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The 2021 CESW Construction Summit online was a huge success.

Recording and presentations from the Summit are available on

Feedback from attendees:

A captivating summit that unquestionably held the audience with the content from the fantastic speakers and one I thoroughly enjoyed taking away some quality discussions for further thought to implement.

Great to hear on several occasions how proof of performance testing and comprehensive construction data of developments is desired to ensure predictions are physically met and not just assumed they are achieved.

Long may great ideas come from our industry engagements and I very much look forward to the next event as always. (Dan Macey)

Interesting discussions being had at the CESW Construction Summit this morning, addressing some of the major topics in the industry at the moment. (SRA Architects)

Thanks to CESW for yesterday’s Construction Summit! #TeamSWPA enjoyed listening to a range of engaging and interesting topics! (SWPA)

Dame Judith Hackitt, author of the Hackitt Review, is keynote speaker at major event in construction industry calendar

Please go to Business Live to read full article

Dame Judith Hackitt among impressive line-up of speakers at flagship CESW event

One of the major events of the year for the region’s construction industry takes place next week as Dame Judith Hackitt, author of the Hackitt Review following the Grenfell tragedy, heads an impressive list of speakers at this year’s Constructing Excellence South West Construction Summit.

Industry leaders and professionals with gather online for the event, titled ‘An Industry of Opportunity’, on Wednesday, May 26th. It comes as construction faces unprecedented challenges in the shape of quality and compliance, post Grenfell, and how it responds to climate change, but also huge opportunities with building and infrastructure at the heart of the Government’s post-COVID Roadmap to Recovery.

The keynote address will be given by Fergus Harradence, Deputy Director for Infrastructure and Construction at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). In addition to Dame Judith, speakers and topics will include:

Constructing Excellence South West (CESW) leads the change agenda in construction regionally as part of Construction Excellence’s national mission to improve the industry’s performance and produce a better built environment.

Andrew Carpenter, CEO of Constructing Excellence South West, said: “This year’s CESW Construction Summit comes at pivotal time for the industry regionally and nationally. As construction helps lead the post-COVID recovery, now is the time to harness the lessons learned during the pandemic, and from Grenfell, and to position ourselves as pioneers in tacking the challenge of our lifetimes which is climate change.

“I am delighted we have such an impressive and inspirational line-up of speakers, all leaders in their field, and I look forward to them sharing their knowledge with CESW members and guests and helping reinforce the can-do attitude we have in the South West towards positive change in our industry. All-in-all it is a must-attend event for all South West construction professionals.”

The CESW Construction Summit – An Industry of Opportunity – takes place online 9am-1pm on Wednesday, May 26. For more information and how to join this event see:

Andrew Carpenter joins Programme Board of national CO2nstruct Zero initiative

One of the South West’s leading advocates for modernising the construction sector is to help lead a major national initiative aimed at transforming the industry in response to the global climate emergency.

Andrew Carpenter, CEO of Constructing Excellence South West (CESW), has been appointed to the Programme Board of CO2nstruct Zero, the UK construction industry’s zero carbon change programme.

Launched in March 2021 by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), CO2nstruct Zero is the industry’s key response to achieving the UK Government’s objective of net zero for the whole economy by 2050.

The aim is to promote the high-level priorities that the industry must work on in order to drive carbon out of all parts of the construction sector, from manufacturing and design to construction and operation of assets.

In addition to Andrew Carpenter’s role on the board, Constructing Excellence South West is supporting the programme as CO2nstruct Zero Partner.

Andrew Carpenter, CEO of Constructing Excellence South West, said: “I am delighted to be asked to join the CO2nstruct Zero Programme Board and to have the opportunity to help shape construction’s response to what is, without doubt, the single biggest issue facing our industry and indeed our society and our planet.

“All of us have a role to play and construction needs to achieve nothing less than a revolution in how we embrace innovative methods and materials, design out carbon, build responsibly and optimise the efficiency of both new and existing homes and buildings and how we use them.

“The industry has learned vital lessons from COVID and for the first time in many years has come together with one voice. We now need to harness these recent achievements and direct our attention to the even greater challenge of climate change.”

CESW leads the change agenda in construction regionally as part of Construction Excellence’s national mission to improve the industry’s performance and produce a better built environment.

More about Constructing Excellence South West at:

A new Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) report caught Martyn Jones’ attention this month. The report, Housing Guarantee, argues that small and medium sized contractors (SMEs) need to play a much greater role in the housing sector, including getting priority when public sector land is sold for housing.

The CPS report calls for changes to the planning system to open up the market and allow better access for SMEs as part of the effort to diversify housing supply. The report argues that there should be less focus on increasing the number of planning permissions going through the system and more reforms helping small and medium sized house builders to access land.

Housing Guarantee highlights the fact that the top 10 house builders currently build 40% of all new homes, with the top six controlling around 33% of the market. The six biggest house builders alone currently have roughly one million plots in their strategic land banks, which is nearly the equivalent of the target supply across England over the next five years.

According to the CPS, this means smaller builders often face challenges obtaining land and risk being squeezed out of the system all together. While they built around 40% of homes in the 1980s, today they build 10%.

