BESA members step in to rescue Vaughan apprentices

Seven building engineering apprentices have been swiftly re-employed after losing their jobs following the collapse of part of Vaughan Engineering.

Fellow members of the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) in Scotland have found positions for all of the apprentices after Vaughan was forced into administration last week as a direct result of the insolvency of the construction giant Carillion.

Vaughan was owed more than £600,000 for projects already completed on behalf of Carillion and was contracted to carry out a further £1.1 million worth of Carillion work in the first quarter of this year. The 53-year-old company’s Belfast-based operation was not affected and continues to trade, but Vaughan’s businesses based in Newcastle, Manchester and Edinburgh were hit by the fallout.

BESA chief executive, David Frise, described the swift re-employment of the Vaughan apprentices in Scotland as a “lone bright spot in an otherwise tragic tale”.

“There has been a string of bad news following the collapse of Carillion and the loss of this long-established and highly respected company is heart breaking,” said Mr Frise. “However, the speed with which fellow BESA members have moved to rescue the careers of these apprentices has helped to raise spirits.”

As news of Vaughan’s difficulties began circulating, BESA staff contacted all of the apprentices –based at the company’s divisional HQ in Edinburgh – and advised them to update their CVs. When the administration was confirmed and its 160 staff made redundant, details of all seven, who are either in the third or fourth year of their training, were then circulated to other BESA members in Scotland.

Three of the apprentices were taken on by Blantyre Park Services; with one each going to Servest Arthur McKay; John G Mackintosh; James Frew; and FES.

Ross Farrell, one of the apprentices taken on by BPS, thanked his new employer and BESA for “helping us out through a tough time”.

“I heard about my redundancy on the Tuesday; and by Friday I had a new job, which shows how well both BPS and BESA handled our situation.”

Mr Frise added his thanks to the new employers and commented: “It is often forgotten in the blizzard of headlines around major company insolvencies that the hopes and aspirations of young people are at stake – and that vital skills can be lost to our industry forever.”

David Sinclair shaking the hand of Coffey Construction operations manager, Cathal Kerrigan, with manager Dougie McBain looking on

Meanwhile civil engineering company Coffey Construction has lent its support for TIGERS Modern Apprentices who were adversely affected by the recent Carillion liquidation.

Coffey made contact with TIGERS, through Scottish Water, to offer two employment opportunities on its projects, one of which David Sinclair has successfully undertaken. Following the initial discussions that took place between TIGERS and Coffey Construction, Operations manager Cathal Kerrigan said his organisation was looking for young people who had a strong work ethic, great punctuality and respect for the opportunity being offered to them.

David Sinclair, who was performing well at the TIGERS Construction Skills Academy when Carillion fell into liquidation, is relishing his new opportunity and over the last two weeks has worked on at least three different elements of the project having been involved in concreting, kerb laying and providing support for other tradesman on site.

Now a general operative at Coffey Construction, David said: “I am over the moon to have been offered an opportunity at Coffey Construction. Everyone has been great. I have already been involved in great work and I am booked into take part in 2 or 3 different short courses over the coming weeks.”

Dougie McBain, Coffey Construction manager, added: “David is off to a great start. His attitude to work over his first two weeks has been excellent. David is travelling from Maryhill to Greenock on public transport every day and is one of the first people through the door, which highlights his commitment to his new role – I believe he has a great future here at Coffey Construction.”

Coffey Construction has built on this recent success by also offering an opportunity to TIGERS Apprentice Kieran Morrison, who started his new role with Coffey Construction on March 19.

BESA appoints new chief executive

David Frise

David Frise has been appointed as the new chief executive officer of the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA).

He has been combining the roles of head of sustainability at BESA and chief executive of the construction fit-out body FIS for seven years. He takes over as CEO of BESA with immediate effect, but will also continue in his role at the FIS for a short period to help manage the transition to his successor.

A former nuclear submariner, he left the Royal Navy to become managing director of a building engineering services contractor, which he described as a “logical step”.

