In June of this year, the construction industry’s 12-month ‘grace period’ for completing work under existing building regulations came to an end. This marked the beginning of a new era for businesses in the industry as they are now required to adhere to a set of rules designed to achieve government zero carbon targets.
These regulations, known as The Future Homes and Building Standard, encompass a wide range of requirements. They include new targets for carbon emissions, with new homes mandated to produce at least 31% less carbon and non-domestic new builds aiming for a reduction of at least 27%.
The standards also introduce minimum efficiency requirements, such as new U-values, and a new metric called Primary Energy to measure a building’s heating efficiency and energy consumption.
The implications of these regulations for the construction industry are significant. The goal of reaching net zero by 2050 impacts not only construction firms but also all businesses associated with the industry, including architects, solicitors, training providers, local authorities, and planning consultants, among others.
Constructing Excellence South West (CESW), as a cross-sector and cross-supply chain organisation, takes climate change and the industry’s response to it seriously. It has a dedicated Climate Crisis theme group that promotes sharing, influencing, and networking to address these challenges. While the news of updated building regulations has spread widely, CESW’s objective as an organisation is to support its members in navigating this complex legislation. Part L, F, and O are key introductions within these regulations.
Introducing Part L, F and O
Part F focuses on building fabrics, particularly ventilation, airtightness, and the elimination of thermal bridging. It includes a new requirement that any building improvements, extensions, or renovations must not worsen ventilation compared to the pre-existing condition. The amendment also recommends fitting trickle vents in replacement windows unless alternative ventilation is provided.
Part L involves stricter regulations for ‘U-values,’ which measure the effectiveness of insulation materials like windows and doors. U-values for walls and replacement thermal elements need to be improved from 0.28W/m2K to 0.18W/m2K. Minimum U-values for doors, windows, and roof windows have also increased from 1.6 W/m2K to 1.4 W/m2K. Fire doors can meet the previous
standard of 1.8 W/m2K U-value. Additionally, new restrictions require that no more than 25% of an extension’s floor area consists of glazing (windows, roof windows, rooflights).
Part O aims to safeguard the health and well-being of building occupants by reducing high indoor temperatures. While this primarily applies to new buildings, traditional, refurbished, and listed properties are generally exempt. However, it does introduce glazing limitations for new-build homes, care homes, schools, and student accommodation to minimise solar heat gain. It also enforces new requirements for cross-ventilation.
Kevin Harris, CEO at CESW, emphasises the importance of these regulations in the fight against climate change, he said: “CESW is committed to driving the change agenda in construction across the South West and supporting members in implementing the new rules.
“The organisation’s Climate Crisis theme group has been preparing for the potential impact of these changes on the construction industry in the region and will continue to facilitate knowledge sharing and best practice examples.”
As Constructing Excellence South West continues to prioritise member value at the core of its operations, we are pleased to announce some changes in our operating structure. This presents an opportunity for us to express gratitude and extend warm welcomes to individuals associated with these changes.
With the approval of the board, we are delighted to welcome Kingsley Clarke from SCF Frameworks as the new Vice Chair of the Governance Board. Kingsley has consistently shown great enthusiasm and provided valuable input during our meetings, particularly in coordinating our upcoming and highly anticipated Awards. We eagerly anticipate Kingsley’s continued wisdom as we engage in focused future planning.
We are also thrilled to welcome Michelle Thompson from Batterbee Thompson, who has expressed a keen interest in joining CESW’s initiatives. Michelle’s financial expertise will contribute to the financial stability of the Governance Board in her role as treasurer.
After dedicating several years to CESW, Andrew Goodenough, AJ Eaton, and Lisa Broom have found their day jobs increasingly demanding. In light of this, they believe it is appropriate to step back from the board to make room for individuals with fresh ideas who can commit to supporting the courageous initiatives we have chosen to pursue. Each of them has made significant contributions during their tenure, and we extend our heartfelt gratitude to Andrew, AJ, and Lisa on behalf of everyone involved. We wish them the best in their future endeavours.
