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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: https://constructingexcellencesw.org.uk

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

Vacancy for a Construction Training Centre Business Development Manager at Weston College

Weston College are looking for a highly ambitious and proactive professional to join the team to continue to grow and develop their wide range of heavy plant, health and safety and construction related specialist training programmes.

CLICK HERE FOR FURTHER DETAILS

SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE DESIGN AND BUILT ENVIRONMENT

Project Overview.

Retrofitting the existing housing stock represents a huge potential in actions to mitigate climate change and achieve the UK’s carbon neutral targets. There are also wider benefits from retrofit investments in addition to those of environmental aspects, such as improved health & well-being of occupants or fuel poverty reduction and job/employment creation and local economic growth.

However, these social-related benefits are not easily articulated or measured during the decision-making process of many retrofit investments. There is therefore a need for robust tools that allow a wholistic appraisal of investments in retrofit programmes/projects to evaluate their full benefits comprehensively. Doing so has the potential to strengthen the justification needed for retrofit investments especially in the social housing sector where retrofitting yields the greatest impacts.

This research project at the Nottingham Trent University’s School of Architecture Design and Built Environment seeks to develop a measurement framework tool that can be used to capture these social benefits and impacts in a systematic way and quantify them in economic terms to allow for robust and informed retrofit investment decision-making for social landlords and their residents/tenants.

The aim
As part of this study, the research team is undertaking data collection with social housing experts and practitioners in order to understand any existing retrofit evaluation tools and methods and to identify benefits of retrofits from their respective. This will generate a set of indicators of retrofit benefits. Experts will also be consulted on methods and criteria for scoring these indicators.

The research team will produce a framework and a set of tools for systematically identifying and measuring benefits of retrofit investments, which can be used by all
stakeholders, such as policymakers, social landlords, supply chain partners, community groups and residents themselves.

The benefits for the social housing sector

Contact the Research Team
For more enquiries or concerns regarding this research, please contact:
Michael Asinyaka: michael.asinyaka2019@my.ntu.ac.uk, or Ming Sun (Prof): ming.sun@ntu.ac.uk or Emmanuel Manu (Dr): emmanuel.manu@ntu.ac.uk.

To Hackitt and Beyond!

Andrew kindly asked me write the opening remarks to this month’s newsletter. Dame Judith Hackitt will be our keynote speaker at the Construction Summit on the 26 May 2021. As such, I thought it would be worth highlighting and encouraging everyone in the construction sector to read Building a Safer Future (Report). The Report focuses on the tragic events of Grenfell and it shines a spotlight on the construction sector which, for the most part (and based upon the evidence being given at the on-going enquiry) is still promoting a culture of ‘race to the bottom’ rather than facilitating good practice. In short, the Report states that the construction sector suffers from:

As such, the Report suggest that we should think about building as a system and therefore recommends a new regulatory framework for high rise and complex buildings with a recommendation that the regulatory framework should be applied to other multi-occupancy buildings (such as student accommodation blocks or hotels). We know from experience, these processes (in whole or part) are likely to filter down to other types of buildings and projects.

The Report recommends a new ‘joint competent authority’ (JCA) which will consist of the Local Authority Building Standards (formally Building Control), the fire rescue authority and the Health and Safety Executive. The JCA will look at the building from a health and safety perspective from its inception, through construction and throughout its maintenance. The recommendations are based on a model of risk ownership, rather than risk transfer.

For those involved in the procurement of construction works, Chapter 9 of the Report reminds us that the procurement process kick-starts the behaviours of the project team members throughout the design, construction, occupation and maintenance of the building. The Report highlight examples of inadequate specification, a focus on low cost or an adversarial contracting system, all of which can make it difficult to produce a safe building. The Report states that best value is dependent on establishing a collaborative partnership with the client and the construction team. Also onerous payment and retention arrangements put a financial strain on the supply chain which can cause sub-contractors to substitute materials based on price rather than performance.

Those involved in Constructing Excellence will recognise the points made in Chapter 9 of the Report. The same points can be found in a number of earlier reports starting with Constructing the Team (1994) and Rethinking Construction (1998). In those reports, the emphasis was on the efficiency benefits of collaborative working. This Report has had to make the same points but unfortunately, this it is now in the context of the health and safety of the occupants of a residential building.

The Report suggests that the construction sector should learn from the good practices in other sectors such as the chemical industry and civil aviation sector where the need to protect and preserve safety performance is an integral part of contract negotiation and agreement. We all know of specific sectors of the construction industry where we have seen that safety is the overall priority. However, what is it that these other industries do, which we should be also doing? Perhaps we should find out.

