CIC Blog: 2015
Julie Fleck RTPI OBE
Built Environment Professional Education Project Lead
Office for Disability Issues
The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games – the most accessible ever - demonstrated what a difference embedding inclusive design principles and processes into a development project from the outset can make. For many disabled people the standard of accessibility was a unique experience. A wide range of architects, designers, planners, surveyors, engineers, technicians, and many other built environment professionals, contributed directly to the accessibility and inclusivity of the London 2012 Games.
The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) is now taking forward the inclusive design principles and processes used to deliver the Games in the new neighbourhoods now being developed in and around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (QEOP). The LLDC are maintaining, if not exceeding, the levels of accessibility and inclusion achieved in 2012, providing a unique model of best practice and a benchmark for achieving an inclusive environment (see the film Inclusive Design on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park).
Unfortunately this is not the case in many development projects – there are still examples of new and recently refurbished buildings and environments where the attention to detail which makes a building or space comfortable, easy and safe to use is not evident, has been overlooked, or even ‘value engineered’ out of the scheme. Making the physical environment accessible from the outset makes it easier to ensure that buildings, facilities and services remain accessible and inclusive once occupied or when future alterations are made – a more sustainable and cost effective approach to whole life considerations.
Disabled people in particular can still experience unnecessary barriers when using our built environment. Common examples include:
- step free access designed as the secondary route not on the desire line
- lifts remote from the stairs
- ramps where altered landscapes could result in gentle slopes or a level approach
- ramps that cut through steps creating uneven risers which can be hazardous for visually impaired people
- handrails that stop short of the last step
- step nosing indistinguishable from the rest of the tread
- seats without arms or backrests
- doors that are too heavy to open to their full opening width
- manifestation that is indistinguishable from the glazing
- confusing and disorienting layouts which make way-finding difficult
- poor or inconsistent signage
- lack of tonal contrast to highlight features
Yet this need not be the case – in fact it should not be the case. It is possible for all projects both large and small to achieve a high level of inclusivity, provided the issues have been considered and addressed from the beginning.
The Paralympic Games helped to shift attitudes towards disabled people. With a spending power of over £212 billion disabled people and their families contribute significantly to the economy and do not expect to be left behind - expectations of being able to access and use our buildings and spaces in the same way as everyone else continue to rise. The ageing population is another key driver for achieving a more inclusive environment. An increasing number of older people are continuing to lead active and independent lives but can only do so if we design our buildings, places and spaces to be accommodating, comfortable, safe and accessible for everyone to enjoy. The moral, legal, professional, sustainable and economic case for inclusion is clear.
One aim of the Government’s Olympic and Paralympic Legacy programme is to make inclusive design a lasting Paralympic legacy. Making inclusive design a required part of built environment education by embedding inclusive design principles and processes into the training and education of built environment professionals from the outset of their education will help achieve this.
The joint Government / Mayor of London Built Environment Professional Education Project (BEPE) is working with the key built environment professional institutions to stimulate a systematic change in the way built environment professionals are taught inclusive design. The Construction Industry Council and the Engineering Council, along with 15 other professional institutions and construction industry organisations support BEPE (see government web site for regular Updates and supportive statements). Achieving an inclusive environment is in fact integral to the ethical and sustainability principles guiding built environment professionals.
Changes are gradually being made. The Chartered Institute for Architectural Technologists and the British Institute of Facilities Management have both amended their professional standards. The Quality Assurance Agency, has asked the review panels currently reviewing three built environment subject benchmark statements (Landscape Architecture, Town Planning, and Construction Property and Surveying) to consider how to embed inclusive design into the revised benchmark standards. The Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors are reviewing their Assessment of Professional Competence processes and have committed to embedding inclusive design. The Institution of Civil Engineers is working with other Joint Board of Moderator (JBM) institutions to embed inclusive design into the JBM Design Annex. The Landscape Institute has just recorded a webinar on inclusive design and the BEPE project, which you can listen to here Landscape Institute BEPE Webinar.
Higher education institutions are also now being inspired to teach inclusive design consistently and effectively. For example the University of Reading has just launched their Breaking down Barriers Project.
Educational resources for those new to inclusive design or who need to know more about the topic can be found on the Design Council CABE’s Inclusive Design Hub which includes the latest guidance and advice about inclusive design. CABE is also now developing an online training project of high quality, cross disciplinary training on delivering an inclusive environment - relevant to all built environment professionals.
A student design award called Inclusive Cities launched in September by the Royal Society of Arts is inspiring students to submit their design projects that demonstrate an inclusive building, place, or space that it is easily and comfortably accessed and used by everyone (http://sda.thersa.org/).
What can you do to inspire current and future generations of built environment professionals to make inclusive design business as usual and help deliver truly accessible and inclusive environments? You can:
- Continuously improve your own inclusive design skills and knowledge
- Support built environment professional institutions to embed inclusive design principles and processes into education and training
- Promote the need to uplift inclusive design skills and knowledge at events / conferences / seminars
- Promote and inspire innovation and change in teaching and learning programmes
- Share best practice
- Challenge thinking
- Promote with partners / members / developers
- Engage with disabled people – they are the experts
- Publicise the need for and the benefits of better education and training in inclusive design through magazine / journal articles / social media (see RICS The Building Surveying Journal)
- Develop new teaching models that are flexible and appropriate
- Give students the confidence to challenge poor and deliver excellent accessibility
- Assess and reward students
- Make access and inclusion second nature
You can help make inclusive design a lasting Paralympic legacy.
