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Building Greater Exeter are running a competition with primary schools to help promote careers in construction using LEGO® bricks. Constructing Excellence SW have supported the initiative to help extend the reach of the competition and provide more schools with LEGO bricks and the opportunity to participate.

The competition ‘Design and build a model of a building for Exeter’s future’ in LEGO®, launches this week and the top three winning models will be on display at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum as part of their ‘A LEGO® Brick History of Exeter’ exhibition. After the exhibition has finished the schools will keep the LEGO bricks so they can run construction clubs with them.

In summer 2022, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) will host a contemporary LEGO exhibition, called ‘A LEGO Brick History of Exeter’.
To celebrate, Building Greater Exeter are teaming up with RAMM to run a competition for primary schools in Greater Exeter to ‘Design and build a model of a building for Exeter’s future’ in LEGO.

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We’d like to offer a huge CONGRATULATIONS to The NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter who won Building Project of the Year at the CE National Awards on Friday.

Well done to all the people and companies involved including Arup, BAM Construction Ltd, Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, Stride Treglown, Service Design Solution Ltd (SDS), T Clarke, Totus, James Hannaford, Cliff Barnes.

Under the most testing circumstances, BAM and the entire, amazing project team worked tirelessly to deliver a superb, fully functioning, 116 bed hospital facility for the people across the South West. Delivered in just 57 days, all during the peak of the first COVID-19 lockdown, this was a major engineering and logistical challenge, turning a redundant Homebase store into a permanent, mini general hospital.






Due to the critical nature of the facility, programme was key, and, through collaborative working and innovative thinking, the facility was completed in just 57 days, including eight days demolition and site preparation and 49 of construction. Whilst called a Nightingale, this facility was a full-scale construction project, re-purposing a former Homebase DIY retail unit with no suitable infrastructure into a full acute facility with the requisite compliant ancillary space and welfare areas.

This scheme delivered more than a temporary facility, as other Nightingale projects were designed to do. Nightingale Hospital Exeter provides a permanent, mini-General Hospital, close to the strategically important M5-A38-A30 communications network and benefitting the whole region. Over 80% of the total £23m project spend went to supply chain partners within a 45-mile radius of the site, including many SMEs. BAM initiated a strategy to keep operatives on site as much as possible, employing three local mobile catering companies to provide free food and beverages, including over 100,000 individual bottles of water.

To reflect the need for flexibility and operational resilience, another factor that differentiates Exeter from similar schemes is compartmentalisation. We created five areas of between 22 and 24 beds, which can be used for different purposes – allowing the Trust to decide what it wants to do with this new facility, providing the flexibility subsequently to change functionality to meet demand.

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The timeframe, programme and logistics all presented huge challenges, amplified by project conception and delivery all taking place during a full national lockdown in response to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Over 2,500 people were involved on this project, with 467 on-site at the busiest time, all during the first national lockdown at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. This presented a huge logistical challenge which was managed by strict social distancing segregation, hi-tec bio security and on-site medical teams, all resulting in zero reportable incidents and no COVID-19 issues.

The design team was just 24 hours ahead of construction, sometimes less, and there were elements of work designed one or two days, or even hours, before they were installed. The design went through many iterations on a daily basis and the team worked tirelessly to assimilate the changes, making sure they just kept in front of the installation team. Ultimately the success of this project was founded on the true partnership between all parties and o BAM’s long-standing relationship with architect, Stride Treglown, engineers Arup and site-based MEP design team, SDS.


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A newcomer’s view and the importance of “how”

As one of a small number of new recruits to the CESW board it is with real pleasure I have been asked to give the opening remarks for the February newsletter.

With January now behind us and those ill thought-out resolutions a distant memory, I wanted to focus on some great work that has already been released by CESW and G4CSW.

The “Constructing the Future” report takes a forensic look at how we need to tackle industry recruitment and address the image problem it suffers from. Whilst I can no longer claim to be part of the younger generation (existing in the murkiness between Gen X and a Millennial) I can understand the decisions facing young people considering an industry to enter. For me it was less than 10 years ago I entered the construction industry after (for those that know me) regretfully having to hang up my aviation wings.

My plea to you all is to stop asking “can” we recruit Gen Z, “can” we encourage more women into construction, “can” we improve the diversity of newcomers to the industry….and ask “how”.  How are we going to make it happen?  Whether it is through media, social media, word of mouth, industry influencers, if we all focus on the “how” we will secure the future talent our industry needs.

