The Great Debate - Brickworks Presents
Articles, Engineering

The Great Debate

Engineering and construction have a crucial role in the post-pandemic recovery of both the Australian and global economies. Brickworks have brought together a panel of senior representatives from Government and Industry, discussing the ways in which the community can support and drive quality-based outcomes in the Australian Construction Sector.

As industry partners to Engineering Australia, Brickworks has recently brought together leaders from Government, Construction, Architecture, Facade and Structural Engineering sectors to share their views on how the industry can work towards building a quality-driven future. 

With the release of the NSW building reforms and further submissions for design and building regulations in the works, the webinar saw Dr. James Glastonbury, Kathlyn Loseby, Tony Lavorato and Matthew Davidson, representatives from various sectors, shine light on a number of themes. The mission as an industry and the accountability that stems from it took primary focus with all four leaders acknowledging the fact that change is needed, requiring bold conversations by engineers, architects, builders and designers for the future. 

“As we come out of the public health crisis that 2020 was, our role in what follows after becomes more acute and important with a responsibility that we as professionals and broadly the construction sector plays” explains Laing O’Rourke’s Technical Director, Dr. James Glastonbury. “There is no doubt that the economic rebuild will be focussed on construction and infrastructure, Governments have done that for generations – we’ve tended to build our way out of these economic crises. However, we can’t tackle that task the same way we did historically, we have to use this task to drive these industry changes that we know will leave a better world for the generation of tomorrow”. 

There is a great responsibility that comes with the task ahead, requiring a degree of courageous thinking and collaboration that is not seen enough in the industry. When Engineers Australia’s General Manager, Greg Ewing proposed the question to the panel; ‘what is our responsibility as designers, engineers of the future and now, in terms of the environment to push further in sustainability’, several key notions were raised. 

Covid brought an array of challenges surrounding quality, resilience and sustainability to the construction sector. The Department of Planning is being proactive and encouraging development to lean into quality assurance, resilience and sustainability. However, as designers and practitioners of the future, more needs to be done. The operational side of carbon emissions and energy use is taking an effect, however is only a small part of the big picture as Regional Manager of Inhabit Group, Matthew Davidson explains. 

“Construction as an industry generates higher emission during the construction phase which can be measured through the embodied energy and carbon of products. There is a measuring tool that is readily available, however is not being used to its potential as it is overseas. It should be our responsibility to push it here locally”. Matthew went on to explain that from the structural side of things, there is a strong push with timber being used instead of concrete and steel that has seen a really positive response. 

There needs to be a strong focus on what makes up the material that the industry incorporates throughout construction. “We’ve run into trouble in the past where you may have been sold a certain product and not know exactly what makes up that product. In terms of responsibility and testing, I think it is the engineer and designers responsibility to ask the questions”. 

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