Changing the way we build, building a better future

Whether it's for a residential or a multi-billion-dollar energy project, the construction industry needs to be modernized. In Canada, estimates suggest that 25 per cent of our greenhouse gas emissions are related to building design and construction. The industry in North America also generates enormous amounts of material waste-literally sending profit to the landfill.

On major energy projects, construction costs become prohibitive, preventing the development of industrial facilities like upgraders and refineries. Without these projects, raw natural resources and jobs are sent outside of Canada and their value is realized in other jurisdictions. If construction methods could be modernized, the economics for energy producers in Canada would improve to the point that these benefits stay at home.

Working with fully engaged industry partners, the University of Alberta Faculty of Engineering is revolutionizing construction. For more than a decade, engineering research teams have been working with industry to understand and streamline construction processes, improve building materials and increase construction company competitiveness. Fuelled by a $10M contribution from the founder of Landmark Homes, the newly established Nasseri School of Building Science and Engineering will focus on improving the sustainability of commercial and residential building processes-starting from the design and materials, right through the building life cycle.

The University of Alberta is a world leader in construction science, engineering, research and teaching, with renowned researchers and enthusiastic industry partners working together on every facet of construction:

  • Mohamed Al-Hussein, NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Industrialization of Building Construction, is making key contributions to the field of modular construction technologies. Modular construction replaces on-site assembly with critical tasks performed in a controlled environment, improving quality and efficiency, and dramatically reducing the negative environmental impacts of construction.
  • Aminah Robinson Fayek, NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Strategic Construction Modelling and Delivery, and Ledcor Professor in Construction Engineering, is using artificial intelligence to develop software capable of incorporating the expert reasoning of a veteran construction supervisor into construction planning tools.
  • Simaan AbouRizk, NSERC/Alberta Construction Industry Senior Industrial Research Chair in Construction Engineering and Management, and Canada Research Chair in Operations Simulation, has developed tools for decision support in construction engineering that the industry is using to increase construction efficiency and reduce waste.
  • Ming Lu, a professor of construction engineering and management, was consulted to assist in the construction of China's "Bird's Nest" structure built for the 2008 Olympics. He and his research team have also developed a cost-effective real-time automation solution that increases accuracy and precision in tunneling projects.
  • The Hole School of Construction Engineering was established in 2002 and is combining leading-edge research and teaching in construction engineering to educate the next generation of construction engineers. These future leaders will translate research advances into on-site expertise, delivering projects that are efficient, safe and on budget.
Photos courtesy of Landmark Group of Companies.