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Andrew Carpenter joins Programme Board of national CO2nstruct Zero initiative

One of the Midland’s leading advocates for modernising the construction sector is to help lead a major national initiative aimed at transforming the industry in response to the global climate emergency.

Andrew Carpenter, CEO of Constructing Excellence Midlands, has been appointed to the Programme Board of CO2nstruct Zero, the UK construction industry’s zero carbon change programme.

Launched in March 2021 by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), CO2nstruct Zero is the industry’s key response to achieving the UK Government’s objective of net zero for the whole economy by 2050.

The aim is to promote the high-level priorities that the industry must work on in order to drive carbon out of all parts of the construction sector, from manufacturing and design to construction and operation of assets.

In addition to Andrew Carpenter’s role on the board, Constructing Excellence Midlands is supporting the programme as CO2nstruct Zero Partner.

Andrew Carpenter, CEO of CE Midlands, said: “I am delighted to be asked to join the CO2nstruct Zero Programme Board and to have the opportunity to help shape construction’s response to what is, without doubt, the single biggest issue facing our industry and indeed our society and our planet.

“All of us have a role to play and construction needs to achieve nothing less than a revolution in how we embrace innovative methods and materials, design out carbon, build responsibly and optimise the efficiency of both new and existing homes and buildings and how we use them.

“The industry has learned vital lessons from COVID and for the first time in many years has come together with one voice. We now need to harness these recent achievements and direct our attention to the even greater challenge of climate change.”

CE Midlands leads the change agenda in construction regionally as part of Construction Excellence’s national mission to improve the industry’s performance and produce a better built environment.

A new Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) report caught Martyn Jones’ attention this month. The report, Housing Guarantee, argues that small and medium sized contractors (SMEs) need to play a much greater role in the housing sector, including getting priority when public sector land is sold for housing.

The CPS report calls for changes to the planning system to open up the market and allow better access for SMEs as part of the effort to diversify housing supply. The report argues that there should be less focus on increasing the number of planning permissions going through the system and more reforms helping small and medium sized house builders to access land.

Housing Guarantee highlights the fact that the top 10 house builders currently build 40% of all new homes, with the top six controlling around 33% of the market. The six biggest house builders alone currently have roughly one million plots in their strategic land banks, which is nearly the equivalent of the target supply across England over the next five years.

According to the CPS, this means smaller builders often face challenges obtaining land and risk being squeezed out of the system all together. While they built around 40% of homes in the 1980s, today they build 10%.

To date, attempts to increase the housing supply have focused on large volume builders and increasing the number of planning permissions going through the system. However, according to the report, the 2010 planning reforms led to permissions rising to over 350,000 which only resulted in 200,000 new homes being built. To increase the number of houses being delivered, the report recommends selling public sector land to local house builder SMEs.

It also recommends a housing delivery test for local authorities based on the number of houses built for the community, not planning permissions granted and, significant in this context, introducing panels of local builder SMEs

Minister of State for Housing, Chris Pincher MP, commented: “This CPS report is a very welcome contribution to the debate around both house building and planning reform”. It highlights the important role that SMEs can and should play in delivering more homes and helping the UK’s economy build back better. “A successful SME sector is crucial in our shared objectives of planning reform and increased house building,” he said.

But are our local SME contractors ready for this crucial role? And what can be done to support them?

Back in 2003,a report by members of the Bristol Constructing Excellence Club identified both the strengths and vulnerabilities of SMEs. The strengths identified in the report applicable to housing provision are: the ability to respond to the needs of niche markets by taking on jobs that are too small for larger organisations (in this case pockets of land that that are too small for larger house builders); the ability to get close to customers and accommodate changes to their requirements; and to respond more flexibly to change. And, staff are more closely linked to each other, the company, and local communities.

But what about SME vulnerabilities? Again, in the context of housing provision, they include dictatorial owner/manager ethos where the owner controls everything; a lack of access to capital; lack of formal structure and operating system; decision making based too much on ‘gut feeling’; and a lack of formal time and cash flow management.

