CIOB members are keen to create a positive and forward-looking industry and the sector is ready for more progression as the new year begins, writes Caroline Gumble.
This time last year I wrote that I was proud of CIOB for adapting quickly to the challenges we faced because of the pandemic. 2021 has also been a year of challenges – but a year in which both the industry and institute have made solid progress.
Within the last few weeks of 2021, I had the privilege of speaking at two parliamentary receptions, one in Edinburgh, one in London. On both those occasions, I reflected on our work on some of the major issues of the day. I also noted the appetite within much of our membership to help create a positive, forward-looking industry.
Among headlines from last year, COP26 was an important opportunity. The dedicated Built Environment Day was a useful platform for making the case – again – for a national retrofit strategy, as well as hearing from construction professionals around the world on initiatives to combat climate change.
There is a great deal of innovation in materials and methods – just flick through last month’s Construction Manager, a special issue featuring ‘net zero heroes’ – and I believe we need to see more companies adopt these technologies.
But in advocating for more sustainability, the context is not just about the drive to net zero. There are also opportunities to adopt more digitisation and focus on creating the golden thread of information, needed to keep the construction, commissioning and occupation of our built environment safer.
“There are opportunities to adopt more digitisation and focus on creating the golden thread of information, needed to keep the construction, commissioning and occupation of our built environment safer.”
Jobs that focus on making the built environment more energy efficient are another opportunity. The Construction Industry Training Board issued a report in 2021 suggesting an additional 350,000 jobs will be needed by 2028 to deliver improvements to existing buildings to cut energy demand.
One note of caution – and another hope for the future – on Anti-Slavery Day last year, CIOB supported the launch of a new SOS hand signal for victims of modern slavery in construction to use to seek help. I have been concerned that with the pandemic and the consequent pressures on the industry, there may be an increase in incidents of modern slavery. But this new initiative to help victims seek support could help to tackle it, particularly on site.
There is much that is positive in the industry right now. I want to celebrate the fact that there is an appetite in the industry to be more progressive and I’m looking forward to what 2022 will bring.
Caroline Gumble is CEO of CIOB.