ENR has launched an innovative construction materials and labor cost-trend monitoring platform tailored for today’s construction industry needs. The ENR Cost Data dashboard, found at ENRCostData.com, is built to display, manipulate and download ENR’s proprietary materials cost data and indexes. The cloud-based service is separate from ENR.com.

ENR’s construction cost data collection system is designed to discover cost trends by showing whether benchmark costs are going up or down around the nation. The system relies on professional estimators and cost reporters who each month gather granular data on cost changes of a consistent set of products, in a consistent set of cities, from a consistent set of vendors.

Former ENR Technology Editor and now consultant Tom Sawyer dreamed up the dashboard while trying to solve a different problem.

“I am a systems kind of guy,” Sawyer says. “I like to break down complex processes into well documented steps, and I had been studying ENR’s 100-year-old materials cost data collection and analysis system for a few years by then, capturing how it works and looking for ways to insure it for the next 100 years.”

ENR Economics Editor Alisa Zevin and Sawyer had already been experimenting with ways to enhance the data collection side of the process by leveraging new technologies, while building a new backend database and analysis engine. “All of that was coming along well, but we were still planting all of our output in text and PDFs online, one week at a time,” says Sawyer. “My idea was to create a dashboard that would capture and accumulate the output of our analysis system—which crunches through incoming data from around the country for a different market basket of materials each week—as soon as it had been combed through and validated” by Zevin.

“The Cost Data dashboard allows readers to see ENR’s cost data in a more streamlined and accessible format, allowing users to save time when acquiring the data they need,” says Zevin.

Version 1.0 is ready for its first users to peruse the data, home in on materials costs most important to their businesses, and download it as an Excel or CSV file.

Sawyer says the next step in development is to “listen very closely to the response from users, so we can decide where to take it next.”

Scott Blair