Today is the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire, a tragedy that shook the whole of the United Kingdom, if not the entire world. There is an ongoing enquiry to help bring a bit of clarity and justice to those who were affected. The question is: What progress has been made over the last five years to ensure this doesn’t happen again? Have a read below.
The Building Safety Bill Became Law
The ‘Building Safety Act 2020′ received royal assent on 28th April 2022 after months of debate and amendments. This new law is in place to ‘create lasting generational change’ to the way high risk and residential buildings are constructed and maintained.
Currently, the law applies to buildings at least 18 metres high or at least seven storeys tall with two residential units. It also applies to care homes and hospitals that meet the same height threshold during the design and construction phases. More building types may be added to this law in future. You can read more here.
The Golden Thread Initiative
As some of our readers may already know from our previous articles, Operance is honored to be involved and participate in the national Golden Thread Initiative (GTI). The initiative aims to improve how we manage building information by providing the entire lifecycle of a building’s information in a digital format, or, the ‘Golden Thread’ as it is referred to.
The Golden Thread Initiative (GTI) sponsored by The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) – formerly the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), consists of a group of industry professional partners, that will participate in a short, intense collaborative project to achieve three key aims:
- Build a prototype of a standardised digital Golden Thread.
- Produce the information requirements and process maps for building safety information.
- Produce a report that will be published for industry detailing the GTI’s work.
As described by the government, The Golden Thread is both:
The information about a building that allows someone to understand a building and keep it safe, and
The information management to ensure the information is accurate, easily understandable, can be accessed by those who need it and is up to date.
It will be the duty of the people responsible for a building to put in place and maintain a golden thread of information. Having a golden thread will mean that those people responsible will have easily accessible, reliable, up to date and accurate information. Without this information, it is very difficult to manage buildings safely.
Implementation of the golden thread will require individuals and organisations responsible for a building to have good information management systems and a clear understanding of how information management supports building safety. Going forward the information management for safety will need to be embedded across the sector.
Deciphering who is responsible for the Golden Thread depends on whether the tenants have moved into the building or whether the building is still in development. You can watch our quick explanatory video on the Golden Thread below.
Did You Know?
In order to organise and store the golden thread information effectively, we have developed the Operance App. Our software enables you to manage your projects in the cloud, including building information, operations and maintenance, supply chain, and more. Find out more by visiting here.
The BRAC Golden Thread Project
The Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC) have approved the formal definition of the Golden Thread. The official definition was shared online and in summary, covers the information, documents and information management processes used to support building safety. Official government advice is available to read on their website here.
BIM4HAs (BIM for Housing Associations)
The National Housing Federation and UK BIM Alliance have been working on a joint project to develop an exemplar set of documents and guidance, to support Housing Associations implementing digital asset management.
BIM4HAs have a toolkit and a supporting forum available for people to use. The toolkit is free to download and provides associations with the opportunity to innovate and lead. You can find out more information here.
Golden Thread Software Research & Development
As mentioned above, the Golden Thread is the thread of building safety information in a digital format. This information contains accurate and up-to-date records of building data which spans the entire lifecycle of old and new facilities.
Operance has been working hard behind the scenes over the last two years to design and build a solution to the Golden Thread. In order to execute the Golden Thread effectively, the need for a platform to define, curate, access and maintain this information is more than ever before. This is where the Operance app provides real value to the industry and helps guarantee the safety of anyone who enters or lives in these buildings.
We continuously focus our research and development efforts on this, ensuring that the Golden Thread can be executed to its true potential and that buildings are as safe as possible.
But it’s important to be open and transparent, as we say to our customers, there is as of today not one piece of software that provides the full ‘golden thread solution’. How can there be?!
Whilst the government have made the Building Safety Act law, there is still a lot of clarification required; such as, what information is requested at each gateway during the design and construction phase and what information is to be provided and maintained during the occupation phase. We also have yet to see how that information will be used for fire safety and for the benefit of occupants.
Therefore, housing associations, local authorities and anyone else researching and engaging with vendors should be very clear as to what they are being sold, specifically when vendors and/or consultants are marketing themselves as a ‘golden thread solution’.
At Operance we are simply dedicated to continuously designing and building our platform in line with the latest regulations and recommendations, to become a solution to the golden thread – the difference is clear and very important!
As we see it, there are two types of software relating to the golden thread on the market today, that you could put in one of two pots;
- Legacy Technology: existing software solutions that are attempting to add on, plug-in or pivot to provide golden thread features onto their platform.
- New Technology: new software solutions that are designing and building software from scratch in line with both the design and construction phase and occupation phases.
When speaking with vendors, ask yourself, which pot would you pot them in?
We are firmly in Pot 2; with the ambition to continue working with the government, industry experts, housing associations and other clients and contractors to develop a real solution to defining, curating, accessing and maintaining the Golden Thread.
You can find out more about our software and how we are continuously evolving it here.
The Grenfell tragedy affected the lives of many and will never be forgotten for that reason. We hold the events of those affected close to our hearts and appreciate that no matter what, the damage cannot be undone. All we can focus on now is how to prevent it from happening again, and we hope that today’s article has helped provide an insight into this.
Whilst it may seem not a lot has changed in the 5-years since the Grenfell Disaster, please take a second to acknowledge the visionaries, the practitioners, the early adopters, the experts and the changemakers that give up their free time to participate in initiatives such as those mentioned above to try and create change. They don’t always agree, you might not always agree with them, but they are doing something great, they are trying to create change for good. Because of this, Operance we will always support them and do everything we can to support them, for it is them that will drive that change because they are the ones that believe they can.
You, yourself can be one, get involved in an initiative, or simply help by providing your own thoughts. For instance, you could respond to the government’s request for your views on Higher Risk Buildings: Click here.
Either way, the best way to predict the future, is to invent it. The best way to drive change, is to help make the change you want to see. Get involved and together we can all help prevent another Grenfell from happening.
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