RMIT has joined three global government partners to help establish and promote greener building and construction policies and practices through a Sustainable Buildings and Construction Program.
The University will work with Finland’s Ministry of Environment, the United Nations Environment Program and the World Green Building Council as they aim to ensure our homes and workplaces are healthy, using land, energy, water and other key resources sustainably.
Deputy Dean (International) and Associate Professor at the School of Property, Construction and Project Management, Usha Iyer-Raniga said the program would help ensure that buildings are healthy to live and work in and that they use land, energy, water and other key resources sustainably.
“We hope to encourage design, construction and maintenance that respect environmental limits and are responsive to climate change while also contributing to the social and economic development of the communities in which they stand,’’ she said.
The building and construction sectors account for 40 per cent of global energy use and 30 per cent of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.
“They also account for about 12 per cent of water use and nearly 40 per cent of waste.’’
Buildings last longer than almost any other type of product and contribute greatly to environmental challenges, such as climate and land-use change, natural resource scarcities and waste generation.
There needs to be more focus on their impact, and in Australia, periodic cycles of drought and flooding should be dictating how we design and build for the long term, she said.
“We need to think about climate change adaptation and mitigation.
“For example, in flood prone areas, we should be designing so that functional areas are at higher levels. In countries such as Netherlands, they are already designing for floating cities to deal with rising water levels.
“However, we cannot just take that design approach to Asia as a prescriptive approach.
“Moreover, financial constraints prevent implementation of this type of designs in developing countries. We need to find low cost solutions that take into consideration local environmental and cultural concerns. ’’
Iyer-Raniga’s appointment to the SBC Program result in global travel as RMIT’s international expert on sustainability in the built environment.
RMIT will play a major role in the new global effort alongside its SBC program partners to identify and develop solutions to address critical environmental challenges impacting communities the world over.
Iyer-Raniga teaches sustainability in the built environment in the School’s Construction Management Program in Melbourne, Hong Kong and Singapore.
An expert on sustainable buildings at the Sustainable Building Innovation Laboratory (SBiLab), Iyer-Raniga said cities cover just two per cent of the world's land surface, yet use three-quarters of the world's total resources.
“We bring to the table passion and commitment to enter a world with a lower environmental impact than is currently happening now.We need to work hard to meet targets, collectively.”
lyer-Raniga is also a board member of the Alternative Technology Association, a not-for-profit organisation chartered with encouraging people to live more sustainable lives.
Research at RMIT is ranked among the best in the world in a number of disciplines, including architecture, building, urban and regional planning, and design practice and management.