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Steel stacks up

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The BCSA’s Register of Qualified Steelwork Contractors (Buildings) scheme has been thrown open to non-BCSA members for the first time, which will allow the entire constructional steelwork sector to prove its ability to deliver all of the competence, quality, safety and sustainability requirements of increasingly demanding clients. The BCSA will be educating both clients and steelwork contractors about what benefits membership brings.

High quality projects with excellent sustainability and quality credentials executed by BCSA members in collaboration with construction team partners are seen in every issue of NSC, including this one. They aren’t specially selected to show steel off to its best advantage, they don’t need to be to represent a good cross section of the quality that is delivered on a daily basis by steelwork contractors that commit to meeting the BCSA’s requirements for membership, and stand as good examples of the service that clients can expect from a BCSA member.

Clients, afraid of reputational damage if they associate with suppliers that can’t prove their competence, sustainability or other capabilities, are looking increasingly sceptically all along their supply chains. When asked to prove their capabilities, the audit processes involved with the RQSC Buildings and the BCSA’s recently refreshed Sustainability Charter, will provide steelwork contractors with an ideal way to demonstrate that they represent safe supply chain partners. The BCSA aims to convince clients that the membership route deserves to be the most respected way of proving sustainability and other credentials; it will also be the most straightforward way for steelwork contractors.

The case for BCSA membership, and for using a BCSA member, increasingly stacks up, as does the case for steel itself, as can be seen in all of this issue’s projects. Developers are keen to show their own sustainability credentials and one way of doing this – apart from employing a BCSA member steelwork contractor – is to consider retention, extension and refurbishment as alternatives to demolition, making considerable carbon savings.

We see good examples of the projects that can result at the iconic Olympia exhibition venue in West London and at Millennium Bridge House on the banks of the Thames.

At Olympia, works to extend and refurbish the existing buildings are being undertaken above and around three entertainment and exhibition spaces while they remain in use, and only one of Olympia’s four halls is being demolished and replaced. Millennium Bridge House is the scene of a redevelopment and enlargement of a 1980’s-built office block where 60% of the original structure is retained with new steelwork forming a new expressed facade.

At Chatham House we see steel’s traditional sustainability advantages deployed to provide flexible, open-plan, column-free interiors in a situation where there is minimal space and limited access. Being steel-framed, Chatham House will one day be capable of being easily reconfigured or extended if required, making further significant carbon savings.

Other high-tech industries benefit from steel’s ability to provide aesthetically pleasing, modern workplaces as we see at the new Oxford Technology Park where state-of-the-art offices and advanced research and development facilities are swiftly being delivered to meet demand. And the case for steel literally stacks up at North Brent School where selecting steel for a five-storey structure, to provide all the amenities needed by a school population of over 1,000, maximises efficiency of space. There’s a lesson to be learned there.

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