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April 2006 – Spreading the sustainability message

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Spring is in the air, at long last, and it is already clear that the main message for the coming season is going to concern sustainability. Corus has announced its seminars programme for the rest of 2006, as you can read in this issue of NSC, and it focuses heavily on getting sustainability messages across.

Also in this issue, we have a profile of a major client, British Land, which has nailed its colours very firmly to the sustainability mast. British Land’s Richard Elliott reveals that having a well developed approach to sustainability has helped swing crucial planning permissions for major developments. All ultimate clients for buildings want to know that they have been designed and built in a sustainable way and they expect to see the proof; British Land and other major industry clients make no bones about the fact that their suppliers will have to either keep up with them on sustainability or get left behind.

Clients and designers can already be sure that by using steel they can tick all the sustainability boxes. The Corus seminars will spell out what the steel construction sector has already achieved and that it understands what it has yet to do. Regulation and legislation will demand that certain standards are achieved, but to be fully taken on board the sustainability message means a lot of voluntary and proactive effort.

Companies that have signed up to the BCSA’s Sustainability Charter are already streets ahead of others when it comes to being able to demonstrate not only adherence to rules but also that they realise how important sustainability is to their clients own businesses. So if you haven’t done it yet, sign up to the Charter.

Centenary Dinner takes stock

The BCSA Centenary Dinner was a good opportunity for the steel construction industry and its associated supply chain to take stock of its achievements. Things have come a long way since five fabricators in Manchester got together to form a Steelwork Society. They could hardly have foreseen the success that their industry has become. Donal McCormack is the latest in a long line of Presidents, but he was the first to be able to tell this annual gathering that steel’s share of the key multi storey non-residential buildings market had reached 70%.

This level of performance was acknowledged by Principal Guest, Construction Minister Alun Michael, who noted that the industry’s achievements are all around us, and “steel is more than ever the material of choice.” Mr McCormack was able to tell guests about a host of recent achievements such as the industry’s health and safety performance which was being promoted by the publication of six Best Practice guides on safe ways of working.

Work underway included producing guidance on project information requirements, reviewing industrial training with Metskill/SEMTA, joint projects with colleagues in the Specialist Engineering Contractors Group and in Metals Forum, and developing a worldwide steel construction network. All signs of a vibrant and healthy organisation representing a successful industry eager to cooperate with related organisations and sectors to improve delivery of service to clients. Which allowed Mr McCormack to confidently declare that the industry and the BCSA could look forward to the next hundred years with no little confidence.

Nick Barrett

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