It is hoped that the Building Safety Bill will come into force this year and in order to understand why this new piece of construction specific legislation is required, it is important to read this Report to appreciate why using a collaborative procurement model in construction will – or should be – the industry standard model so that each duty-holder under the new regime will be held accountable.  Like you, I will be looking forward to listening to Dame Judith Hackitt on the 26 May 2021.

Alan Tate  FCIOB, Partner – Michelmores LLP

This month, Martyn Jones asks us how much progress have we made in unlocking the potential of specialist contractors and giving them a more participative role in the development process.  Back in 1998 Martyn co-authored a report for the then Department for Trade and Industry (DTI), Unlocking specialist potential: A more participative role for specialist contractors with the support of the members of a Task Force assembled by the Reading Construction Forum.

In the report, the Task Force set out the crucial role that the specialist contractor plays in delivering project outcomes and providing client satisfaction, particularly in the case of those specialists contributing a significant amount to product design and specification.

It proposed three main strategies for adding value for the whole supply chain: improving relationships through teamwork and collaboration, taking a process-oriented approach to the design and construction process, and making customer requirements the central focus.

The report also argued that transformational leadership and cultural change brought about through continuous and shared learning were needed if the proposed strategies were to be successfully implemented and sustained.

Later, the Bristol Constructing Excellence Club, again with DTI funding, undertook an investigation into the means to engage specialist contractors and suppliers in the Rethinking/Constructing Excellence agenda. The report set out the barriers the specialists faced in engaging with the Rethinking Construction principles, the forms of help they needed, the strategies they should employ, and the role that the Constructing Excellence Clubs could play in supporting them in their transition to a more central and proactive role.

And CESW had yet another go with the publication of two guides: Outcome-led procurement: A common sense approach to procurement and then Outcome-led procurement: The view from the supply chain. The former called for design and construction to be treated as a joined-up process and the latter for other upstream project participants to think value and not price, and to think about putting themselves in the position of their specialist contractors and suppliers.

To follow up on the publication of the guide to Outcome led procurement: The view from the supply chain, CESW facilitated a series of regional workshops aimed at clients and their advisors on Outcome led procurement: How to get more value out of the supply chain. The workshops, in partnership with CE Clubs, set out what its like to be a specialist contractor/supplier and what participants upstream in the design and construction process could to unlock more value.

So, what progress have we made? According to Martin Davis, a member of the Reading Construction Forum Task Force back in 1998, and a practitioner with 31 years as a specialist M&E contractor, it’s still very much work in progress. In a recent article in Building magazine on The Construction Playbook Davis argues that although the supply chain accounts typically for about 80% of the cost of the project they are still largely marginalised in the design and construction process. He says, “Speak to any of them [specialist contractors] about collaborative procurement and they will tell you that nothing much has changed: they are still typically appointed on a price, screwed down as the main contractor seeks to recoup the losses from his decision to discount his margins to win the overall contract. Simply put, value has been sucked out of the [very] asset to be provided by the supply chain.”

He goes on, “How could anyone who cares about construction disagree with anything in the Construction Playbook? Why then do I, a practitioner with 31 years as a specialist M&E contractor, know that it will not realise the government’s ambition to “change our approach to delivery”?

He observed that, tellingly, of the 48 signatories to the Playbook, only one was a specialist subcontractor (as distinct from an “official”).

So, what can we do to further develop and fully unlock specialist potential and engage them in the change agenda? Here are four to be getting on with:

In Constructing Excellence, we all re-energise our efforts to engage more specialists and suppliers in shaping the industry’s change agenda and transformation.

The Constructing Excellence Midland and South West regions have recently launched an updated Clients Best Practice Guide, the first update since 2014.

The Clients Best Practice Guide can be downloaded HERE

This update like its predecessor has been developed by clients for clients and is aligned to goals and aspirations of the wider construction industry, such as the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) and the Governments Construction Playbook. Consequently, we are seeking the views of the wider Constructing Excellence community on how they currently procure construction services in relation to the updated best practice guidance.

The survey can be found HERE

Please follow the link to complete the survey, which is completely anonymous and will only take only 10 minutes of your time. This will enable us to gain an understanding of the pattern of procurement throughout the membership and help us to develop knowledge and tools for the future.

As the United Kingdom recovers from the pandemic, it is more important than ever that construction clients are ready to engage with industry in a meaningful way to bring about change.

Thank you for helping us to improve construction.

Spring has sprung, meteorologically-speaking, and I am sure we are all enjoying the recent warmer weather and sunshine.  Spring promotes feelings of positivity and hope and is the season of new growth.  Whilst the unseasonably good weather may not last long, let’s hope that we are indeed turning a corner and that those very important “green shoots of recovery” continue to grow.

