The construction industry shapes, forms and changes our environment. What is planned and built today will remain for decades to come. Through its core business, it creates the physical conditions for social coexistence and for large parts of economic activity in Bavaria.
In the coming years, the construction industry is facing a transformation that will enable it to make a decisive contribution to the major challenges of our time. The trends, challenges and solutions in the construction industry are examined in the study "Constructing our Future. Planen. Bauen. Leben. Arbeiten.” (planning, building, living, working). It was jointly prepared by Prognos, the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering and the Leonhard Obermeyer Center. The results and policy recommendations were presented on 27 July 2021 as part of the online congress of the Zukunftsrat der Bayerischen Wirtschaft (future council of the Bavarian economy).
Future development of the construction sector
There are various factors that will influence the construction sector over the next ten years, some of which are counteracting each other. Demographic change is causing a shortage of skilled workers in certain professions and dampening construction demand overall. The low-interest rate environment will continue to have a driving effect, as (residential) real estate will remain an attractive form of investment for the time being. The transformation towards climate neutrality and the measures to adapt to the consequences of climate change also make (construction) investment necessary and, thus, have a positive effect on construction activity.
Climate protection and circular economy
The construction sector is one of the largest consumers of resources and energy. The construction and operation of buildings and infrastructures together are responsible (directly and indirectly) for over 40 percent of Germany's greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, they offer a central lever for achieving climate protection goals.
The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions requires significant changes, but it is technologically feasible. In the building sector, this concerns, for example, the use of technologies to reduce the demand for electricity, heating and cooling and to replace fossil fuels. In addition, the use of low-CO2 produced and renewable building materials will have to become increasingly important.
Another starting point is the circular economy. Buildings and infrastructures must be designed in such a way that they can be used for as long as possible and retain their value. At the same time, the possibility of recovering raw materials at the end of their service life must be considered from the outset. The German stock of raw materials, which is bound up in buildings for the long term, offers enormous material potential which, after proper dismantling, can either be reused as recycled building materials or components or used in other sectors of the economy. The potential for the recovery of materials and specific components is reflected in construction and demolition waste, which accounts for about 55 percent of the waste generated in Germany.
Living, working and mobility
With the outbreak of the Corona pandemic, social transformation processes were accelerated, the long-term effects of which are still open. The increasingly fluid boundary between working and living through mobile working or home office solutions is currently changing the previous understanding of (commuter) mobility. The new work and mobility routines are leading to a reassessment of individual housing needs and lifestyles with implications for the demands on buildings and neighbourhoods as well as the development of cities and regions. For example, neighbourhood coworking spaces or outsourced satellite offices could be integrated into residential quarters in the future. This also has implications for office space requirements and the design of existing office spaces and structures.
Authors: Dr Heiko Burret, Dr Almut Kirchner, Dr Bärbel Birnstengel, Lukas Eiserbeck, Maike Fließbach-Schendzielorz, Jannis Lambert, Tobias Koch, Markus Mahle, Marion Neumann, Konstantinos Theodorou
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