Report on the 8th Annual GMIT International Construction Management Conference

Report on the 8th Annual GMIT International Construction Management Conference Image

The 8th Annual GMIT International Construction Management Conference was held in Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology on Tuesday 06 March 2018. The annual conference is a ‘must attend’ event for the construction community in the west of Ireland. The conference is supported and sponsored by the Chartered Association of Building Engineers, The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, The Chartered Institute of Building Engineers, and The Construction Industry Federation. In excess of 400 visitors, staff and senior GMIT students attended the conference and exhibition during the day. The conference is free to attend, by kind support of the sponsors. 

GMIT 2018 pic 1GMIT President Dr Fergal Barry welcomed delegates to the conference and opened proceedings. Dr Barry went on to outline the need for greater investment in third-level education facilities and equipment, which had been neglected during the economic downturn. He also welcomed the significant uplift in demand for GMIT built environment programmes in Construction Management, Quantity Surveying & Building Economics, Architectural Technology and Civil Engineering. The demand for graduates from the programmes is also very strong.

Picture caption:L/R: Dr Martin Taggart, (GMIT Conference Chair); Dave Courtney, (CABE Southern Ireland Regional Chair); David Taylor, (President, CABE); Dominic Doheny, (President, The Construction Industry Federation); Mary Rogers, (Head of Department of Building and Civil Engineering, GMIT)

Conference Chair and Organiser, Dr Martin Taggart, from the Department of Building and Civil Engineering, got proceedings under way, introducing Tomás Kelly, Director of AECOM Ireland, as first speaker. Tomás is a principal author of the AECOM annual review and took the audience through a detailed overview of the current state of the construction industry. He highlighted both accelerating growth, predicted at 14% for 2018, and also increases in construction costs. Dominic Doheny, President of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) spoke next. Dominic discussed the up and down nature of the industry as he looked at the options for the future. He wished to avoid repeating past mistakes and called for a partnership between the industry and government, to deliver a sustainable and prosperous future for all. He suggested that the industry needed to rapidly adopt methods such as Lean Construction and Building Information Modelling, also calling on government to fund adequate research to improve both process and technologies in the construction industry. David Taylor, President of The Chartered Association of Building Engineers (CABE) joined the gathering from the UK and was the final speaker in the morning session. David gave a fascinating presentation, looking at how the construction industry is being rapidly changed by digital technologies. David suggested that these technologies have the potential to avoid many of the risks associated with construction and also impact markedly on cost, time and quality. David led the audience through a wide range of technologies that are already impacting construction and others that are about to make their entrance. These include: off-site manufacturing; BIM; Virtual Reality; 3D printing; Nano technology; Robotics; Exoskeleton suits; Smart helmets and Artificial Intelligence.

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The mid-morning session of the conference breaks into parallel sessions, which traditionally have a more technical flavour. These focus on matters of current concern to the industry. 

Brian McIntyre, Programme Executive, from Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland (SEAI) presented initial results from the SEAI Deep Retrofit toward Zero Energy project. This project is a pathfinder project, which seeks to find the best way to approach and fund the retrofit of the many older properties in the state, which have poor sustainability profiles. Brian noted that over one million homes have poor insulation and energy use profiles, meaning they are uncomfortable to live in and expensive to run. Eamonn Smyth, Chief Advisor to the Department of Housing, gave a presentation on recent and proposed changes to the Building Regulations. Principal amongst these concerns: Part B – Where regulations covering fire are now split into two sets of regulations covering firstly, dwellings and secondly, other building types. Eamonn also outlined the upcoming changes to Part L, which covers energy efficiency. Eamonn noted that the revised regulations will again increase requirements, principally for new build properties. These changes will include higher air-tightness requirements as well as larger requirements for renewable energy systems. Oliver Mahon, a GMIT graduate in Civil Engineering and now Senior Vice-President of CRH, returned to his alma mater to address the conference. Oliver charted the growth of CRH and then focused on the current and future trends in the construction materials sector. Oliver noted that CRH believes that growth in material needs will continue across the world, but that this will not be even. Growth in Europe will be modest, whilst they see much higher growth in places such as India and China. He also noted the need for constant innovation to keep pace with customer demands. 

Picture caption: David Taylor (President, CABE)

Patricia Calleary, Senior Inspector with An Bord Pleanála, spoke about planning and flood risk issues that have significantly impacted the west of Ireland in recent years. She highlighted her presentation with stark photographs showing powerful images of flooding in Crossmolina, County Mayo, in 2015, followed by its dry riverbed in 2016. She welcomed progress in predicting flood areas which have included the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment & Management Programme (CFRAM) and the National Flood Hazard Mapping project. Gus McCarthy, Managing Director and Senior Planner at McCarthy Keville O’Sullivan Planning Consultants spoke next. Gus gave an overview of the current planning system and considered that there were serious issues in the way we currently approach planning, citing the recent Apple project in Athenry. He welcomed a number of new regulations that have been introduced by government in an attempt to speed up planning decisions, but considers they are falling short in regard to their stated objectives. The final speaker in the mid-morning sessions was GMIT Graduate, Patrick King. Patrick returned from the UK to speak at the conference. He is currently working as BIM Director at London Architects, ECD. Patrick gave a very clear and detailed presentation on one of his current projects where his company is advising Westminster Council, in London, in regard to the introduction of BIM into a number of their housing projects. 

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Picture caption: L/R: Gus McCarthy, (MD, McCarthy Keville O'Sullivan Planning Consultants); Dominic Doheny, (President, The Construction Industry Federation); Dr Martin Taggart, (GMIT Conference Chair), Mary Rogers, (Head of Department of Building and Civil Engineering, GMIT); Patricia Calleary, (Senior Planner, An Bord Pleanála); David Taylor, (President, The Chartered Association of Building Engineers); Tomas Kelly, (Director, AECOM Ireland); Kevin Duke, (MD, Duke McCaffrey Construction Consultants); Justin Molloy, (Director, The Construction Industry Federation)

After lunch and a tour of the conference exhibition area, the delegates assembled for the final session. Mattie Dwane, Procurement Advisor for Alexion Pharmaceuticals, represented Lean Construction Ireland (LCI) at the conference. Mattie outlined the work of LCI in introducing ‘Lean’ process into construction. He also noted the upcoming LCI Lean Construction Conference, to be held in Croke Park on 20 November 2018. Mattie also reported initial results of a current LCI project called ‘Lean in Contracts’, where LCI are seeking to engender a lean approach in standard construction contracts. Urszula Jedrol, BIM manager with Stewart Construction and a GMIT graduate, presented next. Urszula presented a case study of a recent project at Dublin Airport. This consisted of a demolition of an existing annex and construction of two new office blocks. Urszula showed the audience how she had used BIM level 2 and Syncro pro programming software to develop an efficient design and programme timeline for the project. The final speaker was Kevin Duke, Managing director of Duke McCaffrey Construction Consultants. Kevin gave a wide-ranging review of matters concerning the surveying profession. These included observations and insights concerning: The new RIAI forms of construction contract, The Construction Contracts Act (2013), The sectorial employment order (2017), Accelerating contract costs/tender levels, construction insolvency risks, and residential construction costs. 

Delegates were thanked by Gerard MacMichael, Head of the GMIT School of Engineering, who proposed the vote of thanks and wished them a safe journey home. 

Presentations are available here.

To join the conference mailing list e-mail:

David Courtney, Southern Ireland Regional Chairman

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