If all upstream and downstream economic sectors are taken into account that are directly dependent on the construction industry, the construction industry is one of the most important employers in the entire economy. It also plays a fundamental part in capital formation. Around 70% of all Austrian fixed assets are buildings.
The structural engineering sector represents around 4,250 companies across Austria, with a total of approx. 110,000 employees. The structure of the companies varies greatly. There are large companies focusing on turnkey construction and classical skilled trades companies with two to ten employees. The number one among Austrian companies employs around 10,300 people and generates a construction output of around EUR 14 billion per year.
Austrian focus: sustainability
Austria's companies in the structural engineering and construction materials sector are particularly successful in the field of ecology in construction: They build with natural, ecological, renewable, recyclable materials such as wood, clay, lime and stone, and build and insulate with natural materials.
Austrian companies are at the very forefront internationally in construction with wood and the use of wood products such as windows, floorings and furniture. As well as in energy efficiency, ecological and energy-saving construction (low-energy, passive house and plus energy house) and in digitalisation in construction.
Austrian companies are responding to the challenges of the future not only in the area of energy and environmental protection but also in building usage. For instance, there are experts in the industry for integral and modular construction, multiple use and for intergenerational construction (flexibility and accessibility).
Austrian companies have a particular expertise in construction materials. A long tradition is combined with innovative solutions. Austrian companies, for instance, developed a particularly energy-efficient interior insulation system, dry concrete that can be processed without a mixing machine, unique full-value bricks and reinforcement cages produced entirely automatically for reinforced concrete construction.
The rapidly advancing urbanisation in the developing and emerging countries is opening up a future market for the construction industry. By 2025, for instance, the market volume in the structural engineering sector will grow by seven per cent per year in the Asia/Pacific region.
Most opportunities in structural engineering develop through the need to create socio-economically contractual structures in urban areas and to provide affordable residential housing in conurbations at low cost, which is to be ensured through new materials, modern forms of construction (serial modular design) and progressive planning tools (focusing on digital construction and integral planning).
In the area of digitalisation, there are great efforts to establish "Building Information Modelling (BIM)" in the value-added chain of construction.
The future of construction materials: Alongside environmentally friendly construction materials and those that are low in harmful substances, particularly solutions that increase energy efficiency (lagging, insulation, etc.) are also very important.
Future trends in structural engineering are Green Building, building with wood, energy efficiency, Smart Building (ultra-light concrete, Smart Construction Materials), construction robotics and a healthy indoor climate through the use of organic construction materials.