The building and construction industry has come a long way since the invention of cement and concrete. From humble beginnings, it has grown to become a massive industry with an impact on every aspect of life. It plays a vital role in the development of nations, creating employment opportunities, and pushing technological advances.
As with every industry, there are challenges that the building and construction industry faces, both internal and external. From the lack of innovation and insufficient investment in research and development to environmental and sustainability concerns, it is clear that the industry has a long way to go.
Across the world, various events and conferences bring together experts and stakeholders in the construction industry. Participants in these events share insights and experiences, brainstorming ways forward and strategies to overcome the most significant challenges facing the industry.
In this blog post, we intend to review some of the most pressing issues discussed at recent building and construction industry events.
Lack of innovation
In recent years, innovation in the building and construction industry has slowed down, falling behwind other industries such as finance, healthcare, and transportation, to name a few. This is evident from the fact that many construction methods and materials have remained unchanged for decades, resulting in higher costs, increased labour, and more extended project timelines.
The participants at the events discussed that the industry should embrace innovation and new technologies to overcome some of the challenges. Innovative processes and materials can drastically reduce construction costs and boost efficiency, such as the use of prefabrication and modular components. Modular construction components are built off-site, with a reduction in on-site labour and time. 3D printing is also an emerging technology that can revolutionize the construction industry. It uses layering techniques to print buildings, reducing waste and construction time, and cutting costs.
Inadequate Investment in R&D
Many governments and firms under-invest in research and development in construction, creating a gap between the industry and other innovative fields. Investment in research helps to develop new technologies, processes, and systems to improve construction processes, construction equipment, and materials used.
Participants at events called for increased investment in research and development in the construction industry. The industry needs to focus on research and development to discover new, sustainable, and eco-friendly materials, and innovate new techniques in construction. The attendees agreed that the importance of research and development could not be overemphasized.
Adequate investment in research and development in the construction industry will lead to cost-saving measures, industry improvement, and improved construction quality. In the short term, there may be some delays and increased costs, but in the long run, the investment will pay off.
Environmental Impact and Sustainability
Sustainability is a crucial area for improvement in the construction industry. Participants agreed that the industry was one of the largest consumers of energy and resources worldwide, and there was a need to significantly reduce the carbon footprint.
Innovative construction materials like timber, which are more environmentally-friendly alternatives to non-renewable materials, have been discussed at events. These alternative materials are more sustainable and environmentally friendly than traditional concrete and steel. Timber, in particular, has natural insulation properties and is renewable, making it a better option.
Sustainability goals have been outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Governments of world-leading countries pledged to meet these goals through sustainability initiatives. Collaboration between construction industry stakeholders, including government bodies, engineering firms, and construction companies, is crucial to creating a sustainable future.
There was a consensus among the attendees that existing buildings could also be retrofitted to become more sustainable by using green building technologies, such as solar panel installation, which could also help the building owners remain economically viable due to reduced energy consumption.
The construction industry has been experiencing a labour shortage, with many firms struggling to recruit skilled workers. This has implications for the delivery of projects, which can result in unnecessarily extended construction times.
Participants at events discussed the need for more vocational training centres and apprenticeship schemes. Apprenticeship schemes are a great way to increase skilled workers in the construction industry, and many smaller construction firms rely on them to train and retain their workforce.
The adoption of technology such as drones, augmented and virtual reality heads up displays, IoT wearables, robotics and automation, and others can help to offset the labour requirements on construction sites. There is also the need for construction firms to move towards removing the stigma associated with construction as a second-choice career path, encouraging younger generations of workers that construction is a highly skilled industry with numerous career opportunities.
Health and Safety
Construction sites are hazardous environments. The risks to construction workers can be life-threatening, resulting in injury, and even death. From falling from a height to being struck by falling or moving machinery, to exposure to chemicals, and other dangerous substances, the list of potential hazards on a construction site is long.
The industry must do everything possible to ensure that workers are provided with a safe and healthy work environment. Safety protocols and gear, regulatory compliance, and education and training programs on health and safety must be exceptionally stringent.
Participants at recent events discussed the need for the construction industry to embrace technological advances in health and safety. Technologies such as wearable devices that can detect a worker’s fatigue levels, smart helmets that can detect when a worker is too close to the equipment, and exoskeletons that help workers lift heavy loads, have all changed the construction industry’s landscape considerably.
The building and construction industry faces significant challenges. The industry has to embrace the responsibility of taking care of the environment and adjusting to the changing demands of clients and the world. The construction industry needs dedication, political will, collaboration, and innovation to overcome these challenges and create a more sustainable and innovative industry. Events and conferences that continue to bring the various stakeholders in the construction industry together provide a platform for addressing these challenges and charting a way forward, leading to a better future
You can also connect with us on the following social networks: