Monthly Archives

October 2019

world engineers convention liveable cities

Community, sustainability, accessibility: Engineering experts share what defines a liveable city

By | Engineering for humanity | No Comments

What defines a liveable city — now and into the future? Is it the infrastructure, the people, the economy, the communities? We asked engineering experts to share their thoughts about what makes liveable cities work.

 For a record seven years, Melbourne reigned as not just Australia’s most liveable city, but the most liveable city in the world. 

Although it was bumped to second place last year (thanks, Vienna), it still serves as an example of how a city can reflect the character and culture of the people living there.

“We have always had a strong focus on incorporating public art and amenity into our major infrastructure projects,” said Victorian Chief Engineer Dr Collette Burke. 

“Through doing this, we have retained our unique character and have created a real sense of belonging throughout the city — by putting liveability front and centre of planning practices.” 

Burke will be speaking at the upcoming World Engineers Convention (WEC) during a special public forum on the future of Melbourne and liveable cities. She added that liveability can’t be pinned to one factor over another. 

“A liveable city has a beautiful natural environment, well-planned infrastructure projects, top-class education, health and transport services, and a diverse and unique culture where everyone can live, work and play,” she said. 

In terms of the criteria used to measure liveability, Chris Champion, Secretary-General for the International Federation of Municipal Engineering and Director International with the Institute of Public Works Engineers Australasia, agreed, saying that many of us innately know what works and doesn’t.

A recent experience moving house reinforced in his mind what matters to people when making those choices. Are there public transport options? Access to healthcare and hospitals, schools, green spaces and parks? Is the air quality good? Is housing affordable? Is there a sense of community?

The point is there’s no one-size-fits-all model, he said.

“A liveable city means different things to different people, or in different stages of life,” said Champion, who will also be speaking about sustainable community infrastructure at the World Engineers Convention public forum. 

Parts of a whole

The Public Forum at the World Engineers Convention will bring together top minds in engineering and city planning to discuss what needs to happen now to make Melbourne — and other Australian cities — liveable in 10 years’ time. 

The Global Liveability Index is a snapshot of how cities around the world rate in categories such as infrastructure, education and healthcare. But keeping cities liveable will become more and more important over the coming decade as countries experience a booming rate of urbanisation. 

The subject of sustainability is particularly important when considering cities of the future. Burke said her priorities for Victoria’s future include baking sustainable practices into engineering. 

“We need to make sure our communities create a sense of belonging, and that they are both accessible and sustainable for generations to come,” Burke said. 

But to achieve this will require collaboration between government, industry and communities. Both Burke and Champion said viewing everything engineers do as parts of a whole will be crucial, and collaboration between sectors will become a must.

“Engineers are responsible for our transport, food, water supply, buildings, housing, communications systems and much more. It will be important that we have integrated planning approaches for precincts that has the community at the heart of development decisions,” Burke said.

“Moving forward, engineers will need to become more multi-disciplinary and aware of the key elements and touch points of the cities they live in. This will be important to ensure they’re involved in the decision-making process and incorporated into technical thinking behind projects.”

Champion agreed, saying that engineers need to capitalise on the benefits of collaborating with other professions as their roles in city building change over time. 

“Infrastructure is the foundation of our sustainable, liveable communities and needs to be made a priority. Engineers can deliver on infrastructure if it’s properly planned and funded,” he said.

Exponential change

External factors like climate change will also continue to throw new challenges at engineers as more cities look to mitigate the effects of extreme weather events, rising sea levels and increasing temperatures. 

“More than ever, we need to consider how the services that we provide from infrastructure can be designed, built, operated and delivered to mitigate impacts and adapt to changes in the environment and our climate,” Champion said. 

“We can’t leave an infrastructure liability for future generations.”

Another factor is the exponential pace of change in technology.

“Like changes in our climate, we need to plan and adapt for changes in our use of technology and how changing technology will provide services for our future communities,” Champion said.

He gave the example of how technology is facilitating more remote working options, which has implications for transport infrastructure, communications technology and delivery of services.

“Extended out, these trends will have significant impacts on our urban planning and how and where we deliver infrastructure,” Champion said.   

Keeping cities liveable will be an ongoing challenge, and what works for Melbourne might not work for Sydney. No matter the location, engineers need to be thinking now about how they can build liveability into cities and work with whatever the future has in store.

“Engineers are driving change and our skills are essential in planning and accommodating for change,” Champion said.

“Engineers have a significant role to play in creating more sustainable cities into the future. Our niche is being able to develop creative solutions for the challenges of tomorrow.”

Dr Collette Burke and Chris Champion will be part of a forum at the World Engineers Convention 20-22 November in Melbourne discussing the future of Melbourne and how to keep our cities liveable. They will be joined by The Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Sally Capp, and Stephen Yarwood, an urban futurist and former Lord Mayor of Adelaide. To attend the public forum, register here

Driving local steel and jobs in SA

By | Diversity and inclusion | No Comments

InfraBuild Construction Solutions has worked with industry partners to prioritise the use of Australian steel and the creation of local jobs for South Australia’s Northern Connector Project.

