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Nature and nurture - sustainability in the built environment

Scholar explores knowledge management

Visualising construction through automation

Mission 2 - Visit by Dutch Government Delegation

CIB co-sponsoring International Conference

Brisbane City Council jumps aboard for sustainability

Making a publishing difference

Arrivals and departures

ConstructionInnovation 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

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by John McCarthy, Chairman, CRC Construction Innovation

Theres confusion in thisindustry. No doubt about it. Take our greenspace. A plethora of governmentand private sector bodies have been tackling building-related sustainabilityissues in Australias greenspace for a number of years and through avariety of initiatives. This is good. However, these initiatives are operatingusing different methodologies, performance benchmarks and underlying databaseswhich have the potential to create confusion within the industry.

Did I say potential? They are creatingconfusion. Take a look at some facts. There are numerous sustainability toolscurrently available or under development in Australia. To name a few examples:NABERS (National Australian Building Environment Rating System), BASIX (BuildingSustainability Index), the Green Star Rating Tool, ABGR (Australian BuildingGreenhouse Rating Scheme) and the Sustainable Housing Code, are all addingconfusion within industry and the community as to what the clear definition ofsustainability is as it relates to building construction.

In addition to this, there are numerous definitionsattempting to embody the concept of sustainability in State and Territory builtenvironment legislation, none of which totally align but all of which have onething in common: ecologically sustainable development.

In this increasingly complex environment, there havebeen murmurs in the industry suggesting the need for strong national leadershipin the implementation of building-related sustainability issues.

The Cooperative Research Centre for ConstructionInnovation responded to this undercurrent and in October 2003, brought togetherthe major players in Australias greenspace to discuss the developmentand adoption of a national framework to address sustainability and the builtenvironment.

And in what might be described as a miracle bysome players in the industry, this group has continued to meet and refine itsobjectives to progress the national framework concept.

I am delighted to be the interim Chair for this newbeginning.

The Steering Committee is part of a largergroup known as the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council(ASBEC), who will take a national leadership role on sustainability ina set of key areas that are currently being canvassed within ASBEC. Thenext newsletter will report on the key focus areas ASBEC has identified.

Its a small step for a big picture. And at thisstage, it is still hard to believe we managed to bring together both governmentand the private sector in one room to discuss that most esoteric of concepts sustainability and the built environment.

But we have. And there is great optimism. In the Year of the Built Environment it is, perhaps,the most important initiative we could be involved in.

For more information on ASBEC,email Jack Bramwell (ABCB) orPeterNewton (Construction Innovation).

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Construction Innovation Scholar Tayyab Maqsood is undertaking his PhD throughthe Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Melbourne. He talksabout his research.

Knowledge management is a fast growing area ofresearch and holds a key to the future knowledge revolution and knowledgeeconomy. With particular emphasis on the construction industry, knowledgemanagement has a great role to play in producing and supporting innovation.

Innovation is about putting great ideas intopractice. Unfortunately, very few studies have been undertaken to unleash the potential ofknowledge management explicitly for the construction Industry.

Myproposition, which I hope to prove through qualitative research, is thatsuccessful implementation of knowledge management strategies can turnconstruction organisations into Learning Organisations, which would then be inbetter shape and more equipped to produce innovations for the benefit ofthe construction industry.

I concedethat to adopt knowledge management industry-wide, emphasis should lie not onlywith big organisations at the delivery end of the supply chain, but also withall the trading partners in the supply chain, i.e. suppliers and subcontractors.I strongly believe that meshing knowledge management concepts within supplychain management would give the property and construction industry a newmodus-operandi, with the ability to minimise or eliminate wasteful businessprocesses and resources, reduce conflicts among trading partners, lower overallcost of projects and improve quality of products.

I have selected SoftSystems Methodology (SSM) as a basic research tool to carry out myinvestigations. The outcome of my research will be models of knowledgemanagement intertwined with innovation concepts and organisational learning totransform an organisation into a learning organisation.

My PhD topic is An investigation into the roleof knowledge management insupporting innovation foreffective planning anddelivery of constructionprojects, and throughits own objectives, is very much integrated withthe Cooperative ResearchCentre for Construction Innovation research project Knowledge Management and InnovationDiffusion, lead by Professor Derek Walker,Professor of Project Management at RMIT. Iexpect to complete the PhD in August 2005.

