Lead Forensics

Trends that are transforming the construction industry

by Patrick McNamara, Sales Director, Cadventure

It is an amazing fact that it has been six decades since the AEC industry began to embrace digital solutions. Initially it was CAD software that was making waves in digital construction – but once the digital revolution began, new innovations started appearing at an ever-increasing rate.

Over the years, we have seen an enormous uplift in smart, creative digital solutions. Although the construction industry has embraced digital solutions, as an industry we are still relatively new to the process.

The AEC industry is undergoing digitalisation at an ever-increasing pace, requiring data management solutions around the design, construction, and operation phases of physical assets. The speed with which the industry is transforming is incredibly exciting, as new trends emerge and begin to completely reshape the way we work.

Cadventure, has been at the forefront of digital adoption at every turn from the early days of 2D to 3D BIM and beyond – for example, helping clients to produce animations for projects such as for the Sydney 2000 Olympics stadium, all part of their digital journey with CAD and 3D visualisations.

Here we take a look at some of the exciting current digital trends and how they are making waves across the built environment.

Immersive technology

When we think about game-changing technology, we immediately think of immersive technology, such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR).

AR has the benefit of being able to place a 3D model into an existing space using a device such as a smartphone or headsets that project the virtual into real space, whereas VR is a completely virtual environment using immersive headsets.

When immersive tech first emerged, it was assumed that it would be largely the remit of marketing and design teams. But what we are seeing is more companies adopting it to make their construction more efficient. They can model and schedule in an immersive environment before building starts, saving on time and cost within the process.

As well as offering design help, immersive technology can also have a huge impact on safety standards and training. Remote workers can inspect job sites before going out in person, and companies can even train staff in a safe space before they even set foot on the site. With Augmented Reality, we are seeing this being adopted in a wide range of use cases – from On-site safety inspection to operational maintenance – bringing virtual experts to a real site.


Robotics has been utilised in most industries across the economy – the technology is still young, but it is a fast-growing reality.

By introducing machines that can perform repetitive tasks, we free up time for more value-added and money-making activities. For example, a robot who can lay bricks quickly, efficiently, and cheaply, can then free up a worker for more creative thinking within the build.

This also has the potential to reduce the risk of human error, helping with productivity and reducing accidents on-site.

Then taking it to the next level and using robotics for semi-autonomous work such as surveying in dangerous conditions and creating building components that would be too complex for a human to build.

Digital Twin

The current industry buzzword is the ‘Digital Twin’. There are a lot of definitions around what a digital twin is, but in essence, it is a virtual representation that serves as a real-time counterpart of a physical asset. It brings different elements of design and data together in a single environment, allowing everyone within the process access to all the asset data – from designers and contractors to owners and operators. Importantly a true digital twin should allow a feedback mechanism between the digital and physical asset, that helps to ‘future-proof’ a project, as well as making maintenance of the asset as simply and efficiently as possible.

For a digital twin to be successful, it needs to incorporate a lot of different types and sources of information. It is more than just a model or a drawing – it includes data on materials, environment, past performance data and other individual pieces of data, to create a full picture of that asset – past, present and future.

The benefits of a digital twin are exceptional. It allows engineers and operators to monitor assets remotely and identify problems before they occur – greatly reducing waste and down time.

Cloud Space

Cloud space relates to both storage and collaboration. With projects becoming more data and file heavy, cloud solutions are crucial for storing this data and making it available to anyone within the project team, anywhere in the world at any time.

During the pandemic, being able to access a file at any time, anywhere became even more important. We have seen a lot of adoption of design review technology over the last 12 months, as teams move their meetings to the cloud, and realise that this approach not only saves time and paper but improves the design review process as it is more accessible to teams for constructive input.

Working digitally and remotely via the cloud allows you to send data to the team, rather than relying on the team finding their way to the data in the physical world. With unlimited storage, you can put as much data as you need to into a project without relying on a server.

Cloud space also allows for a single source of truth in the project. Hosting all data in a central Common Data Environment (CDE) means that everyone involved is working on the latest file at any given time, often updated in real-time.

Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) can bring multiple benefits to those who use it. The goal with these technologies is not to replace humans, but rather to equip them with the capability to improve efficiency and quality. By taking over manual duties and replacing them with automation, this allows professionals to focus on creative use of their time and value-added activities. Engineers want to be doing engineering, not repetitive tasks!

