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Economic importance of lightweight construction

In Austria, lightweight construction is an ecological and economic heavyweight, generating 9.4 billion euros in added value and securing 77,400 jobs.

It is also a key technology for climate action. These are the conclusions drawn by a study by economist Anna Kleissner, commissioned by A2LT.

As an interdisciplinary field, lightweight construction is a specific approach, a design mode that aims at reducing weight and, in turn, material and energy. This does not only pose technological challenges, it has also made it difficult to measure and visualise the economic dimensions of lightweight construction, expressed in terms of added value and employment.

Pilot study

This is why the A2LT lightweight construction platform and the industry division of the Upper Austrian Chamber of Commerce commissioned economist Anna Kleissner to carry out these computations in a study that is the first of its kind in Europe. The computations were based on a simplified data set encompassing the “enabling technologies”, “lightweight construction in the narrower sense”, “lightweight construction in the broader sense” and “lightweight construction including services” categories.

The results were considered against the backdrop of three scenarios and have minimum to maximum bandwidth ranges. For example, direct added value ranges from a minimum of 8.8 billion euros to a maximum of 10.1 billion euros.

Interdisciplinary field

“Lightweight construction encompasses a large number of sectors and is therefore an interdisciplinary field, just like tourism, for example. This is why we need customised methods to reflect the overall economic significance of lightweight construction. It’s the only way to demonstrate that the overall economic importance of lightweight construction has been underestimated up to now,” says Anna Kleissner.

An economic heavyweight

The direct value added by lightweight construction in Austria amounts to some 9.4 billion euros. Compared to other sectors, lightweight construction is bigger than mechanical engineering all told, and approximately equally as important as the entire hotels and catering industry. Every euro generated in lightweight construction triggers a further 0.74 euros of added value in the upstream and downstream value chain throughout Austria. Put together, a total of just under 16.4 billion euros is attributable to lightweight construction. In other words: every twenty-second euro generated in Austria can either directly or indirectly be attributed to lightweight construction.

Job creation

Expressed in terms of employment figures, the lightweight sector secures 77,400 jobs directly. Additionally, one job in the lightweight construction sector ensures at least another 1.4 jobs in other sectors of the economy: this means that lightweight construction safeguards nearly 186,000 jobs in total, which is equivalent to a share of 4.09 percent. Lightweight construction creates more jobs than the financial services sector or even the employment-intensive building industry.

>> Study report „Economic Importance of Lightweight Construction in Austria“ (only in German available)