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August 2016

w w w. c o n s t r u c t i o n g l o b a l . c o m

BUILDING TRUST Showcasing the work of Perkins+Will in the Middle East

Rewarding innovation and best practice

Gaming What can it teach construction?

The best buildings in Australia








INNOVATION Hello and welcome to the August edition of Construction Global. Our cover feature this month highlights the increased focus on research and development within construction, alongside HMRC’s guidelines. Innovation within new developments should be rewarded as a result of an increased need to supply new techniques, methodologies and solutions within building. Also featured is a piece on how gaming is influencing the construction industry, with research currently undertaken by Heriot-Watt University’s RAE Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Design, combining technology with 3D real world environments to train construction workers in situations which would otherwise be high risk. Also included is our top Australian buildings chosen from the recent Innovation and Excellence Awards. The buildings are innovative and have provided increased benefits to the Australian community through their creative and spacious designs. I hope you find this issue an interesting one; get in touch with us @ConstructionGL to continue the debates.

Enjoy the issue! Catherine Rowell Editor




06 Rewarding innovation PROFILE



How gaming technology can transform the construction industry 4

August 2016


Best buildings in Australia




Devtraco Limited Africa

48 30

62 86

Chicago Rockford International Airport USA

Perkins + Will Middle East

Avangrid Renewables (formerly, Iberdrola Renewables) USA


Queensland Building and Construction Commission Australia

Total Construction Australia


Grupo Estrella Latin America



Construction is an innovative sector Edited by: JUSTIN ARNESEN, Director of R&D Tax & Grants at Ayming


r – and should be rewarded as such


WHILE THE PICTURE may be more mixed on a national level, construction is booming in the South East of England, and within the London area specifically. You only need to cast an eye around the city’s skyline to see that the post2008 malaise has finally lifted, with numerous large, challenging projects springing up across the region. There is, however, a fly in the ointment. This revival has led to a flurry of applications from construction firms for tax breaks on spend relating to R&D. HMRC, however, is taking a


August 2016

cautious, fact-finding approach to these – a significant portion of the claims in recent months are being held up for enquiry as a matter of course. This may be as a result of HMRC when it first established innovation tax breaks, not foreseeing these applying to the construction sector. After all, houses, offices, raillines, dams… haven’t these been around for decades? How much innovation can truly be going on here? Well, quite a lot, actually. Generally speaking, when people think about innovation and R&D, the perception


is that only people in white lab coats do R&D, and that it’s all about blue-sky thinking. Yes, that is R&D in the purest form but in reality and for the purpose of tax incentives it’s actually far broader than many realise. Different from accounting, engineering or ‘more traditional’ definitions: it states that to be eligible a company needs to be seeking ‘an advance in science or technology… through the resolution of scientific or technological uncertainty’. Due to the various definitions out there and the limited guidance on R&D for tax purposes, many in the construction

industry itself don’t understand the far stretching applicability of the tax definition (regime). A surprising amount of activity construction firms undertake project-to-project can fall under this rubric: effectively, R&D continues up until the point where problemsolution becomes known or routine in nature. Within the industry there is sometimes a perception that this point is at the end of the design phase, but in fact a lot of substantial problem-solving continues into the construction phase, as firms grapple with issues that cannot be 9


(or were not) resolved by the design. Constructors continually innovate new techniques, methodologies and solutions to overcome these on-the-ground challenges. To give just a few examples: • Breakthroughs in the use of the latest building technologies (e.g. post-tensioned, innovative formwork designs or temporary works, and modular construction) • New techniques developed to overcome site restrictions (space or access) or soil constraints (e.g. hidden aquifers, contamination, or unstable soil) • Development of an advanced remediation solution by creating a unique mix of additives and mixing these with the soil to improve its mechanical qualities • Green innovation, such as new techniques or processes to reduce waste, increase recycling, or lower carbon output • The creation of a complex scaffolding and temporary works design to overcome challenging conditions


August 2016

‘Constructor innovate new methodol solutions to o the-ground

s continually w techniques, logies and overcome onchallenges’


The list above is far from exhaustive, but gives a flavour of the variety of activity that can potentially be claimed for under R&D tax legislation. It’s important for a construction firm to have a wide view of R&D. Generally speaking, the distinct challenges posed by a site and its environment can make or break projects. When considering what might be eligible, the following questions provide a good starting point: Would a competitor have struggled with any of the problems experienced? What is the business most proud of in relation to the project? Were there any points at which the firm was unable to use an off-the-shelf or industry standard solution, and how did it get around this? Just as the construction industry needs wider awareness of how it can benefit from tax schemes designed to reward innovation, the current impasse with HMRC is a result of the latter’s unfamiliarity with the challenges construction firms overcome in the course of their work. The current rash of enquiries should be seen in a positive light; HMRC is attempting to better understand the 11



August 2016


‘A better understanding of the tax implications of R&D in construction could help get Britain building again’ industry, and the process will hopefully be an educative one on both sides. In the meantime, however, the high rate of enquiries means that construction firms should consider seeking expert, third-party help when it comes to assessing eligibility and compiling robust R&D tax claims. Part of the problem is that HMRC’s guidelines, as currently written, are rather vague and non-sector-specific. Without knowledge of the process and an understanding of HMRC’s mindset, it can be difficult to ‘speak its language’ when making a claim. A good partner will be able to put an HMRC ‘hat’ on and provide upfront, in-depth analysis of a project, so that a firm can maximise its claims without wasting resources (e.g. many companies make the error of claiming costs that are explicitly defined as ineligible under HMRC’s

rules, such as hire and plant costs). After all, the potential savings to be won are far from insubstantial – although it varies, most construction firms could in reality be claiming between two to four percent of their annual turnover as eligible R&D expenditure. Despite the fact that the recovery is still beset by challenges, in a competitive market this can make a real difference. Although construction is on the up in the South East, the picture is more subdued elsewhere in the country, and far more will be needed if the country is to meet its various looming infrastructural challenges – starting with a need to build 260,000 homes a year. A better understanding of the tax implications of R&D in construction – from both HMRC and the industry – could help catalyse the solution, and get Britain building again. 13


Game on

How gaming technology can transform the construction industry

W r i t t e n b y H A Z E L D AV I S


“VR offers great potential to enable construction workers to experience hazardous conditions but there’s a downside. VR doesn’t enable them to conduct manual activity, such as bricklaying or slating within this environment”

VIRTUAL REALITY (VR) might be the latest thing in entertainment but it’s also being developed to save lives and reduce injury in the construction industry. At Heriot-Watt University’s RAE Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Design, researchers are working on technology that integrates 3D and real-world environments so that construction trainees can 16

August 2016

see their hands, tools and materials within virtual environments. “VR offers great potential to enable construction workers to experience hazardous conditions but there’s a downside. VR doesn’t enable them to conduct manual activity, such as bricklaying or slating within this environment,” says researcher Dr Frédéric Bosché. The immersive Hybrid Reality


(iHR) system for construction trade training started from the observation that many trade workers have to operate in hazardous conditions but it can be difficult for colleges and employers to cost-effectively train them in these conditions. For example, says Dr Bosché, “Roofing trainees learn their trades in colleges in small pitched roofs but will only experience the real

working conditions on top of a real roof on the first day with their apprenticeship employer.” The iHR system (which won a CIOB International Research and Innovation Highly-Commended Award) enables the worker to see themselves along with their tools and materials altogether immersed inside the simulated virtual environment. Says Dr Bosché: “We don’t use 17

