Guest Blog Post by Simon Owen, Vice-Chairman of CIBSE Yorkshire
I don’t know about you, but while I knew Yorkshire is a big county, and that we have a lot of building and construction work centred within the area, I didn’t know just how good we are at it. That changed on Friday…
At the Construction Excellence Yorkshire and Humber Awards people from all branches of the construction and engineering family came together to talk about what they do and celebrate what they have achieved over the last year. I was the guest of Tekla and it wasn’t until I was chatting with Marian Thomasson and Jill Willoughby that I realised Yorkshire’s history of innovation goes beyond the building as a whole, but also to the local manufacturers; Hepworth Building Products were at the front end of developing push fit plumbing fittings while NavisWorks is a development of a package created in Sheffield.
Kicking off the evening, Chris Gorse, Director and Professor of the Leeds Sustainability Institute and Centre for the Built Environment at Leeds Beckett University discussed with pride and passion the developments that they have been involved with as part of his opening speech, from the students graduating, the establishment of ThinkBIM, GreenVision, Construction Knowledge Exchange while he neglected to mention the launch of BIM4SME’s being held in the region or that the University acts as the central hub for the UK Living Building Challenge team. He made up for it though by talking about the close relationship that they have with industry and the shared enthusiasm for carrying out research to find a better way of doing what we do.
The thing I’ve admired about all of the groups Chris mentioned is that they are accessible; there is an “everybody welcome” approach so that no matter what your base level of knowledge you will enjoy the event and won’t feel daft being there. The other thing that is special about them is that they are all shared via through social media, web casts and tweets – possibly not a secret, but worth knowing if you have an interest in the subject but were a bit nervous about coming along.
CEYH Chair, Tom Oulton, and host, BBC Look North’s Amy Garcia, taking selfies
The presentations themselves were inspirational; for instance Alison Watson of Class of Your Own introduced three of her students who had been working with Cundall, Mott MacDonald and Laing O’Rourke. They talked about their course, their plans for the future and how they have been supported by the companies that they worked with. There was a huge applause for the Alison as she is well known and recognised for being a trail blazer, but this was almost dwarfed by the one after students had presented; all 350 people in the room could sense their enthusiasm for what they have learned and could see how the “Design Engineer Construct!” programme has the potential to change how we bring people in to the industry.
Luke, Brad and Daniel of A Class of Your Own presenting
There was main contractors, sub contractors, design consultants and industry specialists all rubbing shoulders with client organisations such as East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Northern Rail and Yorkshire Water; it is hard to imagine a more diverse group of people gathering, talking and celebrating. Speaking with Mark Randerson of SH Structures, he told me that the awards are a crucial part of marketing their business; they design, install and manufacture steel structures, but not the standard stuff, they do the work where you look and wonder “just how on earth did they do that”. When they try to get on the supplier list for main contractors they struggle as procurement departments say “we have 6 people on the list, we don’t need anyone else”. When as Mark said, “all I want is for people to remember us when they need to deliver the out of the ordinary”, the awards help as people know that they are the company that won this award, was nominated for that award or completed projects that change local landscapes such as The Kelpies. Procurement may have six people on their list, but there probably aren’t six companies in the country that can deliver projects of the nature that specialists such as SH can.
Above all it changed perceptions and proved that every project being delivered by every organisation has scope to do something amazing and break new ground. Lovell won the award for Health and Safety on their Hull re-roofs project demonstrating that glamour is not required. The Heritage award was won by East Riding of Yorkshire Council for their Sewerby Hall Access Project showing that a high profile and international brand is not essential while the Integration and Collaborative Working award went to Kier and the York Teaching Hospital NHS Trust, marking how the focus of the property team remains on delivering the best facilities they can in the midst of the various wrangling’s and politics.
The East Riding of Yorkshire Council team collecting their award
It would be great to see more public bodies, housing schemes (low energy new builds perhaps?) and what some would say left field works represented next year and really spread the word of just what is being achieved behind so many office doors and site entrances.
For me, one thing is for sure and that our host for the evening, Amy Garcia, summed it up well when she said that “the future of the industry is in safe hands” after hearing Luke, Brad and Daniel of Class of Your Own speak. She’s right, especially if the news is as good in other regions as it is in this one…