2020 – An industry on the verge of transformation

Modified on December 18, 2020

2020 has brought dramatic changes to the construction industry worldwide, which are likely to have a lasting impact over the coming years. In this article, we look at some of the most important events of the year and how they are likely to affect the industry in the future.

The corona crisis

The coronavirus pandemic that hit the entire world earlier this year led to significant reduction in construction production. In Europe, an unprecedented decline was recorded in March and April, and although the European construction sector has made a recovery since, activity in 2020 is estimated to be down by 15.7% in relation to 2019.

Naturally, the corona pandemic has also had a great impact on people in the construction sector, on their lives and work routines, and not least on the way they collaborate to achieve common goals.

Despite its devastating effect, the crisis has taught us some important lessons. We had to become digital overnight, and what is more, we were swift to respond and adapt. Here are the main corona crisis takeaways as described in the common digital strategy of the Norwegian construction sector, Digital Roadmap 2.0, that was published in October 2020.

digital twin

We should build on the lessons learned

‘Because of the current disease control measures, businesses have been pushed towards wider use of digital platforms. A potential challenge going forward is to avoid going away from what has worked well during this crisis. The crisis shows us that it is especially important for managers to have adequate knowledge of digital tools. This knowledge must be retained and further developed. There should also be clear guidelines for the processes that will take place digitally within the organisation in the future.’

Digital Roadmap 2.0

A common “digital language”

Digital transformation is our ability to transform all business processes by integrating digital technology. Essentially, it is about the way we manage information. This is why, defining a common way to structure and standardise data that enables free flow of information across projects, organisations and country borders, is in fact the first major step towards the digital shift.

2020 saw the arrival of two very important international standards that lay the foundation for wider adoption of digital technologies within the sector. In essence, the two new standards EN ISO 23386 and EN ISO 23387 establish the way construction object data should be created and managed to ensure that it is universally understood, both by people and machines.

digital twin

By using common data structures, called Data Templates, to digitise and exchange construction object data, industry stakeholders can take full advantage of digital processes to capture, compare and validate digital information. In practical terms, this translates to increased efficiency, improved accuracy and time and cost reductions.

The wider impact of data standardisation is that it accelerates the adoption of smart technology within the entire construction sector. By creating machine-readable, language neutral data we can take full advantage of digital twin technology, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence. Moreover, we can establish digital marketplaces just like other industries have already done.

At Cobuilder we are really eager to see where 2021 takes us.

Having participated in various discussions and projects with industry associations and governments this year, we are confident that in 2021 the sector will see wider adoption of international standards as part of various digitalisation frameworks and strategies at the national level.

Having participated in various discussions and projects with industry associations and governments this year, we are confident that in 2021 the sector will see wider adoption of international standards as part of various digitalisation frameworks and strategies at the national level.

The green shift

2020 saw a definite shift towards sustainable practices in the sector. Today, market leading actors are placing additional focus on reuse of materials, waste and carbon reduction as part of their organisational strategies.

This trend is to a big extent the result of the growing political focus towards reducing environmental impact. What we are seeing recently though, is that global initiatives and pollical commitments, such as the Paris Agreement and the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs), are now being translated into more specific action plans. Such an example is the European Green Deal – Europe’s economic plan for sustainable growth with a zero emissions target by 2050. Although this plan is meant to transform the entire European industry, construction is one of the sectors that has a significant role in achieving Europe’s objectives.

The overall goal set out by the European Green Deal is to make the European built environment climate neutral by 2050, but also to ensure that housing remains affordable. As means of achieving these ambitious goals, the European Green Deal proposes different mechanisms and policies, but most notably it outlines the importance of digitalisation. The digital transformation of the sector is seen as a major factor to accelerate the transition towards efficiency, sustainability and circularity.

The good news is that new digital technologies that can help actors put into practice specific environmental objectives are already available today. Find out how Cobuilder’s solution Collaborate can be implemented in projects to ensure carbon reduction.

Further sustainability efforts at the national level

In 2021, we expect specific measures to be continuously put into place by various national authorities to support the global sustainability goals. We also believe that 2021 will see wider adoption of new digital technologies and new collaborative approaches that will enable the sector to work towards those goals in a more systematic way.

In 2021, we expect specific measures to be continuously put into place by various national authorities to support the global sustainability goals. We also believe that 2021 will see wider adoption of new digital technologies and new collaborative approaches that will enable the sector to work towards those goals in a more systematic way.

Where does Cobuilder stand?

We embrace the current shift towards sustainability, and through our solutions we support actors in their efforts to reduce environmental impact. We believe that the digital transformation, which is key for sustainability, can only be achieved through a concerted action across the entire construction sector worldwide, and we see the implementation of common frameworks as a major prerequisite. This is why, we follow actively the ongoing standardisation work, we contribute to the development of standards with our expertise, and most importantly – we implement these standards in all our digital solutions.