New Construction Strategy focuses on sustainability and efficiency

New Construction strategy focuses on sustainability and efficiency

An industrial strategy for construction‘Construction 2025’ is being launched by the Coalition Government today which aims to tap into the considerable growth opportunities predicted for the global construction market. The strategy has been developed in partnership with the new Construction Leadership Council, jointly chaired by Business Secretary Vince Cable and Sir David Higgins, Chief Executive of Network Rail, formed to help oversee the delivery of the action plan and its strategic priorities. The strategy’s vision to 2025 includes ambitions for a 50 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment, and an equal reduction in the trade gap between total exports and total imports for construction products and materials. More →

Govt incentives needed to promote energy efficiency for non-residential buildings

Energy efficiency for built environment needs incentives to work Govt warned

The Government should conduct a comprehensive assessment of non-residential low-carbon policies to ensure they work effectively said the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) in its latest annual progress report to Parliament today. Progress in implementing some of the measures required to meet carbon budgets was limited in 2012, it warned, while the simplification of the CRC energy efficiency scheme beyond the CCC’s original recommendations has further eroded the incentives to improve energy efficiency it set out to provide. John Alker, Director of Policy and Communications at the UK Green Building Council, said: “Just one day before the release of official statistics on the Green Deal, the CCC’s report is a timely reminder that the Coalition’s flagship energy efficiency policy needs to be further incentivised to encourage take-up.”

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UK Government announces details of One Public Sector Estate scheme

The UK Cabinet Office has announced details of a new pilot scheme covering 12 local authorities in England which will encourage councils to work with central government departments and other bodies to share buildings and re-use or release property and land deemed surplus to requirements and so cut spending and free up land for local development. The ‘One Public Sector Estate’ scheme will also enable councils to share services and follow the path of central government which has its own schemes to cut costs and divest or find new uses for its property portfolio. Chloë Smith, the Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office who will be delivering the scheme in partnership with the Local Government Association, also believes the scheme will boost the UK economy and encourage regeneration and development at a local level.

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New European Awards recognise leadership in sustainable building

The first awards to recognise outstanding leadership in sustainable building in Europe have been launched by the World Green Building Council’s European Regional Network. The “WorldGBC Leadership Awards – Europe Region” will honour best practice and excellence in cities’ green building policy, as well as in construction projects and corporate initiatives across the continent. The awards feature three categories – Excellence in City Policy for Green Building, Leadership in Building Design and Performance, and Business Leadership in Sustainability – and are open to city councils and policy makers, projects and businesses. More →

Time to apply flexible working to harness women’s untapped potential

Recommendations made on how to harness women's untapped potential in the workplace

Encouraging flexible working and understanding how best to support working parents in the second stage of their career is just one of the findings of a major report published today by the Women’s Business Council (WBC) on improving women’s contribution to economic growth. The WBC, which is chaired by Ruby McGregor Smith CBE, chief executive of MITIE, is an independent working group established by the government in 2012 to explore the untapped potential of the female workforce. Maximising women’s contribution to future economic growth looks into addressing the obstacles at all stages of women’s careers, such as broadening career choices, helping to access childcare and providing the necessary skills to start new businesses. More →

Whitehall savings boosted by property and procurement efficiencies

The joint Cabinet Office and Treasury initiative the Efficiency and Reform Group has exceeded the Government’s savings target by 25 per cent to make an overall saving of £10 billion, Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude announced today. The savings made include; £1.1 billion made by boosting online services and selling empty buildings and exiting expensive rentals in sought-after locations; £1.7 billion by reviewing large scale projects including construction, and stripping out inefficiencies; and a further £3.8 billion was saved in procurement, by linking together departments to buy goods and services.

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RIBA and CIBSE call for collaboration in CarbonBuzz initiative

RIBA and CIBSE call for pan-industry collaboration in CarbonBuzz initiative

The CarbonBuzz energy benchmarking initiative, backed jointly by the RIBA and CIBSE gets a new online platform next week. The CarbonBuzz project allows users to record, share and compare the real energy use of building projects and to shed light on the differences between predicted and operational performance. Now RIBA and CIBSE are calling on architects and building services engineers to upload their projects to CarbonBuzz and re-energise the industry’s benchmarking database, which was first launched in 2008. Both institutes have spearheaded the publication of energy data in their annual awards schemes and point out that CarbonBuzz is the best way to demonstrate energy credentials. More →

UK public sector leading the way in procurement and sustainable building

Nottingham City Council's Loxley Building

Nottingham City Council’s Loxley Building

Over the last few years, the UK Government has grown increasingly interested in finding ways of making its £30 billion property portfolio more efficient. Both the last Labour government and the current Coalition administration have been driven by the opportunities offered them with the advent of new technology, new ways of working and new procurement models. They’ve pursued these issues to cut costs by reducing and changing the way property is designed and managed but have also found how that can also help to establish best practice in sustainable building. What is increasingly apparent, especially given recent news from the Major Projects Authority about cost savings in procurement is that the public sector is now leading the way as models of good practice.

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Fearful UK employees benefit from engagement policies finds survey

 Fearful UK employees require greater engagement levels finds survey

A new study provides some proof that the employee engagement lobby has some validity. According to a new national survey, job stress has gone up and job-related well-being has gone down since the start of the recession, with Britain’s employees feeling more insecure and pressured at work than at any time in the past 20 years. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) report the biggest concern was about pay reductions, followed by loss of say over their job. However, the survey found that where employers pursued employee engagement practices, giving employees more involvement in decision making at work, staff were less anxious about their jobs. More →

Flexible working going into reverse in parts of UK public sector

Broken elastic bandA briefing from the Society of IT Management claims that while nearly all UK public sector organisations have adopted some form of flexible working, the practice remains far from universal and is going into reverse in some departments. The report found that  around  97 percent  of UK public sector organisations have now  adopted the practice in the form of home working, desk sharing and mobile working in four of the public sector functions surveyed. While while there have been large increases in adoption the adoption of flexible working in the revenues and benefits functions and some in education, four other services show a significant decline with others appearing to be static.

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Worldwide competition launched by RIBA to design a new Scotland Yard

Courtesy of Simon Heath

Courtesy of Simon Heath

A worldwide competition to design a new Metropolitan Police HQ has been launched by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The force is moving from its landmark New Scotland Yard site in Westminster, central London as part of cost cutting measures. The project on behalf of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) and Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) will involve the redevelopment of the existing and currently unoccupied Curtis Green MPS building located on the Victoria Embankment, London, SW1. Roger Harding MPS – Director of Real Estate Development said: “The opportunity to create a modern efficient working environment for the Met’s future headquarters, with world-class architecture that provides value for money and is alive to the history of the building provides a wonderful challenge.” More →

BIM provides opportunities for the built environment finds report

BIM provides built environment with opportunities for growth

Building Information Modelling (BIM) will raise productivity, provide better buildings, faster and cheaper and represents opportunities for the built environment to become a powerful international player. This is according to a major new report, Growth through BIM produced by Richard Saxon, the UK Government’s BIM Ambassador for Growth who concludes: “No wonder it has been mandated as government policy“. The Built Environment sector, for the purposes of his report, is defined as Property, Construction and Facilities Management, which accounts for about 15 per cent of GDP, and which he describes as: “an enabling sector, facilitating the performance of most other sectors”. More →

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