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Construction Innovation partners: Australian BuildingCodes Board, Arup Australasia, Bovis Lend Lease, Brisbane City Council, Building Commission(Victoria), CSIRO, John Holland, Qld Dept Main Roads, Qld Dept Public Works, QldDept State Development, Qld University of Technology, Rider Hunt, RMIT,Brookwater JV, University of Newcastle, University of Sydney, University ofWestern Sydney, DEM, Woods Bagot


An Australian "greencalculator" is poised to transform the building and construction industry.

The world-firstLCADesign, developed in the Cooperative Research Centre for ConstructionInnovation, provides property professionals with an instant cost andenvironmental assessment of any commercial building - straight from its 3Dcomputer graphics.

With futuredevelopment, the calculator may do the same for the family home, for roads,sewage networks or any major construction project, says the leader of thedevelopment team, Dr Peter Newton of CSIRO.

"Working from the3-dimensional CAD design for a building, the calculator will provide an instantdisplay of the volume and cost of all the materials involved in its construction- at the push of a button," Dr Newton says.

"At the same time,it can calculate the environmental impact of all those materials - how manytonnes of clay were used to make them, how much water, how much energy, and howmuch greenhouse gas and other polluting emissions they made to air, land orwater."

This will offerdesigners, for the first time, the opportunity to instantly redesign or respecifymaterials for a building based on both the economic and environmental cost ofthe materials involved in its construction.

It will also letthem see how well the building complies with government, industry, company orproject standards.

Dr Newton says thatthe calculator is linked in real-time to a constantly-updated index of theprices of more than 800 key building materials - concrete, brick, steel,aluminium, glass, timber, and tiles - to obtain an instant read-out of the costof alternatives.

At the same time ithelps the designer to select those materials which have the least environmentalimpact over their lifetime.

"You can see the"environmental footprint" for the whole building over the lifetime of thematerials it embodies. With further development, it is envisaged this will allow the builder to choose materials which aremost effective over their service life, both economically and environmentally.

"It'sa genuine world-first - and we're seeing real interest in it from NorthAmerican industry where there is currently nothing equivalent," DrNewton says.

"It is also likelyto revolutionise the profession of quantity surveying," he adds.

Behind the LCADesigntool is an extremely powerful Australian-designed software engine, whichuses a constantly-updated register of materials prices and a database oftheir environmental impact.

The calculator willbe trialled by leading construction industry and building design firms,including Bovis Lend Lease, engineers Arup PL and architectsWoods Bagot. From the government side, Building Commission (Victoria), AustralianBuilding Codes Board, and Queensland Department of Public Works are key partnersin the project.

Dr Newton says thegreen calculator illustrates a growing competitive advantage in Australian R&D -the ability to combine the best research from diverse fields coupled withindustry focussed partners to drive real outcomes.

"In this case we'reseeing the convergence of the best of Australian expertise in IT and software,with our skills in environmental science and assessment as well as designscience. The result is a tool that is likely to put us at world leading edge forsustainable construction."

ConstructionInnovation envisages commercially releasing the first version of LCADesignfollowing completion of the prototype development.

Chief ExecutiveOfficer of Construction Innovation, Dr Keith Hampson, says the calculator willmeet a strong need in the commercial building industry.

Our industry islikely to remain a major source of environmental degradation if major stepsaren't taken now, Dr Hampson explains.

"Commercial buildings have a substantial and multi-level impact on theenvironment that is predicted to increase in the next few years. On a globalscale, they employ ozone-depleting chemicals, contribute to global warming fromfossil fuel combustion, and use massive amounts of non-renewable resources.

"At a local level,new commercial buildings all too often create urban congestion and lead to thedegradation of air, water and soil. Even indoors, some of the materials used inthe construction of commercial buildings are hazardous.

"This research will provide a practical tool for designers, material producers,government regulators, building owners and managers so they can see theenvironmental impact of commercial buildings," Dr Hampson says.

click here.

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MAKING ASUSTAINABLE IMPACT   -  A message from Dr Keith Hampson

Sustainability no dont turn the page. Yes, were hearing a lot about it andyes it appears to have become a catch-cry more than anything else. Were allmotivated by it, and were willing to go along with it. Butwhats really guiding us in this debate? And what will be achieved?

As we know,the key decisions impacting a project's performance take place in the earlydesign phase of abuildings life. After that, its touch and go with decisions being made onthe run, and after the main event.

At theCooperative Research Centre for Construction Innovation, we are placing stresson the early design phase of a construction project, the first 20% where theinitial ideas are inputted, to minimise down-streamingwhen all too often little can be done to incorporate more than just a facade of sustainability.

Within our Sustainable Built AssetsResearch Program, 11 research projects areexamining how the lifecycle of a building, from inception through todeconstruction, can be incorporated into the early stages of design forcost-effective and sustainable whole-of-life.