Supporting SME house builders to build back more and better requires a crosscutting strategy building on their strengths and addressing their vulnerabilities. That includes key areas such as more easily accessible finance as set out in CESW’s publication, Development Finance: A best practice guide to lending.  [The CESW guide provides a means by which developers, funders and construction teams can work together making the funding process more collaborative and efficient – making it easier for SMEs to access funding, reduce risk, increase their pipeline of work and improve their profitability.]

Other support includes national and local government implementing appropriate macroeconomic policies; the capability and desire of the stakeholders in housing developments to provide conducive microeconomic business environments; simplified legal and regulatory frameworks; supportive education and learning; and the supply of sufficient skilled labour. And last, but by no means least, the capacity of SMEs themselves to implement up-to-date operating and business practices and work collaboratively in the local panels proposed in the CPS report.

These panels should be founded on the principles of Constructing Excellence. More specifically, Constructing Excellence could help on the demand side by encouraging housing development stakeholders to create more conducive microeconomic business environments for SMEs, and on the supply side, by supporting SMEs in adopting up-to-date operating practices and business strategies, and offering digitally optimised smart construction.

May-September 2021

West Midlands 5G are looking for 2 innovative construction companies to take part in their fully funded 5G Spring Accelerator challenge. Simply share your challenges & the cohort will get on with the solutions.

5G is ground breaking and much more than a simple step up from 4G. With lightning-fast speeds, ultra-low latency, the capacity to connect millions of machines simultaneously – 5G is the enabler that tackles costly construction industry problems head on.

Whether it’s health & safety, wayfinding, asset tracking, reducing waste & expensive errors, or simply getting things done faster, better and on time, this 5G accelerator programme and test bed facilities, with full tech support, can help create & validate real world solutions. Make your construction company 5G ready.

Find out how you can get involved by emailing Clare Mckee, West Midlands 5G Business & Stakeholder Engagement Manager at

Link to the challenge

Hi, and welcome to May’s Newsletter.

I have the pleasure of being able to use this platform to celebrate the launch of something we here at CE Midlands are extremely excited about, our “Diploma in Collaboration in Construction”.

During one of our recent webinars, it was stated that “people know the word collaboration but not the behaviours required to deliver it”. I can certainly vouch for this having heard comments such as “its sitting round a table, being friendly and eating biscuits” to “having a non-adversarial contract in place that we do not how to use”. It is so much more. It is not simply a system, process, or contract but a combination of culture, trust and togetherness with the right tools to support effective and efficient delivery.

As our lives and work return to some resemblance of “normal” it is imperative that the learnings and best practices shown during the past year are not lost and we do not, as a sector, revert back to “type”.

The diploma has the core values of Constructing Excellence at its heart and contains 12 modules designed to give delegates the theory and the skills to be able to return to their workplaces and implement the practices. Representatives from Laing O’Rourke, Morgan Sindall and Rider Levett Bucknall are part of 12 tutors who will be sharing their knowledge as part of the twelve-month online course. The diploma – which is working towards level five accreditation with Nottingham Trent University, Wolverhampton University and Swansea University- is taught over a year, with one half-day a month of tutoring, followed by additional reading material, homework and an indication of how what has been learned will be included in the delegates’ day-to-day activities.

Diploma Modules:

1. Introduction to the Principals of Collaboration and Integration in Construction

2. Leadership & Team Management

3. ISO:44001 Collaboration to include Behavioural Science & Psychology

4. Lean & Continuous Improvement

5. Process & Value Stream Mapping

6. Value Toolkit to include the Construction Playbook

7. Design Team Integration

8. Design for the Environment

9. Smart Construction (Digital & Offsite)

10. Quality & Compliance

11. Supply Chain Management

12. Collaborative Forms of Contract

Having been taught on the previous iteration of the diploma as well as helping organisations with service improvement projects utilising this knowledge, I can honestly say, that it has not only changed the way I work and approach projects but has delivered real-life benefits and improvements to value, quality, time, safety and many others by truly working collaboratively.

With the Construction Playbook, the Roadmap to Recovery and Building Safety Bill all calling for more collaborative approaches and it being business imperative post COVID, there is no better time for the industry to embrace & deliver collaboration and disrupt the traditional.