TECHNOLOGY the term Augmented Reality (AR), because, in contrast to AR where the virtual content is always on top of the view of the real world, HR seamlessly integrates the 3D virtual world with the 3D real world.” The team has two pilots in progress; one at Edinburgh College focuses on roofing. Dr Bosché explains: “For this, the trainees will wear our system and be able to work on a small pitched roof as they currently do. The difference is that, instead of being in the lab, the system enables them to experience conducting the work on a real roof.” The height sensation enhances the user’s awareness of the risks of falling or letting to a tool fall, which, in turn, should prepare them better to work in real conditions. The second pilot is in partnership with Fife College and supports the training of wind turbine maintenance professionals. Here the system can be used to simulate height but, in the future, says Dr Bosché, it will also be used to simulate various scenarios (such as turbine mechanical failures). Working at height is a perfect area of application of this system, says Dr Bosché, and it has been the main focus of the system from the 18

August 2016

beginning. However, he says, it can be used to simulate many other contexts. The same researchers are also working on technology known as AT-BAN (Activity Tracking with Body Area Network). This, says Dr Bosché “is about creating a wireless sensor network wearable by workers to monitor their health, with current focus on ergonomics.” Technology like this could have a quite significant impact on the construction industry, even beyond training and health and safety, says Dr Bosché, “Indeed, the construction sector is rapidly developing capacity to design and operate in 3D. BIM (building information) models are typically based upon 3D objects. This increased availability of this 3D data is perfect for the use of VR/AR/HR technology.” Over at the University of New South Wales, The Situation Engine (which also won a CIOB award) is exposing students to site accidents by delivering a ‘cognitive shock’. Researcher Russell Lowe explains, “The Situation Engine provides hyper-immersive environments where users can experience realworld scenarios without physical


risk, while being susceptible to what we call ‘cognitive shock’.” The team is using the latest computer gaming technology to render objects, physical interactions, interpersonal engagement (through sophisticated AI and multiplayer setups) with VR headsets and handheld controllers to enable high levels of “presence” in virtual worlds. Lowe adds, “We have analytics modules to track participant interactions enabling assessment and improvement.” The technology has been developed

over the past five years with more than US$1.5million of research and development funding and it’s been trialled with undergraduate construction management students at four Australian universities over a period of three years. It’s also been implemented successfully in the training facilities of a major contractor in Hong Kong. Subsequent applications of The Situation Engine have already addressed large-scale and more complex construction projects including school buildings, 19



August 2016


underground rail stations and hospitals. Says Lowe, “There is keen interest in using it to train and assess workers in complex procedures (such as post-tensioning) or to recognise poor work practices in visually complicated contexts (such as falsework).” Moreover, there are proposals in place for applications in planning and scheduling, marketing, ergonomics, facilities management, urban planning and accident investigation. “Our next step,” says Mr Lowe, simply, “is to broaden the user base in practice and continue to expand the functionality of the Situation Engine.” Some in the industry believe that safety training has become too knowledge-focused and the focus on compliance and rules is taking precedence over working and behaving safely. Lowe says: “The Situation Engine promotes a deep and meaningful consideration of work practices and especially the often unwritten, informal rules that we know govern how workers actually adapt to new situations and behave onsite. It facilitates and draws upon personal

experience rather than dictating abstract rules and regulations.” The possibilities of gaming technology in construction really are endless, says Lowe, but the most immediate potential is in responding to a growing concern with the over-proceduralisation and increasing bureaucratisation of safety – meaning critical information gets buried inside long, legalistic and complicated documents. Lowe says: “Most immersive technologies in construction and architecture have focused on sales and showing projects to the clients because it requires minimal experience of construction technologies and techniques to develop such add-on services.” He adds, “Currently the construction industry is very slow to change; video gaming innovations transform that industry seemingly overnight. The best view of the future is to focus on immediate (and the cheaper the better) consumer technologies and be sufficiently agile to leverage each new advance as it arrives. If you want to make the most of immersive technologies in the future, develop your capabilities to use them today.” 21


Best bui in Au

ildings ustralia Written by C ath e r i n e R owe l l

Australia is known for its luxurious beaches, great weather and natural wonders, attracting over seven million people in 2015, with figures set to increase this year. With property fast becoming the biggest industry within Australia, it is also at the forefront of design and innovation. The National Innovation and Excellence Awards seek to acknowledge projects which are both innovative and from a wide range of areas within construction and design; all of which benefit the Australian economy, creating a competitive market. We have picked three which we believe highlight Australia’s innovation and expertise, that not only look visually pleasing, but break the mould of traditional design through their sustainability and support for local communities for years to come. 23


St Brigid’s Green

community, family and friends, with

Location: New South Wales

independence and choice being

Situated in the idyllic location of

the main driving forces behind St

Maroubra, New South Wales, St

Brigid’s success. Local amenities are

Brigid’s Green offers independent

a five-minute walk away with local

and assisted living apartments, in

shops and restaurants for residents

addition to a boutique care home

to enjoy. The development is easily

providing 24-hour care; palliative,

accessible for visitors, with the village

respite and dementia care. Having

situated 15 minutes from the airport

recently won the Best Retirement

and 20 minutes to the main city.

Living Development, St Brigid’s Green

The light and spacious Living

provides an array of choice for its

Development incorporates five

residents, where its goal is to maintain

buildings, including 89 large apartments

residents’ independence whilst

which have recently been developed

providing effective care and support.

to a high standard, with 66 suites and

The village encourages residents

en-suite bathrooms within the complex.

to maintain strong links with the local

All rooms encompass large bathrooms


August 2016


and wide-set hallways, with pale

adjacent to the Village Green and

coloured walls to reflect light within the

terrace. For book lovers, there is

space. North facing balconies provide

also a library in which residents can

fresh air and natural light to flood

become immersed in a novel in front

the warm and comfortable space.

of a warm fire in the winter evenings.

The development aims to be a

St Brigid’s offers a health and fitness

‘home from home’, where care and

rehabilitation programme, in line with

accommodation are tailored to meet

providing residents with the ability

the individual needs of residents.

to maintain their independence and

Greengate’s values; ‘do the right

healthy lifestyle through a range of

thing’, ‘go the extra step’, ‘play as

activities. An onsite gym and workshop

a team’ and ‘create a wonderful

are provided for residents who wish to

experience’ are all clear to see in St

stay fit and healthy, alongside delicious

Brigid’s customised approach to

home cooked meals which are cooked

the care and support available.

by a local chef each day. Residents

Beyond the tranquil gardens, there

have the choice of which they would like

are sitting rooms for residents to

prepared. There really is something to

relax and spend time with friends

suit everyone at St Brigid’s Green’s, with

and family. The development is also

a range of activities to suit all interests.



Dr Chau Chak Wing Building Location: New South Wales

space where ideas can be created and shared, whilst ensuring a sense of sustainability and permanency.   The corbelled exterior, made of

Architect Frank Gehry has rid all

320,000 individual custom-made bricks

notions of rigidity and formality in

are held together by a custom-made

his design of the Dr Chau Chak Wing

‘groove and bolt’ system, to ensure the

Building, situated at the University of

bricks do not become misaligned. The

Technology Sydney Business School,

curved shape provides texture, shadow

which has recently won the award for

and light which reflects off the exterior.