Contributor: When not on secondment to Government, Julie is Principal Access Adviser at the Greater London Authority (GLA), responsible for the London Plan policies on inclusive design and the Supplementary Planning Guidance 'Accessible London’ and provides technical advice on the accessibility of planning schemes referred to the Mayor. Julie is a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute and the Access Association, is a member of the British Standards Institution Committee B/559 (responsible for developing standards on access for disabled people to buildings), and was awarded an OBE in 2004 for services to disabled people.
Executive Coach, Inspirational Speaker, Author. Philanthropist. Extreme Adventurer.
We live in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. The BIG Data is doubling every six months and disruptive technologies are introduced daily. The workforce and client pools are changing with the generation Y, Millennials and increased mobility. The business and product life cycles have been significantly reduced. The values are shifting in the corporate world with one in four youth enterprises having a social angle, with more women at all business levels than a decade ago and social responsibility attached to most mission statements.
To lead and achieve business success in the new world of driverless cars, drones delivering packages, 3D printers producing things and university curricula available on line for free, we need an altered approach. The old leadership paradigm will not stick.
We need leaders who are skillful in allowing insights, who can feel the future, who are able to build deep and meaningful relationships in every corporate direction. Leaders, who are humble, disciplined and personally mature – comfortable with giving trust and with ‘not knowing’. There is a need to develop leaders who can take themselves out of the picture and allow the natural talents of their teams to come through.
Maturing for a leader starts with developing awareness - awareness of the self and seeing the Meta level of how your team ‘is’ and ‘is not’ and how it functions. That extends to the stakeholders, clients, suppliers and the market. With the knowledge of yourself and of the part, you played in becoming who you are as well as what you bring to the table as a person you can start taking full responsibility for yourself in the office. You might be asking yourself – what does she mean by that? I mean taking responsibility for your intentions through your thoughts, words, actions, habits to your character and the future you create for yourself, your team and your company.
When you can identify how you ‘show up’ in your role, you want to work on emotional intelligence, recognition and self-regulation of mental and behavioral patterns and owning yourself fully. You will become the ‘cause in the matter’ in every corporate and life situation – whatever the outcome. Your language will shift from the outside in. You will make all results yours only from accountability perspective.
The moment you can see your team through a camera of a contributor with emotional distance you start acting from a different place inside you. You not only are taking part in meetings but you become acutely aware of how every word, gesture and interaction lands and what it does to the motivation, atmosphere and the environment you – the leader - shape.
With time you can see that making a mistake is positive, experimenting and course correcting is part of a response to the emergent future that will always be unknown and you cannot fully prepare for it. You start developing intuition - the nudge inside you that knows what your rational brain does not. You become an expert in unleashing and nurturing real creativity where there is no judgment and no fixed rules to go by.
Not taking yourself too seriously and connecting to yourself on a new level allows your presence to grow and deepen. When you speak or present and 80% of your attention is on you, you are listened to, all of your words have purpose. Being conscious of your subtle projections you start moderating conversations to a new richness of experience for the people that work and transact with you. That creates followership and charisma forms.
Reframing becomes a natural aptitude to see an advantage in a disadvantage. With the right mindset and attitude you reexamine FEAR into an emotional state you control, live with and thrive on as a leader.
Developing competence in being mindful allows you not only to be with the reality as it is but also to sharpen your senses to be fully available. It expands your palette of possible responses to what is happening in business, between you and other people and you become able to call on emotional resilience, courage, positivity and other useful states that your body knows from the past but they are buried into the subconscious and rarely used as a resources for business success.
Allowing your team to fully develop their natural potential requires egolessness. When you can differentiate the protective ego – the personality – from the core of your being you free yourself up to fully lead without limits with self-trust, vulnerability and alertness. As you project your full maturity people around you ‘get infected’ and become autonomous, self-reliant and also dependent on the grater whole of which they are a part. Your organisation becomes self-organising and self-regulating in a constant, intimate dance with the market.
Constributor: Ania left Poland in ‘96 with one bag on a bus to study at London School of Economics. Since then she’s visited 67 countries, lived in 9, worked in 17 at Senior Executive levels in financial services. Ania has built, grown, restructured, liquidated and integrated businesses in 4 languages. She has double MSc, MBA and PhD in International Leadership.
For further information about Ania click here
CIC Champion (Building Information Modelling (BIM))
On 24 November the RIBA will be hosting its last Business Forum of the year: ‘Collaboration in Construction’. During the evening, different representatives from the project team will talk about the issues encountered on projects, setting out their own thoughts on how these challenges might be dealt with and the nudges required to enable more collaborative working within the project team.
