Construction Junction Material Reuse

Responsive Website

The responsive website we built for Construction Junction helps to build a strong connection between our 3 stakeholders: Large construction site, Construction Junction and small construction site/household. With this website, the reusable materials can go directly into the flow without being processed by any third party companies. 

The Team

Ian Thomas

Ketaki Rao

Yiying Ding

Jialu Li

Background

We all know that current waste management practices are dangerous and unsustainable. This isn’t a new problem! Tons of waste is being dumped into the earth every year... Particularly in the last few decades, as awareness has grown around these issues, there’s been a call for sustainable, environmentally solutions.

  • Certain waste materials like plasterboard, lead, asbestos, and others are incredibly toxic to the environment

 

  • In the next 5 years, global annual construction waste generation is expected to reach 2.2 billion tons [1]

 

  • In the EU, construction waste is the largest waste contributor, by volume [2] 

Key Stakeholders

Commercial 

Construction Site

Small 

Construction Firm

Current Stakeholder Flow

Construction junctions are looking for reusable materials while construction sites are throwing their excess materials into Boyd dumpsters and small construction firms are paying more than they should to new materials from home depot. 

Construction Site Manager:

  • No cost disposal of reusable construction material.

  • Conformation to the LEED standards of building.

 

Construction Junction:

  • creates an additional supply of raw materials.

  • Increased sales and profit.

  • Promoting sustainable use of construction material.

 

Small construction firm/household:

  • Good quality construction material at a lower than market price.

  • Smaller quantity of material available, bulk orders are not necessary.

THE PROBLEM

Construction junction has limited exposure and wants more sales. Construction sites are throwing their excess materials away due to the tight budget for labor. Small construction firms, also with limited budgets, are looking for a small number of cheap materials. 

THE SOLUTION

A platform to connect large construction firms with material reuse companies

The solution! Through our research, we’ve identified that there is value created when Large Construction Sites are connected with material reuse companies. Large construction sites have excess construction raw material and (they don’t know how to deal with it) and companies like Construction Junction are looking for exactly such material. We decided to create a web platform where the two could meet.

Our Solution

So, how exactly is this solution beneficial to our stakeholders?

 

Construction Site Manager:

  • Hassle-free & low-cost disposal of reusable construction material. 

  • Conformation to the LEED (Leadership in Energy & Envt Design) standards of building. Which states that 75% of the construction waste should be recycled.

 

Small construction firm/household project:

  • Good quality construction material at a lower than market price.

  • Custom quantity of material available, bulk orders are not necessary.

  • Preview the materials beforehand.

 

And now, for Construction Junction:

  • It creates an additional supply of saleable material.

  • Increased sales and profit.

  • But most importantly, by doing this, we are promoting sustainable reuse of material that aligns with the core values of Construction Junction.

How it works.

Link to prototype:

Desktop version for Construction Sites

Mobile version for Construction Sites

Desktop version for Small Construction Contractors

Mobile version for Small Construction Contractors

DESIGN PROCESS

 

Project Scope

The team was assigned to create a responsive website for the domain of waste management. Before exploring our assigned domain, our team determined that an understanding of the subtleties of the intended medium would help guide us towards an effective final product. 

 

Together we soon recognized how a website can be used as a tool to connect parties that each might benefit from the exclusive resources, skills, and knowledge of the others. Given this ecosystemic capacity of websites, our first obstacle became to find multiple parties with complementary needs. Ideally, the union of these parties might result in a profitable exchange. With all of this in mind, our team launched into the research of our domain as a whole. 

 

We hoped that through our initial exploration of waste management we could discover parties with the potential for mutual benefit through a digital product of our creation. 

 

Secondary Research

The team had brainstormed and agreed to focus on construction sites instead. We recognized that we had access to certain key stakeholders, which would be useful to further understand their current behavior.

Guerrilla Research

Construction Sites

Following our pivot from campus waste management practices to those on construction sites, team members Ian Thomas and Jialu Li visited a local construction site to conduct guerilla research. After asking a number of site employees for help, they were able to interview the site’s manager to ask him a few prepared questions. 

