PBC Today February 2021


Welcome to February’s PBC Today. Our first edition of 2021 looks at how architecture, engineering and construction are facing up to the challenges of planning reform, project delivery, digital transformation and moving towards a net-zero future against the backdrop of Covid-19 and lockdown 3.0

Roundtable looks at the reaction to the government’s announcement of a new national regulator to oversee the safety of building materials following “deeply disturbing allegations of malpractice” by some construction product manufacturers at the Grenfell Inquiry.

In our cover story, Stephen Good, chief executive of the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, sets out five key themes for the sector in 2021.

Meanwhile, Gagan Mohindra MP discusses the launch of the new All-Party Parliamentary Group for Regeneration & Development with a rallying call to “make commercial property great again!”

We also hear from Trudi Sully of the Construction Innovation Hub about the launch of the government’s Construction Playbook and how it sets the stage for digitally enabled platform approaches.

Professor Richard Kingston of the University of Manchester explores the rise of 5G and its likely impact on the built environment, while Mark Enzer of the Centre for Digital Built Britain explains how connecting digital twins can serve smarter cities.

In addition, Gerard Stilliard of Thompsons Solicitors outlines workers’ rights and employers’ responsibilities when it comes to safety on site during Covid-19, while Hywell Davies of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers looks at the key role of building ventilation in controlling the airborne transmission of coronavirus.

There is much more besides, covering everything from planning data across Greater London and the need to improve air quality to green BIM, offsite’s role in a new healthcare environment and how AI and machine learning can reduce construction’s embodied carbon.

Here’s a selection of what’s in store:

  1. Five construction themes for 2021

Stephen Good, CEO of Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, examines five key themes for the construction sector from collaboration, digital transformation and skills to supply chain resilience post-Brexit.

  1. Regeneration and development: Making property great again

Commercial property is a vital sector for the economy and society – but Gagan Mohindra MP argues it needs to undergo the kind of radical transformation that has swept the housing market in the last 20 years and has launched the new All-Party Parliamentary Group for Regeneration & Development to help drive this change.

  1. Roundtable: New national construction regulator launched

The government has launched a new national construction regulator to ensure safe building materials are used in new homes following “deeply disturbing allegations of malpractice” by some construction product manufacturers at the Grenfell Inquiry.

  1. Transforming systems through data and digital twins

The Planning London Datahub harnesses digital twin technology to make close to real-time planning information accessible to all 36 Greater London planning authorities. Will Squires, associate director of digital at Atkins, explains its development and the endless possibilities it could open up.

  1. Ella’s Law: Buildings must become clean air “safe havens”

The pandemic has transformed our understanding about the key role played by ventilation in reducing the transmission of all harmful airborne contaminants and should have a profound impact on the way we design and manage indoor spaces from now on, says Nathan Wood, chair of the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) Health & Wellbeing in Buildings Group.

  1. Paving the way to a platform-based future

With the Construction Playbook setting out a clear policy direction for the transformation of the sector, Trudi Sully, impact director for manufacturing at the Construction Innovation Hub, argues the time is right for a shift to platform solutions.

  1. Whatever happened to the smart city?

Mark Enzer, head of the National Digital Twin Programme at the Centre for Digital Built Britain and contributor to built environment event Futurebuild, explains how connecting digital twins can serve smarter cities.

  1. Number crunching: Reducing embodied carbon through AI and machine learning

Computer scientists at the University of the West of England are developing software that uses AI and machine learning to help construction companies reduce the amount of embodied carbon in their building and infrastructure projects. Dr Lukman Akanbi explains how the project could help the UK achieve its net zero targets.

  1. The evolution of Modern Methods of Construction

An in-depth new NHBC Foundation report on how the role of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) within the housebuilding industry has evolved has just been released. The organisation’s head of standards, research and innovation, Richard Smith, talks through the key findings.

  1. Drone surveying a London landmark

Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have been used to undertake a survey of the Lloyd’s building’s external façade in the heart of the City of London. Russell Cole, leader of façades UK at Arup, discusses this challenging project and the potential of drones in surveying dense urban areas.


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