Dame Judith Hackitt calls for construction industry to put morals above the law

Latest News Tue, Oct 13, 2020 12:59 PM

Senior leadership across the construction sector attended a virtual event hosted by NBS, The Construction Leaders’ Summit: The Digital Future.

Day one of the conference focused on the big levers of change, looking at political, economic and technological drivers helping senior built environment professionals better understand and prepare for the challenges ahead.

The double-whammy of a pandemic and a recession has made 2020 one of the most challenging and disrupted years in living memory. Digital adoption has ramped up exponentially this year and played an essential part in keeping the sector open for business. However, evolution will not stop there, and delegates heard about the tsunami of change approaching.

Nadhim Zahawi MP, the UK Government’s Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Business and Industry), and the Construction Minister, discussed the Government's objectives for construction and outlined its commitment to the sector, from decarbonisation and building safety to digital technologies and modular construction. He also touched upon ‘Project Speed’ and the forthcoming Cabinet Office ‘Construction Procurement Playbook’.

Dame Judith Hackitt, chair of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, looked at the changes which the construction industry must prepare for in the forthcoming Building Safety Legislation which is currently a Draft Bill yet to go through Parliament.

This will be the biggest shake-up in building safety for a generation. She outlined what will happen after it passes into law, specifically the implementation period before the regulator is up and running, not expected to be fully operational until 2023.

This February, at the NBS Construction Product Leaders’ Summit in Birmingham, Dame Judith expressed her frustration with the lack of progress being made on resolving problems uncovered in high rise buildings since the Grenfell Tower fire. Once again she underlined the urgent need for radical changes in culture, competencies and processes. Digital will be the norm, so the sector can expect to see improved record keeping, less substitution, and ‘value engineering’ will move from being about cost reduction to focus on quality.

Dame Judith said: “The essence of the change that is needed is to stop looking at the letter of the law and finding ways to comply with minimum standards.

“The new approach to building safety must be about the opportunity to deliver buildings which we would all be happy to have our loved ones live in – confident that they feel safe and are safe. There is a moral imperative above the legal one.”

On the second day delegates will be split into two streams, one for specifiers and the other for manufacturers, both looking at the future of the industry.

Construction product manufacturers will learn about the rapid evolution of manufacturing and construction following COVID-19 from management consultancy firms BDO and McKinsey. Additionally, Peter Caplehorn and Adam Turk from the Construction Products Association will discuss the emerging competencies for product safety and the marketing rules for manufacturers.

Specifiers will hear from the Sustainable Energy Association’s Jade Lewis on driving sustainability through design and data, Yale University School of Architecture’s Phil Bernstein on ‘Delivering the Future of Design and Collaboration’, and a leading contractor who will reveal the future of modular construction.

You can still register to attend Day 2 until 11.30 am 14th October:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/construction-leaders-summit-the-digital-future-tickets-118278681721

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