News Round-Up: April 2011

8 April 2011

BIM lands at Gatwick Airport

In a significant endorsement of Building Information Modelling, Gatwick Airport has announced that its strategic partners for a forthcoming £1bn investment programme will have to be BIM proficient, writes Jan-Carlos Kucharek.

Architect HOK has already been appointed to the Gatwick Delivery Framework in the role of master architect,  while Pascall & Watson and Atkins will carry out specific projects.

Gatwick Airport’s engineering manager for development, Eli Walter, told CM that BIM was a prerequisite for consideration, given its potential as a facilities management tool. “We have been investigating how BIM might add value to the business, and how the model might become used as part of the day-to-day operations of the airport,” he said.

But Walter admitted that his own organisation also had to get up to speed on the technology. “The problem was
that as an organisation, we weren’t set up for it. In effect, we were paying our consultants to create this amazing model, but not actually using it ourselves,” he said. “From now on, it will be something that everyone in the team, including us, will be able to access and use.”

HOK has been advising Gatwick Airport on its BIM strategy. David Light, HOK London’s Revit specialist and BuildSMART implementation leader, said BIM’s “added value” was key to Gatwick’s decision.

“When the economy was booming, in the flurry to build, BIM just got overlooked. But the downturn has had a focusing effect on clients, who are suddenly keener on building long-term asset value into projects,” he said. He added that it was encouraging to see BIM being driven by clients rather than consultants.

Gatwick has been independently owned since 2009, but was part formerly part of the BAA group. Asked if BAA’s adoption of BIM on Terminal 5 influenced Gatwick’s thinking, Walter said: “It wasn’t an impetus per se, but we were aware that T5 is a good example of the benefits of the technology. For us it was really about realising efficiencies through innovation.”

In the planned £1bn revamp, new forecourts and entrances will be installed in the south terminal and Pier One will be replaced. The north terminal is due to be extended and 1,200 short stay car parking spaces created.

Construction contracts will be awarded competitively on a project-by-project basis. Last month, Mace was awarded a £20m deal to upgrade the baggage-handling facilities in both terminals.

Improve your building’s energy efficiency in a day

Software company Autodesk has developed Rapid Energy Modelling, a new program that can model the energy efficiency of existing buildings and how they could be upgraded cost effectively, writes Denise Chevin.

Based on Autodesk’s existing Revit Architecture suite, the software has been trialled by consultant URS/Scott Wilson on its 1990s-built HQ in Basingstoke, with traditional methods used to verify a 90% accuracy rate.

Robert Spencer, a management consultant at URS/Scott Wilson, says the tool lets developers and owner occupiers find out how best to spend their money on upgrading their stock in a fraction of the usual time, as a survey can be turned round in as little as a day.

The digital model of the building is built up from a series of photographs, with 50- 60 photographs scanned in and stitched together to create a 3D model. Data, such as the number of floors, locations of partitions, percentage of glazing or whether there is air conditioning, is then added, says Tim Doidge at Autodesk UK.

For the URS building, the model suggested cost-effective improvements to the H&V system and the installation of solar film on glazing and roof-mounted PVs.

“Many buildings in the UK are ripe for upgrades. If you took all 3,000 dedicated energy auditors it would take them 10 years to get through all the energy audits,” said Doidge.

Peter Hibberd

Q&A: Peter Hibberd

The Joint Contracts Tribunal marks its 80th anniversary this year with a range of initiatives to improve understanding of procurement and construction contracts. Chairman Peter Hibberd explains how it will benefit the industry.

What will the initiative involve?

It’s early stages but we are proposing to talk to educational and training providers to help them understand the need to deliver procurement and contract skills across the board. The focus is on practical skills and an initial plan is to establish a partnership with the College of Estate Management to take this forward with us.

JCT forms are used for around 80% of contracts, so why does the industry still struggle with them?

Extensive use is one thing, but understanding it is something else. Anyone entering the sector from outside will not have the right skills, so they need to be educated on how to deal with contracts. In general, we feel there are people leaving educational establishments with the right technical knowledge, but an inability to identify a procurement route and administer a contract.

How much time is wasted by contractors in legal disputes?

When I first started teaching legal and contractual studies, about 40 years ago, there were very few solicitors with a department related to construction disputes. Now most big solicitors and have a construction department. Part of the 80th birthday drive is to highlight how education and training can help improve communication between members of supply chains so they realise that many perceived problems don’t have to be resolved in a courtroom.

Will the training initiative benefit those already in construction?

Huge numbers of workers don’t have the necessary skills to meet their job requirements, so we’ll tackle people working at NVQ level right up to those with masters degrees.

The JCT has promoted project bank accounts, which the Highways Agency is now adopting. Do you expect further take up?

We don’t know of any others yet. I don’t expect the private sector to adopt them in large numbers as PBAs create layers of administration and some processes are not that straightforward.

NFB promotes plan to pool SME power

The National Federation of Builders is working with a Cabinet Office team to flesh out details of how SMEs can compete on a level playing field with major contractors for public sector contracts and frameworks.