 

We attended a meeting with the current principal project manager of Carnegie Mellon University’s construction project and his entire team. They had provided us with more valuable information:

  • The manager tried his best to avoid waste when making orders. But there will still be leftovers on the site.

  • LEED is extremely important to the construction site. Every site needs to recycle at least 75% of its waste. (LEED is a green building certification, stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)

  • BOYD is doing the recycling job. There will be a recycling report for every dumpster.

  • None of the materials are being reused. Even the perfectly good raw excess materials are being treated as wastes.

Small Construction Sites

More Guerrilla research was done by us to get more practical information. Maxon Towers is an apartment that is currently going under renovation. We visited this site and hope to hear from the perspective of a small construction site.

 

Here’s what we learned:

  • The worker usually calls their supplier and made the order. The supplier will deliver their requested item to their site in a few days.

  • However, there will always be missing items or wrong items in the order. Workers need to make another call to address this issue. This usually takes another 2 or 3 business days.

  • They will often need materials in a small quantity..

Small Construction firm Owner

One of our group members also texted a small construction firm owner to affirm our earlier findings and further understand firm owner behavior.

 

Customer Journey Maps

Construction Sites

Our initial research eventually revealed much to us about our stakeholders’ behaviors. The customer journey maps illuminated pain points that we weren’t initially aware of.

“ I don’t have the time...to take care of the excess material. It’s just easier for me to throw it away. ”

“ These materials can be used for another project. I hope there is a better way to deal with this problem ”

Most significantly, we determined that there are excess construction materials on-site that can be redirected to small firms instead of being thrown away. Our research reveals that a lot of perfectly new raw materials are being treated as wastes. Though the materials will eventually be recycled. It will be more environmentally friendly if we can directly reuse the materials. The most efficient solution is to find a way to bypass the recycling company and reuse the materials by other construction sites.

Customer Journey Maps

Small Construction Sites

Customer Journey Maps

Construction Junctions

The biggest problem the Construction Junction is facing right now is that the donation quantity is not big enough for the firm to expand and grow.

“ I hope there can be more donation so that people have more to choose from...”

Collaborating with large construction firms can help Construction Junction to get a gigantic amount of basic materials, which are also essential for any construction sites.

Since there is no way customers will be able to browse Construction Junction’s inventory before they visit the site, customers usually call the firm to find out if CJ has the products they like.

“ It is hard to understand their needs from calls.”

Providing a website with detailed information and pictures can give customers a better overview of what’s in the inventory.

Personas

Based on our findings from secondary research and guerrilla research, we developed 3 personas to facilitate our design process.

Early Concept

The model here explains our initial idea. We brainstormed a platform that would allow construction sites and small construction to be connected through Construction Junction. With this proposed idea, excess materials on sites could be redirected to the small firms that highly value discounted construction materials.

 

Storyboard & Speed Dating

The team brainstormed a variety of possible situations and how we can reframe the problem space. We then created storyboards for the solutions and brought them to our stakeholders for feedback. 

“Love the idea of connecting two sites.”

 

“I will be excited about a solution like this. It is really nice to have a website, and do not mind driving since the website already did me a favor.”

“Taking out the middleman (the waste disposal company) makes things less costly which is great!.”

“Shared economy ideas are always good.”

“Emm… If it is 10 wires, I will probably choose a home depot. Though I have to drive, it seems more reliable.”

“Cool and I like the idea. Again if it is a household owner it will be more compiling. And I can also imagine the difficulty for Construction Junction to build the connection between the two sites.”

“Also, leftover materials are so difficult to handle/store, it would be great to be able to buy custom quantity from a store.”

“The next day delivery is awesome. I will probably do the same thing.”

“I didn’t expect a problem like this: never thought that old material can be a problem. But it makes sense with the explanation under the pictures, especially since Pittsburgh has a lot of old buildings.”

“It will be more related to me if the user is not a site manager but a household developer that want to renovate his/her own house.”

Model of What could be

Post our speed dating sessions, we realized that there are 3 main features that our application should have. They were:

 

  1. Construction Junction should be an intermediary between large construction sites and small construction projects.
     

  2. CJ should be able to pick up excess raw materials from large construction sites on demand (since construction sites cannot store such material for long). Construction Junction already has pick-up trucks and therefore this is just integration with their existing system.
     

