How Cost Savings are Driving Wider Adoption of VR in Engineering

According to a recently released study by, one of the top motivators for AEC firms incorporating VR into their workflow is the return on investment (ROI).
Raj Dayal
February 2, 2023

VR adoption in the AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) space has reached a new level of popularity as the underlying technology continues to improve and word spreads about the utility of these tools. recently released “VR in AEC: Uses, Challenges, and Opportunities.” The report surveys the role of VR in the AEC space, covering everything from use cases and opportunities for growth to roadblocks to adoption. Out of nearly three hundred engineers, architects, contractors, and other industry insiders surveyed, the report found that most AEC firms have used VR or plan to use it within five years.

So, what’s drawing so many AEC firms to this technology?

According to’s findings, one of the top motivators for AEC companies incorporating VR into their workflow is the return on investment (ROI). In fact, 49% of survey participants said “Cost savings derived from catching issues in VR” was a primary factor driving their adoption of VR. Some of the other motivating factors included a desire to bring remote team members together (44%), reduced travel costs (35%), and sustainability (21%).  

Many AEC professionals have found that issues with a design are made obvious by stepping into three dimensions. Based on the report, many firms surveyed see VR as a way to improve efficiency, communication, and reduce rework through immersive collaboration and design reviews. From VR tools like issue tracking (available natively in Prospect by IrisVR), to the ability to inspect BIM data with visibility settings, teams can use VR for full life-cycle project coordination.  

“It took about 18 months for all the floors to be built. It probably would have taken 2-3 years to build it in a traditional way."

Gary Cowan, Head of Digital Construction, Kane

Let’s look at some examples of a few AEC companies who have seen significant cost savings after adopting VR into their technology stack:

Utilizing VR to trim years off MEP build time

One example of an AEC company that has seen strong ROI from VR technology is Kane, a Northern Ireland-based mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) contractor that used VR to aid in an MEP installation project at London’s Claridge’s Hotel.

In an article about the project, Kane attested to the high level of cost savings they achieved by utilizing Prospect by IrisVR software.  

According to Gary Cowan, Kane’s Head of Digital Construction, “It took about 18 months for all the floors to be built. It probably would have taken 2-3 years to build it in a traditional way.”  

Cutting 1.5-2 years off a build time due to finding issues in VR before breaking ground led to immeasurable cost savings for Kane. It’s possible that if the Kane team had tried to build the new hotel MEP without implementing emerging technology (including VR and point clouds), they might still be building it today.

A collaborative design review in an MEP installation in The Wild

Saving 150+ RFI hours per project with VR

BSA LifeStructures is another example of an AEC firm that saw large cost savings from utilizing VR software.  

The Indianapolis-based architecture and engineering firm found that using the VR platform The Wild saves them 150+ RFI hours per project on average.

As detailed in an article on The Wild’s blog, BSA found that, when looking at their Nebraska Hospital project with an average billing rate of $100/hr (often much higher in other regions), they were able to prorate savings for almost 70 RFIs based on estimated hours saved through VR.  

Revealing issues earlier in the process

BSA estimated their total project savings from VR at almost $10,000. As they go on to explain in the article, if savings of this level were to be accomplished on 1 project a quarter, it would equate to 600 hours in time saved and $38,085 in costs saved.

BSA and Kane are just two examples of teams across the industry that are saving time and money with VR. Both organizations demonstrate one of the main ways VR leads to ROI for AEC organizations – by revealing issues earlier in the process than is possible with traditional design reviews on 2D screens. These savings are why almost half of survey participants attested to cost savings from catching issues in VR” being their primary motivator in exploring the technology.

The study also points out some of the other features behind VR adoption among the firms surveyed. While participants reveal that visualizing data for internal design reviews is the most common reason, conducting presentations and BIM coordination are also key use cases. Interested in learning more about how VR is disrupting the AEC industry? Read the full report here.

If your engineering firm is interested in the cost savings of VR, be sure to test out our sister product Prospect by IrisVR!

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