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New Government department to focus on FM and office supplies procurement

Whitehall

The UK Government’s latest attempt at developing a centralised public sector procurement department was unveiled by the Cabinet Office yesterday. The  Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has been set an annual budget of up to £12 billion to secure a range of goods and services including facilities management and office supplies. It has a target of saving some £1 billion each year by working across a range of government departments to take advantage of a shared purchasing function. The announcement follows last week’s report from a committee of MPs into the failings of the current procurement setup in Whitehall. More →

EU opens consultation on reducing the environmental impact of buildings

Report urges EU and members states to use design for public good

The European Commission is gathering views on how to reduce the environmental impacts of buildings. The consultation will focus on resources such as materials (including waste), water and embedded energy and aims to address resource use and related environmental impacts throughout the life-cycle of buildings, from the extraction of building materials to demolition and recycling of materials. James Drinkwater, Senior Policy Advisor for the Europe Regional Network of the World Green Building Council, welcomed the move: “It is incredibly important that the green building movement gets behind this evolution in building policy, and engages with the Commission on what the right strategic direction is going forward.” More →

Video: world’s largest building opens in China

Video: world’s largest building opens in China

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Dubai will be kicking itself at the news that the world’s largest building, or rather world’s largest standalone man-made structure, has opened in China. The New Century Globe Centre in Sichuan province is a mixed use development housing offices, leisure facilities, hotels, shops, restaurants and even a beach resort warmed by an artificial sun. The 18-storey, glass and steel frame structure, is situated above a new metro station in Chengdu, stands 100 metres high, is 500 metres long and 400 metres wide giving it a floor space of 1.7m sq. m.  making it the world’s largest standalone building, beating the previous record holder Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport by around 50,000 sq. m. and, as measured according to internationally recognised lazy media shorthand analogies, able to house 20 Sydney Opera Houses.

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The challenge in Silicon Alley is providing the right quantity and quality of office space

M4 Silicon AlleyNews emerges from BNP Paribas that the most dynamic occupiers in Western European property markets belong to the technology, media and telecoms (TMT) sector and that the most important market in the region is London. This comes as no surprise given the plans of Google to move to its new home in King’s Cross and the focus on developments in Tech City. But the same hothousing of TMT businesses is also evident in the area Prime Minister David Cameron has referred to as Silicon Alley, a cluster of businesses running alongside the M4 originally clustered between Reading and Swindon but now extending as far as Bristol. Companies that have found a home in the area include the likes of Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle, Ericsson, Vodafone, O2, Citrix, Dell, Huawei, Lexmark, LG, Novell, Nvidia, Panasonic, SAP and Symantec not to mention the countless other smaller businesses, consultants and freelancers that share this hothouse.

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Arup hailed for positive example of employee ownership scheme

Arup hailed for positive example of employee ownership scheme

Arup Global Chairman, Philip Dilley has said that the firm’s employee ownership ethos has played a major part in attracting and motivating staff and high levels of employee engagement. His comments followed a visit by Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), and Minister for Employment Relations, Jo Swinson, to Arup HQ this week as part of a series of activities to celebrate Employee Ownership Day across the UK. The Government’s scheme has had a rough ride, with critics branding it “company shares for employment rights”. Although this has resulted in some major changes to the scheme, Cable maintains it is a positive alternative to traditional shareholder capitalism which had led to the “persistent problem” of short-term planning. More →

The world’s enduring love hate relationship with its tall buildings

Jean Nouvel Duo Towers in Paris

Jean Nouvel Duo Towers in Paris

One day, news will emerge from Dubai of a new development that doesn’t break some record or other, or at least one that isn’t solely about the size of a building. The latest example of the Emirati obsession with scale is the plan by developers DMCC, the people who brought you the Jumeirah Lake Towers, to create the world’s largest commercial office building as part of a 107,000 sq m development of their business park. Although still in the development stage, the developers have their eyes on usurping the current holder of the tallest office crown, Taipei 101, the 509m-high building which was the world’s tallest tower of any sort until the Burj Khalifa came along in 2010. In their press announcement the developers claim the new tower will act as a magnet for multinationals, although not everybody is quite so enamoured of the idea that tall is best. More →

“Time-bomb” of British workers unhealthy and old before their time

"Time-bomb" of British workers unhealthy and old before their time

Bad lifestyle choices are shaving over four years off British employee’s lives, leaving them unhealthy and old before their time and creating a “time-bomb” for UK employers. According to the wellness survey of 10,000 employees in the UK, 86 per cent of British workers have an average Vitality (health) Age of 4.1 years older than their real age due to unhealthy lifestyles. Vitality Age gives an estimate of years of life lost or gained by taking into consideration the presence or absence of certain risk factors. Nearly a third (31.2 per cent) of employees have three or more risk factors, putting them at serious risk of ill health, and the biggest contributing factors for a higher Vitality Age are lack of physical activity and being overweight.

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Five essential things to consider before you implement a BYOD policy

BYOD is far more than just allowing your staff to check their email on their personal mobile. It’s about the security of corporate information – we’re all demanding more flexible working to fit our lifestyles, but with flexibility comes personal responsibility. Are we rushing to join the BYOD party without realising some of the more serious considerations. A recent article on OfficeInsight considered a Gartner survey which suggested that BYOD would be prevalent by 2017. The article implied that companies should embrace this as an inevitable change. Before we get too excited, though, let’s explore some of the issues that BYOD should be raising for employers – including the technical demands that these policies make on IT departments and infrastructure, and the compliance IT departments will demand of staff.

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Two thirds of UK managers complain of unethical demands by employers

Employee’s beliefs can differ from that of their employers, and that can cause them to face an ethical dilemma. Take yesterday’s news reports of an ex-CIA operative who alleges that the data-gathering centre GCHQ circumvented the law to gain information on UK citizens, or the recent (rejected) claims by three British Christians to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg who argued their religious rights where being violated by their employers. Following the banking scandals, public expectations on business ethics have risen over the past few years, but are CSR policies being put into practise? It seems doubtful, as new research by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) and Business in the Community (BITC) reveals that nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of managers have been expected to behave unethically at some point in their career.

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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 →

Groundbreaking study reveals work is better for you than retirement

Groundbreaking study reveals work is better for you than retirement

The scrapping of the UK’s Default Retirement Age (DRA) two years ago is seen by many employers as a negative step. But now a ground-breaking new study provides evidence that working past a set retirement age is much better for the nation’s health. Work Longer, Live Healthier: The relationship between economic activity, health and government policy, published by the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Age Endeavour Fellowship finds retirement has a detrimental impact on both mental and physical health over time. The stats make for uncomfortable reading for anyone considering taking that long cruise. You’re more likely to be clinically depressed, have at least one diagnosed physical condition and are less likely to enjoy good or excellent health. More →

Seven thoughts on the UK facilities management association merger

New broomWith breathless excitement a press release announces the proposed merger of all of the UK’s major facilities management and support services trade associations, or rather notes that they: “have agreed to the concept of forming one single and united body to represent facilities management and support services.” With a sense of crushing inevitability the first step has been to form a steering group to address how these and other organisations could come together into this single body to meet the needs of the industry and the professionals that work within it. With this in mind, I proffer a few pieces of advice in the form of seven thoughts for those involved in these discussions.

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