By teaching software to do these tasks, it can then predict any issues and mistakes ahead of time, clearing up any confusion before anything goes to the real-world environment, eliminating human error to create safer built assets.

However, AI and ML are still in their infancy when it comes the AEC industry. Where other industries have had several decades of digital development, construction is still catching up.

The future of digital construction

Construction is one of the least digital sectors, ranking behind even agriculture for digital adoption. Where other industries are benefitting from digital solutions already, we are only just seeing the potential for AEC.

Cadventure specialises in the implementation of these vital digital tools, but more importantly in training those who use them. We need to ensure that digital is seen as a tool for the professionals in our industry, rather than something that threatens to replace them – but we also need to ensure that we are attracting new talent into the industry.

Firms that implement a digital strategy have been shown to be more successful in attracting and retaining talent – and with a skills shortage in the industry, this is something construction needs to put a lot of time and energy into.

We can expect to see far more exciting and innovative products emerge over the coming years, and early adoption is crucial if we are to elevate the industry to its highest potential.

Going digital: why is it important?

by Elaine Lewis, Managing Director, Cadventure

Going Digital is more than just reducing or removing paper and increasing digital exchange of data via file share or email. It presents a great opportunity to re-evaluate every step in your design engineering and construction process. This is not about digitising an analogue process but stripping it back to evaluate how information is generated, shared, published, and managed through the lifecycle of an asset.

Therefore, I asked myself, why is digital transformation important?

Staying competitive in a constantly changing global marketplace depends on an organisation’s ability to rapidly adapt through the adoption of new technologies. IDC estimates that worldwide spending on the technologies and services that enable digital transformation will reach almost $2 trillion in 2022.

It also impacts the bottom line. According to recent research, digital transformation initiatives can result in productivity gains of 14 to 15% and cost reductions of 4 to 6%. In a 2% margin business this can make a major impact on the bottom line, but it does not happen by chance.

Following the Grenfell Tower disaster, the Hackett report highlighted the importance of information and the need to develop a “Golden Thread” – the requirement for reliability, accuracy, auditability, accountability, and transference through whole lifecycle.

Year on year the amount of data we produce for projects increases exponentially. Without continuous improvements in standards, process and management of information we will fail in our duties. Technology can help us with these improvements, along with robust protocols at a project, national and international level.

This becomes even more important as we start integrating data at local authority levels and with projects such as the National Digital Twin. These can be an entirely new business model to support flexibility, efficiency and cost control. We think of digital transformation as a journey not a destination so never think that once you have “done” this, there is no room for continuous process improvement.

Digital Service Mindset

While 2020 was not easy for any organisation, those that are thriving have embraced a digital service mindset. This has impacted not just construction but online shopping, delivery, medicine, automated supply chain optimisation, visitor attractions…. the list goes on.

A number of companies that I spoke to in 2020 began to use the term “pivot” to describe a transformation in their business. This could mean anything from facilitating the needs of their workforce to work from home, to developing office rotas to ensure staff returning to the office could remain safe and socially distanced, plus looking at new sustainable working practices to support net-zero carbon targets.

In some cases, new technology emerged or was repurposed, for example, the use of a security access card could become a social distancing monitor and Covid contact tracing device. Equally safety equipment like hard hats with a mounted device can promote social distancing, emitting a progressively louder alarm when workers are too close to each other. It enables them to focus on tasks rather than worrying about proximity to co-workers or potential virus exposure.

Starting at the top

Digital transformation starts at the top. It is a strategic business decision to adopt digital technologies supported with data to demonstrate improved productivity, better processes, management of business risk and cost control.

As a result, these improvements not only engender better customer and employee experiences but can also in some cases avoid litigation and preserve reputations alongside the cost of repairing or replacing structures. All of this because your project teams can identify and respond to RFIs or identify change management responsibility long after project teams and client contacts have moved on.

Does one size fit all? Absolutely not. An effective strategy has to be right for the organisation and your information needs. Within a large construction company, for example, there will be a significant number of stakeholders with different digital requirements, using a myriad of process, software tools and solutions.

This is why a top-down approach is vital as imposing a rigid all-encompassing Common Data Environment will naturally meet resistance when users have not been canvassed as to their requirements.

