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  • Writer's pictureDigital Twin Skills Academy CIC

Building Safety: an immediate priority, providing greater visibility!





On the 3rd April 2023, the CIC Regulator permitted our founder & CEO, Dr Bola Abisogun OBE, to commence trading with the sole objective to create social value and a structured pathway for young people, into digital construction.

 

 




 


Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June 2017, the most significant outcome, that continues to define that completely unnecessary and wholly tragic event, is the introduction of Part 4 of the Building Safety Act 2022 (the Act), where ‘Higher-risk buildings’ or HRB’s, refer to the in-occupation requirements which are defined in section 65 of the Act under Higher-Risk Buildings (Descriptions and Supplementary Provisions) Regulations 2023 (the Regulations).

 




 

As of August 2023, [source: Inside Housing Magazine, care of Grainne Cuffe] “organisations involved in the commissioning and construction of “higher-risk” buildings face anywhere between £1.2bn and £2.9bn over the next 15 years. A consultation report by Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has suggested the estimated figures, following an impact assessment, into proposed secondary legislation where the costs relate to the “implementation and maintenance” of safety in “higher-risk” buildings.

 

The consultation also included proposals on the “golden thread of information”, a recommendation in Dame Judith Hackitt’s report, Building a Safer Future.

 

Later defined by the government as “both the information that allows you to understand a building and the steps needed to keep both the building and people safe, now and in the future”. The Golden Thread [or single source of truth] is a thread of information that should cover the entire life cycle of each tall building – a consistently updated digital record to ensure compliance with building regulations.

 

The (UK) government has estimated that the golden thread could cost anywhere between £268.3m and £458.6m. “This is solely the cost of digitising and managing the digital information and the digital system. It does not include the cost of collecting the information, which is set out in the safety case section,” according to the appraisal. 

 

The DLUHC has estimated that safety cases – the production and gathering of information necessary for the building’s golden thread – will cost between £493.3m and £1.5bn.

 

Enforcement could cost anywhere between £8.4m and £12.7m, while reviews and appeals are expected to cost industry between £2.1m and £3.1m.

 

Mandatory occurrence reporting – the reporting of any fire and structural safety issues in a building to the Building Safety Regulator – is expected to cost industry between £3.5m and £5.2m.

 

Accountable persons will be legally obliged to share building safety information with residents. The cost of this, labelled “residents’ voice” and including engagement, is expected to cost anywhere between £404.3m and £810.5m, with a central estimate of £540.2m. 

 

Industry familiarising itself with the new regulations is expected to cost anywhere between £1.3m and £2.9m _ END

 

Whilst the figures are all informed estimates, it is worth noting that they are all ‘subject to change’ and may not be truly representative of likely and expected ‘out-turn’ costs.

 




 

That said, the Digital Twin Skills Academy ‘DTSA’ was born out of a dire need for the sector to equip itself with the skills required to create an asset specific Building Safety Case Report, a legal document that potentially could be reviewed by the Building Safety Regulator ‘BSR’ every five (5) years. As of 1st October 2023, somewhere between 12,500 to 15,000 HRB’s were identified and required to be registered with the BSR as the first step towards compliance. We believe that all targets have been successfully achieved, but naturally, the ‘actual’ number of HRB’s continues to grow.

 




 

 

Notwithstanding, today [23.02.24] there are no words to express our complete and utter disappointment and sadness at the unfortunate tragedy that has unfolded in Spain. Having observed live footage of the incident late last night, the question that our Founder & CEO put to members of our Strategic Advisory Board, was framed as:

 

“Has the Spanish equivalent of a Grenfell Tower tragedy, just happened?”

 

According to recent updates and even at this relatively early stage, it would appear that ‘suspected’ flammable cladding may well have contributed to the tragic death of some ten (10) individuals in the high rise, 14 storey development. Home to more than 450 residents living in 138 apartments, across adjoining structures, the fire took place in the Spanish city of Valencia.

 

Following the live feed from the BBC News website, their summary concluded earlier this evening, has confirmed the following.

 

 

Summary

1.   Spanish officials say at least ten people are dead, media reports say 14 injured after fire engulfed a high-rise apartment complex

 

2.   Firefighters were seen rescuing people from balconies, using cranes to reach those trapped on high floors

 

3.   Although the building is still very hot, firefighters have been able to enter the lower floors and begin searching for the missing people

 

4.   Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has visited the scene and promised all possible aid to the city and its region

 

5.   There are fears that highly flammable cladding on the building's facade may have helped the fire spread - as in the 2017 tragedy at London's Grenfell Tower

 




 

A defining moment that led to legislative change and 'generational reform'

 

With Grenfell still under review, the UK is clearly no stranger to such tragic events having experienced a similar but patently much worse event, arising from a similar relationship with flammable cladding.