The companies involved in Adelaide’s Northern Connector Project have followed through on their commitment to procure Australian-made steel and prioritise local workforce participation.

Unblocking congestion across Adelaide

South Australia’s $885 million Northern Connector is a 15.5km stretch of six-lane motorway that makes up a critical part of Adelaide’s ambitious 78km North-South Corridor public works program. The program has been designed to streamline north and southbound traffic, including freight vehicles, between Gawler in the city’s north and Old Noarlunga in the south.

As well as catering for expected increases in traffic, the new motorway will significantly improve freight access to the Port of Adelaide and the industrial areas of Adelaide’s north and northwest, and reduce travel times for commuters travelling to and from Adelaide’s northern suburbs.

Local content, local jobs

InfraBuild Construction Solutions (formerly LIBERTY OneSteel Reinforcing) supplied a significant tonnage of reinforcing steel products to the project, the bulk of which will be used to construct bridges and culverts, and maximised opportunities for local industry.

“The company has worked closely with South Australia’s Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI), head contractor Lendlease and the project suppliers to use locally sourced raw materials, labour and capital as much as possible,” InfraBuild Construction Solutions’ Tom Bishop said.

As many as 480 full-time equivalent jobs per year have been created during construction of the project. To date, more than 50 per cent of those jobs have been filled by northern suburbs residents and at least 90 per cent of on-site labour hours have been undertaken by South Australian workers.

Importantly, many workers employed on the project are people who faced barriers to employment, including workers displaced from South Australia’s automotive industry.

Delivering for South Australia’s economy

Collaboration among the major parties on the project has helped achieve economic benefits for South Australia. Local girder manufacturer Bianco Precast, for example, traditionally sources its Low Relaxation (LR) prestressing strand from offshore. However, Lendlease brokered an arrangement between InfraBuild Construction Solutions and Bianco to procure South Australian-made billet, which was then made into LR strand in Newcastle, New South Wales. The LR strand supplied by InfraBuild Construction Solutions is fully traceable, complies with Australian Standards and comes with ACRS certification.

The DPTI and the Office of the Industry Advocate (OIA) supported the development of this deal and a ‘best-for-project’ team approach produced what was an excellent result for South Australia.

The project is due to be completed in late 2019.

Fostering diversity and inclusion will be explored in detail at the upcoming World Engineers Convention 20-22 November in Melbourne. To learn more and to register, click here.

Barangaroo precinct sustainability

Steel’s sustainability role in iconic Barangaroo precinct

By | Engineering for humanity | One Comment

InfraBuild is helping construct a sustainable and world-class precinct in Australia’s largest city by taking active steps to reduce the embodied carbon in its steel products.

Lendlease’s Barangaroo precinct on the western shoreline of Sydney’s CBD is creating a major urban zone with leading sustainability credentials and world-class amenities.

Barangaroo South’s leadership in demonstrating sustainability initiatives and advanced workplace design has led to it winning several awards, most notably the prestigious Australian Development of the Year award at last year’s Property Council of Australia Innovation and Excellence Awards.

Lendlease said its goal for the wider Barangaroo development is for it to be “the first of its size in the world to be climate positive – that is, to be carbon neutral, water positive and to generate zero waste”.

Already, 89 per cent of all the on-site waste is recycled, reused or repurposed. As a comparison, the average commercial building food court recycles only 25 per cent of its waste.

Steel manufacturer and distributor InfraBuild (formerly LIBERTY OneSteel) played a significant role in the already-completed Barangaroo South precinct through its integrated and collaborative supply of Australian-made reinforcing and structural steel.

InfraBuild Construction Solutions (formerly LIBERTY OneSteel Reinforcing) supplied more than 45,000 tonnes of reinforcing steel product to the Barangaroo South precinct over a 4.5-year supply period. Processes were implemented to ensure a 20 per cent reduction in embodied carbon for the reinforcing steel used, which contributed to the project being awarded a Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) Six Star Green Star – Communities rating, the highest available. All product was delivered with Australasian Certification Authority for Reinforcing (ACRS) certification.

Barangaroo South’s sheer scale and its CBD location added a layer of complexity that required detailed collaboration between InfraBuild Construction Solutions and the project’s construction partners, including developer Lendlease.

Embracing green renewal

Property Council of Australia Chief Executive Ken Morrison praised Sydney’s newest urban redevelopment, which he said “has recalibrated the way Australians think about precinct-scale urban renewal”.

“Lendlease has combined iconic buildings designed by acclaimed architects with world-leading sustainability initiatives that have transformed entire supply chains and challenged large tenants to embrace green business practices,” Morrison said.

With the southern precinct now complete, attention has turned to the landmark Crown Sydney project at the northern end of the Barangaroo site, with InfraBuild supplying 2500 tonnes of structural steel, welded beams and plate to what will be Sydney’s tallest habitable building when it tops out in 2021.

