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BSRIA Briefing 2014 reviewNovember 2014

Julia Evans CEO

On the 14th November 2014 BSRIA welcomed 360 industry professionals at the Brewery in London for our annual Briefing. This year the successful event was chaired by our Chief Executive Julia Evans, who highlighted that the event is a huge annual marker for not only BSRIA but for those in the industry who are curious and intrigued by thinking about the future of buildings as well as the wider issues for our industry such as climate change and carbon reduction.

As Julia announced BSRIA’s 60th anniversary next year she emphasised how much the industry is changing, how we now embrace a wide variety of issues that were not considered relevant 60 years ago such as sophisticated information flow and better integration with clients. With that Julia welcomed our speakers to discuss the theme of this year’s Briefing ‘smarter ways to better buildings’. Click links below to jump to section on individual speakers:

Munish Datta - Head of Property Plan A & FM, Marks and Spencer

Munish Datta, head of Facilities Management and Plan A at Marks and Spencer, was welcomed to the stage to discuss their seven year strategy. With over 1300 buildings across the world Marks and Spencer has a clear commitment to sustainability as well as the end users of buildings. Plan A launched in 2007 and is now in its third iteration. Marks and Spencer has seen great success through their Plan A with over 200 awards, part of this success has always been about putting the end users first not only through using language they understand but also through engagement such as their Shwopping initiative which allows customers to give something back to the community when they buy something new.

Munish clarified that the Marks and Spencer's approach to their buildings isn’t just about operational carbon, they take a holistic approach to sustainability which has enabled them to see great achievements in both water and energy efficiency. They ensure the reuse of resources within the Mark's ecosystem with recycled trollies being just one small example. Refrigeration is also a key part of the Plan A strategy as it is at a third of Marks and Spencer’s footprint, but through Plan A emissions have been reduced by around 70% and less harmful gases are now being used. While these are important for customers to be aware of, Marks and Spencer has included strategies that have a closer impact on customers such as acknowledging that climate change is likely to affect their property estate and so are taking steps to mitigate the risk of flooding on vulnerable stores.

Innovation and learning is also another key part of Plan A with Munish emphasising that Marks and Spencer are in the habit of trialling new processes to see if they can discover new ways of making their buildings sustainable. He discussed their experience of trialling LEDs which has led to an ambitious lighting programme. Munish stated a key part of learning was not to retrofit new technologies in one or two stores but in at least 25 stores to get optimum results.

The overwhelming theme of Munish’s presentation was the importance of people. Marks and Spencer has made a commitment to include BIM on all major projects but it is the clients who should be pushing for this. Clients and users need to be the primary factor in building projects and so companies need to perform not only sustainably but also ethically. Marks and Spencer ensures that the brand is part of the community long before stores open, that the users are included in the process before construction even commences. They’ve also taken inspiration from BSRIA in terms of Soft Landings and in the last seven years begun to understand the importance of the end user in a building, if staff enjoy being in a building there will be more efficient working, happy workers present a revenue case for sustainable buildings. Part of this means involvement going further than construction completion and so Marks and Spencer is ensuring building projects are not complete until that building is fully operational.

Finally Munish made it clear that for sustainability to work there needs to be collaboration not only in the industry but with sectors outside of it. We need to work with government, academia and even accreditation organisations to ensure that we become fully sustainable. Plan A is only 20% into its journey, there is still a long way to go but collaboration can make that happen. For buildings to become smarter Munish states they need to be easy, efficient and enjoyable.

Terry Stocks - Delivery Director BIM Level 2, HM Government BIM Task Group

Terry Stocks, Director for Level 2 BIM HM Government BIM Task Group and head of Project Delivery at Ministry of Justice, highlighted that the government and the industry has been through a tough period since 2008 and that while we are starting to emerge from the recession finances are still under pressure and therefore a strategy going forward is very much needed for the industry. Central Government are taking the lead in this construction strategy with the demand to drive down project costs by 20% being only one part of the story. Central government are also promoting early contractor involvement emphasising that this expertise is needed at the earliest stage. As well as this improved client leadership is needed, Terry emphasising that the client needs to start pulling the industry into the next stage and then allowing the industry to push the rest of the way.

The government has provided a strategy in Construction 2025, now what? Terry explained we are in a bit of a maze, we know where we are ultimately aiming for but there is the possibility we end up going in different directions to get there, the problem here is that changing ideas adds waste, time and money. How do we stop these unnecessary costs? Fortunately the answer has already been mandated in the strategy – BIM. To avoid unnecessary costs and fixes we need data and lots of it. Like a SatNav a building needs to know the right data to give the right results and BIM helps us organise this at an early stage to ensure maximum efficiency of the design and therefore the operation of the completed building.

