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The research undertakings of Construction Innovation occur in one of three programs, led by Program Directors and Deputy Program Directors.
Program A Business and industry development
To improve the long-term effectiveness, competitiveness and dynamics of a viable construction industry in the Australian and international contexts through:
- greater innovation in business processes
- strengthened human relations and ethical practice
- more effective interactions between industry and its clients.
The operational strategy to achieve the objective is:
to design and progress integrated research activity in order to develop state-of-the-art knowledge and the capability for future knowledge generation
to consolidate and strengthen collaboration with the property and construction industries, their stakeholders and with key international partners to create and support an effective knowledge base
To bring together research projects and results in order to produce coherent results, supported by a broad base of researcher and practitioner expertise and experience, that will be strongly disseminated and implemented to achieve improved performance in the Industry.
The Program recognises the need for a .bigger picture. reflecting the industry.s continuing shift towards accommodating the rigours of more customer-led thinking by adopting a more strategic, futures-orientated approach. The priorities listed below, have been set in this context and are intended to respond to national and global market pressures for business innovation; the needs of the industry and its customers for business improvement and Government Policy.
- capturing knowledge
- changing culture
- business and organisational innovation
- construction futures in the context of business development.
Research is currently undertaken in the areas of innovation, human resources and client interaction. The research is empirical in nature drawing on case studies, field tests, and relevant literature. The experience of industry practitioners, particularly Construction Innovation Participants, is the main source of data capture.
The measures are based on those enterprises engaging with Construction Innovation. An overarching key output will be to create internationally recognised best in class contractor, consultant, policy maker and regulator from amongst the industry Participants.
Program B Sustainable built assets
To drive healthy and sustainable constructed assets and optimise the environmental impact of built facilities through:
- Sound conceptual basis for economic, social and environmental accounting of the built environment
- Virtual building technology to examine design performance prior to documentation, construction and use
- Assessing human health and productivity benefits of smart indoor environments.
The key challenge of Triple Bottom Line (TBL) accounting for built environment assets, virtual building technologies for design performance assessment prior to construction, and valuing human health and productivity benefits of intelligent indoor environments, requires a research program capable of spanning scales ranging from individual material components . the basic building blocks of built assets . to segments of an entire urban system. Buildings, infrastructures and subdivisions are all .systems of bits. . objects that have TBL attributes (e.g. cost, environmental, health and well-being) and behaviours (life cycle and contextual) capable of being modelled with a view to delivering enhanced levels of (sustainable) performance.
To satisfactorily address sustainability challenges of the built environment requires an integrated, whole-of-system perspective, where the key elements relate to:
Whole of life performance - integrates key sustainability TBL requirements of system performance (eg eco-efficiency goals, targets) and whole of life concepts such as: life-cycle performance, life-long information and life-time engineering.
Building and infrastructure systems - constitute our built environments - where all Australians live, where 95% work, and where over 90% of the nation.s Gross Domestic Product is generated. According to the national balance sheet (ABS cat no. 5204.0) for 2001-02 Australia.s built environment constituted 53% of the nation.s net worth in assets . ahead of the 42% of attributed to land and subsoil assets.
Design, construction and management - are the key sets of processes involved in creating and managing the built environment and as such represent our key foci for re-engineering and value-adding their performance. They are fundamental to the productivity and competitiveness of the economy, the quality of life of all its citizens and the ecological sustainability of the continent.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) - which are specific to the needs of built environment objects (e.g.Industry Foundation Class) and processes (virtual buildings, collaborative design) and which are capable of embodying sustainability concepts and metrics in decision support systems.
Program C Delivery and management of built assets
To deliver project value for stakeholders for the whole-of-life, from business need, design and construction through to ownership, asset management and reuse through:
- Improved communication and use of knowledge,
- Increased productivity and value, and
- Effective delivery and management of whole-of-life assets.
As this program is concerned with designing, building, delivering, operating and disposal of building facilities and civil infrastructure, the projects reflect the challenges across this process. Projects range from data mining to support design, to decision tools to assist in choice of delivery methods, to development of performance measures to evaluate success.
Two projects, Managing Information Flows with Models and Virtual Environments, and Project Team Integration: Communication, Coordination and Decision Support, are concerned with developing information and communication technologies (ICT) to support the facility design phase and improve team integration. Benefits will be improved efficiency in design and construction on site by significantly reducing design time providing improvements in the efficiency of construction and more effective project management. A third project Contract Planning Workbench is exploring the option of using Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs) as the basis for developing first draft construction schedules. This would speed up the process and may also permit interface with existing scheduling software to provide 4D visual presentation.
The effective design of assets, as well as their maintenance and efficient operation is of interest to all owners and tenants. Therefore we have two projects focused on The Evaluation of Functional Performance in Commercial Buildings and an Investment Decision Framework for Civil Infrastructure Asset Management. These projects incorporate the economic, financial, environmental and social factors into models which support improved decision making. Another project with similar objectives concentrates on developing a decision support tool for the use of Fibre Reinforced Polymer (FRP) Composites in Rehabilitation of Concrete. These new materials promise great savings in time and long term performance; however they are at present expensive and need to be used judiciously. We are interested in their applications for remediation in the civil infrastructure sector for example in roads and bridges. Life Cycle Modelling and Design Knowledge Development in Virtual Environments is a project which will make available maintenance performance data to designers to enable more informed choice and design of materials and detailing at early design stage.
Finally since the project delivery process is fraught with challenges in organisation, process and performance, three projects investigate decision methodologies for achieving value in project delivery, together with judgement techniques to support choice of participants and Project Diagnostics which will develop a protocol for investigating problems and diagnosing solutions. At the same time we will devote attention to the development of robust and useful performance indicators.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) platform
ICT is the fundamental enabler of process re-engineering in the property and construction industry. The ICT Platform will promote open standards using international leading edge approaches to integrate across the three core programs for effective management of built assets from inception for whole of life.
The ICT Platform will act as a driver for change and integrator across the Construction Innovation's Research Programs. It will identify and promote opportunities for the uptake of advanced ICT solutions through programs and projects with Construction Innovation partners and the property and construction industry.