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The Role of IoT-enabled Technology in Reducing Risks in Construction

Major water incidents account for up to 70% of builders’ risk claims, often leading to costly damage, rework, prolonged project delays, insurance claims and higher construction financing costs. In the construction industry, mitigating water damage is crucial for ensuring projects stay on schedule and on budget to protect margins. Internet of Things (IoT) technology, in the form of cloud-connected job site sensors and automated devices, has emerged as a valuable tool in detecting water incidents early, whether it’s water escape from mechanical building systems or water intrusion from severe weather events, helping to mitigate these risks and protect job sites. We will explore how IoT-enabled water mitigation technology can be integrated into construction projects to reduce the severity and impact of water-related incidents.

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Application of Water IoT Technology in Mitigating Job Site Risk

Water IoT technology encompasses a range of cloud-connected sensors and automated devices designed to provide early detection of presence of water in critical job site areas where it should not be, or abnormal flow in mechanical systems during construction, triggering actionable alerts and automations designed to prevent or mitigate severity of incidents. Critical job site areas include electrical rooms, mechanical rooms, PRV closets, sump pits, elevator pits, to monitor for leaks and water intrusion. The primary applications that should be included as part of a risk mitigation technology plan and strategy to monitor and mitigate water damage on the job site can be categorized into two buckets:

Water Intrusion:

This application involves early detection of water entering the job site due to adverse weather, flooding, etc. This can occur when sump pits flood, the roof or envelope is still open and exposed, water barriers or water seals fail, or doors / windows are left open. Protected areas typically include sump pits, elevator pits, electrical rooms, electrical risers and hoist suites. When water comes into contact with sensors installed in these areas, alerts are triggered to provide early detection and enable action to mitigate significant damage.

Water Escape:

This application involves the use of flow meters or presence of water sensors for early detection of potential leaks or pipe bursts in mechanical building systems. Providing early detection of abnormal flow or leaks in temporary and permanent lines during construction, including off-hours and weekends is crucial. Protected systems typically include temporary water runs, domestic water systems, hydronic loops and sprinkler supply lines. Permanent water lines are particularly prone to leaks or fitting disconnection during commissioning, when lines are being charged and pressurized for the first time. Much of this technology can also be extended into post occupancy, providing ongoing protection over the building’s operational phase. Damage from water escape can be mitigated through automated loss controls, including IoT-enabled automatic shut-off valves, pump on/off controls, and other devices. 

These devices can be set to a schedule to automatically turn off water supply to the job site during off hours and weekends. They can also be set to automatically shut-off and isolate water flow through pipe runs in the event of an abnormal flow or detection of water. This can be particularly valuable during start up and wrap up when bibs or systems are prone to being left open. Whether initiated by detection rules or a programmable schedule, these valve auto shut-off and pump on/off controls can be remotely activated on demand by designated users at any time as required.

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Benefits of IoT-enabled Risk Mitigation

Technology in Construction

1. Early Detection and Mitigation

One of the most significant advantages of IoT-enabled technology is its ability to detect water-related incidents much sooner than typical human discovery, and in some cases prevent incidents from happening altogether. By identifying water-related issues quickly before they result in significant damage, the technology can notify first responders instantly to take mitigating action, and in many cases be tied to IoT-enabled loss controls like shut-off valves that can automatically isolate and address the source of the leak, mitigating costly damage, rework, delays, and headaches, so project teams can pick up where they left off without disruption to the project.

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2. Cost Savings

The cost of water damage incidents can be substantial, significantly impacting project margins. Early detection and mitigation can help reduce the severity of what could otherwise be multi-million dollar damages and repairs, project delays, hundreds of thousands in construction loan financing costs, and headaches associated with claims and potential litigation. Risk mitigation technology in construction helps keep projects on schedule and within budget.

3.  Insurance Benefits

Using IoT technology in construction as part of a water risk mitigation plan developed in pre-construction can help owner/developers and general contractors position themselves as a better risk to insure when securing insurance coverage by helping to de-risk projects upfront. Leading insurers are increasingly requiring the use of water mitigation technology in order to place capacity, and several carriers  offer preferential terms to insureds that take a proactive approach, including reduced water loss deductibles. 

By helping to secure better terms and pricing upfront, while reducing the frequency and severity of potential claims during construction, the implementation of risk mitigation technology is proving to be an effective strategy in helping insureds bend the cost curve on escalating insurance costs.   

​IoT technology is a powerful tool for reducing the risks associated with water damage in construction. By enabling early detection and real-time mitigation, these sensors and devices help protect projects, save costs and drive significant insurance benefits. As the construction industry continues to evolve, the proactive adoption of advanced risk mitigation technology platforms such as Brickeye will play a crucial role in building safer, smarter, and better.

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