In an earlier blog, we covered the top construction industry trends in 2020 and discussed why trend monitoring is critical in competitive markets. This week, we’re going to look ahead and provide our predictions for five construction industry trends to watch in 2021.
As a result of the unprecedented global pandemic, the construction industry has been hit with a torrent of unexpected challenges which has led to shifts in the way everyday business is done. With looming uncertainty about if and when a vaccine will become available, we expect many of this year’s trends to carry into next year, especially as it relates to safety and adopting practices that enable projects to be completed with low worker density.
Below are our predictions for five of the top construction industry trends to watch in 2021:
Let’s begin with the obvious. Worker safety has always been a priority in construction, but the COVID-19 pandemic brought it to the top of the list by creating the need for new requirements and protocols in order to allow work to continue while mitigating the risk of spreading the disease.
Unlike other industries that could largely shift to work-from-home models, the construction industry is highly collaborative and requires laborers to be physically present on the job site. Currently, there is not a vaccine available to cure or curtail the coronavirus, so we expect social distancing, sanitization and PPE requirements to carry into the new year.
Prefabrication & Modular Construction
Already on the rise in 2020, the modular construction market is poised for continued growth in 2021 and is projected to reach as high as $157 billion by 2023. This anticipated market growth can be attributed to several key factors, including its suitability for the times in the post-pandemic era.
Manufactured buildings are typically built in a way that requires low worker density, and in large buildings that make social distancing easier. Additionally, the equipment used for these processes—for example, conveyors, lifts and cranes—is already designed to allow fewer workers to get the job done in order to save on labor costs, which also happens to be beneficial in times when social distancing is required.
Green Construction & Sustainability
Every year, the shift toward green construction and sustainability practices continues to grow as businesses and clients alike are recognizing the long-term benefits. Sustainability and low-impact processes form the foundation of green construction, in addition to the wise use of materials at every stage to reduce waste.
While these practices are important to preserving the environment and its limited resources, saving the planet isn’t the only motivating factor for businesses to get on-board with the green building trend. It’s becoming more common for clients to request sustainability specifications in order to reach eco-friendly designations (like LEED certification) or to receive tax credits. Additionally, the durability, longevity and efficiency of eco-friendly building materials like timbercrete, hempcrete and bamboo are other compelling reasons companies are adopting more environmentally-friendly practices.
The coronavirus outbreak has unlocked a huge potential growth opportunity in the 3D printing technology market, with some estimates predicting the global market will reach $0.12 billion in 2023 at CAGR of 147.79%. Given its ability to build complex structures within a set timeframe, and at a reasonable cost, 3D printing in construction is becoming more and more attractive as it’s also one of the most efficient ways to reduce worker density.
3D printing’s ability to produce parts on-demand, as well as its inherent cost savings and flexibility, are unleashing creative new solutions that will drive construction technology forward and toward greater sustainability practices.
Building Information Technology (BIM) has already transformed the construction industry by changing the way design, construction and project management is handled—and it’s predicted to continue doing so as the technology becomes more advanced and new opportunities are created. A recent study predicts the global BIM market will reach $10 billion this year, and then grow at 13% CAGR over the next four years.
BIM has been instrumental in the digital transformation of the sector, and it’s become even more widely adopted this year following lockdown protocols because of its ability to allow projects to proceed in the digital space when project members were unable to meet in person. As BIM technology continues to advance so, too, will the industry’s reliance upon it in the coming year.
While no one can predict the future with certainty, we can look to history to make educated guesses. Based on what we’ve seen so far this year, we expect the trends outlined above to continue to drive change within the construction industry into next year, as well as the foreseeable future.
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Kathryn Dressler is a content strategist with more than 10 years of experience across the spectrum of marketing services, including blogging, social media, public relations, copywriting and editorial services.