Are We Really Becoming More Innovative?

The need for innovation in our industry has never been greater. Construction will help the recovery from the economic impact of Covid. The sector is also playing a vital role in tackling climate change through energy-efficient buildings and a greener transport network.

These are challenges we take on willingly and with enthusiasm – but they will test our ingenuity like never before. Because innovation is vital, it’s worth thinking about what drives it and how those factors are playing out in the industry.

Process Needs and Demographics

Sometimes innovation is driven by an unexpected event. Most often it’s a response to a process need or a change in the market structure or demographics. You could argue that all of these apply to today’s construction industry.

Covid was certainly unexpected. It is accelerating the digitisation of our industry and the adoption of new ways of working. It has also affected the market with the imperative to support communities most affected economically.

Demographics are clearly a driving force. We need to build new homes at an almost unprecedented rate while having fewer skilled operatives available to build them the way we used to. There’s no escaping the reality that homes and other buildings will have to be made differently.

The key innovation is taking offsite methods that have been around for a while and scaling them up to become the mainstream. This also calls for different thinking within the procurement process.

Net Zero Carbon

The zero carbon agenda is the most significant driving force behind innovation. Whatever governments decide about climate change and the need to decarbonise the built environment it will be down to the industry to develop practical and cost-effective solutions.

The eventual net zero carbon bill will run to many billions of pounds. Within whatever that mind-boggling number turns out to be, there will be countless opportunities to deliver retrofit programmes in smarter, more efficient ways.

Potential cost savings from innovation are huge as is the opportunity to bring forward the date when the UK can state that we have a net zero carbon economy.

This isn’t just about technical innovation, it’s also about process and commercial innovation. Local authorities, housing associations and other building owners and operators must be presented with a clear and relatively risk-free way forward in the face of a daunting problem. Osborne is already forming collaborative partnerships that will make this a reality.

For more information visit our website www.osborne.co.uk.