The Conservative party has taken the lead in a pre-election opinion poll conducted by Smart Buildings 2015, part of UK Construction Week, despite 71 per cent of respondents claiming that the needs of the construction industry have been ignored by the key political parties.
The survey questioned architects, specifiers, design consultants and installers from around the smart buildings sector, asking for their thoughts on policies affecting the construction industry. The overwhelming majority replied that they do not feel the interests of the industry have been addressed by the election campaigns, with only 29 per cent stating that construction has received adequate political attention.
When asked which party they thought would be best for the industry if it comes to power, the Conservatives demonstrated a clear lead with 43 per cent of the vote. The results place Labour behind at 33 per cent, while the Green Party has pushed ahead of the Liberal Democrats, coming in at 13 and seven per cent respectively. UKIP managed to claim three per cent of the vote, with SNP and Plaid Cymru jointly accounting for the remaining two per cent.
Despite the positive indication for the Conservatives, the survey also appeared to reveal a desire for political change, with 75 per cent stating that a change in government would have a positive or neutral impact on the construction industry and just 25 per cent replying that this would have negative consequences.
Despite the positive indication for the Conservatives, the survey also appeared to reveal a mixed sense of political apathy – with 46 per cent of respondents stating that they do not believe a change of government would affect the industry in any case. Revealing divided opinions across the sector, 30 per cent replied that a new government would be beneficial for the future of the industry but a further 25 per cent thought political change would have a negative impact.
Looking more closely at policies specifically related to the smart buildings sector, the survey also questioned respondents about what they perceived as the biggest barriers to the adoption of smart building technology. A slight majority of 45 per cent thought that a lack or awareness and understanding of smart technology’s potential was the key factor, while 43 per cent attributed this to the cost of technology. The remaining 12 per cent pointed to a range of other issues such as the availability of relevant materials, an unwillingness to invest in new technology and a lack of skilled installers.
When questioned about policies they would like to see government introduce to tackle these challenges, 36 per cent voted for the introduction of tax breaks for building owners that adopt smart technology. Just over 28 per cent believed that a government backed financing scheme would have the most impact in encouraging the adoption of smart building technology. A further 18 per cent suggested a reduction in stamp duty for properties incorporating smart technology would have the most effect, while 15 per cent were in favour of penalties for excessive energy consumption over a baseline level.
Richard Morey, Group Events Director at Media 10, the event company producing UK Construction Week, commented: “The survey results are interesting because they appear to show that the smart buildings sector feels let down by the main political parties. Despite the fact this is a growth sector and that construction has been the main driver behind the UK’s economic recovery, the needs of the industry have been given very little attention in the run up to the election.
“The results have also highlighted that there are some very clear differences in opinion about the direction the industry should take in the future. I believe that this makes it even more crucial that the smart buildings sector comes together with the wider construction industry to network, share best practice and focus on continued growth – which is what we hope to deliver through UK Construction Week.”
Bringing together nine shows under one roof, UK Construction Week will be the biggest construction trade event the UK has seen in years. Taking place at the Birmingham NEC from 6 – 11 October (with the trade-only days from 6 – 8 October) the event will unite 1,000 exhibitors with an expected audience of 55,000 visitors.
Visitors will be able to attend Grand Designs Live, the Build Show, Timber Expo, the Surface and Materials Show, Energy 2015, Kitchens & Bathroom Live, Plant & Machinery Live, HVAC 2015 and Smart Buildings 2015.