its perks: It answers more quickly, you get first dibs on any new features launched, and you can tweak how it “talks” to suit your style. On top of that, you get expert help if needed, and third-party plugins that can add even more capabilities over basic ChatGPT.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Google Bard and ChatGPT are both powerful large language models (LLMs) with unique strengths and weaknesses (see Figure 1). Bard excels in providing comprehensive, informative, and conversational responses, while ChatGPT shines in generating creative text formats and summarizing information. The choice between the two depends on the specific needs and preferences of the user.

Bard stands out for its thorough answers to questions, drawn from its vast knowledge base and real-time internet access. It also demonstrates a higher level of fluency and conversational style in its responses. However, Bard can sometimes be overly cautious and hesitant, and it may not provide the most creative or engaging content.

ChatGPT, on the other hand, shines in its ability to generate creative text formats, such as poems, code, scripts, and musical pieces. It also exhibits a knack for paraphrasing and summarizing text, and it can provide more concise answers to factual questions. However, ChatGPT’s reliance on outdated data can limit its ability to supply the most accurate and relevant information. Additionally, its responses can sometimes be less conversational and more informational in tone. (Read “Mechanical Insulation Q&A with Artificial Intelligence (AI)” from the April 2023 issue of Insulation Outlook at

AI and LLMs have revolutionized the way businesses operate, providing innovative solutions and enhancing efficiency across industries. Small businesses have reaped significant benefits from the adoption of LLMs, leveraging these powerful tools to gain a competitive edge and achieve their business goals. Here are some practical applications for LLMs.

  1. Data-driven decision-making
  2. Effective communications and customer engagement
  3. Streamlined operations
  4. Market research and competitive analysis
  5. Training and skill development

As LLM technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more innovative applications that further empower small businesses to thrive in the competitive marketplace.

How to Use Each

Choosing between Google Bard and OpenAI ChatGPT for your business depends on your specific needs and requirements. Here is a breakdown of the key factors to consider and recommendations for evaluating and choosing between the two.

1. Consider your primary use cases.

Google Bard: Excels at providing comprehensive and informative answers to questions, drawing upon its vast knowledge base and real-time internet access. It is suitable for tasks like research, generating reports, and writing summaries.

ChatGPT: Shines in its ability to generate creative text formats. It is well-suited for tasks like creative writing, brainstorming ideas, and generating marketing materials.

2. Evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.

Google Bard: Strengths include comprehensive answers, conversational style, fluency. Weaknesses: Can be overly cautious, not always creative.

ChatGPT: Strengths include creative text formats, paraphrasing, summarizing, and concise factual answers. Weaknesses: Relies on outdated data, less conversational tone.

3. Assess their pricing and accessibility.

Google Bard: Free to use.

ChatGPT: Free version available with limited features; paid version (ChatGPT Plus) offers more features, including internet access and faster response times.

4. Conduct a trial or pilot test.

Use the tools to complete small tasks relevant to your specific business needs and evaluate their performance. With your unique knowledge of your business, such a test will probably reveal and inspire new ideas for their use.

5. Consider integration with existing systems.

Check if the LLM can integrate with your existing software tools, such as customer relationship management, marketing automation, or customer service platforms. Assess the ease of integration and the availability of technical support for the LLM.

6. Seek feedback from your team.

Get input from the team members who will be using the LLM on a regular basis. Understand their needs, preferences, and expectations to ensure the LLM selected is a good fit.

7. Stay informed about ongoing development.

Both Bard and ChatGPT are continuously evolving, so keep an eye out for new features and enhancements. New websites, apps, and services based on AI are being offered every day, so the resource you need might be available tomorrow.

The best way to choose between Google Bard and ChatGPT is to carefully consider your specific needs, evaluate the tools’ strengths and weaknesses, conduct a trial or pilot test, and seek feedback from your team. Remember, the LLM should serve as a tool to enhance your business operations, not as a replacement for human expertise and creativity.

How They Work

Google Bard and ChatGPT are examples of large language models (LLMs). LLMs are super-smart computer programs designed to excel with words: Think of them as language experts on steroids. These models use advanced networks to understand and generate human-like sentences on a massive scale. They learn patterns and connections in language, making them highly proficient in working with words.

LLMs undergo a two-step training process. First, they dive into massive amount of internet text, learning the rules of language and how words fit together. Then, they get specialized training for specific tasks, such as translating languages or understanding emotions in text. Once trained, they can be prompted with a question or statement, and they will generate intelligent and human-like responses.

These language wizards have achieved some impressive feats. They excel at understanding intent, whether it is a question or a sentence you want them to complete. They are proficient in language translation, creative writing, and coding assistance. Have you ever chatted with a bot that feels remarkably human? That could be one of these models at work. They are also adept at discerning the mood in a piece of writing and summarizing complex information, like business plans or medical notes. They are superheroes of technology, elevating computers’ ability to communicate and understand in ways we have never seen before.


In the rapidly evolving digital landscape, AI has emerged as a transformative force, reshaping the way businesses operate, innovate, and connect with their customers. Leading AI models like Google Bard and OpenAI’s ChatGPT exemplify the immense potential of AI to revolutionize diverse business applications, elevating operations to unprecedented levels of efficiency, enhancing customer experiences, and offering a decisive competitive edge.

AI’s ability to augment human capabilities, streamline processes, and unlock new frontiers of productivity underscores its importance for today’s businesses. Models like Bard—with its bidirectional learning (reads text both forwards and backwards for deeper understanding) enhancing context understanding—and ChatGPT—with its prowess in generating human-like responses—demonstrate the precision and conversational excellence that AI brings to the table.

