Inside This Edition:
Straight Talk: with Roger Poole, Chairman, Bates Smart Sector Analysis : Multi-Residential The Construction Density Dance: Barangaroo
POINT A A C C E S S C O N S U L T I N G C O S T P T N E M E G A N A M
E S P R O P E R T Y S E R V I C C I E S V C R E E R T S N O I T A C A F I I R R F E O I V J C E G A C N T T I I O M A N A G E M E N T B U I L D I N G S U R V E Y N S E R N O I T A C I F I C E P S S E C I V S E R V I C E S U R B A N P L A N N I N G
LEADING YOU TO A NEW DESTINATION The current operating environment has forced everyone to change their tack. The standard directions are no longer applicable to an industry that is demanding innovation, improved practices and an ability to find new ways to get to point B. So while our eyes are still firmly fixed on where you need to be, our Access Consulting team is creating environments for accessing life. Access Consulting | Project Management | Cost Management | Building Surveying | Urban Planning Specification Consulting | Verification Services | Property Consultancy | Certification Services
Shed some light on how energy efficiency can improve your property assets www.siemens.com.au/energyefficiency Different people embark on energy efficiency programs for different reasons. Some do it to reduce their carbon footprint. Some do it to reduce their energy costs. And some do it because it increases their returns and asset value.
Siemens recognises there is a real need for technology to provide solutions that continually improve efficiencies and productivity – and enhance the investments of our customers.
Whatever your reason, at Siemens we understand energy efficiency and what it means to you.
That’s why Siemens has developed an energy efficiency portfolio – and is the world’s largest environmental technology company. We draw on technologies borne out of the company’s annual spend of more than $6 billion on R&D.
We partner with property owners and tenants to help them understand and design energy efficiency solutions that maximise their investments. Commercial buildings account for around 40% of the world’s carbon emissions – the flip side being that energy efficiency has significant economic benefits.
Siemens has been providing solutions in energy, water, environment, healthcare, productivity, mobility, safety and security for 140 years. And as challenges, such as climate change, demographic change, urbanisation and globalisation place significant pressures on resources, Siemens has the answers.
Under new national legislation, all commercial buildings of 2000 square metres or more must now provide a NABERS rating at the point of sale or lease. Do you know what effect a 4 star-rating versus a 4.5 or 5 star rating has on the value of your asset?
Talk to Siemens today about how the right energy efficiency solution can improve the value of your assets. Contact: 137 222 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Innovation for generations.
17/5/11 12:41:42 PM
10 Options to Stand On: Multi-Res Flooring 12 A Brighter Future: Lighting for a Bigger Australia 31 Keeping Covered: Facade Coating Systems
MARKET Analysis 16 State Analysis: Construction Starts
Sector Analysis: Multi-Residential
Feature Project Profiles:
Barangaroo: The Construction Density Dance Close to the Heart The elm Apartments
Sustainability Column: More to Energy Savings Than Meets the Eye
Legal Column: The Legal Implications: Multi-Residential Development
Glass Column: A case for performance glass to meet stricter regulations
Accessibility Column: Sustainable Cities for all
Straight Talk 38 Straight Talk: with Roger Poole. Chairman, Bates Smart
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SPOTLIGHT: Barangaroo PRECINCT
By Mark Kenfield
BARANGAROO: The Construction Density Dance
Australia is growing, and growing rapidly. Spurred on by high living standards, an open immigration policy, and a comparatively strong job market, we are seeing the highest level of immigration since the end of the Second World War – with current projections expecting our population to increase by 2/3rds (from 22 to 36 million) in just the next 40 years. With an ageing population, some commentators and business interest groups are insisting that this growth is absolutely vital for us to maintain our high living standards and see continued strength in our economy.
population just so corporations can sell things to more consumers to meet an arbitrary growth target” writes a fuming ‘Jenny’ in the comments section of The Australian’s website, for example.
Others argue that our current infrastructure is already so strained supporting our current population of 22 million, that until we can provide better means to support the population we already have, we should not be encouraging more of the rapid growth we are experiencing at the moment.
Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on, as a result of this growth our major cities are sprawling ever outwards, with promised urban limits and ‘green corridors’ seemingly steamrolled by developments almost as quickly as they are declared. Traffic congestion gets worse by the week; housing affordability is amongst the worst in the world – in short, we’re caught between aspiration and immigration, and the competing forces of the need for higher density buildings to cope with our growing population, and the widespread desire for the privacy and comfort of detached housing.
within our public domain to ensure we strike a balance between our aspirations for our living arrangements and the reality of our population’s needs. Which brings us to Barangaroo.
The argument is raging across the entire gamut of Australia’s print, radio, web and televisual media at the moment. “Who do these CEOs in their ivory towers expect to pay for infrastructure for 36 million? Dream on! The business world has to understand that limitless growth is impossible in a finite world. We have finite space, finite water and finite resources. It is NOT sustainable to keep expanding 6 | www.awardmagazine.com.au
Our challenge then, as a nation, is to control both the design and density
A development that, perhaps more than any other in Australia right now, has come to symbolise this clash of ideologies. The last harbour-side location in the Sydney CBD able to be redeveloped, Barangaroo is a vacant 22-hectare industrial site, occupying 1.4 kilometres of Sydney Harbour foreshore, and said to be one of the most significant waterfront greening projects anywhere in the world. The new precinct is being developed by Lend Lease, will house a new public Headland Park on the harbour and should become a key commercial, residential and recreational addition to Sydney’s CBD, with over 22,000 workers and residents
Images courtesy of the Barangaroo Delivery Authority
MAIN: A rendering of Lend Lease's proposed design
and an expected 12 million visitors per year. The development has caused a great deal of public outcry though, which was not at all helped by a less-thantransparent approach to the planning process taken by the former Labor Government. “The process undertaken by the Government was disrespectful to the people of Sydney and NSW” says Australian Institute of Architects NSW President Brian Zulaikha, a member of Architects & Planners Concerned About Barangaroo, a group of 57 independent architects and planners who have united to back an alternative scheme for the development. “Whilst financial negotiations should certainly be conducted with due diligence, both the use of taxpayer funds and the pursuit of design excellence in the public domain, has not been conducted in an open process to date”.
The matter has been further compounded by significant changes to project’s original (and widely-accepted), competition-winning design. And especially by former Planning Minister Tony Kelly’s exempting the project from planning laws on contamination back in March – a move which caused an absolute furore amongst Barangaroo’s various detractors. “Sydney – and any city for that matter – needs to be able to grow organically” Zulaikha says. “This is not possible under the current proposal, where a single developer has won the tender for this development, and assumedly has enormous economic control over the work, which is evidenced by the gross increases in floor space that have been approved and by the extraordinary decision to allow the developer an exemption from planning laws on contamination”. Further adding to all this confusion is the fact that the new NSW Liberal
Government’s Minister for Planning, Brad Hazzard, has just announced (on May 13th) that the project will be subjected to a "short, sharp review" following a successful mediation between Australians for Sustainable Development, a group opposing the development, and Lend Lease; who were due to face each other in court. Minister Hazzard said he would appoint an independent chairman to carry out the review, which he expects to take around two months. Hazzard has described the mediation as "a victory for common sense", and talked about the need to address the sense of frustration and the undermining of public confidence that planning decisions at Barangaroo have caused thus far. “Barangaroo offers a fantastic opportunity for this state. Done well, it will be 22 hectares of the finest area in Sydney and will attract community members and business to this |7
SPOTLIGHT: Barangaroo PRECINCT
magnificent site” he said. Assuming the review allows concerns over the project’s planning process to be successfully redressed (particularly its exclusion from contamination planning laws) the main question mark hanging over the proceedings will lie in the final design. “I thought that the original design by Hills Thalis, Berkemeier and Irwin was extremely clever” Zulaikha says. “Mostly because it didn't win the competition through a purely architectural solution, but rather created a planning ideal – a way of enabling a completely new area of Sydney to expand in a sensible, nondidactic way. I particularly liked the way the original design connected the site with the rest of the city”. Zulaikha says that there are aspects of the new plan that he considers an improvement, such as the increased and more organic treatment of the edge, and the increased area of water in the development. “I'm even ready to accept the park on the point,” he says, “provided the space under it is used for something of large cultural value, rather than just a car park”.
8 | www.awardmagazine.com.au
However he says these positives are tempered by concerns over the first three tower buildings appearing to be grossly oversized – though even the question of size has no definite answer. “Is it a real problem?” He ponders, “Sydney is a BIG city and needs to grow. So if we are to attract large financial corporations, these large floor plates may be what is needed“. “The whole site is public land” he adds. “So public benefit should be paramount, particularly full access to the harbour foreshore. Commercial development has its place, but should be secondary to the public benefit provided by the site”. With the recent change of government and the upcoming review of the development, Zulaikha insists that “It is important that future decisionmaking for Barangaroo is conducted in an open and transparent manner in view of the substantial public benefit to be derived from the site.” Considerable public works and remediation of contaminated underground material are currently underway on the site, and construction on the $6 billion development is
expected to commence later this year, with the Headland Park expected to open in late 2014. With doubts and confusion hanging over the project like a cloud, we can only hope that these latest developments help bring a clearer path for the project moving forward. The potential Barangaroo holds to improve the commercial, residential and public amenity of Sydney’s CBD is simply too great to let slip away. A bigger Australia is coming whether we like it or not, and it’s up to us to decide how we embrace that fact. So although the fighting and controversy over Barangaroo is substantial – at least it shows that, as a nation, we are engaging with the future of our built environment. And that’s something worth fighting for.
BELOW: The proposed development is intended to become a hub of retail, commercial and residential activity.
Options to Stand On: Multi-Res Flooring
Multi-residential buildings condense so much into a single structure, not just the apartments that comprise the bulk of their floor space, but also their lobbies, communal facilities such as gymnasiums or swimming pools, and often retail or hospitality tenancies on their ground floors as well. This makes the flooring requirements of multi-residential developments many and varied. Some require more sustainable options; some need the facility to deliver essential building services, such as heating or cooling; some need to be hard; some need to be soft; some need to be sticky; and all need to be effective.
Wool 2.0 One material that is making a big comeback at the moment, is 100% wool broadloom carpet. Overlooked for many years in favour of hardwood flooring or more economical synthetic carpeting, recent developments in synthetic carpets have, price-wise, brought them on parity with wool. Which as Michelle Parker of Cavalier Bremworth explains, “has made the selection of either wool or synthetic carpet a simple strengths/weaknesses equation”. Wool offers some distinct advantages for multi-residential applications, particularly in regards to the benefits of its health and insulating properties. “It is largely the acoustic performance of wool carpeting that has put us back in the firing line” Parker explains, “There was such a large push for timber flooring for such a long period of time, people are only now finally realising that hardwood flooring makes for very noisy buildings, especially in multi-residential applications, and we are seeing a push back the other way as a result”. This is primarily due to carpet’s ability to eliminate floor impact sounds such as those produced by footfalls, chairs scraping across floors, and objects dropped. Carpeted floors can reduce the volume of noise in a room by over 20 decibels, which is particularly important in multiresidential developments, where floor impact sounds can contribute greatly to ambient noise levels, and people’s 10 | www.awardmagazine.com.au
comfort within their apartments. Back in June 2006 the CSIRO was commissioned to test a range of carpets for impact noise generation in accordance with the BCA requirements. All of the carpets they tested were found to easily meet the BCA criterion for impact sound insulation, and were found to provide the most practical and cost effective option to protect residents of multi-tenanted and multi-storey buildings from noise passing into the indoor environment from occupancies above. “There’s a strong health aspect to wool carpet as well” Parkers adds, “As wool carpets are naturally non-allergenic, they are very effective at absorbing and filtering volatile organic compounds out of the air”. This is a natural component of the wool fibre and it helps control the volume of unwanted toxins and odours that can cause irritation to asthmatics and people with respiratory problems. Carpet’s advantage is that it binds these allergycausing substances tightly, reducing the volume of them circulating in the air where they are more easily inhaled. The wool fibres also trap dust very effectively and help to regulate humidity by absorbing it when the air is wet and releasing it when it’s dry. These features help wool carpet offer considerably greater comfort than
hardwood flooring, as well as improved cleaning and maintenance, “With synthetic carpets, after a while dirt begins to get matted into the fibres and they begin to lose quality” Parker adds, “Wool, by comparison, can always be steamed cleaned and will maintain the same appearance for longer”.
