The International Trade Fair for Building and Construction Technology opened today in Berlin, Germany at the Messe Berlin conference grounds. With 810 exhibitors from 18 countries the conference was officially opened by German Minister for Traffic Construction and Urban Development , Wolfgang Tiefensee.
“North American standards for green construction are low, and we need to develop German green label standards that are quality based and high. We need to think of construction more strategically in the country and developing standards that other countries wish to use. Our goal should be to become exporters of our construction knowledge and products. We need to develop a Culture of Construction, not just building,” he said.
Tiefensee would further point out that construction is a platform upon which many partners participate. He pointed out that the German government is providing about Euro 9.4 billion per year directly to support construction initiatives and that a further Euro 5.4 billion is also supporting infrastructure protection and urban renewal across the country – totalling Euro 15 billion annually in support of the German construction industry.
Recently, in Brussels the European Union announced their 20-20 policy on carbon emissions – a 20% reduction by 2020. For Germany, Tiefensee estimates that will translate into a framework that will deliver nearly Euro 50 billion in saved costs, which, again for the country, will need to be derived from savings in building efficiencies (40%) and transport (30%).
These are remarkable estimates and provide a clear glimpse into the levels of efficiency that the construction industry will be expected to support in the years ahead. Already Euro 1 billion is being invested to upgrade older buildings in the country through renovation. Overall net efficiency should result in a saving of 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
The priorities for the German construction industry are:
— climate related efficiency
— improved construction methods and types
— balancing the social and people dimension in development
In Germany the construction industry employs nearly 3.5 million people and provides 13.2% of the countries GDP. But there are looming problems on the horizon including a severe shortage of skilled labour, estimated at 40,000 people.
Additionally, it was mentioned that institutions are closing and that needs to be reversed, as Gernot Schaefer, president of the German Construction Association mentioned.
I spent some time on the exhibition floor, covering about half of it in the first day. The array of products and services is large. From CAD data handling systems for Building Information Management (BIM) to solar cars and new construction materials.
I’ll report on more of the conference later this week after the seminar sections and further tours of the exhibition.