Report on buildeng South West 2019 Conference and Exhibition

Report on buildeng South West 2019 Conference and Exhibition Image

The years seem to pass much quicker when we have a regional conference to prepare for, and we could not do it without the support of our colleagues at CABE HQ, our sponsors, speakers, exhibitors and the hub of construction professionals who attend from the South West region and beyond and make this a well-attended and successful event. Haynes Motor Museum are excellent hosts and provide us with an interesting and excellent venue with excellent conference and exhibiting facilities. 

As I reflect on the passing of another successful event, I would like to thank our Regional Secretary Andrew Sellers, our Regional Treasurer Trevor Jacklin and our now very experienced committee members Rixon Sayner and Rosmen Morris for everything they do through the organising of the event to their valuable contributions on the day.

Thanks also go to Ant Burd, the brand new CABE President and Dr Gavin Dunn the CABE CEO. We really appreciate their support year on year with this event and it was great to have our friend and President chairing this year’s proceedings. As expected, Anthony Burd was an excellent chair.

Keynote Address – The Future of Building Regulations

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Our Chief Executive Dr Gavin Dunn gave an overview on the BRAC perspective in terms of the current environment in which the construction industry finds itself. He gave a brief overview on the findings of the Hackitt review Building a Safer Future and how this may effect change in the construction industry, its professional standing and the levels of competency of all stakeholders and its regulatory frameworks. The implementation of the recommendations will be all encompassing throughout the industry. 

Gavin went on to give an indication of what is currently to be reviewed in terms of the Building Regulations. He reported that Part B is currently having a full review; Part M is being revisited along with a changing places review; a cost optimal approach is taking in terms of Part L and Part F is being reviewed as there are a number of Part L impacts that mean, in some situations, the guidance to Part F is not fit for standard. Gavin presented on the Energy and Environmental performance standards. He discussed the move towards cleaner electricity and how this will impact on the design of SAP software going forward. He pointed out the Government announcement to move towards zero carbon heating in all dwellings by 2025 and commented on the NZEB definition relating to energy and not carbon. Gavin discussed the performance gap and the need to design for compliance in order to lessen the performance gap. He explained that compliance modelling and performance modelling provides actual performance. He elaborated on the challenges being faced with updating Part F and referred to evidence linking poor air quality and overheating with mortality rates. He highlighted that the current Part F does not take into account poor external air quality or the off gassing from products. Moreover, Gavin explained that there are major problems with overheating, particularly with apartments. 

Measuring the Performance of Energy Savings Measures, Do They Work or Not?

buildeng SWDr Richard Fitton, Lecturer in Energy Efficiency at the University of Salford presented next and gave a paper on Measuring the Performance of Energy Savings Measures, Do They Work or Not?

Richard presented on his academic work to create a fully measurable typical Victorian house with a scientific test lab. The lab can test from temperature fluctuations between -12°C to 30°C and can replicate wind, rain, solar radiation and snow. The research works with both dynamic and steady state testing.

He explained the relevance of the project by explaining the real problems experienced in this country with hard to treat existing housing stock. We have around 7.5 million solid walled dwellings and he explained that mistakes can easily be made with the wrong retrospective upgrades to these dwellings. 

Along with the work carried out in his live lab Richard explained that his work is also supported by field measurements. As part of the study Richard explained that they have tested a number of products both to improve services efficiency or elements of the building. Richard gave a number of examples and explained the principle of OFAT (one factor at a time). Richard explained that as part of their study they are looking to establish the large and easy gains or the cheapest most effective gains. To provide examples, Richard reported that the use of underlay can provide a 3.0% saving but that providing insulation to an existing suspended timber floor along with a vapour control layer will provide a 7% uplift but will also provide better thermal comfort. The upgrading of pre-2000 glazing to good quality well fitted double glazing can provide a 63% cost saving and external wall insulation can provide a 45% saving. The key to these examples is this: the cost saving is based on the energy/cost saving on the property and does not factor in the cost of the operation itself. Richard also explained that because measurement can be established in a number of valid ways this creates a measurement gap and not a performance gap.

