12/07/2018 – Construction Sector Deal – What Does it Mean for the Industry?

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

Last week, at the Northern Powerhouse Summit in Newcastle, the business and energy secretary, Greg Clark finally announced details of the government’s Construction Sector Deal.

Part of the government’s Industrial Strategy, it sets out what it believes to be the foundations for an ambitious partnership between the government and industry to transform the sector into one that can; build new homes in weeks or days, deliver new buildings at a third of the cost and provide affordable, energy efficient homes.

The deal, worth £420m (£170m from the government and £250m of private sector backing) aims to transform the industry by investing in new technologies to increase productivity and tackle the housing crisis by allowing new homes to be constructed more quickly and with less disruption. The aim is to get the construction, manufacturing, energy and digital sectors together to explore innovative approaches to revolutionise the industry. Almost half of the UK economy is reliant on the built environment, so the government needs and intends to use less energy, whilst improving productivity and safety.

Developing affordable, easy to construct homes will support the government’s ambition of delivering 1.5million new homes by 2022, as well as schools and other buildings which can be quickly and sustainably manufactured offsite, then assembled where and when we need them. Quite an ambitious target given that’s only 4 years away, but if we all get behind it, there’s no reason that it can’t be achieved. The deal also supports the Industrial Strategy’s mission to halve the energy use of new builds by 2030 and is expected to result in cheaper energy bills for families and businesses by improving efficiency – a win-win all round.

With the deal, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy also set targets for the number of new starters in the industry. There’s commitment to increase the number of apprenticeship starts to 25,000 and T Level placements to 1000 in the next two years. £34m is being invested in innovated training programmes across the country to up-skill the existing workforce and offer high quality, industry placements to give young people the skills that the industry is crying out for.

The Construction Sector Deal was first announced in the Autumn Budget back in November then formally launched in the Industrial Strategy: Building a Britain fit for the Future. This is the biggest investment in construction in a decade. It’s something we’ve wanted and needed for a really long time and whilst I can’t speak on behalf of the whole industry, I don’t think we’re disappointed. Fingers crossed this is the answer to a lot of our problems, it certainly has the potential to be.

For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email catriona@cene.org.uk.

05/07/2018 – Turning Our Buildings Into Power Stations

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

Buildings currently account for around 40% of UK energy consumption but over recent years the industry has stepped up, buildings are getting smarter and solar panels, on-site generators and kinetic energy capture are becoming increasingly common as buildings take advantage of available energy.

The first UK office to generate more energy that it consumes has just been completed at Swansea University. The building, known as the Active Office, aims to reduce the energy consumption of buildings in the UK. It combines a range of innovative technologies that will enable it to generate, store and release solar energy in one integrated system. It has a curved roof with integrated solar cells in a laminated photovoltaic panel; a photovoltaic thermal system on the south-facing wall; lithium ion batteries to store the electricity generated and a 2,000-litre water tank to store solar heat. It also has three electric vehicle charging points and the building’s estimated spare annual generation of 8.5MWh would be enough to drive 1.4 times around the world in a Nissan Leaf.

Next to the Active Office is another first, the Active Classroom, the UK’s first energy-positive classroom. In its first year of operation, it generated more than one and half times the energy it consumed. They might be firsts, but with those kinds of results, they certainly shouldn’t be one offs. The Active Office is designed to be easy to replicate, taking only one week to assemble using off-site construction and all the technologies are commercially available now. The two buildings will be linked together and be able to share energy with each other as well as power electric vehicles, showing how the concept may be applied in an energy-resilient solar-powered community.

Wales is paving the way for reducing energy consumption, with plans also being submitted for a new housing development where houses generate their own power. The Homes as Power Stations concept is being led by Neath Port Talbot Council and is one of the biggest Swansea Bay City Deal projects. If approved, it will hopefully kick start a construction programme with a projected investment of over £500m when the concept is operational across the region. The innovative housing project will have buildings that can generate, store and release their own energy, helping to reduce fuel poverty and its impact on health and wellbeing. These houses will be comfortable and affordable to run and have the potential to reduce stress on the local electricity grid.