With this in mind, make sure you keep an eye out for our theme groups and get involved – the diversity of opinion and thought is what makes these so successful!

Also (because Andrew will never forgive me if I don’t mention it) do take a look at the CESW 2022 awards and the opportunity to associate your brand as a sponsor (it has been a very successful tactic for us at SCF) or submitting an award (we’ve done that too, but being the headline sponsor we’ve held off the last couple of years!). I look forward to getting stuck into the judging and seeing you all in September, if not before.

Finally, I hope for those who had a tough January that February is the tonic you need and those who got off to a good start can continue to build on their successes.

With COP26 putting sustainability under the spotlight, MMC coming to the fore, and a very real skills shortage, there has arguably never been a more vital time for the construction sector.

Constructing Excellence South West (CESW), the cross-sector, cross-supply chain, member led organisation charged with driving the change agenda in construction within the South West as part of the Constructing Excellence Regional Partnership (CERP), exists to improve industry performance to produce a better built environment.

But why should you become a member of the organisation, and what’s in it for you and your business if you do?

Paul Richards, Managing Director of Aquarian Cladding Systems, a leading specialist supplier of external brick and terracotta cladding systems, has been a member of CESW for over seven years and is currently on the board. Here, he explains why he and his business have benefitted from playing a full role.

Why did you join CESW?

The main driver for Aquarian becoming involved with Constructing Excellence was a desire to be informed of what was happening to improve the construction process, and the changes occurring in the broader built environment sector.

As Managing Director, I wanted to keep abreast of best practice and to find a way to apply it to the business. Up until joining CESW I had always been a supporter of the industry’s change agenda but had become frustrated at the amount of talking shops that never seemed to deliver solid action.

Having attended a few events, and speaking to other members, it was quickly apparent that CESW is focussed on delivering tangible results. To be able to play a part in the change agenda and join with other members to use our influence to find solutions that take the whole sector forward is important.

What do you gain as a member of CESW?

After becoming involved with CESW, I gained a much broader perspective of the whole sector. As a member you are exposed to many different opinions, facts, experience and feedback on all that’s happening in the built environment, both nationally and within the South West region.

The opportunity to learn and see what the agenda is, and get information about trends, means I can see how we fit into the bigger picture and ensure the business is positioned in the right place to take advantage and respond accordingly. CESW helps me make informed decisions, broadens my knowledge, and enables me to direct the business.

It has also allowed me to not only learn from some huge companies but try and educate them in terms of what it’s like to be an SME in the industry amongst giants, as they sometimes don’t understand the challenges we face, so one of the great things about CESW is that it is a two-way education process, which is important.

What specific benefits have you seen as a member of CESW?

The biggest benefit has to be playing a role in the wider Constructing Excellence network. As a member I am exposed to likeminded people at every event I attend and via the various workshops and forums open to me.

That has allowed me to meet and develop relationships with individuals and organisations that prior to joining CESW I might never have come into contact. These people tick our boxes as a business; we care about best practice for all and collaborating with our whole supply chain, we have an offsite manufactured solution which these people are looking for, so for me it is the place we want to be.

It’s why for many years we have supported the agenda and events, and sponsored awards as these are all things we want our brand to be associated with.

I am confident that a number of projects that have used our brick cladding systems here in the South West would not have involved Aquarian without the introduction gained via CESW.

What would you say to a prospective member of CESW to help them decide on joining?

To have a successful relationship with CESW there is no point in joining and expecting something in return, you have got to play an active role and be prepared to commit and be sure you can give as much as you take.

By playing a positive part in improving construction processes, you and your business will profit as a member of CESW. We have consistently seen the benefits of membership over the past seven years.

There are so many opportunities and areas that need addressing in the construction industry, why wouldn’t you want to learn, contribute to the change agenda, and make your business and the industry better – to safeguard the future of both?

For more information on CESW visit For more information on Aquarian Cladding, visit

Combining Dame Judith Hackitt’s Review and its ‘golden thread’ with other calls for us to change including the Farmer Review, The Value Toolkit and the Gold Standard for Frameworks, we are now getting to the crux of the next emerging paradigm and how we in construction can transition to it.

This month Martyn Jones explores what change models might best suited to guide us through this shift to the next paradigm.  Will the models advocated in the 1990s – as we then pivoted to the ICT Paradigm – cut the mustard in meeting the opportunities, challenges and purpose of the emerging paradigm?