We hope to see you on the diploma!

For further information please visit where you will find podcasts, webinars and more.

Marc Preite, Capital Works Project Manager for Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHSFT

Leading homelessness charity, SIFA Fireside is inviting the construction and civil engineering sector to be part of an innovative new concept called Building Employability. The new scheme seeks to increase training and employment opportunities across the West Midlands for people who have experienced homelessness or exploitation.

‘I pledge’ is the first phase of the programme targeting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from across the region. The ask is simple; pledge support for socially responsible approaches to recruitment that helps provide opportunities for people who have experienced homelessness and those who are vulnerably housed. The charity is asking organisations to make their pledge and be directly involved in developing the concept as we begin to think about the post COVID landscape.

Highway Traffic Management has been the first to pledge their support. Managing Director and SIFA Fireside Patron Greg Baldwin said about the scheme: “We are very excited to have been involved in the planning and now the launch of Building Employability with SIFA Fireside. They have supported us hugely in tackling hidden homelessness within our workforce and it’s time for us, and the businesses of Birmingham to come together and pledge in support of their objectives and the aims of this movement.”

Working closely with SIFA Fireside’s specialist Teams, our Building Employability partners will use our innovative employment model to offer clients job opportunities and training within their business.

SIFA Fireside’s Fundraising and Corporate Partnerships Manager, Melissa Roche, said: “COVID-19 has impacted heavily on individuals and businesses across the region, which is why now is a crucial time to look at how we can work together to develop clear pathways and increase the number of people that have access to sustainable employment and accommodation opportunities.

“The commercial sector plays a key role in tackling homelessness in the city and a number of our corporate partners have offered employment opportunities to our work ready clients. Pledging your support to Building Employability is the first step to extending our reach within the thriving building and construction industry in Birmingham. Building Employability is a long-term approach that we want to develop with partners that stimulates real change and action.”

If you’d like to find out more and pledge your interest to come on board and help us develop our Building Employability project, visit our pledge page HERE

CLICK HERE to view the SFBA Proposal PDF

Businesses working in the built environment in the West Midlands are being encouraged to celebrate their successes following a hugely challenging year for the construction industry. Entries for the Constructing Excellence West Midlands Awards are now open, with 14 prizes on offer spanning projects, innovations and sustainability.

Sponsored by Salus, the awards honour companies and individuals working in the construction industry in the region, with winners moving forward to the organisation’s national awards. Andrew Carpenter, chief executive of Constructing Excellence Midlands, said: “The past twelve months have been incredibly difficult for everyone, but as an industry, we should be very proud of the way we have adapted to the challenges that we have faced.

“These awards give businesses the opportunity to be recognised not just for the great work they do on projects across the region, but also for their efforts in developing their people and creating social value.”

Unlike last year – where lockdown restrictions meant the awards were held virtually – this year’s honours will be presented at a physical ceremony in September.

Carpenter said: “As restrictions on social gatherings begin to lift and we progress through the Prime Minister’s roadmap, we wanted to ensure that the awards ceremony was an opportunity for our industry to get together in person and celebrate its successes in a way that hasn’t been an option for the past year.

“We will be keeping a close eye on the situation regarding indoor gatherings and will ensure that the event follows all the necessary protocols to ensure that everyone can remain safe and well.”

Paul Meadows, director of the event’s headline sponsor, Salus, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting these awards, which do a wonderful job in recognising the hard work of the people and companies that make up our industry.”

To be nominated, projects, schemes, processes or philosophies should have contributed to the West Midlands built environment and can be celebrated as an example of best practice. Entries are welcomed from developers, clients, contractors, specialist and sub-contractors, engineers, members of the design team and other consultants.

The deadline for submissions is Monday, 19th April 2021. For more information and to enter, please visit

Our mission is to create an inclusive platform for engagement between cross-sector communities of like minded innovation-driven entrepreneurs, corporates and the local business support ecosystem, to connect, exchange and grow.