Turning our buildings into power stations is a concept that works, the Active Classroom shows just that. The Active Office will enable data gathering and evidence building on how it can be applied to an office, helping to refine the design further. Buildings like this help with the Government’s modern industrial strategy to create ‘clean growth’ and fulfil our mission to halve the emissions of new buildings by 2030, something the government, the industry and us at Constructing Excellence are certainly on board with.

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

22/06/2018 – Urban Sciences Building Paves The Way For Sustainability

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

Last Friday (15 June) the North East construction industry came together to celebrate the excellent projects and amazing people of the industry, at the Constructing Excellence North East Awards.

It was the fourteenth year of the awards where companies, projects and individuals are recognised by their peers for excelling over the last year. There were 15 award categories including, Integration & Collaborative Working, Innovation, Digital Construction, Health, Safety & Wellbeing and the prestigious Project of the Year.

The big winners of the night were Newcastle University’s £59m Urban Sciences Building (USB), who picked up 5 awards. Opened in September 2017, the USB is a flagship development located on the £350m Newcastle Helix regeneration site in Newcastle and is home to the School of Computing. It has been built not only to provide a world class academic space but to inform the next generation of urban sustainability. The building and its surroundings are themselves experiments that use micro-metering to provide detailed, real time performance data. This will be used to inform the future design of building services, materials selection, urban drainage, energy systems and urban infrastructure. The construction process was just as impressive as the end result. Not only was it delivered on time, on budget, but Bowmer & Kirkland’s use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in the project has set new standards for the university in the management of residual risk in build projects.

The building won in the Integration and Collaborative Working category, for its use of an open communication tool which housed all information digitally for the project. All team members from the client to subcontractors were given access for effective communication, enabling a holistic and collaborative approach to document management.

Design monitoring groups helped the client and end users understand design and coordination issues and 3D models enhanced their understanding and sense of building ownership. The project also triumphed in both the Sustainable and Digital Construction categories. It is a sustainable building as demonstrated by achieving a BREEAM Excellent status and being built in conjunction with a bespoke sustainability framework. Demonstrating collaboration is key to the successful delivery of a complex project and the team did just that. They engaged with the stakeholders and clients from the outset and shared information across the team using multiple tools including 3D model software, fortnightly model audit reports, snagging and QR apps.

To top off an already successful night, the building also won Offsite Project of the Year and the prestigious Building Project of the Year, more thoroughly deserved awards. We’re already lucky enough in the North East to have a built environment littered with striking landmarks, great achievements and a rich history. The Urban Sciences Building now gives us a project that others will look to and study in the future as engineers, designers and researchers around the world seek to develop cities sustainably.

For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email catriona@cene.org.uk.

15/06/2018 – National Women in Engineering Day – What More Can We Do?

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

National Women in Engineering Day (NWED), which takes place next Saturday, highlights the opportunities available for women in engineering. The event takes place every year on 23 June and aims to raise the profile of women in engineering across the world. It’s your chance to get involved with this year’s theme of #RaisingTheBar.

The day takes place at a time when it has never been more important to highlight the opportunities for women in the industry. According to a Women’s Engineering Society survey, only 11% of the engineering workforce is female. That figure is shockingly low, but when you compare it to 9% in 2015, it is rising, just very slowly.

The UK has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe and I’m embarrassed that we’re so far behind, considering we’re so advanced in many other sectors, it’s quite clear where we need to make more effort. A recent report by Engineering UK suggests the country has a demand for about 124,000 engineers each year, but the actual number being appointed is 37,000, that’s 59,000 lower than required, so there’s certainly a long way to go.

