Growth in Construction post-COVID
9% of all jobs in Australia are construction-related, but no industrial sector experiences booms and contractions quite like construction. It has the misfortune of being the thermometer of government fiscal policy. The industry is more than used to this and factors this into future planning, however the downturn caused by COVID-19 was on another level. Projects were mothballed or cancelled overnight and entire supply chains (such as structural timber) collapsed or rose sharply in price (for example, steel). Construction was made exempt from compulsory furlough but that was little comfort to employees who could not work. Many are still looking toward the future with trepidation.
The good news is that the future is starting to look brighter. The Australian construction industry is expected to grow 2.7% in 2021, driven by domestic housing projects and government investment in infrastructure to reboot the economy. Fifteen major projects were announced in mid 2020 with a total value of AUD72 billion. AUD7.5 billion has been earmarked by the Federal Government for road and rail projects. In addition, the government has announced receipt of 121,000 HomeBuilder applications worth AUD30 billion. The Housing Industry Association predicts that 2021-22 will be a record year for detached home builds: a bigger boom than 2018. In consequence, the Australian Construction Machinery Market Report predicts growth of 3.8% in its engineering sector.
Many of the new infrastructure investments are earmarked for projects that can demonstrate environmental awareness and sustainability. This puts considerable pressure on builders, architects and engineers to concentrate on factors such as HVAC efficiency and noise control.
HVAC noise control regulations
The best time to consider your HVAC and noise control plans is before a build rather than after. Solving issues later usually means business interruptions and higher costs or less efficient outcomes. It is also wise to anticipate future trends in legislation, future neighbours, expansion potential and effects on the value of adjacent land. In Australia, there is a patchwork of both state and federal bodies of legislation regarding noise control – but whatever the rules may be today, they may be different tomorrow. Land may be plentiful but land in the right place is not. As cities expand, the pressure for tighter environmental regulation is only going to increase.
It isn’t only direct environmental regulations we need to consider. Health and Safety legislation exists to protect the workforce and any worker who believes they have suffered hearing damage can sue (many do). Even light commercial equipment and simple ventilation systems can become uncomfortable or even harmful for employees when the rooms are not acoustically designed because hard reverberating surfaces can greatly amplify the original noise. Plenty of research has established a direct connection between noise and deteriorating worker productivity.
The ideal acoustic solution varies from industry to industry and project to project. In almost all buildings, calculating the acoustics and selecting appropriate remediation and equipment is a complex challenge that requires an experienced acoustic engineer. There are many pitfalls, for example, in medical, laboratory or food production environments ‘packless’ attenuators without fibrous lining materials must be used to avoid contamination (IAC offers Cleanflow attenuators for this problem).
HVAC configuration software
Designing a large HVAC system with good acoustic control is a challenge even for an experienced engineer without some laboratory equipment and software assistance. IAC Acoustics have developed the Systemic Noise Analysis Procedure (SNAP) to help.
The ductwork design is plotted into SNAP which then calculates all the air flows and noise sources and then proposes the most appropriate and cost-effective solutions. It will even select the most appropriate attenuators for each specific job. This holistic approach to system configuration saves our construction and engineering partners a great deal of time, avoids many costly mistakes and prevents project delays.
IAC are world leaders in the field and our engineers relish every new challenge. Working together we will build a cleaner, safer, quieter post-COVID Australia.
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