Speaking will be Jo Bacon of Allies and Morrison (the design team leader), Lyndsay Smith of Morgan Sindall (the contractor) and Andy Sneyd of B&ES (the specialist subcontractor). After these brief talks Graham Watts, Chief Executive of the CIC, will chair what will hopefully be a frank debate around key pressure points on projects and the topics driving conflicts between project team members.
A core aim of the evening will be determining how industry leaders might take personal responsibility for helping to improve working relationships between design team members, contractors and specialist sub-contractors and, of course, the client. There will be an opportunity to consider how we might react to Construction 2025 as well as reflecting on why this differs from previous high profile initiatives such as those set out by Latham and Egan.
The built environment industry is facing multiple paradigm shifts around the way design information is produced and delivered by the design team and when construction innovation driven by the contractor is factored into the process. More holistic life cycle processes particularly around the In Use stage need to be embraced. The debate might focus on how effectively different procurement models are responding to these changes. Are they efficiently connecting members of the project team? How might these connections be improved? Do the new forms of contracts that wrap around these procurement processes encourage collaborative behaviour?
Simply, do current methods consider the realities of the design process or the risks faced by the contractor and specialist subcontractors adequately? If the relationships between the contractor and their designing supply chain (specialist subcontractors) and design team members changed would this improve matters?
As we aim to resolve problems still fundamentally geared to analogue projects how will the project team react when the Internet of Things and the world of big data properly kick in and drive truly innovative data driven digital solutions? Will our professional silos tumble around us? Who will be the new members of the project team who will help us navigate in this world?
In the world of BIM, where reality has shifted well beyond 3D design, discussions might focus around the disruptive technologies that might radically alter the way we design, construct and use buildings. Will comprehensive EIRs (Employers Information Requirements) – that define exactly who does what when – improve collaboration? Or, are more deep rooted behavioural issues the root cause behind non-collaborative behaviours?
It should be an interesting evening and I look forward to leaving the event with some agreed common themes on how we might move forward and create a truly collaborative built environment industry.
For further information on the 'Collaboration in Construction' event please click here
Constributor: Dale Sinclair is AECOM’s Director of Technical Practice, Architecture responsible for EMIA. His core expertise is the delivery of large scale projects and he is passionate about delivering these more effectively using innovative and iterative multi-disciplinary design processes that embrace the project life cycle. He has recently been appointed as the CIC BIM champion and is on the board of BuildingSMART UK. He regularly speaks on the RIBA Plan of Work 2013, BIM and on the future of the built environment industry
Professor Barry Clarke,
Champion for Life Long learning at the Construction Industry Council
The education of UK built environment professionals is world class through the further and higher education sectors working with industry. But is it fit for the future or more importantly will it create resilient communities and infrastructure to meet future needs? This was the theme of my talk at the 2015 CIHT annual summit on skills.
There are many examples of resilient infrastructure and communities some of which cope by accident and others which are designed to cope. For example, the UK is near the top of the international league in potential economic damage due to flooding. The effects are catastrophic for those directly affected but they recover; they are resilient. This is not necessarily the case in many parts of the world where flooding can change communities for ever through loss of life and permanent damage to their infrastructure.
An assessment of a communities exposure, susceptibility, ability to cope and adapt, that is an assessment of the risk they face, shows that the UK is 37 out of 165 countries in terms of risk; ahead of the USA but below many European countries. This is at a time when the rate of environmental change is increasing: - rising sea levels and increase in magnitude and frequency of weather related events. The pace of change is also affecting the way we work – by 2050 most of the jobs we know today will have disappeared due to artificial intelligence; computing power is increasing tenfold every decade; the use of the internet is accelerating; more than 50% of the population is now living in an urban environment, the majority of which is on the coast or next to waterways thus exposed to the effects of climate change; resource demand is increasing but becoming more scarce; and energy demand is increasing but current energy sources are not viable.
Therefore, the questions are:
- Will built environment professionals be needed in the future?
- If they are what skills will be necessary?
- And is the current education preparing the graduates for the future?
Infrastructure supplies water, food, finance, health, governance, emergency services, communications, energy and transport, which are critical to the wealth, health and wellbeing of society yet we rely on infrastructure that is up to 2000 years old. The fact is that it still exists and works is because it has been adapted to cope with changes in technology, environment, regulations and society’s aspirations. The fact that this is only recognised when it fails to work is a testament to the skills of the built environment professionals over the years. But is this enough for the future?
We design our infrastructure to codes which are based on historical evidence and currently updated every 25 years or so; they aim to produce safe, reliable and economic structures. Yet these will have to be sustainable and adaptable if they are to meet their design life. Changes to codes react to changes to the environment, technology and society’s expectations but this is not sustainable. We cannot continue to design for all eventualities. We can reduce community’s exposure to change but we have to help communities to be less susceptible, be adaptable and be able to cope.
The built environment professionals of the future will have to be more visible in society; they will have to take a leadership role in supporting communities, engaging them in the design process so that they appreciate the infrastructure they depend on and how they can cope if the level of service drops due to some catastrophic event.
The professionals will have to take responsibility for their designs and not just rely on codes as the threshold. Carbon will become a design criterion; they will have to create infrastructure that is adaptable in an uncertain future; operating costs will be minimised; they will create smart infrastructure recognising that the sectors are interdependent; they will use various design approaches taking account of risk to deliver adaptable infrastructure systems.