It should however represent a good opportunity to “clean house” by documenting processes, streamlining the software portfolio, and stripping back to basics.

Education in this is also key. For some teams, a simple structured F-Drive may be all they think they need, until they understand how hard it is to file and find email or be certain they are using the latest iteration of a document or drawing.

The Cadventure approach

For Cadventure, in 2020 digital transformation meant evaluating our entire enquiry to sale process to identify how information moved through our organisation and where the bottlenecks were. We were keen to see how we could eliminate double entry of information, reduce administration and ultimately provide a faster service to clients. Like many other businesses, we identified silos of information trapped in a range of systems that barely “talked” to one another or required a degree of manual intervention.

Today we have a single source of truth for marketing, sales, support, and finance. I am pleased to say that this investment pays for itself on a daily basis.

So how do you get started?

Make sure you have that C-level buy-in with the associated investment to achieve the required return. Assemble the best team you can with the right talent and mindset to deliver. Audit what you have and set realistic KPIs for what you are looking to accomplish. Pick pathfinder projects to find those quick wins and demonstrate early achievements. Measure your performance against your KPIs and create dashboards to track progress. Communicate early and often about successes. Share lessons learned and implement these findings on the next phase of your digital transformation.

And finally remind yourself that this is a marathon not a sprint.

Engineering: a phenomenal talent

The engineering sector affects each and every one of us. It is the reason why our cars start when we hit the ignition and the light comes on when we flip the switch – engineers have made the world what it is today! Engineering is innovative, pioneering, and inspiring, who wouldn’t want a career in engineering?

The engineering sector, though sizeable and diverse, is also very competitive and demands a high level of commitment, dedication, and skill. Learning exactly what a career in engineering can do for you and why is vital to younger generations of people considering their future career paths.

This week, we celebrated International Women in Engineering Day on Wednesday 23 June and this years’ theme was “Engineering Hero’s”, celebrating the outstanding work and achievements of women in engineering around the world to support industry, economy, and society.

The work of an engineer is not simply confined to just one sector, there are many sectors within the field of engineering: industrial, mechanical, civil, chemical, manufacturing and biomedical are all different and exciting, in a career in engineering you can do anything from developing planet-saving technologies in the renewable energy sector to a new high-performance vehicle that drives itself, engineers truly can be heroes.

Engineers make trains run faster and factory production lines operate more efficiently. Their impact across all sectors is apparent and valued. Engineers contribute such important and valuable skills to the world, making ourlives better in so many different and tangible ways.

At Cadventure we are big supporters of the European Women in Construction and Engineering Awards, with our Managing Director, Elaine Lewis being a regular judge. Elaine commented: “These awards not only celebrate the achievements of outstanding women in construction and engineering, but make these sectors more enticing to women, whilst encouraging employers to hire and train more women into high level roles. Just one example is Lauren Cunningham, a DEC graduate, celebrated by the Engineering Council for her achievements as DEC Ambassador, a STEM Ambassador and Chair/Head of the internal ICE Professional Development Forum. We all need to find and nurture more talent like Lauren.”

The number of young women studying STEM courses and applying for related roles is on the rise. Engineers are role models, they are innovators, designers and the originators of the solutions that will improve our quality of life. This sends a powerful message to young women that they have a major role to play as engineers, creating the sustainable communities of tomorrow. And of course, programs like Bentley’s new education platform providing free access to students to 40 of their applications all helps.

We look forward to the day when we don’t need to have a special International Women in Engineering Day, but until then, we will continue to work to inspire and motivate the next generation of women in engineering.

Women in Construction: progressing diversity in the industry

by Elaine Lewis, Managing Director, Cadventure

In my career I have experienced one extreme to another when it comes to the balance of the sexes. My first job out of university was in marketing and advertising, which, in general, tends to have a relatively high female quota in the workforce. I then moved into the AEC sector and found myself in a diametrically opposite environment, where women made up a very small part of the workforce.

This lack of balance and the lack of opportunity for women is also a missed opportunity for the industry, depriving us all of a huge pool of talent.

As a woman who has broken through into this industry, I have found it to be a genuinely rewarding, challenging, and intellectually stimulating career.

For my part, I have championed women in construction – both as a judge for the European Women in Construction and Engineering awards and as a Women in BIM Mentor. But there is so much more that needs to be done by all of us as employers and decisionmakers in construction.

