Top 5 Construction Industry Trends in 2021
Between the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, changing economic conditions, and a new presidential administration, 2021 has proved to be a turbulent year for the construction industry. However, it has also brought a lot of growth and room for innovation. With new technology shifting everything from the way projects are managed to how you find the best concrete forms for sale, understanding these trends and movements will be crucial to success in 2022 and future years. Below is a summary of 5 major trends we expect to continue shifting the landscape of the industry.
1. Innovative Protective Equipment
As COVID-19 became prevalent, much of the world was focused on personal protective equipment, including masks. This made way for larger conversations around safety regulations, especially as they related to cleanliness, as well as union influence in construction projects. This renewed focus on safety has also led to discussions of technology that can identify and remediate safety threats.
Wearable items like boots that can connect to Wi-Fi and alert others to a fall have become more popular and headsets that reduce noise pollution and similar products. Robots that can augment human decision-making are also becoming increasingly sophisticated, leaving room for different, higher-level jobs for humans.
2. High Demand for Labor
In recent years, there has been a drastic increase in the demand for labor on construction sites. Even though robots can help with some tasks, most of them require humans whose labor can be expensive and competitive. New technology means new and more complex data, which requires educated workers to interpret and take action.
Industry hiring trends show that much of this gap is being filled by women, with a 94% growth in female-owned construction firms since 2007. Generation Z, those born between 1995 and 2010, is also becoming more well-represented in the industry as attitudes towards trade school are becoming increasingly positive.
3. Remote and Mobile Work
Much of the work in construction has to be hands-on from a job site, which left the industry out of other emerging trends related to remote work. However, mobile applications are beginning to offer an unprecedented amount of access to those not onsite. Real-time inspections, accountability, and measurements are all available through mobile apps and cameras.
The teams behind the scenes are better able to collaborate remotely, without access to the physical space. Teams without complete mobile connectivity will likely be at a disadvantage for productivity and sales moving forward.
4. Sustainable Building Practices
Green construction has become the expected standard for homebuyers, renters, and commercial tenants alike. But despite the long-term savings and positive environmental impact of these features, sustainable and eco-friendly buildings are primarily a luxury good today as the market continues to shift.
Renewable energy sources are steadily growing in the share of the market they represent, aided by increased accessibility to these sources. As buildings are responsible for 40% of U.S. energy consumption and 30% of greenhouse gas emissions, this will be critical moving forward.
A shift to green construction includes not only technology to lower a building’s carbon footprint, but also the use of resources and building models that can decrease environmental impact. Green buildings also show a positive psychological impact on inhabitants and passersby. One example is greenscaping, or outfitting rooftops with plant coverings or small parks, which is becoming popular across the globe. Buildings with this feature are often called a “landscraper,” as the dimensions are that of a traditional skyscraper, but the addition of plants is visually appealing and improves resistance to the high-powered storms driven by climate change.
5. Increased Focus on Residential Projects
When most of the workforce shifted to remote, major corporations and commercial real estate halted a large number of projects. Many tech companies have shifted their investments to complex megaprojects like smart cities, while construction companies have stopped pursuing public-private projects that carry a high risk. This has left residential work as the bulk of the current industry.
Residential construction spending in the private sector went up 7% in 2020, and privately-owned housing came in at nearly 13% year after year growth in 2020 as well. This increased spending is expected to continue.