“Submarines and buildings might look like two different worlds, but in the end it’s all plumbing!” he said. “That doesn’t mean any of it is easy, but the basic engineering principles are the same and good quality building services firms – like BESA members – have a lot in common with the nuclear industry.

“We may not have the same profile, but should give ourselves a bit more credit. It will be part of my mission to impress on anyone who will listen that building engineering has a vital social and economic role to play by helping to deliver a top quality built environment.”

Mr Frise is a frequent speaker on a range of industry topics including energy efficiency, system integration, government policy and the ‘performance gap’ in buildings.

“We are delighted to have secured David’s services,” said BESA President Tim Hopkinson. “He is a well-known and respected industry figure, who brings enormous experience to the role. He also brings vital continuity, as an existing senior member of staff and former md of a member company, along with a fresh perspective thanks to his time leading the FIS.”

The BESA Board gave unanimous backing to the appointment stating that Mr Frise had the required track record and the necessary political, technical and management qualities. He was the “outstanding candidate”, they said, and demonstrated a clear appreciation of the role members play in the organisation and an understanding of their different needs and priorities.

“It was clear from the start that David was the charismatic leader we had been looking for,” said Mr Hopkinson. “He is the right man to represent our Association at all levels and to build on its heritage and profile.”

Mr Frise said his key priorities would include stepping up the Association’s already substantial role as a leading provider of technical standards and guidance. This will be delivered by working with BESA members and in collaboration with other stakeholder sector bodies to make sure all technical output was “world class, relevant and cutting edge”.

He added that training would be another priority so that member companies could access the skills they needed to support technical developments.

“I want to build a community where BESA members can flourish,” said Mr Frise. “This involves providing commercial and legal support for their businesses; making sure their views and needs are represented at central and local government level; and helping them to recruit and train a new generation of engineers equipped to operate in the modern built environment.”

College-employer partnership celebrates Scottish Apprenticeship Week

The highly successful partnership between BESA Scotland and Glasgow Kelvin College is providing excellent benefits for young Scottish engineering apprentices.

Four key engineering employers – FES, James Frew, MAQ Air Conditioning and City Refrigeration – have shown their commitment to developing their apprentices by providing a range of quality industry standard products and resources to the College to support apprenticeship training.

As one of the College’s key partners in building services engineering, BESA Scotland helped to broker this contribution.  It ensures that apprentices are receiving training which is industry-relevant and they are familiar with new and sustainable technologies.

Iain McCaskey of BESA Scotland said: “It is fantastic that our membership organisations are supporting apprentices by providing them with the latest equipment. This gives our young people the opportunity to work on the most modern technology in the industry. It is a fine example of our employer organisations not only supporting BESA and Glasgow Kelvin College but ensuring an experienced and skilled workforce for the future.”

To mark this generous support, local MSP for Springburn, Bob Doris, came along to Glasgow Kelvin College to meet staff and students and help them celebrate Scottish Apprenticeship Week. He also got the chance to see how the resources are used in the training workshops to enhance the learning of tomorrow’s skilled trades and professionals.

Anne Porter, head of faculty – engineering, construction and science at Glasgow Kelvin, said: “We are extremely grateful to these employers for providing such a high standard of resources for our students to use in the workshops. Both BESA and our own staff have worked hard to bring this about and we are delighted to receive these resources which are an investment in the future of the trades and their apprentices.”

College principal Alan Sherry added: “We are delighted to have Bob Doris, our local MSP along to the College once again to show his support of our students in Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2018.

“The College welcomes that these key employers have demonstrated their commitment to supporting our learners by providing state of the art equipment. This generous donation will ensure that we will continue to provide a quality learning experience preparing our young people for the world of work.”

Time to ensure action on retentions, say construction leaders

Construction trade federations across the UK are continuing their push for action on cash retentions.

The National Federation of Builders (NFB) and other trade federations with members most likely to be affected by the collapse of Carillion believe this is an opportunity for the industry to move swiftly to an agreement.

The SEC Group, The Electrical Contractors Association, Building Engineering Services Association, British Constructional Steelwork Association, Lift and Escalator Industry Association, National Association of Shopfitters, Scottish Building Federation, Electrical Contractors Association of Scotland and the Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation have all joined the call for an end to retentions by 2025.