Forinstance, within the research project Environmental Assessment Systems forCommercial Buildings, we are developing a green calculator', a tool called LCADesign, which will provide property professionals with aninstant cost and environmental assessment of any commercial building - straightfrom its 3D computer graphics, offering building designers, for the first time, theopportunity to instantly redesign or respecify materials for a building based onboth the economic and environmental cost of the materials involved in itsconstruction. It will also let them see how well the building complies withgovernment, industry, company or project standards.

Talkingabout compliance, one of our research projects which recently completed hasproduced a comprehensive reportexamining sustainability and codes world-wide, to assist the Australian BuildingCodes Board in their decision on whether Sustainability should be incorporated into the Building Code ofAustralia. This report is currently with their Board, and although they have inpart agreed on the concept of inclusion, it will be discussed further in May2004.

At anational level, sustainability has taken on new heights with the ConstructionInnovation-led formation of ASBEC (Australian Sustainable Built EnvironmentCouncil) at the end of 2003. ASBEC brings togetherthe major players from Australia's greenspace in the context of ahigh-level advisory body tasked with designing a nationalagenda on how to improve uniformity and increase sustainability in the builtenvironment.

Sustainability has many angles, and our research and developmentand new initiatives are trying to capture the possibilities into one big bagthat will genuinely assist the property and construction industry to achieve a sustainablefuture in Australias built environment.

I suspect sustainability will be on the agenda for some time tocome, and we look forward to making a real impact in this area for thebetterment of the Australian industry.

Dr KeithHampson

CEOConstruction Innovation

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Construction Innovation Scholar Ji Soo Yoon is undertaking his PhD through theUniversity of Sydney. He is talking about his research.

Creating anddesigning virtual environments is no longer science fiction. However, thisdesign process is becoming ever more complex due to rapid technologicaldevelopments.

The constructionindustry has been a forerunner in appropriating technology to enhance ourdesigning, planning and simulating capabilities. However, in order to furtherharness innumerable design potential thus created, attention must be paid onthe development of reliable navigational tools. Streamlining user navigation hasthe potential to correct various design errors in the early conceptual designphase.

My researchfocuses on what is often an over-lookedarea - the development of virtual guides to assist user navigation in virtualenvironments. My primary focus is ondesigning a virtual embodied agent capable of modelling a users navigationalbehaviour, by using their 'past experiences' as a guide. The virtual embodiedagent will also infer from current user actions to derivepossible destinations. It will then suggest the most appropriate route to thedesired destinations given a users preferences.

The intelligent interface agent I hope todevelop will be built using a 3D multi-user game engine - similar to the Valveengine which allows limited collaborative design tasks by users. This will demonstratethe use of such agents in a design environment.

Ji SooYoon.

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Measuring the social responsibility of property funds

Evidence is emerging demonstratingthat socially responsible properties can actually yield higher capital growthreturns than their competition. This has broad implications for fund managers, who not only look to maximisereturns, but are increasingly expected to provide ethical investment streams forinvestors. Very little research has been done in Australia on developingappropriate social responsibility indicators for property assessment. TheConstruction Innovation project Evaluation of Functional Performance inCommercial Buildings is addressing this shortfall. Researcher Philip Kimmet discusses.

The provision of ethical investmentchoices is currently confined to equities, where certain types of enterprise arescreened out. Yet significant chunks of investment funds are allocated toproperty. In Australia, the only objective guide to the ethical nature ofproperty are environmental rating schemes. While these environmental benchmarkshelp us gauge ecological sustainability, energy savings and the like, socialfactors such as stakeholder and community attitudes are equally important socialresponsibility criteria.

In the business world, socialresponsibility is increasingly measured by Triple Bottom Line reporting. Thisaccounting approach is changing the way business is done by focusing corporateconcerns on social and environmental dimensions as well as the traditionalfinancial approach. Meanwhile, independent social responsibility assessmentagencies such as Reputex are bringing objectivity to the reportingprocess, driving ethical competition and exposing irresponsible corporatecitizens. However, the indicators used to benchmark corporate performance arenot easily translated to the property context, underscoring the need to developsets tailored specifically to property.

The major obstacle for property fundmanagers selecting for social responsibility is their explicit obligation toacquire properties with the highest capital growth and returns potential. Theproblem is the perception that social responsibility comes at a greater cost anda lesser return. In part this may have arisen from fund managers experiencewith ethical equity funds. However, our research suggests that sociallyresponsible properties can yield higher capital growth returns than theircompetition, especially over the longer term.

There is no denying that social, andparticularly environmental, measures often come at an added cost. Nevertheless,these can be recovered if rents are adjusted to account for savings on capitalexpenses, and increased productivity and improved employee recruitment andretention are accounted for. Furthermore, research undertaken at the RockyMountain Institute and the U.S. Department of Energy shows that green buildingdesigns can result in sustained increased returns of 3 to 15%. 

