UK’s first Best Practice Benchmarking Awards 2012

It was a real pleasure to sit on the judging panel for the UK’s first Best Practice Benchmarking Awards 2012, devised by the UK Benchmarking Institute in conjunction with The Best Practice Club and Ideas UK at the 2012 Ideas UK Conference on 8th November.

France Telecom Orange and HSBC received awards for their outstanding benchmarking projects.

France Telecom Orange for its “Broadband MTBA (Mean Time Between Assist)” project led by Thierry Denant, Senior Benchmarking Manager

HSBC, for its “When Social Media meets Business Strategy” project led by James Shewry, Best Place to Suggest Manager.

Ray Wilkinson, founding fellow of The Benchmarking Institute and director of the Best Practice Club explains:

“The Benchmarking Awards were set up to recognise examples of best practice in large organisations and raise awareness of benchmarking as THE most powerful business performance improvement technique around today.  Successful benchmarking requires organisations to identify clearly what performance they want to improve, understand it fully and then select, adapt and implement the most appropriate best practice available.  None of this is easy to do and many organisations have wasted lots of time, effort and money in benchmarking activities that have failed to deliver business benefits. Lack of awareness of how best to apply best practice is the root cause of this.

Benchmarking in its broadest definition remains the most popular performance improvement tool, although this claim would include the simple act of comparing performance with another organisation through KPI’s rather than structured benchmarking.

It was a pity that although interest was high there were no entrants from the built environment sector. Hopefully this will be corrected in 2013. Benchmarking remains an important business improvement tool for the sector, and as Paul Morrell commented recently, benchmarking should be driving construction costs.

“If a company wants to see a future, 80% of what it will have to learn will be from outside its own industry.”

As our improvement, communication and sustainability agenda has widened considerably with topics not traditionally found in construction, for example, social value, Corporate Social Responsibility  healthy materials and so on, it is arguably external benchmarking that will return maximum improvement to organisations and the industry.

The Benchmarking Awards is a judged competition, celebrating outstanding benchmarking at individual project level.  After all submissions were assessed, finalists were then selected and invited to present their submissions on the 8th November, at the Ideas UK Conference, where they were subjected to an in depth questioning process to explore the details of their benchmarking project.

The 2013 Awards will open for submissions from March next year.

The Benchmarking Institute consists of a wealth of unparalleled benchmarking experience. Check out the list of founding fellows and industries represented.

If you are interested in dramatically improving your business, looking to gain far much more value from KPI’s or just curious of how benchmarking can help reduce costs, the Benchmarking Institute can help.  Please do get in touch.

Awards reported in Project Manager

Eagle eyed observers will notice the Benchmarking Award is a replica of the Ordnance Survey trig column flush bracket plate. More here on wiki

Advertisements

Five questions to drive sustainable construction

Whilst being a great advocate for learning from others, sharing and benchmarking best practice, often it is essential to ask questions of our approaches to topics such as sustainable construction, before comparing.

In this mornings twitter fed reading stream was an article describing the five questions that Interface ask of themselves.  Interface are world leaders in design, production and sales of environmentally responsible modular carpets “Design is a mindset and sustainability is the journey of a lifetime”

Now whilst Interface’s responses in the article are inspiring, it struck me these are the questions we should all be asking of ourselves. Asking across the built environment, in design and specification, in product manufacture, in construction procurement and supply chains. Asking within project sustainability meetings, within company sustainability development and review sessions, at board level and even in ISO14001 audits.

Asking until we have answers and approaches we can live with.

1. How can we increase use of recycled and bio-based materials? 

2. How can we prevent our materials from ending up in landfill?

3. How can we reduce carbon and GHG emissions and at the same time increase our use of renewable energies?

4. How can we reduce water consumption?

5. How can our clients and customers make decisions about materials based upon trustworthy environmental facts? 

Once you have answers to these questions, you will want to take a look at Five Questions Businesses Must Answer to Advance Toward Sustainability According to Interface, Inc.

Join the discussion on these questions, share your responses and learn from others through twitter with @fairsnape and others, through leaving comments below or getting in touch.

Green Deal Thoughts: Is green deal missing the behaviour measure?

Could Green Deal fail it its core objective of reducing CO2?

Green Deal is a necessary and welcome approach to funding improvement to our built environment fabric, increasing the use of renewable energy, and importantly providing structure to eco-fit work via the awaited PAS 2030 standard.

Yet, could the Green Deal approach be seen as ‘too’ technical and not addressing user and occupant behaviour, increasingly recognised as the key ingredient to CO2 reduction in the built environment.

