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How do you solve a problem like construction?

One of Australia’s newest Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs), Building 4.0 CRC is looking to boost innovation in a sector that has traditionally been slow to change: the construction industry.

According to Building 4.0 CRC’s website, for decades building has been plagued by rising costs, stagnant productivity, high waste and low margins. These problems are compounded by the record demand for buildings of increasing complexity and higher performance standards, with increased customer expectations and sustainability requirements.

Building 4.0 CRC has been established to meet these demands while finding new efficiencies to lower costs. It is doing this through three integrated research programs: Sectoral Transformation, Digital Transformation, and Building Transformation. Within these, the CRC aims to lead industry change and deliver a new building eco-system by leveraging the latest technologies of the fourth industrial age such as prefabrication and AI, promoting human-centric design, and encouraging new thinking and expert collaboration between best-in-class partner organisations.

Like other CRCs, Building 4.0 is an industry-led research initiative co-funded by the Australian government. Partner organisations include Lendlease, A.G. Coombs, the Green Building Council of Australia and Standards Australia, as well as Monash University, University of Melbourne, and QUT.

The CEO of Building 4.0 CRC, Professor Mathew Aitchison, acknowledges the challenge ahead.

“Attempts to innovate in construction are not new,” writes Prof. Aitchison in the most recent issue of Building Culture.

“Over the past century, there have been many different efforts and approaches, all around the world. But construction is well-known as an industry that is difficult – even resistant – to change.

“Building 4.0 CRC proposes to bring together two main elements to solve this problem. The first is a continuation and deepening of the processes of industrialisation in the building industry – effectively, the transformation of building away from a construction logic towards a manufacturing logic. The second seeks to leverage the new technologies and processes that have been presented by the Fourth Industrial Age, to aid and even accelerate this transformation process.”

Prof. Aitchison will be discussing Building 4.0 CRC at the live-streamed Future of HVAC 2021 Conference, organised by AIRAH. In his presentation, he will provide an update on the work of the CRC so far, and reflect on the building industry and its problems. Prof. Aitchison will talk about what he sees as the next big jump in the industry – the move to a platform business model – and the implications of this jump. There will also be a special focus on HVAC, including the Building 4.0 CRC projects in this area.

For more information on the Future of HVAC 2021 conference, click here.

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