Norwegian construction lots are as busy as ever. Almost a quarter-million employees in 57 000 companies contribute to Norway's largest onshore industry. The construction and real estate industry constructs our infrastructure and the buildings we work and live in. This means we make a massive carbon footprint and have an equally massive responsibility to make it smaller.
In spite of ambitious sustainability goals, according to fresh statistics, last year we emitted more climate gasses than the year before. Again. We have not been able to affect any real reductions.
The global construction and real estate industry is often referred to as The 40 Percent Industry – as we are responsible for roughly 40 percent of emissions, 40 percent of waste, and 40 percent of energy, materials and water expenditure.
In Norway, our numbers are smaller, with ‘only’ 15 percent of total emissions to the industry’s name. Still, enormous amounts of energy and raw materials are used for construction. In order to drastically reduce our climate footprint, we need a much higher degree of innovative, scalable solutions.
We have seen whole industries disrupted, consolidated and globalized. The construction industry lags behind. We are criticized for being too conservative and not innovative compared to other industries. According to McKinsey, this is a global trend. The consultancy writes that if the construction industry just catches up to the growth of other industries in the past 20 years, the difference would be equivalent to 2 percent of the global economy.
In our industry, a successful building project is one that risks nothing, with complete control of contracts, outputs, and inputs . This is the very opposite of what we need in an innovation-based culture.
Benedicte Økland – CEO, Construction City
Technology has given us new tools in the fight for sustainable construction. Many Norwegian startups and proptech companies are testing and financing new solutions for construction. Still, we need to scale these products for them to be taken into broad use. Sky-based software can now run big systems efficiently enough to be updated in real-time at the office and in the hands of plumbers or managers in the field. This is what we call BIM, a system that creates endless opportunities. Until now, however, few have been able to realize its potential in terms of efficiency.
The Research Council of Norway has turned its attention to our industry, increasing their investments into research and development in construction to approximately NOK 2 billion. Other institutions are also getting more involved. There is great potential. In order to affect real change and reach sustainable development goals, we must increase the rate of innovation, built on more cross-sector research and knowledge sharing.
In our industry, a successful building project is one that risks nothing, with complete control of contracts, outputs, and inputs. This is the very opposite of what we need in an innovation-based culture.This is the very opposite of what we need in an innovation-based culture. The brightest and bravest will always start by wanting change, and seeking out likeminded people to make bets they possibly would not have done on their own.