  3. We initially thought for CJ to deliver materials to smaller projects but realized this puts a lot of work on them and isn’t something they currently do. Therefore we decided that CJ receives orders and then keeps these materials ready to be picked up by the customer.

 

Design

The responsive website is designed to allow construction site managers set up request for construction junction pickup with minimum friction. At the presence of picking up, the quality of the materials is controlled by the construction junction employee. 

Then as the product info is logged into the inventory, they will be posted as available items on the website. From here, small construction contractors and individual project owners can view the inventory, reserve, and make purchase of the materials. 

Wireframes

For Mobile Device

On the homepage there the two options for the two stakeholders are saliently listed. Upon entering the website, to reduce the cognitive load for the construction sites’ users, the team designed the material list as a drop-down list of material types and a visualized calendar for scheduling time. 

Wireframes

For Desktops

Hi-fi Prototype

On the homepage there the two options for the two stakeholders are saliently listed. The overall color theme follows a industrial blue color. The team incorporates simplified button design for using in outdoor context. Upon entering the website, to reduce the cognitive load for the construction sites’ users, the team designed the material list as a drop down list of material types and a visualized calendar for scheduling time. 

Desktop version for Construction Sites

Mobile version for Construction Sites

Desktop version for Small Construction Contractors

Mobile version for Small Construction Contractors

For Our Client

Possible ways for constructional junction side:

  • A managing portal or connected to their own portal. 

  • Receiving pickup requests and sales orders by any form of their preferred messaging (e.g. e-mail).

  • Log product detail with an automated picture capturing device or linked inventory portal

Value Proposition

Construction Site Manager:

  1. Hassle-free & low-cost disposal of reusable construction material. 

  2. Conformation to the LEED(Leadership in Energy & Envt Design) standards of building. Which states that 75% of the construction waste should be recycled.

 

Small construction firm/household project:

  1. Good quality construction material at a lower than market price.

  2. Custom quantity of material available, bulk orders are not necessary.

  3. Preview the materials beforehand.

 

Construction Junction:

  1. Creates an additional supply of saleable material.

  2. Increased sales and profit.

  3. But most importantly, by doing this, we are promoting sustainable reuse of material that aligns with the core values of CJ.

Future Work

In this product design journey, we identified several needs from various stakeholders that we just couldn’t address due to the limitation of time. There are a few, significant ones, which we, given the opportunity, would like to take up.

 

  1. Since taking pictures for the sale of reusable material could be an additional step for Construction Junction, in the future we want to design an automated picture capturing device. This device would be situated on the ceiling of the pick-up truck and will take pictures of the raw materials while they’re being loaded. These can then be uploaded online where a user can input details like type and quantity so that they can be pushed on to the website and be ready for sale!

  2. The above is also beneficial for the customers of Construction Junction since they would be provided with realistic images of the product that they’re looking for.

  3. In addition to this, we want to be able to scale this project to include multiple material reuse companies and also expand the scope of this project to be able to cater to other cities apart from just Pittsburgh.

Final Reflection

All in all, the responsive web design project was an experience of great learning right from the research phase to actually designing the product and pitching these brilliant ideas to the significant stakeholders (also potential investors). Below are our takeaways from this project:

 

  • The design shouldn’t be Self Referential: I think the toughest pivot we made in our project was to go with waste management for construction companies instead of the CMU campus. We are glad we did this since we learned a lot about another domain and designing for them which we would have, otherwise, been unaware of.

  • Conducting Guerilla research in the real world: with the short time we had it seemed even more realistic & we learned how effective it is in practicality. We also learned how to identify stakeholders and how to reach out to these people. (email, phone calls, physical interviews)

Conclusion

  • A realistic picture of the situations: the people who are likely to use our solution, for example, a construction site manager, would be wearing hard helmet hats and thick gloves while using the application, how can we make their experience smoother?

 

  • We learned how to map the important details of a customer’s current journey and their pain points while they carry out these actions

 

  • How to translate these pain points into needs and how we can validate these “needs” using speed dating sessions

Design Road Map

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