The third annual Building Leaders Brief Industry (BLBI) event, presented by the Building Products Industry Council (BPIC) was held on Wednesday 17 February.
This year, it focused on regulatory changes, economic outlook, government and industry projects and potential new marketing opportunities for suppliers.
Here’s our top 6 takeaways from the day.
1. COVID-19 has impacted the construction industry
2020 was a tumultuous year for an industry responsible for employing 9.1% of Australia’s total workforce.
Prior to COVID, commercial building had been at a record high. Although the pandemic boosted some industrial, warehousing and distribution building projects, a lot of ground has been lost as demand for big ticket projects and those dependant on international travel has decreased.
After a slowing down of activity throughout the industry in 2020, early 2021 marks the beginning of the recovery stage. When reflecting on what the next 5 years would entail, Shane Garrett, Chief Economist at Master Builders Australia, described it as ‘unpredictable’.
Dr Imke Mattik, from McKinsey & Company, agreed that there has been a slowing down of activity in 2020, however suggested that inefficiencies in the building and construction industry existed before COVID, and have only been exacerbated since. She drew our attention to the fact that currently, demand significantly outweighs supply, and the increasing regulatory requirements relating to environmental sustainability, safety and quality are further slowing down processes.
The underlying message for the industry – it will be a slow recovery from COVID and everyone across the industry will need to look towards how efficiency can improve in the next few years.
2. Queensland is leading the way by enforcing the chain of responsibility in building product compliance
In the wake of both the Grenfell and Opal Tower incidents, it is more important than ever to regain consumer confidence in the building industry.
According to Yvonne Pengilly, Assistant Commissioner Technical at Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC), the way to achieve this is through regulation.
She touched on the great challenge the building and construction industry faces at a time when consumers increasingly expect ‘more for less’ in relation to speed, quality and price. However, this demand should not diminish the responsibility on those within the industry to ensure products are compliant with relevant codes and standards.
Yvonne praised Queensland for leading by example through the enforcement of the Non-Conforming Building Products (NCBP) legislation, which places equal responsibility on all involved in the chain to ensure products are compliant. The penalties applicable for non-compliance, combined with the education work being undertaken, will work towards increasing safety for not only workers onsite, but the general public day-to-day within the places they work and live.
3. Progress has been made on implementing BCR recommendations
Bronwyn Weir, Managing Director at Weir Legal Consulting, provided an update on the progress of the Building Confidence Report (BCR) Implementation Plan and what it means for building product suppliers and regulators charged with overseeing compliance.
One key area of progress has been the work undertaken on developing learning modules tailored for specific practitioner groups including building surveyors, designers, engineers and builders.
This was among other updates including publishing a Model Code of Conduct for Building Surveyors – a document setting out the conduct standards and expectations on building surveyors when issuing building permits.
4. NBS Source is helping manufacturers expose their products to specifiers
Our very own Eva Dixon, Sales Director at NBS Australia, presented a detailed rundown on NBS Source – our online platform connecting specifiers and manufacturers.
With an increasing drive throughout the industry for high-quality product data, Eva spoke about the benefits for manufacturers using Source to market their products digitally. Source’s integration with Chorus, our online specifying software, means manufacturers can work collaboratively with specifiers to ensure products are specified correctly.
Watch the video to learn how NBS is helping manufacturers and suppliers expose their technical product information to specifiers using the power of connected data.
5. The NSW Government is working towards a greener building industry
Fostering a culture of greener building and design throughout the construction sector was a key theme of this year’s BLBI event.
Turlough Guerin, from the Department of Planning Industry & Environment took us through the NSW Government’s Low Emissions Building Materials Program – aimed at working with Australian and New Zealand manufacturers and users of these materials to grow market demand and support the building industry to make them readily available for commercial use.
He explained how traditional construction materials are carbon-intensive to manufacture and result in high levels of embedded carbon (e.g. steel, cement, glass and aluminium). In NSW alone, the production and use of construction materials is responsible for 10% of total annual emissions.
The NSW Government is encouraging the voluntary use of low emission building materials (LEBMs) such as ‘green’ steel and concreate and alternative products including geopolymers, as part of a broader plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
6. Mainstream TV can drive the uptake of energy efficient homes & building materials
The final speaker of the day, James McGregor, The Blue Tribe Company CEO, captured our attention by explaining how a TV program could change consumer behaviour.
The Blue Tribe Company has teamed up with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage to develop two lifestyle programs and mass media campaigns to showcase the benefits of adopting sustainable housing options.
This was based on findings from the Low Carbon Living Cooperative Research Centre (LCLCRC) that a top-down education approach was largely ineffective in changing consumer behaviour.
He went on to explain how entertainment and story-telling resonates better with homeowners and home renovators.
Stay tuned for the first season of ‘Renovate or Rebuild’, coming to Channel 9 this year.