My experience of these two great initiatives have made two things very clear to me. Firstly, the calibre of talent among women in the industry is phenomenal. And secondly, that we need to do more to encourage more women and young people to enter the industry, thereby diversifying the workforce further.

Celebrating women in construction

I have always felt that when I walk into a meeting or event, I can address the imbalance in the room – from simply wearing brighter clothing to stand out in a sea of dark business suits, to making a concerted effort to join – and sometimes lead – the discussions and be included on an equal basis.

Thankfully, we now have programmes like Women in BIM, which work tirelessly to ensure more women are showcased in the digital construction space.

I am delighted by the constant growth of women working in construction and seeing the impact they have made in building the environment around us. I spoke with Katya Veleva – Founding Director of Blush Cloud, a specialist leadership coach,  about what message she would give to young women entering construction today. She said: “Being part of the construction industry is being part of constructing the world for everyone – and as with a lot of powerful positions, women have often been excluded. We must remember that the world is for everyone, so it makes sense that everyone should be a part of constructing that world!”

Making the industry work for everyone

Now that I have reached a more senior position in my career, I see my role as being that of a mentor to those at different stages of theirs. I am aware, however, that my experiences are individual and not necessarily representative of all women across the industry – but I am keen to share my knowledge to help elevate other voices.

We need to look at changing ways of working in the industry that allow for everyone to participate, from all kinds of backgrounds. It is not always easy for anyone who is raising a family, has caring responsibilities, or for a disabled person to work long hours or do a long commute. Nor is it easy for people from disadvantaged backgrounds to access further education.

While I hate to harken everything back to Covid, the pandemic really gave us a hand in exploring more flexible and inclusive ways of working. We need to continue looking at how we can make the industry more accessible for everyone – including what employers can do to facilitate different ways of working, whether it be flexible hours, clearer work/life boundaries, or equally paid carers’ leave.

Encouraging young women to work in AEC

One of the biggest issues we have in addressing the balance of women in construction – and indeed encouraging young people into the industry in general – is that there is a huge misconception about what careers in construction look like. There is an assumption that they are largely male dominated roles that either involve a lot of manual labour or a lot of desk time. But with the DEC training programmes in schools from Class of Your Own, WIB mentorships and female role models coming to the fore more regularly, we as an industry are doing brilliant work to break down these barriers and showcase the wide range of opportunities the industry has to offer

Young people can start to see construction as the career that it is – an incredibly exciting one. From award-winning innovation to 3D printing replica bones of Anglo-Saxon queens (and that’s just Cadventure!). The new levels the AEC industry is reaching with innovation and technology are astonishing, and showing that to eager young minds, and getting them keen to be involved, is the first step in encouraging them to join in.

Advice for women in construction

I contacted some of the incredible women I have had the pleasure of working with over the years and asked them what advice they would wish to give  women joining the industry today.

Vicki Reynolds, Chief Technology Officer for  i3PT and  CertCentral, and a WIB Mentor and UK BIM Alliance Volunteer:

“My advice to women in construction is to identify your positive personal qualities and celebrate them. Absorb and acknowledge positive feedback that you get no matter how small it may seem.

There will always be difficult people to work with and tasks that are hard to complete – you can’t control that. But you can control how you respond.”

Vicky Ernst, Chief of Strategic Projects at Arcadis Gen:

“Take responsibility for yourself, and try not to blame the environment around you. Embrace the opportunity to be curious in everything you do – and remember that there’s no such thing as failure, just feedback.”

Alicia Llorens, Sales Campaign Manager, Virtuosity:

“If I could give my younger self a piece of advice, I’d say: dream big and work hard. You are not alone, although many times it will feel that way. Find a female mentor. Proactively seek feedback. Learn how to ask for help.”

Katya Veleva, Founding Director of Blush Cloud:

“My advice is – check with yourself. Always make sure you are nourished and nurtured, first and foremost. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need and draw solid boundaries.”

The work women have done in construction so far has elevated all of us into a position that can pave the way for those that follow – and effect real change for gender equality in the industry. We are already seeing a huge change, and I am so excited to see what (and who!) comes next.

