Welcome to the first edition of Planning and Building Control Today – Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland’s planning system is undoubtedly experiencing significant changes with local government reforms seeing 11 new councils holding planning powers come April 2015. It is an exciting time, but one not without challenges. Not least of those challenges is ensuring that the transfer of powers from the Department for Environment to the councils is done as seamlessly as possible. The ultimate result of the new planning system should see huge benefits, not only for communities, but for developers alike. Our opening article from Karen Smyth, Head of Policy for the Northern Ireland Local Government Association sheds light on what the changes will mean for the planning system within the region. This publication also addresses the theme of Embodied Carbon (EC) in an interview with Gareth Brown, Programme Area Manager at WRAP. In the interview he sheds light on the Embodied Carbon Database – how it’s performing, and what challenges remain. EC is, and will continue to be a ‘hot topic’ throughout the UK construction industry as we strive to reach zero carbon homes by 2016, and the EC element cannot be ignored. Not surprisingly, we also turn our attention to BIM as another ‘hot topic’ area, and one that should revolutionise our approach to construction projects. As part of the ‘BIM4’ community of groups, David Philp, Head of UK BIM Task Group looks at the role of SMEs and explains their key role in the UK’s BIM journey. David argues that there is a great deal of evidence to support the hypothesis that digital enabled workflows benefit the SME in the built environment, and provides guidance on how to get the knowledge. Our building control section also contains articles of interest including an examination of the new CDM revisions by James Ritchie of the Association for Project Safety. All comment and feedback is welcome from you, the readers, so please contact us if you have anything to say, or indeed would like to contribute in the future.