In 1700BC a builder was put to death if a home fell down and killed the owner; safety was the design criterion. By 15BC, structures had to be safe, useful and beautiful; criteria that survived until the end of the 20th century. At that time the concept of sustainability was introduced to make better use of resources. But that is not enough. Built environment professionals of the future will have to engage in political and ethical debate as we deliver an infrastructure that provides for an increasing population in a carbon free world in which uncertainty is the norm as resources are in decline.
Built environment professionals have always been able to adapt as they progressed through their career because of their education, training and commitment to professional development. However, in order to create resilient communities and infrastructure to meet future needs, graduates will have to have a habit of mind that enables problems to be solved when solutions are not obvious; an ability to learn; an ability to identify hazards and assess risk; an ability to generate and disseminate knowledge; an effective communicator with society at large; an ability to deal with transformational change and uncertainty; and a leadership role in society as built environment professionals face the many challenges of tomorrow. Does our education deliver graduates with those skills?
Contributor: Professor Barry Clarke is the Chair of the Construction Industry Council Education for the Built Environment Group (E4BE) , which represents all the professional institutions in the built environment and champions a holistic and inclusive approach to the development of the built environment. Barry is also a Champion for the CIC Lifelong Learning Committee
If you would like to join the discussion on education and skills in the built environment please join the Education for the Built Environment (E4BE) group on LinkedIn
CIC Yorkshire & Humber Chair
Architect, Pearce Bottomley Architects
The Northern Powerhouse is everywhere. It even has its own Minister, seeking to address the North-South divide which is as strong as ever in our post-recession construction economy. However, the government’s focus appears to be rather Manchester-centric, which is all well and good, but many do believe that what is great for Manchester is not necessarily the right thing for Yorkshire and the Humber.
So what does this mean? Are we talking about Manchester as a capital of the North, or is it about the North working together, akin to the Northern Way of the Blairite era? Some people argue that the Northern Powerhouse is little more than a concept, but it is a concept that is gaining momentum and encouraging spending across the region.
The thing is, Northern cities are disparate. It’s all very well encouraging the cities of Leeds and Manchester to band together and collaborate, but have you ever been on the Transpennine Express at 5.30? It’s all very well encouraging businesses to invest across the region when high speed broadband is still a dream for far too many.
We can all agree that whilst London attracts 4 times as much spending on infrastructure, but the North cannot attract the investment it needs when there is a lack of serious infrastructure spending in the region. And many believe that HS2 is not the answer. There are just too many questions.
But it finally feels like Westminster is starting to listen and has announced at least £6.4 billion of transport investment in Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire. However, how joined up is this investment? You can make it to Leeds Station, but trying to get to Leeds Bradford Airport is an adventure in itself. Connectivity through infrastructure is critical to the growth and strength of the large geographical area covered by the Yorkshire and Humber Region. But how do we ensure appropriate development in our rail, road, airports and bus transport, as well as sustainable green transport options (including cycling and pedestrian routes)? And has there been enough joined up thinking on integrated transport plans, public transport, effective utilisation of airports and clear consideration as to how region to region connectivity can be improved?
This raises a further question. The need for new housing and greater transport links undoubtedly results in a greater demand for public services such as hospitals and schools, but it is debatable as to whether there has been enough investment in this social infrastructure. Centralisation of resources has advantages for both industry and public services but does this have a negative impact on communities with increased traffic, costs, and loss of time travelling long distances for work, schools, and healthcare? Does the high speed internet compensate for this or does it fragment communities and isolate people further?
Investment in both these sides of infrastructure is, quite frankly, brilliant, but by the time new roads, trains and HS2 have been delivered, will the needs of the region have moved on? In the same way that we are educating children for jobs that do not exist yet, are we designing infrastructure to serve jobs and lifestyles that have yet to be invented. And if this is the case, is it all a waste of money? Although the internet of things, artificial intelligence and the collaborative economy sound like fringe ideas, the fact that the Chancellor has allocated £40million to the idea reinforces the fact that this is very much the future. But how does this new infrastructure affect the construction industry and the communities we build? How does this affect our homes, our carbon footprint and our future workforce?
This in turn raises yet another question. What about the ghosts of infrastructure past? Our roads follow the routes of drovers paths, airports are former RAF bases and railways rattle on Victorian routes. But is it more sustainable to start again, replace what is there or just give up altogether? The impact infrastructure has on the environment, whether we are considering roads, railways, power stations, wind farms, waterworks, heating systems, flood barriers or hospitals, is huge. What are the environmental costs of decommissioning past endeavours? What are the implications of future needs?
So, going back to the Northern Powerhouse and the investment in the infrastructure - the economic skeleton, so to speak, of the region, Hull is a brilliant example of how a city can use its backbone to re-invent itself to face the future with a wonderful sense of confidence. Since the 12th century, Hull owes its existence to its port and its prominent position facing Northern Europe. By first exporting monastic wool, the port expanded in response to Yorkshire's industrial revolution. And when Hull was not exporting Yorkshire’s goods, it was feeding the nation with fish from the North Sea. Automation of shipping and the Cod Wars put paid Hull’s fortunes in the 1970s and by the 1990s it was considered one of the poorest towns in the UK. However, Hull’s 'old' infrastructure is having a rebirth, with the port city becoming the centre for green industries, energy imports and remains a key gateway to Europe. Can such a rebirth be a lesson to other post-industrial cities of the North and what does this mean to Yorkshire?