Best Public Building. Accommodating

Enlarged windows break up the design,

1,630 students, with over 1,500 workers

allowing for spectacular views and

undertaking its construction, its

light to flood into each of the floors.

innovative structure highlights Gehry’s aim; to create an open and modern

The unique shape incorporates Gehry’s aim to construct a building exhibiting “a growing learning organism


August 2016


with many branches of thought”,

Building Council of Australia has

using an image of a treehouse to

awarded the design with a 5* as a result

convey his ideas on how the building

of the use of sustainable materials.

should be designed. Gehry claimed

All carpets, paints, adhesives and

the build to be “flexible on the inside,

sealants have been chosen to reduce

there is a lot of room for change and

emissions, alongside all furniture within

movement which […] in the world

the building which is eco certified and

today is essential”. Oval shaped

is made from recycled materials. The

classrooms create a dynamic learning

building is popular with all who frequent

environment, where teaching becomes

the building, connecting the University

integrated, collaborative and effective.

with Sydney’s main community.

Danielle McCartney, Manager

Gehry has created a masterpiece in

of Sustainability at UTS has said:

his design, becoming an inspiration

“sustainably sourced and certified

for architects for years to come.

timber is used extensively throughout the building’s interior.” The Green



Ibis Adelaide

James Hines has stated the hotel

Location: South Australia

will “change the way in which people

Having recently won the award for ‘Best

see economy hotels globally”.

Tourism and Leisure Development’, the

Inspired by French Designers Atelier

Ibis Adelaide in Southern Australia is not

Archange, the hotel has a contemporary

only impressive in design, but also with

feel, with stylish dark wood interiors set

its central location, offering stunning

against a light and open space, allowing

views, an excellent location within

guests to relax and unwind. The hotel

Adelaide’s CBD and value for money.

is perfect for individuals who wish to

Owned by the multi-award winning

explore the city’s main attractions, with

development group Hines Property, the

Rundle Mall and Rundle Street being a

premier economy hotel is the largest

short walk away, in addition to an array

within Australia, with 311 rooms over

of restaurants and attractions; such

17 floors, at which Managing Director

as the Stadium, Art Gallery of South


August 2016


“range of versatile meeting options for both social and business events” on offer. In creating a premier economy hotel Australia and Botanical Gardens. Rooms within the hotel are both

within the heart of Adelaide’s CBD, Hines Property has appealed to all markets

practical and modern, with the latest

in their modern design and tailored

Samsung technology on offer, with

approach, offering value for money

Wi-Fi accessible throughout the hotel.

for guests without compromising on

The neutral backdrop against floor-to-

quality, creating a sustainable, practical

ceiling windows maximises the space,

and effective space for guests for years

allowing for spectacular views.

to come, creating a “new benchmark

The hotel also caters for corporate

for economy properties”, according

businesses who wish to utilise its central

to Managing Director James Hines

location and modern amenities, with a

from Hines Development Group. 29


Written by N Produced by J

g trust

Nye Longman Jordan Platten


With over 40 years of operations in the Middle East, Perkins + Will has cemented its presence in this key market by building trust, developing talent and working innovatively


ven for architecture and design companies with the experience and track record of Perkins + Will, establishing a competitive presence in the Middle East can be challenging to say the least. It has not only been able to achieve this (doubling its business each year for the past five) but has also worked on such prestigious projects as the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid football stadium in Dubai, and the regional headquarters of global giants like LinkedIn and Google. Business Review Middle East speaks to Steven Charlton, Principle Managing Director at Perkins + Will and discovers how he has led the company to its enviable position.


August 2016

Operations With a list of services covering architectural and interior design, strategic and urban planning, landscaping, and branded environments, it is clear why the company has a strong demand in the Middle East. The company’s specialist expertise also covers healthcare, education, corporate, civic, technology, sports and travel verticals. But faced with a market that necessitates a strong physical presence in order to do business, it was not until five years ago – when its Dubai office was founded – that Perkins + Will was able to scale impressive growth. “We went from the initial start-up


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team and we are now touching 100 plus people in the Dubai office. It’s been quite an aggressive growth period – especially in the wake of the recession,” explains Charlton. “People thought we were crazy but it’s worked out very well.” “We are pretty much doubling every year since we started. We are getting to a comfortable point in the market, and because of this we moved to a new 10,500 square foot office last September and are now working on strategic efficiencies and working smarter and more efficiently.” The company is also refining its internal processes and capabilities in order to deliver on its increasingly strong reputation for effective delivery. He says: “We’ve gone from searching for the next job to a position where clients come to us knowing they get an exceptional standard of design and quality.

“There are of course inefficiencies that arise from doubling every year and we wanted to make sure we are improving everything. From improving the way clients are greeted in the office all the way to the design process and documentation. It’s about looking at every single thing and making them better – marginal gains.”

The value of people In a market crowded with many of the world’s largest architecture and design companies, the need to attract and develop a highly skilled workforce is pressing; Perkins + Will is pursuing this with an innovative approach. Charlton ensures that his workforce is able to develop creativity outside of typical projects and that team members can develop their careers holistically. “I always say that you’re selling people and their ideas when you sell design,” Charlton muses. “The


Number of employees at Perkins + Will



CUNDALL’S ENGINEERING CONSULTANCY SERVICES COVER THE ENTIRE LIFE CYCLE OF ANY BUILDING Clients such as Perkins & Will, find our ‘total solutions’ approach saves them time, money and effort. Our core services include Building Services, Civil and Structural Engineering and Sustainable Design.

stronger the team you have the wider it goes. We’re bringing in talented new employees in every month it’s a very dynamic environment. “If you have exceptional people you get exceptional results; everything becomes a well-oiled machine. We employ the best in the region - people want to join us from other firms,” Charlton explains. “We help our people


August 2016

find out what they want to be and then we help them get there. “We give people opportunities to do interesting projects; we want our people to try things and experiment. We also ensure that there are experienced people around them to keep them in the right direction and reign them back when needed.” With offices in every global region, and with over 2,400 staff globally, Perkins + Will is able to deploy the right expertise to take on a wide variety of projects – an aspect of its operations that not only enables it to fulfil the demands of the market, but one that enriches careers as well. For the employees at the company, Charlton explains, personal and professional development is worthy of serious time and investment. “Employees can dedicate a percentage of their time to projects that are not paid for. Any employee can submit a research proposal and we select them globally every quarter – employees can have time away from paid work to focus on these. “Initially it’s about just trying




August 2016


ideas, new technologies, software and new ways of looking at things. But if successful it can be an incubator for genuine and systemic changes in our industry.” In addition we have staff from various offices working in the studio at any one time, currently LA and, Boston teams are in our offices and we have people in Chicago – we move people around a lot which opens their eyes to working in different regions and cultures.”

Global company – local presence

local presence – a facet that Perkins + Will has not overlooked. “When we first set up the office here, people always asked ‘how long have you been here? How big is your office and what projects have you done here?’ Even though we had experience elsewhere, it didn’t matter to them. They want to see the office and make sure we are real. We grew it organically. That took hard work and long hours - it has paid off now. We have the back catalogue and an office which aligns with our aspirations - those questions are now answered.” Backing up its exponential growth with a dedicated strategy to invest in people – both in and outside of the business – Perkins + Will is set to develop an already impressive presence in the Middle East. Having developed a profound understanding of its target region, the company’s reputation as a trusted partner can only grow.

