Gema Traveria, Event Director at REBUILD. Objective: to revolutionize the model of the building sector.
Through industrialization, sustainability and digitalization.
Next year the international building sector will be characterized by the volatile economic situation. The inflationary environment, the energy crisis and the supply chain problems are factors that are immersing the industry in a period of instability, and forcing it to be aware of the evolution of the European financial scenario. In this sense, the low household indebtedness, the vigorous job creation and the high demand for housing are making things difficult for analysts to define what will bring the upcoming months.
Despite these obvious severities, the building sector finds itself in a more powerful position than in previous crises. An example of this strength can be seen in some statistics, which show that by 2023 the building industry will grow by 5.5% –a few tenths more than this year (5.2%) and one point more than what was originally expected (4.5%)–, as a result of the projects that have not yet materialized in 2022.
In order to create an environment that could be able to withstand the possible future economic challenges, we must consider three key mainstays: industrialization, renting and target 2050. Technology is a very good ally to optimize processes and economize resources. According to the Spanish Construction Technology Platform (PTEC), incorporating specialized technological solutions in the development of projects can lead to savings in material and in construction times, improving productivity by up to 10% and saving more than 12 hours of work per week. Likewise, the use of digital tools leads to more precise and efficient work, reducing error margins. Naturally, this has a positive impact on final costs.
Industrialization leads to optimization
Industrialization will be another significant trend to consider among the building sector. The 2D and 3D building techniques in an industrial and automated environment make it possible to optimize costs, maximize manufacturing time –reducing delivery times–, and to build in a more sustainable way –reducing CO2 emissions. Therefore, this alternative is a solid solution to meet the current challenges linked to rising prices and the climate crisis.
Likewise, industrialized construction opens a new window to turn building into a more attractive sector for talent. The fact that most of the work is carried out in a closed environment and is not exposed to external and variable factors –such as the ones conditioned by the weather–, or that it is always carried out in the same place –with more flexible schedules–, makes it more attractive for the workers to join this kind of industry. In this regard, and as was highlighted at REBUILD 2022 (the technology summit for building professionals), around 700,000 jobs need to be filled by 2026 to carry out the real estate projects driven by the Next Generation funds. It is essential to make this industry attractive from a labor point of view, especially if we want to continue seeing its growth.
However, despite the favorable situation of the industrialized building sector –as we could see with the growth of these companies in REBUILD (three times more than previous editions)–, legislation is not yet being designed as the business model changes require. It is necessary and urgent to adapt the current regulatory framework to the new scenario, and the first thing we have to change is the mortgage law, so that the financing needs of an industrialized construction process can have a working capital linked to monthly certifications.
Transition to renting
In recent years Europe is experiencing a transition to renting, a trend that has already reached Iberian markets and is positioned as a valuable solution to the problem of lack of supply in the face of high demand for housing. According to some of the experts who have attended REBUILD in previous editions, Spain is expected to need 80,000 homes in 2024 and close to half a million in the next decade. As a potential solution, renting must be taken into account.
For this reason, the market for properties is dedicated exclusively to leasing. For example, the motto "Build to rent" is gaining weight and it is predicted that by 2023 the trend will continue rising. Thus, public-private collaboration is essential to promote new renting developments –especially dedicated to social housing, a substantial part of the ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) criteria that are increasingly being considered when it comes to real estate investments.
Another ESG criterion that is shaping the future of building is undoubtedly the environmental component. The challenge of sustainability is not a problem specific to the construction sector, although its activity does have a significant impact on the future of the planet. Although the data show us that buildings are among the most polluting agents in urban environments, the industry is transforming itself to make its activity much more efficient, climate-friendly and inclusive.
The target for 2050 is to cease net greenhouse gas emissions under the European Green Pact. The way forward is to drive visible measures that promote the decarbonization of the sector in the short term. To this end, there are the NextGeneration funds, which aim to undertake a structural rehabilitation of the Spanish housing stock –making it more efficient–, and the recovery of materials, such as wood –a firm and sustainable alternative. According to AEDAS Homes data, wood construction is environmentally beneficial because it reduces CO2 emissions by 60%, water consumption by 20% and construction waste by 17%.
REBUILD not only aims to provide solutions to the above-mentioned challenges, but also to analyze the megatrends inside the building industry. In this sense, REBUILD 2023 stands as an optimal forum where the best experts, leading firms, professionals and entrepreneurial talents can meet from March 28 to 30 at IFEMA Madrid and draw a roadmap to change the building model.
The summit will also show the latest technological innovations to stimulate the sector. Digitalization, sustainability and industrialized construction are the three cornerstones that will help all the players in the building value chain to overcome inflationary challenges and adapt to our current context.
REBUILD will hold its sixth edition next year from March 28 to 30 at IFEMA Madrid. REBUILD aims to revolutionize the model of the building sector through industrialization, sustainability and digitization.