Inspiring young people to join the AEC industry

by Elaine Lewis, Managing Director, Cadventure

How can we inspire young people to join our industry? This is a question many of us have been asking for several years now and whilst roles have changed and construction is becoming digitally led, there are still too few young people choosing construction as a career.

I believe we need to take further action to dispel the myths of what the roles actually entail if we are to attract more young people – and to then offer a multitude of ways to train and learn.

One way to do this is to come together as an industry and work collaboratively to showcase what opportunities are available within AEC.

Many of us who work in construction are incredibly proud of the things we have created and the impact our projects have on the environment and the communities they serve. It is this enthusiasm we need to share with young people. We need to dispel any preconceived notions that construction is simply unskilled labour. As we know, construction requires a high degree of skill and expertise, technological innovation, and advanced digital capabilities.

Inspiring young people to join the AEC industry

Apprenticeship advocacy

In the UK we have started to take large steps to educate and invest in our young people and increase their awareness of the wide range of technical and highly skilled roles available. Apprenticeships offer an alternative to classroom learning, providing real-world work experience and, crucially, the opportunity to earn while you learn.

Many employers who run apprenticeship schemes say that apprentices are more employable than those with other qualifications and play an important part in growing the skills and resource pool for our industry.

Modern apprenticeships are about meeting the demands of the future – as well as current building industry requirements. This is why at Cadventure we champion quality learning, and openly push and support apprenticeships that reach degree and postgraduate level qualifications.

We have an apprentice on our team, and the government pays 95% of the cost of their training. In return, the apprentice will spend 20% of their work time learning. They will come out with a recognised qualification, following rigorous assessment – as well as valuable hands-on business experience.

Educating the future of construction

But it is not just about those young people ready to start their career, we also need to begin the education around construction careers much sooner.

Class of Your Own (COYO) have developed the DEC programme which is a design, engineering and construction qualification that offers awareness and education for young people about our industry from 11 years of age. COYO has been passionate about getting young people into the industry for several years, and it has started to make great strides in exciting young people about the possibilities of what it is like to work in construction and helping to understand and build the necessary skills required. Their schools programme is now global.

Cadventure have recently partnered with COYO, helping to educate teachers in technology and software skills, as well as making the subject matter interesting and relevant for young people.

For me, one of the key benefits of apprenticeships is that employers can mould the skill-sets and insights of their apprentices. They are learning from the ground up, within the company’s own operating procedures and focused on specific business objectives. This means apprentices can rise through the ranks more effectively.

Today’s construction apprentices are the professionals of tomorrow, who can take up leadership roles with in-depth understanding of their own roles and projects, as well as the needs of the industry as a whole.

If I go back to my initial question, how can we inspire young people to join our industry? It is all down to the education and opening their eyes to the vast level of opportunities and diversity of roles, you can be anything you want to be in the AEC industry.

How has the pandemic impacted professional development in the AEC industry?

In an industry that is making consistent strides into the digital world, architects, engineers and construction professionals are among those who need to continuously develop their skills sets to realise the potential of these emerging technologies.

However, the coronavirus pandemic has seen an enormous shift in ways of working – and this has impacted the way we learn.

Cadventure’s Sales and Training Manager, Claire Russell has been working to support businesses throughout the pandemic.

Training with Cadventure

“What we teach hasn’t changed over the last 18 months – the same skills are still needed, but what we have needed to change is how we deliver our courses.” said Claire.

Having managed mostly face-to-face classroom-based sessions for more than eight years, Claire and her team have had to evolve quickly to a completely virtual classroom setup.

Claire has managed the remote delivery of courses for regular and bespoke courses since March 2020, and during the first lockdown helped develop a series of free weekly ‘Tech Skills Online Workout’ sessions.

“In some cases when staff were furloughed, skills training was a legitimate use of their time.” Claire said. “By doing something practical with their downtime, this enabled them to continue to feel connected and valuable to their employer. By running these sessions, we helped support our clients during this difficult time and received some fantastic feedback.”

“Our clients were still committed to staff training and development, so our first task was to plan how best to deliver that training and secondly educate clients about this new online learning experience. One of the benefits of this was the opportunity to respond to our clients who are individual learners. They are often contractors or working within smaller architectural practices who have identified a skill they are lacking, such as working in 3D for example, but previously could not take time out to upskill.”

