The first virtual Be Summit has concluded with over 1200 participants enjoying a full day of conversation, debate and inspiration surrounding the issues and future of Australia’s built environment.
Be Summit Event Manager, James Laing, said this year’s virtual event was a much-needed connection for professionals in the building, construction and design industries.
“Feedback has been exceptional and the large number of questions and lively participation of attendees in the chat room proved this was an event the industry really needed,” said James.
The Be Summit was hosted by author, presenter and political commentator, Jamila Rizvi, who provided insightful facilitation of stimulating discussion.
The Summit was opened by Victorian Government Treasurer and Minister for Economic Development and Industrial Relations, Tim Pallas MP.
The Treasurer outlined the increasing importance of technology within infrastructure projects – especially AI and BIM, with the Digital Assets Policy outlining a clear path to use technology to deliver greater efficiencies and more robust timelines.
He also revealed the Government’s utilisation of AI building technology which draws on insights from over 400,000 projects around the world to help identify where problems are likely to occur and where improvement can be made.
Treasurer Pallas also covered this week’s release of the new Sustainable Investment Guidelines which will have a significant impact on project investment expenditure.
The second topic, “Has Covid Killed the City” set up a lively and optimistic discussion about the future for Central Business Districts in Australia.
Consensus was found within the panel about the continued attractiveness of Australia to returning international students and visitors but the need for business to adapt to the changed expectations of office workers – especially Generation Z talent.
There was general agreement that the CBD could become a new magnet for start-ups and new ventures which could offer extra vibrancy to cities and fresh additions to the arts, cultural and tourism sectors.
The ACIF Forecast session highlighted Australia’s resilience in employment but growth in 2022 was dependent on factors such as bounce-back from Covid and increases in immigration.
On the residential building front, the forecast and panel noted fiscal stimulus has worked; however the surge in activity potentially brought-forward demand which may signal a slowdown in 2022.
For non-residential construction it was noted that approvals have flattened out and struggled to regain figures seen in 2017 – 2020, however industrial activity has been strong due to e-commerce and logistical supply chain growth.
The forecast for engineering and construction was an upturn due to further government stimulus, but this was set against a caveat on bottlenecks such as skill shortages and how fast State infrastructure plans are rolled out.
Rebecca De Cicco, Principal of Digital Operations at Aurecon, then presented on the Global Impact of BIM (Business Information Management) and her extensive experience in the UK which has been implementing a government BIM strategy for the past 10 years.
In Australia the impact of infrastructure spend has driven the development of BIM policy particularly in Queensland, NSW and Victoria and one of Infrastructure Australia’s key recommendations is the industry must become “digital by default”.
Ms De Cicco said Australia has the global ISO19650 International Standards to utilise, which will ensure BIM policies being created on a State by State basis maintain similar frameworks.
The much anticipated session; “The Future of Work and what it Means for the Built Environment” explored how offices are moving away from place to experience and community.
The Panel agreed that hybrid working models are here to stay with a recent EY global survey indicating 90 per cent of workers want flexibility to work from home for 2-3 days per week.
Matt Lovegrove, the People Advisory Services Partner of EY, said a to-be released survey found 35 per cent of employers responded they wanted to go back to the “past normal” workplace which may cause friction with a growing “Team Anywhere” movement.
Bate Smart’s Laurie Aznavoorian said an increasing activist workforce of younger Australians will start to demand office spaces that support mental health and meaning, deliver more social value and improve environmental design including more fresh air.
The panel agreed that organisations need to look at developing new policies and practices for the very near future to retain employees and attract the best talent.
The final session covered Conformance and Compliance in the Wake of the Lacrosse Fire and highlighted the need for continued education in this complex and changing subject.
The Panel agreed that although there is more compliance rigour since the Lacrosse fire, there is still more training for architects, and all collaborators, to balance a focus on aesthetics to more technical and regulatory regimes around design and ensuring all contractors comply.
Be Summit is presented by Diversified Communications and is scheduled to return in May next year.