Guest Blog: CHAS – 5 Trends That Will Affect Building Material Suppliers In 2023

From rapid technological changes to increased demand for sustainable materials, the past few years have been a period of transformation for the building materials industry. For some, these changes will be disruptive. For others, they hold opportunities for new growth and new business models. CHAS, the supply chain and risk management experts, outline the key industry trends that are poised to affect building material suppliers in 2023.

Amid an economy reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic and a brewing energy crisis, many businesses across the building materials industry are reorienting their strategies to adapt to current economic conditions and new ways of working.

Despite being an industry long driven by cost and the bottom line, changes such as new technologies and new consumer demands are highlighting the need for new go-to-market strategies. Building materials suppliers are now under pressure to create new value propositions that set them apart from the competition and deliver products and services to keep up with industry changes and new regulations.

Building material suppliers must adapt to changing demands to stay ahead of the curve in 2023. Here are five trends we believe will affect the industry in the years to come:

  1. Increasing Demand For Sustainable And Recycled Materials

Increasing awareness of the damaging environmental impact of traditional building materials has led to a sharp demand for sustainable and recycled alternatives. This trend is driven by both consumer demand and new government regulations such as the Environmental Act 2021.

Receiving Royal Assent on 9 November 2021 (a few days shy of the COP26 in Glasgow wrapping up), the Environmental Act is the official post-Brexit framework for environmental governance in England. It enables the creation of legally-binding targets for air pollution, biodiversity, water quality and waste.

You can expect these developments to add to the growth of the “green” or sustainable building materials market, which Allied Market Research predicts will reach $511.2 billion in value by 2030 (a CAGR of 8.1% from 2021).

  1. Shift Towards Circular Economy Models

Aside from the growth of sustainable materials, there is also an ongoing shift from linear to circular business models, which aim to reduce waste and improve resource efficiency.

This trend is driven by concerns about the environmental impact of traditional business models. For instance, Public Policy Note 06/21 now requires businesses applying for government contracts with an annual value of over £5 million to demonstrate their commitment to achieving Net Zero by 2050. The new procurement rules advise public sector contractors to produce a carbon reduction plan detailing the source of their emissions and the steps they’re taking to manage them.

Building material companies can demonstrate compliance with environmental regulations and bolster their ESG programme by gaining verification through schemes like Verified Supplier. Verified Supplier is our new compliance service designed to help suppliers showcase their compliance in up to 10 areas of risk management, including environmental management, health and safety (H&S) and modern slavery, among others.

  1. Growing Popularity Of Prefabricated Construction

Mordor Intelligence report forecasts the UK prefabricated buildings market to grow at a CAGR of 4.5% from 2020 to 2025. The industry’s revenues, which hit $9 billion in 2019, are largely driven by growing investments in modular construction, where building/project components are manufactured off-site and assembled on-site, enabling faster construction times and improved quality control.

This trend will likely continue to grow in popularity in the coming years, presenting both opportunities and challenges for material suppliers.

  1. New Regulations Drive Demand For Safer Materials

The Building Safety Act 2022 officially became law in June 2022 — a little over five years after the disastrous Grenfell Tower fire. The law modifies the way high-risk structures are built, maintained and made safe, and includes reforms around fire safety and the quality of construction materials.

The Building Safety Act also establishes the National Regulator for Construction Products, a regulator within the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) tasked to conduct market surveillance to identify and remove unsafe materials more efficiently. The new watchdog also has the power to “confront poor practice” and act against material providers that break the rules.

Building material suppliers need to be aware of these legislative changes and plan for the direction of the market — one where consumers demand construction companies be held accountable for unsafe practices.

  1. Shift Towards Digital Fabrication Methods

We predict that digital fabrication methods, such as 3D printing, will continue to grow and change the landscape of construction in 2023 and beyond. 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, enables the swift fabrication of complex structures using a variety of materials, ranging from plastic (the most popular) to metal and concrete.

3D printing offers exciting potential applications in the build materials industry. More recently, construction firms BAM and Weber Beamix attached a 3D-printed concrete staircase to a footbridge over the M8 motorway in Scotland. The staircase is believed to be the largest 3D printed structure in the UK and the firms claim its construction came at a lower carbon footprint cost.