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The construction industry is facing a time of unprecedented change. Thanks to external factors such as socio-demographic pressures and advances in technology there’s a host of challenges, and potential opportunities, unfolding for the sector. But which approach or tool is likely to become ‘the new normal’ – and how will it affect our industry?

Instead of speculating, we bring you the Emerging Realities report. This report is an overview of selected areas facing disruption in the construction sector. Our research uses statistics and opinions from across a wide range of disciplines to look at the issue from multiple perspectives. Most importantly, we reveal the tools and approaches already starting to be used by early adopters – and how we could all benefit.

Our Emerging Realities are categorised into four key topic areas facing disruption:

  • 1/ Economic

    The total turnover of all businesses operating in construction reached £296.8bn in 2017, up from £271.9bn in 2016vii. But with more than one million small businesses accounting for 62% of the totalviii, these figures mask a series of economic challenges, requirements and opportunities for the sector.

    mark farmer
  • 2/ Technology

    From pre-fabricated construction to 3D printing and autonomous vehicles to BIM, the impact of emerging technologies in construction and infrastructure, while slower on the uptake than in other sectors, is now affecting people, processes and profits from top to bottom.

  • 3/ Socio-demographic

    The world is facing huge and rapid demographic and social change. Yet the size and pace of change varies significantly across geographic regions.

    sue adams
  • 4/ Environmental

    With climate change probably the biggest threat to humanity over the next 100 years, the efficient protection and management of existing and future resources have become compelling reasons for the construction industry to commit to a circular economy sooner rather than later.



There are clear trends and synergies we can draw from to meet the world's increasingly tough challenges. We have summarised the most tangible recommendations to industry from our contributors below:


  • Implement changes to make businesses and projects more sustainable.
  • Think holistically about sustainability and resilience in projects.
  • Embed designing for deconstruction through the supply chain.
  • View buildings as potential means of minimising energy.
  • Design accessibly to ease the transition through life stages.
  • Market buildings as being able to deliver wider wellbeing benefits to their end users.


  • Investigate new disruptive technologies,outside traditional partners.
  • Ease the skills gap by adopting new tools which require different skillsets.
  • Adopt a manufacturing industry mindset.
  • Digitise buildings old and new by digitally documenting materials and completed work.
  • Ensure cyber security resilience.


  • Embrace cross-industry collaboration.
  • Develop common international standards.
  • Co-ordinate innovation and resource appropriately.
  • Collaborate with all parties on projects to achieve circular economy goals.

Do our Emerging Realities match up with your experience in the industry? Join the conversation using #sgemergingrealities