The move follows cabinet minister Francis Maude’s recent declarations that he wants to see SMEs given better access to public sector construction work. 

The NFB is also carrying out interviews with public sector procurement managers to assess their views on appointing consortia of SMEs to frameworks, and will issue the resulting report next month.

The NFB has so far put together nine regional consortia to bid for frameworks, the latest being Integrate WM in the West Midlands, and the South East Construction Consortium, whose four members are spread from Hampshire to Kent. 

An NFB spokeswoman said: “The government is talking about the importance of SMEs, but frameworks are still the favoured procurement route. We’re trying to get an understanding of how the government envisages reconciling the two.”

On the research project, she said: “We’re looking at the criteria framework operators deploy when they construct their supply chains. We want a dialogue between our members and operators.”

The SECC, which is preparing to bid for a Defence Estates framework, has a combined turnover of £50m and 300 plus employees. The group has structured itself as a Limited Liability Partnership.

Malcolm Clarke MCIOB, managing director of SECC lead contractor and Kent-based CIOB training partner Baxall Construction, said: “If clients want frameworks, we have to find a way of providing them with a service.”

At Winchester-based Wilding & Butler, managing director Phil Wilding MCIOB said: “Because of the spread of locations, we’d never competed against the others. Now we have the benefit of an LLP that covers the whole of the south east.”

This one’s for Africa 

Surrey’s K2 consultancy is providing support to students from Nottingham University building the new Limpopo Children’s Centre in Calais, South Africa (above) for Education Africa. The students also raised £140 000 for the project. K2’s Helen Jones ACIOB is acting as assistant project manager, and was also part of a team that built Jouberton school, near Johannesburg (left) while studying architecture at Nottingham. 

Month in numbers

1% The increase in pay for site workers under the Building and Allied Trades Joint Industrial Council (BATJIC) agreement.  A deal reflecting  inflation was deemed “undeliverable”.

16 The cost, in pounds per tonne, of a new tax on carbon emissions coming into force in 2013, rising to £30 a tonne by 2020.

20 The percentage the government wants to cut from the cost of construction projects by standardising buildings under its new ‘Plan for Growth’.

99 In pounds, the average drop in monthly income for construction workers  in the past two years, says the BBC’s Panorama. Allowing for inflation, take-home pay is lower than in 2004. 

20,000 New homes to be built on Ministry of Defence land to be sold to housebuilders by 2014/15

3 billion The initial capital available to the new Green Investment Bank, treble the sum initially proposed.

A CYT mobile classroom in action in Wales

Construction’s classroom-in-a-van takes to the road in London 

The Construction Youth Trust is launching a mobile classroom to teach basic construction skills to up to 3,600 London youngsters over the next three years.

But the classroom needs enthusiastic teachers, and the CYT is hoping that contractors  will volunteer their staff to deliver lessons.

With sponsorship from Land Securities and Bouygues UK, the mobile classroom is a Ford Transit kitted out with the tools and materials its driver-cum-tutor needs to give taster sessions in construction crafts, such as tiling and plumbing.

The van will visit London’s hard-up communities and aims to reach the NEET generation – young people Not in Education, Employment or Training.

The project follow a successful initiative in south Wales where four vans now operate, said Corrine Harms, CYT project co-ordinator. “The vans have proved a huge success with many people going on to become apprentices and then into full time employment.”

As well as two-hour taster courses, CYT is planning 30 hour classes, and needs volunteers for both. And Harms adds: “Builders can also hire the mobile classroom to deliver training or give presentations. They can also fund sessions to give them a visible presence in the communities they work."

The Masdar Institute in Abu Dhabi by Foster + Partners is part of the emirate’s ambitious new eco-city. Nigel Young/Foster+Partners

Dubai office signals renewed faith in Middle East

The CIOB is committed to building its presence and membership in the Middle East with the opening of a new branch in Dubai, writes Jan-Carlos Kucharek.

The office will form the base for new region-wide initiatives linking existing CIOB centre and chapters in Abu Dhabi, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

After two years when building work in the region almost came to a standstill, the new branch signals confidence that momentum in the construction sector is growing again, and that the upturn will lead to growth in demand for professionally qualified candidates.

Amy Gough, head of international at the CIOB, said: “Whilst we have been scaling up our presence in the Middle East through a range of centres and local support, our members need something more substantial and permanent. The new Dubai branch is a direct response to the demand and it also gives us greater capacity for growth in line with future construction activity.”

Although the move comes at a time of political upheaval in the wider Arab world, the CIOB’s Abu Dhabi centre representative Lyndon Hives, a pre-construction manager with contractor Sisk, says that countries in the UAE are relatively insulated from events in neighbouring Bahrain and Yemen.

“It’s more the longer-term issues of Israel and Iran that seem to pose a bigger risk in people’s minds here,” he says. “There are obviously construction companies working out there [in Bahrain], but there’s no sense from here that the unrest has been bad for business.”

