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Survey establishes Future Research Needs

News Release 29 November 2006


Building Research Survey establishes Industry’s Future Research and Information needs

The building envelope, energy use and efficiency, the performance of building materials, and sustainability and the environment are seen as the most important areas for future research according to the results of a survey of the building and construction industry.

The survey was undertaken for Building Research, the independent industry association owned and directed by the building and construction industry, by Research New Zealand in order to identify the industry’s priorities for future research and information. Building Research will use the survey findings to guide its investment of the Building Research Levy.

Dr Sunil Vather, Building Research’s chief executive, said “We’ve surveyed the industry every year since 1995 and believe that this is the first time that the industry’s top four priorities for future research all received an importance rating of 70% or more.”

The four highest-ranking research areas were: building envelop (79% importance rating), energy use and efficiency (76%), materials performance (75%), and sustainability and the environment (70%).

More than half of the builders, subcontractors, architects and designers, building product manufacturers, building owners and managers and central and local government people surveyed rated joint and junction detailing, rain penetration and assessment of new building materials as being important topics.

Energy efficiency and sustainability and environmental issues, including insulation efficiency and energy efficient heating and cooling systems, were seen as important by more than a third of those surveyed.

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’.

Activities funded range from seminars for builders and designers to high-level scientific research into the level of skill and capacity of the building and construction sector, 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, is also an important priority.

This year Building Research has budgeted $7 million to invest on research and information transfer, an increase of almost 17 percent on 2005-2006. Around $2 million of that investment 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, part-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.

Deciding where investment will be made is a responsibility Building Research takes very seriously Dr Vather says. “This survey is obviously a key input. Other inputs include monitoring overseas trends, NZ Building Code developments, Standards reviews, and government policies.

“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.

ENDS

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