[Article] Fast-tracking innovation in the construction value chain

Maarten De Groote, Head of Research at the Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE), makes the case for industrializing deep energy retrofits, a value-add of around €200 billion (US$227 billion) a year which could create up to 2 million construction sector jobs. This is part of The Climate Group's project Home2025.

Innovation and ‘mega trends’ in the construction value chain offer big economic and decarbonization opportunities for Europe.

But despite disruptive technologies, new business models and growing sustainability concerns pressuring the chain to adapt to a changing economy, the construction industry is not known to be very fast in introducing innovation.

Construction companies prefer evolutionary change – and are predictable when choosing their tools, techniques and suppliers.

One reason for this is that technology is not yet dependable enough to encourage a rapid mind shift. Although techniques and machines are getting smarter as time passes, they aren’t sufficiently adapted to the construction environment to foster mass-market adoption.

While there is a wide range of innovation opportunities within the construction value chain, let’s focus on one aspect in order to identify the interventions needed to accelerate the competitiveness and decarbonization benefits such innovation can bring.

And that area is off-site industrialization of prefabricated building elements for the renovation market. It represents an enormous opportunity in the construction value chain, creating new sources of revenue as well as new prospects of growth.

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