The Grid was set up to help drive innovation across multiple industries and sectors with one clear goal – innovation through collaboration.
Constructing Excellence Midlands partners with The Grid to create a shared vision for change through innovation.
Working together, The Grid will connect brands and entrepreneurs together through innovation challenges, thought leadership, shared goals and ideation to create one platform that will connect all innovation-led businesses across the West Midlands.
If your business has an innovation challenge you need help with, or you are a start-up entrepreneur with a great idea please go to where you’ll find hundreds of accelerators, innovation shout outs, grants and partnerships available in your area.


Project Overview.

Retrofitting the existing housing stock represents a huge potential in actions to mitigate climate change and achieve the UK’s carbon neutral targets. There are also wider benefits from retrofit investments in addition to those of environmental aspects, such as improved health & well-being of occupants or fuel poverty reduction and job/employment creation and local economic growth.

However, these social-related benefits are not easily articulated or measured during the decision-making process of many retrofit investments. There is therefore a need for robust tools that allow a wholistic appraisal of investments in retrofit programmes/projects to evaluate their full benefits comprehensively. Doing so has the potential to strengthen the justification needed for retrofit investments especially in the social housing sector where retrofitting yields the greatest impacts.

This research project at the Nottingham Trent University’s School of Architecture Design and Built Environment seeks to develop a measurement framework tool that can be used to capture these social benefits and impacts in a systematic way and quantify them in economic terms to allow for robust and informed retrofit investment decision-making for social landlords and their residents/tenants.

The aim
As part of this study, the research team is undertaking data collection with social housing experts and practitioners in order to understand any existing retrofit evaluation tools and methods and to identify benefits of retrofits from their respective. This will generate a set of indicators of retrofit benefits. Experts will also be consulted on methods and criteria for scoring these indicators.

The research team will produce a framework and a set of tools for systematically identifying and measuring benefits of retrofit investments, which can be used by all
stakeholders, such as policymakers, social landlords, supply chain partners, community groups and residents themselves.

The benefits for the social housing sector

Contact the Research Team
For more enquiries or concerns regarding this research, please contact:
Michael Asinyaka:, or Ming Sun (Prof): or Emmanuel Manu (Dr):

I am pleased to be able to welcome you all to April’s Constructing Excellence Overview on which I want to talk briefly on the key challenges facing the construction industry.

Despite the massive shock inflicted by the Covid-19 pandemic, there are a number of industry reports forecasting a growth in the construction sector over the next couple of years. With a new forecast growth and positive outlook in the construction industry, what could possibly be keeping construction professional up of a night? My thoughts are focused on what I believe to be the big three challenges facing the construction industry over the next several years, these are changes in construction legislation, climate change and skills & labour shortage.

Whilst there have always been many challenges across the construction sector, I believe the combination of the three areas mentioned above will see the biggest impact that the construction industry has seen within the last 50 years. The UK construction industry is currently undergoing major reforms and we need to be ready by insuring we have the right competencies and skills.

Changes in Construction legislation

Firstly, with regards to the changes in construction legislation, the Draft Building Safety Bill has been covered quite extensively by Construction Excellence in one of its Webinars and through its Quality & Compliance Theme Group meetings. Whilst the new legislation is proposed to be in place by the end of the year it has already started to have an impact in the construction industry. Construction professional and contractors are starting to plan their service responses to the new requirements, ensuring their teams have the right competences to ensure they can deliver to the compliance and quality requirements driven by the draft Building Safety Bill. What are you doing to ensure your teams are competent and ‘who’ and ‘how’ is ensuring compliance and quality at each stage of the project.

Climate change and carbon reduction is not just a technical challenge and a financial headache it’s also a highly emotive subject. The fact is that climate change is accelerating, and this is driven by carbon emissions. The built environment contributes around 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint, the choices we make on building form, orientation, materials and building services will determine that building’s carbon emissions for many years. With challenges come opportunities, changing legislation and policy will drive the industry to innovate, those companies that invest in skills and technology will win new business, improve efficiency, help to cut costs, and breed innovation.