Underfloor Heating Another option for multi-residential flooring that is gaining considerable momentum is underfloor heating. Underfloor heating uses heating cable which can run under almost any flooring material to provide radiant heat to a room. “Underfloor heating provides an alternative to having radiators installed on walls or a large-scale central heating system,” explains Comfort Heat’s Sandra Skelley, “It works particularly well in high-rise multi-residential buildings because you are only heating the floor to 25 degrees, which is a fraction of the temperature required by something like a gas heater. So by putting your heating under the floor you can drop the energy requirements of your heating considerably” she says. This has the added benefit of addressing some of the design aspects (such as energy inefficient building services) that many architects and developers are trying to minimise at the moment in their attempts to reduces the energy footprints of their buildings. With the rapid growth of Australia’s multi-residential developments at the moment, the need for more effective, more insulating and more sustainable flooring options is becoming increasingly more vital. There are a broad range of choices out there, so determine what your needs are in terms of insulation, aesthetics and sustainability and you’ll be able to find the right option for your project to stand on.
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For more reasons to choose Altro, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 1800 673 441 or visit www.asf.com.au
A Brighter Future Lighting for a Bigger Australia By Mark Kenfield
At a recent BCI Australia ‘Market Outlook’ breakfast, the audience was left in no doubt as to the condition of the Australian construction market, namely, that it’s a flat one. BCI’s survey figures show that we are currently facing effectively 0% growth across the construction industry as a whole. That figure though, masks the fact that some areas of the industry are ticking along quite nicely whilst others are taking a hammering – the end result being that market growth is leveling out at pretty much nil. So where is Australia seeing growth? Well there’s no prizes for guessing this one I’m afraid, but mining infrastructure is seeing extraordinary development at the moment. However the other area that’s booming away right now – and you may not have been as aware of this – is multi-residential construction. And it is for this very reason that you’ll 12 | www.awardmagazine.com.au
notice most of our articles in this edition harping on about the simple fact that Australia is growing. More than that, Australia is growing rapidly. With more than 1000 people a week pouring into some of our major cities, our city fringes sprawling ever outwards, and our housing affordability bordering on the ridiculous; the demand for more affordable and more centrallylocated housing (i.e. multi-residential developments) is taking off like never before. As always though, nothing is quite as simple as you’d hope, and just building more buildings doesn’t fix the problem.
More people require more infrastructure, more water, more electricity, more public transport, better road systems, the list goes on… And with additional issues such as city power grids already stretched to capacity, creating more efficient, more sustainable buildings that demand less from our infrastructure – grows increasingly more important. Which brings us to lighting. When it comes to retrofitting and upgrading the energy efficiency and performance of existing buildings, few things can match the cost/performance benefits of lighting upgrades, and fewer still can match the speed and ease with which they can be implemented. Lighting technology has advanced in leaps and bounds in recent years, both in the technology behind the lamps themselves; with low-wattage compact fluorescents, infra-red coated lamps and
LED lighting fixtures can offer a long-life, energy efficient alternative to conventional downlights and architectural lighting.
the Hun-like onslaught of LEDs; and in the lighting control systems managing them. “Every home needs light, and lighting control systems form a logical backbone for the increasing technological intelligence of our apartment buildings” explains Philips Dynalite’s Residential Manager Aaron Castles. “Control systems can provide not only a nice way to highlight architectural features, but can also setup pathways through your home, with lights coming on at low levels at night so that you can navigate around without switching bright lights on and waking other people up” he adds. “It’s about combining individual control with multiple controls, so that rather than simply having high/ medium/low light settings, you can now have movie/TV/eating/reading settings, and rather than having to set each level individually, you can arrange your entire home through a single control point”. These systems provide far more functionality than just a dimmer. They can be integrated with a building’s HVAC system to provide total control over a home’s infrastructure, and they can even be accessed remotely via smart phone or SMS. “Once the backbone of these control systems has been installed in a property, it becomes very quick and easy to add in additional services” Castles adds. “They offer considerable advantages to developers in multi-residential contexts, because they allow each apartment to be setup with an initial template and then be personally customised after handover. Which can be both economical and an attractive point of difference from a sales perspective”. Castles says that developers are rapidly waking up to these advantages with a host of new multi-residential projects incorporating intelligent lighting controls. “People are starting to see that the cost difference for these systems isn’t actually that great” he says. “Particularly as it’s not a cost on top of your existing building infrastructure, it’s a cost instead of, and only 15-20% more at most”. The other burning issues in lighting at the moment are those feisty little bulbs, the increasingly ubiquitous Light Emitting
Diode, or LED. At first they were indicator lights on electronic and mechanical equipment, then they became decorative lights, then they started to progress into automotive indicators and brake lights, shortly after they were in our televisions and computer screens, then traffic lights, now they’re replacing conventional down lights and even street lamps. LEDs offer a host of advantages over incandescent light sources including lower energy consumption, lower heat output, longer lifecycles, improved robustness, smaller size, faster switching, and greater durability and reliability. Because of their solid state nature, LEDs are subject to very limited wear and tear when used at low currents and at low temperatures. Typically lifecycles are quoted at 25,000-100,000 hours (though heat and current settings can extend or shorten this significantly). Perhaps the clearest indicator of their longevity lies in the fact that many LEDs manufactured back in the 1970s and 1980s are still in service today. LEDs have another great advantage going for them too, buzz. “With the help of measures such as Green Star, NABERS and the like, there is now a greatly increased awareness of the importance of energy saving lighting, and of the potential that lies in LEDs” explains Castles, “This can be quite challenging though, due to the variance in quality of the LEDs out there. We see all too often a person purchasing a pallet of LEDs from China only to find out that they don’t dim and have limited output. So it has become particularly important to bring someone in who can ensure you have the right LED fittings.You really need an expert involved to be able to put together an LED package with the right control gear”. “Ensuring the LEDs you source are of adequate quality is one of the biggest issues out there at the moment” adds Lumenec Managing Director, Andrew Gibson. “For example, we have a new LED product that exceeds the output of a 50w halogen lamp whilst maintaining the same level of light quality; there are many companies out there offering products that claim to replace 50w halogens,
but don’t actually have the output and uniformity. It’s a genuine problem right now and is largely coming from people bringing in cheaper products from China and selling them on”. So although lighting can offer an affordable path to improving your energy efficiency, if you get things wrong the first time by sourcing an inadequate product – you can potentially lose that cost advantage entirely. “The promise of LEDs lies in their capacity to offer significant energy savings” Gibson adds. “Initially those savings were compared to incandescent lamps. But we’re now finding LEDs to surpass even quite efficient systems such as fluorescents”. So LEDs bring several things to the table, the first is energy savings; “We don’t want to just throw figures out there,” Gibson says, “but when moving from old incandescent GLS lamps to LED fixtures, there’s the potential to save up to 90% of your energy usage. Though again this can vary wildly depending on the quality of the products used”. The second is extremely long life, though again Gibson warns of how dependent this is on the quality of the LEDs used. “The simple fact is you can’t just expect to go into a shop and buy an LED fixture that will offer both long life and high efficiency – there’s simply too much discrepancy in the quality of products out there” he says. Beyond the advantage of being energy efficient in and of themselves, LEDs’ can offer follow-through efficiencies as well. Because they don’t heat up a wire in order to generate light, they radiate very little heat, (reaching around 60 degrees compared to 350 degrees with other lamp types). And because they keep heat down, they can offer big savings in air conditioning costs - which are generally one of the largest operational costs of running a building. “Like any innovation, there are still a lot of issues and a lot of learning to be done” Castles concludes. But the future looks brighter for lighting this bigger Australia we now live in, and the good thing is it should cost us less too.
Sustainability or Ecology Does it Matter? Is there an environmental crisis? If so, just how bad is it? Experts and the media seem divided on this and many of us are probably confused about exactly where we stand. Are the recent weather extremes and natural disasters evidence of climate change? Are we headed for inevitable doom? To be honest, we simply don’t know. What we do know is that small changes can affect the climate quite dramatically. And, the amount of CO2 we are emitting into the atmosphere is not helping us. We also know that our modern society, which now includes Asia as well as Europe, Australasia and North America – and will soon become truly global as South America and Africa get on board – is not sustainable. And climate change or not, if we want to ensure our children and grandchildren’s inheritance, this needs to change. The key to approaching this sustainability, is to recognise the fact that we are part of the earth’s ecology. When I first began my research into this subject, I was asking: why don’t ecologists study the built environment as part of natural ecology? And conversely, why don’t architects and other building professionals study natural ecology? Fortunately the situation has improved since then. People now think in terms of urban and human ecology, and building professionals are now adopting ecological ideas. So what are the key findings when we look at our built environment as an ecosystem? Well firstly, there is no ‘shortage of energy’. Indeed we get enough energy from the sun alone, to support the entirety of human civilisation more than five thousand times over. Climate is also a product of the sun’s energy, involving the atmosphere, the earth’s topology, planetary movement and the universe. An ecological perspective reveals that, in fact, the energy budget 14 | www.awardmagazine.com.au
of our planet is already well in balance. However the impact our quest for energy has on the environment doesn’t lie solely in our CO2 production. Depending on the scale of our intervention, we can have other impacts on the ecosystem that are just as destructive. Secondly, we need to conserve biodiversity and enlarge the natural resources of our planet. Ecosystems survive through interdependency. The various species that inhabit any particular ecosystem depend on each other in an intricate food and resources web. Each ecosystem depends on its neighbouring ecosystem. Even the planet earth, as an ecosystem, depends on the larger ecosystem of the universe to survive. It is not just those species that are useful to us that we need. We depend on the entire ecosystem in all its richness for our survival. Thirdly, and most relevant to the building industry, we need to redesign or restructure our built environment to better fit the earth’s ecology; and how we go about this is the challenge ahead. It demands that we conceptualise our built environment as an ecosystem. For one thing, we have to recycle our waste. This is already widely recognised, but has to be taken to the realm of ecological recycling – where our “waste products” become resources, or at the very least, are benign to the environment. This requires integrating human processes with nature, such as using constructed wetlands to clean our wastewater and help ensure healthy streams and rivers. We also need to look at recycling our natural resources as part of the global ecosystem. In today’s global economy,
important minerals and resources are often exported to foreign places, but do not find their way back. Which raises the question of whether we need to replenish these resources locally, and if so, how? Another necessity is dramatically reducing our ecological footprint. Currently, mankind requires about 1.5 earths to replenish our global consumption; so our ecological footprint must be reduced to a more proportionate share of the environment. Fortunately this may not be as difficult as it first appears, it requires us to look at the process of recycling in greater detail and not just worry about reducing our consumption to prehistoric levels. The positive result is that a more ecological society is one more in harmony with nature. Such a society has rich historical precedence. Many religions and cultures enshrine this in their teachings and value systems. Enriching our symbiotic relationship with nature will both improve human wellness and enhance psychological health. An ecological society is better for both us and the environment. A key feature of evolution is that it never repeats itself. The demise of the dinosaurs did not result in the evolution of another dinosaur species, but rather an intelligent mammal who can actually intervene in the processes of ecology and evolution around him. Whether we will do so to our benefit or our demise remains to be seen.
