On 06 June, the Southern Region held their second buildeng Conference this year which, for the first time, was held in Guildford at the G-Live venue. 75 delegates attended for the five hours’ CPD event.
The event itself was also supported by the trade stands of Coopers Fire Ltd, who are manufacturers of fire and smoke curtains; Bilco UK Ltd who are manufacturers of CE marked natural smoke ventilators and roof access hatches; and Toast who is a specialist in chimney linings in both commercial and domestic sectors.
The conference was opened by our CABE President, David Taylor who offered a brief update on his Presidential activities on behalf of the Association and, with the assistance of our new Chief Executive, Dr Gavin Dunn, gave a joint update on the focus of our Association and the forthcoming actions ahead of us.
Our first speaker was Gemma Linacre, Senior Ecologist at MLM Consulting Engineers Ltd, who gave a presentation on the Importance of Ecology for the Building Environment. Gemma covered various aspects of legislation which tied together both UK and European legislation for various species and also talked about the importance of protection to different types of vegetation as well as the potential fines which are given to those who undertake illegal acts. Gemma finished her presentation with an Ecology case study on a school development in Chelmsford and afterwards had more than a few questions to answer from delegates who clearly were interested in her paper.
The second speaker was Steve Chester, Sales Manager at Metsec, who gave a presentation on Metframe which is Metsec’s pre-panelised, offsite, full structural solution for low- to medium-rise structures. The system uses the studs in the same way as load-bearing SFS, except they are bolted together off site to form panels. Delegates were informed that the system incorporates heavier gauge studs and with the bespoke designs allow structures to be constructed up to 15 storeys in height. We were able to watch a short video of the Metframe system and delegates were told that Metframe is an extremely competitive building solution when compared against the cost of timber and volumetric construction. Metframe delivers a high quality building but importantly a major key benefit is speed of build, with Metframe structures taking under two weeks per floor to construct. Sustainability is at the forefront of Metframe buildings which offer zero waste and a low carbon footprint.
The third speaker was Angus Sangster, Fire Safety Engineering Manager, at International Fire Consultants Ltd, who gave a presentation on fire safety in waste transfer stations. Angus talked around updated guidance on the prevention of fires at waste management sites published by the Waste Industry Safety & Health (WISH) Forum. The guidance takes into account the findings of ‘waste burn trials’ carried out in 2015 and 2016 to test the properties of waste materials including wood, plastic, paper, rubber and waste derived fuels when set alight. The findings of the trials have led to a revision in the recommended stack size and separation distances originally set out for wastes stored externally. Delegates were told that new guidance recommends that material is kept three bales high rather than four and suggests sizes for storage which will give the fire service better access to extinguish fires.
Following a refreshment break, which gave delegates time to network and talk to those on the trade stands, the second half of the conference was opened with our President David Taylor offering a talk on Digital Technology, where he discussed how our technology is changing the manner and way the industry is evolving. From drawing boards to BIM technology, from traditional consultation to off-site modular construction, from automotive bricklayer, road laying technology to drones and computerised validation, the industry is fast adapting to ensure quality and speed in construction is the way forward.
The fourth speaker was Michael Wadood, Chairman of Southern Region and Past President of the CABE, who spoke about how members can influence good accessible design for all. Michael stated that we all have a responsibility to ensure that the buildings we are involved in are designed, constructed and accessible to all within society. Through the aid of some photos he was able to show how those without 20/20 vision see the world and pointed out how easy it is for them to misjudge, or fail to see, what those with good eyesight would not give a second thought about as they navigate around a building. Michael also touched upon the importance of good stair design, sanitary accommodation and door handles.
The last speaker was Neil Cooper, Chairman of Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC) and Chief Executive of MLM Group. Neil was able to explain the role of BRAC within industry and was able to give an insight into the current direction that BRAC was going with regards to both the outcome of the Hackitt Review and the 80% of the Building Regulations which does not cover Fire Safety. He spoke and took question from delegates on the general approach to Building Regulations and the importance that BRAC gives in ensuring that their recommendations to Ministers are based on fact and research. Neil was able to offer a glimpse of potential changes to the various Approved Documents which will be consulted on.
The event overran by 30mins, but it was only because the presentations offered by our speakers and the questions that they generated show that those who attended this Regional conference found it worthwhile and very interesting.
The next Southern Regional Conference will see us returning to Winchester in September and then we are holding a joint event with the East Midlands region in November in High Wycombe. It is our hope that many more Southern Regional members and other CABE members will have the chance to attend one of these Regional conferences as we move them around the region.
Michael Wadood BSc(Hons) PPCABE FCABE FRICS MCIOB - Chairman of Southern Region
11 June 2018