To learnmore about this research, please emailTayyabMaqsood.

Tayyab is aCivil Engineer with Mastersof Engineering Degree in Construction Engineering and Management fromAsianInstitute of Technology (AIT), Thailand. His Masters thesis AQualitativeExploration of Construction Site Managers Problem Solving Processeswas gradedas Excellent. He was also awarded with prestigious award for hisoutstandingperformance in Masters Degree by AIT. Tayyab has worked in Pakistan,Thailand,UK and Hong Kong in various capacities as lecturer, project engineerandresearch associate over the last 8 years. He is also a member ofvariousprofessional organisations such as IEAust., AIB and ASCE. His otherresearchinterests include High Strength/High Performance Concrete, FibreReinforcedPolymer (FRP) Bars/Plates as structural reinforcement, ProjectManagement, RiskManagement, Partnering, Information Communication Technologies (ICT),SupplyChain Management, Information Visualisation and Virtual Reality.Theoutcomes in his candidature so far include10 refereed publications (7refereed conference, 2 journal and onechapter) either published, accepted or in the press.

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The benefits of involving contractors earlier inthe building procurement process are being increased through the ContractPlanning Workbench research project currently being undertaken through theCooperative Research Centre for Construction Innovation.

Contract Planning Workbench is working on ways ofanimating the building construction process so that designers and contactors canassess the time required to construct a building, the proposed constructionsequence, and the identification of clashes between proposed activities. Suchanimation would allow a visual review of the construction process from otherperspectives, such as Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S).

The overarching aim of the project is to providemore certainty to the client, the designers and the contractors that their goalscan be met. Traditionally, designers prepare the documentation of the buildingor civil structures. The contractors then prepare several construction plans. Ahigh level construction plan may be prepared during the tendering stage for estimators tocheck that adequate resources are available to complete the project on time.Once a contract is won, construction plans with three levels of detail are normallydeveloped: a high level plan covering the entire project, a plan covering theactivities for the following month, and a detailed plan considering theactivities to be undertaken over the next seven days. These would describe thepersonnel, materials and equipment needed to construct the building, when theymust be available and for how long.

Recent innovations in procurement methods howeverallow contractors to be involved earlier in the process. This means thatconstruction planners may prepare construction plans throughout the designprocess, as well as the construction process. Indeed, in the preparation of bidsfor design/construct type contracts, teams may even go so far as to preparevisual simulations of the construction sequence to demonstrate to clients howtheir dreams may be realised.

It is well known that construction planning and scheduling ofconstruction activities is a time consuming and error prone process where manyfactors need to be considered simultaneously. Conversely, analyses have shownthat visualising the sequence of construction reduces planning errors andimproves the performance of inexperienced construction planners significantly (Songer,Diekmann & Karet, 2001) (Songer et al, 2001).

In light of this evidence, Contract PlanningWorkbench is examining the issues that arise when a team uses animation tosupport automation of the construction planning process, under the umbrellaobjective of creating a more efficient construction planning process. The aim isto provide support during the construction planning process by supplyingrelevant information in an understandable way to planners.

This project is using two new technologies as thebasis for its work. The project is examining the use of IFCs (IndustryFoundation Classes) as a method of exporting and importing object-basedinformation between design and construction software as a key factor allowingteams to move from proprietary methods of information exchange to genericinformation interoperability. The second technology being examined by theproject is the use of 4D CAD (3 dimensions plus time) simulations.

TheContract Planning Workbench project is building a bridge between IFC objects andthe existing 4D CAD software. An IFC file, produced in standard CADapplications, is used as input to the process. The result is a project plan anda 3D model of the building project which can be read in to either BentleyNavigator or CommonPoint. These programs provide 4D animations of theconstruction of the building. This allows the user to visualise the constructionprocess and simplifies the identification of improvements and problems in theproposed plan.

CRCfor Construction Innovation partners JohnHolland and Woods Bagot are providing necessary industry experience to ContractPlanning Workbench. CSIRO and the University of Newcastle are the researchpartners. The Centre for Integrated Facility Engineering at Stanford Universityis also an external collaborator

Automation of the planning of activities on building construction sites couldwell be the future, soon.