One point Terry clearly made with regards to BIM is it needs to be part of a larger vision of an organisation like Marks and Spencer’s Plan A or the Ministry of Justice’s plan for their admin estate and prisons. For BIM Level 2 the vision should feedback into an operational requirements model, what are the project team looking for from a building? It should also be considered in the asset information requirements, what do they need to achieve that operational vision? For these to be fully understood FMs need to be brought in as early as possible and a BIM execution plan needs to be provided by suppliers.

Terry accentuated Munish’s earlier point of collaboration. For BIM to be successful across the whole industry then we need to see better working relationships, tenderers and supply chain need to work together to create a common data environment they can both learn from. Operators and FM need to always be involved to make handover as smooth as possible. BIM is the perfect process for creating collaboration and stakeholder engagement, the Ministry of Justice itself has seen a 23% increase in efficiency in project delivery through using BIM. Any organisation can reap the benefits of BIM if they include it in their overall strategy.

As Terry said BIM Level 2 can be successful if all clients demand it, the supply chain will take this on board and create the needed push. Collaborative delivery is the only way forward now and if we are successful then there is the possibility we can even out some of the peaks and troughs in the industry’s skill shortage.

Professor Rosalind Searle, Chair in Organisational Behaviour and Psychology, Head of Trust Research, Coventry University

Professor Rosalind Searle from Coventry University and expert in relationships in a business environment gave an inspiring presentation about trust and what it means for business. She asked the audience to think about their relationships, to consider whose opinion they valued and who they were willing to share information with. She then asked the audience to think of the opposite, whose intentions they doubt, who they feel the need to constantly check and monitor. Rosalind’s point to the audience was to think about how our emotions towards people can impact on our ability to understand information.

The key for any relationship, including that of brand perception, is trust. Trust is about trustworthiness which itself has different dimensions, firstly capability, whether we trust a task to be done. Secondly benevolence, trust is based on whether we feel respected and cared for. Rosalind stated that businesses that demonstrate both of those qualities reap great reward both internally and externally.
Rosalind went on to say why a business with a high trust context performs well raising points that there is usually more job satisfaction as well as retail satisfaction. People are more willing to share their experience of a business if it is a positive one. People are more likely to work together which creates a collaborative and cooperative working environment. Customers and employees alike feel considered and thought about.

Rosalind also gave an idea of what happens in a low trust context and how much impact that can have on a business. Financially an organisation that is low trust tends to be much more expensive to run particularly from a communication perspective. Staff and customer’s initial response to any communication is disbelief and so organisations will spend more having to repeat communication. Performance is also affected which of course has a negative impact on the customer experience. Rosalind also emphasises that in an environment like this counterproductive behaviour is likely to grow with work effort declining and resignations increasing.

But what does that mean for the construction industry? We are an industry with a variety of professionals with differing views who need to collaborate and engage together. Currently we are very much a task and process orientated industry but how much attention are we paying to our relationships? The industry is facing a ticking time bomb as we continue to focus on the process rather than the people involved in it. If we want to achieve collaborative working we need to start acknowledging the people, from the contractors, to the suppliers and to the end user.
Rosalind ended her presentation with an emphasis on leadership, she highlighted that the top of your organisation is the organisation. That integrity is vital for a high trust context; people follow example and therefore doing the right thing matters enormously at the top of an organisation.

Benevolence is also an important aspect of building trust, if employees and customers feel they are cared for then a trust bank is created. As Rosalind said, trust arrives on foot, it takes time to build relationships but trust leaves on horseback, one small mistake can have a huge effect. So as an organisation are you focusing on building the right relationships?

Philip Ross - CEO, UnGroup

Philip Ross, CEO of UnGroup, took to the stage to talk about the journey of a new world of work, what will tenants be looking for in the next decade and how can technology meet those requirements? Historically we have a tendency to work in silos but the rise of wireless and mobility is beginning to reshape our traditional work environment.

We used to be anchored to the table by our technology, we needed to be at our desk for landline telephones and typewriters whereas now we’re mobile – mobile phones, laptops, tablets etc. have allowed us to move away from our desks, our work environment is no longer defined by a building. However our current work world is not ideal, we have more people trying to fit into less space, we even have people without a dedicated work space hot desking from one place to a next. This is not a positive work environment but where can we go next?

The people coming to work are changing, in some cases we have four generations working together which brings traditionalists together with millennials seeing email as archaic. However, with younger people making their way into the work place they will change the environment even more. This is the generation that lives through social media and synchronised connectivity, for buildings this will mean networks being modelled in real time and mapped throughout a building or organisation. As Philip suggests, buildings will need to move from being ‘dumb’ containers to real time real estate for the future.

With buildings changing to networks they are starting to think about putting the user first and therefore driving people back into the office. And with that the need to adapt to the inhabitants, like Philip said the buildings will become thin with cloud technology taking most of the infrastructure out leaving just the people. With that buildings need to work on different metrics such as sociometrics that map what is going on in a building down to the interactions and individual performances. Buildings will be able to relay who is in, what desks are available and even what people are doing.
Philip really emphasised this point of buildings adapting to the people with the idea of jellybean working which he describes as the intersection of technology, people and physical space. Jellybean working is essentially a contextualised experience of a building, buildings are becoming active and acknowledging that people need to work in specialised environments. Like Philip pointed out, buildings are no longer just a physical structure but rather they are connected real estate bringing users closer together and making them happy about it.