I realise that I have piled question upon question, but at the Construction Industry Council, we believe that it is necessary to encourage a debate and pose questions that get us all thinking. Come join us at our fifth annual conference on the 12th November at the Yorkshire Air Museum to explore these questions with a range of experts and - hopefully - come out a bit more informed about what infrastructure investment means to Yorkshire and the Humber.
For more details, please go to http://cic.org.uk/events/event.php?event=2015-11-12-trains-planes-and-automobiles
Contributor: Stefanie chairs CIC's Yorkshire and Humber regional committee and is an Architect at Pearce Bottomley Architects in Leeds.
Professor John Nolan
Construction Inustry Council
The Government has stated that public sector construction is 20% more expensive than elsewhere in Europe. Given that our consultants and contractors have excellent reputations internationally how can this have occurred in our home market?
In my opinion the major cause is the way we interpret OJEU when procuring our consultants. It generates a bias towards lowest price fees. This invariably militates against best value project outcome, which I would contend should be the main aim of every procuring authority.
Most OJEU enquiry documents that I have seen split the submission into two parts, quality and price, usually scored on an 80% / 20% basis. Of the 80% quality score the proportion that is focussed on relevant experience and track record generating cost effective, efficient designs is usually quite low and is generally swamped by other criteria on which most of us should score highly. This results in a significant bunching of the scores with a high proportion of the top scoring bidders scoring within 10% of each other. There are various ways of scoring the price element of the submission, but whichever way it is scored lowest price always gets the lion's share of the points for this part. Indeed I have seen one scoring method where the lowest bid gets 20% and the remaining bids get the fraction of 20% that is the lowest bid divided by their bid. The end result of this is that an outlying low bid which scored comparatively badly in the quality scores and might even have scored lowest on relevant experience and track record in cost effectiveness, can pick up enough "price" points to become the successful bidder.
The winning bidder will generally have a similar cost base to the rest of the market place so they can only make a profit by reducing the time expended on the project and the seniority and experience of the staff employed.
The graph below shows two curves. One is the opportunity for value creation with time on a project, maximum at inception stage reducing to zero at some stage during construction. The other is the cost of generating the necessary changes to create that value gain, zero at project inception and maximum when construction is complete.
The area between the graphs represents the opportunity for value improvement with time, clearly maximum at inception, diminishing to zero sometime around start on site, after which it becomes negative. Clearly the time when greatest project value can be created is at concept and preliminary design stage, but the consequence of our ridiculous procurement method is that we have contrived to minimise the experience of the personnel involved at this stage and the amount of time they can spend considering options. The outcome is often ill thought through designs which then get fixed by the planning process, greatly removing the scope for improvement in the tender process. In addition cheap entry price simply creates greater incentive to maximise variations later on and potentially generates needless disputes.
My practice generates a great deal of its business by working on "value engineering" tenders for Contractors. On a significant number of these we see the structure as little more than line diagrams with most of its elements labelled as "contractor design". I can't understand how anyone can make the right concept decisions if they are divorced from the detailed design and hence an understanding of its geometrical and cost implications. Not surprisingly we see many designs where we consider the structure to be ill considered and wasteful.
Anyone who believes that Contractors are the primary design innovators in our industry is missing the point made by the above diagram. Clearly the system needs to change to ensure that the design is done at the right time and not when it is too late. Get the front end right and the delivery end should be much less expensive and create far more value. Those that try to compare our industry to the automotive industry clearly don’t appreciate that virtually every one of our projects is a prototype that we have limited time to refine, compared to the years and millions of man hours that the auto industry spends on its prototypes.
So what should be done? In my opinion, we need a fundamental review of the PQQ process and its fitness for purpose. Clearly we are constrained by European law but, in my opinion, our interpretation is overly bureaucratic and skewing our project outcomes away from the "best value" that we have a right to expect.
I suggest that the following improvements should be considered and included in a national recommended template for procurement:-
- A "two envelope" procurement system one for quality and the other for price, where only the "price" envelopes of the three highest "quality" scorers should be considered;
- Compliance with a detailed "Schedule of Services" should be mandatory. It is easy to sell a loaf of bread more cheaply if you remove half the slices, but the packaging might obscure the deficiency!
- Compliance with some minimum standards such as Health and Safety should be mandatory and should become "pass or fail" criteria and removed from the scoring such that only bids that pass are considered further and hence the proportion of marks given to quality, relevant team and company qualifications and experience, track record for creating best value etc. can be increased and hence have a greater influence on the outcome.
A formal Value Engineering review carried out by an independent team should be mandatory for all public sector projects above a certain value, say £20million.
