Welcome to The Week That Was, a round-up of key events in the construction sector over the last seven days.

Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard

The Team developing the UK's Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard has asked firms to submit operational energy data from their most efficient schemes, to help create an agreed standard on what constitutes a 'net zero building'. The initiative was first announced in May 2022 and the aim is to provide one agreed definition for use across the industry. Operational energy data from the best performing buildings and modelled consumption data for schemes in design or construction is being sought.

The team championing this initiative is a cross-industry group, made up of organisations such as Better Buildings Partnership, Royal Institute of British Architects and UK Green Building Council. The team is hosting a webinar on Thursday 17 November, providing a general update on the development of the Standard. Register to attend here.

Read more on the initiative here.

Building Inspector Competence Framework (BICoF) Consultation

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published a consultation draft of its proposed Building Inspector Competence Framework (BICoF).

The draft BICoF:

  • Creates four registration classes for individual building inspectors
  • Details the competencies that a building inspector must demonstrate for each registration class

The consultation is open for views from the public. It ends on 9 December and the HSE intends to publish the guidance in April 2023. You can respond here.

Flexible Working For Contractors

Contractors including Bam Nuttall, Skanska UK and Willmott Dixon who adopted flexible-working policies in a trial programme between early 2020 and mid-2021 have reported they helped to save money with no negative impact on project timelines or quality standards. It is reported that flexible working policies including measures such as changed shift patterns and remote working were found to have resulted in reduced office overheads, business travel and sickness absences. Difficulties arose in the challenge of offering flexible working to those who need to always be physically on site, with one potential solution involving offering greater flexibility with regard to start and finish times. Large construction firms will also need to have open conversations with subcontractors about how to extend flexibility to subcontractors’ workforces, to ensure transparency over working hours for frontline manual workers.

Click here to read more.

Sunak attends the COP 27 summit

This week, Rishi Sunak attended the COP 27 climate summit in Egypt, after previously stating he would not attend.

The Prime Minister announced on Twitter "there is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change. There is no energy security without investing in renewables. That is why I will attend COP27 next week: to deliver on Glasgow’s legacy of building a secure and sustainable future."

In his speech, he confirmed that the UK is on course to deliver its pledge to reduce the country's emissions by 68% by 2030. He further stated that the UK is delivering on its commitment to spend £11.6 billion and will now triple the funding on adaptation to £1.5 billion by 2025. He remarked on the need to promote renewable energy, to ensure against the risk of energy dependencies.

For a full transcript of his speech, please click here.

Concerns raised about flooding insurance coverage

Financial information business, Defaqto, has warned that homeowners may be left in limbo for claims relating to bad weather or flooding, as claim limits stall. The concerns have been raised in response to rising rent prices, with some areas seeing a 25% rise in a year, whilst insurance cover for alternative accommodation lags behind.

Research has shown that some policies offer as little as £15,000, the equivalent of six months' rent for a house in London, and that almost one in four policies offer less that £40,000. Coupled with the shortage of available builders and supplies, insurance policies may not provide enough cover.

For more information or advice to policyholders, please click here.

Online cyber-attacks impact SMEs

Research conducted by Aviva has found that 21% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have fallen victim to a cyber incident or attack in the past 12 months, with 34% confirming they had no cyber insurance cover.

Major system failures or outages, theft of funds or phishing, ransomware attempts, malware infections and extortion attempts were all among the incidents described by businesses in their latest survey. Head of Cyber at Aviva, Stephen Ridley, highlighted that the survey showed many businesses believed they were insured but they need to be sure that their policy will do the job.

For more details, please click here.

RICS Sustainability Report 2022

Sustainability and reduction of carbon emissions have been a focus of the construction industry within recent years. The recently published RICS report offers the first year of trend line analysis by drawing on the expert opinions of around 4,000 professionals.

The key findings of the report are:

  • That whilst the demand for green buildings continues to rise globally, only a modest up-tick in growth has occurred.
  • There has been a rise in climate risk assessments by investors on their built assets, which suggests that climate issues are rising up the agenda.
  • There are challenges with the high costs or low availability of low carbon materials and skill shortages.

Read the full report here.