- Where is the sector heading? Trends, new challenges and opportunities, societal changes, etc.
- What are the strategies and responses to tomorrow’s requirements? Ways the sector (and the whole value chain) can adapt and modernise to remain competitive and resilient.
- What is the role of the public sector? Identifying the best ways the public sector can help and support the transition of the construction sector.
To facilitate discussions, four key areas were identified for the break-out sessions:
- Using construction to reshape our cities
- Sustainability - resource efficiency and beyond
- Innovation and digitalisation and their impacts on business models
- Skills – a capable workforce to deliver transformational change
Parallel Session - Using construction to reshape our cities
There are increasing challenges to reshaping our cities: they need to be smart and sustainable, but also liveable, affordable, welcoming, and resilient. This requires long-term integrated urban development strategies based on people’s needs. When setting objectives and implementing strategies, cities and towns have to exercise leadership and put in place the capabilities to deliver. Private sector engagement can provide the investments necessary for this transformation. New regulations and standards can provide direction, provided these are fair and forward-looking with regard to the long timeframes and cycles inherent to urban planning and construction. It is essential that local governments invest in public transport and affordable housing.
Parallel Session - Sustainability - resource efficiency and beyond
The integrated framework for sustainable building performance, developed by the European Commission in collaboration with stakeholders, provides guidance and support to the market on future sustainable buildings. It targets low greenhouse gas emissions and resource efficient material use throughout the lifecycle, efficient use of water, healthy and comfortable spaces, and buildings adapted and resilient to climate change with optimal lifecycle costs. It is a practical reporting tool, easy to understand, and can support the flow, transparency and comparability of data. During the panel discussion, there was agreement on the need for policy intervention on sustainability in construction, including legislation, standards and best practices; the importance of green and innovative public procurement at all levels; and the need for sustainable buildings to go beyond niche markets and become mainstream, including in the residential market.
Parallel Session - Innovation and digitalisation and their impacts on business models
This session highlighted that ground-breaking changes are taking place right now and that the industry must embrace them, or face significant disruption as has recently happened in the automotive sector. Participants presented evidence on the benefits of smart design and lifecycle management of buildings, automation (off or on-site production), and new techniques (3D printing, drones, virtual reality, sensors). In terms of digitalisation, there is a need to move from innovation to implementation, including better and wider collection of data, and more efficient management and more extensive use of data in user-friendly applications. To speed-up digitalisation and the uptake of Building Information Modelling (BIM), governments and local authorities were called upon to be ambitious in their requirements and procurement specifications. The speakers concluded that if Europe can assist in kick-starting this new market, huge opportunities lie ahead for the sector and for people, and European companies can emerge as global market leaders.
Parallel Session - Skills - a capable workforce to deliver transformational change
To be competitive and sustainable, while facing the challenges of an ageing workforce, migration and misalignment of skills, the construction sector has to foster a variety of new skills (technological, sustainability-related, managerial, communication) and modernise current training programmes and facilities. To attract young people and educate them, the image of the sector also needs improvement. It was agreed that the skills challenge can only be addressed by the industry with support from the public sector. This is why partnerships between employers and education providers are vital.
Fulvia Raffaelli - Feedback from the parallel sessions