Trends shaping the future of construction

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Trends Shaping The Future of Construction

The construction industry of the 2020s has plenty to think about, whether that is changes to legislation, greater environmental awareness, or developments of emerging technologies. As the world looks to become a safer, more sustainable, and more efficient place for the construction industry we look towards the trends and changes in the industry which are likely to have a sweeping impact.

The Paris Agreement of 2015 marked ‘the beginning of a shift towards a net-zero emissions world’ and almost 10 years on, we’re starting to see the effects. Changes in the construction industry will be felt across the board, whether this is to those on the building side, or the specification side.

Legislation Changes

There will always be impactful changes to legislation for the construction industry and this decade is no different. However, the 2020s have the feeling of a decade being hit with more than its fair share. Whether this is changes to planning and specifying, reaching net zero commitments, or adjusting in the post-Brexit world.

In the UK, Gateway Legislation changes have greatly increased the responsibility, or ‘design liability’, of those who specify materials. From a safety standpoint, this is sure to have a positive impact following on from the Grenfell disaster and similar cases where unsuitable materials were used in buildings. The changes here enforce the materials on the original design specifications. While this will see improvements to safety, it is worth considering what the impact will be for future developments. This may slow new building developments down and make the specifications rigid against vital improvements.

Moving Towards Net Zero

As the UK government seeks to meet its 2050 net zero commitment, enshrined into law in the 2019 update to the Climate Change Act, it is making changes to head in that direction. This is evident in standards such as BS 8500, allowing two additional cementitious constituents such as GGBS or limestone to Portland Cement, which was previously restricted to one.

This gives the construction industry an opportunity to reduce carbon emissions by incorporating different materials. For example, GGBS has 10 times less embodied CO2 than an average Portland cement and can be used to replace up to 70% of Portland Cement.

Though there are companies collectively taking big steps in the right direction, but as governments around the world target net zero emissions targets, we are sure to see far more overreaching changes in the coming years. The push to reach these targets is sure to trickle all the way down in a construction industry which, as of 2021, accounted for around 37% of energy and process related CO2 emissions. To cut this down, there will need to be changes to transport, technology, and materials. 

Material Changes

Materials such as cement are staples of the construction industry, and this isn’t about to change. But as an 8 per cent contributor towards global Carbon Dioxide emissions, alternatives will have to be incorporated. To reduce this figure, changes need to be made across the board. One of the ways we can reduce construction carbon emissions is by using by-products of other processes.

GGBS, mentioned earlier, is a by-product of the steel making process. Other products such as anhydrite screed are by-products of the acid production process, and are another cement alternative. Using recycled or by-products  reduces the need for quarrying raw materials, and also reduces the amount of material going to landfill at the end of a product’s lifecycle. 

Technological Changes

Finally, changes to technology across the supply chain bring plenty of excitement. We can anticipate changes to manufacturing materials, logistics, and to technology such as AI. 

AI technology, whilst it has been around for some time, is in its infancy when it comes to public consumption. Now that it is in the public domain, it will carry an array of benefits to the construction industry. This will help with quality of designs, safer job sites, assessing and reducing risk, increasing project lifespans, improving everyday efficacies, and much more. AI offers the opportunity to rise to the challenge of changes to legislative and standard changes and to continue to innovate creative solutions to the problems of the modern world.


The 2020s look to be a turbulent time for the construction industry. With governments holding them to the 2015 Paris Agreement, there will be sweeping changes to the rules the industry operates within, and the materials it uses to get there. With rapidly improving technological developments and materials innovation, there is plenty to get excited by.


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