This year’s Innovation in Construction Forum (ICF) took place as part of a partnership with the Construction Owners Association of Alberta’s (COAA) Best Practices Conference.

The Innovation in Construction Forum began as the Canadian Construction Research Forum, which was established in 1996 by Dr. Simaan AbouRizk at the University of Alberta as a means of disseminating and highlighting construction engineering and management research initiatives being undertaken by the Alberta construction industry and academics in Canada at large. To broaden its reach, the Canadian Construction Research Forum was rebranded as the Innovation in Construction: FORUM in 2012. The University of Alberta’s Hole School of Construction Engineering focuses on making sure that the FORUM informs, stimulates research, encourages the sharing of information, and promotes innovation within the Alberta construction industry. Thanks to the research efforts and ingenuity of researchers dedicated to improving construction management practices and the partner companies engaged in their efforts, the FORUM has over 20 years of success in achieving its goals.

Session 1: The Construction Innovation Centre (CIC): Research Driving Change

Dr. Fraser Forbes, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Alberta, opened this first session of the ICF with a brief introduction of the CIC and the two speakers. Dr. Robinson Fayek and Mr. Chorney covered topics such as the CIC’s background and history, the work done by the CIC’s members and industry partners, and the alliances and collaborations that the CIC has fostered between academic institutions, industry partners, professional associations, and government agencies. The CIC’s structure and governance system and the CIC’s Strategic Business Plan and innovative Research Roadmap were also introduced. Dr. Robinson Fayek and Mr. Chorney also presented information on some of the projects that the CIC has approved to date

The presentation ended on a note about what is ahead for the CIC; including an update about the foundation of the CIC’s collaborative research laboratory, which will allow for the establishment of connections between research centers and industry partners on a heretofore unprecedented scale.

Session 2: Harnessing Data to Drive Safety Performance

Dr. Lianne Lefsrud led the presentation of her research project with Dr. Yasser Mohamed and others which seeks to develop integrated, data-driven frameworks for safety planning and management and improved decision support to increase the safety performance of construction projects. The project’s focus examines how data and data management systems can help to advance a company’s safety culture with a focus on how resilience can be built, and on how safety performance can be improved, through the use of data analytics. By analyzing all of the data that is captured by a company on its various worksites, create an integrated safety management system with a focus on leading indicators rather than lagging indicators.

Jim Kanerva spoke about the competency and behavior scoring systems that Carry Steel uses in order to evaluate their workers and help maintain safe worksites. He also shared some recent safety incidents and the resultant reports. Carry Steel is excited for the opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Lefsrud on this project in order to improve their current safety management systems, enhance competencies, and prevent incidents in the workplace.

Session 3: Revitalizing the Engineering Science of Masonry, Brick by Brick: Development of Enhance Systems for Sustainable Masonry Infrastructure

Dr. Carlos Cruz-Noguez and Dr. Mark Hagel gave a presentation and opened discussion about the challenges and opportunities facing the development of new and enhanced systems to control the movement of heat and moisture through masonry structures, with a focus on new innovations in material science, computer simulation, and construction technology. They discussed innovative new methods of reducing the carbon footprint of masonry manufacturing processes through means like increasing core sizes of clay brick units; and the creation of new configurations of brick connections to facilitate robotic construction in order to facilitate more efficient wall assembly. They also discussed new methods of improving the thermal performance of masonry walls to meet the National Energy Code for Buildings (NECB) 2017by using improved thermal materials and thermal breaks and using masonry to clad less durable building materials such as wood and steel structure with concrete or masonry — which is resistant to mold and dampness, fireproof, modular, fully recyclable, and able to absorb carbon dioxide, thereby reducing greenhouse gasses — in order to extend their service life.

In addition to their discussion of developing new and innovative masonry systems and design techniques, they intend to study the unexploited capabilities of modern and traditional masonry and investigate the safety and durability of masonry structures by working closely with contractors, architects, engineers, building officials, suppliers, block manufacturers, and scientific/technical organizations dedicated to the advancement of masonry research, development, marketing and innovation.

Session 4: Robotic Solutions for Factory-Based Construction

Dr. Ying Hei Chui presented on the Nasseri School of Building Science and Engineering, which was established in 2015 with a gift from Mr. Reza Nasseri, founder of the Landmark Group of Companies. He spoke of the School’s vision — leading the building industry towards industrialized and sustainable construction by supporting multidisciplinary research and educating future generations of building engineers — and the school’s core disciplines.

Dr. Haitao Yu introduced ACQBUILT, a leading offsite construction company in North America which operates a state-of-the-art prefabricated home manufacturing facility in Edmonton and provides services to homebuilders and general contractors across Alberta. ACQBUILT and its partner are now developing an accessible and scalable off-site construction solution using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotic technologies to meet the economic and environmental challenges of