Those of us who work in construction may be respected for our ability to withstand weather and do manual labor hours on end, but rarely do you hear somebody reference our intellect. However, there is a science to what we do. It may not be rocket science, but it is science nonetheless, and the amount of science being implemented in the industry is steadily increasing. Consider what we’ve learned from past experiences with asbestos, lead paint and black mold. Degrees given in construction science are legitimate science degrees and should not be confused with engineering or architecture. Here are some other sciences you may encounter at the work site on any given day.
There is an old story that talks about a wise man building on rock, while a foolish man builds on sand. Geology matters because foundations matter. If the ground shifts, the structure of the building on top of it is compromised. Understanding different soil materials helps to plan a better foundation.
A construction site is a virtual laboratory for physics “experiments”. Hard hats are worn because gravity exists. Pulleys make for easier lifting. Just because the crane stops doesn’t mean the item it’s carrying does. Making allotments for buildings and pavement to expand and contract with temperature changes is also physics. Even construction fasteners have scientific merit. Because nails are smooth, there is less friction to hold them in place. Screws, on the other hand, create friction with well-made threads. If the threads crumble, so does the added friction.
As we learn more and more about our impact on the environment, there are more and more requests for energy efficient building, solar installations and recycled building materials. This comes in addition to ensuring the construction site does not clog nearby drainage systems or inadvertently rupture a gas line.
Biology is the study of living things. Like it or not, living things include pests like termites. Knowing which locations are most susceptible and using building supplies and treatments to prevent future problems as much as possible will endear you to the building’s occupants.
You don’t have to know how to predict the weather to understand the damage it can do. Down burst winds, heavy snows, excessive rain, hurricanes and tornados may not be in the seven day forecast while you’re building, but there is a strong possibility any one of those events could occur in the future. To be a quality builder or contractor, you want your work to stand strong against whatever nature throws at you. When you choose solar panel mounting hardware, you want to select hardware that will secure the panels at the proper angles rather than settling for “good enough” and seeing your client’s solar panels fly across the road in a strong windstorm.
You may or may not have excelled at science when you were in school, but on the job, you understand the importance of scientific factors (even if you don’t call them scientific). Choosing the best fasteners is just part of your job.