Perkins + Will is headquartered in Dubai

“We tendered on a project recently and the client said – ‘why should we choose you?’ To which I said: ‘Just call one of our clients, choose any client’” says Charlton. And this is no small matter to consider when working in the region; many local companies prefer to partner with businesses that have a dedicated


Building for G


Written by Tom Wadlow Produced by Richard Deane



Middle income and affordable housing developer Devtraco is helping to address the huge demand for housing in the country, work which has secured its status as a Ghanaian Superbrand


hana’s demand for housing is tremendously high. “Some 1.7 million units are needed,” reveals Joseph Aidoo, Managing Director of real estate developer Devtraco. With the company having spent the past 23 years developing thousands of middle income and affordable housing for Ghanaian citizens, Aidoo is following in his father’s footsteps after joining the family business on completion of his master’s degree. The business has grown to a 500-strong workforce with assets of $70 million, making it one of

the most prominent real estate operators in the country, especially in the Greater-Accra Region where it is currently working on several highly ambitious projects. From building homes to buy and rent to providing estate management services and sales of serviced plots, close collaboration with clients has facilitated the rise of Devtraco to official Superbrand status. City of Hope Not only is Devtraco providing a mix of essential affordable housing and higher end properties, but also

“That we are able t is cr


August 2016


an extremely sound investment proposition. On average, Devtraco houses and apartments appreciate a massive 20 percent each year. The average annual rental yield is between eight and 10 percent, allowing investors to make a decent return within just a few years. Its current flagship project in Greater-Accra is the City of Hope, as Aidoo explains: “This is a $120 million, 1,500 home development and we have built 1,100 since the project commenced in 2009 – we anticipate

it will be completed by 2018. “We have already built a police station, a fire station and we will also be building a 6,000 square metre mall as well as a school and recreational areas. That we are able to leave a positive legacy behind for the community is critical in order to achieve a sustainable community. You can’t have a sustainable community without these amenities so it’s important to provide facilities for our clients and homebuyers.” Just three kilometres away from

to leave a positive legacy behind for the community ritical in order to achieve a sustainable community” – Joseph Aidoo, Managing Director

w w w. d e v t r a c o . c o m . g h



“Because we have managed to set ourselves apart, we have found that human resource has come to us, which has helped us a lot” – Joseph Aidoo, Managing Director

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the City of Hope lies a 1,800 acre developer in Ghana to hold such a site which Devtraco is planning to title, and sits alongside thousands transform into another residential of reputable household names from and commercial community hub. around the world. Superbrands Many Devtraco developments was established in 1994 and is sell out in almost no time, with now established in 88 countries would-be homeowners having to around the world, making it an apply to purchase a property. Once important recognition for Devtraco successful, there are two financing and a valuable marketing tool. options – either self“Being named a Super financing by paying in Brand means a huge instalments during the amount to Devtraco,” construction process, Aidoo says. “We went or arrangements about receiving it simply with mortgage by serving and listening to providers. Devtraco our clients – it’s a big deal The year that has partnered with and another testament to Devtraco Ghana Home Loans, our commitment to our was founded Home Finance clients and homebuyers.” Company, Fidelity Aidoo also explains Bank and Stanbic Bank to help how establishing a reputation for customers find an affordable means excellence has aided Devtraco’s of paying for their property. recruitment process, which has successfully brought hundreds of Super brand permanent and part time staff on In 2012, Devtraco attained board. “Because we have managed Superbrand status in Ghana’s to set ourselves apart, we have found inaugural Superbrands Awards. that human resource has come to us, It remains the only real estate which has helped us a lot,” he adds.


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August 2016


Forward thinking An important factor in being able to deliver cost-effective homes for working Ghanaians is the ability for Devtraco’s own costs to be kept in check. Through work with several partners and trials of many different products, new construction technology is being used to keep housing as affordable as possible. For example, the company is looking at new pre-cast concrete solutions which could be in place by next year. Aidoo has an ambitious vision for the next decade. In fact, it is a drive towards the same goal established when the company formed 23 years ago – to become the number one real estate company in Ghana. The number of He concludes: “In the next 10 employees working years I want us to truly establish for Devtraco ourselves and become the number one provider of middle income-affordable housing in Ghana and the sub region. We want to work with more partners/suppliers who excel in their fields and will continue to choose carefully the best possible companies to do business with.”


w w w. d e v t r a c o . c o m . g h


The sky is the limit: The Chicago Rockford International Airport ascends above and beyond its competitors Written by Dale Benton Produced by Tom Venturo


Later this year, the Chicago Rockford International Airport will open the doors to two 100,000 sq. ft. maintenance and repair hangars following a $40million development project – needless to say, the third largest airport in the state of Illinois is flying high.


he Chicago Rockford International Airport is the third largest airport in the state of Illinois, home to 30 industrial tenants and vendors as well as being the largest regional parcel-sorting facility in the UPS system. Serving both commercial passenger domestic/ international flights and cargo flights, the Chicago International Rockford Airport is continuously evolving and investing in the future, with the


August 2016


construction of two 100,000 sq. ft. aircraft maintenance and repair hangars as well as an additional passenger terminal space. Building a future The process of constructing a new maintenance and repair hangar was born out of an anticipated increased influx of larger cargo aircraft heading into the Chicago Rockford

International Airport. Following feedback from the large cargo operators, a strategy was developed. “The issue that seemed to come to light was if cargo operators brought a large aircraft here such as a Boeing 747-8 and it had a maintenance issue, they were concerned that there wasn’t anybody here at the airport that could address those maintenance needs or to repair the aircraft before departing,”

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Year founded: says Jeff Polsean, Economic Development Manager at Chicago Rockford International Airport. “So as our Airport Director Mike Dunn looked at that process he discovered that in order to have a maintenance repair type MRO here you needed to be able to train Airframe Maintenance and/ or Powerplant mechanics. (A&P)” Rock Valley College does just that. In 2015, a state of the art 30,000 sq. ft. Aviation Maintenance Educational Facility as part of the Junior College was opened within the Airport, providing the Rockford community with 120 future A&P mechanics a year. The repair and maintenance


facility was $40 million collaboration between the airport Authority and AAR, a leading provider of aviation services on a global scale. “One of the things AAR has not had in previous developments was a hangar specifically built for their needs and operations. In the past they would find an old military aircraft hangar or a used hangar from a commercial operation, revamp it and set up their operations there. We were able to work out terms with AAR for a lease and the airport decided to build two hangars, each a little under a 100 000 sq. ft. apiece, able to occupy largest aircraft, like a 747-8 or an airbus A380,” adds Polsean.

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Cleared for takeoff The maintenance hangars project started in July 2015, on schedule and within that original $40 million budget, but as with most large scale development projects there has been some turbulence along the way. “The major challenge of course for


August 2016

any taxing body such as the airport authority is to be able to fund a project like this,” Polsean explains. “Fortunately, Director Dunn was able to put together a financial package with the city of Rockford and Winnebago county, the airport authority, federal government


“The major challenge of course for any taxing body such as the airport authority is to be able to fund a project like this” – Jeff Polsean, Economic Development Manager

and the state of Illinois. This allowed us to build and lease back the facility to AAR.” Throughout the process however, there was a freeze on state government funding due to some budgeting issues – in came the Rockford community. “Actually, five local banks stepped up to the plate and we were able to work out a deal with the banks where they have given us a $17 million

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The Rockwell Group would like to thank Chicago Rockford International Airport and Scandroli Construction for this opportunity and wish everyone continued success as we build a better tomorrow together.

