175 Little Acts of CSR

Whilst the debate on Linkedin Group CSR in Construction asks why Corporate Social Responsibility is the domain of large organisations, SME  Emanuel Whittaker are pushing ahead with an inspiring CSR approach.  This being their 175th year, the CSR approach for 2012 is aptly called 175 Little Acts of Kindness, setting a target to deliver, record and share 175 CSR themed acts of kindness.

The Emanuel Whittaker  new look web site neatly puts CSR center stage as the envelope or wrap around for many activities (green deal, training and employment, equality and diversity, ISO 14001, carbon management, training, customer care, and more).

In a recent discussion with Rukhsana Nabi, Partnerships Manager at Emanuel Whittaker, she explained that CSR at Emanuel Whittaker reflects the culture, “its who we are and what we do – not a set of processes and procedures” and that the reason for this years initiative is simply to share what we do, rather than a PR or marketing campaign.

Emanuel Whittaker will be sharing their 175 stories during 2012, through their website,  facebook and through twitter @emanuel_whittack, using the #175littleacts hashtag.


What is BIM

The following article was written to introduce PauleyCreative’s excellent BIM Infographic  illustrating the recent NBS BIM survey, providing an important snapshot of our collaborative working BIM journey and future directions.

It was also hosted on the 2degreesnetwork site as part of their BIM series.

It feels the article has been ‘on tour’ and received good responses and comments via twitter and elsewhere, so it seems only correct to ‘bring home’ and post here for readers of this blog. Enjoy, and please do add comments below.

What is BIM?

There are many definitions of BIM, but unfortunately many are wrapped in technical, project management or design terminology.

We can understand and describe BIM as “the total and virtual modelling of all aspects of a project prior to construction, during construction and in use.”

A BIM would typically model all data relating to, for eg, design scenarios, costings, build ability and clash detection, scheduling and procurement, sustainability impact, life cycle and facilities management factors as well as in use predictions. Championed by the Government, milestones are set for achieving increasingly mature levels of BIM. The first being level 2 by 2016.

We should view BIM, not just as new technology but as a continuation of the collaborative working journey within the built environment sector. A journey started, or first articulated, way back in 1934 by Alfred Bossom and core to most sector improvement programmes since, from Latham, Egan, Building Down Barriers, Constructing Excellence, to the recent Never Waste a Good Crisis report.

BIM will be challenging, demanding real collaborative working and sharing of data, knowledge and costings across project parties.

The key to collaborative working being effective and open communications, coupled with trust and importantly being comfortable with sharing within a digital environment. Indeed we need the debate on the potential role of communications, and in particular social media, within BIM environments.

Perhaps understandably, the current BIM agenda is driven by technology and design. But the debate will widen, out of necessity, to include other disciplines such as Facilities Management, Quantity Surveyors, SME contractors, product suppliers and manufacturers, Many of whom still remain unclear as to how work and management will be different when working within BIM projects or suppling equipment to a BIM project.

You may recall a recent Honda advert that played on the expression “everything we do goes into everything we do.”  That ad emphasised how the breadth of Honda’s experience is applied through lean manufacturing to all aspects of their products. This is a great expression we would be wise to adopt to explain how BIM will enable us to bring built environment collective experiences, knowledge, technologies and best practice to every building.

Imagine a built environment industry where the design office, the QS office, the project management team, subcontractors operatives, the manufacturers factory and so on is so lean that everything we do goes into everything we do.

We would be able to reclaim the rule of thumb 30% waste in our sector, improve on safety and sustainability and deliver better, lower cost, fit for use facilities whilst achieving healthy profit levels essential for a sustainable industry.

Increasingly I am helping the contractors that I support on their questions of “what is BIM” and “what do I need” to do through increasing awareness of collaborative working, BIM itself and becoming comfortable with web/social media/digital communication. If you would like to know more please do get in touch or follow the conversations on twitter @fairsnape

Five Emerging Themes in Construction CSR

A recent CSR in construction workshop ran some very interesting discussions on just what CSR in construction is, what it could be and what it should be.

There emerged a number of salient, central themes:

CSR is not a badge, a new lick of paint or indeed something to do to generate responses in bids and PQQ’s to win work, but is something that goes deep into the organisation. It is the brand, image and reputation of the business, in many ways CSR is part of the DNA upon which the business will grow and flourish. Words such as heart or soul of the business become relevant.

CSR thinking will challenge existing business models. We have moved from a era of CSR being bad news, not seen as a business issue, to one of commitment to being responsible and doing good whilst running a business. The challenge businesses may now face is moving forward, how to make a construction business of out doing good, where social responsibility is the vision and core of the organisation. Combining triple line thinking in an integrated strategy and integrated reporting approach will give new perspectives on construction businesses.

