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Low carbon visions for industrialised buildings in Australia

Many of the CRC for Low Carbon Living’s research partners gathered at UNSW this week to hear an informative presentation about trends in North America and Europe’s prefabricated/modular and off-site construction industry. It sparked a lively discussion about the opportunities to adopt similar practices in Australia as a means of reducing carbon emissions, waste and improving the sustainability of the built environment.

Hosted on 16 July by the CRCLCL, the presentation was delivered by visiting researcher Mohammed Al-Hussein, professor in construction and engineering management at Canada’s University of Alberta. Dr Al-Hussein is an expert in the industrialisation of building construction, and talked about how modular construction in particular can increase construction productivity and flexibility, provide a safer work environment, and optimise materials usage to minimise waste.

In short, modular construction techniques have the potential to reduce carbon emissions throughout the construction process – and enhance the living/working environment.

Several CRCLCL members joined the ensuing discussion, including Brett Pollard from HASSELL and Professor Dennis Else from Brookfield Multiplex. All present agreed there is tremendous opportunity for industrialisation and off-site modular construction to contribute to low carbon living in Australia.

Brett Pollard said that Australia’s ability to learn from the experiences of North America and Europe, where the use of modular construction is much more widespread, should be an advantage when it comes to its implementation here. But he emphasised the applicability of the technique should be assessed on a case by case basis.

“It’s about using the right construction method at the right time and not adopting a one size fits all approach,” Brett said.

Dennis Else said. “Modular construction processes can in appropriate circumstances dramatically enhance workplace safety and enhance the quality of the final product. It is another example of where our search for low carbon solutions can also simultaneously increase economic value and social value”

The CRCLCL was delighted to host Dr Al-Hussein’s presentation and the ensuing discussions around visions and pathways for industrialised buildings in Australia. It reflects perfectly our strategic and user-driven approach to research, which ensures Australian industry will directly benefit from our activities. We look forward to further discussions and perhaps research in this area.