Dr. Ong Boon Lay Faculty of Architecture, Building & Planning The University of Melbourne
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Construction Starts NEW SOUTH WALES/AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY Q2/2011 is shaping up to be a strong quarter for NSW/ACT with $4.4 billion of work commencing. This is slightly down from the previous quarter ($4.6 billion) and slightly above the same period last year ($4.3 billion). Interestingly, the first and second quarters traditionally experience a boost in construction starts after the slow summer months. 2011 work however is expected to experience a steady decrease each quarter. Moreover the next pick-up is not expected until Q2/2012 and this looks to be only slight. At the moment, figures for this period are based on the long term plans and intentions of stakeholders and it is likely that some projects will not make it to construction by the end of the year, resulting in the usual bunching at the end of the pipeline. Some of the major projects expected to start construction in 2011 are Barangaroo in Sydney and the new suburb of Cobaki on the far north coast.
QUEENSLAND/NORTHERN TERRITORY Since Q3/2009, the QLD/NT sector has struggled with construction levels falling far below the peaks they reached when stimulus projects were streaming through the pipeline. The beginning of the 2011/2012 financial year is predicted to be far more promising, with Q2/2011 providing around $4.4 billion of work including the Ella Bay Seaside Village in Innisfail and new accommodation at the Royal Darwin Hospital. Q3/2011 is expected to see only a small drop with a construction value of $4.2 billion, but this quarter may 16 | www.awardmagazine.com.au
absorb a few more projects which get held back around the middle of the year. Propped up by the rebuild and remediation work following the floods in Queensland, the quarter will be dominated by large-scale infrastructure projects such as the Alpha Coal Project which includes a new railway and port. The drop at the end of 2011 is likely to be a serious one with $1.8 billion less work commencing. If the mining and infrastructure spending continue there should be improvement in Q1 and Q2/2012.
VICTORIA/TASMANIA Unlike NSW and QLD, the VIC/TAS sector had its 2009 peak a little later, in Q4/2009. Despite the inevitable drop moving into 2010, VIC/ TAS have remained a strong performer barely falling below $3 billion per quarter. After years of delay and controversy, the Gunns Pulp Mill is hoped to start construction in Q3/2011 and will provide an unprecedented amount of work in Tasmania. If the Parkville Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Melbourne goes ahead, Q3/2011 will be a very strong period for the VIC/TAS sector. With this robust start, the 2011/2012 financial year looks to be setting the trend for the other eastern states as private and public funding brings in $14.6 billion of construction work.
SOUTH AUSTRALIA 2010 was a year dominated by fluctuations for the SA market which is small enough to be dominated by a minority of major projects. At its lowest point in Q3/2010 only $572 million work commenced but by Q1/2011 a healthy $1.7 billion work was underway. Overall 2011 should be very positive for SA, especially
Q2 and Q4, with the commencement of significant new residential developments in Buckland Park and Murray Bridge in the middle of the year, followed by the Penola Pulp Mill starting in December. That said, there has not been enough work going through planning at the moment to keep 2012 construction levels up to the same level and unless more projects are put through we can only expect $1.2 billion in Q1/2012, and in Q2/2012 the SA market may only see $1.3 billion of construction – half of what we are seeing this year.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA Similar to VIC/TAS, the WA sector experienced a quiet 2010 totaling only $5.8 billion following a peak in Q4/2009 of $4.1 billion. 2011 started strong as parts of the offshore Gorgon project started construction, and other oil, gas and mining projects forged ahead. It wasn’t only the resources sector prospering either, as health projects such as the Albany Health Campus and the Queen Elizabeth II Research Centre commenced. Over the next two quarters a drop-off is expected reaching a low of $1.9 billion invested in Q3/2011 but this precedes a leap in Q4/2011. With developers pushing their multibillion dollar projects to start before the end of the year, such as Brockman’s Marillana iron ore mine and Murchison Metal’s Okajee Deepwater port, we are predicting around $3.7 billion of work commencing.
By Stephanie Bray BCI Australia
A SUSTAINABLE FOOTING Ecolabelled Flooring The building industry is one of the driving forces in the Australian economy. Clearly then, driving the sustainability agenda through building materials is an essential part of achieving environmentally preferable outcomes for Australia. Facilities managers play an important role in this system, and can wield significant purchasing power in the procurement of products and services. On the path to sustainability, your choice of flooring for example can, literally, help pave the way towards a greener future and better business. Every built environment needs flooring. Abundant opportunities for creative solutions exist within multiresidential, commercial, government, sporting, community, health, home and scientific spaces. Sustainable flooring solutions can be found that satisfy the essential needs of cost efficiency and functionality as well as hitting the trifecta of durability, beauty and sustainability.
The Role of Ecolabels Today, more and more people are interested in the environmental impact of their purchases. Sustainable and ethical purchasing in the consumer market has gained popularity through ecolabels such as Fair Trade and Certified Organic which are now well-recognised labels. The business world has also begun adopting sustainable and ethical procurement practices as more evidence that sustainable supply chains are pivotal 18 | www.awardmagazine.com.au
to transitioning to a healthier, happier, greener world. As they are so extensively used, flooring products have the potential to make a considerable contribution to the reduction of environmental harm in built environments not only in how they are manufactured but in how they perform once installed and at the end of their useful life. But how do you know which flooring products are environmentally preferable and why? Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) promotes sustainable production and consumption through its national, independent, not-forprofit ecolabelling program. The Environmental Choice Australia Ecolabel program provides both the community and commercial markets with an environmental mark of recognition for a wide range of products and services. GECA certified products and services are readily identifiable as they carry the Environmental Choice Australia ecolabel, shown below. GECA and its licensees use this mark to assist product specifiers and purchasers looking to make good environmental choices in product selection. It gives a clear signal, is readily recognisable, and provides people with an assurance that – through a process of independent assessment and verification – the product labelled can genuinely claim to deliver better environmental outcomes. The Ecolabel is awarded to products that meet GECA’s clear voluntary environmental performance standards.
They are developed in accordance with ISO 14024 and are based on international best practice. GECA also draws on the standards developed by its many Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN) partners. GEN members establish minimum environmental performance criteria for a product or service across different phases of a product’s life cycle (for example sourcing, manufacture, use and disposal). These standards aim to encourage and recognise environmental benefits in avoiding hazardous chemicals, conserving resources, minimising waste for landfill, and encouraging the use of environmentally preferable materials. Where possible, data from life cycle assessments are used to inform standard criteria.
Impacts and Considerations The environmental impact of floor covering products primarily arises from the different types of raw materials used, products for installation and surface treatment, and from the energy used during manufacturing. In addition, environmental impacts can occur during use and maintenance and when the floor covering reaches the end of its useful life and becomes waste to be recycled, reused, reprocessed or otherwise disposed of. The GECA 25-2011 v2 Floor Coverings Standard identifies the key environmental loads of floor coverings. The standard is applicable to a range of floor coverings and carpet underlays that are applied to a foundation of concrete or wooden beams and are not part of the building structure. This includes floor covering such as:
parquet, wooden planks, engineered wood products, linoleum, bamboo, cork, rubber and vinyl. The specific requirements of the standard address product performance, material content, emissions during production and postinstallation, resource efficiency and responsible disposal. GECA currently has the choice of 10 licensees certified under their rigorous Floor Coverings Standard which include products such as carpet underlays and rubber flooring that utilises postindustrial recycled content, preventing it from ending up in landfill.
The New Standards for Flooring Options The GECA standard on floor coverings recently underwent a major review process. In March the final version of GECA 25-2011 v2 Floor Coverings was released. This is the fourth in a series of five standards that have been revised and finalised following recognition in 2010 by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) under its program of Green Star Product certification Schemes. Now ready for auditing, GECA 25-2011 v2 Floor Coverings replaces the GECA 25-2010 draft and its predecessor, GECA 25-2005 Floor Coverings. Changes have been made to the criteria for material efficiency and the scope of the Standard broadened to reflect new market needs. The primary purpose of this standard is still to define environmental product criteria for the most harmful environmental and human hazards of
flooring and to use these criteria as indicators of the general environmental performance of the product. For a complete environmental solution, customers are able to combine a certified flooring solution with a certified adhesive to ensure that environmental gains made by choosing an environmentally preferable flooring product are not lost by using a highly toxic adhesive, which is a scenario that often occurs. Similarly, an environmentally preferable carpet can be matched to an underlay with similar environmental performance. The wide range of standards now available, allow for a ‘one-stop-shop’ for choosing environmentally responsible flooring. It is important to note that flooring coverings addressed by this standard do not include carpets. All carpets are covered by the new GECA 50-2010 Carpets Standard (previously there were 3 separate carpet standards which have been amalgamated into one) as the environmental impacts of carpets and opportunities for reducing environmental impact vary from floor coverings in the way in which they are made and used. Carpeting generally means fibres, which requires land clearing, water consumption and pesticide use for raising sheep or growing fibre crops. Production processes for synthetic fibres and backing can generate air and water emissions, and may use harmful chemicals. These activities have their own environmental impacts as well as a whole host of flow on issues. Of course, other flooring surfaces can have their own environmental impacts
so choosing your product carefully can mean mitigating and minimising your impact.
Sustainable Futures Hard surface flooring is often more durable, longer lasting and can therefore lead to less churn, one of the biggest causes of construction waste in this country. Facilities managers are likely to prefer flooring which employs sustainable materials and processes in manufacture and throughout the useful life of the product to gain benefits like easier cleaning, lower general maintenance and ultimate removal. Whether you want carpet or a nonfibrous or other long-lasting material for your floors, choosing an alternative that is demonstrably environmentally preferable is becoming easier and much more popular among procurement officers and consumers. And with the help of ecolabels sourcing a product that you can trust to be environmentally preferable is even easier: the ecolabel relieves you of time-consuming assessments and comparisons of the specifications of alternative products, and assures you and your clients that you have made the right choice for the project and the environment.
Judy Hollingworth Good Environmental Choice Australia | 19
Sustainable ForestS Kayt Watts Chief Executive Officer, Australian Forestry Standard Limited
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and the certification of our forests is the first link in their chain of custody (CoC). This old adage is true both for the forestry industry in Australia and around the world, especially today as consumers and professionals, such as architects and builders, are becoming both more informed and more concerned about the environmental impact of the goods they buy. Sustainable and responsible forestry management involves every step taken to produce wood and wood products; whether you’re dealing with building materials, office paper, toilet paper, packaging, furniture or other consumer goods. It covers the entire range of factors involved in the environmental impact of wood materials, including how they are produced, processed, manufactured, transported, distributed and transformed; and requires a chain of custody to ensure that every link is properly certified. As a result, best practice forestry management is growing increasingly more important, particularly CoC certification and labelling, which offer the only way to trace a product back to its raw source. Without standards, everything else is self-declaration and provides consumers with no proof on whether illegal materials have been bought into the mix. This undermines both consumer confidence, and support for authoritative and accurate statements on forestry management.