 

Under the sterling leadership of Dame Judith Hackitt, the most significant outcome, that continues to define Grenfell Tower, a completely unnecessary incident, is the introduction of S65 of the Building Safety Act 2022 and the Higher-Risk Buildings (Descriptions and Supplementary Provisions) Regulations 2023.



However, at an ongoing cost of circa £1.2billion [inclusive of circa £170m towards the cost the Inquiry; as of June 2023] the Grenfell Tower event is still being ‘unpicked and unpacked’ in seeking to accurately determine the series of events that led to the tragedy that took place on 14th June 2017, almost seven (7) years ago. At the DTSA, we truly believe that ‘digital twins’ have a role to play in the long-term and sustainable future of building safety.

 

 

Much needs to happen within and across the industry and in this, the final year of transition for the UK sector to adjust its business, working and cultural practices, we are keen to support the sectors commitment to professional development and wider upskilling of the emerging talentpool. Called the DTSA Programme, we are co-curating a ‘social value’ programme of modularised learning for young people [16-25yrs] which will be completely aligned to various ‘skills and competency frameworks’, as and when they come on stream. More importantly, we are keen equip young people with a defined career pathway into the sectors new and evolving legal requirement called the Golden Thread; the most pressing client facing requirement and critical project deliverable under s65 of the Building Safety Act.

 

 



 

 

Our mission is simple, “to educate those within the sector on their unique relationship and obligation to deliver the Golden Thread”. Our key objective is “to support the sectors approach to better compliance with the overarching legal requirement(s) of the Building Safety Act, whilst fostering an agile and accountable approach towards resident engagement and occupier safety”.

 

Essentially we aim to empower and equip asset owners [Accountable Person(s)] – who are, and remain, legally responsible for the risk management of their assets, against two principal and insured perils:

 

·      the spread of fire; and

·      structural collapse

 

 

At the DTSA, we truly believe that greater adoption of the ‘digital twin’ as an agile, data-driven, strategic business tool, will go some way towards ensuring that the lives of every occupier will be protected in ‘real-time’, in every possible and conceivable way. Additionally, when made available to security cleared relevant third parties, the digital twin has the potential to ensure that the risks that may exist from products used in the construction and/or maintenance of the asset [with a focus on legacy assets] and/or the systems required to support safe and timely evacuation in the event of a fire, are always functioning as they were intended to, during the design process.  

 

Paul Sheedy, CEO of Unifi.id, and a Strategic Advisory Board Member at the DTSA, had this to say:

 

“If the property sector took disasters like Grenfell as seriously as the airline sector take their disasters, we would not be looking at the horror of Valencia. It defies belief that all these years after Grenfell the same issues still raise their ugly head, how are fire alarms not working in 2024(?), why is flammable cladding still in place in 2024(?). But indifference to safety is endemic in the property sector, the utter lack of basic controls is beyond belief. These issues can all be managed and resolved, but it will take governments, the insurance sector, and fire regulations to grow a backbone and stop allowing property management to play with people's lives while their lax attitudes and an unwillingness to digitalise systems persist. We will have more disasters like last night in Valencia and the 2017 Grenfell fire unless attitudes change now. We must move to black box systems and real time safety controls to ensure the sector ascends to the measures the airline sector place on safety.”

 




 


One life lost in such tragic and largely unnecessary circumstances is one life too many. It is 2024 and time for the built environment to ‘upskill every member of the value chain’ starting with the client / asset owner / accountable person. Such upskilling should extend to EVERY member of the clients appointed team, so that in ‘real-time’ we can better understand how we can avoid situations where individual dwellings in a higher risk building, found to be lacking in compliant safety measures such as ‘working’ fire alarms, simply doesn’t happen. It’s also time for the insurance sector to take stock of this growing asset level risk and begin to actively re-appraise their current business model, adopting more of a ‘digital-first’ approach towards insurance cover for legacy assets. The intrinsic relationship between the insurance sector and any documented ‘as-built’ information, remains an area ripe for disruption and digitisation. We must do all we can to ensure that occupied buildings are ‘fit to occupy’ and where they fall short in any ‘regulatory’ capacity that could pose a risk to both occupiers and wider society, the relevant safety mechanisms and/or interventions, can be made without delay.

 

Led by our founder & CEO, Dr Bola Abisogun OBE, the Executive Team and entire Strategic Advisory Board send our deep condolences to those families and individuals in Valencia [including all members of the Emergency Services] who have suffered losses and/or injury, in this most unfortunate incident.

 

END

 

 

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