The role of innovation in shaping the future of the construction industry
Interview with Eric Dehasque, President of the European Federation for Construction Chemicals (EFCC)
2024 will be an exciting new year with the European elections ahead. EFCC expects that the new European decision makers will put more emphasis on safeguarding the competitiveness of the European industry and ensure incentives for innovation. We asked the President of EFCC on the role of innovation in the construction industry and its impact on sustainability and performance.
Continuous innovation and research are considered as essential for the prosperity and creation of jobs across Europe and globally. Do you think that investing in innovation means investing in our future?
Continuous research and innovation are essential for the future of construction chemicals companies, especially considering the stricter EU regulations and the increasing demand for construction products. We must develop innovative products to be able to maintain our competitiveness and to contribute to sustainable construction solutions. I believe for example that, concrete admixtures can help achieve the goals of the European Green Deal by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water consumption, and enhancing construction product durability. Most of our construction chemicals contribute to the Circular Economy by allowing recycling and reuse at the end of the building’s lifecycle - concrete waste is already recycled at an impressive 88% in the European Union, highlighting the importance of sustainability in construction.
Success in innovation also places a higher demand on agile and adaptable skills, which leads to the creation of jobs focused on process optimization and cross-functional roles. This not only means more interesting roles for the younger generations, with the opportunity to move between different roles and teams, but also shared skills and ultimately more well-rounded professionals within our industry.
Ultimately these investments in innovation – through people, sustainability practices, or technological integrations – should be a priority for our members because they are absolutely an investment in our future.
What’s the role of the construction industry in driving suppliers to deliver on sustainability and performance simultaneously?
We see an increasing number of customers making their own Net Zero pledges, which aligns with many of our members’ own goals in sustainability. However, we must also be conscious of the need to maintain, or even optimize, the performance of our solutions. This demand means we also apply pressure to our suppliers, encouraging them to help us meet stricter sustainability requirements, so that chemical manufacturers can create sustainable, high-performance products.
There is a mutually beneficial relationship between our members and our suppliers in terms of advancing sustainable practices and high-performance standards. Together through their drivers and our innovation, we can help meet increasingly stringent building regulations, improve risk mitigation, collaborate on research, and of course enable resource efficiency.
How can companies foster a culture of innovation within their organization? Which recommendations can you give?
Successful innovation requires a strong understanding of customer needs and market trends, prioritizing customer-centricity, and involving users in the process. Fostering a culture of learning from both successes and failures, along with agility in resource allocation and strategy adjustments, is essential. Open communication, storytelling, and transparency are crucial, all while staying true to core values and long-term goals.
Our members can also learn from each other. EFCC creates the opportunity to share learnings and gaining a long-term perspective on the needs of our industry and its customers, and besides that helps us keep close attention to the legislative developments. Obviously, all in compliance with the competition law. I believe we should strive to keep an open mind and embrace the input of customers, colleagues, and fellow members.
I thank you for sharing your views with us. We understood how important it is to embrace innovation in the future.