In order to ensure and guarantee that this ‘golden thread’ of information is provided, there also needs to be an implicit thread of responsibility that hands over at every point in the lifecycle of a building – and clarity is needed on who is responsible for that critical safety information at every stage

efficiently and safely is getting lost. Even if it does exist, it is invariably not in a useable format or in the right person’s hands. Ultimately, it’s about information and the flow of information across the different stakeholders during the lifetime of a building. People need to be armed with the correct information about a built asset so they can make informed decisions about how to run and manage a building safely and efficiently.

A golden thread of responsibility In order to ensure and guarantee that this ‘golden thread’ of information is provided, there also needs be an implicit golden thread of responsibility that hands over at every point in the lifecycle of a building – and clarity is needed on who is responsible for that critical safety information at every stage. A named professional involved in the design phase will have responsibility to not only collate that information, but ensure it is documented correctly and handed over to the next responsible person, and ultimately the person managing the building. There are three key roles, which we believe will be part of the regulatory process. These are the principal designer (or safety officer for the designer), principal contractor and building manager. Competency of these individuals will be closely monitored, defined and scrutinised and needs to encompass responsibility on the building owner also to ensure competent persons are appointed. For every building there needs to be a


named individual who is responsible and accountable for this critical information and ensure it is not lost. Digital technology, i.e. Building Information Modelling (BIM) and blockchain have a key role to play in ensuring the information is correct, available to all future stakeholders and kept up-to-date and available in a format that can easily be used by multiple parties into the future. Ultimately the availability of this information will also likely be used to more precisely assign accountability in the future if things go wrong. While we don’t yet know what the new regulatory regime will be, it’s likely these roles will need to be demonstrably competent, and that the use of UCAS certified individuals or members of Engineering Council approved bodies will be necessary.

As an engineering body representing technical specialists across buildings and becoming a member of the Engineering Council ourselves, CABE is well placed to support members who wish to undertake these roles. Competency was a clear theme of the review and something the industry has been quick to support. Buildings are inherently complex and sophisticated, which is why competency is needed throughout the whole design, build and operating process.

New chartered ground The Engineering Council formally recognises building engineering as a discipline in its own right. It clearly defines chartered building engineers as

professionals that use engineering principles to apply technology, innovation and technical standards to buildings to ensure that they are safe, efficient and healthy places for people across its entire lifecycle. What better definition of the golden thread could there be?

The benefits of getting this right go way beyond simply fire safety. They also include broader health and safety, building performance, occupant comfort, wellbeing along with energy use, climate and environmental impacts, running costs and asset value.

The idea of the ‘golden thread’, or performance gap is just the latest incarnation of a set of issues that has plagued our industry. CABE was founded in 1925 by a group of professionals including Sir Edwin Lutyens, as the Incorporated Association of Architects and Surveyors (IAAS) to create a technical forum that brought together those professionals involved in the design (i.e. the architects) and those overseeing the construction and existing buildings (i.e. the surveyors) because it was felt the industry was too siloed, even back in 1925. The Hackitt review should be seen as a turning point, and while there is still much to do as an industry, CABE and its members are uniquely placed to ensure change happens and can play a significant role in ensuring the golden thread of design intent is preserved, thus creating a better and safer built environment.

Dr Gavin Dunn is chief executive of Chartered Association of Building Engineers (CABE)


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