You know where to get high-quality structured wiring enclosures, wallplates and jacks, but do you know which augmented reality startup has solutions for your customers? Do you know who is working on 4-dimensional printing? If the answer to these questions is no, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many builders and facility managers find it hard to keep up with the pace of changing technology.

A new international organization, the Built Environment Technology Association (BETA) plans to help building professionals stay informed on topics such as smart home tech, drones, big data, 3D printing and more.

The organization was formed this year and has a mandate to “enable the built environment industry to adopt and apply technology more effectively, and to help those who manage the built environment provide data to the C-suite for better decision making.”

The organization plans to address “every stage of the built environment,” and provide resources for those working in real estate, construction, facilities management, design and urban planning. The organization also has a mandate to “foster collaborative relationships with companies, vendors and trade organizations” and to host virtual and live events, commissioning research and produce educational material.

The rate of change we are currently experiencing is both exciting and daunting for the building industry. For example, the industry is only beginning to employ 3-D printing, and already they have to consider 4-D printing, which is the printing of materials that are designed to change form in response to a stimulus. The industry should be talking about 4-D printing because the shape-changing alloys used in this emerging field have the potential to solve a whole host of building challenges.

Most builders, cable installers, electricians and facility managers can probably identify a dozen ways that a shape-changing alloy could make their job easier. But they don’t have the time to keep abreast of all the new technologies, let alone figure out how they can influence the development of tech.

Industry problem-solver

This is the kind of problem that BETA has the potential to solve. BETA members have access to a discussion portal where they can share ideas with colleagues all over the world. Technology vendors can use the discussion portal to better understand the needs of their market and develop the products that building industry professionals want and need. Which ultimately means building industry professionals can impact how the tech they use is developed.

Other resources on the built environment are available, of course. The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) publishes a journal called Science and Technology for the Built Environment, and the journal Indoor and Built Environment reports on how the built environment affects human wellness.

The Center for Urban Real Estate hosted an event focused on the technology and Design in New York and the Urban Land Institute hosted a panel discussion on technology’s impact on cities earlier this year. And there are countless blogs and websites that cover technology topics that are relevant to building professionals.

Most of the available resources focus on a single aspect of the building industry or a range of technologies. And it takes work to find each of them. BETA wants to be a single resource for anything relating to the built environment.

If something like BETA had been around for the beginning of Smart Home development, the issues around interoperability with Smart Home devices might have been solved by now. It will be interesting to see what problems this organization solves in the coming years.