C+S December 2022 Vol. 8 Issue 12 (web)

Earlier this year, the UK’s Building Safety Act passed into law to reset safety standards in the country following 2017’s Grenfell Tower fire disaster. The legislation, which should take another year for most of its provisions to come into effect, creates a new safety regime for the construction and operations of high-rise residential buildings and holds the promise of significant change for the entire construction and facili - ties management industry. Every business involved in the construction process will now need to reconsider how they collect, track and man- age critical building information throughout the entire lifecycle to meet the new bill’s requirements – and the use of connected construction technology will be paramount. As the UK moves in the right direction to innovate building safety stan- dards, US infrastructure ranks 13th in the world and has consistently scored D ratings. Sadly, the US recently saw its highest score in 20 years with a C- infrastructure report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers. The reason this is especially disappointing is that America ranks second in road infrastructure spending, but still ranks in 60th place for road safety, clearly demonstrating that money alone will not solve these problems. More robust solutions are absolutely necessary. Major improvements are set to come with the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which targets US infrastructure that desperately needs to be updated. Just as importantly, it will also examine how various construction processes can be more sustainable for the environ- ment, how to provide more secure conditions for workers, and ways to make industry practices more efficient without sacrificing safety. These lofty goals may sound daunting, but the UK bill has set the precedent for an infrastructure overhaul of this scale that the US can emulate to ensure these objectives are successful. In the UK, failing to meet these building safety obligations will result in fines and criminal charges, which are likely to be factors in regulat - ing the IIJA in the US as well. Logically, it is likely to follow that owners and insurers will refuse the risk of working with non-compliant organizations. To avoid these added costs and the risk of becoming un- insured, it will be most prudent to take a proactive approach to prepare for impending building regulations. With more transparency between contractors and building owners, there will be better congruency be- tween project vision and project reality, giving contractors the chance to build right the first time with added accountability throughout the project lifecycle. Reducing rework is a growing area of concern, espe- cially as the cost of building materials and equipment has skyrocketed, and uncertainty in market pricing continues to loom. What the US Can Learn from Building Accountability in the UK

While the market prepares for the next round of IIJA grants to be released, Infrastructure is poised to use advanced digital construc- tion management technologies at all points of the project lifecycle, throughout design, preconstruction, construction and operations. The IIJA dictates that these technologies and digital workflows should im - prove multiple outcomes for the project and for the teams; including boosting productivity, managing complexity, reducing project delays and cost overruns, and enhancing safety and quality. Digital construc- tion technologies used on IIJA projects are also required to maximize interoperability with other systems, meaning that open AP Is between applications, and strong connected workflows between systems will be paramount to ensure efficiency and effectiveness. Another major requirement in the IIJA focuses on reporting, calling for state gov- ernments that use the funding to share progress reports detailing the technology’s implementation on its projects annually. Establishing accurate recordkeeping of how construction projects are completed among building owners may not sound exciting, but it is still vitally important for building trust, accountability and improving quality of future work over time. All organizations will need to revisit how as built information is collected and stored which—given that records will need to be kept for the life of an asset—will more than likely necessitate digitizing records if they have not already been digi- tized during the pandemic. Data management and security will be even more important to monitor closely as more records are expected to migrate online amid a growing cybersecurity threat. Moving processes like documentation and recordkeeping from analog to digital also rep- resents opportunities to not only improve asset management through digital twins, but also improve the way in which future infrastructure is designed and built as they become reference points for performance benchmarks, especially as computational analysis and generative de- sign capabilities continue to mature. In the UK’s Building Safety Act, building owners are required to establish clear lines of responsibility with a designated “Accountable Person” for each stage of decision-making, from planning and con- struction to turnover and occupation. Developers in the UK are waiting for the impending establishment of a national regulatory agency for construction products and there will likely be a similar regulatory orga-


December 2022 csengineermag.com

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