However, it doesn’t all have to be seen as being ‘too difficult’. Thinking about how you word a job advert can significantly change the applications you receive. Recent research based on the analysis of hundreds of millions of job ads, has shown that the way job adverts are worded determines whether more men or women apply for the role. The study found that the word “manage” encourages more men than women to apply but changing the word to “develop” would make it more female-friendly. The researchers also found that gender preferences can be conveyed subtly through words such as “competitive,” or “leader”, usually associated with male stereotypes, while words such as “support” and “interpersonal” are associated with female stereotypes. After employing these techniques, one company saw an 80% increase in the hiring of women in technical roles globally over a two-year period, so it’s definitely something to try.

What is really encouraging is that a number of women in the industry were mentioned in the Queen’s birthday honours earlier this month. Kath Moore was recognised for services to the construction industry, Roma Agrawal for services to engineering, Professor Denise Bower for services to engineering and Dr Frances Saunders was awarded a damehood for services to science and engineering. So, while we may have a long way to go, there are women out there doing amazing work. They are perfect examples of what can be achieved and are an inspiration to all; the acknowledgement from the Queen is thoroughly well deserved.

 For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email catriona@cene.org.uk.

08/06/2018 – GDPR – Are You Compliant?

 

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), we’ve known it was coming for so long, but that still didn’t stop the tidal wave of GDPR emails over the last 2 weeks. Email after email of people asking you to opt in, informing you of new policy updates, covering off everything they could possibly think of, most of which are probably unnecessary, but I get it, it is an important regulation change and its best to protect yourself in every way you can.

GDPR came into effect on 25 May and reformed our domestic law on how UK businesses collect and process personal data. The new regulation impacts everything from design models to supply chain databases. By now you should have done all the necessary research to make sure all the processes and policies in your company are complying with the new rules.

The industry is using a lot of personal data which is normally part of a building project’s development. There’s a number of ways in which the industry collects and records data, through construction site CCTV footage and access cards, wearable technology, and smart systems.

If you’re wondering whether your GDPR-compliant, Construction News has released a good check list of essential considerations to make sure you’re adhering to the new regulations.

Lawful basis for processing data – A lawful, fair and transparent process of the personal data is required. Most lawful bases require that your processing is ‘necessary’. One of the main reasons for lawful basis for data processing is consent. Consent must now be given freely and specifically, we can no longer use silence or pre-ticked boxes as a form consent … hence all the emails.

Review agreements with third parties – Businesses must now consider data protection and privacy at the design stages of a project and ensure data protection rights are protected throughout the process.

Awareness and training – Raising awareness among staff is one of the easiest ways to ensure your business is complaint. If everyone knows what’s expected of them, the new procedure can be effectively implemented throughout the workforce.

Data breaches – There’s now an obligation for all organisations to report types of data breaches. You need to make sure you have the right detection, investigation and internal reporting procedures in place. You must report the breach within 72 hours of becoming aware of it. Failure to report can result in a fine.

If you are still not convinced about the impact that GDPR will have on the way that you manage data, take a look at the consequences, they really aren’t messing around. The potential penalties for breaching GDPR are fines of 4% of global turnover or €20,000,000 (whichever is the greater) and those who are affected may also be able to bring a claim for compensation (and there is no fixed upper limit on what their level of compensation may be) – so they’re certainly breaches you can’t afford to be making!

For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email catriona@cene.org.uk.

G4C National Conference 2018 #BounceBack

G4C (Generation for Change) is the young professional voice run by volunteers and is open to anyone looking to join the industry, or is in the earlier stages (up to 10 years’ experience) of their career in the built environment sector. It provides a platform to involve and integrate anyone looking to join, or those looking to make the most of, the construction industry. Having joined last month, as a member of the committee and co-chair for the Tees Valley region respectively, degree apprentice Aaran Pearson and I ventured south from our office in Stockton to attend the G4C national conference held in London, on Thursday 24th May 2018.

Buffets and Bigger Pictures

200 miles later, having collected our name badges and made the most of the buffet, we took our places eagerly awaiting the presentation; “#bounceback” being the tagline and topic for the day. The main speaker, Chief Executive of the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) Sarah Beale, spoke highly of the construction industry, and its potential and ongoing improvements, including 28% of future young professionals surveyed in 2017 seeing the industry as an attractive proposition (up from up from 3% in 2015).

