ACIF executive director Peter Barda

27 March 2014 — The Australian Construction Industry Forum will release new policies on 2 April aimed at improving the productivity of the industry while also setting a clear mandate and pathways for embedding sustainability into design and construction.

Key recommendations include calling for the Federal Government to appoint a Government Architect to provide leadership and a clarion call for urgent action to address the challenges of climate change.

ACIF is also supporting calls for the appointment for a federal minister for cities, and publicly funded incentives for the alteration, retrofitting and rebuilding of the nation’s current building stock to achieve greater energy efficiency. In addition, ACIF states the industry must continue to promote to all clients whole-of-life costs and benefits.

ACIF executive director Peter Barda told The Fifth Estate the policies are the result of six months of discussion, research and consultation among the organisation’s 18 member associations, which include The Property Council, the Australian Mechanical Contractors Association, the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, Consult Australia, the Housing Industry Association, the Master Builders Association, Facility Management Association of Australia, National Fire Industry Association, Master Plumbers, Engineers Australia, Precast Association of Australia, Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, National Electrical and Communications Association, Fire Protection Association, Australian Institute of Building Surveyors, Australian Institute of Building, Australian Constructors Association and the Association of Consulting Architects Australia.

The involvement of most of the key industry associations could be seen as a position of unity on the need to make sustainability a core element of all design and construction decisions.

“The [sustainability] policy represents a consensus; it is the position of all our members,” Mr Barda said.

ACIF has a close relationship with the Australian Procurement and Construction Council, the peak body that represents all levels of government in Australia and the government agencies involved in building and public works. This relationship creates what Mr Barda described as a “place for the industry to share concerns”.

In terms of achieving government implementation of the policy measures, which directly relate to government policies and procedures, Mr Barda said it will come down to “the usual shoe leather and flapping of gums”.

“We will be launching the policy formally next week, and then we will be writing to government and urging them to think better [about sustainability].

“We will also be [engaging with] the media so people are aware there are better ways of doing things.

“There are things [the construction sector] can do better, [especially] if clients are prepared to think differently.”

Mr Barda said the policy does not attempt to create a new set of tools, as ACIF relies on the Green Building Council of Australia and the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia and similar organisations to provide the metrics for sustainability.

The other new ACIF policies include key recommendations around housing affordability, with ACIF calling for a Productivity Commission inquiry into the cost of Australian housing; and positions on procurement, government regulations, workforce relations, workplace health and safety, and occupational licensing.