To fully seize the opportunities presented by AI, businesses must embrace it as a catalyst for growth. By adopting this technology, small businesses can:

  • Streamline operations and automate tasks, boosting productivity and reducing costs.
  • Leverage AI for creative problem-solving, leading to innovative product or service offerings.
  • Enhance customer interactions, understanding preferences and delivering personalized experiences.
  • Stay ahead of the curve by adopting innovative AI technologies that align with their business goals.

The time to embrace AI is now. The future belongs to those who seize the transformative power of AI and harness it to drive excellence and growth.

DISCLAIMER: The author does not endorse or promote any of the tools mentioned in this article. The presentation of these technological advances and available options is for informational purposes only.

How Google Bard and ChatGPT Respond

Both Bard and ChatGPT were asked the same question and this is what each provided.


Question One: What AI tools do you recommend for small contractors?

ChatGPT: Small contractors can benefit from various AI tools to streamline operations, improve efficiency, and enhance project management. Here are some AI tools that can be useful for small contractors:

  1. Procore: Procore is a construction project management software that utilizes AI to
    automate tasks, streamline communication, and provide real-time project insights.
  2. Plangrid (Autodesk Construction Cloud): Plangrid, now part of Autodesk Construction Cloud, uses AI to help with document management, change order tracking, and collaboration on construction projects.
  3. Buildertrend: Buildertrend is a construction management software that incorporates AI to assist with project scheduling, customer management, and budget tracking.
  4. Rhumbix: Rhumbix uses AI and mobile technology for real-time field data collection,
    helping contractors with timekeeping, productivity analysis, and labor tracking.
  5. SmartBid: SmartBid is a construction bid software that uses AI to streamline the bid management process, helping contractors find and manage project opportunities more efficiently.
  6. Raken: Raken is a construction field management software that uses AI to automate daily reporting, providing insights into project progress and helping with compliance.
  7. Deepomatic: Deepomatic offers AI solutions for visual inspections and monitoring on construction sites, helping with tasks such as quality control and safety compliance.
  8. BIM 360 (Autodesk Construction Cloud): Building Information Modeling (BIM) tools
    like BIM 360 by Autodesk use AI to facilitate collaborative workflows and improve project coordination, reducing errors and delays.
  9. CognitiveScale: CognitiveScale provides AI solutions for various industries, including
    construction. Their AI systems can help with predictive analytics, risk management, and decision support.
  10. HoloBuilder: HoloBuilder uses AI and 360-degree photo capture to create virtual construction documentation. It aids in project monitoring, collaboration, and progress tracking.
  11. Tenna: Tenna uses AI for asset tracking and management, helping construction companies keep tabs on equipment and optimize resource allocation.
  12. Sitemate: Sitemate uses AI to enhance project control and visibility, providing tools for project planning, task management, and document control.

Google Bard

The same question was given to Google Bard and it said it couldn’t recommend
anything without knowing more about the company’s specific needs.

Question One: What AI tools do you recommend for small contractors?

Google Bard: “Once I have a better understanding of your needs, I can suggest AI tools that can help you with tasks like:

  • Project management: Tools like ClickUp and use AI to automate
    tasks, schedule projects, and track progress.
  • Estimating and bidding: Kreo uses AI to quickly and accurately create takeoffs and estimates.
  • Fieldwork and reporting: Fieldwire and PlanGrid use AI to streamline jobsite management, track progress, and generate reports.
  • Marketing and sales: Canva and can help you create professional proposals, flyers, and social media content.
  • Financial management: Tools like QuickBooks and Wave offer AI-powered features for invoicing, bill pay, and expense tracking.

I’m here to help you navigate the world of AI and find the tools that can take your contracting business to the next level. So, don’t hesitate to share more details about your needs, and I’ll be happy to provide personalized recommendations.”

Then the following input was given “We need help streamlining business management, tracking employee hours, avoiding safety issues, and improving the marketing of our services. We are a commercial and industrial insulation contractor with a small team of less than 10 workers.” Here is Google Bard response.

Google Bard: “Based on your specific needs as a small commercial and industrial insulation contractor, here are some AI tools that can help you streamline business management, track employee hours, avoid safety issues, and improve your marketing:

Streamlining Business Management:

  • Project Management: Consider ClickUp or HoneyBook. These tools use AI to
    automate tasks like scheduling projects, sending reminders, and tracking progress. They also offer features like client portals and invoicing, providing a central hub for managing your entire business.
  • CRM: Look at HubSpot or Freshworks CRM. These tools use AI to help you manage your relationships with clients and leads, from capturing leads to closing deals. They can automate tasks like email marketing, lead scoring, and customer support.

Tracking Employee Hours:

  • Time Tracking: Options like Toggl Track or Harvest use AI to automatically track employee hours based on computer activity or GPS location. This can help you ensure accurate payroll and identify areas where you can improve efficiency.
  • Safety Management: Consider Smartwatch-based tools like Rise Vision or Bodysmart. These wearables can detect unsafe behavior like fatigue or drowsiness, helping you prevent accidents and keep your workers safe. They also offer insights into workplace conditions and worker fatigue, allowing you to identify and address potential safety hazards.

Improving Marketing:

  • Social Media Marketing: Tools like Buffer or Hootsuite use AI to schedule and optimize your social media posts, helping you reach a wider audience and generate leads.
  • Content Marketing: Try Grammarly or ShortlyAI. These tools can help you improve your writing and create high-quality content for your website or blog, attracting potential clients and showcasing your expertise.


AI is a powerful tool that can help you save time, improve efficiency, and make better decisions. But it’s important to choose the right tools for your specific needs and budget.