As our Theme Groups progress and aim to deliver valuable outcomes, I would like to express my sincere thanks to Imogen Snell from Buro Happold, who will be stepping down due to maternity leave of which we wish her all the very best for a safe and healthy delivery. Imogen is handing over the reins to Natalia Sokolov of Thrings, who is more than capable and enthusiastic about taking on the role. We look forward to the handover meeting and the continued great work within the group under Natalia’s leadership.
After a fruitful duration within the industry, we bid farewell to Mary Bennell, our Smart Construction Chair, as she embarks on a well-deserved retirement to focus on her personal barn conversion project. We wish Mary all the best, and she knows where to find support should she need it. The industry is grateful for Mary’s commitment, and we thank her for her invaluable contributions. Mary is passing the baton to Neil Hall of LiveWest, an experienced individual in both Retrofit/Decarbonisation and New Build development. Neil’s dynamic approach and expertise in MMC will undoubtedly enhance the work of this group.
CESW relies on the generosity of time given by these individuals to provide valuable information on best practices to our industry. We wholeheartedly thank both past and present contributors for their commitment to our cause.
With millions of holes being dug every day across the country, severe damage can be caused if workers don’t check for existing assets before they begin digging.
South West Water maintains over 18,000km of underground water pipes and these are at constant risk of damage by people digging without knowing what’s below them or taking adequate precautions.
On average, we experience around 100 incidents caused by third party damage every year. This can be catastrophic.
Water in our pipes is under pressure and damaged pipes could cause injury to workers or people around them, as well as harm to the surrounding area and natural environment. On top of this, it can cause disruptions to our customers’ water supplies in the communities we serve.
We’ve created an information flyer (please see attached) to explain how we can help trace a water main or discuss a main diversion to avoid the unwanted and avoidable damage caused by these incidents.
With the potential cost of repairs, fines and fees being significant and likely to cause lengthy delays to a project, you can dial before they dig by calling South West Water on 0344 346 1010 (between 8am-6pm Monday to Friday and 9am-1pm Saturday) or 0344 346 2020 (for emergencies outside the hours above).
NAO publishes report on the ‘Condition of school buildings’
Earlier this week (28 June), the National Audit Office published a report on the ‘Condition of school buildings’ which revealed that the Department for Education has identified 572 schools so far where it believes reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), a building material that deteriorates over time and is susceptible to sudden failure, may have been used during construction. RAAC has been confirmed in 65 schools after 196 surveys, of which 24 required emergency action, according to the report. The Department for Education is said to be focusing on 14,900 schools built during the period when the use of RAAC was widespread in construction (between the 1950s and mid-1990s). Of these, 42% have confirmed they have undertaken work to identify RAAC, but potential risks are yet to be identified in the remaining schools.
UK businesses to receive share of over £80 million government funding to tackle carbon emissions
On Wednesday (28 June), the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero announced that UK businesses would receive a share of over £80 million government funding to ditch costly fossil fuels for cleaner alternatives like hydrogen and biomass. The announcement is part of a £1bn drive to back state-of-the-art clean technologies to help companies cut their carbon footprint. Among the 29 successful bidders were Kellogg’s, which will use hydrogen to fuel their cereal making process in Manchester, and one of Scotland’s oldest whisky makers, Annadale Distillery, which received £3.6 million government funding to invest in new thermal heating technologies.
Government urges high energy use businesses to claim extra discount on energy bills
On Tuesday (27 June), the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero issued a press release reminding energy-intensive businesses and heat network operators that there is one month left to apply for government support that could see their wholesale energy bills slashed by as much as a fifth. Consumer Energy Minister Amanda Solloway called on eligible businesses to act now to benefit from the support available through the Energy Bills Discount Scheme. Solloway also issued a reminder to heat network operators that they have a legal requirement to apply, to ensure a fair deal for their customers who would otherwise face higher energy bills compared to those covered by the energy price cap.