Finally we must put a stop to the explosion in the numbers of accreditation schemes. Membership can be costly, but keeping the information on all of them up to date can be both costly and time consuming. One national PQQ format that pulled them all together would save a huge amount of needless duplication, time and money.
Contributor: John is Chairman of Nolan Associates, Consulting Civil and Structural Engineers. He is also a Visiting Professor at the University of Birmingham, Chairman of a property company, non-exec director of a power company, technical advisor to the Board of Bournville Village Trust and is a Past President of the Institution of Structural Engineers.
John is currently Deputy Chairman of the Consruction Industry Council
CIOB Deputy Chief Executive
Talk to any successful construction business and you will find a company that is not only technically competent but one that is adaptable. Construction is inherently a business based on solving unique problems. Those who can implement the best ideas tend to be the businesses who are most successful.
On the flip side if your business is narrow in its thinking, so set in its ways that it’s inflexible then you limit your capability for innovation and for attracting the next wave of talent.
There are still far too many narrow minded construction companies out there, and that has to change because the whole industry suffers. It’s not good for our public profile and it’s not good for productivity. Good ideas don’t just come from one type of person they come from people with different perspectives and backgrounds, collaborating and learning new things from each other. That exchange, openness and sharing of knowledge is something the social-media-heavy next generation expect.
Construction needs to create the right inclusive environment to attract and retain the breadth of talented individuals that will ultimately solve some of the biggest urban challenges we face in our future.
Inherently we all know diversity is a good thing. But there is also much evidence about what it means to a business’s bottom line too. In research conducted earlier this by global management consultant McKinsey & Company they found that companies in the top quarter for racial and ethnic diversity were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry average. For those in the top quarter for gender diversity they are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their industry average. In other words diversity means business.
So the message has to be if you want to run a prosperous construction firm well beyond the short term then don’t look at diversity as a nice-to-have. That mind-set has to change, it has to be more than just a strategic objective and more about a corporate mentality. After all clients of construction are just as diverse as the rest of society.
McKinsey & Company research, 'Why Diversity Matters': http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/organization/why_diversity_matters
DWP See Potential Campaign: https://www.linkedin.com/company/see-potential
Contributor: Bridget joined the CIOB as Chief Operating Officer in November 2008 and is responsible for the Institute’s Operations team, a portfolio which includes, education, examinations, membership services, international development and IT. Bridget is also Chair of the Construction Industry Council's Diversity Panel
Dr Dorte Rich Jørgensen D.Phil. (Oxon.), B.Sc. (Hons.), CEng, MCIBSE Principle sustainability engineer, Atkins
Royal Academy of Engineering visiting professor in innovation at Heriot-Watt University
CIC Diversity Panel Member representing CIBSE
As part of their election manifesto, the Conservative Party stated that they require companies with more than 250 employees to publish their gender pay gap - the difference between average pay for male and female employees (BBC, 2015). Nicky Morgan, the Equalities Minster states: “We are committing to eliminating the gender pay gap in a generation. This is not just the right thing to do, it makes good business sense: supporting women to fulfil their potential could increase the size of our economy by 35%” (Guardian). Following the Equalities Act 2010, five companies Tesco, Friends Life, PwC, AstraZeneca and Genesis voluntarily published this. To identify how other companies can approach this policy, a Government consultation was launched on 15July, with responses submitted by 6 September.
What are we doing already?
Salaries are recorded in various publications linked to job description and status within the various regions. Evidence with regards to the pay gap is generally limited. However, the ICE’s survey on salaries in 2013 showed that the pay gap for their younger members (up to age 29) is nearly non-existent, but for those aged 45-49, men earn 38% more than women. Overall, the survey concluded that women earn 40% less than men, in line with the difference registered in 2010. The survey showed that the gap has only closed by 2% in three years.
Risk or opportunity for construction?
The construction industry may ask: ‘Where is the money going to come from to close a possible pay gap in a low margin industry?’ and ‘How will publishing my company’s pay gap results impact our industry perception?’ As we know, there is a skills gap to fill in our industry. CITB’s recent Construction Skills Network forecast suggested an extra 200,000 new jobs will be created in construction over the next five years as the industry expands. At the moment, the drop out of women in Science Engineering Technology (SET) are leakier than other professions and the gender pay gap is wider than in other industries (Smith Institute). Hence, whilst improvements have been made, there is still more work to be done and recruiting and retaining women is a priority for construction companies who need to fish from a wider pool.
Research has shown that businesses with more senior women out-perform their rivals, with 42% higher return on sales, 66% higher return on invested capital and 53% higher return on equity (Bottomline: Catalyst, 2007). So what some perceive as a challenge could actually make good business sense.
What is a planned approach to closing the pay gap?
Key findings from research commissioned by the Government Equalities Office showed that whilst the majority of employers considered that ensuring there was no gender pay gap was a priority for their organisation, only a small proportion (13%) had a planned approach for reducing the pay gap. This is likely to be true for many in construction too and across the industry we do not engage much specialist support and resources for this agenda. For example in 2008, a city firm of 6,000 people had six full time diversity and inclusion managers help embed equality and diversity within their organisation.
