1 April 2019
REPORT FROM VICE-PRESIDENT, ANT BURD
I fear I was right in my end of 2018 prediction that this year was going to be even busier than the last. We’re only just coming to the end of Q1 and we are collectively already moving with far greater pace than last year – I really didn’t think it possible.
As I sit here at home in South London and write this, the high winds are still gusting outside. I still recall when the Great Storm of 25th January 1990 (there was an earlier one in 1987 too) hit great swathes of the country and when it seemed like every affected local authority building control officer, even trainees like me, were out and about undertaking a considerable number of dangerous structure inspections. My claim to fame then was authorising the closure of Shaftesbury Avenue in the West End for all of an hour due to a precarious looking chimney stack.
Nearly 30 years later and I’ve just watched the video of the gentleman walking down the road in Stoke Newington, London, where he passes a shop front and not more than a few seconds later what looks like the entire front masonry parapet wall drops from above. Absolutely terrifying, and testimony alone for why there is a need to control such aspects of our built environment.
So, what’s been keeping me busy? Well, since my last VP Page I attended the CABE Board meeting at which it was confirmed that Stewart McArthur will become our next Vice-President. Huge congratulations to Stewrt and most deserving too; I look forward to working with him even more closely over the next few years. Congratulations also go to Richard Flynn and Jake Simpson who both become new Board Members.
In early March I headed to the HQ to join the Regional Officers’ Training and Induction Day. This sees our all-important Regional Officers come together with the CABE HQ Staff team and the presidential team. It’s a truly excellent day of bringing colleagues up to speed on Association business and sharing best practice and learning. It was great to catch up with a number of colleagues, and to meet a number of new faces too. Our Regions are the lifeblood of the Association and the time and commitment that our Regional Officers provide is simply humbling – we couldn’t do what we do without them.
At the time of writing, the month ahead is looking pretty full too. On 20th March I will be joining the Wales and North West Region for their buildeng Conference and Exhibition in Wrexham. They have a fantastic line up of speakers, including Francois Samuel, Head of Building Regulations Policy for Welsh Government, providing the Keynote Address.
Talking of the Building Regulations, albeit the English ones this time. I currently sit on the Building Regulations Advisory Committee alongside a number of other of its members from across our industry, including CABE's very own Gavin Dunn. Given the Grenfell tragedy, a considerable amount of activity continues in relation to the fire safety aspects of the regulations. This includes starting work on the next full technical review of Part B. However, at the end of last year the government also announced the next review of Part L (Conservation of fuel and power), Part F (Ventilation) and Part M (Accessibility) of the regulations would be starting too. It’s fair to say that the initial support works to the reviews are already underway. Therefore, it was most timely for the Committee on Climate Change to publish its latest report – UK housing: Fit for the future?
This report assesses whether the UK’s housing stock is adequately prepared for the challenges of climate change; both in terms of reducing emissions from UK homes and ensuring homes are adequately prepared for the impacts of climate change.
The report’s key findings are that:
- the UK’s legally-binding climate change targets will not be met without the near-complete elimination of greenhouse gas emissions from UK buildings
- emissions reductions from the UK’s 29 million homes have stalled, while energy use in homes – which accounts for 14% of total UK emissions – increased between 2016 and 2017
- efforts to adapt the UK’s housing stock to the impacts of the changing climate: for higher average temperatures, flooding and water scarcity, are lagging far behind what is needed to keep us safe and comfortable, even as these climate change risks grow.
The Committee’s report goes on to say action is needed in the following five areas:
- Performance and compliance. The way new homes are built and existing homes retrofitted often falls short of stated design standards
- Skills gap. The chopping and changing of UK Government policy has led to a skills gap in housing design, construction and in the installation of new technologies
- Retrofitting existing homes. Ensuring existing homes are low-carbon and resilient to the changing climate is a major UK infrastructure priority, and must be supported as such by the Treasury
- Building new homes. New homes should be built to be low-carbon, energy and water efficient, and climate resilient
- Finance and funding. There are urgent funding gaps which must be addressed, including secure UK Government funding for low-carbon sources of heating beyond 2021, and better resources for local authorities.
The report makes compelling reading, and something tells me it more than covers some of the big ticket items that we will need to address as we look to update the next Part L.
Until next time, have a good month.
Ant Burd BSc(Hons) C.Build E VPCABE FCABE MIFireE FRICS