Sustainable Forest Management There are two globally dominant certification systems for sustainable forest management: the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC). PEFC is an international framework which recognises and endorses national schemes if they set standards which meet these requirements. It follows the best practice standards of how to set standards and how to organise conformance - as laid down by the International Organization of Standards and the International Accreditation Forum. The FSC system cannot comply with those best practice arrangements, as the organisation operates by majority vote and its NGOs outnumber its commercial entities. As a result some criteria (such as those to protect High Conservation Value Forests) are not prescriptive and do 20 | www.awardmagazine.com.au
not have objective indicators. Globally PEFC certification covers around 230 million hectares of forest and FSC certifies around 135 million hectares. By opting for the wrong certification system or for exclusive approaches to forest certification, companies can inadvertently find themselves party to public environmental campaigns on issues not directly related to their business.
How do AFS and FSC compare? There is much confusion, about the differences between The Australian Standard for Forest Management (AFS), the FSC certification, and their respective merits. In essence they derive from very similar frameworks of sustainable forest management, cover essentially the same concepts and are committed to the same end. The AFSL has developed two Australian Standards that are endorsed by PEFC, and FSC has been developed as an international standard, however, FSC has to be ‘interpreted’ for local implementation and requires the development of regional standards to reflect global variation in biophysical and socio-economic contexts, which naturally reduces the standard’s uniformity. Both systems approach regional flexibility and global consistency from different directions, but to the same end. With all this in mind, it is important for forest certification schemes to be viewed within their respective political contexts. For example PEFC/AFS provides forestry certification as an instrument for business to pursue responsible business practices and promote sustainable forest management. Its certification processes are independent and its standard setting is not dictated by the agenda of member organisations. FSC governance structure allows the organisation and its members to control policy throughout all stages. Standards are developed and amended internally; certification is performed by bodies accredited by FSC; and membership is dominated by loosely defined environmental and social organisations. This process reflects the ideological aim of key NGO founders of FSC, and allows the organisation to be used as an instrument for environmental campaigning. This can, at times, permit the political agenda of member organisations to interfere with its standards, and as such, sometimes reflect political aspirations rather than scientificallybased sustainable forest management.
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Close to the Heart: The elm Apartments By Mark Kenfield
As Australia’s population continues to grow, the question of how we house people becomes increasingly more important.
Location, as always, is still king. But it does raise the question of how we can and should approach multi-residential housing in this new, bigger Australia. Which brings us to the recently completed elm Apartments. Located on the site of the former Channel 7 studios, just south of Melbourne’s CBD and opposite the Royal Botanic Gardens – from whose beautiful elm trees it draws its name – the 22-storey residential tower; developed by Fridcorp, designed by architects Elenberg Fraser and interior designers Hecker Guthrie, and built by Hickory; comprises commercial space and entry lobby 22 | www.awardmagazine.com.au
on ground floor; 4 levels of above ground car parking; and a transfer floor on level 5 – incorporating a series of recreational spaces complete with a gym, pool, spas and barbeque facilities – that kicks off the tower’s 17 floors of apartments, 286 in all. Fridcorp’s focus is on affordable luxury; they bought the site with an existing planning permit, however the design was revised to in order to improve ceiling heights, car parking ratios, and reposition the building from a standard apartment building into a premium building. “We were looking to achieve a quality, high density apartment building with an integrity of design, efficiency of space, high level of finishes, and beautiful common areas that could be enjoyed by its residents, whilst still remaining price sensitive to other products in the competing market” explains Fridcorp
With our urban fringes already sprawling out miles and miles from the hearts of our cities, the call for higher-density housing close to the centre of the action is growing stronger and stronger.
Director, Nigel Givoni. “It was about creating quality apartments that would afford their residents the same level of amenity as high-end apartments on St. Kilda Road”.
Although only a couple of hundred metres from the botanic gardens, the site posed a fairly degraded industrial landscape that the project team had to work their way into. However being so close to St. Kilda Road and the Botanic Gardens, the team worked with the idea that elm would become part of that domain, so the focus shifted to using things like full-height windows to maximise views out to the gardens. This linkage to the gardens was also brought into The Elm through an integrated garden theme that runs throughout the entire building. There are gardens in the lobby and outdoor pool areas, an external garden wall on the Dorcas Street side, and vertical garden planter boxes that run the full height of the building to create a sense of the greenery being brought up into the sky.
Photos courtesy of Paul Wright
Project Profile: The Elm Apartments
Three beautifully detailed timber pavilions were installed around the swimming pool on level 5.
BELOW: Bronze sunshades work collectively to shield the building from solar heat gain.
Another inclusion to the landscaping was a group of three beautifully detailed timber pavilions called ‘the pods’, which were manufactured off site, brought in preassembled and installed around the swimming pool on level 5 with the tower crane.
Opening elm up to the surrounding environment so that residents would feel more connected to the Botanic Gardens, meant using full height windows to help bring the views into the apartments. However, often in apartment buildings solar heat gain issues can cause people to leave their window blinds down most of the time. With elm the developer really wanted to avoid this, so passive solar design has played a large part in helping the building manage its environmental conditions successfully. As the building has a large due-west facing wall, it was particularly important that the windows be very high-performance. “We ended up using a high-
performance low-emissivity double glazed unit, with a bronze tint” explains McGowan. The windows are reverse polarising, so although the glass appears bronze from the outside, it’s completely colour neutral from the inside. This neutrality simply wasn’t possible in the past, as the glass technology has only been developed over the last 5-6 years. The key advantage to it (beyond the performance factors) is that it prevents the light inside from being tinted orange, and keeps it a comfortable and natural tone.
and diversity, the sunlight catches each of the sunshades differently so as you approach it, the inert mass of what is still essentially 22-storeys of glass, steel and concrete, is softened and disguised.
“One of the big challenges we faced with this vertical landscaping was incorporating the external planter boxes” explains Hickory’s Project Manager Andrew McGowan. “We had to develop a system that would be both safe to install, as well as safe and easy to maintain in the event of plants requiring replacement. The actual execution was pretty challenging given their positioning, we couldn’t simply fill up the planter boxes with dirt 20 floors up in the air – so we came up with a modular system of pots that could be safely and easily substituted”.
The Devil’s in the Details
With any luxury apartment building, the devil is always going to be in the details. “There were some really challenging aspects to the fitout” explains McGowan, “Particularly having round showers in all of the apartments, a considerable amount of research and development had to
In combination with the doubleglazed windows, the building employs an innovative distributed sun shield made up of 300 individual panels, which work collectively to shield the building from the afternoon sun; this prevents the apartments from requiring constant air conditioning, and has the added benefit of reducing HVAC costs considerably. These bronze sun shades hang off the building like leaves on a tree, and because all of the sun shades are rotated in slightly different angles, each holds the light slightly differently. Beyond the more practical sun shading application of the panels, the design intent behind them was to help the building’s façade respond in more subtle and diverse ways to the light that hits it, in many ways like the leaves of the building’s namesake. This helps transform elm from a conventional, monolithic tower into something more softly textured. The sun shades provide a very subtle effect, but as you walk around the building they create a sense of change | 23
Project Profile: The Elm Apartments
“I think a major issue with the finishes generally, was that there was a lot of exacting detailing” he adds, “Full-height doors, lots of tiling on the floors, the detailing on the joinery – our tolerances were very stringent and we had to do a lot of preparation just to cater for the sheer volume of apartments we had to build”. The challenge with any fitout that is highly detailed is that everything has to line up perfectly. ”With elm, we simply didn’t have the tolerances in finishes that you normally get to work with” McGowan says. “So it was something that required constant attention throughout the job to make sure we got it right”.
The building’s structural work consists of “Reinforced concrete band beams and slab, and post-tensioning flat pates” explains Webber Design’s Andrew Woo, the project’s structural engineer. “The tower is supported off a transfer podium, RC columns and cores walls as well as an external/ internal precast shear wall system”.
“From a construction methodology, we faced a number of challenges due to the precast concrete in the façade being a shear wall, and very heavily reinforced in terms of the connections between the panels” adds McGowan. “So we did a lot of work with Webber Design on the grouter bar system, as our tolerances had to be quite exact in order for the grouter bar to fit. The benefit of this though, was that it allowed us to use a lot less grout on the connections, which was very important as we didn’t want to run the risk of grout spilling down the precast panels given that they formed the finished exterior façade, and feature an elm leaf pattern”. The construction also employed a new type of jump form system for the formwork, which required a considerable amount of focus to ensure things went smoothly given they were using the new system for the first time. “The jump form system used a new style of electrically controlled screw jack,” McGowan explains, “so the jacking process was controlled through a laptop, which made it a lot more precise and a lot more accurate”. The extra work was evidently worthwhile though as it provided for a more controlled climb of the formwork system.
go into finding the right products to line the showers, as they had to fit a really tight radius, be water-tight and allow the tiles to stick to them”.
The Heart of the Matter
The end result is a beautiful building, that provides high-density, high-rise housing that rethinks what an apartment can be; responding to the compression of space so that it maintains the functionality of a house in the space of an apartment. It involves ideas like looking at walls as never being walls, but bookshelves or storage with doors around them. It is about treating every element of an apartment as an object in space so that you can maximise functionality. It’s an increasingly popular way of approaching high-rise housing, and it’s vital to seeing higher-density living work in our growing nation. “The GFC and subsequent tightening of funding for large projects were our biggest challenges in seeing elm realised. However we believed wholeheartedly in the project and persevered with the new lending requirements to ensure that we could deliver it as we had intended” concludes Nigel Givoni. And it’s a good thing they did too, as in our increasingly bigger Australia; elm is precisely the type of building our cities should want to keep close to their hearts.
BELOW: Exacting details on the joinery and fittings creates a very high quality finish throughout elm.
24 | www.awardmagazine.com.au
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CREDITS Architect: HATZ Architects. Builder: Vleugel +. Window Fabricator: Bradford Glass and Aluminium. Photographer: David Yeow and Steve Hatzellis. | 25
More to Energy Savings Than Meets the Eye Most business-owners and facility managers recognise that reducing the energy consumption of their buildings can deliver substantial cost savings and contribute to favourable outcomes under the Building Code of Australia (BCA), Green Star program or NABERS scheme. Research shows that energy-efficient programs, of which lighting plays significant part, can result in energy/cost savings of up to 40% in a typical Australian office building. Lighting upgrades can provide returns on your investment as high as 50% over the lifecycle of a building. But achieving optimal energy/cost savings isn’t as simple as switching to new energy-efficient globes.
Why Change? Some excellent short-term and long-term cost savings can be attributed to using energy-efficient lighting. And the flow on effect of limiting our greenhouse gas emissions by reducing energy consumption helps lessen our general dependence on fossil fuels. If that doesn’t motivate you, with the introduction of Mandatory Disclosure, private companies wishing to sell their buildings with a net lettable space of more than 2,000m2 must now provide prospective buyers with a Building Energy Efficiency Certificate (BEEC), which comprises: a NABERS energy and water rating; tenancy lighting details; and energy efficiency guidance. Energy efficient lighting can help building owners achieve their desired NABERS rating and make their buildings more palatable to potential buyers and tenants.