“Within the industry, a pause on training can never be an option. Construction projects, for the most part, have continued throughout the pandemic, with staff working from home rather than in the office. This means that they still needed to keep their skills up to date, and to learn new ones in order to keep pace with the new technology.” said Claire.

“There is a huge call for our ‘OpenRoads’ training courses right now. As it is being used on major infrastructure projects like HS2, we have seen a massive rise in demand from Tier 1 contractors and teams wanting to develop their technical skills in order to meet client requirements. So, we did what everyone else did in the pandemic – we developed an online proposition.”

How does online training work?

“We run the curriculum in exactly the same way – it is just delivered via a virtual classroom” explained Claire. “It is fully interactive with the trainer, and delegates can share their screens so that they can receive real-time feedback – just as they would in a classroom.”

“I actually feel that people find it easier to participate in a lot of cases. Because it is quite personal – the groups are sometimes smaller online – the delegates benefit from more one to one time with the instructor.”

However, Claire thinks that without physically being in the office, line managers may not see for themselves the benefits of continuing staff training.

“I worry for those who are working from home and have concerns over their job security. They may feel that they do not want to ask for budgets for training, for example. The issue then becomes that they could find themselves left behind skills-wise, which is not good for either the individual or the business.”

“The irony of the situation is that from the perspective of both the line-manager and the employer, online training is an ideal solution. It saves both time and money – therefore rather than covering travel, expensing lunch and losing a team member for the full day, it becomes a convenient online solution.”

What’s next for training in the AEC sector?

Whilst there has been a slight slump in professional development throughout the industry, projects themselves have continued as normal.

Claire explained what the next steps could look like to bridge the skills gap: “With staff returning to the office we need to ensure that everyone has the skills and confidence they need to develop further, providing added value to their projects. Even though the level of training may have dropped slightly, I am confidence we will very soon witness a surge in growth and high demand for good quality training.”

To discuss your future training needs or to have a ‘skills needs’ assessment, please contact Claire directly on Claire.russell@cadventure.co.uk.

Sustainable development of the AEC Industry in the UK

How can the AEC Industry collaborate to achieve emissions targets?

The construction industry has a monumental task ahead of it, if it is to play a pivotal role in helping governments around the world to meet their net-zero emission standards.

Just look at the industry’s carbon footprint. Buildings and their construction account for 36% of global energy use and generate almost 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions annually. In addition, global building stock is set to double in area by 2060. This is the equivalent of creating an entire New York City every month for 40 years.

How can the AEC Industry collaborate to achieve emissions targets?

There is no question that the construction industry needs to make immediate and significant changes to meet zero-net-carbon standards. With the UN’s Climate Change Conference, COP26 being hosted in Glasgow on 1 – 12 November 2021, the AEC industry – along with other energy intensive industries – will be under ever increasing scrutiny as policymakers, industry and various other groups try to accelerate efforts towards achieving local and global emissions goals.

But with such a complex issue, how best can the different parts of the UK construction industry work together to make a meaningful contribution to this all-important goal?

Emissions targets

The UK government has set one of the world’s most ambitious climate change targets into law as of April 2021. The goal is to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035 (compared to levels in 1990) – a steppingstone towards the government’s goal of Zero Emissions by 2050.

Complicated puzzle

Stephen Holmes, Cadventure’s Professional Services Director, explained the scale and complexity of the challenge facing the industry: “It’s a real juggling act. When you select a material, for example, you have to consider everything from emission in use, construction, and sourcing. You can have a material with a low emission number – but if you have to fly it a thousand miles to get it on site, does it negate the number? The same goes for manufacturing, and even the material’s lifespan. Maybe it has a higher carbon value but won’t need to be replaced for 50 years.”

There are other, equally significant issues that should be considered, Stephen added. “There’s also the impact of the site itself. You can build in a field, but what impact does that have on transport infrastructure?” said Stephen. “It’s great building a net zero, super eco-friendly building – but if it’s in the middle of nowhere, and 200 people are driving cars there every day, the operational impact can outweigh the benefits of the construction decisions. It’s an incredibly complicated jigsaw!”

In Stephen’s view, every single aspect of creating the most optimum design needs to be taken into account. ”The more we can do to help the industry with good sources of information, the better. The industry needs to be able to make informed decisions, that’s where the solution begins – with data.”