Sarah’s points were clear – we must promote the positive image of construction – shout our many success stories from the rooftops, such as the Olympics, the A1 motorway upgrade and Northern Spire project in Sunderland. It is often the few negative storylines that make the headlines and leave a lasting impression on the industry (Grenfell Tower and Carillion being prime recent examples).

Sarah also stressed the need for a collaborative, concentrated campaign whereby all organisations are promoting the same message on a national level when looking to attract people to the industry. In turn, this will create a greater interest and larger pool of both individuals and skill sets that are attracted by the industry; organisations can be counterproductive within the competitive marketplace, having short-term visions to fill a specific role, rather than understanding the long-term benefits of the ‘bigger picture’.

Panels and Presentations

Next, an open Q&A discussion with a panel of six industry professionals was undertaken, offering their views on the issues within the industry. It was encouragingly pointed out that 44% of those attending on the day were female – higher than the 26% of 18-26 year old’s in the industry at the moment – which can only be a positive sign of things to come for the construction industry. The panel also discussed how spectacular projects were being dismissed as ‘business as usual’ by industry professionals, reiterating Sarah’s earlier message that promotion of these projects would attract and harness younger professionals for the betterment of the industry.

Following the discussion, attendees were asked to vote for their favourite submissions on the sli.do website, whereby three questions had been posted prior to the event requesting proposals from those attending. Aaran and I were proud to receive the most votes on the day and stepped forward to elaborate on our views, focusing on what inspires us about the construction industry: “We’re inspired by the impacts that innovative individuals can have on the entire world, as well as the industry’s growing ability to fulfil its potential.”

For our next task, we were asked to bring an idea to life focusing on ways of inspiring people to join the construction industry. Armed with an A1 sheet of paper, sticky labels and a few pens, groups were given 20 minutes to prepare, followed by two minutes to present their idea. Afterwards, participants all voted for their favourite ideas through the sli.do website once more. Yet again, Aaran and I, in different groups for this task, were voted joint first! Aaran’s group proposed an “Attenborough” type construction documentary whereas my group followed a similar theme by proposing an interactive YouTube channel, focusing on different programmes for different ages, to promote interest in the construction industry.

Networking and New Opportunities

Needless to say, we had a thoroughly enjoyable day, making the most of the chance to meet and network with our peers whilst addressing current underlying issues within the industry. Further networking ensued whilst people played ping pong; we were able to promote our roles, develop relationships and understand the roles of others, and we have since followed up a connection with a potential opportunity in the private rental sector.

This is something you too can be involved in, either next year, or much more often at a local and regional level by joining G4C. Through promoting, supporting and contributing to G4C, we are shaping the industry; G4C events are often free or at cost price and they welcome all future leaders of tomorrow, today!

For Aaran and I, G4C has already filled us with huge optimism for the construction industry, and presented us with the opportunity to further our personal networks whilst taking an active approach to enhancing the industry for future generations.

To get involved with G4C, get in touch or visit http://www.g4c.org.uk/ to find events near you and discover an unrivalled opportunity to make your voice heard – build your reputation, broaden your network and gain access to the some of the brightest and best industry leaders.

#throwbackthursday #generation4change #inspire #bounceback #stockton #london #cene #bre

By Jonny Frank & Aaran Pearson – Faithful+Gould

01/06/2018 – Mental health in the Industry, Leading the Way for Cultural Change

 

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

Work can be a big cause of stress when demands are greater than the ability to cope, or relationships with management is poor. According to data from the Office for National Statistics released this year, there were more suicides in construction than in any other profession in the five years to the end of 2015. The figures showed there were 1,419 suicides by those working in skilled construction and building trades from 2011 to 2015, that’s 284 a year.

Earlier this month, the industry took part in Mental Health Awareness Week and looked at the best way to address, prevent and manage work-related stress. We must ensure employees and employers have the tools and knowledge necessary to create a mentally healthy workplace where everyone feels valued and supported.