The NFB said its hopes they will give their full backing to the Construction (Retention Deposit Schemes) Bill 2018 introduced by Peter Aldous MP so that the industry can put an end to risking the “£1 million lost each day” to upstream insolvencies.

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders, said: “While there may be justifications for retentions, abuse across both the public and private sectors saps the supply chain of much-needed cash flow. This has a negative effect on the overall health of the construction industry.”

Robert Hudson, chief executive of the National Association of Shopfitters, said: “This obscenity perpetuated by tier one contractors has been allowed to go on unabated for far too long starving the supply chain of much needed cash to invest in training and apprenticeships.”

Vaughan Hart, managing director of Scottish Building Federation, added: “The size and scale of the insolvency of Carillion has brought the issue of retentions in the construction industry into sharp focus. However, it should be borne in mind that the majority of the retention monies withheld do not sit in the hands of main contractors, but remain with their clients. If retention monies have been released by the client on a project and not issued to the supply chain, this practice should be outlawed.

“The abolition of retentions is something that SBF would welcome, but in the absence of such an undertaking, the implementation of trust schemes for retention monies, or more significantly better rules governing the defect liability period and process, should be considered to ensure that the main contractor is held accountable to manage the defect rectification process in an efficient and timely manner. The supply chain must be afforded better protection.”

SEC Group chief executive, Rudi Klein, said: “We must never be placed in a position again where thousands of firms have lost their retentions – monies they legally own – because of large insolvencies up the supply chain.”

With almost £1 billion in retentions being lost as a result of Carillion’s liquidation, the NFB said the industry must not waste this opportunity to take what is a simple step to putting the entire supply chain – regional contractors, SMEs and specialists – on a more long-term sustainable footing and showing that the sector can work together.

MP to bring forward Private Member’s Bill to ring-fence cash retentions

Peter Aldous MP

Peter Aldous MP

A backbench MP’s attempt to reform construction’s use of cash retentions has been backed by three industry associations.

Peter Aldous, Conservative MP for Waveney, has laid a Private Member’s Bill to protect the billions of pounds of cash retentions withheld from construction SMEs.

The Ten Minute Rule Bill will seek to amend the 1996 Construction Act and ensure that retentions within construction are held in a third party trust scheme. A key aim will be to help protect companies in the construction supply chain from insolvency and payment uncertainly. The first reading of the bill in the House of Commons will be on 9th January 2018.

While such bills almost never reach the statute book, they offer an opportunity for backbench MPs to highlight issues of concern and apply pressure to government.

Mr Aldous has received backing from the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) and the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) and the Specialist Engineering Contractors’ Group (SEC).

Cash retentions are ostensibly withheld as security in case a firm fails to return to rectify non-compliant work. But research commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has revealed that the monies are primarily withheld to bolster the working capital of the party withholding them. Furthermore the practice gives rise to widespread abuse with the monies being withheld for three and more years.

The research revealed that over a three-year period £7.8 billion worth of retentions was outstanding.

Peter Aldous said that he was concerned about the impact on SMEs: “I have been aware of retentions as an issue for a while, and with construction being a tough industry and uncertainty surrounding many aspects of the economy, small businesses need as much support as possible. There are a number of specialist engineering firms in Waveney, and what this Bill aims to do is to protect them and their livelihoods as well as 280,000 other construction SME’s nationwide.”

He added: “Over the past three years, £700m worth of retention payments to small businesses were lost due to the insolvency of a client, and if a small business suffers from an upstream insolvency of this kind, they are punished twice; firstly with the loss of work, and secondly with the loss of retention money. We therefore need action on this before more millions are lost.

“SMEs are the backbone of the UK economy, which is why they need support and protection. This Bill is not about abolishing payment retentions; it is about making sure that people’s money is safe so that businesses can grow and invest in their future.”

Professor Rudi Klein, the CEO of the Specialist Engineering Contractors’ Group, said the Bill had cross-party support.

