Chartered Institute of Building Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Building


Readers’ comments: Barry Keith Holmes, embodied carbon, combustibles ban

27 June 2020

Barry Keith Holmes dies from covid-19, aged 80

CM 01/06

Sad to hear of Barry’s passing. Good times with him at the Design Build Foundation (DBF). I carried on the work with Don Ward after he retired. Rest in peace.

Vaughan Burnand

He was a flying enthusiast. I recall him taking a flight on Concorde to mark his retirement from DBF – I doubt he learned to fly it but I would not put it past him. RIP Barry.

Don Ward

A true professional and a very good friend. Barry was able to identify how the construction sector could change based on his manufacturing background and applied his experience at the DBF. Barry’s dry sense of humour will be missed.

Graham Robinson

So sorry to hear of his passing. I enjoyed working with him at Arlington, an inspirational man who had a passion for everything he turned his mind to.

Iain Ferguson

Great man, great shame.

Terence Warom

A great guy and true professional. My most remarkable memory was the enthusiasm and passion for change in a positive way. RIP BH. A privilege to have known you.

John Homer

Embodied carbon: a black mark for construction?

CM 30/05

No doubt the climate emergency is the most important issue in construction today and one which is attracting many column inches, design guides, CO2 targets and consultancy offers. All of which adds to what is fast becoming the world’s greatest game of Chinese whispers.

Few understand to any relevant level the complexity of the UK construction supply chain and its effect on embodied carbon. Much greater understanding is gained by simply having direct dialogue with the material manufacturers. Hold their feet to the fire and get the clarity and transparency of data needed to make worthwhile decisions.

Neil Tilley

Combustibles ban review

CM 26/05

It would be far more useful to have a sensible discussion about cavity trays which were inexplicably caught up in the 2018 ban.

This has caused a massive headache where there wasn’t a non-combustible product available and those that have come out since 2018 are very expensive and may end up causing more problems as the materials used are not as well suited as plastic.


Once you have conceded that the structural and aesthetic choice of products for use in a building should be made, not on the basis of scientific evidence, engineering experience or a clear understanding of the purpose the building is to serve, but rather on the whimsical diktats of our political masters, you have abandoned any justification to claim you speak with expertise.

What is most disturbing about this absurd industry-wide decision to ignore the disease and focus exclusively upon the symptoms is the timber lobby’s decision to completely abandon the defence of its product for external and aesthetic use in favour of defending its use in areas where it will be covered up.

We have a shiny, newly updated version of BS 8414. And if you want to focus on facades, we have LPS 1181, which was written by and for the insurance industry. Let’s get back to science, people. Or else let’s just be honest and set up a new framework where whoever happens to be secretary of state for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government this week gets to play God with our designs.

Chris Pateman

Luke and Chris make excellent points. Fire blocking, fire socks, cavity barriers, cavity fire stops, cavity fire blocks, B1 or B2 expanding fire foam with or without intumescent sealant. The ambiguities are endless.

So when the quantum of risk is finally reached on how much human life is worth, to whom does the duty of care fall to ensure our buildings are properly inspected? That is to say inspected to ensure the as-specified materials are the ones actually installed and that those materials have been installed correctly. The client!

Or should we now be insisting that qualified inspectors are used to verify that the whole fabric of the works has been safely and properly installed?

Rory Gannon