A new £2.5 million project has been set up by the government to support its Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and help overhaul construction practices in the country, enabling the sector to produce safe, efficient and healthy buildings through the use of the latest digital manufacturing techniques.
The Transforming Construction Network Plus (N+) aims to produce more energy-efficient structures using modern materials and digital design methods to construct better buildings around the UK.
It’s just one of the investments within the Transforming Construction Challenge (TCC) and will bring businesses and researchers together to address the issue of construction practices in the UK.
It will help the industry adopt certain technologies by setting up a community of researchers and a body of knowledge used to inform future policy and build structures 50 per cent faster, 33 per cent cheaper and with half the lifetime carbon emissions.
Led by the Bartlett, the Faculty of the Built Environment at UCL, Imperial College London and the University of Warwick, N+ will see £1 million invested in new research projects over the coming two years.
Director of Imperial’s Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation professor Jennifer Whyte commented: “It is important to develop the UK research base and community needed to support the industry as it goes through disruptive change, to provide leadership on the international stage, and to ensure the inputs from research and dissemination of outputs across all areas of the UK.
“It will bring together the construction, manufacturing, energy and digital sectors to transform the way in which we design and manage, construct and power buildings.”
As the TCC notes, the way buildings are created hasn’t changed in 40 years, which means that the sector hasn’t seen the same hike in productivity that other industries have. This poses clear challenges for hitting the country’s national infrastructure programme for £650 billion worth of projects come the year 2025.
Up to £170 million is being invested, matched by £250 million from industry, in order to create new construction processes and techniques, such as developing standardised modular components from which buildings can be manufactured.
A new active building centre is being set up using a £36 million investment from government and industry that will look at energy generation, storage and release technologies, and how these can be used to support active buildings that will essentially serve as power stations.
Part of the challenge will also include the funding N+ for the construction sector, designed to lay the foundations for a new community and link investments across the broader research base, businesses and stakeholders.
Grants are also going to be made available to develop academic groups to undertake creative user research and development to streamline processes and improve productivity, quality and performance.
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