Life in the industry is undoubtedly stressful and challenging. It is essential that we filter the importance of talking about mental health through companies and the supply chain. Commitment needs to come from the top as they are the people with the power to make things happen and create policies, procedures and support as necessary. To ensure we have a mentally safe industry, we need to put measures in place to increase good supportive workplaces, which is exactly what the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) is trying to do.

The CITB has committed £500,000 to train mental health first aid instructors and improve the wellbeing of UK construction workers. The funding has been awarded through the CITB Flexible Fund to Building Mental Health – an industry initiative including Lendlease, Mace, Multiplex, Morgan Sindall and Laing O’Rourke. The project aims to have 156 construction Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) instructors fully trained and operating by September 2019 with a minimum of 2,500 on-site mental health first aiders by 2020. Building Mental Health will work with MHFA England and use the funding to deliver 13 MHFA instructor courses for construction, with each course taking up to 12 candidates. In Newcastle alone, there are 9 MHFA courses this year.

More than 12% of men in the UK are suffering from one of the common mental health disorders and suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35. It’s harder to tackle on construction sites. Asking for help and opening up about emotions are just not things that come naturally to many of those working in the industry because of the macho environment, but it’s important we start making changes and lead the way for cultural change. It’s comforting to know that more companies are now offering mental health first aid. It gives me faith that the industry is well on its way to changing.

To book onto a MHFA course, or for more information visit www.mhfaengland.org/

For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email catriona@cene.org.uk.

NBS report: Confidence in BIM but no Confidence in its Enforcement

 

By Richard Waterhouse, CEO of NBS

Confidence in Building Information Modelling (BIM) but no confidence in its enforcement was one of the sentiments to come out of the eighth National BIM Report released by NBS earlier this month.

For the first time, less than a majority (47%) felt that the government is ‘on the right track’ when it comes to BIM. There’s no suggestion that the mandate was a mistake, or that the industry doesn’t agree with the ambitions to further embed BIM as ‘business as usual’, but it is the speed of this direction of travel that is increasingly the frustration.

BIM Level 2 is the foundation of digital transformation, providing data structures, responsibilities and process and whilst this report looks at the industry’s current attitude to BIM, the industry will not stand still. Digital transformation will continue.

Positives from the report show the biggest year-on-year growth on BIM usage and awareness since 2014, with a 12% increase on last year’s results, helping other stakeholders to trust the BIM process. There are signs that those with the influence to help drive this activity are listening, as the industry has seen the revision of the Construction Industry Council BIM Protocol based on industry feedback, the BIM Level 2 suite of standards and tools is being revised and the Centre for Digital Built Britain has now been created.

Although 70% of respondents call for more standardisation of BIM the report does indicate that an increasing number of respondents are using PAS 1192-2:2013 (44%) and Uniclass is gaining strong traction with just over a third now using the classification system. Adhering to standards is certainly one way to demonstrate good BIM practice.

BIM is more than the production of 3D models and collaboration is more than reducing coordination problems on-site through clash detection at design time. The next stage of the BIM journey must focus on both the information generated from the models and the information linked to the models. For this standardised information, structures must be followed in terms of the objects in the model and linked data sources such as project specifications.

Emerging technologies are continuing to provide new opportunities. The move from desktop to cloud computing will be a game changer in terms of collaboration, performance and transparency of decision making. Future transformative technology will build upon this foundation, helping the industry to create a step-change in productivity and quality within the industry, and NBS can and will play a part in this journey.

The 2018 report had 808 responses from a range of large to small practices and organisations carrying out a range of project types. The largest group to respond were architects (33%) with architectural technologists, BIM managers and technicians, clients, contractors, civil, structural and service engineers, surveyors and landscape architects all represented.

To read the full report visit www.theNBS.com/bim-report-2018

For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email catriona@cene.org.uk.

