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 Identifying Sector Needs

An essential task for BRANZ is to:

  • identify the new knowledge needs of the building and construction sector
  • design research and information strategies to meet these needs.

We work closely with relevant industry groups to refine priorities for research work to be undertaken for the good of the sector. To further collect the industry's views on what it sees as being important for future development, a number of methods and information sources are used.

To determine funding priorities and initiatives, our research strategy processes then combine all this collected information and integrate it with:

  • our knowledge of trends - such as changes in urban densification in New Zealand or the number of new houses, schools and so on that will be needed in each region over the next 20 years or ­the vastly increased amount of plantation forest timber due to be harvested
  • the portfolios adopted by other funders
  • our knowledge of research and information generation in progress both in New Zealand and offshore.

Industry Needs Survey
Distributed biennially to approximately 4,500 industry contacts, this survey asks respondents about key research and information needs and about preferred ways for industry to receive information.

Industry workshops
Industry participants are invited to share their views on industry information needs and development. In 2008, a workshop was held with a number of key industry thinkers with the specific brief to consider the industry's short- to medium-term research needs. Download the output of this meeting - a short-form research agenda.

Environmental profiling workshops
BRANZ is seeking to understand the perspectives of NZ Inc. on environmentally profiling materials and the potential application of life cycle assessment (LCA) in New Zealand to help evolve the agenda. BRANZ recognises it is important to appreciate industry knowledge, enthusiasm, capacity and tools.

As part of this process, international environmental experts Arup were commissioned by BRANZ to facilitate and report on two workshops (one for manufacturers and the other for designers) held in mid 2010 to:

  • determine if there is a desire or need within the New Zealand building industry to improve the tools for the environmental profiling of building material
  • explore the potential role of life cycle assessment (LCA) as part of this development
  • provide input for the BRANZ roadmap for NZ Inc., moving forward in this area.

Two summary reports - one for manufacturers and one for the design community - detail the approach, outcomes and possible way forward.

If you have any queries regarding this project, please email Roman.jaques@branz.co.nz.

Building controls reviews
Building control documents such as the Building Act 2004, the review of the New Zealand Building Code and associated standards are key documents for the sector, and identifying gaps in the knowledge that underpins the industry's ability to implement these is a very important driver for Levy investment. The Building Research Levy funds expert involvement in reviews of these types of documents to assist the sector.

Phone advisory feedback
The monitoring of our phone advisory service part-funded from the Building Research Levy provides evidence of common questions, issues and trends from the industry and public.

Published government strategies and policies
Key government strategies and policies referred to include:

  • National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy
  • New Zealand Transport Strategy
  • New Zealand Waste Strategy
  • New Zealand government signing the Kyoto Protocol
  • Urban Design Protocol
  • Ministry of Science and Innovation strategies.

We work with government departments directly and indirectly to bring an informed industry view and to help shape strategies and policies that benefit New Zealand and are also workable in the construction sector.

Overseas trends
Overseas trends such as the increasing attention to energy efficiency, the increasing recognition of the importance of environmental issues and the potential improvements in processes at the design stage and on site are also factored into strategising of the Building Research Levy investment programme. In addition to a seat on the CIB board, BRANZ staff are active on numerous international research task groups and bring insight on emergent trends back to New Zealand to be factored into the forward research planning process.