Transforming Construction Network Plus explores projects working towards net zero target
25 June 2020
International speakers discuss offsite construction, refurbishment and prefabrication during Transforming Construction Network Plus webinar
Offering the opportunity to hear from international experts on offsite construction and energy efficiency, the Transforming Construction Network Plus held its fourth international webinar on Wednesday 10 June. Moderated by Prof Paul Ruyssevelt of the UCL Energy Institute, the session featured Dr Thaleia Konstantinou, Assistant Professor at Delft University of Technology; Professor Deo Prasad, CEO of the Low Carbon Living CRC and Dr Malay Dave, sessional academic at the University of New South Wales in Australia.
Speakers discussed past and present projects that have focused on energy efficiency, and considered how lessons learned from such projects can help us shape the future of offsite construction and achieve the net zero carbon target.
Starting the webinar, Dr Konstantinou offered an overview of the building stock in The Netherlands, describing its similarities with the UK sector. Explaining that only 1% of new buildings are added each year, she highlighted the importance and potential of refurbishment. To meet the net zero target, she outlined the need for deep renovation and an increase in the number of renovated dwellings, as well as introducing prefabrication and offsite construction as potential routes to consider.
Considering industrialisation, she noted that learning from errors in the past might help to develop better, replicable solutions:
'We need to use the potential that industrialisation offers to increase the effectiveness, the productivity but also the quality, while minimising on-site construction time.'
Dr Konstantinou then presented two initiatives from the Netherlands: Energiesprong, a whole house refurbishment construction and funding approach, and 2ndSkin project, a zero-energy refurbishment solution for residential apartment buildings. She concluded that, by combining current technologies and relevant business models, there is real potential to accelerate the sector’s transition towards net zero.
Taking a different approach, Prof Prasad presented projects that had been developed in the Australian built environment context. He introduced one of the initiatives developed by the University of New South Wales, a 15-year solar supply agreement, which had brought together a retailer, developer and corporate, to enable the university to achieve its goal of carbon neutrality on energy use by 2020.
He also discussed a study undertaken by the Low Carbon Living CRC which sought to identify energy efficiency measures; over a 40-year lifetime, the financial benefits from a societal perspective were likely to outweigh the capital cost of the technology installed.
Prof Prasad concluded with his insights on a low waste and low energy design project at the University of New South Wales, featuring a very efficient mode of construction.
Following Prof Prasad’s presentation, Dr Malay Dave provided insights into prefabricated construction in Australia. While prefabrication offers key advantages such as increasing sustainability performance, increasing quality, and reducing costs and risks, he noted some of the problems that could explain its slow adoption by the sector.
Presenting a potential solution, he discussed a current collaborative research project, which outlined a high-performance modular housing venture. This would offer both environmentally sustainable and economically affordable construction, plus a design that could cope with multiple climates.
Sharing some reflections on the country’s recent economic difficulties, he also described the challenges that Australian companies have to overcome to succeed:
‘Good design and high-performance construction system are not going to guarantee the success in prefabrication, there are many factors, including business models, market forces, social acceptances and many other factors that are quite important to consider.’
He closed his presentation on a hopeful note, highlighting some of the projects and companies that are helping to define the future for prefabrication in Australia.
The webinar concluded with a panel discussion moderated by Professor Paul Ruyssevelt.
This event was the fourth N+ international webinars, which is part of the Transforming Construction Challenge. The N+ is funded by UK Research and Innovation through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The N+ is uniting construction’s academic and industrial communities to create a new research and knowledge base, dedicated to addressing the systemic problems holding back the sector.
A recording of the webinar is available to watch online:
About our speakers
Dr.Ing Thaleia Konstantinou
Dr.Ing Thaleia Konstantinou is an Assistant Professor at the chair of “Building Product Innovation”, in the Department of Architectural Engineering and Technology of Faculty of Architecture, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands. She studied Architecture at the National Technical University of Athens. Since 2006, she has been a certified architect as a member of the Technical Chamber of Greece. In September 2014 she concluded her PhD research at the Faculty of Architecture, TU Delft, The Netherlands. Dr Konstantinou’s research on the topic of façade refurbishment strategies was part of the research programme “Green Building Innovation”. Currently, Thaleia’s activities focus on energy efficiency, circularity, façade design and construction, industrialisation and product development, working on integrated approaches for the decarbonisation of the built environment. Some of the projects that she has actively participated are the research project "2ndSkin", a national and European co-funded project aiming at the design, construction and monitoring of a refurbished apartment prototype, "Beyond the Current: user preference tested design solutions for energy-efficient housing renovation", and COST Action TU1403 “ADAPTIVE FACADES NETWORK.”
Scientia Professor Deo Prasad AO FAIA
Professor Prasad is one of the leading experts in sustainable, low carbon and evidence-based design, planning and policy in Australia. He has been the CEO of the Low Carbon Living CRC [lowcarbonlivingcrc.com.au] for the last seven years and is a distinguished professor in this field at the University of New South Wales (built environment). His qualifications range from an undergraduate degree in architecture to a masters in building physics and a PhD in heat transfer engineering. Deo has produced more than 300 publications, including books and chapters in books in this field. He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering as well as the American Institute of Architects. He has over 25 years’ experience in practice, academia and government so has a good understanding of collaboration to deliver sustainable outcomes.
Dr Malay Dave
Dr Malay Dave is a sessional academic at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia. With a bachelor’s degree in architecture from CEPT University (India) and a master’s degree in built environment (Sustainable Development) from UNSW Sydney, he practiced architecture for 12 years in India and Australia. For more than a decade Malay has taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses on sustainability within the Faculty of Built Environment at UNSW Sydney.
Dr Dave also runs his own research and design consultancy and has been involved in national and international projects in the field of sustainable design, climate change mitigation, adaptation, eco-retrofitting and prefabricated housing.
Until recently, he worked as a researcher in a multidisciplinary research team at the Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL) based at UNSW. There he was awarded a full doctoral scholarship to conduct industry collaborative research, which involved him assisting Australian prefab housing companies addressing their design, sustainability, and affordability issues. He was awarded a PhD in the field of high-performance prefab housing in 2019.
Professor Paul Ruyssevelt
Professor Ruyssevelt is an architect with 30 years’ experience in the field of low energy and sustainable buildings. In 1984 he designed a group of offsite manufactured super-insulated houses which he went on to help build, live in and monitor for three years. Paul has run an energy monitoring company and, for ten years, managed the energy team at the major engineering consultancy.
Prof Ruyssevelt was UK MD at Energy for Sustainable Development Ltd from 1999, and in 2008 became Strategic Projects Director for ESD’s parent Camco, an international company working across all sectors in the fields of carbon, climate change, sustainable energy and sustainability. Prior to joining University College London, he worked with the Innovate UK to manage the Retrofit for the Future programme.
Paul joined UCL’s Energy Institute in January 2012 to take up a Chair in Energy and Building Performance and lead the institute's activities in the field of non-domestic buildings. He leads the Building Stock lab which is actively developing a digital twin the UK building stock.