Actuate UK, the voice of the engineering services sector, applauds the ambitions of the new Building Safety Act, saying the reform agenda will drive up standards across construction. The alliance, whose members deliver design, construction and services for the built environment, contributes around £125bn to GDP each year and impacts the lives of everyone in the UK.
Responding to the Government’s consultation on the implementation of the Act and the new building control regime, the body stressed the importance of making this a practical piece of legislation which implements the spirit of the Hackett report.
“The Act aims to bring about significant culture change in the design and construction of buildings. The new requirements need clear guidance and firm enforcement to discourage the unscrupulous from undercutting the majority who want to reform the industry for the safety of all”, said Dr Hywel Davies, chair of Actuate UK’s Building Safety Group and Technical Director at CIBSE.
Actuate UK supports a rigorous system to manage product substitution. In a world where supply chain issues can lead to escalating delays and rising costs, the alliance calls for a robust, but flexible process to deliver an equivalent level of safety to the original specification. Substitutions should be the exception, not the rule. Any change must be scrutinised to prevent the introduction of other hazards or risks. Forward planning will be essential to avoid delays that could cause site or contractual issues.
Competence and Competence schemes
In response to the consultation, Actuate UK says standards of competence should be set by each sector.
“To drive up standards, it’s vital Government plays its role in reinforcing robust validation at every stage. Members of the alliance are already actively involved in developing sector frameworks”, pointed out Andrew Eldred of Actuate UK Skills Group and ECA’s Director of Workforce and Public Affairs
Duty to collaborate
The success of the Act depends on a high degree of collaboration throughout the supply chain. Actuate UK warmly endorses the move to early appointment of subcontractors at all tiers to ensure their knowledge is presented at the design stage. Good collaboration between designers and contractors is the only way to ensure high levels of building safety.
Actuate UK welcomes the introduction of the Golden Thread, outlined in the Hackett review, and says it should apply to all buildings. This means up to date and relevant records will be easily accessible to all contractors.
“We support the Golden Thread principles. The digital systems for record keeping should be at the discretion of the parties involved in the supply chain so it is essential they are open and interoperable”, commented Nick Mellor, Actuate UK Board member and Managing Director of LEIA.
Duty Holder ‘Designer’ role
Actuate UK raises concerns about the definition of ‘designer’ in the new Duty Holder regime. It says it is currently open to interpretation, which may lead to less collaboration between stakeholders.
“Without clear guidance about the legal obligations of this role, questions remain. Could, for example, manufacturers who provide bespoke advice on using their products, such as air conditioning systems, be classed as ‘designers’?” Chris Yates Actuate UK Board member & CEO of FETA.
Enforcement and raising awareness
Actuate UK supports the focus on more rigorous enforcement and looks forward to working with the new Regulator to make the industry aware of what is expected of them to comply with the new provisions, especially the competence requirements.
Actuate UK members bring together the firms and the people who design, install, operate, maintain and refurbish life safety and other key ventilation, heating, lighting, public health, lifts and lighting systems installed in buildings. The alliance includes CIBSE, the primary professional body working across all these disciplines as well as the major trade and technology bodies for the sector, who have all collaborated closely in the development of this response.
While fully supporting and endorsing the Actuate UK response, CIBSE also submitted a formal response.
You can find out more about CIBSE's involvement and ongoing work around the Building Safety Act via https://www.cibse.org/policy-insight/key-policy-areas/building-safety-act