Risk is particularly important inthe property sector and the benefits of selecting and managing for socialresponsibility should not be understated. A reduction of risk in propertyinvestment is achieved by better management controls, and lower maintenance andmanagement costs. Moreover, the better the reputation of a property, the moredesirable it will be to prospective purchasers and tenants, and the higher thereturns are likely to be. Enhanced social and environmental safeguards alsominimises exposure to loss in adverse or unforseen circumstances. In sum, ourresearch suggests the use of social responsibility indicators is an effectivestrategy for managing risk related to property funds.

 Clearly, indicators provide areasonably accurate picture of a buildings social and environmentalperformance. Surely it is only a matter of time before those buildings thatperform exceptionally in this regard begin to attract the attention of fundmanagers keen to improve their service to customers by providing access to anethical property fund. This could profoundly challenge the way commercialproperty in particular is built and managed.

click here orcontact Philip Kimmet.

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JoinInnovators from the Australian Building and Construction Industry and learnfrom their experience!

You areinvited to the launch of six innovation case studies, conducted by theBRITE Project (Building ResearchInnovation Technology and Environment) of the CRC for Construction Innovation. The case studies are drawnfrom the Australian building and construction industry. They highlight effectiveways to implement innovation and demonstrate the significant benefits that canbe achieved. Participants from each of the six case studies will share thesecrets of their success.

Date:   Thursday 26th February 2004

Time:   5.00pm to 6.30pm

Venue:Conference Room, Level 3, 80 George Street, Brisbane,Queensland, Australia

Cost:    Free


5.00pm    Welcome by CRC Construction Innovation CEO, DrKeith Hampson

5.10pm    Address by Australian Construction Industry Forum Deputy Chair, NeilMarshall

5.15pm    Introduction by BRITE Project Leader,DrKaren Manley

5.20pm    Case Study Presentations:

Case Study 1:Graeme Standfield, Director, MGF Consultants, and Graham Messenger, ActingManager, Portfolio Branch, Building Division, QldDept of Public Works: OutstandingWhole of Life Gains Without Higher Up-Front Costs

Case Study 2: HosseinShamsai, Managing Director, Quickcell Technologies, and Ian Ainsworth, Manager,Building Structures, Arup Brisbane: Concrete Planking Innovation Saves over$300,000 on Major Sports Stadium

Case Study 3: Tom James, Qld Civil Manager, Leighton Contractors: Motorway Alliance Drives Performance Improvement

Case Study 4:David Barber, Associate, ArupFire Melbourne: Performance-BasedBuilding Codes and Fire Engineering Yield Innovative DesignSolution

Case Study 5:Louise Chandler, Engineer, BridgeDesign, Qld Dept of Main Roads, and NeillWagner, Company Director, Wagners CompositeFibres Technology: Australia s First Fibre-Reinforced Polymer Bridge Deck on the RoadNetwork

Case Study 6:Richard Yelf, Managing Director, Georadar Research: Ground Penetrating Radar Finds Defects in Bridge Beams 

6.10pm    Questions and Discussion

6.30pm    Close: Drinks and Horsdoeuvres

RSVP by 20 February2004 toAlethaBlayse, BRITE ProjectResearch Associate

Phone: 07 3423 8270   Mobile:  0422929320

Click here for moreinformation on the BRITE project.

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We would like toparticularly acknowledge the support of the following organisations for theirsupport of our recent workshopseries:

        Property Council ofAustralia

        John Holland GroupPty Ltd

        Master BuildersAssociation of Tasmania

        Master BuildersAssociation of the ACT

        Queensland Universityof Technology 

Click here for more informationon Construction 2020.

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The Australian Cooperative Research Centre forConstruction Innovation is delighted to announce its first InternationalConference themed Clients Driving Innovation, scheduled for 25 to 27October 2004 in Brisbane, Australia.

Drawing on the experiences of leading practitioners and researchers in theinternational built environment, including property and constructionindustry clients, facility designers and constructors, and facility managers,Clients Driving Innovation will offer a meeting place where ideas can beexchanged, collaborations established and knowledge gained.

Using leading research examples of industrypractice, issues to be addressed include the ability of clients to driveinnovation through their purchasing power, through documentation standards, andthrough developing regulations and codes.

Click here to find out more information on this conference. for news updates.

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Dr Guillermo Aranda-Mena>, a Research Fellow, hasrecently been appointed to the Construction Innovation Project ContractPlanning Workbench. The University of Newcastle's School of Architecture andBuilt Environment is delighted to have been able to attract Dr Aranda-Mena tothe University, and to the project, as he comes from one of the top UK"construction" Universities, having recently completed his PhD there. 

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Business strategy solutions for SME's - Presentation 

Professor Carmine Bianchi from the Faculty ofPolitical Sciences, University of Palermo, Italy, is delivering presentationsin Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane from 25-27 February on Business strategysolutions for SMEs (small to medium sized enterprises). Intended for SMEs,Construction Innovation industry partners, economic/financial/accountingprofessors, and the general public, the hour-long presentations will provide abrief overview ofSystem Dynamics concepts; demonstrate series of models and successful casestudies, and explore applications in the real estate arena.

For more detailsclick here.

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