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The US Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon has a counterpart in Solar Decathlon Europe, which took place over two weeks this year in Madrid, from September 14 to 30. In a Solar Decathlon, college teams from around the world compete to design and construct small houses that showcase sustainable design, materials and technologies.
In these tough, competitive times there's something in there for the building industry to consider.
But, the authors go on to say, these houses won't be new for long - and if something is not done they will not age well.
The Grattan Institute has released a report, Tomorrow's Suburbs: Building flexible neighbourhoods, that recommends how planners and designers can make new suburbs more adaptable to change. In recent months a series of Environment Design Guide notes, EDG 70 PD, 71 RC and 72 DH, have raised awareness within the architectural profession of the practical uses and application of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). BlueScope Steel endorses the LCA approach, and wishes to lend its voice to the call for its wider adoption by the architectural profession and the building industry. We all want a silver bullet: an easy and inexpensive way to fulfil our responsibility to sustainable development.
The winner of the 2012 Australian Timber Design Award is Paul Haar Architect for the stunning Candlebark School Library, an earth-covered library built into the side of a hill in Victoria's Macedon Ranges. The broad-span timber roof of the library supports a 500-600 mm layer of earth and is made of LVL (laminated veneered lumber) billets and massive exposed portal frames. Architect Victoria Clark has a plan to make 100% post-consumer recycled paper readily available for architectural practices in Australia.

This will enable Victoria to work with a manufacturer to develop a suitable supply of paper that meets architects' requirements and is 100% post-consumer recycled. A new report by the Department of Climate Change & Energy Efficiency sets out a cost-benefit methodology analysing options to reduce vulnerability to climate change impacts and select the approach which offers the best long-term pay-off. ASBEC's Zero Emissions Residential Task Group has released a report on the uptake of energy efficient refurbishments. The report, Drivers of Demand and Towards Zero Emissions Retrofits, finds that the strongest factors influencing uptake include the age and condition of the building, rising energy prices, short payback times and increased property value, appearance and visibility of the measures, as well as the householder income group and the desire for increased comfort and convenience.
BIM is increasingly becoming the standard method for producing documentation and other project deliverables in the building industry.
Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) in association with RMIT's Centre for Design will be running a Life Cycle Assessment Training Series in Melbourne and Sydney in November 2012. The UTAS School of Architecture and Design in Launceston, Tasmania, is continuing its long tradition of learning-by-making with two exciting workshops this summer. The Digital Fabrication with Timber Studio is a three-day intensive studio that offers participants hands-on experience of digital design and fabrication processes with timber.
The Australian Timber Design Workshop is a two-week Australian Timber Design Workshop (ATDW) in which participants will design, fabricate, construct and install a small timber building from a controlled timber-rich palette in eleven days. If you would prefer not to receive emails of this nature, please select the 'Unsubscribe' link above. And although recent and planned developments are working to make it more accessible, the temptation is for practitioners to substitute it with a single metric, such as carbon or embodied energy.

Focusing on one metric to the exclusion of others risks suboptimal results by masking other impacts. In these cases it is still important to consider a range of measures and timeframes, to ensure that you don't overlook other immediate impacts, or future impacts in the use and end of life phases.
There is enough plantation timber available to meet demand, yet we are still clearing native, and in some cases old growth forests, with devastating consequences.
Through a range of project case studies and some results from post occupancy studies, he will review the local climate relevance, material selections and use of technological fixes. Other important metrics include water use, recyclability, ecotoxicity, human rights, biodiversity and resilience.
A single indicator also in effect makes the value judgement that other impact categories are less worthy. Only Life Cycle Thinking, which employs a multi-metric, whole-of-life, whole-of-building approach, can satisfactorily deliver truly sustainable results for your project. But on the plus side, we do have options here and now and the day is fast approaching when LCA won't seem nearly as complex and difficult as it does today. John will also relate a building to the human body, how their energy functions are similar, and discuss the impact of human behaviour.

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