Lenard said that the industry had become complacent about its own performance because work had been easy to come by.
He contrasted this performance with sectors such as publishing and banking, which he said had made massive productivity improvements in the same time.
He said construction had failed to take advantage of scientific advances in areas such as robotics. He said: "We have a real problem getting university-based research out into the industry."
He also cited post-tensioning in concrete, a common practice overseas, as an example of technology that was only now appearing in the UK.
He said that although the US construction industry was making strides with computer-aided manufacturing, the UK had barely begun to use this know-how and that as a result British companies would face growing competition from more efficient rivals.
Lenard also pointed to the dependence of British firms on foreign workers to carry out manual tasks as a symptom of its weakness.
He said this could be only a short-term solution and that the long-term answer must be that firms had to innovate.
He also noted that the building industry's poor safety record was a serious cause for concern.