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line of credit. When the state wraps up the budget issues we will pay the banks back,” adds Polsean. “It has become a huge community effort in order to see this project go forward and reach completion.” Welcome aboard Collaboration with and supporting the local community is one of the major driving forces for Rockford International Airport. “From a community standpoint, which is what the airport is concerned with, it is about building and strengthening our workforce and providing an opportunity for individuals to have a quality of life here in the U.S and be able to raise a family and buy a home,” Polsean says. Another way in which the Rockford airport works with the community is through the Illinois Workforce, a program through the Illinois Department of Employment

designed to support innovative workforce programs connecting employers to skilled workers. Polsean has helped create what he describes as a consortium of partners creating jobs for the community. “The Illinois workforce works closely with AAR in order to establish a pipeline of applicants. AAR has also worked with the Rock Valley college to specifically design a training program for A&P mechanics,” he says. “Even our local tier-one parts suppliers such as Woodward, UTC Aerospace Systems, B/E Aerospace, and GE Aviation they also need A&P mechanics. It’s now a consortium of local companies helping the Rock Valley college design and tailor their programs to educate the graduates and open up career prospects for them.” The great airspace race Rockford is the seventh largest

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“My saying is, if you fly in an aircraft, commercial or private, some part of that platform was produced in the Rockford region” – Jeff Polsean, Economic Development Manager


August 2016

aerospace cluster in the U.S and the area is historically known as an industrial manufacturing supply house for the United States, supplying parts to major air operators. Polsean believes that through the local workforce development, Rockford International Airport is continuing to grow that heritage to supply the “tool and die and punch operators and engineers” of the industry. “My saying is, if you fly in an aircraft, commercial or private, some part of that platform was produced in the Rockford region,” he adds. Being the third largest airport in the state of Illinois alongside O’Hare and Midway, how does the Rockford International airport compete? One word - space. “We have our own air space. When an aircraft approaches our airport, it doesn’t have to get into the Chicago air traffic


control air space,” Polsean explains. “If a cargo aircraft approaches the Chicago Rockford International airport, it would land and it would taxi and be able to turn off its engines within three to five minutes. “At O’Hare and Midway, as there is such a high volume going into the airport that same cargo aircraft will spend around 30- 45 minutes taxiing before being able to turn off its engine. Think of the fuel cost savings that short time generates.” Two tickets to the future In reducing the taxiing time, the airport allows cargo companies to unload and transport their cargos to market at a faster rate, becoming more profitable in the process. “Going forward, we believe it’s a huge advantage in order for us to attract more cargo vendors,” says Polsean. Another key advantage that Polsean believes Rockford has over O’Hare and Midway is the land


Jeffrey Polsean is the Economic Development Manager for the Greater Rockford Airport Authority at the Chicago International Airport (RFD). Mr. Polsean is responsible for overseeing the economic development initiative designed to spur economic growth around the airport. Jeff has strong roots in Rockford and the surrounding communities. Previously, he served as The Department of Economic Development Northern Stateline Region Manager for the State of Illinois and the Regional AdministratorHuman Capital Development for the State of Illinois Department of Human Services and Business Administrator for the Northwestern Illinois Building & Construction Trades Council in Rockford. He has a BA in labor studies from Antioch University of Ohio. “Jeff is well versed in working with business and community leaders. As a strong advocate for Northern Illinois, he understands the needs of these communities and will work to ensure that they reach their economic potential,” Airport Director Mike Dunn said.

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“In order to have a maintenance repair type program here you needed to be able to train Airframe Maintenance and/or Powerplant mechanics.” – Jeff Polsean, Economic Development Manager


August 2016


around the airport. There are 3,000 acres of land around the airport, with 900 acres used for airport operations. “We have a lot of land that we are able to develop and continue to attract new businesses. RFD is a worldclass airport with 24/7 operations, CAT II/III LS, independent airspace, hard-surface runways of 10,000 and 8200 feet that are 150’ wide with

40’ paved shoulders, with a history of avoiding service disruptions, and experiencing no weather related closings in over 25 years. “Looking ahead with regards to infrastructure, we believe that this is a key advantage that we have over the other airports in the state,” concludes Polsean.

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Wind in their blades: Avangrid Renewables’ plans to revolutionize US wind energy Written by Jennifer Johnson Produced by Tom Venturo


Avangrid Renewables

With two major wind farms in the works, and nearly 60 renewable energy projects already generating power, Avangrid Renewables is leading the charge for clean energy in the US.

L 208MW The amount of power generated by 104 turbines at the Amazon Wind Farm US East


August 2016

ast summer, construction began on the first utility-scale wind farm in North Carolina, Avangrid Renewables’ Amazon Wind Farm US East, aka Desert Wind, located across a rural section of the state’s northeastern Perquimans and Pasquotank Counties. Once completed, the wind farm will boast 104 turbines, a capacity of 208MW and one very famous client: Amazon Web Services. “It’s one of our first large projects for somebody other than a traditional utility or municipality,” said Erik Lallum, Avangrid Renewables’ Vice President of Engineering and Construction. “That opportunity is what has helped us grow this North Carolina project from a development opportunity to a construction project that will be delivering MW of electricity by the end of the year.” Avangrid Renewables, based in Portland, Oregon, is currently the second-largest provider of clean energy in the US. Over the course of the last decade, it has been transformed from a non-regulated subsidiary of ScottishPower


to the innovative, US renewable energy division of one of Europe’s biggest utilities. Lallum began his career at the company in 2005, when it was still known as PPM Energy and had yet to crack the 1000MW of renewable energy milestone. When Iberdrola — Spain’s largest energy group and a global leader in wind energy — purchased PPM’s parent company, ScottishPower, in 2007, Lallum was tasked with building a project management organization for the new entity. And a major growth period ensued. Today, the company owns approximately 6000MW of wind and solar generation and has been rebranded as Avangrid Renewables, a non-regulated entity of the publicly traded Avangrid (AGR). “We had multifunctional energy development capability on the West Coast in Portland, Oregon,” Lallum says. “I was part of that in the project management group so when Iberdrola purchased us, they asked me to move to the East

Coast to duplicate the model that we had developed under PPM Energy. So I moved out to the East Coast, began hiring project managers and engineers and built a very capable project organization.” At first, the newly created Iberdrola Renewables proceeded with two parallel teams working on either side of the USA. As the organization matured through its peak growth period, however,

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Lallum saw an opportunity to merge the construction group with the engineering group in 2011. “I brought the development support technical team together with the project management and construction team and made one integrated team to support development and manage the construction of our projects,” he explains. “Now we have a really seamless process that starts in development, advances through project approval and construction and allows us to deliver a project that has really had all of the right input from the very beginning.” When Avangrid Renewables sets about constructing a

clean energy project — be it a solar park or a wind farm — ensuring quality and durability is of paramount importance. “We are a developer who is also a long term owner-operator,” says Lallum. “The quality of projects, and what goes into projects, from development through construction, is very important to us so that we have a reliable project for many years after construction.” Currently, Lallum and his unified team are overseeing the construction of two major wind farms: the Amazon Wind Farm U.S. East and New Mexico’s ‘El Cabo’. The latter is located in Torrance County, New Mexico,

