Given the importance of this subject, we report here entirely an article published by World Green Building Council as a report of the meeting chaired by WGBC at the European Commission in November 2013. Hope you find it interesting.
What does ‘Innovation’ mean for the construction sector?
Nov 07, 2013
The title of this article was the question posed in the opening plenary of the European Commission’s recent ‘Innovation in Construction’ conference, chaired by the Europe Regional Network.
However, this conference wasn’t about dream projects and fanciful concept stage products as the name might suggest to some. It was very much about the hard reality that has stared the sector in the face for a number of years: we need to innovate to ensure the heart of our industry can come off life support and start beating strongly once again.
Antti Peltomäki, Deputy Director-General of DG Enterprise and Industry noted at the outset of the conference that “there is significant pressure for the construction sector to adapt and evolve in the face of high energy prices, environmental concerns and increased competition from non-EU operators”. Indeed, this year’s ‘World Green Building Trends’ report demonstrated that European enterprises are very much in a global green building race, with green building activity on the rise around the world.
The buzzword of the day was ‘competitiveness’. Pleasingly, the concept of long-term economic competitiveness is becoming increasingly synonymous with that of sustainability in EU construction dialogue. This mainstreaming of sustainability in the wider dialogue about competitiveness was consolidated last year by the Commission’s ‘Strategy for the sustainable competitiveness of the construction sector and it’s enterprises’.
The Strategy is a long-term policy vision for the sector released by DG Enterprise and Industry in summer 2012 that is currently being taken forward by a high level strategic forum and a number of thematic groups. This work sits alongside work by DG Environment on EU sustainable building policy, which the Network has recently responded to in its Sustainable Buildings Paper, setting out a vision for market transformation.
What is clearly agreed across the Commission is that innovating to lead on sustainability will be key to our sector’s long-term competitiveness, at home as well as in an increasingly global market. How we create an EU policy framework that will help transform the market towards sustainability is the big question now.
Another common theme from the day that emerged strongly alongside ‘competitiveness’ was ‘collaboration’, which reflects the key message in our recent report ‘A New Era in Building Partnerships’. The central importance of cross-sector collaboration in achieving more innovative, sustainable and valuable outcomes is a core principle at the heart of Green Building Councils and their whole value-chain member communities. Interestingly, one of the proposals put forwards at the conference was that supply chain collaboration ought to be more explicitly promoted by EU policy.
In conclusion, the conference evidenced a growing belief that innovative short-term thinking is not really true innovation at all, and that partnership is the new leadership when doing business.
The author James Drinkwater is Senior Policy Advisor to WorldGBC’s Europe Regional Network
– See more at: http://www.worldgbc.org/regions/europe/ern-blogs/general/what-does-innovation-mean-construction-sector/#sthash.woLspsmf.dpuf
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