Let’s start with the nature and scale of the change or repurposing we face. Farmer’s blunt branding of his report has been criticised but he remains unrepentant on “modernise or die”.  “It was very deliberate: it was the message I wanted to give,” he says. “There are too many apologists that think things are always going to be like this and that the industry will struggle on. But I’m saying it’s going to get worse and worse. I wanted people to understand the seriousness of it.”

Alongside this, Hackitt has expressed “serious concern” over a lack of take-up by the construction industry of tools and frameworks that have been developed to make high-rise residential buildings safer following the Grenfell Tower disaster.

She said there was a “mixed picture” in terms of the industry’s response, with some organisations making “excellent progress” while others are “holding back” until they see more detail and are required to make changes as a result of legislation.

She went on: “It has been crystal clear to many of us from the outset that legislation alone will not deliver the outcomes we are looking for. The culture of the industry itself must change to one which takes responsibility for delivering and maintaining buildings which are safe for those who use them.”

We’ve been here before. Back in the 1990s, construction was being challenged by the Egan Report to embark on a revolution.  What can we learn about the change models we used from that era?  Let’s remind ourselves of what, back then, were seen as the common factors characterising successful innovation:

Some of these are clearly still relevant. But that was then and this is now. Is there any learning we can carry forward from the change models we used then to help us pivot to the next paradigm or are they out of date and too mechanistic for today?

Well, for a start, it’s important to recognise that they weren’t the Heineken of change models (other lagers are available) as clearly the Egan agenda wasn’t universally adopted and we didn’t see a revolution in construction.  Those of us who have been around long enough will remember Sir John Egan’s own comment on the industry’s response to his report. Paraphrasing what he said:  I called for a revolution and we ended up with a bit of change.

Our frankly lacklustre response to calls to change back then is not inspiring.  Also, nothing stands still.  In the meantime, of course, the values, needs, aspirations and concerns of individuals  – our customers and those working in the industry – and collective as a society as a whole have changed.

The industry of the future will need to enthuse Generation Z, attracting them into the industry and enabling them to thrive. To help them find meaning in their work, align themselves with other people and projects of shared interest, and elevate communication and collaboration through increased empathy and co-creation.

And here’s another thing: it seems that the very basis of our business-as-usual rationale is shifting too, from today’s Fordist emphasis on productivity, efficiency, and output (although we could do with more productivity and efficiency) to creativity, innovation, and a new purpose focused on the safety and wellbeing of our end users and own our people, and protecting and repairing our planet.

As our Procurement Theme Group has consistently argued over a number of years, our operating structure, culture and business models need to be repurposed. They have largely remained remnants of Fordism and the Industrial Age, even though we’ve been living in the Information Age for the past 30 years. And while we in construction are still trying to catch up with the current paradigm, the world is yet again already moving into the next: the Age of Purpose.

Given the scale of repurposing that’s needed, we need to rethink our change management models. Designed to serve organisations of the past, we need to move away from change management methodologies that consider organisations and our operating system to be machinelike with top down, hierarchical structures that can be programmed in a certain way.

To change construction into a modern industry, we need to shift from process-driven, mechanistic models of change management to more human-centred approaches that appeal to the wants and needs of individuals, both inside and outside our industry.

We need to actively and collectively sense changes in our wider environment and respond by adapting ourselves and our reactions to them and repurposing our value propositions. We need a more human-centred perspective that reconsiders construction as a vibrant organism of free-thinking, empowered individuals freed from the shackles of the industry’s traditional operating system, business models and behaviours.

We will need to be much better at nurturing creativity and innovation. We need to encourage empowerment, entrepreneurial thinking, and risk taking.  In the words of Hackitt and many others, we need to change the culture of the industry.

Constructing Excellence South West has launched a report exploring how to attract younger generations to a career in an ageing industry.

With almost half of employees in construction aged between 45 and 65, the Constructing the Future report outlines detailed recommendations to help evolve the industry to ensure it’s filled with new talent, skills, ideas and ways of working.

Designed to drive real change and combat the ongoing skills shortage, the report examines the current issues surrounding recruiting the next generation, and explores how to engage with and encourage school leavers to consider a career in construction and engineering.

The Generation for Change South West (G4CSW) is the sub-group of CESW responsible for implementing the recommendations listed in the Constructing the Future report. As the professional voice of young people in the UK built environment, G4CSW is committed to engage with the future leaders of the industry to show them the range of opportunities that lie ahead.

Andrew Carpenter, CEO of CESW, said: “Our latest report closely examines the existing issues surrounding the recruitment of the next generation of construction employees. It explores the attitudes and perceptions which influence career decisions and highlights the barriers which may be stopping younger people from applying for a career in construction and engineering.