CSR approaches cannot be simply imposed top down. Whilst needing strong leadership vision, CSR requires real engagement of all staff and indeed all those who work for the business through the supply chains. Empowering managers to lead on CSR and engaging people in sharing CSR good news stories will become essential.

CSR transparency means all aspects of construction are increasingly on open public display. We cannot put one message to clients in bids, another to staff and still allow conflicting, or perhaps irresponsible practices to exist. The recent Goldman Sachs is a timely reminder that we are in the Age of Damage as described David Jones in Who Cares Wins

The power and potential of social media is yet to be realised. On one hand it presents a phenomenal tool for sharing news, keeping informed and engaging with clients and partners, on the other hand it can be the Achilles heel, rapidly broadcasting irresponsible practices or intentions. Having an appropriately positive approach to Social Media with guidelines or codes of practice for use by staff in the business and on projects will increasingly become high priority.

Supporting built environment organisations on developing CSR strategies it is encouraging to see a real desire for strategic CSR approaches that go beyond the volunteering and sponsorship models. If you wish to engage in conversations on CSR in construction follow and join me on twitter @fairsnape, subscribe to or share this blog post, or get in touch via fairsnape@gmail.com

Lancashire: Green Deal, BIM, Green Building and Social Media events

Hi, here is a quick update of Lancashire Construction Best Practice Club related events in the NW region over the coming months which may be of interest:

Green Deal: If you have been following the news you will have seen that £3.5m has been released for Green Deal training and news is expected soon from Ed Davey MP on Green Deal for Busineses.

Our timely Introduction to PAS 2030 session is scheduled for the 30th March as part of our Green Deal Initiative, with monthly sessions thereafter. Also CSkills are holding an Employers Advisory Forum on March 28th, at St Helen’s Rugby League Stadium which will feature Green Deal

Bidding: The Association of Interior Specialists (AIS) are hold a A free webinar  Improve your Bids: 13th March 27th March and 17th April

BIM: Unfortuntaley we have had to push the LCBPC BIM event back until June, however, there are a lot of BIM events happening regionally.

There are Events across in Yorkshire on the 15th March looking at BIM impact on Regional SME’s and on 4th April looking at BIM Level 2.

And in Manchester BIM – Software with Tough Choices Workshop 29 March 2012, 08:30 – 11:00 at the and BIM Compete or collaborate? 16th May. You may also find this “What is BIM, and why should we care” item of interest.

Waste: Waste update will be the topic for the LCBPC event. Details to follow.

Green Building: Again there is a lot happening on this theme as you would expect: What is your Green Vision? is a Global TweetChat (online, via twitter using the #GVisChat hashtag) hosted by Green Vision on 20th March 8pm to coincide with Eco Build. In addition Green Vision Leeds 29th March will feature the lessons learnt from the greenest building on earth, live from Vancouver

Green Build Expo Returns to Manchester on 9th /10th May, I will be there with Be2camp on the 9th and talking Social Media on the Green Deal  as part of the Green Deal Debate stage the 10th, and if you are going to EcoBuild, 20-22nd March in London do let us know via twitter @fairsnape + @lcbpc or on the linkedin Lancashire Construction group

Social Media: Su Butcher and myself will be running a Linkedin and Twitter Workshop for built environment professionals in the NW on 8th May.

Finally, Progress in Procurement: the Effectiveness of Frameworks is at the CUBE Manchester 19th March, and the RICS in the NW have a full programme of events on their calendar.

If you know of any events then please do flag them on the Lancashire Construction group linkedin or in comments below and we can share across the club membership.

You can get details of club membership here and application form here

Cost of Managing Project Photos

Seeing the wood from the trees. Are we taking too many site photos?
Seeing the wood from the trees. Are we taking too many site photos?

Last week I was discussing the issue of site photos with a contractor. The discussion included the cost (time) of taking so many photos which were probably never viewed, the increasing storage costs and the cost (time) in trying to find suitable photos for bids, publications or to verify events on site for many reasons.

A number of solutions were discussed including the mandatory tagging of photos before being uploaded or saved on to company sites, using open sites such a flickr, or  an emerging approach of embedding photo’s into the site online diary – or blog where they exist.

At the same time Paul Wilkinson @EEPaul was tweeting live from a COMIT event where the same problem was being discussed – the vast number of photos taken across the industry, made all so easy with smart phones, picture storage requirements increasing as the mega pixel cameras on site increase and so on.

Its not surprising then that we will see construction picture applications emerge, one of the first to come to my attention is Geedra (http://www.geedra.com/) which discusses the issues above in their blog – see Construction Photo Management Just Changed

I can foresee that construction companies will baulk at the cost (just under $2000 per annum, with a limited capacity free option).  But given the cost in time on taking unused pictures, server space for unnessary pictures and time in searching, this may actually be saving costs.

We should perhaps understand, like pictures taken and developed on film, there is a real cost of taking so many digital pictures.