The challenges around skilled labour shortages are complex, particularly around the negative perception of working in construction and the questions surrounding diversity and inclusivity. With an ageing workforce and less young people entering construction, the industry looks certain to face a skills crisis within this decade. Many construction workers are retiring, and the rate of retirement looks set to increase as 22% of the workforce are over 50, and 15% are in their 60s. Add into the mix the rapidly growing industry around Modern Methods of Construction (MMC’s) it would seem that the traditional construction skills need to adapt. Again, what are you doing to ensure the industry has the right skills and competencies to meet the challenges facing the Construction industry.

So, in summary, my call to action would be this, if you’re not familiar with the Draft Building Safety Bill and how it could impact the construction industry I would strongly recommend you read the Impact Assessment published in 2020 by the MHCLG. If you would like to understand the construction industry challenges around carbon reduction there are many reports, papers and tool kits on the subject, but a good starting point would be the UK Green Building Council. Importantly, put some time aside to really think about both your team’s and your own competencies in meeting the above key challenges that face use all as construction professionals.

Julie Bell-Barker, Head of Project and Works – City of Wolverhampton Council

This month, Martyn Jones asks us how much progress have we made in unlocking the potential of specialist contractors and giving them a more participative role in the development process.  Back in 1998 Martyn co-authored a report for the then Department for Trade and Industry (DTI), Unlocking specialist potential: A more participative role for specialist contractors with the support of the members of a Task Force assembled by the Reading Construction Forum.

In the report, the Task Force set out the crucial role that the specialist contractor plays in delivering project outcomes and providing client satisfaction, particularly in the case of those specialists contributing a significant amount to product design and specification.

It proposed three main strategies for adding value for the whole supply chain: improving relationships through teamwork and collaboration, taking a process-oriented approach to the design and construction process, and making customer requirements the central focus.

The report also argued that transformational leadership and cultural change brought about through continuous and shared learning were needed if the proposed strategies were to be successfully implemented and sustained.

Later, the Bristol Constructing Excellence Club, again with DTI funding, undertook an investigation into the means to engage specialist contractors and suppliers in the Rethinking/Constructing Excellence agenda. The report set out the barriers the specialists faced in engaging with the Rethinking Construction principles, the forms of help they needed, the strategies they should employ, and the role that the Constructing Excellence Clubs could play in supporting them in their transition to a more central and proactive role.

And CESW had yet another go with the publication of two guides: Outcome-led procurement: A common sense approach to procurement and then Outcome-led procurement: The view from the supply chain. The former called for design and construction to be treated as a joined-up process and the latter for other upstream project participants to think value and not price, and to think about putting themselves in the position of their specialist contractors and suppliers.

To follow up on the publication of the guide to Outcome led procurement: The view from the supply chain, CESW facilitated a series of regional workshops aimed at clients and their advisors on Outcome led procurement: How to get more value out of the supply chain. The workshops, in partnership with CE Clubs, set out what its like to be a specialist contractor/supplier and what participants upstream in the design and construction process could to unlock more value.

So, what progress have we made? According to Martin Davis, a member of the Reading Construction Forum Task Force back in 1998, and a practitioner with 31 years as a specialist M&E contractor, it’s still very much work in progress. In a recent article in Building magazine on The Construction Playbook Davis argues that although the supply chain accounts typically for about 80% of the cost of the project they are still largely marginalised in the design and construction process. He says, “Speak to any of them [specialist contractors] about collaborative procurement and they will tell you that nothing much has changed: they are still typically appointed on a price, screwed down as the main contractor seeks to recoup the losses from his decision to discount his margins to win the overall contract. Simply put, value has been sucked out of the [very] asset to be provided by the supply chain.”

He goes on, “How could anyone who cares about construction disagree with anything in the Construction Playbook? Why then do I, a practitioner with 31 years as a specialist M&E contractor, know that it will not realise the government’s ambition to “change our approach to delivery”?

He observed that, tellingly, of the 48 signatories to the Playbook, only one was a specialist subcontractor (as distinct from an “official”).

So, what can we do to further develop and fully unlock specialist potential and engage them in the change agenda? Here are four to be getting on with:

In Constructing Excellence, we all re-energise our efforts to engage more specialists and suppliers in shaping the industry’s change agenda and transformation.

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