Last edited 10 Jan 2021

Main author

BSRIA Institute / association Website

Demographics - how a changing population is transforming the built environment



[edit] Introduction

In 2019, BSRIA launched a 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 an 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.

The Megatrends: Demographics white paper summarises some of these key trends – specifically on the built environment and building services.

[edit] Key points

[edit] 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.

[edit] Consequences of an ageing population for building services:

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

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

Henry Lawson, BSRIA’s senior market research consultant, BSRIA 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. It has found 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.”

[edit] Setting the scene on gender equality and 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 in the UK, and
  • While 50 years ago women constituted a minority of the then much smaller number of undergraduates, today they make up the majority.

[edit] About this article

This article was provided by BSRIA – a non-profit distributing, member-based association, providing specialist services in construction and building services. It first appeared on its website in April 2019 and can be accessed here.

You can access the white paper here:

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki


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