I was reminded at the recent Lancashire Best Practice Club green deal event that our comfort levels within homes and buildings has increased by around 7 degrees over the last two decades or so.

Those of us who grew up in the 60’s will recall the infamous morning frost on the inside of windows, since when, building insulation has improved, but at the same time we use more and more energy to improve our comfort levels.

There is a danger that, as Green Deal makes home and workplaces more energy efficient, users and occupiers, especially older and vulnerable tenants, will simply take advantage of the increased comfort level and keep their energy levels and costs as before. (And coupled with the Green Deal Loan charge could increase energy bills and repayments) There is also research that suggests what we save on heating bills we spend on other high CO2 emitting  gadgets or travel.

Alongside the measures within Green Deal we need user behaviour measures.

Perhaps one of the easiest would be the ability to openly benchmark our homes or offices against a CO2 league table of homes in the street, offices on a business park.

The technology and devices exist, see Pachube, the EPC iphone app I blogged on in 2010 and for example I can now easily and freely track my cycle rides against other riders on the same segment of road, on the Strava cycle app. Why not track my energy use against other homes and premises?

This behaviour approach now needs the promotion alongside Green Deal technical measures. And Green Deal Assessors have a prime opportunity to introduce such measures.

Related good reading

CIRS – Where occupants are seen as inhabitants and required to sign a sustainability charter

Tenant Behaviour: Five Keys to Meeting Environmental Performance Goals

Counting construction carbons with ConstructCO2

This blog has reported on numerous occasions (eg here and here) on the need to measure and improve carbon emissions from construction activities separately from that of the building itself or the facility in use. And the need for an easy, simple to use tool.

As noted many of the available applications for calculating carbons were linked dubiously to carbon offsetting schemes.  Of note for use in construction were the Google Carbon tool (but not construction specific enough) and the Environment Agency tool (but is proving to be too detailed and cumbersome for most projects)

Measuring and improving carbons on site is increasingly important as more and more projects seek higher standards to BREEAM and Code for Sustainable Homes (and soon Non Dom Buildings).  One recent project set ‘damages’ for the contractor not achieving the ‘management points’ (for waste, CO2 and considerate constructor standard) for CSH at £40k per point. (See the CSH Technical Manual for more on this)

Recently at EcoBuild Paul Morrell, Construction Tsar commented  that focus on carbon emissions should be a number one site priority as it is measurable and addresses other areas of ‘waste’ in the industry

And yet the majority of contracts just do not know their project carbon footprint, whether its close to 1tonne or over 100tonne. We do not have a feel for the magnitude of emissions, or indeed what 1kg of CO2 actually looks like.

So it is good news to see the release of ConstructCO2, developed through Evolution-ip, by construction people for construction use.

ConstructCO2 is a simple carbon calculator based on the premise of keeping it simple and easy to use on site. It makes use of existing site approaches for data collection (induction sheets, daily log-ins, plant sheets, utility invoices etc). Carbon emissions through transport are calculated through use of google mapping API .

Construction (people) travel miles are recorded for management, operatives and visitors. (With a dispersed project management team you will be surprised at the carbon footprint of a project site meeting and probably think of alternative arrangements) Material transport miles are derived from delivery notes or goods received sheets.

Where the power of ConstructCO2 lies however is in its reporting. Construction carbons can be measured in terms of co2/£project value, co2/dwelling, c02/m2, co2/bed or other, enabling benchmarking with other projects and generically through KPI’s such as those from Construction Excellence.

But simply knowing the project footprint, the construction company’s total project footprint, and where the biggest areas for carbon emission are enables action for real improvement.

ConstructCO2 is currently being used by a number of different projects in what I guess would be called a beta stage. Current projects include a large new build hotel project, a small industrial refurb project, school extension and an architect’s office.

Currently the use of ConstructCO2 as a tool is free, with a (currently optional) fee based support and training package to help contractors understand carbon issues, carbon standards requirements, measuring, benchmarking and improving carbon footprints.  So it makes sense to take the opportunity now, measure and understand the carbon footprint of one of your projects. At the moment sign up is through request via email contacts on the ConstructCO2 front page

Future developments include the option for live energy feeds from site power meters to ConstructCO2 and live exporting from ConstructCO2 to Google and Pachube for example.

ConstructCO2 is on twitter at @constructco2 and has a ning forum in development for discussion and benchmarking of project carbon issues.

Note: As an associate with Evolution-ip, I have been involved in the ConstructCO2 concept development and testing.  Evolution-IP is a be2camp partner, presenting at and sponsoring be2camp un-conference events.