Are we over-constructing our buildings?

This Monday (28 January) the UK’s BBC Radio 4 Today news programme included an interview suggesting that the UK construction industry regularly uses too much material in making a modern building.

Dr Julian Allwood, at Cambridge University, was speaking about his new report on how we use too much material when we make stuff, including buildings. He suggested that one reason is that staff time is expensive when compared with the cost of materials, so shortcuts are made at the design stage by adding in extra construction materials ‘just in case’ rather than taking the time needed to design the building in a more efficient way. He also questioned why new buildings are expected to last 200 years when the evidence suggests that they will only last 40 years before being demolished and replaced.

One question, at least in the public sector which accounts for 40% of UK construction, is whether the new UK requirement to include Building Information Modelling (BIM) processes from the design stage onwards will help achieve the efficiency savings in the whole life costs (WLC) of a new building.

Links:

BBC Radio 4, 28 January 2013

07.23am “Dr Julian Allwood,(www.lcmp.eng.cam.ac.uk/welcome/people/julian-m-allwood) from Cambridge University, explains a report that he authored that says industries must radically cut the amount of materials they use to combat resource shortages and climate change.” www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21227152

Cambridge University

“The Low Carbon and Materials Processing group is a research group within the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge. Our work [includes how] … engineering can contribute to a low carbon future, particularly through reduced energy demand in industry.” www.lcmp.eng.cam.ac.uk/welcome/introduction

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