As the world experiences a surge in energy demand and calls for making the construction of buildings more efficient increase, the use of smart construction technologies can increase productivity, make better use of resources, and improve building and construction efficiency. This blog presents a discussion on smart construction technologies and new methods which are transforming the home building process to make urban areas more efficient and productive.
What is smart construction, and why is there a need for it?
How is smart construction impacting the real estate sector?
Policy options for Pakistan’s real estate sector?
Demand for high-quality housing is constantly rising in urban centres. Offering urban populations better and more spacious accommodation is crucial for reducing the overcrowding of living spaces. The challenge is to achieve this in a fast, sustainable, and environmentally sound way. Processes charged by digital technologies are making a big impact in the construction sector by the introduction of prefabricated houses, artificial intelligence, and robotics. Smart construction is building design, construction, and operation that makes full use of digital technologies and industrialised manufacturing techniques to improve productivity, minimise cost, improve sustainability, and maximise user benefits (CLC, 2018). The methodology has resulted in reduced energy consumption, improved building efficiency, predictive maintenance, better use of resources, and increased productivity. Pakistan faces a serious challenge with regards to its urban housing shortfall and continuous growth and expansion of cities towards agricultural lands. Therefore, Pakistan can adopt smart construction practices to transform its real estate sector towards achieving a more sustainable future growth model for urban centres.
Smart Construction: A Model for Real Estate Transformation
Smart construction can not only transform the real estate sector, it can also help improve the quality of life for individuals by providing them with much-added benefits. Pakistan needs to build homes urgently. There is a current housing shortfall of nine million units, with existing homes and buildings being characterised by overcrowding, pollution, poor building construction, inadequate sewerage, and little to no protection from weather extremities (Azra Jabeena, 2019). To meet this incredible demand, the housing and construction sector will have to make more efficient use of people and resources through the use of smart construction. While productivity in the manufacturing sector has grown over the years, it remained stagnant in the construction sector. The construction industry also has a serious impact on the environment in terms of the resources it uses and the waste that is produced. Besides construction, there is also a pressing need to make the lives of individuals better and raise living standards for healthy lives and future wellbeing of people. There are many smart construction solutions that can help companies in the real estate sector perform more efficiently.
Digital solutions in the real estate sector offer flexibility in decision making and planning of future infrastructure. It is very hard to get the design, calculations, techniques, and materials required in a project right the first time. Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a process for creating and managing information on a construction project throughout its lifecycle. It is now possible to get the design, planning, and execution right by generating predictions which help optimise the build phase and use assets efficiently. Digital information tools can also be used to manage construction sites more efficiently as inventory data and transactions can be kept much more secure. Another technology is the introduction of premanufactured components such as roofs and walls. There are now a range of technologies that can deliver up to 70 percent of pre-manufactured value (DBW, 2020). This improves the speed of delivery and allows for the implementation of greater projects in the same amount of time. Lastly, advances in materials and building physics allow engineers to design high-performing homes that are comfortable to live in and low on energy use. By improving the durability of a home, the long-term maintenance costs are also reduced.
How Smart Construction Will Impact the Real Estate Sector
Smart construction involves building under controlled conditions, which increases the precision and quality of processes. A big problem that remains in the traditional construction model is the quality of the final building. Smart construction allows for pre-delivery inspections, factory-controlled installation conditions, traceability of components for maintenance and later modification, and properly planned interfaces that reduce defects in the construction. This, in turn, leads to a second benefit, which is the overall reduction in the lifetime cost of a building. Improved processes and efficiency in the procurement phases leads to minimised waste production. As a greater emphasis is laid on work carried outside of the construction site, this allows stakeholders and partners across the design, manufacturing, and construction stages to collaborate, plan, and organise better to improve efficiency.