A Holistic Approach The secret to success with an energy-efficient lighting installation isn’t always straight forward. For example, some companies ‘bite the bullet’ prematurely and replace a substantial number of their existing lamps with lower wattage compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and/or LEDs only to find that their new lighting levels are poor and disgruntled workers are using desk lamps and other lighting supplements to raise the lighting levels, negating most of the benefits of moving to energy efficient lamps in the first place. One trap in straight lamp replacement is the difference in spread pattern between lamps. For example, before changing a low voltage halogen 50W downlight with a low power LED downlight, always check that the light distribution for the LED is the same as the existing halogen lamp. If the LED has a much narrower beam the lighting effect in the area will be greatly reduced and probably cause the occupant some grief. Energy savings should never come at the expense of good lighting practice, which can cost you productivity. 26 | www.awardmagazine.com.au
Where to Start Before commencing any lighting replacement program, have a lighting audit of your premises conducted to determine: where your existing lamps can be replaced easily with energy-efficient types; where excessive lighting levels can be reduced; where lighting levels shouldn’t be altered; where fittings should be changed to deliver a better lighting solution; and how you can better utilise natural light. A good auditor will take a systems-based approach to new lighting schemes and may also help to identify further scope for savings in other areas, not just lighting.
Easy does it – fix the basics If budget constraints prevent you from tackling the entire lighting upgrade in one hit, start by addressing the lighting that can be easy to change. Where suitable, replace older technology incandescent lamps with newer, lower wattage CFLs for a saving of up to 80%, or older style halogen lamps with newer Infra Red Coated (IRC) lamp technology for savings of up to 30%. Simple solutions like cleaning the reflectors in your fluorescent housings can help increase your lighting levels for almost no cost at all. These can be incorporated into modern building management systems and can have manual override switches where necessary.
Measure and Verify The company conducting your lighting audit should not only come up with a more energy efficient lighting solution, but also provide you with a means of verifying your savings. Request that your supplier provide a measurement and verification (M&V) report that is set out in accordance with international performance guidelines. Access a copy of the AEPCA Best Practice Guide to M&V from the Energy Efficiency Council to learn more about this important step, as good M&V practice can bring savings of up to 30%.
Summary Always ensure that your consultant is fully aware of all the regulatory requirements for lighting including the Australian Standards – AS/NZS1680 for interior lighting, the BCA and the requirements of NABERS for commercial buildings and any other ‘star’ requirements. This will help maximise your saving outcomes and minimise potential risks.
By Jeff Salton, Siemens Australia
Foreign Imports Threaten Australian Industry Over the past few months it has become apparent that the industry may be under threat. While the country relies on import and export partners around the world to promote trade, the negative effects of these exchanges have come to light. Industry companies are facing price cuts and job losses due to the major issue of cheaper trade options. In the major report by the ABC for the 7.30 report ‘Cheap Imports Costing Jobs’, the issue of foreign imports was investigated in its association to Australian construction companies. The report highlighted several industry areas that have proven to be suffering from this, both in terms of monetary loss, and consequential sackings. Issues have risen to a head this year as the industry has seen progressively more aggressive appearances of cheaper foreign materials on the Australian market. These competition materials, largely from China in most cases, are argued to be priced too low for positive competition. This practice of under pricing foreign goods has been labeled as “dumping”. In response to this, many companies have gone to great lengths in their endorsement of free trade and have been momentous in promoting anti-dumping campaigns. As it stands, an anti-dumping tax is added to any products or materials that enter the country lower than what is considered to be ‘below market value’. The ABC report stated if these products or materials were found, a tax of 6% would be added to their value. While this may seem like strong government action, Australia is in fact home to some of the world’s most lenient anti-dumping laws. The Australian Workers’ Union have been at the helm of anti-dumping 28 | www.awardmagazine.com.au
campaigns and believe that the cheap import of products is killing the industry. In an online statement they explain their stance. “The sustainability of Australia’s manufacturing sector is under threat, the union warns and calls on the Australian Government to help local industry by adopting a strict ‘rule of law’ approach to illegal trade practices” they said. For the union, the solution is simple. In a statement from a senate inquiry taken from their official site, they explain just what needs to be done for Australia to truly be considered as a free-trade country. “Australia's commitment to a global free trade regime should be on the basis that all our trading partners consistently apply World Trade Organisation (WTO) trade laws and regulations” they said. The Unions are not alone in backing these sentiments. Independent senator Nick Xenophon is backing antidumping campaigns due to their negative effects on Australian jobs. In his statement to the ABC, Mr. Xenophon emphasised that the most important aspect when considering anti-dumping campaigns is the protection of Australian jobs. “We need to change the rules so that the rules are fairer for Australian manufacturers and ultimately Australian jobs” Mr. Xenophon said. Although there is strong support for greater penalties for cheap foreign products, there are critics of the
anti-dumping scheme. ANU enterprise economist Greg Cutbush spoke to the ABC for the their report. “Basically, they’re anti-competitive” said Mr. Cutbush. While there is an argument for anti-competition, many other industry companies feel that healthy competition ends when there are major Australian job losses. With Australia creating stronger ties through trade with China last week at the Australia-Chinese business forum in Beijing, it is clear that both countries will play major roles in trade over the coming years. Vice Premier Li Keqiang has made it clear that China is aiming for a greater presence in Australian construction in the future and will be moving forth with infrastructure initiatives in the country. In the meantime companies are simply moving forward with new initiatives in order to compete. These include promotion based on Australian Made loyalty and an emphasis on quality over cheaper prices. While the presence of Chinese materials and initiatives is not an issue for most industry companies, they are however pushing for fair trade. This means Chinese labour and materials at an equivalent Australian market value, and fair reprimand for those that aren’t. With China making its presence more apparent in the country over the next few years; it seems only logical, and for the good of the Australian industry, that these sentiments ring true.
By Emily D’Alterio
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The Legal ImplicationS: Multi-Residential Development Jim Doyle Doyles Construction Lawyers The rapid growth in medium and high density developments in recent years has seen an explosion in the number of multi-residential dwellings around Australian cities and suburbs. As local governments and developers react to the needs of an expanding population and changing lifestyle preferences, it is essential to be mindful of the legal implications posed by these multiresidential developments. The construction of any building is an exercise in confidence and an investment in the future; and although it is a process prone to error, on average Australian buildings are delivered to a high standard. However, while the BCA and a myriad of statutory regulations allow for some measure of security, due care must be undertaken by all of the parties to any multi-residential project. This issue is compounded with the expedited construction of multi-residential buildings, where seemingly minor errors during development and construction can potentially lead to major defects over the lifecycle of a building. And such defects hold the potential to open the doors to litigation and damages down the track. It is worth noting that the statute of limitations on building defects is six years, and that it begins to run at different times for different aspects. For contracts it runs from the time of the breach – usually at the latest on practical completion – but for negligence and misleading conduct (under the new warranties of the Consumer Protection Legislation) it runs from the time that damage is first reasonably manifest, which is often a point of later contention. Particularly in multi-residential developments – where facilities 30 | www.awardmagazine.com.au
and services are shared by multiple residents – any damage to property or economic loss caused as a result of a building defect can result in litigation, as the rapid depreciation in value of a large number of units will quickly justify litigation. For this reason builders and developers must exercise all reasonable care in creating safe and functioning environments for their residents, and implement failsafe systems to help avoid later difficulties. Recent legislation, at the behest of insurers, has added an extra layer of complexity to all this. The legislation changes the common law position that a person who is a joint tort feasor will be liable for the whole of the claim if their partners can’t pay their share of the loss. It is important then, for the parties to establish their separate liabilities in the event of an apportionable claim (which is, broadly, a claim for economic loss which includes most defects). Added to this, there is also an opportunity to contract expressly, or by implication, out of the apportionment legislation, which adds yet another layer of complexity and risk to the mix. The long lead time for defects to reveal themselves also poses additional problems in the determination of liable parties. Defects in newly constructed buildings can remain dormant for many years and are often not easily detected. By the time a trial judge can reach a calculation of the losses, many of the original parties may have long been wound up, solvently or otherwise, and many witnesses may not be able to either be found or remember. In multi-residential developments where numerous professionals, contractor s, supplier s and subcontractors are involved in
decisions such as material choices or construction methodologies – and even more are involved in maintaining the facilities – it can be difficult to identify the liable parties in the event of a complex defect. Engineers, architects, developers, contractors as well as regulatory bodies all have a potential role in determining the construction and maintenance of the development, and it is important that the scope of liabilities are clearly clarified in the arrangements made between parties. This is closely related to the duty of maintenance required for multi-residential buildings, and it is important that relevant expectations of the construction operatives are clearly specified and achieved by regular maintenance. For instance, it is incongruous to lay claims of negligence against the architect or engineer for minor features when they could have been regularly maintained by the owner for a nominal annual cost. So you can see how important it is to be aware of the benefits of maintaining clear and complete records of all aspects of the design, construction and maintenance of multi-residential developments, in order to be able to fairly and efficiently allocate rectification costs at a later date.
Keeping Covered: FaCade Coating Systems Optimising the lifecycle cost and impact of masonry construction in both economic and environmental terms requires a balanced approach not only to the design and construct element but also to its protection and preservation. Increasingly however, the critical approach taken at the project design phase is potentially eroded when scheduling and budgets prevail and without effective systems to ensure that design intent is maintained through the multilayered Developer-ContractorSubcontractor relationships that prevail in the selection and installation of coating or finishing systems.
mortar residential home, the need for finishing systems that meet the longterm demands of the building and its occupants are paramount to optimising the total lifecycle efficiency of the project. In order to keep pace with these innovations, coating systems have evolved to meet both the challenge of construction innovation and design efficiency.
Concrete and Masonry has stood the test of time and has a history of self preservation and strength dating back to times when building was more an art form than a science and tolerances were immense. Fast forward to today where building is a business and the reliance on “just in time” and reduced tolerances play a large part in projects’ profit margins. Innovation is the lifeblood of the building industry, and construction techniques together with material design are continuously evolving to meet (and forecast) projects’ needs and to differentiate products and services with ‘sustainability’ as a core element. With innovation however comes a responsibility to address not only current needs, but to also respect the lessons and experience of the past. However with ‘Innovation’ often being used to satisfy the overriding demand for lower costs, the risk of it also being used to excuse due diligence is a genuine concern. Coating systems for Concrete and Masonry traditionally perform two functions – Decoration and Protection. Whether the project is a multi-storey steel reinforced concrete structure, an innovative lightweight panel construction, or a traditional bricks and
occur in cement and render. Fast forward to today and after decades of positive performance from acrylic textures we are at risk of becoming complacent on the lessons of the past. Architectural trends are seeing more ‘rendered’ facades in both the commercial and residential sectors and acrylic texture options now include flexible trowel applied coatings that deliver proven performance that still provide the look of traditional rendered surfaces. It’s critical in specifying such finishes to understand the performance the industry has come to rely on is delivered through ‘flexible acrylic texture’ and not to genericise with specification clauses such as “rendered façade” or “coloured render” which can allow lower-quality painted render systems to be misrepresented as performance systems. The demands on construction specifiers and supervisors have never been more important, they require support from key industry stakeholders and an approach through the design and specification cycle that provides clear performance-based criteria, and construction partnerships with proven track records in supply and installation.
