The Transforming Infrastructure Performance (TIP) Roadmap to 2030 gives a new boost to the transformation of construction that is underway in the UK.
It helps remove the barriers to innovation that will enable radical improvements in the performance and delivery of our buildings: innovation that will lead to massive reductions in the use of labour, energy and materials.
TIP not only maps the road but fills in its potholes too. It provides both assurance and practical detail for businesses around embracing the opportunities of the new ecosystem. The Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) is clearly committed to leading the implementation of TIP as a cross-government change programme. In the process, the industry will be drawing on many of the outputs of the £170m Transforming Construction Challenge.
The Roadmap has five key focus areas, the first of which is ‘Delivering new economic infrastructure to drive improved outcomes for people and nature’. This implies a radical shift away from the traditional fixation with minimising capital cost, towards a more balanced value-based model. The Construction Innovation Hub’s (CIH) Value Toolkit offers clients vital support. The Value Toolkit develops and refines a unique Value Profile for a project, programme or portfolio. It helps clients identify risks and create a Risk Profile for each project, select a Delivery Model and build a Commercial Strategy that best fits the Value Profile. Measurement and evaluation throughout the process supports the continuous improvement of outcomes backed up by solid data and provides intelligence on the performance of the contributing organisations. Value, properly defined and measured, naturally forms the basis of fair rewards for project participants.
The next focus area is ‘Place-based regeneration and delivery’. Two key factors come into play here. The transformed approach to construction enables more valuable use of design resources. Routine tasks can be automated, freeing up time and talent to concentrate on harmonising the building with its local environment. Transformed construction also decouples much of the valuable activity from the actual construction site, enabling it to be relocated to areas with the optimal labour market and industrial facilities. Offsite assembly will thus be a major contributor to the all-important levelling-up agenda. This process is already well underway with offsite construction factories springing up across the North-East and Midlands. Further evidence can be found in the TCC projects STELLAR and Enabling Housing Innovation.
While the focus on valuable outcomes and place-based regeneration offers great societal benefits, it is the area of ‘Addressing the need for social infrastructure using a platform approach’ that will fundamentally reduce the cost of project delivery and save money for public and private sector clients alike. The CIH’s Platform Programme team is working alongside industry and Government to define the need and establish a clear route for industry and clients to adopt a platform approach, one that will enable industry to meet the evolving needs of future infrastructure. By operating in accordance with a set of platform rules the market will achieve new economies of scale. The rules will define the interfaces between the kit of parts that make up a building while freeing up businesses to innovate in the design and manufacture of each part.
Some very impressive work has also been going on in the Roadmap’s next focus area of ‘Retrofitting existing buildings to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050’, which will benefit both existing and new buildings. The Active Building Centre has been piloting significant improvements in heat pump performance and cost-effective energy storage. Connecting these technologies as a system enables the smoothing of energy supply and demand, both within a building and across a grid. The recent BEIS report, Cost-Optimal Domestic Electrification demonstrated the significant potential of active building technology interventions. This opens up the opportunity for an industrialised approach to retrofit that would overcome many of the barriers of labour shortage and disruption for building users.
The final focus area ‘Optimising the performance of our existing built environment’ will capitalise on the use of data. The internet of things will enable increasing automation of operation and maintenance, guaranteeing performance and reducing labour input. Artificial intelligence can be applied to the data collected to optimise outcomes across communities, such as smoothing energy collection and storage. It will be exciting to see businesses with digital expertise apply their talents to our sector. Once again, the potential for improvement is vast, leading to profitable revenue for innovative companies.
Sam Stacey, Challenge Director for Construction at UKRI
Sam Stacey is a construction industry leader and writer on construction innovation. Since 2018 he has been Challenge Director for Construction at UKRI, implementing the Sector Deal for Construction as part of the UK’s 2017 Industrial Strategy. He has an MBA from Henley Business School and degrees in Civil Engineering, Architecture and Philosophy from Imperial College and Cambridge University.
Sam chartered as a structural engineer while working at Buro Happold on the Faisaliyah Center in Riyadh. As Director of Innovation at Skanska UK he was known for promoting Flying Factories. In 2018 Sam joined UKRI as Challenge Director for Construction. The Transforming Construction Challenge, is accelerating construction’s shift towards value-based manufacturing and digital processes. With a budget of £170 million, matched by £250 million from industry, the Transforming Construction Challenge brings together contractors, supply chain, innovators, government, clients and the research community. Sam is a member of the Construction Innovation Hub Board, Active Building Centre Board, Urban Splash Future Lab Board, a Senior Advisor to the Construction Leadership Council and a former trustee of the BRE.