Quality Control in Modular Construction

Our afternoon session was opened up by Alexis Stickley, the research and development manager at Premier Guarantee.

buildeng SWAlexis presented on Quality Control in Modular Construction. He explained that this is the process of offsite construction and the quality process from construction offsite to the fitting on site. He explained that modular construction can be in steel frame, timber frame, CLT (cross laminated timber), SIPs panel construction and concrete. These are known as Modern Methods of Construction.

He explained that this is a growing industry and that there are a number of factors that indicate that this will be a continuing trend. One factor mentioned is the Farmer report written by Mark Farmer and commissioned by the Government. This is commonly known by its subtitle modernise or die. This highlighted a lack of skills and labour within the construction industry, a lack of investment in research and development, low productivity and an ageing work force. The report gave ten recommendations, one of which was the encouraging of the offsite construction of modules and components. Alexis reported that we have a shortfall of four million units and a target of 300,000 units per year.

Alexis explained the key controls needed to develop a system approval and warranty approval that can be supported by UK Finance (this was the Council of Mortgage Lenders). Any factory forming units or components should be ISO 9001 or have UKAS approval and should have auditable written Quality Control processes. This should include the identification and mapping of inward goods, manufacturing processes, the storage of materials and products, staff training records and the maintenance and calibration of equipment and machinery. Alexis further explained that a Quality Control document needs to be in place for each document and that this should also include delivery to site and installation. This should highlight site responsibilities and quality control on site. He explained that high risk areas in terms of defects are resistance to moisture at parapets, reveals and level thresholds.

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CABE, Competency and Industry Reform

Ant Burd, the new CABE President, presented our closing paper. This was on CABE, competency and industry reform.

He explained and examined the CABE values of raising standards, sharing standards and developing standards. He explained how the Association is well placed to respond to the industry’s needs and requirements.

He explained the scope of the work that needs to take place in the industry; productivity has had minimal growth since 1995, the demographics in the industry are poor with only 14.1% of the industry being made up by women, 11.3% being ethnic minorities and less than 5% of the workforce declare a disability.

This was iterated further by reinforcing the skills and labour shortfalls in the industry and the performance gap between what is intended and what is delivered. Ant also highlighted the problems connected to product substitution and an overriding urge to do things cheaply. Ant reiterated that Grenfell is a seminal moment for our industry and that ignorance within the industry leads to guidance being unheeded or misunderstood.

Ant explained what CABE is doing to assist members is demonstrating their competence and that the role of a professional is to be competent. He stated that competency is the only effective measure of an individual’s ability to undertake work.

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He reported that CABE is building new industry competency frameworks and that the industry as a result of the Hackitt review will be going through cultural change to a competency culture.

It was reported that CABE understand that there is a difficult task to undertake in rebuilding the public’s trust in the industry. CABE has introduced a new code of conduct, a new ethical code and a revised disciplinary procedure. This creates a framework of documents which provides CABE members the parameters of what is expected of them as a professional in terms of competency and acting professionally, ethically and fairly.

Thanks also goes to our sponsors Bilco UK Ltd. and PAGeoTechnical Ltd. for their sponsorship and their excellent presentations.

 It'll Be Alright On The Site, Or Will It?

Carl Sutterby from Bilco UK Ltd. presented on Roof, floor and wall hatches, access ladders and smoke ventilation and the importance of correct specification.

Ground Gas Protection – Design, Installation and Validation

Phil Widdop from PAGeoTechnical Ltd. presented on the Engineering of contaminated land and the management and restoration of contaminated land and brownfield sites. He explained the importance of BS 8485 and CIRIA C735 as code of practice in the successful management of contaminated land.

Ant Burd closed by summarising our day and learning outcomes. Thanks to everyone who attended. We look forward to seeing even more of you next year.

Robert Gary

South West Regional Chairman.


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