CIBSE launched its brand new Golden Thread series at the RIBA on 14 September, with keynote speakers, Dr Hywel Davies, CIBSE Technical Director, and Hanna Clarke, Digital and Policy Manager for the Construction Products Association (CPA). There were also several presentations and panel discussions with representatives from the British Standards Institution (BSI), the National Fire Chiefs Council, London and Quadrant Housing Association, Foster + Partners and Arup, amongst others.
Dr Hywel Davies provided a comprehensive overview of the Building Safety Act. As the most far-reaching review of building and fire safety legislation in 50 years, Dr Davies outlined the Government’s priorities detailed in the act, including digitalisation, modularisation, and off-site fabrication and assembly. Importantly, the changes will require all information to be digitised but there is no specific requirement for new software to do so.
Dr Davies stressed that the changes affect everyone working in the construction industry, including requirements for professional registration, greater regulation, new roles and responsibilities, the integration of the golden thread of information and the need for safety case processes and regular reporting.
Hanna Clarkes’ presentation provided an overview of the competency requirements outlined within the Building Safety Act. The requirements are extensive, mirroring that of CDM and apply to all building work, not just higher risk buildings.
A recurring topic of conversation throughout the day was the role and requirements of designers. Concerning procurement, if you are selecting a construction product, you are a designer, as defined in the new Dutyholder roles.
The first panel discussion was chaired by Dr Davies and focused on the key impacts of the new regime, featuring Richard Clark, from the National Fire Chiefs Association; Ant Burd, from BSI; and Hanna Clark from the CPA.
Following Hanna’s presentation on competency requirements, the panel discussed how the new safety regulations will be monitored and enforced. Dr Davies stressed that with the new Building Safety Regulator sitting with the Health and Safety Executive, it is extremely unlikely that they will be advising on how to comply, rather the onus will be on the relevant duty holders and accountable person to understand and meet the requirements before being able to proceed. The competencies require an understanding of responsibility and accountability.
Picking up on the earlier point about the role of the designer, in relation to specifying products, Dr Davies encouraged anyone involved to pay close attention to Section 6, Part 3 of the Building Safety Act, which outlines the monumental change around product substitution and seeking approval for each change.
The following session focused on launching BS8644-1: 2022 Digital management of fire safety information - Design, construction, handover, asset management and emergency response. Code of practice. We heard from Aman Sharma, Totus Digital; Johnny Furlong, London and Quadrant Housing Association; and Dan Rossiter, BSI.
Aman discussed the development of a standardised information approach for fire safety. Managing information is an integral part of the golden thread, ensuring access to information to support compliance with building regulations, including those relating to building safety. The management of information is key to the golden thread, as is the need to ensure that the information is accurate, up to date, digitised and accessible to the right people at the right time.
Aman outlined the Fire Safety Information Management Framework, along with the key Information Exchange Points, from briefing, design and construction to asset handover and beyond. This led to the creation of FIREie, an information exchange that provides a means to manage fire safety information and linked documentation between all relevant parties, throughout the lifecycle of an asset.
Johnny Furlong then outlined the practical implementation of the golden thread, providing valuable insight into London and Quadrant Housing Associations' Golden Thread Initiative, sponsored by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to pilot ways that they and other organisations can produce a standardised digital golden thread of building safety information for existing and new builds.
Dan Rossiter provided an overview of the Information Management Mandate and its delivery through the application of the UK BIM Framework. The UK BIM Framework consists of standards, guidance and resources for implementing BIM in the UK. In defining the golden thread, Dan outlined several key points, highlighting three key areas, information stored in the golden thread will be reviewed and managed; the golden thread should be stored as structured digital information; and many people will need to access, maintain and share golden thread information, this includes residents and emergency responders.
The final debate explored the implications of the golden thread and the building safety Act more generally on people’s working lives. Chaired by Dr Hywel Davies, the panel included Carl Collins, from the Society of Digital Engineering (CIBSE); Andrew Krebs, SWECO; Benjamin Ralph, Foster + Partners; Hanna Clarke, CPA and Judith Schultz, Arup.
The discussion moved towards the increased emphasis on outcome or performance-based specification to ensure safety, raising a question of whether this might limit innovative design. Returning to the earlier discussion around the role of the designer, in relation to potential changes to product specifications. A number of possible products with similar performance data would likely be included as options within a specification, to allow for necessary changes and to avoid excessive delays as the inclusion of new products would need to be individually approved. We must continue to welcome well-evidenced innovation. As we work towards a cultural shift in relation to building safety, we also rely on innovative solutions for the transition to net zero carbon and adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change. The
It was an engaging day, with each session prompting questions and discussion amongst attendees. Future events in the series will be announced shortly, with influential speakers discussing developments relating to implementing the golden thread and supporting and sharing information amongst the industry to deliver a safe, healthy and sustainable built environment.