Guidance and education

The construction industry, of course, relies on guidance and standards to steer these crucial decisions. Following the government’s Infrastructure Carbon Review in 2013, it was identified that infrastructure is responsible for more than 50% of the UK’s carbon emissions – and therefore PAS 2080 was designed specifically to address the management of carbon in infrastructure.

It looks at the whole life cycle of the carbon used on projects and promotes reduced carbon, reduced cost infrastructure delivery and a culture of challenge in the infrastructure value chain where innovation can be fostered.

“London Policy Guide also has a more plain language guidance,” Stephen said. “This can help with consideration of a building’s entire life cycle when looking at emissions – and that needs to be a part of the design and construction process in all buildings and infrastructure moving forward if we’ve any hope of achieving the government’s emissions targets.”

So how do we embed these important considerations throughout the industry? In Stephen’s view education is a huge factor.

He said: “We’re working with ‘Class of Your Own’ – the UK-based creator and provider of the award-winning ‘Design Engineer Construct®’ (‘DEC’) Learning Programme for secondary school students across the UK and internationally. We have developed and now deliver software skills training to DEC teachers to inspire young people to explore and access career pathways within the AEC industry, supporting teaching on the sustainability message. Our goal is to gives students a thorough understanding of the modern construction industry with hands-on experience of the latest cutting-edge software for building and infrastructure design.”

Optimising technology

BIM’s ability to capture and predict energy performance is a real game changer, according to Stephen. A key strength is that from inception to design to construction, BIM can accurately calculate long-term energy costs, building performance, and operational energy performance. It can also evaluate the impact of decommissioning the building.

“It’s a really smart way to see the tangible long-term impact each design will make – providing the data is accurate. Again, this whole thing starts with good data.” added Stephen.

Where does the buck stop?

One of the most important questions facing the industry is identifying who takes responsibility for the emission reduction.

“In short, we are all responsible. But we must also acknowledge that this is all a big learning curve for the entire industry. How we measure emissions, how we plan, design, and build in a sustainable way – what does ‘good’ look like? There’s work continuously happening to try and come up with some of these answers – and that needs to continue at pace if we’ve any hope of reaching Net Zero by 2050.”

The road to recovery for the construction industry

Although recently released data from the Office for National Statistics shows that the UK economy shrank by 2.9% in January, the construction industry bucked the trend with construction output rising by 0.9% over the same period.

This rise followed a fall of 2.9% in December 2020, with January also falling 2.6% below February 2021. Even more encouraging, outputs grew by an additional 5.8% in March.

This is showing an extremely positive trend for continued growth – with the Construction Products Association forecasting construction output to rise by 12.9% in 2021 as a whole. Indeed, as we approach the second half of the year, further growth in demand is expected as clients reinstate projects that have been on hold for several months.

Private housing, which was one of the worst affected sectors in the first lockdown, is predicted to make a strong recovery in 2021. The extension to the stamp duty holiday and the Help to Buy scheme have been major factors in this recovery. In light of the government’s mortgage guarantee scheme, we should expect to see a surge in demand across the housing market in the coming months.

Nevertheless, there are significant risks to this recovery. Constraints to supplies in terms of extended lead times and increasing costs for both domestic and imported products may dampen construction activity to levels below the forecasts.

One area that has flourished is the adoption of new technology and digital working practices. The pandemic has led to a shift in the way the world conducts business, accelerating the digitalisation of many industries, including construction.

The pandemic has forced us to rethink construction priorities and address how we can make better use of technology for greater project collaboration and data management in the transition to a more resilient built environment.

At Cadventure we have been supporting clients in their visions and the next steps they need to take for increased digital performance and operation. In our discussions with clients, we have found that their main business priorities are focussed on digital transformation and meeting net zero emission and sustainability targets.

With the demand for digital construction services rapidly increasing, efficiency and improved productivity can be the difference between an overwhelmed workforce and a satisfied client. A report by McKinsey found that firms that introduced digital processes for procurement, supply chain management, better on-site operations, and increased automation have improved productivity by 50% over firms that relied on analogue processes.

As we see the development of 4D construction, the Digital Twin, immersive technology and many newer digital systems, there is a need to upskill the workforce to the construction industry are ready to meet client demand.

For those interested in learning more about 4D technology and Digital Twins, you can see a recording of our recent webinar ‘Discover SYNCHRO 4D’ HERE.

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