Times have been tough and for many, still are, but as an industry we have shown resilience, adaptability and transformation.  Let’s continue to build on this and work together to improve industry performance and each play our part in tackling the challenges faced by the sector, including the supply of high-quality new homes, construction skills and innovation, and action on climate change.

Homes England – the Government’s housing accelerator, tasked with Making Homes Happen – is focussed on increasing the supply of high-quality new homes and supporting the Government’s ambitions to Build Back Better.  We will continue to build our capability to provide our partners with the certainty they need to keep building and growing their development pipelines, ensuring more people can access high quality new homes for rent and for homeownership.

We will soon be opening bidding on the £7.4bn portion of the £12.2bn affordable homes fund we are responsible for.  Partners can now bid for funding on a scheme by scheme basis.  This is the first fund to have been designed and launched since Homes England was created and a significant opportunity to explore new partnerships.  We are keen to enter into new strategic relationships with housing associations and affordable housing organisations of all sizes, to maximise the impact of the fund but also to support our partners’ delivery objectives across the full breadth of our business.

As part of our commitment to promoting innovation and boosting productivity we continue to leverage and finance the use of MMC to improve productivity and help the sector reduce its carbon footprint.  We are also ensuring developers consider health and active travel in their bids for our land and meet higher design standards.  By focusing on design, innovation and sustainability, we are working to improve the built environment and drive better outcomes for communities.

We are continuing the transformation of Homes England to make our services more usable for our partners. Adapting and innovating ourselves is essential if we are to achieve our ambitions and transform the housing market. By improving our processes and streamlining our work, our transformation work is freeing us up to focus more of our time on the ground alongside local partners.

In July 2020 we published our first Equality Diversity and Inclusion report setting out the steps we will take as an agency to be the change we want to see in the sector.  We want to be more inclusive and representative of the communities we serve and can only truly achieve that by creating a workplace – and an industry – where everyone is able to be themselves.

In November 2020, we updated the Homes England Land Hub – Land Hub (arcgis.com).  Our Land Hub presents development sites that we plan to bring to market, unlocking the construction of thousands of new homes across the country.

In December 2020, we announced a new Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS).  From July 2021 the DPS will replace the current Delivery Partner Panel (DPP3), changing how Homes England procures housebuilders, increasing flexibility and introducing a new more proportionate approach to ensuring partners’ ability to deliver homes on sites. Housebuilders will have the option to apply to join the DPS at any time as our pipeline of sites coming to market are publicised on the Homes England Land Hub or are brought forward by public sector landowners.

Although, as individuals and organisations, we all face different challenges; one thing is certain, we are all part of an exciting industry and through working in partnership and collaboration, we will Build Back Better.  As a CESW Board member and Treasurer I would encourage you to make the most of CESW’s opportunities for influencing, networking and sharing.  CESW is a not-for-profit membership organisation and I would take this opportunity to call on member organisations with overdue subscriptions to settle their accounts, so that CESW can continue to drive the change agenda and deliver excellence.  Finally, a call to all non-members to join CESW, to participate, lead and benefit from CESW’s mission to deliver an industry of opportunity for all.

Kind regards,

Lisa

 

Lisa Broom BSc(Hons), MCIOB, AssocRICS

Senior Development Manager

Disposals – Central & West Development

(Pronouns: she/her)

Cornwall Council invite you to put forward proposals to build affordable homes on small sites in Cornwall.

Cornwall Council has been successful in a bid to take part in a new initiative with government agency Local Partnerships to help smaller local house builders develop sites across Cornwall.

They want to increase the supply of affordable housing for local people by working with small and medium sized construction and development firms to build homes on small sites.

Under this initiative the Council would enter into a contract to buy newly constructed homes off-plan from SME construction firms, which we would then rent out to families with a connection to Cornwall as affordable housing. It is intended a fixed price will be agreed with the house builder with financial support (such as stage payments) available from the Council to facilitate the build process.

The Council will evaluate proposals on sites put forward by reputable developers and builders that are already accredited by NHBC or LABC (or an equivalent body) or who would be willing to work towards gaining accreditation.

Interested developers can find more information by registering and searching for DN525199 or entering “Small Site housing Development (the development of affordable homes in Cornwall)” at www.supplyingthesouthwest.org.uk, or by contacting Cornwall Council’s Housing Delivery Team on 01872 324943 or by emailing  housingdelivery@cornwall.gov.uk

Submissions to this Invitation to Submit Proposals should be completed by any developer that wishes for their scheme to be considered and must be received by no later than midnight on 19th March 2021.

Housing Delivery & Development Team, Cornwall Council

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