Written evidence submitted by the BSI [BSB 429]

Thank you once again for the opportunity to appear before your Committee on 21 September as part of an Oral Evidence session in support of your pre-legislative scrutiny of the Draft Building Safety Bill.

I trust my contributions during the session were helpful to the Committee. To provide further detail that we did not have time to cover, I write to offer the Committee an update on BSI’s ‘professional competency’ activity, and to expand upon the ‘Golden Thread’ policy as discussed on the day. 

Professional Competency

During the session we explored the importance of professional competency and I appraised the Committee of the Built Environment Competence Standards (BECS) work programme that BSI is leading. 

Sponsored by MHCLG, and working directly with the wider sector, BSI is developing a suite of British Standards and supporting documents to raise levels of competence in the workforce for people responsible for building safety, at the design, construction, refurbishment and throughout the occupation phase of a building’s life. The first phase of this process saw us launch the consultation last Thursday of the first iteration of the Built environment – Overarching framework for competence of individuals. The new standards framework covers the core skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours required to work on buildings in scope of the new building safety regime. Once published (expected March 2021), the framework can be used to develop sector-specific competence frameworks for relevant trades and professions.

The first public consultation on the draft standard is open for comments until 20th October and we are working with a wide range of stakeholders to raise awareness of the framework and to seek scrutiny and feedback on it. We would be pleased if any of the Committee wished to add their own comments on the proposed standard.

The draft can be found at https://standardsdevelopment.bsigroup.com/projects/9020-04664.

Golden Thread

Towards the end of our session we discussed how the Draft Bill seeks to require a ‘Golden Thread’ of building information to be created, stored and updated through the Gateway process and throughout the building’s lifecycle, which I wholeheartedly support.  

Structured, systematic digital information management has the potential to capture relevant information about a building and maintain it through its lifecycle. A body of existing standards relevant to the Golden Thread already exists addressing Building Information Modelling (BIM), which is UK led and known as the BS EN ISO 19650 series of standards. This series of British Standards, which has become established globally as international and European regional standards was initiated some years ago through the foresight and support of BEIS. More standards are forthcoming as the series grows to embrace new facets of digital information in the built environment. 

A number of our leading designers and constructors who use the BIM standards have come together in the UK BIM Alliance and together with BSI and the government funded Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) worked to create the UK BIM Framework. To progress the Golden Thread, it is imperative that we build upon this foundational work. The construction sector is clearly behind other major sectors in its adoption of digital technologies and processes, but the Golden Thread provides an opportunity to support the government’s long-term ambition to drive greater adoption of digital approaches to deliver improved productivity, building safety and quality.  

Two final points are worth noting for the Committee.

BSI is working with sector stakeholders to develop a new standard, BS 8644, which defines information requirements for fire safety considerations and provides a digital framework for that information to be managed across the lifecycle of a built asset with a particular emphasis on access to information in the event of emergency services intervention. We aim to be in a position to consult upon the standard early next year. 

BSI’s committee that oversees digital transformation in the Built Environment is called B/555 and is chaired by Dr Hywel Davies, Technical Director of CIBSE and the newly announced Chair of the Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC). Should the Committee wish to discuss the wider digital approach in the sector, and how this can best support the Draft Building Safety Bill going forward, I know that Dr Davies would be pleased to assist.    

I trust all the above is helpful and should you need anything else, or have any further queries, then please do not hesitate to contact me directly. 


October 2020