The result of the “climate change election” may have been surprising to some, but what’s no longer up for debate is that climate change is now front of mind for many, if not most. The UN has set a deadline of 12 years in which to dramatically lower carbon emissions to reduce the threat of widespread species extinction. One solution being proposed is the circular economy, a system in which resource input and waste, emissions, and energy leakage are reduced by closing or narrowing “energy and material loops”. The Circularity Gap Report 2019, released during the World Economic Forum, claims society’s best hope for mitigating the impacts of climate change is by moving to a circular economy. And clearly the time for this thinking to be applied in our industry has come; out of Australia’s total waste, the waste from construction and demolition contributes around 40 per cent. While pure circular economy thinking is an ambitious goal for the offsite sector, it is a noble one, and one that looks set to gain traction. Our main feature (page 15) looks at how circular economy thinking aligns with offsite construction, and some of the ground-breaking initiatives being undertaken in this space.
Another front-of-mind issue is the affordable housing crisis. Robert Pradolin (page 31), of Housing All Australians, addresses this challenge in the first of our new opinion pieces on page 31. I’m also proud to introduce our new profile slot (page 39), featuring Jarrod Waring, a prefabAUS Board member and CEO of Fleetwood. Finally, our latest Built Offsite Forum (page 32) takes a look at how architects are engaging with offsite construction. As primary specifiers, architects wield serious influence and their relationship with the sector is evolving in interesting and challenging ways.■
Managing Editor Built Offsite
Early June marks our third prefabAUS international study tour, this time to the UK, following Sweden in 2017 and the US/Canada in 2018. This year’s tour starts in London and ends in Aberdeen, Scotland, with a program including presentations by industry experts and visits to a wide range of factories and projects. This, like all our study tours, would not be possible without our host organisations’ generosity, and that of industry leaders who so kindly make presentations to our group. There certainly is plenty happening in the UK at the moment, with the government rolling out an offsite procurement program for infrastructure projects. It is also looking at how to address a structural capacity problem in the housing sector, which perpetually under-delivers on the target for home production, (a challenge predating the onset of Brexit that made the value of the UK Pound tumble, contributing to many construction workers from Europe heading home.) And in a move more often seen in the US with its highly evolved capital markets, just last month it was announced that Goldman Sachs, a US investment bank, has invested GBP 75m into Top Hat – a UK manufacturer of modular homes that commenced production only a year ago.
This issue’s main feature looks at the circular economy as applied to construction; a topic that links to our upcoming conference in September; International Keynote Speaker Kasper Guldager Jensen will present on Architecture in the Circular Economy. Kasper is Senior Partner at Danish architecture company 3XN and the Director of 3XN’s innovation company, GXN. The ‘G’ in GXN stands for green, highlighting GXN’s dedication to ecological design. His thinking points to a clear reset in terms of how we think and use materials, and is explored through projects from upcycled tower concepts in Sydney to a fully circular house in Copenhagen.■