Global challenges and construction – a reflection on the past year

2022 was a tough year for many companies, including construction companies. The Housing Authority in Sweden predicts a sharp slowdown in housing construction, and at the same time, many individuals and families are on the verge of being able to stay in their homes. Rampant prices for interest, food, electricity, fuel, and rents and falling prices for houses and apartments have severely affected the household economy and the market. Not to mention all those who, even before the crisis, had nowhere to live.

The housing shortage is a fact, and homelessness too, even here in Sweden. And thoughts cannot be prevented from going to all those affected by the war in Ukraine. The Ukrainian citizens who fled for their lives had their homes destroyed, their homes wiped out, families torn apart, children taken from their parents, and family members lost life. Where will all these people go?

The housing shortage is a global problem – 20% of the world’s population, approximately 1.8 billion, lacks suitable housing. The pandemic contributed to an increased lack of housing, and the war in Ukraine with subsequent inflation has done the same.

Climate change has, in turn, made several places around the world hazardous to live in or simply uninhabitable. Storms, floods, and rising sea levels have destroyed many homes, farmland, schools, roads, and access to clean water. This affects both economically and socially the impacted countries and especially the vulnerable areas.

Times of crisis feed creativity

But all is not pitch black. It is in times of crisis that innovations, solutions, and the gathering of forces are pushed forward, and we all agree on the same goal, to make it better. It breeds motivation, will, and creativity. In March 2022, the World Economic Forum wrote about five policies that can help solve the global housing shortage. They mention upzoning, financial incentives, revised immigration policy, more favorable mortgage terms, and increased tax revenue. There are, of course, many more creative and economical solutions to be explored. Subcultures that come up with new ways of housing, like the Tinny Houses movement, for example, we have probably only seen the beginning of.

Sustainable construction in times of change

We at StopDigging want to contribute what we can to solve the challenges in our industry. An industry that has different conditions, needs, and resources worldwide. To build a sustainable world, we must look not only to the needs of individuals and communities but also adapt our construction to their culture, environment, and location conditions. Thierry Joffroy describes this so articulately in his article Learning from Local Building Cultures to Improve Housing Project Sustainability in The UN Chronicle:

The history of construction shows that builders have always been creative in adapting and upgrading housing structures by making the best use of locally available resources to meet their needs, while taking into account local economic, social and climatic constraints. Societies worldwide have developed building cultures that result in ‘contextual’ architecture, corresponding to unique construction methods and specific ways of life. Local building cultures, however, are not static. They evolve as societies do, particularly when exchanges with other countries and cultures take place, introducing new knowledge, building materials and techniques.

Cooperation for better solutions

Companies should be open to joint ventures and other types of B2B collaborations. It can mean new solutions, new markets, and increased profitability. Together, we can create comprehensive solutions that benefit customers, shorten lead times and broaden offers. For us at Stopdigging, collaborations with other companies in the construction industry are a matter of course. Around the world, we work together with others to make housing developments and other infrastructure more environmentally friendly, safer, more cost-effective, and timesaving. We want to make a difference.