The British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA) has published an industry study that reveals the construction sector in B.C. is lagging behind other jurisdictions when it comes to innovation.
“B.C. is a leader in green building, wood, and procurement technologies, but we have catching up to do in most areas of construction innovation,” says Manley McLachlan, president of the BCCA. “Construction is an extremely competitive industry: employers are holding their cards close. The result is that we’re great at on-the-job problem solving but too often missing the big picture.”
The scope of innovation in the construction industry is broad and applies to everything from building products, materials, and systems to construction techniques, equipment, and business operations.
“The UK and Scotland are leaders in construction innovation and provide a good example of where B.C. should try to be and what it takes to get there,” says Helen Goodland of Brantwood Consulting, who led the study for BCCA. “A cohesive innovation strategy clarifies the value and benefits of investing in innovation. Owners need to understand what it will take to deliver the projects of tomorrow.”
The report identifies three top priority actions that will put the province on track to be a leader in construction innovation, including the launch of an Innovation Council and an action plan to guide ongoing conversations with government, academia and industry members in BC. The third recommendation is a focus on project procurement – the means by which construction services and materials are secured.
“Procurement issues are a significant impediment to innovation and productivity” says Warren Perks, vice president of Industry Practises at BCCA. “Until we have a cutting edge procurement process that ensures risk is balanced, contracts are promptly paid, and employers can compete fairly, we risk our ability to build a sustainable future. B.C. leads in the technology solution with BidCentral, but the picture isn’t complete.”
Construction procurement is a major focus for public owners such as Ministries, school districts, and health authorities, as well as for private owners. As international competition for large projects intensifies, the report calls for a shift from a culture of “lowest bid” to focus increasingly on quality and “whole life” value.
A full copy of the Construction Innovation Project Report can be downloaded at www.bccassn.com.