Can an innovation hub lay a foundation for sustainable housing?
The ministry of a Middle East nation strives to inspire consumers and builders to see new technology as a potential solution.
In this dynamic and growing Middle East nation, demand continues to outpace the supply of housing for its citizens. While private developers are eager to build premium housing, lower income citizens often wait up to 15 years for affordable housing, which has traditionally been supplied by the nation’s housing ministry.
Construction backlogs, system dysfunctionality and rising costs have caused distress and headlines for years. With a predicted shortfall of 1.5 million homes over the next five years, the affordable housing crisis is a pressing social issue that dominates public debate, and the ministry is eager to address the supply-demand mismatch which threatens to undermine its core purpose: to help citizens access housing that matches their needs and financial capabilities and enables them to fulfill their social and economic purpose.
Meanwhile, the housing ministry has identified exciting new services and standards it plans to introduce to drive improvements, modernization and, above all, sustainability of housing across the country.
Prompted by these challenges, the housing minister has launched an organizational transformation with an ambitious vision: to reshape the entire housing ecosystem in the country. The ministry has determined that it can best serve citizens’ needs as an enabler of housing solutions rather than in its traditional role as the primary builder. But this requires a profound shift in thinking among builders and citizens around what constitutes high-quality sustainable housing and how to build it.
“The minister and his team began to see the potential of new technologies in enabling this shift,” explains Mohammed Sear, AIM Government & Public Sector Consulting, Associate Partner, EY, and the project lead. High tech building equipment, new sustainable construction processes, energy-efficient materials and ‘smart home’ systems could together accelerate construction and delivery, reduce costs and improve quality and environmental sustainability of housing.
“The ministry realized that they would have to work hard to convince builders and citizens alike to consider the advantages but the payoff could be huge and very positive.“
In short, the ministry began to ask a new kind of question. How can industry and citizens alike embrace building innovations to construct a new, sustainable housing ecosystem?