Engineering for humanity and liveability will be explored in detail at the upcoming World Engineers Convention 20-22 November in Melbourne. To learn more and to register, click here.

How 3D printing, generative design and automation will revolutionise the built environment

By | New technology and innovations | No Comments

Advances in technology like 3D printing and generative design are helping reinvent building and construction for the 21st century.

Mention an industry that has been disrupted by technology, and manufacturing immediately springs to mind. For some, it’s a symbol of how innovations like robotics and machine learning are optimising processes and improving productivity.

But if you ask some in the construction industry, it’s a warning sign of things to come. According to Andy Cunningham, Regional Director at software solutions provider Autodesk, construction can be very tech averse. Thoughts of digitisation and automation play into two common fears about the rise of technology: one is the complexity involved; the second is job loss.

“People in construction and building tend to gravitate towards manufacturing as an example of what can happen,” said Cunningham.

The reality, he said, is that technology has the potential to solve some really big challenges in the industry.

“There’s a skills shortage in engineering, so the question becomes how can we implement technology to optimise our human capital, and in the process free up people to do more interesting work,” Cunningham said.

Pioneering technology

The overarching theme of the World Engineers Convention is sustainability, and making the built environment more sustainable can have a huge impact at the global level. At WEC, Matt Gough from Mace (a global construction and consultancy company and Autodesk customer) will feature as a keynote speaker, sharing more about the future of making and sustainability. He will focus specifically on how to address the housing crisis by creating capacity and scale, and reducing the impact on the environment at speed.

By 2050, the world’s population is projected to reach 10 billion people. In Australia, the current population of 25 million will grow to 41 million in that same timeframe, while the number of people dwelling in the country’s two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, will balloon to nearly 8 million each. That’s almost double the present day.

The challenge, said Cunningham, is not just to build more infrastructure to meet these future needs, but for the building industry to do more with less. Technology and the benefits it brings – data, reduced cost, increased productivity – will be crucial to achieving this.

“There are huge sustainability improvements to be had in construction: 30 per cent of construction material ends up as waste, and buildings consume 20 per cent of our water and 40 per cent of our energy. We can’t keep doing what we’re currently doing,” Cunningham said.

Developments like building information modelling (BIM), virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), and 3D printing are game changing for building and construction, and each brings something different to the table.

Generative design can explore thousands of new forms and help engineers tap into their creative side.(Image: Autodesk)

BIM, which Autodesk is known for pioneering, is particularly useful when it comes to optimising designs to be more energy efficient.

“The ability to learn what works, what doesn’t, and to optimise operations based on what the data is telling you to make buildings more sustainable is a huge benefit,” Cunningham said.

Learnings on a building-by-building basis can then be extrapolated to the wider network, he added.

“What changes can then happen on the macro scale for a whole city? We can supersize these learnings from individual buildings to see what needs to change and work towards creating more smart cities,” Cunningham said.

Beyond sustainability, Cunningham said technology is enabling imagination and creativity in the engineering profession as well.

One promising development in this space is generative design, where the user sets constraints and a program produces numerous options based on the parameters.

Cunningham also sees huge potential for integrating 3D printing and other manufacturing methods into construction processes to bring them into the 21st century.

“People still think of 3D printing on a small scale, but it’s now moving into new forms, incorporating new materials like metals and aggregates,” Cunningham said.

“Modular construction is also having a huge impact, and it’s bringing down costs and construction waste, and increasing productivity.”

An Autodesk 3D printer at work. (Image: Autodesk)

He points to some recent examples of how these technologies are helping companies become more innovative, all while helping reduce their footprint.

One is Factory OS, a company based in the US that is using a modular factory method in home construction. According to the company, this method is 20 per cent cheaper and 40 per cent faster than traditional methods.

Another example is Van Wijnen, a construction firm based in the Netherlands. They use BIM software to identify clashes in designs to reduce sequencing changes on site. The firm is also combining BIM with generative design to create a unique spin on urban planning by setting predetermined goals like solar energy potential, backyard size and costs – and letting the software generate countless layout options.

A Van Wijnen design.

Building a community

If past experience is anything to go by, it’s hard to predict how this technology will evolve in the next five years, never mind the next 100. But if he had to guess, Cunningham said he expects to see these technologies create new improvements across the building and construction industry.

“Advancements in material handling will be really exciting, especially the use of 3D printing. We’ll see forms we’ve never seen before and better marriage of form and function,” he said.

However, there’s one thing Cunningham is sure off: it has to be a better, more sustainable world.

“The construction space is the big piece of the sustainability puzzle … We can’t afford to engineer in isolation. It’s imperative to consider how the surrounding community will be affected – we don’t just build a building, we build a community,” Cunningham said.

“There are big benefits when these concepts get translated into the real world.”

The future of engineering innovation and technology will be explored in detail at the upcoming World Engineers Convention 20-22 November in Melbourne. To learn more and to register, click here.