He added: “I’m very grateful to Peter Aldous for initiating this. All that is required is mutuality of security. If cash retentions are required as a form of security, there must also be security for the cash as exists in many other countries around the world.”

ECA director Paul Reeve said: “This bill aims to protect the supply chain from the serious impact of lost retentions due to upstream insolvency. Way beyond those companies who are damaged by upstream insolvency, even the possibility of losing retention money in this way hampers small business investment and growth. As such, this bill is entirely consistent with the aims of the new industrial strategy, which looks for innovation and investment in skills”.

BESA legal and commercial director, Rob Driscoll, added: “To meet the challenges set by the recently launched industrial strategy and construction sector deal, enabling industry to re-invest in jobs, training, innovation and technological transformation, government intervention is necessary to secure working capital that underpins the delivery models for the industry as a whole.”

In April 2017 Scottish National Party MP Alan Brown laid a similar private member’s bill to protect cash retentions but it was overtaken by the general election.

Construction trade associations publish election manifesto wish lists

Houses-of-ParliamentTrade associations from the UK’s construction sector have put housebuilding, training and procurement reform at the forefront of their wish lists ahead of next month’s general election.

Publishing their respective election manifestos the lobby groups have detailed what commitments they would like to see from the major political parties.

In its Manifesto for the Built Environment supply chain, the Specialist Engineering Contractors’ Group (SEC Group) said a future government and parliament should commit to three-points for a world-leading UK specialist engineering supply chain in the built environment.

  1. Bring legislation to protect all retention monies in a ring-fenced account, as first step towards zero retentions by 2025, and prioritise review of the ‘Construction Act’. From 2021 all publicly-funded built environment work over £1 million should be paid using Project Bank Accounts. Payment security will guarantee a sustainable supply chain of SMEs.
  2. By 2022 all publicity-funded infrastructure and building works should adopt smarter procurement methods as a pre-condition to the availability of funding. Best models of practice in public procurement contracts will drive positive change across the industry.
  3. Establish a joint government/industry task group with a remit to develop proposals for a statutory licensing scheme for contracting companies. Building on current initiatives, incentivise the industry to aim for greater efficiency and best quality standards that will create a level-playing field for competition.

Professor Rudi Klein, SEC Group’s CEO, said that the challenge for the industry was to become leaner and fitter and government policy can be the catalyst for this change.

He added: “We urge all political parties to adopt these points in their business & industry policies as they are essential levers for economic growth and increased productivity.”

An engineering services manifesto has been launched by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) and the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) which adds to a recent submission by the ECA and BESA on the government’s industrial strategy consultation.

The five-point manifesto calls for:

  1. Connecting the output of construction and operation of the UK’s built environment, and making it a strategic priority, to enable the sustainable delivery of economic, social and environmental benefits. Engineering services is uniquely positioned as a cornerstone of both sectors and has a central role in delivering these benefits throughout the lifetime of built assets, and, as a key enabler, should be selected by government for a ‘sector deal’.
  2. Ensuring that SME apprenticeship training is fully funded for the entire parliament. At present, there is significant concern that firms that are not required to pay the new apprenticeship levy may not be able to access the support they need to develop engineering and other technical skills.
  3. Ensuring government is a smart client and smaller businesses have stability of cash-flow and payment. A key request is for a digital payment platform in the public sector, linked to digital procurement processes. This would give greater transparency and speed to supply chain payment, and lower supplier risk.
  4. Making energy, heat and carbon efficiency a real sustainable delivery priority within the next parliament. Achievable energy efficiency goals, backed by government, need to be fulfilled if we are to meet our emissions reductions targets in the lowest cost way, as well as offering a way for businesses to improve their productivity.
  5. Improve productivity through action to enhance employee engagement. Government should introduce additional requirements in the procurement process to help mitigate against false self-employment and other tax avoidance schemes, and facilitate improved employer-worker collaboration, resulting in enhanced productivity.

ECA CEO Steve Bratt and BESA chief executive Paul McLaughlin said: “The next government has a great opportunity to deliver an investment and regulatory climate in which industry thrives and where buildings and infrastructure support UK growth and productivity.