For moreinformation on this research, contact the Project LeaderRobinDrogemuller.

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A Dutch Government delegation came to Australia for 3 days on 17 February 2004for what they described as Mission 2 to talk to the Cooperative ResearchCentre (CRC) for Construction Innovation and others about Australias experience of reforminitiatives in the building and construction sector.
Dr Keith Hampson, CEO of CRC for Construction Innovation, based at QueenslandUniversity of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, said he is not surprised Australiasmodel of industry development has created international interest.

The Dutch see our property and construction industry development model as verygood, and Australias Construction Innovation as unique, Dr Hampson said.

This is not the first time Australias CRC model has generated internationalinterest, and they were looking for lessons to learn from us, he said.

Australias CRC for Construction Innovation began in July 2001 followingrecommendations in the Federal Governments Action Agenda of the late 90s forthe establishment of an applied research and development (R&D) centre forAustralias property and construction sector.

In its short life, Construction Innovation has become known as a national leaderin applied R&D, with 28 research projects, 20 of which are completing this year.

The Dutch delegation was composed of George Ang (Deputy Director of Design andEngineering, Dutch Government Building Agency), and Jan van Oorschot (Managing Director of BusinessDevelopment, Royal Volker Wessel Stevin Group) and Roger Courtney (Consultant inconstruction innovation).

Dr Keith Hampson says the Australian CRC model of industry, government andresearch collaboration has worked extremely well in the property andconstruction industry.

Without committed industry input into research, development management anddiffusion of results, and without industrys commitment to continue to drivecollaboration and linkages nationally and internationally, ConstructionInnovation would cease to have a purpose, Dr Hampson said.

This is what the Dutch learnt from us - that a model of industry developmentand collaboration is a key to reform.

And what did Construction Innovation learn from the Dutch?

We can use their industry example as a reminder to continue sharpeningConstruction Innovations focus in R&D and national initiatives so that ourAustralian partners and industry gain even greater opportunities to leverageinternationally, Dr Hampson said. 

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The Australian Cooperative Research Centre forConstruction Innovation is delighted to announce CIB (International Council forResearch and Innovation in Building and Construction) as co-sponsors of our first InternationalConference themed Clients Driving Innovation, scheduled for 25 to 27October 2004 in Brisbane, Australia.

CIB is a premier international forum for building and construction researchbased in Europe and with a life to date of 50 years.

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,our International Conference 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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On 1 January 2004 Brisbane City Council (BCC) joinedthe Cooperative Research Centre for Construction Innovation, taking the numberof partners involved in Construction Innovation up to a healthy 19 acrossindustry, government and research institutions.

BCC has given a three year commitment toConstruction Innovation's research program, and has a particular interest inhelping shape research projects to suit its specific needs. As a partner, BCCwill be able to access research outcomes from all program areas in ConstructionInnovation, including Business and Industry Development, Sustainable BuiltAssets, and Delivery and Management of Built Assets. However, BCC's immediateinterests lie particularly with code and policy related projects, urban environments, lifecycle/built asset management and advanced applications of ICT.

BCC have also gained Board representation in theirnew partner status, and have appointed Divisional Manager of City Business, Noel Faulkner, to the ConstructionInnovation Board, and Judy Kraatz, Group Manager - The Architecture Group, CityDesign as a Research Committee member.  

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Construction Innovation final research reports(including 'Sustainabilityand the Building Code of Australia') can now be found on ourwebsite under 'Publications'.

In addition, media releases and published articles (inindustry magazines, scientific journals, newspapers and newsletters) are now available electronicallyon ourwebsite for your perusal. View articles we have had published in NewScientist, National Building News Monthly, FM, Property Australia, SydneyMorning Herald, and many other respected publications, from since our Centrebegan in July 2001, right up to the minute in 2004.

For all Construction Innovation publications, 

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Construction Innovation welcomes Colleen Foelz (Communications Officer) and YvonneGilbert (Administration Officer, Education) to the team. Our thanks and bestwishes go to Kate Finlayson and Michelle Coillet for their valuablecontributions to the organisation.

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