To date, attempts to increase the housing supply have focused on large volume builders and increasing the number of planning permissions going through the system. However, according to the report, the 2010 planning reforms led to permissions rising to over 350,000 which only resulted in 200,000 new homes being built. To increase the number of houses being delivered, the report recommends selling public sector land to local house builder SMEs.

It also recommends a housing delivery test for local authorities based on the number of houses built for the community, not planning permissions granted and, significant in this context, introducing panels of local builder SMEs

Minister of State for Housing, Chris Pincher MP, commented: “This CPS report is a very welcome contribution to the debate around both house building and planning reform”. It highlights the important role that SMEs can and should play in delivering more homes and helping the UK’s economy build back better. “A successful SME sector is crucial in our shared objectives of planning reform and increased house building,” he said.

But are our local SME contractors ready for this crucial role? And what can be done to support them?

Back in 2003,a report by members of the Bristol Constructing Excellence Club identified both the strengths and vulnerabilities of SMEs. The strengths identified in the report applicable to housing provision are: the ability to respond to the needs of niche markets by taking on jobs that are too small for larger organisations (in this case pockets of land that that are too small for larger house builders); the ability to get close to customers and accommodate changes to their requirements; and to respond more flexibly to change. And, staff are more closely linked to each other, the company, and local communities.

But what about SME vulnerabilities? Again, in the context of housing provision, they include dictatorial owner/manager ethos where the owner controls everything; a lack of access to capital; lack of formal structure and operating system; decision making based too much on ‘gut feeling’; and a lack of formal time and cash flow management.

Supporting SME house builders to build back more and better requires a crosscutting strategy building on their strengths and addressing their vulnerabilities. That includes key areas such as more easily accessible finance as set out in CESW’s publication, Development Finance: A best practice guide to lending.  [The CESW guide provides a means by which developers, funders and construction teams can work together making the funding process more collaborative and efficient – making it easier for SMEs to access funding, reduce risk, increase their pipeline of work and improve their profitability.]

Other support includes national and local government implementing appropriate macroeconomic policies; the capability and desire of the stakeholders in housing developments to provide conducive microeconomic business environments; simplified legal and regulatory frameworks; supportive education and learning; and the supply of sufficient skilled labour. And last, but by no means least, the capacity of SMEs themselves to implement up-to-date operating and business practices and work collaboratively in the local panels proposed in the CPS report.

These panels should be founded on the principles of Constructing Excellence. More specifically, Constructing Excellence could help on the demand side by encouraging housing development stakeholders to create more conducive microeconomic business environments for SMEs, and on the supply side, by supporting SMEs in adopting up-to-date operating practices and business strategies, and offering digitally optimised smart construction.

There are so many topical issues for the Construction sector at the moment, it is difficult to decide how to introduce this month’s newsletter, however after attending some of the virtual sessions at last month’s Association of University Estates Directors (AUDE) conference my theme is that of technology. I was struck by just how much we are beginning to rely on the Internet of things ( IOT) and the potential that seeming small technology devices have to improve efficiency of our daily lives, truly smart buildings are a revolution waiting to happen and given the recent Government announcement on carbon reduction targets to cut emissions by 78% by 2035– now must happen.

To meet our Net Zero target, we will all have to make sacrifices and I think there is a great deal to be achieved in regards to energy consumption in our buildings and implementing sensors connected the IOT to help us regulate heating in our buildings. Gone are the days when we should need to have as many routine visits to the plant room to check boiler efficiency or realise it been a frosty morning so the heating needs to go on.

Leading on from this Professor Alan Winfield, from the University of the West of England, is researching self -replicating robots, he has been working with software and robotic systems since the early 1980s, is a professor of Cognitive Robotics in the Bristol Robotics Lab at the University of the West of England (UWE). He’s also one of the brains behind the Autonomous Robot Evolution (ARE) project, a multiyear effort carried out by UWE, the University of York, Edinburgh Napier University, and University of Amsterdam. It will, its creators hope, change the way that robots are designed and built. And it’s all thanks to borrowing a page from evolutionary biology.

The concept behind ARE is, at least hypothetically, simple. How many science fiction movies can you think of where a group of intrepid explorer’s land on a planet and, despite their best attempts at planning, find themselves entirely unprepared for whatever they encounter? This is the reality for any of the inhospitable scenarios in which we might want to send robots, especially when those places could be tens of millions of miles away, as is the case for the exploration and possible habitation of other planets. Currently, robots like the Mars rovers are built on Earth, according to our expectations of what they will find when they arrive. This is the approach roboticists take because, well, there’s no other option available.

The ARE team is excited about the fact that the robots that can be created using this evolutionary process could turn out to be optimized in a way no human creator could ever dream of. “Even when we know the environment perfectly well, artificial evolution can come up with solutions that are so novel that no human would have thought of them” said Professor Winfield. (To read more on this Evolving, Self-Replicating Robots Ready To Colonize Space | Digital Trends)

So I leave you with the scary thought that robots could indeed take over the world…. and on a present day note I hope that the “green shoots “ of recovery are happening both in your business and in your gardens.

Happy Springtime!

Helen Baker

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