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22 VIEWS


We have a once in a generation opportunity to move away from bad business models based on lowest price


actually work at least at the point of handover when new systems are installed. The necessary step change in energy efficiency will also need to be achieved safely. Airtightness is critical to reducing heat loss, but in achieving the desired low levels of leakage, adequate ventilation becomes a critical concern to avoid risk of moisture and condensation (which can cause respiratory problems), and degraded air quality that similarly affects health. Ensuring that we have good indoor air quality requires good design, specification installation and commissioning, and evidence continues to grow that on all counts the industry is struggling to deliver the right performance consistently. Government is currently looking at and considering key changes to both energy and ventilation requirements, which is a step in the right direction.


Societal changes also need to be properly considered. Our understanding of the impacts on equality resulting from the way we design and manage our buildings, workplaces and public spaces are also changing, and it is absolutely right that we now expect places to be inclusive for the widest possible range of users.


Taking a step back


These are only a few of the areas where the decisions we make as clients, designers, engineers, constructors and operators of buildings are likely to impact on public safety and welfare.


Which is why now is the right time to pause and step back to look at the bigger picture. Many of the recommendations from Dame Judith Hackitt’s review are relevant to ensuring the construction industry has the ability to deliver against this wider agenda of health, safety, sustainability and welfare. We have a once in a generation opportunity to move away from bad business models based on lowest price towards an industry that is focused on lifetime value and as a result is more profitable, more productive and more valued for the work it does.


Extending many of the Hackitt review’s


proposals for structural reform beyond high risk buildings will be key in ensuring that the necessary changes to business practice and culture required to embed this step change in performance take effect. We must also ensure that industry improves its expenditure on research and development to deliver higher levels of confidence in system performance and to support policy makers in making informed decisions. At the same time we should recognise the need to invest more in our people to ensure they are competent and empowered to work in an ethical way. Government clearly has a key role in ensuring that the right regulatory measures are in place to enable industry to meet the wider public expectation that they are adequately protected, and to ensure that safety standards are consistently delivered on. As Ministers start to reshape the building safety policy landscape, fire safety will rightly be at the forefront, but it is important that they also take into account the broader scope of regulations and policies that will be needed in the future to keep people safe.


Richard Harral is technical director at CABE


WWW.ARCHITECTSDATAFILE.CO.UK


ADF SEPTEMBER 2018


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