Labour calls for urgent protections for renters – including ban on no-fault evictions – while ruling out rent controls
On Wednesday (28 June), Labour’s Shadow Levelling Up Secretary Lisa Nandy spoke at the Housing 2023 conference and called for the urgent implementation of protection for renters amid concerns over a potential spike in evictions. Nandy urged the government to immediately implement Labour’s Private Renter’s Charter, which includes banning no-fault evictions, lengthening repossession notice periods and introducing a code of practice for letting agents. Nandy’s intervention has seen Labour come under fire for ditching a pledge to bring in rent controls, even though Labour mayors Andy Burnham and Sadiq Khan want powers to use them in their cities.
Part 1 Consultation on draft regulations to implement the Procurement Bill
This is a technical consultation, split into two parts. This first part of the consultation refers predominantly to areas of the Bill which require lists, calculations or further definitions to be used in practice. Questions seek to understand to what extent the draft secondary legislation provisions implement the policy intent as established in the Bill. Part 1 Consultation on draft regulations to implement the Procurement Bill – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Evaluation of Whole House Retrofit and Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund
On Wednesday (21 June), the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero launched an initial evaluation of the effectiveness and efficiency of management and delivery processes for its Whole House Retrofit Innovation Competition (WHR) and Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF). WHR was designed with the purpose of testing whether whole house retrofit could be deployed at scale through innovative methods to halve costs per house. However, WHR-funded projects faced a range delivery challenges, most notably the impacts of the pandemic on supply chains and workforce availability. Evidence suggests that the launch of the scheme alongside the SHDF additionally put pressure on an immature market.
The SHDF managed to learn from the WHR and had lowered energy performance and cost reduction targets, thus achieving greater success in spite of ongoing supply chain challenges. A full outcome and economic evaluation is ongoing, and a Final Evaluation Report will be published in 2023.
New scheme to support graduates into town and planning careers
On Wednesday (21 June), the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announced a £1.59 million grant for the Local Government Association to fund a new scheme to support graduates into the planning sector. The newly launched Pathways to Planning Programme will place graduates in councils, where around 30 people will be able to secure a placement while receiving a bursary to study towards a planning masters. The Department will be funding the scheme over two years to support the LGA in setting up and delivering the programme.
National Housing Federation urges policymakers to implement a long-term housing plan
On Tuesday (20 June), the National Housing Federation (NHF) launched a report on the need for a long-term plan for housing. The NHF state that successive governments have focused on policies and funding decisions that prioritise increasing homeownership. The NHF report suggests that some policy decisions may have resulted in rising housing costs, worsening the housing crisis at all levels. For example, an LSE study found that Help to Buy increased house prices rather than improving affordability, whilst less than a quarter of the social homes purchased by tenants under the Right to Buy have been replaced, intensifying the shortage, and pushing up demand and prices in the private rented sector. Through YouGov, The NHF have undertaken a poll regarding building different types of homes. When asked if the government should prioritise building social housing, homes for sale or homes for private rent, over half of those polled said social housing (53 percent) compared to a fifth who said homes for sale (21 percent), and less than one in 10 said homes for private rent (7 percent).
LGA’s response to DLUHC’s technical consultation on the Infrastructure Levy
On Friday (16 June), the Local Government Association, along with 29 other bodies across the sector, wrote to government to urge them not to introduce the proposed Infrastructure Levy. The group expressed serious concerns that the levy will result in fewer affordable homes delivered, will expose councils to excessive levels of financial risks, and be increasingly burdensome and complex for local authorities to implement and manage. The letter instead proposes that the retention and improvement of the current developer contribution system is the most appropriate solution.