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Avangrid Renewables

“At Avangrid Renewables, we want to be part of the solution. We strive to be the cleanest IPP in the US and are committed to combatting climate change. We believe that renewable energy is the right way to do this” –Erik Lallum, Vice President of Engineering & Construction

roughly 60 miles from the state capital, Albuquerque, and will produce more than 298MW of wind power once it is constructed and operating. El Cabo will feature up to 142 Gamesa G114 2.1MW turbines and produce enough energy to power at least 75,000 homes annually. Earlier this year, it was announced that the energy generated at the wind farm will be supplied exclusively to a California utility, Southern California Edison. “We will have back feed power to the plant and begin commissioning turbines in May of 2017 in order to meet New Mexico tax incentive requirements”, Lallum says. “And then the entire project will be completed prior to the end of the year. Besides these two projects,


August 2016

Lallum indicated his team will be starting construction on 3 more projects yet this year. “It feels good to be on a growth trajectory again and my team is ready and very capable of delivering safe, quality projects.” However, building a wind farm is not as easy as simply showing up on a suitable plot of land and attaching rotor blades to towers. Avangrid Renewables must select its sites based on market need — and contend with the court of public opinion from there. “We select our sites for a couple of reasons,” Lallum explains. “We start with guidance from our energy management team. It is this team that provides our view of the market and through interface with existing and potential



The number of homes that will be powered by the El Cabo Wind Project

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customers, guides our development efforts where we see the greatest opportunity and market need.” “Beyond that, we look to combine the market opportunities where we have development pipeline and favorable policy to support our projects. I should also note that while we maintain the capability to self-develop greenfield projects from our development pipeline, we can also step into projects at any phase of development.” Historically, some populations have been opposed to the construction of wind farms in their communities — with some citing noise pollution and aesthetic concerns as reasons to protest the installation of turbines. As a result, Avangrid Renewables must

set about conducting significant public consultation before work can commence on any new wind project “In development, we try to be transparent with communities by hosting open houses, preparing simulations and listening to the concerns of local communities.” Lallum reports that both Desert Wind and El Cabo were met with “overwhelming” community support in their early stages, and with these projects scheduled for completion in 2016 and 2017 respectively, he is turning his gaze toward the future. “Our plan is to develop and build approximately 1500 megawatts by 2020,” he says. “With that said,

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Avangrid Renewables

we feel this is our base plan and we’re exploring ways to expand that. It truly is an exciting time for our industry and company.” With renewables finally starting to take a firm foothold in the US energy market, Lallum is confident that innovations in clean energy will continue to deliver cost competitiveness and be a viable mainstream energy source. He speaks of battery storage as a key technology still in its infancy, but with potential to address a number of grid stability concerns, including mitigating the intermittency of renewables. Lallum also stresses that wind turbines themselves are continuing to improve in efficiency and cost. With that said, he believes the current technology to watch is PV solar, where costs continue to decline and efficiency continues to improve. For utility scale, this technology is headed to less than $1.00 per watt DC all-in, which makes solar very attractive in a number of markets and locations. “In wind, we’re going to continue


August 2016

to see taller towers and larger rotors. Additionally, turbine manufacturers are delivering new turbine control solutions leading to greater output on an individual turbine basis, and more efficient ways in which to operate these turbines. This is what is driving the next phase of growth in wind.” As it stands, the demand for power will continue to rise on a global scale — as will concerns about reducing carbon emissions. Avangrid Renewables operates, and thrives, at the intersection of energy needs and environmental concerns. “The point is: people are very concerned about climate change, not just in the US, but globally,” Lallum says. “At Avangrid Renewables, we want to be part of the solution. We strive to be the cleanest IPP in the US and are committed to combatting climate change. We believe that renewable energy is the right way to do this.”


“At Avangrid Renewables, we want to be part of the solution. We strive to be the cleanest IPP in the US and are committed to combatting climate change. We believe that renewable energy is the right way to do this” – Erik Lallum, Vice President of Engineering & Construction

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Digita pays d

al transformation dividends

Written by Sarah Megginson Produced by David Kulowitch



Well overdue for a digital overhaul, the Queensland Building and Construction Commission had a huge job ahead of itself after identifying the need to revamp its processes from the inside out. Eighteen months later, the Commission has almost concluded its digital transformation – and QBCC stakeholders are already reaping the rewards


s the state’s building and construction industry regulator, the QBCC has evolved into the thriving and multi-disciplined public service operation it is today. Every builder and contractor in Queensland performing building work must be licensed by the QBCC, which operates other core business services around dispute resolution, insurance and compliance. When Ben Ward stepped into the role as its CIO in 2015, he inherited aging equipment, sub-optimal systems and complicated processes in need of serious reform. For instance, many QBCC applications were not configured effectively, or were under-utilised, or duplicated with other ‘like’ applications,


August 2016

meaning many of the key applications were not well aligned with critical business processes. Across its licensing, dispute resolution, insurance and compliance divisions, the QBCC knew it had the potential for improvement through the adoption of new technology and processes. So, the QBCC zeroed in on two major areas for reform – digital transformation and technology transformation – and quickly got to work. “Over the past 18 months, we’ve undergone a digital transformation that has fundamentally shifted service delivery to QBCC customers,” Ward shares. “Under the vision and drive of the Commissioner and Executive


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Director of Customer Service, with the PMO and Information Services enabling the transformation to happen, a digital transformation strategy and a three-year technology roadmap were developed.”

Bringing overlooked risks to the forefront The QBCC immediately identified the opportunity to streamline its processes into one single service delivery platform, Salesforce, in a transition away from multiple legacy systems. Currently, it has four different systems in the back end that can be time consuming and inefficient for QBCC to operate and support. Bruce McGregor, Executive Director of Customer Service sponsored and drove the digital transformation initiative. “We are in the process of moving away from these legacy systems, and transitioning to Salesforce. By using a single platform we’re able to provide a more seamless service to customers, along with improved access to customer

“By using a single platform we’re able to provide a more seamless service to customers, along with improved access to customer information across the business and faster response times to customers” information across the business and faster response times to customers,” McGregor says. “This has allowed us to identify trends across the state and respond quickly with information. It’s lowering our training costs too, as we will only have to educate our staff on one system; once they’re across it, they have the ability to move more easily to different internal departments without extra training and support.” It wasn’t just the software

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and training that required streamlining and reworking, however. Shortly after he began working at QBCC, Ward initiated a 10-week review of IT, which revealed that more than 50 percent of its core infrastructure and desktop equipment was over five years old and out of warranty. “As well as this, our disaster recovery times were poor, backup restorations were inadequate, and we identified some security vulnerabilities and non-compliance with security standards,” Ward says. “To combat this, we’ve implemented security enhancements, developed security frameworks and policies and we’re implementing security awareness training. We’re also implementing an infrastructure migration project across three phases.” In the Information Services team, a huge and over-looked risk to the business was the fact that it relied on a heavy roster of contractors to perform essential IT functions, many of whom had been contracting to the company for several years and therefore had acquired years of operational knowledge. “We’ve undergone an entire information systems restructure, so we’ve halved the number of contractors and invested heavily in training and upskilling. This

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“ We’ve undergone an entire information systems restructure, so we’ve halved the number of contractors and invested heavily in training and upskilling. This has included hiring more new, permanent staff, but without increasing our overall headcount”

has included hiring more new, permanent staff, but without increasing our overall headcount.”

