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Building Research To Invest $7 Million In 06/07

27 June 2006

Building Research To Invest $7 Million In 2006/2007

Building Research, the independent industry association owned and directed by the building and construction industry, has budgeted to invest $7 million in research and knowledge transfer over the next 12 months. This will be an increase of almost 17% on 2005-6.

Building Research invests the Building Research Levy to ensure that New Zealand’s building and construction sector reflects international best practice. Under the Building Research Levy Act, builders are required to pay a levy on all construction contracts over $20,000 at a rate of $1.00 per $1,000. The Act requires the levy to be used ‘for the purposes of promoting and conducting research and other scientific work in connection with the building and construction industry’.

Dr Sunil Vather Building Research’s chief executive said, “A buoyant economy has led to the highest real levels of construction activity in the last 25 years, which in turn increases the levy available for investment.

“However levy receipts can vary considerably from year to year. An economic downturn predicted by many commentators and a resulting fall in construction activity could see less levy collected over the next year. Should this happen, we will use our reserves to ensure the investment programme is not compromised.”

Activities funded by Building Research range from seminars for builders to high-level scientific research on issues such as energy use and efficiency, fire protection, the performance of buildings after earthquakes and floods, and health and safety in houses.

Current research priorities include the level of skill and capacity of the building and construction sector, consumer education, building performance following floods and earthquakes, health and safety in housing, structural integrity and durability, and energy use and efficiency. The effects of urban densification, housing more people more closely together, are also an important but less immediate priority.

Around $2 million is earmarked for information and technology transfer, and providing independent research-backed advice to people involved in the industry.

This advice includes seminars BRANZ Bulletins, and an 0800 Advisory Service. Opportunities for information transfer arise through the highly regarded BUILD magazine, funded by the Levy and published by Building Research’s subsidiary BRANZ Ltd, and Builder’s Mate, a four page bulletin series written specially for frontline builders and available free from branches of Carters, PlaceMakers, Benchmark, ITM and Mitre 10.

Building Research also provides a range of scholarships and awards to a total value of $200,000 each year to assist outstanding students undertake research in fields which are important to the construction sector.

A further $300,000 has been set aside for work in Standards Committees and New Zealand Building Code revision commentary in 2006/2007.

“This year we have also looked forward to 2010/2011 to see where research could best address the likely challenges the industry will be facing then. This involved determining what percentage of the available funding should be applied to seven priority areas and how this pattern of investment might change over the next five years to help enable the sector to meet the challenges of the future,” Dr Vather said.

Table 1: Approximate percentage of total investment in different areas for each year.

2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11
Knowledge, information and technology transfer 35 33 30 28 26 26
Safe and healthy buildings 31 28 23 22 19 22
Future awareness 11 11 11 11 12 12
Environmental/sustainability 11 11 13 14 14 14
Building Code and Standards 6 6 7 7 7 7
Management of the existing building stock 5 5 7 7 10* 7
Innovation and improved industry practices 1 6 9 11 12 12
100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%

*Next House Condition Survey due

Deciding where investment will be made is a responsibility Building Research takes very seriously. Dr Vather says,

“The Building Research team undertake extensive consultation that includes surveying a wide range of building and construction sector people comprising builders, subcontractors, architects and designers, building product manufacturers, building owners and managers, and central and local government staff.

“The resulting investment programme must help foster best practice across the sector and advance our goal of delivering a built environment that is highly valued by New Zealanders and results in a better quality of life,” Dr Vather said.


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