What Is the AEC Industry?

The AEC industry consists of separate players -- architecture, engineering and construction -- that work together to bring a project to fruition. By integrating these seemingly separate entities into a single industry, architects, engineers and contractors can work more efficiently to achieve a common goal. The AEC industry has several practical applications that facilitate the technology, outsourcing and exchange of information within the industry.

Three in One

The fact that three different but related industries make up the AEC industry complicates industry standards. According to the book “The ABCs of the AEC Industry,” implementation of standards in the AEC industry is often particularly problematic. Each component of the building process individually covers an extensive area, so it is difficult to streamline the standards between these separate components. Each of these industries also uses different terminology. However, it is important for an architect, for example, to have a basic understanding of the terminology an engineer on the same project uses.

The Role of Technology

Computer-aided design or drafting is a technology widely used in the AEC industry. CAD is a form of computer-assisted building modulation that architects, engineers and contractors use to create and view two- and three-dimensional models. The AEC industry also uses building information modeling, a newer computerized modeling system that can create four-dimensional models; this software can greatly increase productivity in the AEC industry, but it typically requires specialized training because of the complexity of the process.

Engineering Process Outsourcing

Engineering process outsourcing is a form of outsourcing that supports all three of the industries included in AEC. The AEC industry can outsource a variety of functions to improve the bottom line. Some commonly outsourced functions within AEC include project management, construction management, code compliance analysis and structural design. According to “The ABCs of the AEC Industry,” outsourcing continues to play an increasingly important role in the AEC industry.

Information Exchange

Modern trends continue to influence the exchange of information in the AEC industry. Whether it’s using new software for the design process, implementing new business strategies or integrating Twitter into an industry conference, the AEC industry places a strong emphasis on keeping up with the newest technology that facilitates the exchange of information. Because the end customer usually interacts directly with at least one aspect of the AEC industry, the exchange of information between architects, engineers and contractors becomes vital.


  • The ABCs of the AEC Industry; Zweig White
  • The AEC Technology Survival Guide: Managing Today's Information Practice; Kristine K. Fallon

About the Author

Brian Bass has written about accountancy-related topics and accounting trends for "Account Today." He works as a senior auditor specializing in manufacturing and financial services companies for one of the Big 5 accounting firms. Bass hold a master's degree in accounting from the University of Utah.