Energy Profits Levy to remain in place until March 2028
Last Friday (9 June), HM Treasury announced that the Energy Profits Levy will remain in place until March 2028. Put in place to tax extraordinary profits made by industry following record high prices of oil and gas driven by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Energy Profits Levy has raised around £2.8bn to date and is expected to raise almost £26bn by March 2028 – helping to fund the measures to assist with the cost of living, such as the Energy Price Guarantee. As part of the announcement, the Government also announced that it would introduce a new Energy Security Investment Mechanism to protect domestic energy supply and help safeguard some tens of thousands of jobs reliant on the sector. Based on the independent Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) forecast the Energy Security Investment Mechanism won’t be triggered until before the tax’s planned end date in March 2028.
Membership of the Energy Security and Net Zero Committee announced
On Monday (12 June), the membership of the new Energy Security and Net Zero Committee was announced. The Committee, which will be chaired by SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil, includes: Hilary Benn MP (Lab), Vicky Ford MP (Con), Barry Gardiner MP (Lab), Mark Garnier MP (Con), Sir Mark Hendrick MP (Lab), Mark Jenkinson MP (Con), Dr Dan Poulter MP (Con), Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP (Lab) and Alexander Stafford MP (Con).
Labour scales back plans to borrow £28bn a year to invest in green jobs and industry
Last Friday (9 June), the Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves delayed plans for a green prosperity fund to start in the first year of a Labour government, saying it would “ramp up” by the middle of a first Parliament. With the party leadership attempting to prove its fiscal credibility, Reeves pointed towards the poor economic backdrop and rising interest rates, while claiming that she could not have predicted the market crash caused by the former Prime Minister Liz Truss’ plan for unfunded borrowing cuts last autumn. Reeves once again reiterated that her priority was to stick Labour’s fiscal rule, that debt must be falling as a share of national income after five years.
Energy Security Secretary announces £4.3 million government funding for solar power development
As part of London Tech Week, on Tuesday (13 June) the Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps announced the leading UK universities and technology companies that would receive a share of £4.3 million government funding to drive forward innovation in the solar power industry. The winning projects include Cambridge University, who will develop ultra-lightweight solar panels for the satellites that can function in the high-radiation conditions of space, and Queen Mary University in London, who are working on a wireless system to enable the solar power collected in space to be transferred to earth. Other institutions and companies receiving the funding include MicroLink Devices UK Ltd, the University of Bristol, Satellite Applications Catapult Ltd, Imperial College London and EDF Energy R&D UK Centre Ltd.
By-election dates announced for Boris Johnson and Nigel Adams’ constituencies after they quit as MPs
The by-elections for former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat and Nigel Adams’ Selby and Ainsty seat will be held on the 20th July.
Government vetoes project bank account proposal
The Government has blocked an attempt to amend the planned Procurement Bill to include mandatory project bank accounts for all jobs valued at over £2m.
Product Availability Statement
Statement from John Newcomb, CEO of the Builders Merchants Federation and Peter Caplehorn, CEO of the Construction Products Association, co-chairs of the Construction Leadership Council’s Product Availability working group. Product Availability Statement – Construction Leadership Council
Monthly construction output is estimated to have decreased 0.6% in volume terms in April 2023
Monthly construction output is estimated to have decreased 0.6% in volume terms in April 2023; this follows two months of consecutive growth. Monthly construction output is estimated to have decreased 0.6% in volume terms in April 2023 – Construction Leadership Council
We are thrilled that SCF Frameworks took on the role of being the headline sponsor and co-organiser of the CESW Awards 2023.
SCF Frameworks, a renowned leader in the construction industry, has shown an unwavering commitment to excellence and innovation. As the headline sponsor, they bring their expertise and industry knowledge to the forefront, demonstrating their dedication to recognizing and celebrating the outstanding achievements in the South West region.
By assuming the co-organiser role, SCF Frameworks has played a vital part in shaping the CESW Awards 2023 into a remarkable event. Their involvement showcases their strong belief in fostering collaboration, promoting best practices, and driving positive change within the construction industry.
