Demographics - how a changing population is transforming the built environmentApril 2019

Henry Lawson Market Research Consultant

BSRIA has launched its White Paper on Megatrends: Demographics. Given that demographics look at the size, structure, movement and rates of change of human populations, this topic is likely to have impact on almost all industries and disciplines, nowhere more so than for Building Services.

Numbers matter – which is why economists, commentators and lobbyists devote more attention to China and India than they do to, say, Chile or Ireland. Large-scale changes in population are also likely to have social, cultural, economic and political implications. Challenges raised by a growing population are very different to those faced by a shrinking one. Similarly, a country or region with an old or ageing population will have different needs to a predominantly young one.

This White Paper summarised some of these key trends – specifically on the built environment and building services.

Key points:

Consequences of population growth or decline for building services:

  • The most obvious direct impact of population growth or decline will be in the demand for buildings which directly serve the needs of that population. As well as housing, this includes health and education amenities and transport and utility infrastructure.

Consequences of an ageing population for building services:

  • An ageing population is likely to affect building services in two ways:

1. the supply side, which affects the types of people who are available to work in the building services industry and the type of work they can do.

2. demand for different types of buildings and building services.

Smart building technology has a key role to play in addressing both of these needs.

Henry Lawson, BSRIA’s Senior Market Research Consultant, BSRIA’s World Market Intelligence Division, commented:

“The proportion of the UK’s population aged 65 and above has roughly doubled over the past 80 years and the share of people aged over 85 has risen even faster.

We should expect an increase in buildings that cater for an older population, including retirement homes, sheltered accommodation, communal establishments and nursing homes.

BSRIA has been researching smart home solutions since 2010. We are finding an increasing focus on solutions to help those who are elderly, in poor health or disabled to remain in their own home for longer. This can be anything from monitors and alarms to ‘companion’ robots.

To create a future that works, our buildings and the way they are designed, built and operated are going to need to change at least as much as the people who will be inside them.”

‘Megatrends: Demographics’ White Paper published in 2019 is available (as a free copy) in combination with the purchase of additional BSRIA studies.

  • EMEA sales enquiries contact: BSRIA UK: ¦ +44 (0) 1344 465 540
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  • China sales enquiries contact: BSRIA China: ¦ +86 10 6465 7707

Gender equality & inequality:

  • The past 130 years or so have seen a dramatic increase in the percentage of women employed in the workforce in most developed countries.
  • Trends, such as the increasing enrolment of girls and women in education, have contributed to the “explosive growth” of universities, including the UK.
  • While 50 years ago, women constituted a minority of the then much smaller number of undergraduates, today they make up the majority.

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