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Future of Construction

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Independent publication by 14 / 06 / 2015 # 321 raconteur.net FUTURE of CONSTRUCTION Satisfying UK housing supply and demand 03 It's a political hot potato – and building enough new homes will boost the UK's economy as well as win votes Ten innovations to watch in construction 07 New materials and designs, plus advances in digital technology and big data, are creating a wave of building innovation Sustainable buildings are green and beautiful 05 Green buildings bring nature into urban spaces, save energy, improve water management and combat pollution Capital city that is looking up to the sky 08 Most Londoners may not know it, but the capital is about to get a futuristic and controversial high-rise makeover Constructing an industry for 21st-century UK The construction industry is replenishing the UK's housing stock, building new infrastructure and helping restore the economy, but challenges remain if it is to attract and retain a forward-looking workforce OVERVIEW JIM McCLELLAND M oney talks, but people count. Construction contributes £92 billion a year to UK economic output. However, to appreciate the true scale of the industry, it pays to think instead in terms of people and jobs, all 2.1 million of them. Driving construction to work, every day, would require 262,500 double-decker buses, full to standing. That would be enough to jam a three-lane motorway, nose-to tail, for almost 600 miles. The same data, however, also explains why construction is concerned about recruitment and retention of talent going forward, making the skills gap a hot topic. Taking growth job markets in sustainability, as an example, construction, for all its envi - ronmental and social issues and impacts, is just not a preferred option, says Dawn Love, head of environment and sustainability at Taylor Woodrow. "The simple fact is that sus - tainability professionals are not considering construction as a viable career choice. The industry still has an image issue and the in- novative work we do doesn't often make the headlines. Most sustainability professionals get into construction by accident," she says. Relying on happy accidents is obviously not a credible business plan. There are, though, signs of progress, according to Ms Love. "My hope and vision is that the work done on the diversity agenda, which has evolved into 'fair - ness, inclusion and respect', helps to change the culture of construction. We have come a long way in the last 20 years; however, we have a long way to go in the next 20 to make it somewhere to attract bright, young talents from all walks of life and retain them." On-boarding new hires is only half the story. Retention, though, is not all about pay and promotion. In a modern millennial-minded working environment, social and cultural ini - tiatives to tackle issues, such as mental health, plus flexibility around personal and family commitments, are key enablers of long-term employment. So, how is construction pro - gressing in its attitude and approach to look- ing after the health and wellbeing of existing staff? In January, the Considerate Constructors Scheme introduced mental health assess - ment into its checklist, with positive feedback according to chairman Mike Petter. "We are starting to see an encouraging response from many sites regarding this matter – some are at the information-and-guidance stage and others are looking at provision of mental health first-aiders." This represents a new criterion, over and above existing concern for general well - being. Mr Petter adds: "Many projects and companies provide general health and wel- fare information. This might be in the form of awareness posters for various cancers, healthy eating and dehy- dration. On the very best sites we see the work- force offered literacy and numeracy support and guidance." Such considerate be - haviours on site are symptoms of an emerg- ing spirit of industry tol- erance and inclusivity. In short, construction is learning to care. This progression forms part of a broader transition that casts construction person - nel more as professional problem-solvers, in the business world of 2015 and beyond. The advent of digital working, including building information modelling, with an ac - companying increase in automation and off- site construction, will herald a wider shift in skillsets, argues Martin Perks, divisional director at Mott MacDonald. "Stakeholders are likely to become more numerous and more sophisticated, and the commercial complexities more subtle, given the collab - orative working involved in digital delivery. End-user expectations will continue to rise, with more voices becoming prominent in the process," he says. "Collaboration, alliancing, interface engi - neering and information management will therefore become core skills. We thus see a gradual pivot of our traditional core, more towards analysis, interpretation, interper - sonal and 'soft' skills." This more