Kingsley Clarke, Operations Lead for SCF Frameworks says “It’s great to be back for the fourth year as headline sponsor to the CESW Awards. This year, we have organised both the awards night and judging on behalf of CESW (I’ll confess to underestimating how much work that would be!). But we keep coming back for more. Why? you may ask. Despite the wealth of award schemes aimed at the construction sector, for me there is a lack of celebration of regional success and that is what tonight is all about. It’s about celebrating the projects (and individuals) that impact us not just on a professional level but a personal one too, in our own communities. And by lifting up our regional successes, we can then go on to promote the good work on a national level (I may be biased but I think the South West does pretty well at this!).
So that’s why I’m here again with my team – in the thick of it. We will be back for more next year too (if you’ll have us)!”
For more information about SCF Frameworks, please visit their website at southernconstructionframework.gov.uk
We are going through a brief period of disruption caused by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine before experiencing a grateful return to a world of reliable predictability. Really?
This month, Martyn Jones argues that thinking this would be folly given that we now face two major disrupters of the status quo. A double whammy made up of a shift to a new techno-economic wave coupled with the challenge of addressing climate change – the ‘knobs on’ bit of this article. But more on that later.
First then, the new wave. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, we have ridden five distinct technological-economic paradigms or waves – clusters of innovations that have all uniquely and radically shaped our world and lives.
The waves that have reshaped how we live and work to date have been ‘Early Mechanisation’, ‘Steam Power and Railways’, ‘Electrical and Heavy Engineering’, ‘Fordist Mass Production’, and the most recent, ‘Information and Communication’.
We are now beginning to see the upward swing of the sixth wave as anticipated by the proponents of long waves of technological innovation (including, incidentally, Constructing Excellence in the South West).
The nature of the sixth wave is now rapidly taking shape and includes Quantum Computing and the power – for good and ill – of Artificial Intelligence (AI). And our markets are changing too with rapidly growing sectors of the economy such as renewable energy and life sciences.
Two former party leaders, Sir Tony Blair and Lord Hague predict that “Society is about to be radically reshaped, requiring a more strategic state, and a fundamental change in how we plan for the future.” They argue that a “complete realignment” is needed in order to respond to the “radically reshaped” society that the technologies, including AI, are expected to create. In other words, we need to make the transition to a new dominant paradigm.
In their report, ‘A New National Purpose: AI Promises a World-Leading Future of Britain’, they suggest the UK must create new institutions in order to guide this change safely and for our
advantage. “By investing in talent, public data and promoting research,” they argue, “the UK can become a leader in the deployment of these technologies into the real world for the public good.”
But what does this mean for the built environment and construction? And what role will Constructing Excellence play in helping to find our best way forward with the necessary speed, decisiveness, and sense of priority?
We need to understand the role construction will play in the new wave. As in previous paradigms, we will be a significant player as an ‘enabling’ or ‘carrier’ industry, providing the infrastructure to support the new technologies. But we will also need to shape and assimilate the technologies and new ways of workinginto our products and processes to satisfy changing client needs both in existing and emerging sectors of the economy.
And as we shift to the new wave there is much we can learn from how we responded, from the 1990s onwards, to the current ICT wave. Looking for and building on the positives and things we did well but also learning from the mistakes we made and the opportunities that were lost.
During the past 30 years we have managed to assimilate to some extent an increasing number of technologies including CAD, BIM, GIS, smart building technologies, modular construction and Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA), digital twins and, most recently, our early flirtation with robotics and AI.
Alongside these we have made some progress in changing the way we organise ourselves with some re-evaluation of our forms of cooperation and competition. (Although some would say not nearly enough). We now work in networks of firms increasingly connected by ICTs with some degree of cooperation – collaboration even – in product and process technologies, quality, and production planning.
And we have alternatives to the traditional approach to project delivery aimed at breaking down the traditional barriers between project participants, and between the design, construction, operation, and reuse and recycling stages of the lifecycle. We can offer our clients new, more collaborative models of construction procurement too, such as Negotiation, Target Costing, Two Stage Open Book, and some have even toyed with Integrated Project Insurance.