Using design technologies that are powered by Artificial Intelligence and local land demographic data, better homes can be built with high standards of indoor air quality, visual comfort, and low energy dependence on non-renewable sources. Previously, designs could not be explored as a construction site could not be built and destroyed repeatedly. With the help of smart construction, ideas can be fully explored using digital simulation technologies, which help in deciding concepts, processes, materials, and degree of flexibility in a project. Lastly, smart construction integrates the design and fabrication process more than the traditional methods of construction, which means minimum recycling and elimination of waste. In addition to this, modular construction allows for disassembly of building and reconfiguration with a minimum number of resources. The real estate industry can realise its true potential by using smart construction technologies, and countries like Pakistan should focus on implementing policies that favour the development of smart construction.
Policy Options to Introduce Smart Construction in Pakistan
The construction sector of Pakistan has recently been updated to the industry level, opening many opportunities for different stakeholders involved. The construction sector in Pakistan needs to use Building Information Modelling (BIM), especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. It enables projects to continue in a digital and virtual environment, even when participants are not able to meet in person. This allows data to be shared across professional disciplines and facilitates smarter construction. The data can also be fed into the manufacturing process to produce modules that come together to form a building. Standardised components developed this way can be produced in factories with the advantages of mass manufacturing to reduce costs and to improve productivity. Pakistan should also mobilise its youth talent in the technology sector to introduce artificial intelligence and big data analytics to create standardised designs which conform to the demographic realities of an area. This includes keeping in mind the housing need, the environment, and the available pool of resources to make designs that are energy efficient and rely mostly on renewable energy.
Homes that are prefabricated or made in factories require less labour, have fixed costs, are built in shorter time periods, and have faster delivery times. With the right mix of public-private partnership and technology, prefab construction provides a safer, faster, and more reliable form of construction. India has used the model to provide affordable housing to many of its citizens living in rural as well as urban areas. The construction industry is estimated to be responsible for 35 to 40 percent of CO2 emissions globally, which is to say that it is a major contributor to global warming. Manufacturing of components in a factory has shown to reduce emissions by 60 percent in the construction sector and a sharp reduction of 40 percent in regular traffic (World Economic Forum, 2020). Using big data and logistical tools, the delivery of products can be planned for the least amount of disruption in local traffic. Prefab construction has also been shown to reduce waste by 90 percent (MDI, 2020). Prefab elements should also be designed to keep sustainability in mind, including using data analytics to design homes with optimal energy, use, and storage.
As Pakistan continues to face a rising demand in housing, it is crucial that overcrowding of living spaces is reduced. The construction sector is fast changing with the introduction of digital technologies that are making the real estate sector more sustainable in an environmentally sound way. Smart construction can greatly reduce energy consumption, improve building efficiency, and make better use of resources for increased productivity. Therefore, Pakistan should incorporate Building Information Modelling systems coupled with the introduction of data-driven manufacturing to introduce smart construction mechanism for greater sustainability and making the lives of individuals better.
Processes charged by digital technologies are making a big impact in the construction sector by the introduction of prefabricated houses, artificial intelligence, and robotics.
Smart construction is building design, construction, and operation that makes full use of digital technologies and industrialised manufacturing techniques to improve productivity, minimise cost, improve sustainability, and maximise user benefits (CLC, 2018).
The methodology has resulted in reduced energy consumption, improved building efficiency, predictive maintenance, better use of resources, and increased productivity.
Pakistan faces a serious challenge with regards to its urban housing shortfall and continuous growth and expansion of cities towards agricultural lands.
Pakistan can adopt smart construction practices to transform its real estate sector towards achieving a more sustainable future growth model for urban centres.
Azra Jabeena, H. X. (2019). Housing Crises in Pakistan: Review of Population Growth and Deficiencies in Housing Laws and Policies. Internationa Journal of Sciences: Basic and Applied Research.
CLC. (2018). Smart Construction: A guide for housing clients. Construction Leadership Council.
DBW. (2020). Modern methods of construction. Retrieved from Designing Building Wikis: https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Modern_methods_of_construction
MDI. (2020). Eliminate Waste in Design Phase . Retrieved from Modular Design Institute: http://www.modular.org/htmlPage.aspx?name=Eliminate_Waste
World Economic Forum. (2020). Here’s how smart construction could transform home-building after COVID-19. Retrieved from World Economic Forum: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/08/here-s-how-smart-construction-could-transform-home-building-after-covid-19/