Or at least in design they have, in practice it’s largely a matter of project specification and contract management. According to Dulux AcraTex’s Ian Schultz, the most critical element in any coating system specification is understanding the lessons of the past, not becoming complacent, and allowing specifications to erode on the basis of lower initial cost or short term benefits. Inherently cement remains a strong but rigid material that requires specific attention for long term preservation. Through the 1970s the evolution of what we now term “Acrylic Textures” occurred to meet the deficiencies of rigid sand and cement (render & paint systems). High build elastomeric textures were developed to cover and maintain a continuous weatherproofing barrier over cracks which naturally occur and still
Coating technologies are currently available that can provide a project with true sustainability in the form of long service life performance, which ultimately takes you well past the initial pros of “Low VOC” or “Environmentally Friendly” and into the material cost savings that a long lifecycle provides. Concrete and cement render are dynamic building materials that require high build, flexible acrylic texture systems for long term durability. A shift ‘back to the future’ where painted cement render reemerges; whether it comes through a lack of education at a specifier level, or through the push for short term cost saving; will limit the ultimate service life of projects, and balloon both their lifecycle costs and their environmental footprints.
By Emily Dane | 31
A Danish survey, for instance, found that people who lived a greater distance from publicly accessible green spaces, and who had less access to private or shared gardens, were more likely to be overweight or obese, and experienced higher levels of stress.
as Synergy, achieved a Platinum rating - the highest possible under the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating tool for its sustainable design. The second phase, Balance, is also targeting LEED Platinum.
Home is Where the Heart is Healthy
Another study conducted in Zurich showed that five-yearold children who could not access outdoor play areas unsupervised displayed poorer social behaviours, less well-developed motor skills and had fewer playmates than their counterparts with better access to the outdoors. The mountains of evidence-based research we now have confirms what we’ve known instinctively for millennia: that green spaces are places of relaxation, respite and refuge. Centuries of literature documents the calming affects of pastoral landscapes, meadows and gardens. The Chinese Taoists believed gardens and greenhouses were beneficial to the health more than 2000 years ago. In 1699, The English Gardener, advised readers to spend “spare time in the garden, digging, setting out, or weeding; there is no better way to preserve your health”. Enlightened developers understand that people need green space – from rooftop gardens to open parkland – for their health and wellbeing. Take Dockside Green in Victoria, Canada, for instance. Sure, this large-scale project incorporates a variety of high-tech green features such as wind turbines, green roofs and solar power. The residential developments include energy-saving appliances, heat recovery ventilators, and double-glazed windows. A centralised biomass gasification plant converts waste wood, such as tree clippings, into a gas that provides hot water and heat, and which enables Dockside Green to be carbon neutral or even carbon positive. However, it’s not Dockside Green’s high-tech ecofeatures that have people lining up to live there. Speaking at the Green Cities 2011 conference in Melbourne in February, the co-developer of Dockside Green and now part of Lend Lease’s Sustainability Leadership team, Joe Van Belleghem, said that what attracted people to the residential developments was the open spaces and community facilities available at their doorsteps. Dockside Green encourages alternative methods of transportation to reduce the impact of car ownership and use. Some of these measures include a residential car-pooling program, the provision of bicycle racks and showers for those commuting to the development’s commercial areas, and the connection of the development to a regional cycling trail. The first phase of the residential development, known 32 | www.awardmagazine.com.au
Similarly, we now have a number of ‘bricks-and-mortar’ examples of green living in Australia. The Lilyfield Housing Redevelopment in Sydney was awarded a 5 Star Green Star – Multi Unit Residential rating in 2009. Housing NSW invested in environmentallysustainable initiatives such as gas-boosted solar hot water systems, 267 square metres of solar panels and a 4 kilowatt photovoltaic system to power common area lighting. The gas-boosted hot water system caters for 60 per cent of hot water consumption and delivers annual savings of $19,000 - or $213 per unit - meaning the annual electricity bill for households will decrease by 25 per cent. The Lilyfield Housing Redevelopment not only incorporates environmentally-sustainable design features to improve the building’s energy and water efficiency, but also includes green initiatives to foster community and healthy living among residents. The building design features a large central courtyard, providing tenants with a secure and private open space. The communal garden facilities have been designed to enhance the residents’ sense of community, as well as provide them with the opportunity to grow their own fresh vegetables and reduce the carbon mileage accumulated through the mass transportation of produce. Another residential building to achieve Green Star certification, this time a luxury tower located on prime water frontage, is Convesso at 8 Waterside Place in Melbourne. Convesso’s outdoor spaces have been designed with liveability and wellbeing in mind. Balconies are inset to create ‘outdoor rooms’, while the landscaped, north-facing gardens can be used for both passive and active recreation and encourage a sense of community. A flexi-car system and good connections to nearby public transport will help encourage people to do away with their cars all together. While the Green Star tool for residential developments has been slow to take off, we are starting to see greater traction. With 20 residential projects now registered to achieve Green Star ratings, we can expect green living to move from boutique to mainstream as people recognise that home is where the heart is healthy.
Tony Arnel Chairman Green Building Council of Australia
Sector Analysis Multi-Residential
By Michelle Aizenberg, NSW Research Manager BCI Australia
Construction patterns fluctuate greatly, it’s in their nature. The market shifts according to the season, to property prices, environmental factors, interest rates, government land releases, national financial stability, public funding, all manner of factors can affect its ebb and flow. Some of these factors can be anticipated and preparations made, but the economy and the environment will always throw up surprises. The surest indicators of upcoming construction work are projects in their early planning stages. Inevitably there are always some projects which never eventuate; but the majority still find their way through the pipeline of financing, feasibility, design and approvals before they emerge in all their constructed glory. Inspection of early stage projects offers the opportunity for early involvement or tracking of particular projects, and helps to provide an overall picture of the construction market down the road.
From Early Planning In late 2009, every state experienced an unprecedented construction boom. Whilst many high-profile private developments were still deferred or abandoned due to post-GFC credit deficiencies, the federal government was pouring money into infrastructure - and it had to be built fast. The most prolific (and controversial) stimulus went to education projects under the Building the Education Revolution (BER) scheme. Another beneficiary of stimulus measures was the residential sector which saw over $5 billion worth of funding allocated for jointly developing 20,000 new social housing units.
CONCEPT & DESIGN STAGE RESIDENTIAL PROJECTS In the graph above, the Q2/2009 spike reflects the rush to get designs and approvals after the February 2009 funding announcement, and in Q3/2009 we saw a flood of residential construction commencing valued at over $2 billion. Since the government’s residential funding returned to normal levels, there has been a steady amount of work fed into the pipeline. By Q2/2010, $5.076 billion of work was in the early development stages including large-scale residential developments in Rocky Springs, Queensland and as part of the West Dapto Land Release in New South Wales. With the most upcoming work by far, Victoria saw the progression of new suburb Aurora with 8500 residential lots as well as opulent new 34 | www.awardmagazine.com.au
apartments in Melbourne’s Docklands. Q3/2010 had slightly less work in progress but with the start of the new financial year, it experienced a boom in residential planning. 2011 has started strong with $5.234 billion of construction in the beginning of the pipeline.
Expected Commencements Construction projects progress at different paces according to their size and scale, location, the approvals they require, financing available and marketing success. But unexpected factors can also come into play, such as the floods in Queensland and Victoria. The disaster’s financial impact was devastating for some developers, causing significant delays and abandonments, yet at the same time new projects – particularly infrastructure and emergency housing – quickly arose, and have already commenced construction.
RESIDENTIAL PROJECTS OUTLOOK So much residential construction was undertaken during the stimulus-fueled Q3/2009 that a disconcerting drop appeared in Q4/2009. The construction industry has proved its ability to withstand wider economic pressures by continuing to grow since federal funding retracted - with the residential sector grew every quarter since. Peaking in Q1/2011 with $2 billion of work commencing thanks to major projects such as the $450 million Art on the Park apartments in Melbourne, and the $225 million Karratha High Rise in Western Australia. There was a slight dip in Q2/2011 to $1.9 billion but we can expect a very strong quarter starting the new financial year; with $2.3 billion of work lined up to start in Q3, it will be an unparalleled boost to the residential sector.
The Past Year – Public vs Private Funding Residential construction has always had a strong government input, traditionally from state governments supporting public housing. It is nonetheless dominated by the private sector and with increasing demand from first-home and investment buyers. For the past 12 months there has been no real congruence between patterns of government and private residential projects. In June and September 2010 both sectors had slight increases and in the following months
both sectors experienced slight decreases. In terms of raw numbers, the two sectors diverged. From May 2010 to January 2011, with the number of privately funded projects growing steadily from 228 to 459 per month, whilst the number of government funded projects wavered and dipped – dropping from 72 projects in May down to just 34 projects in January. The most notable trend started in February 2011 when all indications pointed to a rise in the amount of residential work. The value of privately funded residences rose by 125% and there were 387 more projects in progress. With the January numbers so low for government funding, the jump appears as an astonishing 568% increase but the raw number of projects was just over double. This indicates not only an overall influx of work but some unusually expensive government projects entering the stream. In April there were drops in the value of ongoing government and private residential development but in both sectors the levels stayed much higher than the 2010 average. The only factor to increase was the raw number of government funded projects which grew by another 13%, suggesting the average value of government projects was lower than in previous months. Sometimes this occurs when a slew of small public housing projects are released to design or construction tender.
The Past Year – Houses vs Units vs Aged Care The evolving needs of Australia’s housing, particularly in her cities, is affecting the components that make up the residential sector. The following graph indicates the general trends of the overall residential sector over the past 12 months as well as illustrating the changing proportions of these distinct categories of residences (Note: data collected from BCI Australia databases does not include single houses developed by private owners). The conventional house is still a popular choice for certain purchasers and there are major residential developers who are building estates the size of new suburbs with hundreds or thousands of new houses. These developments are reliant on government releases of land and over the past few years this has become a more difficult hurdle. New suburbs being built further and further away from CBDs pose difficulties for authorities who need to provide public transport and traffic management infrastructure.
The environmental impact must also be considered as more and more greenfield land is developed. However there are housing developments on the outskirts of all the capital cities that are attempting to conquer some of these obstacles by providing all inclusive townships. Furthermore, state governments are making compromises with developers to swap land for environmental conservation; there are compulsory community park provisions and contributions to public infrastructure costs. As land becomes more expensive and our cities sprawl further outwards, our traditional suburban housing models are becoming increasingly more expensive and less attractive to buyers and developers. So long as our cities and regional centres continue to grow, any move away from single dwelling houses is a boost to multidensity residential forms including apartments and townhouses. This is exemplified in the above statistics which portray the dominant place of medium and high density housing in the developer’s residential market. In June 2010, July 2010, February 2011 and April 2011 it was multi-density units which held up the residential sector with up to 84% of the pipeline for that month. Aged care housing is an inevitably growing component of residential construction. Whether it is nursing homes, retirement villages, senior’s living units or mixtures of these forms, there is pressure to catch up with the current and future needs of an aging society and a culture in which it is less and less likely that older Australians will move in with their family. Traditionally aged care has been developed by religious and charitable organizations with some government input but increasingly profit-based companies are realizing the potential the sector offers. There is also an expanding focus on non-nursing home style accommodation, for residents who are still seeking an independent lifestyle and many of these upcoming developments are also incorporating non-residential facilities from community and commercial sectors. The face of the residential sector is changing in Australia. It has withstood economic crises, natural disasters and exponentially growing land prices because in whatever shape it comes, it is the most essential and prevalent form of construction.
