The built environment is a major contributor to the UK and while there are challenges, there are also opportunities.

According to the Office of National Statistics, in 2011 construction alone contributed £90 billion to the UK economy – nearly 7% of the UK’s total GDP – and employed around 3 million people, which is equivalent to about 10% of total UK employment.

Construction and the built environment sector, which represents around 20% of the country’s GDP, is therefore fundamental to the social and economic wellbeing of the nation.

Built environment products provide the infrastructure for the rest of the economy, influence all aspects of our quality of life and enable the economy and society to function. Our stock of buildings and works represents two thirds of UK manufactured capital and around 20% of total national wealth.

Challenges and opportunities

Although key markets such as domestic newbuilding have declined by as much as 40% in the economic downturn since 2007, there have been signs of recovery ni 2013, while infrastructure and non-residential activity have continued to grow.

UK engineering, architecture and design companies are also highly-regarded around the world, particularly in sustainable construction and there are significant opportunities to for companies to take advantage of the global market, which is expected to grow by 70% by 2025.


Due to the scale and reach of the sector, the National Platform approaches built environment research through distinct, though overlapping sub-sectors. These include:

  • new general building
  • housing
  • infrastructure
  • repair and maintenance
  • heritage
  • major projects

Initial research issues have relevance to all sub-sectors, while others are more specific in their application. The National Platform will address the emerging research agenda — and its implementation — paying close attention to all activities and types of development and the linkages among them.