31 October 2019
Blog
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 tool.

Each of the DNA Profiler’s data-rich BIM objects features contact details, mechanical properties, performance characteristics, maintenance requirements and guarantee periods. In the future it will be expanded to include information on lead times, pricing and much more. All of these attributes align nicely with the golden thread as it allows the data to be stored and accessed at any time for review.

Tackling poor procurement practices through responsible sourcing

Responsible sourcing is fast becoming a critical issue for the construction sector and its wider sustainability agenda. Construction clients need to be confident that their sustainable approach is supported by the construction products that they use and that all products have full traceability through the supply chain. Responsible sourcing helps to reduce risk in building specification and performance by designing resiliency into our built environment.

With this in mind, in 2010 Tata Steel became the first steel sector operation to achieve certification to the UK Building Research Establishment sustainability standard, BES 6001 for its Colorcoat® products. This was followed in 2014 by certification for all UK manufactured steel construction products, with a rating of ‘Very Good’, making Tata Steel the largest company to acquire the BRE responsible sourcing standard BES 6001.

This standard certifies that we are a responsible supplier according to detailed criteria applying both to the management of our facilities and to the way sustainability is extended back through the supply chain, starting with the mines where the iron ore is originally sourced.

Through this external validation of our processes and procedures, customers are able to benchmark our sustainability performance in the construction sector and demonstrate that they are sourcing products from a responsible supplier, enabling the golden thread.

If you are interested in fire related blogs, find out more about [fire testing and how steel faced insulated panels perform in reality] or [Aug 2019 amendments to ADB2 – and how this effect steel cladding systems used for commercial and industrial buildings.]

For further information on further applications and product use not covered in the above summary please contact Tata Steel’s Building System Technical department 

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