23rd September Journal Column

Web-LogoBy Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

Next week, 26 September – 2 October, is World Green Building Week (WGBW), a week dedicated to raising awareness of green buildings, showing how they are the most effective means of achieving environmental, social and economic goals- from addressing climate change to creating sustainable homes, businesses and communities.

WGBW brings together Green Building Councils from around the world to create a public conversation about the role buildings play in our sustainable future. With dozens of countries, 75 Green Building Councils and their 27,000 member companies taking part, it’s the biggest and best opportunity each year for us to shine the spotlight on our global movement.

By working together at the same time all over the world, the message is louder and emphasises our collective mission to create sustainable built environments- it shows the industry is dedicated to making a change.

The theme for WGBW this year is; Change Your Perspective, which couldn’t come at a better time. There are so many facts and figures that are more than capable of changing how people think about green buildings. What we’ve been wanting for so long is to get people thinking about the benefits that green buildings bring to global emissions, energies and the economy, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so.

Saving the planet is something we’re all keen to do, everybody wants to be seen as ‘green’, anything from recycling to keeping emissions down by washing at low temperatures will make a difference. But one of the biggest differences that can be made lies within our industry, in house-building.

Companies are always thinking of new innovative ways of being efficient, from soap bubble building to offsite construction and now a French architecture firm, Multipod Studio, have unveiled a prototype for the PopUp House, a customisable home made from stackable blocks. Each house is made from stacked recyclable wooden panels and insulation blocks, all held together with wood screws – think LEGO, but less plastic and colourful.

The house can be designed, ordered, and built in about a month. It can be ordered online with costs varying depending on the quality of the materials and amenities. The house can be whatever you wish, whether it’s a small and cosy home or a spacious open office. Once ordered, the firm sends along building instructions and a construction team, and voila!

A construction team can build it in four days using only an electric screwdriver and it can be disassembled just as quickly. PopUp House is part of a growing sustainable architecture movement called passive construction – homes that are well-designed, low-cost, and energy-efficient. The PopUp House is airtight and watertight, which means it keeps its heat locked in.

Currently, PopUp House is only available in France, but the company plans to expand to the UK and I cannot wait to see this for myself. Think of all those years you spent building LEGO houses, and now you could actually live in one for real!


22nd September 2016 Newsletter

To view this week’s newsletter with upcoming event information including our Annual Charity Golf Day please click here.

16th September Journal Column

Web-LogoBy Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

The Construction 2025 strategy released in July 2013 by the Government looked at how we could continue working together to increase the success of the UK construction sector up to 2025. It’s been three years since the report was released, so by now we should be well on our way to achieving the targets set.

As well as setting ambitious targets for our industry, such as 33 per cent lower costs, 50 per cent lower emissions and 50 per cent faster delivery, the report originally set out five key themes that the Government believe are key to the long-term success of our industry:

  • People- we should be known as an industry that has a talented and diverse workforce
  • Smart- we should be known as an industry that is efficient and technologically leading the way
  • Sustainable- we should be known as an industry that leads the way in low-carbon and green construction exports
  • Growth- we should be seen an industry that drives growth across the entire economy
  • Leadership- we should be seen as an industry with clear leadership from an organisation such as the Construction Leadership Council

Following the latest review for 2016-2020, there are more key themes to add. The updated strategy is more concise and focused than the previous one, focusing on just four strategic priorities; Client Capability, Digital and Data Capability, Skills and the Supply Chain and Whole-Life Approaches.

The new strategy aims to increase productivity in government construction and deliver a further £1.7 billion in efficiency savings from public sector construction – it’s good to have an actual figure rather than just a percentage like we were originally given.

This time the strategy is more realistic, recognising that this is work in progress and there is still much to be done, but a lot can be achieved in nine years. It focuses on the fundamental issues that are holding back the industry from being more productive, such as; leadership, procurement practices, client capability, BIM, collaborative working, skills and whole life costs.

The strategy states that, by implementing the action plan to achieve the strategic priorities, “increased productivity will facilitate forecast efficiency savings of £1.7 billion over the course of this Parliament”. As the strategy states these forecasts “cannot be achieved without a highly-skilled, high-performing industry”.

The Construction 2025 strategy is at the heart of our vision at Constructing Excellence, and we seek to speed up the rate at which engaged players achieve the targets for improvement.

Constructing Excellence in the North East are holding the North East’s Construction Summit on Tuesday 20 September, focussing on the Government’s Construction 2025 Strategy along with the recent review for 2016-2020. During the Summit a Question Time panel with the G4C North East professionals of the industry will be held, discussing skills, collaborative working and their views for the future of the industry.

To book your place at the Construction Summit please contact Lauren Proctor on 0191 5007880 or lauren@cene4.org.uk. 

15th September 2016 Newsletter

To view this week’s newsletter with information about our North East Construction Summit and our other forthcoming events please click here.

8th September 2016 Newsletter

To view this week’s newsletter with information of upcoming events and informative articles please click here.

2nd September Journal Column

Web-LogoBy Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

The cyclical nature of our industry makes it difficult for firms to improve their efficiency and productivity. As with anything, trying to make one single, big thing happen proves a challenge.

In everyday life, the world survives this difficulty through millions of people making lots of little gains in different places all the time, so why can’t our industry work the same way?

To increase productivity, it’s been proposed that the whole supply chain should be involved in swarm activity – where a massive number of micro improvements are made at a faster rate than natural progression. The important thing is that everyone joins in, so that everyone benefits from the results, and in less time.

There are many bigger ideas in the industry that still have an important part to play and, often, they act as a catalyst for the team to identify all of the small opportunities not previously thought about. Workshops organised for the whole supply chain where discussions are had about the bigger ideas, including mapping out the processes involved often helps to identify small improvement opportunities that can be made along the way.

John Hall, Regional Director for Constructing Excellence in the East of England suggests five well-established concepts that can help to achieve increased productivity:

  • Supply chain management
  • Collaborative workshops
  • All the industry big ideas
  • Process mapping
  • Marginal gains

The whole supply chain should take part in regular workshops with a number of organisations participating in each. These workshops should explain the concept behind the workshops and obtain commitment to the need to improve. They should discuss a big idea and identify small improvements along the way. The idea is that each small improvement leads to a substantial benefit to everyone, meaning that everyone involved will be willing to do the work. The final part of the workshop should require everyone to sign off on their individual plans, so everybody knows exactly what they’re doing and are happy with their jobs.

Some of the bigger ideas that could benefit from this process, could be anything from BIM implementation and cost efficient low carbon solutions, to offsite manufacturing and new methods and technology – things that are currently very substantial within the industry.

I have every faith that businesses can pull together and boost the industry’s productivity, it might sound like a tough challenge, but to me it sounds like something that could actually work, and let’s face it, over the years we’ve certainly overcome much more.


1st September 2016 Newsletter

To view this week’s newsletter with information of forthcoming events please click here.