Six up and coming construction professionals recognised for ideas on how future proof the industry

Building has named the six winners of a competition to propose ideas for solving some of the construction industry’s greatest challenges.

The Future Thinkers competition asked young, up and coming construction professionals to  come up with unique innovations to make the sector more sustainable and efficient.

The six winners are Laing O’Rourke senior whole life carbon advisor Ciara Durkin, Sweco sustainability consultant Shruti Ganesh, Liz Male Consulting content consultant Alisha Lad, BDP architectural assistant Evie Martin, Turner & Townsend and Alinea cost consultant Richard Wilson and BE Changemakers, a group of young professionals which is part of industry group Built Environment - Smarter Transformation.

Future Thinkers winners

Winners of the Future Thinkers competition collecting their awards at the Building the Future conference yesterday evening

The winning ideas ranged from new ways of thinking about material passports and teaching construction and the built environment as a standalone subject in schools.

Martin’s entry was a library of modifiable human figures which can be used in visualisations of schemes for consultations and planning applications. The BDP People Library includes an open source guidance document aiming to encourage visualisers to make more careful choices in their depictions of schemes to ensure they represent the communities where they will be built more accurately.

Ganesh proposed a subscription service hosted by councils which offers project teams data on all buildings in a city-wide area. This could include reusable materials in a building being demolished, which could be matched with schemes in design and construction.

Many of the entries focused on ways to improve sustainability and carbon reduction in construction.

BE Changemakers proposed a community initiative allowing small communities to come together to access carbon offsetting funds held by councils for retrofit schemes. The retrofit ambassador scheme would be matched with a policy allowing volunteers to exchange their time for reduced costs on low carbon construction works, including Walter Segal-style self-build schemes.

Lad’s idea is to use TikTok to highlight construction’s systemic diversity issues. She proposes much greater engagement by firms with the app, including dedicated diversity-themed accounts and monthly webinars for speakers from under-represented groups to discuss their experiences working in the industry.

Durkin proposed a much more efficient approach to gathering data for material passports. Instead of materials used in a scheme being logged by site security with paper invoices, which can be slow and result in errors, this data would be digitally uploaded to an app. The material passport would then be accessible via a QR code attached to the building.

Wilson’s idea is to draw together all the skills used in the construction industry into a single subject in the school curriculum called built environment and construction. He says this would detoxify assumptions of a career in construction and show pupils the range of roles available in the industry.

Other ideas submitted included jury service-style planning committees selected from the general public to better represent communities, building passports which include financial and legal information, and embedding the use of local supply chains in procurement processes.

Building will be publishing an in-depth look at the winners and their ideas next week.

About the commission

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The Building the Future Commission is a 12-month project looking at radical and challenging ideas that could help transform the built environment.

The campaign aims to tap into innovative ideas, amplify them and be an agent for change.

The major project’s work will be guided by a panel of major figures who have signed up to help shape the commission’s work culminating in a report published at the end of the year.

The commissioners include figures from the world of contracting, housing development, architecture, policy-making, skills, design, place-making, infrastructure, consultancy and legal. See the full list here.

The project is looking at proposals for change in eight areas:

>> Editor’s view: And now for something completely positive - our Building the Future Commission

>> Click here for more about the project and the commissioners

Building the Future is also undertaking a countrywide tour of roundtable discussions with experts around the regions as part of a consultation programme in partnership with the regional arms of industry body Constructing Excellence. There is also a young person’s advisory panel.