Resilience and Sustainability

With the eight-year mark since the first earthquake sequence fast approaching, we’ve found ourselves reflecting on the importance of resilience in everyday life, but specifically when considering building stock. Resilience is required to minimize the flow-on effect from natural disasters, changeable economic times, and uncertain future climates. Resilience is typically incorporated into all our projects in some form or another, whether they be new structures, improvements, repair work, or professional advice.

Resilience – in a construction sense – is about adding long-term value, by considering a full building lifecycle, through:

  • Future proofing the design of the building. This covers things such as the change of use for the building, through to technology changes which may not be fully developed yet. What could we use car-parking buildings for when self-driving cars drop us off at work, and drive themselves home autonomously?
  • Building smarter – incorporating low-damage details into building design, which can be constructed with little or no increase in build-cost.
  • Embracing new technologies – such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) – to clearly communicate the design intent in 3D form to:
    • Contractors – to ensure it’s built correctly, reduce risk of miscommunication etc.
    • Owners/developers – they can picture what they are getting before it’s built
    • Maintenance contractors – allowing repairs and cleaning to be completed in a more time-efficient manner

Of equal importance to resilience is sustainability. The construction industry is responsible for approximately 50% of all waste that goes to landfills, and as such, has a large negative impact on the environment – but this also provides the greatest potential to improve. We’ve further increased our focus on sustainability recently by:

  • Considering our use of materials on projects in a more detailed manner. Structural timber acts as a ‘carbon-sink’, contributing to an overall healthier atmosphere. It also has other desirable qualities such as fire resistance and ease of construction, while reducing the overall weight of the building.
  • Starting to collate a library of best-practice structural details for energy efficiency, which incorporate new manufacturing and construction techniques.
  • Working on ways to motivate contractors to be responsible for waste reduction and recycling on site and to reduce their environmental impact on the project.

New Zealand has been through a lot in recent times and many of us have experienced significant loss due to some of these natural events. We see this next period as a real opportunity to learn and provide innovative solutions that can have a positive impact on our people and planet, whilst delivering them at a competitive build cost. We look forward to continuing to partner with you in this.

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