But what about the ‘knobs on’ raised at the beginning of this article? The last four of the five waves have been fuelled by burning fossils. This is no longer possible given the pressing need to address the growing crisis of climate change, the effects of which are likely to be irreversible by 2030. Greenhouse gas levels are at an all-time high, more than 1 million species are facing extinction, and the earth’s resources are being used faster than they can be renewed. Change is inevitable.
Disruption on this scale means that the built environment, construction’s operating system, our markets, and the wider environment will never be the same again. But, how should we respond?
As in the past, learning and leadership will be key components of our response. And in looking back to how we transitioned to the ICT paradigm, we see the key role played by Rethinking Construction and Constructing Excellence in providing learning and leadership to help us make the most of the opportunities and confront the challenges.
We will continue to play a major role, as we did in the last wave, capturing and sharing best practice and offering guidance and support, emulating, for example, the Bristol Best Practice Club’s Specific Innovation Clusters (SICS) and Here to Learn (HtL) workshops.
We can bring together practitioners to fashion a systematic approach to developing, implementing, monitoring, and sustaining the innovations of the sixth wave whilst always recognising the specificities of construction. Supporting clients and construction leaders to work collaboratively, to act decisively and at pace, with agility and daring.
The longest day has come and gone, and the nights are drawing in. Despite being busy I do have a nagging concern that as the nights lengthen, the darkness may also bring a gloom across the construction industry. There is some light on the horizon, as the growth in off-site construction continues. Modular building manufacturer, and Constructing Excellence Dorset Member, is reporting a strong pipeline of work including an order to manufacture 109 homes for five sites across Wiltshire and Dorset. And one of their competitors, Reds10, are also reporting a significant growth in turnover.
Nearly everyone I speak to has a tremendous amount of current work, but there is a concern that as the year progresses and interest rate rises make it increasingly difficult to finance new projects that there may be a slowdown. The current data is that commercial and civil engineering sectors are still seeing growth. This has meant that, despite a decline in new residential projects, construction activity has seen an overall increase. Ensuring that our businesses have in-built resilience is increasingly important so that we can continue to not just survive, but to thrive.
Engaging with the Constructing Excellence movement gives us an advantage with both themes mentioned above, Off-Site Construction and Resilience, and there remains a lot of opportunity with the drive towards net-zero. The CESW mission statement sets out five key areas, all of which will help to develop resilience:
1. Committed Leadership
2. A focus on the customer
3. Integrate the process and the team around the product.
4. A quality driven agenda
5. Commitment to people In 2017 Constructing Excellence published a report on organisational resilience, in which were identified three core functional domains:
ü Operational resilience – focused on internal continuous improvement activities with a customer focus in mind.
ü Supply chain resilience – to quantify and minimise supply chain risks across all business operations.
ü Information resilience – managing information throughout its lifecycle securely and effectively.
The Club events and the Theme groups are an opportunity to learn about how to incorporate MMC or Digital in future projects and with the sharing of best practices you can enhance the profile of your own company or gain knowledge to differentiate you from your competitors. The Constructing Excellence Awards are a great way to do this, and I am looking forward to finding out who this year’s winners are. Entering the awards can:
· Raise awareness of the work you do and how it contributes to improving the wider reputation and image of the sector.
· Demonstrate excellence in your market, showcasing your organisation to key regional and national influencers and helping you to win more work.
· Show your customers (and your competitors) that you are committed to keeping standards high.
· Gain external validation for your company values.
· Celebrate your team’s success, boost morale, and help you to attract and retain the best industry talent.
· Focus your internal strategy to embed a culture of best practice throughout your business.
· Align your business to the Constructing Excellence brand and our key drivers for a better industry.
I was pleased to be ask to judge one of the awards, the G4C Future leader, and I can tell you that the standard of entries was very high indeed. The Awards ceremony will be held on the 20th July at Aerospace Bristol. I look forward to meeting you there.