A case for performance glass to meet stricter regulations
We know that working in this industry means having to keep abreast of the constantly changing face of building regulations, with few areas having received more scrutiny than energy efficient performance requirements. Window assemblies along with external shading and heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) designs used in commercial projects are being reshaped to comply with ever more stringent performance requirements set by the Building Code of Australia (BCA), NABERS and the Green Building Council. There is little wonder this is occurring, as HVAC units are the largest single user of energy (accounting for 68% of CO2 emissions) in commercial buildings. As windows dramatically affect HVAC performance, the glass industry is now playing a significant role in helping reduce energy consumption in buildings through improving the insulation and solar control properties of glass. Historically, glass has ranked very poor in the energy efficiency stakes - up to 12 times worse than a typical adjoining wall. Consequently, designing buildings with small windows or an array of obtrusive external awnings may be considered to satisfy the energy requirements. However, this approach is strongly opposed by building owners and users who want views, natural light and connectivity to the outside world. The answer is performance glass. Current methods used to colour 36 | www.awardmagazine.com.au
(tone), coat and glaze fabricated glass units have made significant inroads toward decreasing the thermal load within commercial buildings and reducing total building energy consumption. Many Australian projects have demonstrated a measurable and direct link between performance glazing and construction and HVAC cost savings and also ongoing energy savings. Recently a builder completing an infrastructure project in Queensland investigated using a standard grey glass for a project instead of the Viridian Low E glass which was specified. Changing the type from a Low E to ordinary grey would have saved the builder $40,000. After consulting with the HVAC engineer, it was determined that the builder would need to pay an additional $145,000 in extra HVAC cost to compensate for the lesser performing glass if he used ordinary grey. In short, had the builder proceeded with the cheaper glass it would have cost him an extra $105,000. This demonstrates the critical and effective role that glass is playing in energy efficient design and real construction costs. Performance glass does cost more than ordinary glass, but when combined with the savings made in HVAC and other considerations, in many cases performance glass actually reduces construction costs as well as reduce running costs over time. New advanced glass coating technologies permit greater design flexibility while significantly reducing
the solar heat load. This is achieved without sacrificing visible light or window size. For example, the triple silvering coating technology used on certain double glazed units reduces heat gain by 74% through the glass and achieves U values that exceed standard triple glazing. This is remarkable considering the product remains almost completely clear. Most Green Building Council design instruments require certain performance standards not only in terms of ultimate solar load permissible through the glass facade but also in visible light. By setting standards around visible light, building users are able to be less reliant on artificial lighting and in turn use less energy. Many traditional toned glass types may achieve the energy requirements in some climate zones but are too dark to comply with these higher standards. For this reason, the market pressure to produce new and more transparent glass types has been felt with domestic and overseas glass producers. Sadly some designers who arenâ€™t aware of these improvements may feel they have no other choice but to meet rising standards through formidable external shading, reducing the size of the windows or worse still, designs with no windows at all. Architects and building designers who are aware of the many recent improvements made to glass products have more flexibility in designing an energy efficient building rather than relying on traditional glass types and methods. Current glass technologies when integrated with good design can greatly reduce energy use and at the same time, increase the comfort levels for users within commercial buildings. This ensures that building users can continue to enjoy natural light, views and connectivity to the outside world without sacrificing energy efficiency.
Cameron Hook Viridian Glass
Infrastructure on Track The 2011 Federal Budget provided significant support for major infrastructure projects and its focus on skills and training was a positive response to the challenges facing the Australian infrastructure sector, Australia’s infrastructure construction activity has increased strongly over the past ten years driven largely by transport and energy infrastructure. The resources sector will do much to drive the industry over the next 10 years but businesses are reporting worsening bottlenecks due to skill shortages. The construction sector is anticipating stronger growth across engineering and commercial construction during 2011 and 2012, largely due to a number of major resource and infrastructure projects in the pipeline. According to the latest Australian Industry Group/Australian Constructors Association Outlook survey, after rising 4.4% (current prices) in the 2010 calendar year the total value of engineering and commercial construction is set to lift by 9.1% in 2011 and 11.0% in 2012. Engineering construction is expected to experience the strongest growth with the sub-sector anticipated to lift 12.5% in 2011 and 13.1% in 2012. That amounts to $82.5 billion of private sector work expected in 2012, which is more than double the level six years ago. This growth reflects the strong project pipeline in the mining, oil and gas processing, transport infrastructure. Solid growth is also expected in the telecommunications sector, consistent with the roll out of the National Broadband Network (NBN). The Federal Budget also supported an enhanced
role for Infrastructure Australia and its focus on large projects of national significance and the development of a National Priority List. Infrastructure Australia has been running too lean for the challenges it needs to meet and ACA welcomes this addition to its role and its resources. The establishment of an Infrastructure Financing Group of private and public sector advisers to identify further areas for work around the private financing of infrastructure is a positive development. The removal of impediments to private sector investment in infrastructure by establishing tax provisions for infrastructure projects designated to be of national significance is also an important initiative. The infrastructure investment incentive measures to encourage superannuation sector investment will be a fillip to the funding of significant infrastructure projects. The National Workforce and Productivity Agency is a positive step towards integrating long-term macro workforce planning with initiatives that focus on skills and productivity. We also welcomed the development of Enterprise Migration Agreements (EMA) for mega projects. The EMA proposal was an important recommendation of the Resourcing the Future (NRSET) report and will be welcomed both by the clients and contractors responsible for developing these large resource projects.
Jim Barrett Executive Director Australian Constructors Association
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straight talk with Roger Poole
Chairman, Bates Smart
With the predominance of detached housing throughout Australia and attitudes leading us towards an everincreasing urban sprawl, how do you think the industry can address people’s attitudes towards higher-density housing and help create more livable Australian cities? RP: Well the issue is basically Australia’s growth. My view is that Australia needs to grow, but growth is controversial and some people are concerned about our ability to deal with it. Now the first thing is, we need to plan for infrastructure. We need to look ahead and we need to recognize that growth is going to happen. According to the Intergenerational Report, Melbourne is going to house five million people by 2020, and will reach around 8,000,000 by 2060. But even if we just consider the next million people in Melbourne, the question is where are those people going to go? The answer is they are going to go into a wide range of places. A significant number of these new people will go to the edges because it’s at the edge of the city that higher levels of affordability exist. That affordability is part of what makes Australia attractive to people from other countries, who may have never owned a home before but have that opportunity here in Australia. And I don't think we can criticise that from the comfortable position of perhaps already having homes that belongs to us, as many Australians do. At the same time, I think there are lots of people looking for other models, other ways to live, other opportunities. And clearly our younger generations, who have grown up more in the inner city, are not following the historical pattern of moving out of the inner suburbs and then eventually trying to move back in. Instead, they’re tending to want make the compromises that they need to, in order to stay where the action is. I think this is part of a profound change in the way Australians are living. The fact is that most of us now enjoy going out to 38 | www.awardmagazine.com.au
films, to restaurants, to see friends, to do things; to get involved with the natural environment on the weekend, running around our suburbs, running around the bay, getting out of the house. And that basically says that the idea of the house as a freestanding citadel of leisure and family life is changing for a lot of people. So my view is that we need to provide more diversity and choice. We need to provide more opportunity for people to make interesting, informed choices and I think that’s what will get us through this situation. In terms of congestion, livability, and access to significant cultural and sporting events – what will happen to our cities if we don’t embrace higher density living? RP: Interestingly, if you look at the inner suburbs of Melbourne they are actually quite dense. In fact if the whole metropolis were built at the density of the older, more-valued inner suburbs, we would have far less sprawl than we do. It’s just that the grain of everything has coarsened as we go out from the city centre, and to me that’s one of the fundamental issues in terms of achieving higher density - it’s about how can we make more villages. Melbourne is basically a city of villages, so the question is how do we create more of those? How do we create more cohesive local communities? For example, if we look at Melbourne in terms of equity of access, we’re only going to do the Arts Centre once; we’re only going to do the big sporting assets once. Arguably, distance to those kinds of cultural assets is quite important and I think we've probably gone about as far as we can in terms of major growth to the southeast. If something isn’t done, the next million people in the southeast will be between Pakenham and Moe, at which point you have to argue whether are they actually even still part of the city, still part of the greater metropolis of Melbourne. By comparison, there are tremendous opportunities in Melbourne’s west, somewhere between theWest Gate Bridge and Geelong there is an opportunity to house at least another two million
people. Which is starting to happen, but needs more positive action. There are major opportunities for example, in areas like Sunshine. Sunshine is looking for population, it’s 11km out of the center of Melbourne on a Zone 1 double-track rail line, so it’s about as close as Camberwell is to the center of Melbourne and yet they are losing population. The solution isn’t about going into the established green, leafy suburbs and destroying them by building flats everywhere. Those suburbs will see some natural increases but they are basically fine as they are. It’s not about putting high-rise housing in areas which already work. It’s about finding more areas that can be made to work. So the solution lies in finding places where greater density is possible without destroying the existing urban fabric, and then finding appropriate density models which can be implemented in those places. The greatest opportunities for this lie in looking at places like Fishermen’s Bend, looking at light industrial and distribution warehousing areas. A lot of these areas have relatively low population densities in terms of their working populations essentially they are warehouses and don't employ too many people. And because warehousing is the most footloose of land uses, you can move them relatively easily. So there are large amounts of land in Melbourne that can be freed up from distribution warehousing to create new opportunities for greater density. In the case of Fishermen’s Bend I'm really pleased that the new government has seen that opportunity and is looking into developing it. Assuming we could seize these opportunities to start some new higherdensity residential areas from scratch, how would you approach the process? RP: Well Melbourne has a wonderful urban lifestyle to offer, which is why it is Australia’s fastest growing major city. People want to come to Melbourne because it has a crossover between
affordability, lifestyle and accessibility. The congestion is difficult, but it’s not impossible; the rail and light-rail systems work, but could work better; but nevertheless there is a net of accessibility throughout the greater metropolis. Now there is a place for the Southbanks, the Docklands, the very tall buildings; but we don’t need these ultra high-density buildings everywhere. Rather, what I have always wanted to do is create neighbourhoods of a more Europeans scale; four/five/six-storey housing, based around blocks with communal courtyards in the middle. The sort of thing you find in places like Copenhagen or London. In Europe these are mostly legacy environments, but those models have never been more relevant than they are today for Melbourne, especially when contemporised to deal with modern considerations such as vehicle accommodation. Melbourne has traditionally had a lot of single family housing; there were a few apartment buildings during the 1960s, and a scattering of largely inappropriate three-storey walk-up buildings; but we haven't had a tradition of the sort of medium-density neighbourhoods that help support the sorts of cafés, small shops, boutiques and corner stores that you need to foster a sense of community within a neighbourhood. To me, our biggest problem is that we are currently not able to offer these kinds of neighbourhoods to people who come to our major cities. The opportunities are obvious, but they take planning, they take a bit of courage and they take somewhere to put them – and that requires a government that is prepared to look at longer-term strategies. We can’t simply expect municipalities to do this for themselves. So there is a definite need for some higher level of leadership, the key is to figure out just what that governance model is.
