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Transforming construction

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Imagine if you ordered a new car and it came in a series of deliveries and put together by a series of different workers on your driveway. They work from a sheet drawing and can’t tell you exactly when it will be ready. They throw away 10% of the bits that are delivered and it ends up not looking exactly like what you ordered or performing as you specified either.

You wouldn’t be happy, but that is exactly how we build the majority of buildings now.

Construction workers piecing together a giant electric bulb puzzle.

Construction is a significant part of the UK economy

The construction sector is a big part of our economy – roughly 9% of it – and employs around 10% of the UK workforce. Its output – the built environment – enables the services that drive around 43% of the economy. From roads and rail to offices and factories.

However the way we produce buildings has not changed in over 40 years.

Construction workers on scaffolding.

A labour intensive sector

The sector currently operates by mobilising a skilled workforce so costs are related to people and quality is related to how skilled they are, and the UK workforce is ageing.

Construction projects are labour intensive and this is a major reason why productivity on the sector lags that of other parts of the economy.

Silhouette of two construction workers looking at plans.

Improving construction productivity through sector deals

Sector deals are partnerships between an industry and government to address specific issues the sector has together. By taking the lessons from other strong UK sectors, such as automotive, we can adopt technology and processes to improve the productivity, the quality, sustainability and safety of infrastructure and buildings.

Red and blue starburst Industrial Strategy logo next to the words 'Industrial Strategy'.

The sector deal for construction

The sector deal for construction aims to do just this and address sector issues such as improving procurement practices, skills, exports and innovation.

The £170 million Transforming Construction programme (with £250 million committed match from industry) in the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund is at the heart of the Sector Deal, driving the innovation part and feeding into all the other strands.

The Transforming Construction challenge programme

The Transforming Construction challenge programme will help industry overcome the innovation barriers in moving to a greater use of digital, manufacturing and integrated energy technology approaches when delivering new buildings and infrastructure.

Building faster with a lower cost

The aim is to enable the construction sector to deliver buildings faster with a lower cost across their whole life (construction and use). The challenge programme will start with some of the most important buildings in society – schools. The UK builds 2000 primary schools a year to replace aging stock.

Improving the efficiency of this would mean more schools, faster at a lower cost to the taxpayer.

Improving building performance

We also want them to perform better. Through research we aim to understand how to improve what a building is for. Imagine a school where children measurably achieve more because the learning environment is optimised.

If that school is also generating more energy that it uses and can provide that energy to the local community, then wouldn’t we build them all that way?

Procuring buildings and infrastructure differently

The Sector Deal and the Transforming Construction challenge programme are enabled by a government commitment to procure buildings and infrastructure differently; placing a value on the whole life cost and performance. With consistent aggregated demand from government the sector will be able to invest in the shift to a model that mobilises supply chains rather than people and improve the efficiency of all projects.

Through a Core Innovation Hub, the programme knowledge will be transferred to other buildings such as houses and into major infrastructure projects.

Establishing an active buildings centre

The programme will also establish an Active Buildings Centre to bring down the cost of energy generation and storage technology that is integrated into the building fabric, and demonstrate its use at scale on real developments.

In the future you may well order your next house as you order a car now, and when it arrives and is assembled on time and budget will have zero energy bills!

transforming construction advisory group

Transforming Construction advisory group

The Challenge Programme is guided by an advisory group drawn from across industry and academia. It is chaired by Dr Diana Montgomery, the Chief Executive of the Construction Products Association.

You might also want to see who else forms the group:

  • Denise Bower                    University of Leeds
  • George Clarke                   Architect/Presenter
  • Jozef Doboš                        3D REPO
  • Deirdre Fox                          Tata Steel
  • Steve Fox                            BAM Nuttall
  • Ken Gibb                            University of Glasgow
  • Jeremy Greenwood          Tarmac
  • Kerry Mashford                 Independent
  • Patricia Moore                   Turner & Townsend
  • John Tonkiss                      McCarthy and Stone
  • Jennifer Whyte                  Imperial College

Transforming Construction competition opens 23/7

Just to let you know our competition to help increase productivity, performance and quality in UK construction opens on the 23/7 but you can investigate the scope and requirements now.

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