What's your name and what position do you hold?
Chris Collins, Country President for Ireland, Schneider Electric
What are your day to day responsibilities?
As Country President for Ireland, it is my job to drive sustainable innovation for our customers and partners. Our customers in Ireland know and trust Schneider Electric for our quality products. We will continue to sell industry-leading offers for Ireland's homes, datacentres, commercial buildings, and manufacturing facilities. I work with our clients to understand their biggest sustainability challenges and then package our services and software solutions with these products to solve those challenges.
How do you think the industry is coping as we move into the post Covid era?
The pandemic has undoubtedly had a significant impact on businesses across the construction industry, with most having to cease operations for several months. Whilst it is true, we’re on the road to recovery from the Covid era, and operations have begun again, we’re now faced with a different challenge in the form of climate change. The climate crisis of course isn’t something new, but has progressively got worse over the last few months. Construction businesses are now navigating changes in regulations and practice in a bid to decarbonise the industry.
The good news is as a result of the turbo-charge effect of smart technology in buildings and facility management, construction businesses can produce more while lowering overall costs, reducing waste and increasing circularity.
What challenges do you see for leaders in the construction sector?
It is abundantly clear that businesses worldwide are under pressure to reduce their carbon footprint, which is especially true for the construction sector. The sector contributes to climate change through greenhouse gas emissions, and as such, leaders are required to address infrastructure. This is coupled with the physical challenges the world is seeing due to climate change resulting in extreme weather conditions, and so how buildings are constructed to deal with these changes will need to be addressed to reduce risk. The training and development of employees to navigate these changes to building regulations and practice isn't something that will happen overnight.
How do you see tech innovation transforming this industry? What do you think will be the major breakthroughs over the next 5–10 years?
How data is used and stored is key to the future of the construction industry. Over the next 5-10 years, we will see the adoption of innovative tools to create, manage, and intelligently use data across all stages of the construction lifecycle. Businesses are already using data intelligence to predict market trends and improve product lifecycle whilst also addressing the global climate crisis. While we already have tools in place within the design phase, we will start to see a broader uptake in the build, operate, and maintain phases.
Where would you like to see the industry in 10 years' time?
I would like to see a more digital and sustainable construction industry in 10 years' time. Too often, contracts involving investments in technology and infrastructure focus on the upfront capital expenditure and don’t consider the long-term running costs of a building. It’s the latter that can make the biggest difference to the owner or end user of a building, financially and in terms of environmental impact. By now, every business should be aware of the climate crisis and be implementing decarbonisation policies into their business strategies. We've seen a gradual movement towards BIM and IoT in the last few years. By 2031, we'll have close to all construction projects implementing BIM to increase the efficiency and safety of projects, which is paramount to reaching emissions targets laid out by the Irish government.
I also hope we'll start to see sustainability measures in the form of on-site energy generation, smart building technologies and more eco-friendly and innovative materials being used during the build. At Schneider Electric, we endeavour to work with our partners and customers to facilitate them on their journey towards net-zero.
Chris will be speaking at the CIF Annual Conference on the 30th September . Visit www.cifconference.ie for more information