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Building Better Homes Science Challenge launched

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today launched the Better Homes, Towns and Cities National Science Challenge, which is tasked with conducting research to develop better housing and urban environments for New Zealanders in the 21st century.

The Challenge, the last of the eleven National Science Challenges to be launched, will receive funding of up to $47.9 million over a ten year period.

"Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities will research how innovation and technology can be better adopted by and embedded into the New Zealand building industry," Mr Joyce says. "It will look at how our built environment can be better designed to reflect the impact of modern technologies on how we live, and to lift the quality of life of New Zealanders.

"The Challenge will bring, engineers, scientists, and social researchers together, to benefit from each other’s expertise and resources, and work on practical solutions that bring long-term transformational benefits for New Zealanders in how our homes, towns and cities function."

The Challenge is being hosted by the Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ). Challenge partners include all eight New Zealand Universities, Crown Research Institutes GNS Science and Scion, Independent Research Organisations Opus Research and Centre for Research, Evaluation and Social Assessment; Prefab NZ; and Auckland Council.

Some initial research examples include:

- Making design decisions that raise the comfort and functionality of buildings, while lowering operational costs through better energy and water use, and reducing maintenance and refurbishment.

- Investigating how the configuration of infrastructure, streets, public spaces, urban blocks, and range of housing types impact on peoples’ lives and wellbeing.

- Developing new methods to acquire and use crowdsourced data that can inform decisions that improve the well-being of citizens and the quality of their built environment. For instance, using data supplied by mobile device sensors combined with data from other sources to make better infrastructure decisions.

- Identifying successful Māori community housing initiatives that could provide a model for urban and semi-urban development based on sound ecological principles, kinship (whakapapa), cultural practices and economic sustainability.

The eleven National Science Challenges are designed to tackle the biggest science-based issues and opportunities facing New Zealand. More information on the National Science Challenge programme is available here: http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/science-innovation/national-science-challenges/

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