31 October 2019

How to ensure the ‘Golden Thread’ to your project is not broken

The inappropriate use of combustible materials in the insulation and upgrading of tall buildings is being addressed through the Building Regulations.

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The inappropriate use of combustible materials in the insulation and upgrading of tall buildings is being addressed through the Building Regulations. For more information on how this affects your project see Aug 2019 amendments to ADB2 - how this effects steel cladding systems used for commercial and industrial buildings.

However, one of the most disturbing aspects of the Grenfell Tower disaster is that it seems the original specification was not followed and the Building Regulations were not complied with. Hence, a key aspect of the Hackitt review was an examination of the process which allowed this to happen. The findings do not make for good reading and led to Dame Hackitt calling for a radical culture change in the industry.

Amongst Dame Hackitt’s conclusions for addressing this culture change was a recommendation to ‘create a golden thread of information’ for every tall building (and many would argue that a golden thread should be created for every building).

This golden thread can be achieved by:

  • Obligating the creation of a digital record for new multi-occupancy higher risk residential buildings from initial design intent through to construction, including any changes that occur throughout occupation. This record of building information will be used by the duty holders to demonstrate to the regulator the safety of the building throughout its life cycle.

And by:

  • Tackling poor procurement practices to drive the right behaviour to make sure that high-safety, low-risk options are prioritised and full life cycle cost is considered when a building is procured.

Tata Steel may not build buildings but, as a major product supplier to the construction sector, it does have a responsibility to its supply chain partners and customers to help them enable the golden thread.

How? Well we have created our first of a kind BIM and data tool, we show our commitment to sustainability and responsible sourcing, and together with our third-party demonstration of product fire performance, this all provides reassurance to customers that they can confidently incorporate our products into their golden thread.

Data: At the heart of the golden thread

The Hackitt Review states that, “Government should mandate a digital (by default) standard of record-keeping for the design, construction and during the occupation of new HRRBs (higher risk residential buildings) and recommends that for new builds, a Building Information Modelling (BIM) approach should be phased in. Based on the digital techniques pioneered in other industries such as aerospace and automotive, BIM is a process of designing, constructing or operating a building or infrastructure asset using electronic, object orientated information.

The digital record also forms part of the wider move towards improved transparency and integrity of information and underpins a greater focus on effective change control. Dutyholders using the digital record effectively can more easily keep a log of the as-built design of the building and the products used in order to satisfy the JCA (Joint Competent Authority), before occupation begins.

Since April 2016, the UK government has required BIM level 2 on all centrally procured projects and this has acted as a broader driver for digital record keeping. Indeed, the digital maturity of the UK construction industry has now grown to the point that it is able to deliver digital asset data, and increasingly work in a BIM compliant way. Recent notable examples include:

  • Heathrow Terminal 5;
  • The ‘Cheesegrater’ – 120 Leadenhall Street, London;
  • Ministry of Justice prisons; and
  • Cross Rail.

To support architects, specifiers, engineers and facility managers, we have created a BIM and product data tool for all of our European construction brand products. A first of its kind, Tata Steel's DNA Profiler has been designed to minimise data overload and will allow users, at whatever stage they are at in the construction process, to retrieve the exact level of BIM data they require, and in the format they need. Our blog here explains more on the benefits of this