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Innovative solutions to safe, sustainable buildings

Left to right: Dr Lu Aye, Mr Bert van de Linde, Prof Bijan Samali (Head of Civil Engineering at UTS), Mr Marc Zobec, Dr Tuan Ngo, Mr Henk de Bleecker, Prof Priyan Mendis, Dr Cuong Nguyen, Mr Raymond Lumantarna

An ARC linkage grant project into the development of a new generation of safe, secure and energy-efficient multi-skin facade systems for sustainable buildings is being launched this week. The grant is being led by Dr Tuan Ngo and Dr Lu Aye from the Melbourne School of Engineering’s Department of Infrastructure Engineering, in collaboration with the Permasteelisa Group, the University of Technology Sydney and the University of New South Wales.

A delegation of executives from the Permasteelisa Group are visiting the Department of Infrastructure Engineering on November 22 and 23, 2011 to launch the $2m project. They are Global Research and Development Director Bert van de Linde, Australian Research and Development Director Marc Zobec and Chief Technology Officer Henk de Bleecker. The Permasteelisa Group is a world leader in engineering, manufacturing and installation of building façades and one of the few multinational technology companies with a strong research and development presence in Australia.

Modern buildings have glazed Multi-Skin Façade Systems to give aesthetic appeal, but these systems are often not energy efficient. The research team will develop innovative façade systems to greatly enhance safety and security while improving the energy efficiency and environmentally sustainable design features through a comprehensive theoretical and experimental study. These systems will demonstrate better wind, fire, blast and impact resistance; achieve better indoor environment quality and comfort for occupants; and better energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The project is highly innovative in a variety of ways, including that it is the first time a holistic approach for facade design incorporating safety, security and energy efficiency, has been considered.

“We will investigate the behaviour of different components of the MSF system under different extreme load conditions and consider synergies and conflicts between energy saving requirements and safety and security elements,” said Dr Ngo.

“We anticipate that the project has the potential to be a very effective system to reduce the dynamic wind effects on structures, especially for tall buildings. The development and application of a façade damping mechanism for MSF will be a significant innovation,” he said.

This project has multiple economic, social, and industry-specific benefits that have the potential to dramatically transform the building industry in Australia and worldwide. It will assist Australia in becoming an international leader in the area of innovative façade technology.

“This research will greatly assist engineers in designing new buildings and retrofitting existing ones, not only in Australia, but also in other parts of the world,” Dr Ngo said.

For more details read  “Innovative advance for more sustainable buildings” by Annie Rahilly.

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