20 March 2018

Guest Lecture
Professor Mohammed Arif, Senior Professor at University of Salford, England address students on Sustainability and Transformation of the Built Industry.
“The future of the built industry lies in the design and construction of buildings that are energy efficient, sustainable, liveable and economically viable — backed by informatics, technology and research,” remarks Mohammed Arif, Senior Professor at University of Salford in the School of Built Environment. 

In an interactive discussion with the students of RICS SBE at the Amity University campus, Prof. Arif cited various examples of the on-going research in his university to point out the key trends driving the built industry. According to him, the decision-making and implementation of rules will get more organised and precise in the field of construction when it comes to aspects such as resource allocation, logistics, construction economics, risk identification and management. This will result in faster and cheaper ways of developing modern infrastructure. 

Addressing a whole bunch of the future built environment professionals; he further listed the topmost trends to look out for in this sector:

•    Built Information Modelling (BIM)

“BIM is the next big thing in built environment. So, if you really want to see what the future of built environment holds, you can’t ignore BIM,” said Professor Arif.
It is a single piece of software that helps you make key decisions and incorporate features based on what-if scenarios — at the design stage itself. For instance: if a particular wall is removed, what will be the additional costs and resources, what will be the impact on energy — one can predict these scenarios with BIM. It also aids visual management to improve site safety and manage traffic on highways when construction is going on. 

•    Energy efficiency

A major part of existing research is focused on ways to improve the energy efficiency of buildings so that better construction models are designed
He referred to a project that Salford University was working on with an ‘energy house’ enclosed in a chamber with complete temperature control so that any kind of weather can be simulated inside. “This helps understand how windows and doors would perform in different weather conditions, take an estimate of probable losses and check how energy efficient they are,” he said.

•    Better logistics and supply chain management 

Movements of trucks and resources, dealing with different contractors, and synchronising the supply of material on site will get more efficient in the days to come. Reverse logistics and lean methods will also gain credence.

•    Pre-fabricated modular construction

The whole house is manufactured in a factory, including laying outer tiles, painting, and placing all the furniture inside. It is then transported from the factory, assembled and delivered on site, in a matter of just hours! Modular furniture design within buildings is another promising area.

•    Construction economics

This deals with justifying the cost by looking at costing from various angles: why one should pay for this, why it is a good idea to spend on certain resources, what are the returns for the client, what are the social returns etc. 

•    Risk management 

This entails the use of software in managing a project, identifying the risks, their implications and the ways to deal with them.

•    Virtual reality and simulation

Giving an example of a facility which is already available in his university, he says that with virtual reality glasses, you can walk through an entire building after it is designed. This is also helps people with physical disability move through it virtually. He further remarked that this might help us understand the spaces where the building is wheelchair friendly and where it is not.

•    3D technology 

This enables one to look at different energy consumptions of a district. “Based on this, one can colour code the homes that are consuming more energy and look at ways in which these individuals can improve their energy efficiency,” said Professor Arif.

•    Behavioural research

There is a whole lot of research going on to understand occupant behaviour so that one can come up with ways to improve efficiencies. How can occupants behave in a “green-friendly” manner? Can people’s behaviour be manipulated so that they become healthier and more active? These are some of the questions research is trying to understand. 
In all, the built industry is standing on the cusp of transformation that promises to usher in much-needed efficiency and economies of scale. 

Professor Mohammed Arif is Senior Professor at the School of Built Environment in the University of Salford, Manchester. He is a Professor of Sustainability and Process Management and the Director of Built Environment Sustainability and Transformation, a recently formed research centre.