Improving customer service through new digital channels Improving internal systems has been a massive undertaking at QBCC, and it remains an ongoing process to move towards an efficient and effective set of processes. Another key area of digital transformation has been its external offering, in terms of investing in and delivering new digital channels to its stakeholders. With a goal of encouraging inspectors, contractors and workers to access and complete paperwork, check projects, and


August 2016

access file history, it launched online access to forms and resources as part of its digital revamp. Since launching the first stage of the digital transformation, the business noticed a 38 percent swing towards online. McGregor adds that partnerships are “integral to this process of transforming to digital channels”, including both the internal collaboration and teamwork between PMO, IS and Customer Service, and the relationship between QBCC and external vendors. “Those relationships have been critical. As part of the digital transformation weekly meetings were held between internal and external stakeholders


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August 2016


to keep everything moving forward,” McGregor says. The Commission’s heavy focus is already beginning to pay dividends, with customers increasingly using online methods rather than traditional, resource- and personnelheavy transaction modes, like faceto-face and phone calls. This is allowing the QBCC to engage with builders, contractors, homeowners and other users more efficiently and effectively through digital channels. Their improvements in service delivery and efficiency aren’t going unnoticed, with the QBCC recognised by the Australian Service Excellence Awards; it was named the 2015 National Winner and the 2015 Queensland Winner for achievement in service excellence, for a state or federal government agency. This is particularly satisfying, McGregor says, as public sector agencies “don’t have a great track record of agile delivery or successful service transformations”.

From a technology transformation perspective, Ward adds that: “In creating the three-year technology roadmap we’ve developed a number of metrics and benchmarks to assess and measure our progress and achievements, and we’re having some fantastic wins already. For example, we identified cost savings of more than $1 million in the first six months of rolling out our technology transformation plan, and we have a strategy to decrease spending year-on-year,” he says. “We’ve also decreased helpdesk support queue numbers six-fold, from 300 down to 50, as we’ve been able to increase service response times through improved systems and processes in our back end. The whole process is still ongoing; it’s a strategic initiative aimed at delivering superior customer benefits and customer service so it’s not a quick transformation, but it is steadily becoming a successful one.”

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Energising the smart building revolution Written by John O’Hanlon Produced by Tom Venturo




August 2016


Total Construction’s two decades as a leader in both general and niche construction are a sound basis for it to now emerge a natural partner for developers that want to use technology to achieve low cost and green credentials


rban development is not, alas, a joined up process. Developers, planners and business owners all tend to treat each project as an island. They may secure LEED or comparable accreditation on their office complex, hospital, factory or apartment block but till recently they have not tended to consider energy in the larger context of the precinct, industrial area – or even an entire city. These economies of scale, in association with the incentives and technology advances driving the growth of

renewable energy solutions, have presented one of Australia’s largest private construction companies with an opportunity to lead the field. Total construction was founded in Sydney in 1994 by Steve Taylor and Bill Franks who remain as active owners while the business is led by Jeff Jones as CEO. From modest beginnings it has grown to a turnover of some A$120 million and employs a staff of 110, a structure makes for an agile approach and fast decision making. In the last 21 years it has developed a portfolio of projects large and small in

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most sectors from schools, factories and commercial buildings to airport and infrastructure. It has carved out for itself a special niche in the field of health and aged care, a booming field given that more than 15 percent of Australia’s population is now over 65 and also that of food and beverage manufacturing. These two sectors are specialised, complex and closely regulated: Total has become the go-to construction or fit-out provider in each, having completed more than 40 health

or aged care projects, and worked on ready meals facilities, dairy production lines, bakery facilities, waste treatment facilities, abattoirs and boning rooms.

Jeff Jones CEO

Mark Ardouin NSW General Manager


August 2016

The green energy alternative The company adopts an ‘inside out’ approach, working closely with its clients and making a point of identifying itself with their business. “We like to do things that are a bit more difficult and complex!” says James Bolton, General Manager of Total’s


most recent division, Renewable Energies established in 2012. “Renewable energies were a natural extension of the skillsets we have already, particularly in the food and beverage area.” And, he adds, food manufacturers are large consumers of energy so understand the need to cut costs and the opportunities presented by on-site power generation. As he grows the division, Bolton is encountering different reactions to renewable energy. There’s still

an ‘old school’ mentality, reluctant to change and unable to see the relevance of new technology to their business. There are also a lot of what he calls ‘tyre kickers’ who commission studies and costings, look at the business case but for one reason or another don’t proceed. Luckily he is also finding many renewable energy champions who are primed with enthusiasm, push the project through and make it clear they want to include renewable solutions in their

Mark Varnam NSW Construction Manager

James Bolton Renewable Energies Manager

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$120 million revenue overall business and project: he calls them ‘leaders’. No prize for guessing which ones he likes best: these are smart businesses ready to adopt leading edge technology, and looking to partner with a construction company that can deliver it. Benchmark partnerships One example of a definite leader is Frasers Property, developer of Sydney Central Park development, home to Total’s first renewable energy project and very much a benchmark for future partnerships. “Frasers made it clear they wanted the greenest, most energy efficient project on the planet and have incorporated everything imaginable to get that status – hanging gardens, green walls, recycled water, smart metering systems are all designed in.” The keystone of Central Park’s green aspirations is undoubtedly the Central Thermal Plant (CTP), a gas fired trigeneration plant that provides electricity, chilled and hot water to the entire project. The A$44 million contract to build and install the plant was granted to Total in 2012, and work started in

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“Being a diverse builder allows Total Construction We want to be judged on our ability to meet clients Our main aims are simply to work smart, and prod projects and investing in capability to deliver rene – Jeff Jones, CEO


n to respond to a variety of client challenges. s’ needs in the long term beyond just the price. duce a quality outcome for the lifecycle of our ewable energy projects is aligned with this�


“Frasers made it clear they wanted the greenest, most energy efficient project on the planet” – Jeff Jones, CEO

November that year. It was split into two stages, explains Bolton. “In the first stage of the project, completed in 2013 we were required to complete the design of the plant and undertake the procurement, construction and commissioning of the plant to supply heating and cooling and power to four buildings, out of an eventual eleven, which were completed at that time.” Thanks to the complete success of Stage 1, Total was then awarded Stage 2, which includes design, procurement, construction and commissioning. The entire project was delivered on time and within budget in December 2015. Trigeneration is twice as energy efficient as coal-fired generation. The two 1.1 MW gas engines will save greenhouse gas emissions of up


August 2016

to 190,000 tonnes over the 25 year design life of the plant, equivalent to taking 2,500 cars off the roads each year it’s operating. Chilled and hot water piped to the 2,100 apartments and 50,000 square metres of office and commercial space in the complex delivers a considerable saving when compared to the conventional installation of individual plant rooms and equipment. Instead of 21 chillers, for example, there will be just seven high efficiency chillers saving on capital cost, space, and reducing total power consumption and emissions. Extending the networks The CTP won Total Construction the 2014 award for Best Co-generation or District Energy Project in the National Energy Industry Awards, Australia’s


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August 2016


top awards for energy efficiency and excellence in performance, leadership and innovation in the sector. On the back of this project the company expects to get involved in many more district energy projects. The CTP has already attracted neighbouring properties and Total is developing an extension project to connect chilled water to the adjacent University of Technology Sydney. It has also been brought in to increase the capacity and network of an existing trigeneration facility at the headquarters of Australia’s leading airline, beside Sydney airport at Mascot. Now Total is involved in another ambitious mixed use urban renewal project, in scale to Central Park but located at the nearby city of Parramatta. The A$2 billion contract to develop Parramatta Square was

awarded to Walker Corporation last year. It aspires to be the first of its kind in Australia to utilise smart city technology, will be built to a 5 Green Star rating of the Green Building Council Australia. Benchmarks will be set for sustainability and liveability at the precinct level. This type of development is driven by scale and at Parramatta there is again plenty of scope for extending the network beyond the six buildings in the precinct. Total investment in buildings at Parramatta Square and across the Parramatta region is estimated to reach A$ 8 billion. The establishment of a trigeneration facility in an industrial or mixed use area will always attract the attention of neighbouring businesses keen to reduce their energy costs, and the client will always have an eye on

