In a recent report published by Marsh, titled The Future of Construction: A Global Forecast for Construction to 2030, construction is reported to be on the fastest growth trajectory out of all industries in the next decade. Naturally most professionals in the construction industry celebrate this. Growth of 35% as predicted wouldn’t have seemed possible a few years back, but now with so much being invested in infrastructure post covid, it’s a welcome development, despite the challenges that exist.

Along with the growth there’s a renewed awareness that it can’t be building as usual. To capitalize on this growth, many things need to change in the construction industry. As much as infrastructure is needed, so is swift and decisive action on the climate crisis. Not to mention diversity and inclusion, better delivery on social value and leveraging technology to support growth and productivity. It’s a lot to ask of an industry notoriously resistant to change. What will make it possible?

More than a cause

For too long climate change has been viewed as a cause for activists rather than a business priority. But any astute business leader knows that it cannot be ignored. It impacts every aspect of business for construction, from planning and engineering for extreme weather events, to having sufficient supply of building materials. If construction wants to be profitable, circular economy thinking needs to be a priority in all strategic decisions. It’s the only way to ensure a more sustainable path and drive innovation in the right direction.

The same applies to diversity and inclusion initiatives. Every year there is an outcry about the gender pay gap and how few women hold senior roles in construction. How have companies addressed this to make the industry more welcoming to professionals from diverse backgrounds? Have they levelled the pay gap? Or is D&I just another cause to talk about? Analysts agree that diversity stimulates innovation and profitability, regardless of industry.

In bidding on major works, there is a greater emphasis to demonstrate social value. A group of industry professionals have recently launched a new online portal aimed at supporting the development of social value by connecting projects and service providers. This kind of collaborative effort can only benefit the construction industry.

It’s good that construction is booming, but we need to define good with the future in mind. Building more won’t matter unless it’s building sustainability, with social value and D&I equally high priorities.