The Graz Center of Sustainable Construction (GCSC) connects researchers from a total of 18 institutes, as co-founder and researcher at the Institute of Building Physics, Services and Construction Michael Monsberger explains: “We deal specifically and across all faculties with the built environment – in other words, all areas where people change and shape their environment in a structural way." This refers to all buildings used for living or working, as well as infrastructure such as tunnels, dams and roads. The research spectrum is broad and ranges from architecture and construction to materials management. The digitalization of the construction process and possibilities for a more sustainable use of resources are also on the agenda. The work at the GCSC is divided into five strategic fields of action: cities and regions, design and construction, materials and resources, digital processes and assessment methods for sustainable measures.
First research projects underway
The preliminary work on the new research centre started in summer 2021, and forward-looking projects have already emerged from it. For example, the City Remixed project. In it, researchers from the Institute of Architectural Technology and the Institute of Technology and Testing of Construction Materials are investigating how the condition of buildings in the city of Graz will develop in the future and where, for example, buildings will be demolished. These buildings are then examined for possible re-use of individual components or different raw materials in order to make planned recycling for new construction projects possible. The aim is to develop a prototype model for an actionable circular economy by October 2022.
TU Graz research centres: a strategic priority-setting initiative
The research centres are an initiative of the university management for strategic priority topics. “The centres involve a network of different researchers who conduct research on a common topic at different institutes and faculties of Graz University of Technology (TU Graz). With these research alliances, we want to bring our bright minds together and make it easier for them to develop joint ideas in order to ultimately submit projects to funding bodies and successfully acquire third-party funding,” explains Vice Rector for Research Horst Bischof. The centres have no fixed physical locations; the existing personnel and infrastructural resources of the participating institutes are used.
From the idea to the interdisciplinary and interfaculty research network
A prerequisite for the founding of a research centre is a topic idea that the researchers have agreed on together – a topic that is close to the heart of the university management and an important topic for the future. A jointly developed research agenda sets the scientific direction. In addition, there is an external scientific advisory board for each centre. Companies and research groups from other universities can also be involved as partners. The relevant COMET competence centres of TU Graz will in any case be included in the research centres. Finally, the Research & Technology House of TU Graz is supporting the set-up.
Existing research centres
The Graz Center of Sustainable Construction is already the third interdisciplinary research network that has gone through the development process to become a research centre. With the Research Cluster Railway Systems, TU Graz launched a research initiative in 2021 in cooperation with partners ÖBB, Siemens, voestalpine and the Virtual Vehicle Competence Centre, focusing on railway vehicle technology, railway infrastructure and railway operations. Here, specialist expertise was combined in order to increase the competitiveness of the railway system through sustainable overall system optimization (cf Press release from 23 June 2021).
At the Center for Hydrogen Research, more than 160 scientists are conducting research in numerous areas of specialization in the field of hydrogen. The competence centres involved are HyCentA (Hydrogen Center Austria), Large Engines Competence Center (LEC) and Bioenergy and Sustainable Technologies (Best) as well as the Institute of Chemical Engineering and Environmental Technology, the Institute of Thermodynamics and Sustainable Propulsion Systems and the Institute of Thermal Engineering.
Information on the existing research centres can be found on the TU Graz website.