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.