Brand Identity in Construction

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

Despite being an industry worth more than £120bn annually, construction companies just aren’t household names. We really struggle with brand identity, which may be part of the problem with industry perception. If nobody knows who you are or what you do, how are they meant to hear what you have to offer.

Construction is one of the biggest industries in the world, and because of what we do, we have a real potential to make a difference. More than any other industry, our decisions, innovation, ideas and products have a direct impact on the environment, the local community and area.

A great way to create a positive brand image is to simply show that you care. People are becoming more aware of the effect we are having on our environment and the industry plays a big part in that. Construction companies need to show that they are taking the environment into consideration when planning and carrying out their latest projects. It also pays to get involved in community projects and show your dedication to corporate social responsibility.

Ever since the introduction of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, the procurement landscape has been changing with public sector bodies now requiring contractors to deliver ‘added value’ as part of contracts. The industry provides huge social value opportunities for local communities, the local economy and the environment. Opportunities could be anything from; using local suppliers or recycled materials to engaging with local schools or community groups or providing training or work experience opportunities for unemployed people and employing apprentices.

Farrans Construction and Victor Buyck recently worked with Sunderland City Council to identify and tackle societal needs, bringing apprentices to full-time employment and providing a benchmark for community engagement under the council’s future procurement. The Northern Spire Bridge project was ranked as exceptional and scored nine out of ten in each of the five areas; care about appearance, respect the community, protect the environment and secure everyone’s safety. It’s great to see projects so close to home getting the praise and recognition they deserve.

Putting people at the heart of projects is happening all across the industry, it’s just not shouted about enough. The industry is fairly private and relatively media shy, which doesn’t help the misconception. If the public knew half of what I do about how important society and the environment is to these projects, I’m sure the perception would soon change.

It’s rare to hear praise from the public about the way construction firms go about their business but that needs to change. It goes both ways; companies should be shouting about the positive work they’re doing, and they should be receiving praise for it, after all the praise would be very well deserved.

For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email catriona@cene.org.uk

11/05/2018 – Working Towards Changing the Public Perception of the Industry

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

For years we’ve struggled to change the public perception of the industry. We’ve come a long way in terms of technology and skills, and people just aren’t aware of the reality of the construction industry today.

We still have an image problem in that, particularly young people, think that construction is just a manual labour role involving bricklaying, woodworking and plastering. I’ve said it time and time again, but we’re more than just hard hats and muddy boots. The industry is one of the most innovative industries employing some of the smartest people I know. Construction is about changing and shaping the world around you for the better – what’s more creative and powerful than that?

The problem we have is that young people see other industries as more fun and innovative and that’s probably down to social media showing insight into offices and articles you often see online for the ‘world’s coolest office’. But what they usually forget is that it was the creative minds of our industry who designed and built them in the first place. The cool and usual designs, whether that’s the Google offices with slides and their funky relaxed working environments or the Money.co.uk office with meeting rooms modelled on ice caves, ski lodges and libraries, wouldn’t have been possible without our industry.

It is crucial for us to also change the stereotype that construction is a career choice for only white men. We are building communities for everyone to live in, therefore we need people from all walks of life to be involved with the planning, design and building to ensure they meet everyone’s needs. We’ve come on leaps and bounds with understanding the positive benefits of a diverse workforce and there are multiple initiatives and schemes to support further improvement.

We are continually working hard to change perceptions and present an accurate reflection of the construction industry. To do this, we must work with the public to make construction accessible, helping people to see what the industry is all about. Educating the people who influence young people’s career decisions is essential; the parents, teachers and careers advisers need to better understand what the industry can offer in terms of job roles and careers for the future. This means spending time with schools to show the opportunities available and get them as excited about technology and design as we are.

Our Generation4Change (G4C) group is made up of young people, up to the age of 35, employed in the industry who actively work in schools, with teachers and careers professionals to help promote careers in construction. The commitment and passion for construction demonstrated by these individuals is incredible and I can assure you, if anyone can change the public perception of the industry, it’s them.

For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email catriona@cene.org.uk.