This post explores the impact that the building industry has on the overall economy. 


If you explore the building supply chain from beginning to end you quickly realize that building impacts almost every aspect of our economy. This impact goes beyond the direct economic costs associated with constructing and operating built structures. Building is a primary driver for: 

  1.  Professional and trade services required to create the built environment. 
  1. The manufactured materials used in the construction process.  
  1. Related systems of raw material extraction, processing, manufacturing, transportation, and distribution of the materials and services.  
  1. All the materials, services, and technologies that fill finished structures and enable the operating organizations to perform their work.  

These forces include the following:  

Building Materials Made and Distributed for Construction Projects: Of course, this is a huge market created by the actual construction of buildings. An enormous amount of processed and manufactured materials integrated into final building products, from small homes to urban infrastructure, power plants, transportation systems, and hospitals. Also, parts of building: windows, doors, nails, adhesives, mortar, bricks, etc. The list is practically limitless.  

Mining and Manufacturing: How many mines and manufacturing plants are directly connected to the creation of building material products for buildings?  Every one of those companies most likely are primary economic drivers for the town or community in which they reside. 

Transportation. Countless truck drivers, airline crews, and train crews are kept busy transporting materials from mine to raw material processing, or from manufacturer to distributor and then finally to the actual site for assembly and construction. Here again, the process of building requires a huge number of disparate services that operate at all scales and support families and local communities throughout the country. 

Furniture, Fixtures, Equipment (FFE), including computers, networks, media, etc.: This list is limitless. It includes anything that is contained in a building setting. From home, office, hospital, or power plant, to TVs, couches, chairs, computers, plants, artwork, cooking ware… you name it, buildings provide the repository within which almost all products are stored and utilized. So, by definition, as we build new buildings or renovate old spaces, the building project becomes a significant market driver for new products to make the space operational.  Here again the number of manufacturers, distributors, and vendors who supply, install, and maintain these goods are enormous. From small Mom and Pop shops to large business operations, they are located throughout the local and national economy driving jobs, taxes and supporting families.  

Professional Services: This category includes architects, engineers, contractors, specialty consultants, trade associations, regulatory agencies, finance, legal, insurance, etc. The number of professional service companies and individuals are large. They are distributed throughout our communities and are involved in the conception and execution of every single building project.   

These primary market drivers provide an overview of how the building industry impacts the overall economy, providing jobs, sustaining families, and creating taxes that support thousands of communities and millions of people. 

Research is being performed to firm up what this looks like in formal metrics and $$’s. In fact, if you have access to good datasets that might assist in creating a clear picture of the overall impact that building-related activities have on the broader economy, please share! 

The power of Building is not limited to the economy. Building is also a work of creation. It provides an environment for people to live, work, and play. Even when done poorly (which happens too often), building can still provide environments that enable all of us to lead secure and productive lives.  

When conceived and executed optimally, building can be positively transformative.