Design and Construction for a Sustainable Industry

13 May 2014

The Australian Construction Industry Forum has released its first policy on design and sustainability. This is a significant achievement, and one that the ACA is also very proud of, particularly as the policy development was led by John Held, ACA – SA President.

The policy is concerned with developing a sustainable building industry. This is not just about energy efficiency and “green” buildings and projects. It also concerns sustainable procurement, supply chains and overall construction policy.

This is part of a suite of policies released as the ACIF Policy Compendium. Other policies are: Housing Affordability, Government Economic Management – Regulation, Occupational Licensing, Procurement, Workforce Development and Relations,and Workplace Health and Safety.

The full version of the Design and Construction for a Sustainable Industry Policy can be found on the ACIF websiteKey recommendations include:

  1. The Australian Government should appoint a Government Architect to provide design leadership.
  2. ACIF supports calls for the Federal Government to appoint a Minister for Cities. Include in that Minister’s portfolio (or that of the Industry Minister) responsibility for coordinating the role of government agencies as buyers of services.
  3. Governments should provide incentives to encourage the alteration, retrofitting and rebuilding of our current building stock.
  4. The industry must continue to promote to all clients whole-of-life costs and benefits.

The policy covers the following six policy objectives:

  1. Quality design adds value to projects. Quality design is an investment in the places that make our communities better environments in which to live, work and play.
  2. ACIF believes that time and care spent in the briefing, planning and design phases of projects reduces waste, disputes, time and cost in construction and assists the efficient use of the resulting built assets.
  3. ACIF encourages the adoption of technologies and processes which enhance the planning, design, and delivery process and encourage greater collaboration between designers, end users, and contractors. It also encourages the adoption of a national architecture policy to raise design standards.
  4. An informed client produces better outcomes. Public and private sector clients have a responsibility to prepare adequately when they are about to engage in commissioning a construction project.
  5. Public Infrastructure planning requires expertise within the public sector. The Report of the Building the Education Revolution Implementation Taskforce (BERIT) published in July 2011 highlights the benefits of the government sector being an informed client.
  6. Sustainable design. Urgent action is needed to address the challenges of climate change. The ongoing viability of the industry is linked with its ability to deliver environmentally sustainable buildings. It is imperative that we change the way we approach the design and management of the built environment. We must continually improve the efficiency of buildings through design and use, and innovate in our design and procurement processes to move progressively toward a built environment that positively contributes to natural systems and truly sustainable communities.

The policy statement covers five areas – productivity improvements from a better flow of information; productivity improvements from building information modelling (BIM); the value and importance of facilitating productive and satisfying work on projects; productivity improvements from off-site manufactured components; and potential increase in efficiency and quality through off-site manufacture.

Required actions are identified in relation to the following: The informed client, quality design, BIM, sustainability, off-site manufacture and government coordination

The policy received detailed coverage on The Fifth Estate, which can be read here and here – including an interview with John Held, where he comments on the surprising degree of unanimity among ACIF members about sustainability measures,