“Renewable energies were a natural extension of the skillsets we have already, particularly in the food and beverage area” – Jeff Jones, CEO

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the opportunity for expansion, says James Bolton. “Connecting to UTS was always part of the master plan at Central Park, and at Mascot we are going to connect with new offtakers on the airport. Once the


August 2016

next door neighbour finds others are connected, it creates an eagerness to join!” While keeping abreast of district energy projects across Australia will take up a lot of his time he is also very keen to apply renewable solutions in some of Total’s core areas of business. Aged care facilities, he points out are often in extensive premises with a lot of flat roof area and an air conditioning load that lends itself to solar installation. It would


help the private care providers that bring their new build and extension projects to Total Construction an opportunity to bring their costs down, and if they are not as forward thinking as they should be, they may be pushed to renewable thinking by their residents. These belong to the baby boomer generation, he points out, and expect high standards in food, and are environmentally aware. Food and beverage manufacturers too are coming to him with their

enquiries about environmentally friendly waste water treatment or anaerobic digestion to create biogas for on-site power generation. Bolton looks forward to integrating more solar photovoltaic or thermal elements in future district energy schemes. It will be, he thinks, an important element in establishing Total Construction as the leading smart builder in Australia, partnering with the most forward looking clients.

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Vertical Integration in the Construction Sector Estrella’s operations in the Dominican Republic solidify its scope and prevalence across the Caribbean and Central America, becoming a driving force in the construction sector

Written by Mateo Rafael Tablado Produced by Jassen Pintado Interviewee Manuel Genao, President of Grupo Estrella

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roup Estrella is synonymous with growth, development and infrastructure in the Dominican Republic as well as other Caribbean and Central American countries, including Haiti, Costa Rica, and Panama. Its business divisions vertically integrate a full operation capable of delivering value to its customers with each finished work. Grupo Estrella’s clients include companies in the hospital, tourism, hospitality, residential, commercial,


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educational institutions, offices, auditoriums, and public works sectors, among others. Engineering, infrastructure, concrete, cement, mechanical structures and laminates services are provided under the highest international quality, safety and environmental standards


and are certified under OHSAS:18001 standards. Grupo Estrella’s business units are comprised of: • Ingenieria Estrella (Estrella Engineering): Civil works and road construction, with presence in four countries. • Acero Estrella (Estrella Steel): Market leader in metal constructions.

• Concredom: Hydraulic concrete manufacturer. • Cemento Panam (PANAM Cement): Maximum strength Portland cement manufacturing plant. The corporation was founded by Mr. Manuel Estrella, Magna Cum Laude graduate in Civil Engineering from the Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM). He also holds a Master’s Degree in Business

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Administration and another in Corporate Finance. Mr. Estrella is Grupo Estrella’s Chairman of the Board. Mr. Manuel Genao, once Executive Vice President of Grupo Estrella and General Manager of Acero Estrella, is now President of Grupo Estrella and, since January 2016, Vice President of the Board. Mr. Genao, a civil engineer, graduated from the PUCMM, and also holds a Master’s Degree in Business Management. Current operations in the Caribbean Grupo Estrella’s approach aims to strengthen construction products and services marketing to increase efficiency via the following areas of impact. • Countries and marketing • Quality and production systems • Financial management • Development of human talent • Human resource development The following are among the featured projects that Grupo Estrella’s divisions are currently involved in. In the Dominican Republic: • 3,000 housing units in the Ciudad Juan Bosch housing project in Santo Domingo. • The La Cumbre tourist highway,

2,650 Employees at Grupo Estrella

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Santiago—Puerto Plata. • PUCMM’s Faculties of Health Sciences and Engineering buildings in Santo Domingo. • Construction of the second PANAM cement mill in Villa Gautier. • Central Termoelectrica Punta Catalina (Punta Catalina Thermoelectric Plant), Ecovías of Santiago (Santiago Ecological Roadworks), and the dual carriageway highway, Corredor Duarte, projects in consortium with the conglomerate, Odebrect, in Bani. In Haiti: • Les Cayes—Jeremie highway, south of the country. • Caracol Industrial Park in Cap-Haitien. • Lascahobas—Belladere— Frontiere route, bordering Elias Pina. • National Route 1, Plasaince—Camp Coq section.


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In Costa Rica: • North Ring Road Corridor, in partnership with the Hernán Solís construction company. In Panama: • Tocumen International Airport • The Asfaltando tu Ciudad (Repairing City Roads) project in Panama City Both projects in Panama are the result of strategic alliances with Transeq construction co. Up-to-date technology in every business unit Ingenieria Estrella (Estrella Engineering) recently made a

Manuel Genao President of Grupo Estrella


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significant investment to acquire an asphalt plant, Amman Prime 140, which boasts the latest technology and high mobility. Meanwhile, Acero Estrella’s production plant underwent an extension and invested in cuttingedge technology, increasing its production capacity to 18,000 tons of steel per year; the US$2.4 million investment enabled the purchase of Mech Trac, Vernet Beringher and Structural Blaster machinery, which have doubled the cutting, drilling, welding and painting automated processes, allowing for a 1,750 KW capacity and training shifts covering operations 24 hours a day. Likewise, CONCREDOM increased its efficiency with 120 mobile teams for product distribution. The biggest investment, however, is the

Manuel Estrella

400 $


Annual revenue Grupo Estrella

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“Grupo Estrella has taken steps to go into other businesses beyond the construction sector” – Manuel Genao, , President of Grupo Estrella

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construction and implementation of Cemento PANAM’s clinkerization process, with an investment of US$250 million, bringing production capacity to 800,000 tons of clinker per year, making it the country’s, and the Caribbean’s, most modern cement manufacturer. Investment diversification Grupo Estrella has taken steps to go beyond the construction sector. Its most strategic alliance is its partnership with the multinational company, AES, acquiring 4 percent of AES Dominicana shares since 2014. Grupo Estrella is also associated with Multimedios del Caribe, owner of the El Caribe newspaper and the CDN television and radio stations. Other alliances include Santiago’s Metropolitan Hospital, the Cibao International Airport, and the Ochoa Hardware chain. Moreover, because of its strategic geographical location, Grupo Estrella

has set an operations center in Panama as a link to Central America, South America and the Caribbean. CSR: a bastion of health, learning and care for the environment Grupo Estrella’s social responsibility focuses on their workers, families and neighboring communities. The Don Manuel Estrella Escano Health Center, certified by the Ministry of Public Health, provided preventive care and treatment for medical and dental services to more than 4,000 patients in 2015. The Estrella Foundation, meanwhile, leads school sponsorship programs in underprivileged areas. Likewise, an Environment Management Program was created on par with national and international regulations, benefiting the corporation’s Environmental Management in 2015.

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A bright future on the horizon Each of Grupo Estrella’s steps and investments is designed to meet a specific purpose such as increasing production or getting involved in relevant works delivering value to the client and that users will benefit from. Grupo Estrella’s growing international presence increasingly solidifies its status as a leading conglomerate in the region, having already transcended the construction sector to venture into new areas of business.

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Construction Global magazine - August 2016  
Construction Global magazine - August 2016