“By reviewing the schemes already in place, G4CSW has developed a more effective, targeted and creative approach which is more likely to resonate with school leavers as they begin planning their futures.

“With an aging workforce, now is the time to make a real difference and provide an industry of opportunity for the next generation. Further action must be taken to recruit more young people into construction roles, and our list of recommendations highlight exactly how this can be done.”

To read the Constructing the Future report CLICK HERE

This is the time of the year we reflect on times past and the year ahead.  And let’s face it, 2021 was such a mixed bag that Martyn Jones was reminded of the first lines of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities:  “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.”

Dickens suggested an age of radical opposites taking place at the same time, which just about sums up construction in the last year or two.  Let’s start with some positives. The winners of the 2021 CESW Awards yet again demonstrated what the very best of construction can achieve. The submissions demonstrated how clients and their advisers and supply chains worked collaboratively, creatively and with agility to deliver excellent outcomes despite the pandemic, labour and material shortages, and supply chain disruption.

On the other hand, the revelations from the Grenfell inquiry have vividly and excruciatingly confirmed the other much less attractive side of our industry and its underlying weaknesses. We already knew that some clients and their advisors, designers, main and specialist contractors, and the suppliers of materials and components have all conspired in a race to the bottom.  Successive governments haven’t helped either with their light-touch approach to regulation. And then there are the parts played by ineffective control of quality and weak component testing regimes.

How come we’ve ended up with such contrasting cultures, approaches and behaviours in the same industry?  How come we have a two-tier system with some sections of the industry fully buying into the Rethinking Construction/Constructing Excellence agendas and others that clearly are not?  Why haven’t we all recognised the need for the leadership across the whole operating system to deliver outcomes focused on best value rather than lowest price?

The main reason is that many clients, their advisers, and suppliers often fall for the lure of the short-term when we all know that most construction projects are expected to go on providing value for many years over their lifetime.  But, for some, the short-term view has had much appeal: what is the cheapest cost for delivering my project NOW?  Will I even be around to see the longer-term benefits or weaknesses of the project? And, even if I may be, will I be held to account for disappointing longer-term performance?  Will anyone consider how better the project could have been if we had spent more time considering the safety and functionality of the completed project?  (The Grenfell inquiry is answering all the above questions and reminding us that chickens do eventually come home to roost.)

Downstream in the process this approach often persists too.  Subcontracts are often let in a similar fashion on the basis of lowest price for THIS project, not potential future projects where a specialist may be able to work with a main contractor to not only provide value for the client in terms of improved project outcomes but also to enhance the main contractor’s reputation, add mutual competitive advantage and secure future work.

So, what should be our collective resolve for 2022?  Surely, given the evidence from the Grenfell inquiry coupled with the increasingly clear features of the emerging 4th industrial revolution (4IR), now is the time to commit to a recalibration of our values, culture, operating system, procurement approaches and business models. This is a hugely ambitious agenda but the disruption that we have experienced over the past two years could be seen as preparing us for the radial and systemic changes that are needed.

We could start by unlearning our old habits and behaviours that have been so painfully laid bare by the Grenfell inquiry.  We need to learn new things about ourselves, our relationships with each other and how we go about responding to the emerging technological-economic-social paradigm.  We need to better understand the needs of external and internal customers and our planet throughout the whole life cycle of our products.  We need to build better, more value-focused interorganisational relationships, promote more transparent and integrated processes, and reward good behaviour.

In short, we need to fashion a new compact between clients and their suppliers of construction products and services in a race to the top – not to the bottom.  In this race to the top, we need to be a force for good embracing environmental imperatives and adding social value. We need to blur the boundaries between the physical, digital, and biological worlds. We need to embrace the advances in technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, genetic engineering, and quantum computing whist shaping them to the specificities of the built environment – never forgetting that the built environment is designed, built and operated by people for people and that these technologies need to be humanised so that they address our needs.

Given this radical yet humanised agenda for change It looks like being yet another busy year for CESW, particularly for our new Theme Groups providing the thought leadership needed in SMART Construction, the Climate Crisis, Building Safety and Future Skills.

Digital Construction Skills are delighted to announce the launch of a new service for Constructing Excellence South West members for 2022.  DCS have received funding from CITB to provide free mentoring support to help you adopt new digital tools and ways of working. There are no forms to fill in, simply book a 15, 30 or 60-minute with a digital construction specialist to get started.


