Three unconnected events have got me thinking.
Constructing Excellence recently launched their Essex Club in Chelmsford and I attended. The stated objective of CE is to demonstrate that long term, integrated collaborative working in the UK construction industry is better than going lowest-cost, a route that many contractors currently fear we are returning. CE aims to demonstrate this by putting the business case for collaborative working.
There were four interesting speakers, and an audience of dozens of keen contractors and consultants, but something was missing – an example of the business case for collaborative working. The main reason why contractors should attend was to learn how one could save money working together, but this need was not met with an actual case to illustrate value added.
Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with a developer contact about Design & Build on Twitter. It went along the lines of:
Me: Procurement is a spectrum of design certainty v cost certainty. Design & Build works if you can manage expectations.
Him: In Design & Build your certainty is that the Contractor will give you the minimum possible. Where you don’t specify you get the cheapest & worst.
We are both right of course. A contractor may well try and give you the cheapest solution, probably because he is tendering in a cut-throat environment; and yes, one should manage expectations. What is this conversation all about? It’s about quality, but its also about the business case. At the heart it’s about Money.
Then this morning I took a look at the Building Magazine’s current survey “Can sustainability survive the recession?”, which aims to find out how the recession is affecting sustainability in the construction industry. Answering the questions about specifying products it felt like there was something missing. I was reminded my of my conversation about Design & Build earlier, and the problem with the CE launch. I realised what was missing. Money.
Who is making the business case for sustainability?
The construction industry is a business. Most of its clients are business people, even Not for Profits must justify expenditure. If sustainability is ever to be a reality in the industry, it needs to address this fact.
What do you think?
The solution is to apply a monetary value to sustainability. Recycling is an example – it is cheaper to throw away our rubbish & make steel from iron ore, glass from sand, paper from trees, plastic from oil. However this attitude isn’t sustainable, so we change the economics by making waste disposal more expensive with a landfill tax.
To answer your question – Government is the only body in a position to alter the economic equation of housing. Just as electric cars don’t attract Car Tax & Congestion Charging, if Sustainable Buildings were exempt from Council Tax the financial landscape would be very different.
Andy Marshall says
A couple of good quotes which I think are sound advice:
Budget determines the vehicle for an idea not the strength of the idea itself (Thomas Vasquer)
The objective in times of economic restraint should be to seek excellence (not opulence) – David Craib
Focus on creating client value not visual (Earl Gee)
and lastly (but perhaps most importantly)
Sometimes, when I’m in the middle of a meeting, I want to sit in the client’s lap, stroke his hair, and say, “Hey, funny face.” (anon)