Imagine if the schools we built as a nation helping pupils achieve better educational performance just from the way they were designed. What if UK homes were all built with integrated energy generation and storage meaning most people had zero energy bills? Picture a future where all UK built infrastructure was delivered faster and cheaper through modern manufacturing supply chains and onsite robots.
That future is closer than we think.
The way we create buildings has not changed substantially in 40 years
The way we create buildings has not changed substantially in 40 years and needs a drastic overhaul if it is to deliver the buildings and infrastructure that the UK needs. The burning platforms for construction are a productivity gap with the rest of the economy and a skills crisis due to an ageing workforce.
The Industrial Strategy - Transforming Construction
Innovate UK, EPSRC and ESRC have launched a new programme under the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund called Transforming Construction. Over four years this £170m challenge will put the facilities and programmes in place to eliminate the productivity gap in construction and pave a faster route to building safer, healthier and more affordable places to live and learn that use dramatically less energy.
It will help the construction, manufacturing, energy and digital sectors come together to take a digitally-driven, design for manufacture and assembly approach to built assets that enables higher quality, faster delivery and more ready integration of advanced materials and technologies.
The programme is linked to the Construction Sector Deal and the Infrastructure and Project Authority’s (IPA) Transforming Infrastructure Performance strategy.
Buildings - 50% faster, 33% cheaper
The outputs of this challenge will lay the foundations to help deliver buildings with greater certainty, 50% faster and 33% cheaper while halving the lifetime carbon emissions and eliminating the productivity gap between the sector and the rest of the economy. The Government procures over 40% of the construction industries’ output and has a pipeline of £600bn of National Infrastructure projects to 2025. For the current construction workforce to meet this demand a 22% increase in labour productivity would be required. Without strategic change, it will not be possible to deliver the UK’s national infrastructure needs.
Improving productivity in construction
Moving the industry towards a manufacturing approach could yield a 5–10 times labour productivity improvement reducing the demand on labour and creating skilled factory jobs throughout the country. The production of components in controlled factory environments will require fewer workers to be on construction sites improving safety. The digital design and then manufacture of buildings offsite offers the potential to significantly improve the safety of buildings.
New buildings consume 3.5 times more energy than designed
Buildings account for around 40% of total energy consumption and 20% of our greenhouse gas emissions yet new buildings are consuming on average 3.5 times more energy than designed. Digital and manufacturing technologies will enable better design and modelling of buildings, improve project management and facilitate the incorporation of new technologies, such as sensors, smart systems and materials.
How technology will affect design, build and management of our built environment
On 16th May industry leaders will come together for the FT Future of Construction Summit to look at how a digital led transformation will take place in construction and how technologies such as robotics, additive manufacturing and artificial intelligence will affect how we design, build and manage our built environment. I’ll be part of a panel discussion on robots vs. humans and making the case for both!
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