This mentoring support of up to 10 hours per company, is delivered by Digital Construction Skills and is aimed at SME construction company owners, directors or senior managers with responsibility for business improvement or digital change in your company.


All the mentors on this programme have recent, real-world experience on the front line of the construction industry and are specialists in the technical and commercial aspects of digital construction including digitalising information flow and physical elements such as 3D models and reality capture.


Your mentor can help you wherever you are on your digital journey, for example if you:

Here’s what others have said about the support they have received:


Digital Construction Skills helped us access funding to help us train our staff in a new digital platform we are rolling out across our business.” – Andy Dalrymple, Managing Director, Mackenzie Construction


Within our first session with Digital Construction Skills, we identified the types of digital tools which could help us save time and money and ruled out the ones that weren’t relevant to us.” – Keith Burrell, CEO, Procladd (Scotland) Ltd


Thanks to free support from Digital Construction Skills, I am adding several new revenue streams to my business including carrying out drone surveys and setting out construction works.” – Ed Clement, Owner, Patterson Bailey Engineers


The support helped us get all the right people together in one room, and get to the point where we were able to make a clear decision on the priority areas for digital tools.” – David Minns, Operations Director,

GAC Environmental

Andrew Carpenter, Chief Executive opening remarks for January 2022 newsletter


It with immense pleasure that I welcome you to the first CESW Newsletter of 2022. Late last year your board had an Away Day to agree the way forward for 2022 and beyond and this has resulted in a re-structing of our Theme Groups. We hope by focussing on the ‘key’ topics of the moment this will add value to both individual members and their organisations. All members are encouraged to put forward participants in one of our four new Theme Groups as below:

  1. Climate Crisis
  2. Building Safety
  3. Future Skills
  4. Smart Construction (Digital & Offsite)

In addition, the board has identified three cross-cutting strands that will be weaved into each of our Theme Groups as follows:

  1. Procurement on Value
  2. Health & Wellbeing
  3. Equality, Diversity & Inclusion


We are delighted that the links with the key UK wide construction sector agendas are being expanded and our influence is growing to ensure the South West is well represented on the national stage. In particular I would draw your attention to the following in which we are already involved:

  1. The Value Toolkit with Construction Innovation Hub Value Toolkit – Construction Innovation Hub
  2. Building Safety Charter with Considerate Contractors Building a Safer Future – Building Safety Starts with You
  3. Construct Zero with Construction Leadership Council CO2nstructZero » Construction Leadership Council


You will note that there is very much a joined-up approach with our Theme Groups feeding into the national agenda and vice versa. As the year progresses, we hope that our Best Practice Clubs will pick up on this same agenda to complete the end-to-end communication channel.


To add value to our movement I am delighted to say that our G4C movement is really beginning to take shape under the expert leadership of Lizzy Painter. Most notable have been the series of podcasts produced throughout 2021 and the Constructing the Future report launched in November last at our AGM. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Andrew Goodenough, Andrew Brown, Gordon Brown, and Lizzy for their work in compiling this report which will undoubtedly focus minds and be a central influence on our priorities going forward.


We are excited about the prospect of returning to something more like normal when it comes to events in 2022 and with that in mind we have a packed programme in store for members and supporters which may be viewed here: Events Planner – Constructing Excellence SW. Obviously, this will be COVID willing, and we will keep you posted on an event-by-event basis. In particular we are very excited to have recently launched our 2022 Awards About the awards – Constructing Excellence SW. The deadline for entries is 11th March 2022 but please do not leave it until the last minute, get your entry in early and take advantage of the early bird ticket offer. Do not forget you have to be in in to win it! We do have a few sponsorship packages still available if you are interest. Please contact me at The regular Friday webinars, which have proved so valuable since their Launch in 2021, will continue with the first one this coming Friday 14th January 2022 when we welcome Richard Smith of NHBC to discuss all matters MMC Webinars – Constructing Excellence SW


Finally, I would say that we are on a bit of a membership drive currently so if you know of any organisation who has not signed up yet, please give me their contact details and we will do the rest.


May I wish you a happy and prosperous New Year and say I look forward to collaborating with you in the coming months and to seeing you at one or more events throughout the year.

We are planning an exciting array of events and activities for 2022 most of which will provide members and supporters with excellent sponsorship opportunities. If you would like to discuss any of the events listed below, please contact me via email at

I look forward to hearing from you shortly and will deal with enquiries on a first come first served basis.

Yours sincerely,

Industry Partners

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