Density benefits: at what cost?
There are a broad range of challenges facing our cities thanks to higher population growth and climate change. The need for a more sustainable approach to urban planning, affordability, liveability and governance is substantial; and if we are to meet these challenges, investment in our cities must be prioritised. As the Australian Government considers the development of our first national cities policy since the Keating Government’s Better Cities program, it is vital that the economic and social benefits associated with higher density (though not necessarily high density) living continue to be reflected in national, state and local policy settings. For a long time now, Consult Australia has been advocating policies that encourage more sustainable communities through better use of transit corridors, integrated planning, and land-use that facilitates better use of existing and planned infrastructure. In 2009, our landmark report, Sydney Towards Tomorrow set out the reforms required to help Sydney meet the challenges of accommodating 10 million people by 2050. A commitment to integrated planning and the prioritisation of infrastructure supporting this planning continues to be essential, and these must now be prioritised at a federal level. The variety of a city’s density and land-usage is always a defining characteristic of that city, and creates opportunities and limitations to the live/work/play choices available to the people who live there. With population growth adding an estimated 1000 people a week to some of Australia’s major cities, these choices are now under pressure; and carry with them a wide range of implications: housing shortage/affordability; rising fuel costs resulting in financial stress in car-dependent outer suburbs; a trend towards obesity in suburbs that aren’t conducive to healthy living; and a decline in the quality of the environment.
Infrastructure and Urban Infill The key to delivering more sustainable and liveable cities is the concept of development within the existing urban footprint. Certainly green-field development will continue, but the oft-stated objective of reducing this to a percentage (or less) of new dwellings, will require a major rethink of how ‘infill’ development proceeds. Absolutely central to the concept of greater population density within the existing footprint, is the concept of greater demand on infrastructure of all forms. However, significant limitations exist in the capacity of our existing infrastructure to meet the demands of a growing population, and in our ability to enhance the capacity of that infrastructure. Solutions to this will require innovation. They could lie in demand reduction rather than supply increase, in the recognition of linkages between services (water and wastewater, telecommunications and broadband con40 | www.awardmagazine.com.au
nection etc) or in the increased sophistication of delivery models. Increased density reduces the cost and increases the efficiency of most forms of infrastructure networks. However, people do not make their lifestyle choices on the basis of cost and efficiency alone. The current push for consolidating our major cities with high-density, high-rise housing has been largely driven by the desire (from government and others) for a quick fix – the idea being to achieve the maximum possible ‘density benefit’, from the smallest amount of land, in the shortest amount of time. In the longer term this ignores the obvious adverse implications of developing large concentrations of highrise, high-density housing in inner urban areas. The broad issue is to inform the choices of Government, developers and communities to help establish acceptable densities and mixes for different urban localities; to assess the suitability of existing infrastructure for these increased densities; to research best practice options for medium/high density planning and design; to ensure infrastructure precedes or coincides with higher-density development; to plan for things like open spaces in denser suburbs; and to resolve conflicts between State and local governments where density planning is concerned.
Planning for Density In many Australian cities the density of dwellings has been increasing but the number of persons per dwelling or per household has been decreasing. This is an ongoing trend that needs to be taken into account in our urban planning. There is a strong linkage between the urban density of a city and lower levels of car dependence for its population due to higher levels of public transport use for commuting to work, and this is something we must exploit if we wish to tackle congestion. The urban form of a city influences the modes of travel its residents use, and the more dense our cities are (in terms of dwellings per land area) then the more likely it is that we can afford to provide higher quality, more frequent passenger transport systems like light or heavy rail. Consideration should also be given to utility corridors or ‘critical infrastructure corridors’; where power, water and telecommunications assets can be co-located in a single corridor. This makes both financial and environmental sense, and can help us to facilitate density whilst still maintaining the open spaces, parks and recreational areas that improve the liveability of an area, and people’s quality of life.
Jonathan Cartledge Director of Policy Consult Australia
Sustainable Cities for All Many models of social sustainability have been proposed in the previous few decades, with the majority of these recognising a co-dependent interaction between three basic elements. These are generally recognised as community/social, environmental and economic. The interaction of these elements impacts on issues of equity, diversity, interconnectedness and acceptance; and there is widespread recognition that healthy communities are communities that accept and foster these ideals. Of course addressing social sustainability in a meaningful way extends far beyond that of the built environment and requires a strong commitment from government, policy-makers and the greater community itself and has far greater public health connotations. However, it is important for us, as professionals within the property and construction sector, to be mindful of these models and ideas. People residing in urban environments spend up to 90% of their time contained by the built environment; so our influence and contribution to this environment, and consequently the effect on our interactions with and within it, is very significant.
Economic Sustainability Recent regulatory impact statements associated with a new Disability Standards 2010, Access to Premises â€“ Buildings, identified increased participation of people with disabilities in the workforce as well as within education as a significant element in assessing the economic impact of this new set of standards. The authors also broadly identified reduced living and health costs as a quantifiable economic benefit within these statements. The benefits were reported at $1 billion per annum and the costs were quantified at approximately $620 million per annum. This of course excludes the unquantifiable economic benefits which are derived from the removal of barriers which result in the social exclusion of people with disabilities.
Environmental Sustainability The fact that Australiaâ€™s population, as well as that of most other developed countries, is rapidly ageing has been widely reported and understood for some time now. This coupled with
an understanding of the strong correlation between ageing and disability suggests that providing more accessible environments will be hugely beneficial both now and into the future. By providing buildings that are designed to be universally accessible, the need to refurbish or rebuild later is greatly diminished. It is well known that a substantial amount of embodied energy goes into the construction of any scale building. Limiting building works to the construction and maintenance of the building, hence minimising unassociated further refurbishments, will significantly reduce the embodied energy subsumed in the building and its total lifecycle environmental footprint.
Community/Social Development Diverse participation and representation at all levels of a community, contributes strongly to achieving stable, cohesive and healthy communities. Allowing all people to network and develop relationships within their local communities impacts directly on outcomes that are equitable to all members, which promote and accept diverse perspectives and novel ideas, and which support interconnectedness within these communities. More importantly, greater representation at all levels of community results in processes which are more democratic by nature, and governance structures which are far more accountable. Creating built environments that allow increased participation in education and gainful employment provides people with disabilities opportunities to develop requisite knowledge and skills which will allow them to progress to higher levels of representation.
the public realm, to interact with it and lead more active, healthier lives. More directly, increased activity represents an effective way of reducing the impact of conditions such as obesity and cardiovascular disease; and contributes to a healthier community with fewer incidences of events which can cause disability. The design of accessible spaces intended for congregation and interaction for people of all abilities impacts on all the elements of social sustainability discussed above. The World Health Organisation (WHO) developed a European Healthy Cities programme in 1986 which has now evolved into a global movement involving more than 1000 cities in more than 30 countries. The program aims to engage local governments in promoting and developing public health through a process of encouraging political commitment and institutional change via collaborative planning and projects. In doing so they are establishing that a healthy city is not one that simply meets a set of measurable outcomes, but rather one that recognises the need to improve peopleâ€™s health and is continually creating opportunities (both in the built and social environments) to enable all of its citizens to be physically active in their lives.
Therefore, the defining principle for A recent presentation in Melbourne us, as building and property profesby Danish architect and urban qual- sionals, is to recognise the need to ity consultant Jan Gehl, highlighted promote and support the sustainabilthe importance of designing to the ity and health of people and commuhuman scale in achieving socially sus- nities that occupy our buildings and tainable outcomes. Providing services continually develop new and innovaand commercial centres at walkable tive ways to achieve this. distances; creating walking and bike friendly environments; open spaces George Xinos which are both proximal and accesSenior Access Consultant sible to all. This style of urban design encourages people to come out into Davis Langdon : Access Consulting | 41
intelligent option for multi-res Sustainability benefits are driving the increased use of precast concrete flooring in multi-residential applications. And by sustainability we mean impact on society, economy and the environment.But how does precast flooring translate into benefits for sustainability? Faster construction times, reduced propping requirements and safer and less cluttered sites. Being manufactured off-site in factories means that waste in the factory is recycled and reused, and there is no waste on site because exact elements are delivered. It also results in a higher quality, more durable and longer life product with marked dematerialisation benefits (30% less reo and 30% less concrete than in-situ concrete). Locally supplied, the use of precast flooring minimises transport costs. Longer spans allow improved design flexibility as well as reduced propping requirements and provide an immediate working platform for subsequent trades. Not to mention the thermal and acoustic advantages. The use of precast flooring is a no-brainer. Several systems are available. Commonly known as Ultrafloor, this composite flooring system is comprised of precast, prestressed concrete inverted tee-beams, spaced apart with infill panels spanning between the flanges of the beams. The floor is completed with a lightly reinforced in-situ concrete topping which, when hardened, utilises its compressive strength and acts compositely with the tensile strength of the precast beams to efficiently carry the design loading of the floor. Hollowcore derives its name from the empty internal cores that run the entire plank length, thereby reducing their weight. Hollowcore floor planks are precast, prestressed elements 42 | www.awardmagazine.com.au
with the reinforcing placed around the cores. Planks are normally 1200mm wide. A thin topping of reinforced concrete is often placed on-site to produce composite units and a level floor surface, but the planks can also be used with grouted joints only. More recent applications often incorporate ventilation/heating/cooling systems like TermoDeck which uses the hollow cores in the high thermal mass concrete to vent, heat or cool internal spaces, for a very energy efficient solution. Permanent formwork flooring, known as Humeslab or Transfloor usually incorporate 55-75 mm thick precast concrete slabs with embedded reinforcement and lattice trusses. An in-situ concrete topping acts compositely with the precast panels. Polystyrene void-formers can be bonded to the top surface of the panel between the trusses in place of the in-situ concrete, resulting in a significant reduction in the weight of the slab and reducing the amount of in-situ concrete required. The system is frequently used in cantilevered balcony applications and imposes fewer restrictions on designers thanks to its flexibility in panel sizes. Beams and beamshells can also be used for suspended flooring. Beams are typically used as ledges for other forms of precast flooring to sit on, but can also be used as a flooring option in their own right. They are generally manufactured to suit each particular situation and profiles can include Teebeams, L-beams, Rectangular beams,
U-beams and Beamshells. Beams can be either reinforced or prestressed. BubbleDeck contains (sometimes recycled) plastic bubbles or spheres in a steel lattice. This environmentally friendly processÂ uses less concrete and materials as one kilogram of plastic can replace more than 100 kilograms of concrete. The University of NSW Village student accommodation project is a perfect example of using precast flooring as part of a sustainable solution for multi-residential construction. Comprised of 19 buildings; which range from one to nine storeys, have various accommodation styles, and house over 1000 students; sustainable principles and passive solar design have influenced all aspects of the projectâ€™s design. With thermal efficiency high on the projectâ€™s priority list, an innovative approach was required to ensure the precast components of the design would deliver. Hollowcore floors have been used to ventilate indoor spaces, combined with insulated precast concrete sandwich panel walls. This combination makes for an aesthetically pleasing, economical, environmentally considerate, low energy, and long-life building. So much so, that the facility was fully occupied within just one month of its opening.
Sarah Bachmann Executive Officer National Precast Concrete Association Australia
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