The CIOB has around 500 members across the region, the bulk of whom are UK ex-pats. However, part of the strategy behind the new branch is to reach out to new local members, reflecting the shifts in employment patterns noticeable since the 2008-09 financial crisis.

“The cost of employing ex-pats will always be higher, given wages and relocation expenses,” says Hives. “So the trend now is to have ex-pat upper management with their experience and skills sets, but for economic reasons to source other employment locally.”

Sisk arrived in the region two years ago and is currently expanding. Hives is particularly optimistic about prospects for growth in Abu Dhabi, which has benefited from high levels of government investment, rather than the private sector speculation that characterised Dubai.

“‘It’s a lot busier here. There’s a lot of investment in education and healthcare, especially in cities like Al-Ain, outside Abu Dhabi. We’re even working on a sizeable convention centre out here. It’s the bigger private investments that have ended up taking the back seat.”

The Middle East branch will promote the value of professional qualifications and standards at industry, government and education levels. Staff will work with local universities, middle and senior managers and clients to build an international network of influence.

President Obama recognises construction’s international day

International Construction Management Day on 14 March was marked by a series of events and the recruitment of a new corporate partner, but overshadowed by the tragic scale of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

The event was co-ordinated by the CIOB, the International Project Management Association, the Construction Management Association of America, the Construction Management Association of Korea and the Construction Management Association of Japan.

In the US, the CMAA observed the day with a news release and content on its website. Regional chapters also incorporated it into their event schedules.

But its most significant coup was a letter from President Barack Obama. He wrote: “I am please to send greetings to all those observing International Construction Management Day. For America to win the future, we need to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.”

The CMAA’s John McKeon told CM: “We began trying to obtain the letter  back in January by writing to the president with some background on our industry, together with a copy of the [ICM Day] proclamation. We also contacted our local member of Congress, Rep. James Moran (Virginia), who contacted the White House on our behalf.

“It was particularly important to connect the profession of construction management with President Obama’s numerous recent references to the need to rebuild and improve our infrastructure and to accelerate delivery of critical projects.”  

Brigitte Schaden, president of the Swiss-based IPMA, told CM it had marked ICM Day by bringing the European Construction Institute into the fold from next year (the ECI covers the engineering construction sector). The IPMA also hopes to extend its contacts and alliances with other construction management organisations.

In the UK, the CIOB’s Twitter campaign attracted messages from Australia, Thailand and Venezuela. Many of the messages expressed support and solidarity for those caught up in the devastating events in Japan.

Zaragoza station in Spain, by Wojtek Gurak, was one of last year’s 12 finalists

Site managers interested in turning their project’s hoardings into an outdoor photographic gallery this summer are being urged to get in touch with the CIOB.

The institute is launching its second annual photography competition, the Art of Building, following the considerable success of last year’s inaugural event.

This year, it hopes that the 12 finalists’ images will be seen by a wider cross-section of the public, via dozens of  project site hoardings around the country. Site managers can register their interest at 

The CIOB is also hoping to increase take-up at suitable sites via a collaboration with the Considerate Constructors Scheme. CCS monitors will encourage registered sites to use the Art of Building images to promote a positive image of the industry.

The 12 winning photos are due to be selected by the judges in the first week of June, with the overall winner then chosen by online public vote through the website.

Technology allows digital images to be printed directly onto hoardings, but for cost and practical reasons, the idea is most likely to appeal to contractors preparing sites to go live following the announcement of the winners.

Last year, the competition attracted more than 1,100 entries. It generated widespread media coverage, including a prime banner position on the homepage of the BBC’s website. 

Amateur and professional photographers can submit entries in four categories: Building Inspiration focuses on capturing great architecture; Between People and Buildings explores the relationship between people and the built environment; Creative Visions is for abstract or artistic shots; and the Young Photographers category is for 18-25-year-olds. Photos can be uploaded to the website between 11 April and 30 May.

This year, a team from CM and the CIOB will first assess all the entries and choose those worthy of further consideration. In the second stage, judges photographer Matt Wain, Maxwell Hutchinson PPRIBA, and a senior arts journalist from the Evening Standard will select the finalists.

The CIOB is also interested in hearing from potential sponsors for the categories or the overall competition.


Phebe Mann in line for outstanding woman award

The UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Technology and Engineering has shortlisted Phebe Mann MCIOB MRICS MICE for its Women of Outstanding Achievement Award.

Mann, a senior lecturer in civil engineering, highways and transportation at the University of East London, is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators — and is thought to be the only women in the UK who holds all four professional qualifications concurrently.

Her academic career began with a building degree from Hong Kong Polytechnic, after which she was awarded a Foreign and Commonwealth Office scholarship to study for an MSc degree at Loughborough University.

Mann is a former chair of the Leicester Centre of the CIOB, and has also won a CIOB Innovation and Research Award.

In her current role, Mann hopes to inspire future development in highway engineering design by training future engineers and developing new IT technologies to integrate design and management.

Mann is one of five women shortlisted in the “Tomorrow’s Leader” category.

The winners in each of the seven categories will be announced at an awards ceremony on 5 May at the Royal Academy of Engineering.

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