However, there are some strategies already being applied within our industry that we could use as part of a planned approach:
- Women’s development programme: These programmes raise awareness with women on companies’ approach to negotiating pay. For example, with upcoming pay reviews, feedback states that men are much more likely to have engaged with their superiors with regards to their pay expectations than women.
- Line management excellence programmes: conversations around money are tricky. Training needs to be in place to address this skilfully and with awareness.
In addition we need to embed the right behaviours and investments to make this happen:
- Informal, honest and open collegiate support: This makes all the difference!
- A clear message of sponsorships and advocacy from the top down through the organisation is essential.
- More specialist support, resources and funding for equality and diversity is needed.
These things combined will help nurture a culture that will help companies to close the pay gap in a supportive and planned way.
The Government consultation is available here:
Resources for collaboration and engagement:
Contributor: Dr Dorte Rich Jørgensen is a leading sustainability engineering consultant in Britain with 25 years of experience. She was the sustainability manager for Atkins on the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Park. She provides leadership within the UK’s design and construction industry, and has successfully embedded sustainability on a range of cutting edge and award winning project. As a thought leader, she has provided evidence to inform energy efficiency policy in Britain, and she is a sought after speaker who has also appeared in the press. Dorte’s doctorate studies at Oxford were related to improving energy efficiency and whilst a student she founded the graduate common room at Balliol College, Oxford. Dorte was born and grew up in Denmark, is CIBSE representative on the CIC diversity panel, and co-founded the CIBSE diversity panel.
Nigel AP Wright
WRIGHT - CLASS Solutions Ltd
Two slides, from a recent presentation I gave, focussed on design quality guidance from 2000 to 2015. It highlighted an absence of design quality guidance and advice since 2010. By coincidence the previous coalition government streamlined their education building design advice and education premises regulations in 2010/11. The policy, to reduce bureaucracy by simplifying legislation, guidance and good practice advice was initially welcomed. The Architects Journal 02-04-2015 recently raised concern for education building design quality on the Priority Schools Building Programme (PSBP). Was it wise to overlook good practice advice?
Streamlining documentation, some of it was confusing and contradictory, is to be applauded, however deciding what to retain is crucial. I contend a requirement for design quality and good practice advice is a fundamental basis for effective strategic and initial briefing for a building. It should inform client thinking and inspire consultants, contractors and service providers to deliver better quality building design evidenced by design quality in the end product.
Why should government focus on design quality, not just reducing fees and time on site?
Ambition to conserve and steward wisely our limited natural resource is fundamental to inform our thinking about design quality and how it is defined, prioritised, implemented and measured. Government legislation strategies focusses on improved effectiveness across the construction process with emphasis on; collaboration, innovation in procurement, effective use of time, resources and finance. The aim is saving on resource and construction time on site. Data and information management including Building Information Management (BIM) is becoming integral to design and manufacture process. In particular off-site manufacture and standardisation is believed to be crucial to government achieving their public programme objectives of affordability, built on time, and consistency in design and build quality.
Government expectation for BIM is for new and innovative ways of working to emerge, and resolve waste in resource, cost time and processes, specifically the inefficiency in procurement. Completeness of design, at the right time in the design and construct process, is a crucial focus for BIM in the fight to reduce the risk of delay and claims which has ensnared our industry, divided professions and vexed clients for decades. But will these measures benefit design quality, variety and choice for clients. If the early indications from the government’s education Priority School’s Build Programme [PSBP] are anything to go by then I suggest there is a narrowing of emphasis on design quality compared with previous education programmes since 2000. Is this evidence of neglecting design quality?
The focus for organisations and government should be on design quality where it delivers measurable benefit. Design quality ought to be at the ‘bough wave’ of their thinking and not in the ‘wake’. There seems to be preference to pursue better management of delivery processes and commercial behaviours. The target should be making the most of what we have, and find ways to ensure we are able to focus on design quality that adds value and delivers measurable benefits. A focus on design quality should be central to our endeavour and not pushed to the margins of our clients and government thinking if we are to halt this decline.
What direction for design quality?
Understanding and measuring the benefit of design quality is not simple however the message to clients regarding the merit needs to be clear. We all experience good and bad design every day. The economic, social, ecological and health impact and benefit can to an extent be measured but I would suggest more research, post occupancy including building performance evaluation, is desperately needed to inform our industry and improve advice to clients. Design quality is complex, deceptive and holistic.
Design quality often hides the complexity, of a rigorous iterative journey taken to achieve a deceptive simplicity that is considered to be expensive. A cheaper alternative taken at face value may appear to offer a better solution. Counting the cost of good and bad design must consider broader issues. A business case and value proposition that limits the focus to initial capital cost should be challenged. Consequential thinking, applied to product selection, must now consider intentionality of design, functionality, operational and maintenance expenditure (OPEX) alongside initial capital expenditure (CAPEX). A function of design quality is to help the client consider ‘choice options’, in compliance with their ‘statement of requirements’, in terms of capital and operational expenditure set alongside social, ecological, economic, functional and operational criteria.
