New build: materials, techniques, skills and innovation
The transition to secure, sustainable, low-energy systems will have a significant effect on the way in which we design and construct new buildings. In turn, the new buildings that are constructed will play a critical role in delivering the better performance that would be expected from such a transition. Buildings account for about half of UK carbon dioxide (CO2) production. So it is urgent to ensure that energy is used efficiently in existing buildings and that new building stock is better able to cope with whatever the future holds. Most energy used in buildings goes towards heating, lighting and cooling, but a growing percentage is consumed by domestic appliances, computers and other electrical equipment. Actual energy consumption is the product of a number of factors, including individual behaviours and expectations, the energy efficiency of appliances and the building envelope. This review focuses on the third of these, the building itself, and its design and construction. It discusses the issues faced by the construction industry today, suggesting that major changes are needed relating to materials, techniques, skills and innovation. It moves on to consider future advances to 2050 and beyond, including developments in ICT, novel materials, skills and automation, servitisation (the trend for manufacturers to offer lifetime services rather than simple products), performance measurement and reporting, and resilience. We present a vision of the new build construction industry in 2050 and recommendations for policy makers, industry organisations and construction companies.
- Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering