Impact@BE is the UNSW Built Environment talk series focused on the impact and co-benefits of BE research outside academia. The talks will be led by a BE researcher and co-presented with relevant stakeholders involved in the research from across government, business, the voluntary sector and civil society.

Talks will be held monthly at the Gallery, Anita B. Lawrence Centre (H13) West Wing Kensington Campus, and streamed online on Microsoft Teams.

Date and time

Every month, last Thursday – 4.00 to 5.00 pm


The Gallery, Ground Floor, Anita B. Lawrence Centre (H13) West Wing

School of Built Environment, UNSW Sydney Kensington Campus, NSW 2052

Past Events

  • National Heat Vulnerability Observatory 

    Phase 1: Smart and Cool Places 


    • Scientia Professor Deo Prasad AO 
    • A/Professor Lan Ding
    • Dr William Craft
    • Mr Ben Maddox

    About the talk

    The NSW Department of Planning and Environment in partnership with UNSW's High Performance Architecture team is developing the first phase of the Smart and Cool Spaces project. The project’s goal is to establish a “National Heat Vulnerability Observatory” (NaHVO) and is developing a pilot in Maitland and Dubbo, with a view to scaling the project to integrate Australia’s largest cities.

    While there are currently a range of mitigation and adaptation interventions that can be used to reduce the impacts of urban overheating in the built environment, there are challenges to their implementation due to lack of consistent data and the unique environments of different cities and towns. This project develops rigorous national datasets and an innovative, robust and consistent methodology to report and measure the heat vulnerability and cooling potential of Australia’s cities. It will provide data that will: help identify specific vulnerabilities in cities and towns; provide the ability to monitor heat vulnerability and cooling potential trends; provide modelling tools for scenario testing; and be interoperable with the NSW Digital Twin and other urban networks and government data platforms. This project will generate significant public benefit.

  • Co-designing a Methodology for Centering Young People in Disaster Recovery in Regional NSW


    • Dr Timothy Heffernan
    • Kathy Stewart
    • Alex Addison
    • Kiahan Bellchambers

    About the talk

    Young people are often positioned as ‘vulnerable’ to disaster threats, resulting in them being left out of discussions about disaster management. This presentation reflects on the success of a co-design process and methodology for putting young people in the driver’s seat of community-centred disaster management after the 2019-20 bushfires in the NSW Snowy Valleys Shire. It canvases five observations for building stronger youth equity and participation, including the importance of: investing in a youth voice, embracing young people’s ideas wholeheartedly, continuous youth—adult mentorship, pairing youth interests with disaster management practices, and appreciating that youth participation may wax and wane.

  • Future Proofing Residential Development in Western Sydney


    • Dr Anir Upadhyay
    • Nick Asha
    • Judith Bruinsma
    • Kelly Gee

    About the talk

    The study demonstrated that the impact of climate change is not adequately considered in building design and therefore houses designed and built now may not be energy efficient or heat resilient in future. This research highlighted the systematic issue of using outdated climate files in the NatHERS tools. The study recommends concerned authorities utilise future climate files to demonstrate building energy efficiency over its likely lifecycle and deliver thermally safe dwellings during extreme climate events such as heat waves. The findings of this study will be useful for the Australian Building Code Board, NSW Government, local councils and building designer.

  • How to support community-centred disaster recovery


    • Professor David Sanderson
    • Andrew Rae
    • Joanne Murrell

    About the talk

    While community-centred recovery is considered the gold standard for disaster recovery by responding agencies, in practice it is seldom achieved. This talk describes the Resilient Towns Initiative, an ongoing collaboration in the Snowy Valleys between UNSW, Red Cross, Anglicare and Snowy Valleys Council, funded by Regional NSW. Based on a theory of change based on action planning from international development, RTI engages with communities through prioritising serendipity, opportunity and ‘optimal ignorance’ to catalyse community-owned post-disaster recovery. The talk will end with discussion of next steps, including a new initiative, HowWeSurvive, that aims to leverage systemic change for better community-centred approaches.

  • Impact@Scale - working with industry and governments


    • Scientia Professor Deo Prasad
    • Ray Thompson

    About the talk

    The National Research and Innovation Hub for the Built Environment: CRC for Low Carbon Living was a seven year >$104m program with up to 65 industry and government partners focussed end user driven research with success measured by Impact. Three key KPIs were promised – massive GHG emission reduction, significant economic impacts and once in a generation capacity build. The Exit Report illustrates a typical professional report to partners and provides independently measured outcomes.

    The talk will also cover two follow up projects also with massive industry and government partnerships – a Trailblazer for Recycling and Clean Energy ($187m over 4 years) and the NSW Decarbonisation Innovation Hub ($30-100m over nine years).

  • ARC Training Centre of Next-Gen Architectural Manufacturing


    • Associate Professor M. Hank Haeusler
    • Dr Ivana Kuzmanovska
    • Alec Tzannes

    About the talk

    The Australian Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry is worth over AU$134 billion a year to the national economy. However, it faces major challenges. The industry consumes natural resources and energy at unsustainable rates, while also being responsible for a significant portion of national carbon emissions. Further, it has been slow to adapt to advances in architectural computing including industry-specific applications of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Digital Fabrication, and Big-Data analytics. The ARC Centre will recruit 21 PhD researchers and 3 postdoctoral fellows to pursue industry-embedded research projects through harnessing digital processes, workflows, and tools to deliver sustainable productivity and efficiency improvements in the Australian AEC industry.

    The Centre will harness digital processes, workflows, and tools to deliver sustainable productivity and efficiency improvements in the Australian AEC industry. The research will investigate when and how a digital strategy can deliver new solutions, services, or modes of operation that can fundamentally change the way buildings are designed and manufactured, while also seeking net-positive solutions.

Next Events

Date Speaker Presentation Title
  Paul Osmond Collaborating with land developers to reduce urban overheating