A clearer appreciation and understanding of design quality by the design profession needs to be demonstrated to Clients specifically the measurable and immeasurable benefits design quality can deliver. Being able to codify design quality benefit in language that stakeholders, financiers and decision makers recognise and value may provide a basis for more informed investment decisions. Some perceive good design is expensive the investment of time spent in conceptual thinking, briefing and design development, supply chain product development may not be worth client investment. The solution if untried and tested could fail to meet the requirements. Is it safer to adopt a tried and tested ‘standard solution’ and stick with what we know and keep repeating the same solution?
Principles of design quality with examples should be codified to aid dialogue on options with relative merit and impact identified. Examples of design quality need to include design intent, conceptual ideas, and predicted performance objectives. It is obtuse to abandon previous experience from public build programmes in order to focus on a single solution that seems to offer a quick short term fix, ignoring longer term lessons learned and good practice from previous projects and programmes. Improving on what has been done and learning from our success and failure may be a better approach than predetermining the solution before you have undertaken thorough and careful reconnaissance.
In pursuit of a better understanding of design quality, its value, how it is measured, why it is important, and why we all have good and bad experience, the discussion must take place with all ‘players’-stakeholders and build consensus through dialogue. We must avoid the reductive thinking that constrains, is predicated on a five year term and can barely move beyond a quick fix. This approach brings problems for users, communities and policy makers who are left make good at a future time. Their task is made more difficult when available knowledge, lessons learned and good practice advice is ignored, misunderstood or irrelevant.
A place to start, building on previous projects?
Design quality begins with the right advice. The next government (2015-2020) face challenging and complex decision choices. Informing those choices should emerge from the best information and professional advice available. Where there are gaps in knowledge, decide where research is needed to be better informed. Making the case for design quality is integral to the success of building design and use. Defining how design quality adds value must be more explicit. The construction industry is now more data dependent and data rich but evaluation from previous projects, post occupancy and building performance evaluation, is still extremely poor, despite the efforts of Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board), CIBSE and others to raise awareness. If the industry is uncertain on performance objectives being realised in use how is a client to have confidence they have the right brief, or measures in place to test that the design quality predictions are realised in the in use. Evidence of building performance provides crucial information to inform clients and their designers, building users and operators, investors and stakeholders as to what works well, what does not, and where to prioritise resource and investment. Making a case for design quality is elusive. The pioneering work of the Usable Buildings Trust, and more recently the Government adoption of ‘Soft Landings’ will provide data feedback on building performance and a measure for design quality but it should be broader and not just focussed on energy use.
Good practice and design guidance documentation between 2000 and 2011 is a valuable resource that should not be discarded. A well advised and informed client starts with robust evidence from previous projects. Time well spent in reconnaissance, dialogue and thought about design quality, with access to reliable data, case studies and relevant design guidance provide us with an unprecedented opportunity to make informed decisions. A deep resource of design quality guidance and experience from projects will help us to save where it is prudent to save and invest in better quality where the value proposition is clear and the client and user benefits can be measured.
Contributor: Nigel Wright is an Architect, Client Adviser, Project Manager and DQI Facilitator
Contact Nigel via Linkedin
Anwyl Construction Co Ltd
Although previous jobs had connections to the construction industry my career in the construction industry began properly when I started working at Anwyl Construction Ltd., in North Wales in 2011 as a PA/administrator in the contracts department. After joining the company I became more involved in assisting the Senior Estimator and Quantity Surveyors with tendering processes. I am half way through my working life so when I was given the opportunity to change the direction of my career and gain an NVQ Level 6 in Construction Contracting Operations Management I grabbed it with both hands. When I was at school careers advisors did not really direct girls towards careers in construction so it was something that I had not previously considered.
My motivations for doing the NVQ arose as my knowledge base and interest grew and I was encouraged by the Senior Estimator to consider undertaking a course to develop my skills further and formalise my experience. My employer was able to support me by paying for the course up front and reclaiming the costs through the CITB training levy. I decided that the QCF/NVQ route was my best option as it was flexible enough to fit around my work and family commitments.
The NVQ helped my career because qualifications are important as they provide proof that you have the experience and competency to do the job. The NVQ has given me a broad understanding of many different aspects of construction and their inter-linkages. It has provided me with the skills and knowledge to take my job to the next level. Achieving the NVQ has given me great personal satisfaction and confidence in my ability to do more.
I would advise anyone who is thinking about doing an NVQ to take that step. They are an excellent way of getting qualified whilst working full time. Mine was similar to distance learning but having done other qualifications this way I was aware of the motivation and commitment required to complete. My NVQ took only six months so I would definitely recommend it. With the right encouragement and mentoring, more admin people could make the same career transition.
With the Level 6 NVQ (equivalent to undergraduate level), I have the option to join the RICS and gain Assoc RICS which is something I have been considering. In the meantime, I am really enjoying putting what I have learnt into practice, for instance I have just completed a tender for a small housing association for a project on two different sites. Every time I go out on site or attend client meetings, I am still learning and expanding my construction knowledge.
Contributor: I spent 6 years as technical support for the Facilities Management Department at North Wales Police and the last 4 years with Anwyl Construction completing my NVQ 6 in Construction Contracting Operations – Estimating Route, in the last 12 months. I am progressing at pace but working for a main Contractor I realise there is still a lot to learn.