PBC Today August 2021

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Welcome to the August edition of PBC Today, which explores everything from climate risk in the built environment, carbon reduction and net zero ambitions to calls for a radical new national housing policy, how the industry can cope with material shortages and the case for incentivising MMC

In our cover story, in the wake of a heatwave and the stark warning from the third Independent Assessment of UK Climate Risk by the Climate Change Committee over a lack of action on climate adaptation, Hannah Jane and Kai Liebetanz of the UK Green Building Council argue that ambitious plans are needed to ensure buildings can cope with a hotter climate – and they are needed now.

We also hear from Andy Mitchell of the Construction Leadership Council on the industry’s net zero efforts ahead of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in November, the recently launched Carbon Reduction Code for the Built Environment and new research looking at the role of government procurement in shaping a sustainable built environment.

Elsewhere, Paula Hewitt of the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport sets out the case for a radical new national housing policy, Sarah Woolham-Jaffier discusses the importance of role models to inspire the next generation of engineering talent and Andrew Richards of Scottish Construction Leadership Forum looks at sustainable solutions to the materials shortage.

Ian Atkinson of Womble Bond Dickinson asks if incentives are needed to accelerate the adoption of Modern Methods of Construction to help them scale up, while Jackie Maginnis of the Modular & Portable Building Association discusses the role of modular construction in shaping a sustainable future.

We also look at the Energy Data Visibility Project, which aims to accelerate the journey towards net zero by improving access to energy metadata, BIM-SPEED launching the BIM for Building Renovation competition, creating a digitally enabled estate in Antarctica and much, much more.

Here’s a selection on what’s inside this edition:

1. Feeling the heat: How prepared are our buildings for a changing climate?

The third Independent Assessment of UK Climate Risk from the Climate Change Committee has warned that a lack of action on climate adaptation is heightening the danger of financial and societal costs in the future. Hannah Jane and Kai Liebetanz of the UK Green Building Council argue that the UK needs an ambitious and detailed adaptation plan now.

2. States Regenerate: How government procurement can shape a net zero built environment

New research argues that governments must use their procurement power to green the built environment. Samuel Harrison, research fellow at StateUp, takes a look.

3. ADEPT: Why we need a radical new housing policy

In May 2021, the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT) published a new Housing Policy Position, calling for a radical, far-reaching national housing policy to be introduced. Paula Hewitt, the new president of ADEPT, explains why

4. A sustainable answer to material shortages

Sourcing locally and using reclaimed building materials is possible and should be part of the solution towards zero carbon and current material shortages, argues Andrew Richards, co-chair of the Supply Chain Resilience Sub-group of the Scottish Construction Leadership Forum.

5. Weather obsession could be key to cooling down buildings

The British obsession with the weather stems from the fact we are used to living in a temperate zone with clearly defined seasons: not terribly cold in winter, not that hot in summer and definitely varied…but all that has changed, with serious implications for our buildings, according to David Frise, chief executive officer of the Building Engineering Services Association.

6. Is it time to incentivise MMC?

It’s widely accepted that Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) represent the future of volume housebuilding and are a key part of the solution that will enable the sector to hit big sustainability and net zero targets. Yet significant barriers remain before it’s truly viable on the scale at which our biggest housebuilders operate. Ian Atkinson, partner at Womble Bond Dickinson, examines those barriers and explain why incentives could be the answer to accelerating use of these modern methods.

7. Modular building: Shaping a sustainable future

According to the UK Green Building Council, around 400m tonnes of materials are used by the UK construction industry each year. New eco-friendly building techniques such as modular construction are predicted to play a key role in reducing the carbon footprint of the sector and improving its sustainability credentials. Jackie Maginnis, chief executive of the Modular & Portable Building Association (MPBA), makes a case for modular in shaping a more sustainable future.

8. The case for MMC in building better and building beautiful

Krishan Pattni, chief design officer at TopHat, argues that MMC can bring much-needed speed to meeting pressing housing need while still delivering attractive homes to high performance standards.

9. Modernising energy metadata to speed up the transition to net zero

Simon Evans of Arup and Gavin Starks of Icebreaker One discuss their work with Hippo Digital on the next phase of the government’s Energy Data Visibility Project, which aims to accelerate the journey towards net zero by improving access to energy metadata.

10. Creating a digitally enabled estate – in Antarctica

Any building project can have its challenges – but the team working on the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation Programme, an ambitious collection of sustainable construction projects in one of the most hostile and remote environments on Earth, is taking on a unique test. Andy Krebs, digital strategy lead at Ramboll, explains how digital is helping to deliver.

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