Ian Orme - Sustainable Construction Group Team Leader, BSRIA

Ian Orme, BSRIA’s head of Sustainable Construction Group, took a different approach to the other speakers instead he looked at the evaluation of our buildings, trying to understand why our buildings do what they do. As Ian highlighted from this Briefing and Briefings of the past there is a wealth of new technologies going into our buildings which as an industry we’re trying to implement such as solar thermal, biomass boilers and smart meters. With these new technologies we should be developing new processes but we’re using old processes and in some cases seeing old problems. As an industry we have ongoing issues with defects but how do we get away from this? How do we make our buildings better?

Ian explained these old defects exist for a number of reasons like the restrictions of planning requirements, carbon reduction targets and limitations on budgets. The industry also needs to consider commissioning periods being squeezed, ineffective handover and lost communication through staff moving on. These reasons have created a huge performance gap between the intended and the reality of performance. Ian also made it clear that underlining this performance gap is the industry’s continued problem with skills and training.

So what does the industry need to do to overcome the performance gap? According to Ian we need a far more integrated approach in our work, he highlighted what the 2013 Briefing guest speaker Sir Clive Woodward said about doing 100 things 1% better, if the industry was to pick up this mantra we could start to close the gap. Ian also highlighted what John Egan said in 1998 about world class buildings not happening by chance rather they are driven by empowered and knowledgeable clients. To close the gap completely we need clear leadership from all sides, a quality product as well as integrating processes and teams. Above all there needs to be customer focus.

Although Ian argues that the industry is in need of change he did note that there are already signs of improvement. Innovate UK’s BPE programme is showing encouraging signs of the industry pushing forward with design teams showing a proactive approach to risk and close relations with the supply chain. But Ian’s question to the audience is how do we make these changes viral? How does the industry as a whole start to take these changes on board?

Well this was Ian’s final point, new processes like whole life cycle costing, BSRIA’s Soft Landings, its adoption into Government Soft Landings and even BIM are starting to piece the jigsaw of the future together. But Ian did clarify that it is easy for us to say to focus on operational outcomes but it is a challenge to put it into practice, reaching the 2016 implementation of GSL and BIM being two. But to overcome these challenges and to understand the benchmarks for operational requirements better is awareness of how far we can move and at what pace is needed. Ian made a great example of the thought leader providing the direction of movement but the team need to be comfortable with that, if a leader pulls too hard then the journey breaks down and we revert back to type. Collaboration is the key but this can’t be successful without awareness and understanding as well.

The speaker panel answered some interesting questions from the floor

The speakers inspired the audience into asking a number of fantastic questions such as whether there are consistent metrics for both BIM and Soft Landings to which Ian Orme responded that this area is a challenge without a quick fix but there is ongoing investigation. Rosalind Searle did argue that it is important to look at the unintended consequences of such processes as opposed to just the metrics. There was also discussion on whether employees can drive the mobile working agenda to which Philip Ross responded that mobile working can really help a company’s sustainability agenda while Rosalind counterpointed that while new technologies are great for the working environment there is a risk of exasperating a two tier system in society which definitely does not work with the overwhelming message of collaboration that came from the morning. Rather than creating distance between people we want to encourage better relations not only within organisations but outside it as well to become a more successful industry. BSRIA’s mission statement is ‘making buildings better…’, collaboration seems to be the key in achieving this and so moving forward let’s ensure we do it.

Sir Matthew Pinsent, four time Olympic gold medallist

Following lunch BSRIA Chairman Tom Smith (WSP) introduced Olympian Sir Matthew Pinsent to the stage. Sir Matthew treated the guests to his experiences as part of Britain’s successful rowing team as well as showing off his four Olympic Gold medals. Matthew emphasised to the crowd how the Olympics are the pinnacle of an athlete’s career which they spend a minimum of a decade preparing for their first experience. He made it clear that the key to his success was being part of a team, something that all the crowd and industry can relate to, he continued the speakers message that trust is needed while you also need to learn to let go of control and exist in a team without blame culture. Like the Olympic team the industry needs to collaborate to find success.

Julia Evans closed the event with thanks to all delegates in attendance and the announcement that the Briefing would be returning next year on Friday 13th November. A special thank you was also given to BSRIA’s Tracey Tilbry for organising another fantastic event with particular thanks to her team mate Kathie Bull for all her hard work behind the scenes.

A big thank you to all delegates that attended and the speakers who gave their time to the event. Also thanks to Sir Matthew Pinsent for being our afternoon speaker and rounding up a fantastic Briefing.

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