collaborative, inclusive model for the future of construction supports values of openness and transparency, suit - ably aligned with corporate social respon- sibility agendas of corporate clients. It also speaks to a learning culture that is alive to global market opportunities, international relations and the exporting of skills. Such a worldview, with global capacity and capabilities, is good for business, says John Alker, director of policy and commu - nications at the UK Green Building Coun- cil. "Cross-border collaboration and sharing of best practice are key. The UK is a global leader in sustainable design and construc- tion, and exporting its knowledge and ex- pertise not only helps other countries with low-carbon development, but in the case of commercial buildings, could contribute an estimated £1.7 billion to UK GDP," he says. Financial reward is not the only potential benefit to be manifest back home. Reflecting on the LEED Platinum – US green building certification – design for Siemens Middle East HQ in Abu Dhabi, Alan Shingler, a partner at Sheppard Robson, de - scribes the win-win sce- narios possible. "Work- ing internationally is a two-way street – UK practices that are hired to export their talents across the world inevitably broaden their range of experience, and in turn import skills and knowledge back into the UK," he says. "New constraints, objectives and context push you to challenge convention and seek new ideas to improve design performance. Working at Masdar City [Abu Dhabi], with its extreme climate, stringent key performance indicators and design-savvy occupiers, put issues of efficiency and performance into acute focus." Built environment metrics are also inform - ing a bigger-picture, people-centric context. The Living Building Challenge (LBC), as well as setting stringent standards for water and energy use, also tackles topics including equity, health and happiness, beauty and education. Such a remit clearly adds up in today's markets, according to UK LBC ambas - sador Martin Brown. "Increasingly, construc- tion is being measured on social outcomes, in addition to financial performance. For many client organisations, utility costs are small in comparison to staff costs, so creating build - ings that provide healthy and happy places, free of toxic materials, just makes good sense," he says. Tomorrow promises not just to be another day, but a whole new world for construction – the future is caring and sharing. Although this publication is funded through advertising and sponsorship, all editorial is without bias and sponsored features are clearly labelled. For an upcoming schedule, partnership inquiries or feedback, please call +44 (0)20 3428 5230 or e-mail info@raconteur.net Raconteur is a leading publisher of special-interest content and research. Its publications and articles cover a wide range of topics, including business, finance, sustainability, healthcare, lifestyle and technology. Raconteur special reports are published exclusively in The Times and The Sunday Times as well as online at raconteur.net The information contained in this publication has been obtained from sources the Proprietors believe to be correct. However, no legal liability can be accepted for any errors. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior consent of the Publisher. © Raconteur Media Distributed in Distribution partner ELISABETH BRAW Europe correspondent at Newsweek, she writes regularly about sustain- ability for Guardian Sustainable Business. JIM McCLELLAND Sustainable futurist, speaker, writer and so- cial-media commentator, his specialisms include the built environment. DAMIEN CARR Freelance journalist spe- cialising in architecture, construction, cities and sustainability, he is editor of building4change.com. MIKE SCOTT Freelance journalist, spe- cialising in environment and business, he writes regularly for the Financial Times and The Guardian. ALISON COLEMAN Freelance specialising in business, management and employment, she con- tributes to the Daily and Sunday Express. JOSH SIMS Freelance writer, he contributes to the Financial Times, Wall- paper* and Esquire, and is editor of Viewpoint. FELICIA JACKSON Editor at large of Clean- tech magazine and author of Conquering Carbon, she specialises in the low-car- bon economy. CONTRIBUTORS BUSINESS CULTURE FINANCE HEALTHCARE LIFESTYLE SUSTAINABILITY TECHNOLOGY INFOGRAPHICS raconteur.net/future-of-construction-2015 RACONTEUR Publishing Manager David Kells Digital and Social Rebecca McCormick Head of Production Natalia Rosek Design Alessandro Caire Vjay Lad Kellie Jerrard Managing Editor Peter Archer Commissioning Editor Jim McClelland Collaboration, alliancing, interface engineering and information management will become core skills LONDON BUILD 2015 Source: House of Commons, June 2015 CONSTRUCTION SECTOR'S CONTRIBUTION TO THE ECONOMY (£bn) 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 95 -2.5% 83 -13.2% 90 8.5% 92 2.2% 85 -7.5% 86 1.4% 92 7.4%

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