Engineering services alliance Actuate UK is working with Energy Systems Catapult (ESC) – an independent, not for profit, centre of excellence for energy systems innovation and transformation for net zero - on a strategy to boost the creation of a skilled workforce that will play a central role in reducing emissions from the built environment and deliver on the government carbon targets.
The Future of Construction Report 2022
You can't just focus on getting greener, safer, or fairer. These things are interdependent.
In The Times/Raconteur report on the Future for Construction 2022, Actuate UK stresses the importance of collaboration in order to improve the industry.
The Future of Construction report (Racounteur /TheTimes) has just been published in association with key industry stakeholders, including Actuate UK. It provides an insight into the current challenges faced by the industry on material shortages, bureaucracy and workforce issues, balanced with the opportunities and ambitions for a safer, sustainable and greener future and examples of good practice.
Actuate UK was asked to contribute views and Steve Bratt, ECA CEO and leading Actuate UK’s business policy group, shared some thoughts on the importance of collaborative working which was a defining factor in the creation of the engineering services alliance. “Forming Actuate UK”, he said, “was about our sector saying: let's not make government and stakeholders talk to 15 different people, when they want to talk to us, let's let them talk to one body that can represent not just contractors, but the people manufacturing products, doing the design, installation, maintenance, the whole footprint.”
Steve added: “Engineering services represent about 40%, by value, of the initial build cost. Many of the things at the top of the government's priority list are significantly impacted by these services. The green agenda, energy efficiency, net zero and the ongoing monitoring of fire and safety systems.
There's a strong correlation between what we do, where the money is spent and what's important to society.”
Read Steve’s interview extract below:
Question: How can greater collaboration drive the sustainable agenda?
Answer: The construction industry is a complex and fragmented arrangement. We build a new product in a new place with new people every time. Imagine trying to build a car that way.
You end up with a long chain from funders through to specialists. The problem is that those at the top want to fix the price and pass the risk on. So, at tiers two and three, the primary concern is having risk handed down. Their focus turns to cost and risk management, rather than innovation or investment in skills. We need models to be more collaborative if we're to become more sustainable.
On a practical level, we have things like integrated project insurance and the Construction Playbook and Actuate UK has launched a net zero working group. But there is still a way to go.
You need to bring the chain together so when we build this new thing in a new place with new people, they feel joined up, they feel like they're working for the same aim.
Question: What does the industry need from the government, to ensure construction’s future is greener, safer and fairer for all?
Answer: Fundamentally, we want to see them enforce things. We're going through a review of the Building Regulations. Currently, a responsible business will make sure that what they design is compliant with building regulations on the assumption that when it's installed, someone will check. The reality is that that doesn't happen.
There's a perception that the industry is anti-regulation. It's not - what it wants is regulation that's properly enforced, so the people doing it properly are rewarded. In terms of “safer”: competence is a critical component of the building safety regulations. It’s a word that means different things to different people, and we would like to end up in a place where the industry knows what competence looks like. The government needs to get this sorted.
In terms of “fairer” - we need to create a fair commercial environment. I described the structure where you work your way down the tiers and the risk gets dumped. If we can create an environment where people feel able to invest in themselves, we will see a much better outcome.
You can't just focus on getting greener, or safer, or fairer. These things are interdependent. If we can create an environment where people feel safe to innovate and invest, you're much more likely to get an outcome which is greener and safer and fairer for all.
Actuate UK, the voice of engineering services, welcomes The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers’ (CIBSE’s) new Embodied Carbon Calculator tool. For the first time engineers can easily estimate the embodied carbon associated with mechanical, electrical and public health systems in buildings.
Actuate UK, the voice of Building Engineering Services, warn that skills shortages are hampering ambitions to deliver net zero emission buildings. While the number of Engineering Services apprentices starting out in England in 2022 is back to pre-COVID levels, many more new starters are needed if we are to achieve net zero by 2050.