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BRANZ Industry Research Needs Survey 2004

Each year the Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ) surveys the industry to identify areas where new information is needed, and the topics that should be targeted. The survey was extended in coverage this year to seek ideas on Codes and Standards that respondents believed most needed review.


Survey forms were sent out in June 2004 to 558 industry participants, including designers, builders, subcontractors, manufacturers, building control officials and building owners. The questionnaire asked respondents to rank on a 1-7 scale (where 1 is extremely important and 7 is totally unimportant) the relative importance of a range of general topics.

It also asked for a simple 'tick the box' response on whether items on a list of 111 specific topics were important. Respondents were provided with spaces in which they could nominate the topics they saw as the most important for further research, for Codes and Standards review, and for seminars and publications.


Table 1 shows the overall ranking given to the general areas and the percentage of people who rated that area either 1 or 2, where 1 is extremely important.

Table 2 lists the ten specific topics, from the list of 111, marked by 40 percent or more of respondents as important (the average percentage score of the 11 topics was 24 percent, down from 32 percent in 2003).

Table 1: Ranking of importance of general research areas

General area: 2004 / 2003

Building envelope: 82% / 85%
Materials performance: 70% / 76%
Energy: 65% / 61%
Sustainability and environmental issues: 44% / 44%
Fire safety science and engineering: 43% / 42%
Acoustics: 40% / 41%
On-site practice: 39% / 50%
Structural engineering: 38% / 32%
Internal environments: 37% / 33%
Advanced technologies: 33% / 48%
Earthquake engineering: 33% / 30%
Information management: 31% / 19%
Building services: 29% / 33%
Project management: 28% / 22%
Building user expectations: 26% / 38%
Re-use of existing buildings and structures: 25% / 26%
Economics/demographics: 20% / 27%
Building user behaviour: 19% / 33%
Geotechnical and hydraulic engineering: 19% / 15%

Table 2: Specific topics ticked as important by forty percent or more of respondents 

General area / Specific topic

Building envelope / Joint and junction detailing
Information management / Good Practice Database of design details
Building envelope / Rain penetration
Materials performance / Assessment of new materials entering market
Economics and demographics / Cost-benefits of alternative construction methods
Internal environments / Condensation and similar moisture problems
Acoustics / Acoustic separation
Energy Passive heating / cooling
Energy Cost-benefit of double / triple glazing
Building user behaviour / Effects of building user on energy efficient measures

The survey applies a very broad filter to industry opinion, but for the fourth year in a row the issues surrounding weathertightness dominated.

The need for better understanding about weathertightness issues also came through in the comments as the most important topics for research, seminars and printed material. Other Code Clauses seen to be in particular need of revision related to timber construction.

Materials performance has always been in the top two or three general areas and energy issues have also always been near the top of the list. The rise of environmental issues, to lie fourth in the list this year, is a continuation of a slow trend over the past few years.

The Department of Building and Housing is working with BRANZ and Standards New Zealand to ensure the programmes of the three organisations are well aligned. To assist this, the results database (with all names and identifiable characteristics removed) has been passed on to both organisations.
As usual, too, a summary of the findings has been sent to the Foundation for Research Science and Technology (FRST) to assist them in their research investment processes.

Note: This article is excerpted from the December 2004/January 2005 issue of BUILD, published by BRANZ.