“Our five-point manifesto would support business, by delivering highly skilled apprenticeships, giving SMEs the opportunity to grow, and ultimately, improving UK productivity.”

The National Home Improvement Council (NHIC) have launched its industry-led manifesto outlining five key areas it feels the next UK government should focus on alongside negotiating Britain’s departure from the European Union.

NHIC-5 Point Plan-rev0405The NHIC wants all political parties to clearly establish in their manifestos how they would work with industry to overcome some of the fundamental challenges currently faced by the country, including not only the need to build more quality energy efficient homes, but also how to improve the quality of our existing housing stock.

Anna Scothern, executive director of the NHIC, said: “Great Britain is one of the richest countries in the world, yet 4.5 million families still live in fuel poverty. The National Home Improvement Council believes that no individual or family should have to make ‘heat or eat’ choices each winter.”

She added: “27% of the UK’s CO2 emissions come from our existing 26 million homes and while demand for housing continues to rise with new house building failing year-on-year to meet the established government target of 1 million new homes by 2020, refurbishment, repair and maintenance must be an essential part of the new Government’s overall housing strategy.”

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) also launched a five-point plan:

  1. Ensure that the construction industry has enough skilled workers
  • Introduce a flexible system of immigration that allows key strategic industries like construction to draw upon adequate levels of skilled labour from the EU and beyond.
  • Commit to increasing the quality, duration and thoroughness of apprenticeships and thus improve the image of vocational training so that we can attract more young people into our industry.
  1. Increase the supply of new homes
  • The UK government should commit to building at least 200,000 new homes per year in England and encourage the delivery of 25,000 new homes in Scotland; 14,000 in Wales; and 11,000 in Northern Ireland.
  • In England, continue to work with the house building industry to successfully implement key recommendations within the 2017 Housing White Paper that are designed to increase house building through SME builders.
  1. Improve the quality of new and existing homes
  • Introduce a mandatory warranty requirement for all domestic building works that require Building Regulations approval and structural engineering calculations.
  • Commission a review of new homes warranties to establish whether the warranties currently provided are adequate.
  1. Make homes more energy efficient
  • Reduce VAT on housing renovation and repair work from 20% to 5% to encourage refurbishment work, including energy efficiency measures.
  • Ensure that any government investment in reducing energy bills is targeted primarily at improving the energy efficiency of the UK’s homes.
  1. Boost growth among construction SMEs
  • Ensure that the overall regulatory burden on small businesses is reduced as part of the Brexit process.
  • Improve public procurement for construction SMEs and ensure local firms win a higher proportion of local authority contracts post-Brexit.

Trade body BESA questions future of CITB Levy following cuts plan

besa-Building Engineering Services AssociationContractors’ group BESA has challenged the need for a levy from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and demanded to know what employers receive for their investment.

CITB unveiled proposals last week to reduce the training levy it charges firms next year in a bid to stave off its closure.

It has offered to cut its bill from 0.5 per cent to 0.35 per cent of an employer’s payroll ahead of an industry vote on its future later this year.

While the reduction in charges will be welcomed by those firms in scope to CITB, the creation of the separate Apprenticeship Levy means some firms are now being asked to pay twice.

“The big question for employers [including those BESA members who have to pay the levy] is whether there should be a CITB levy at all,” said BESA training director Tony Howard. “The CITB has not been able to spend all the money it raises through the levy for years and cannot get funding to more than 9 per cent of SME’s.

“Every so often it needs to reduce the embarrassing amount of money it has sitting in the bank, so it builds websites and does roadshows trying to engage SME’s in obtaining grants from a system they don’t understand.”

Mr Howard said the one third cut was a “gimme” as the organisation could afford to reduce its income by that amount without any impact on its current level of activities.

“Many employers would say it is not necessarily the amount of levy that is being raised from them that is the problem, but the effectiveness of the support derived from it,” he said. “I think the time is right for the CITB to explain how it will give employers a real tangible return on their investment through the Levy that is innovative, clear, concise and easy to access.”

He added that the principle of a training levy remained sound as it levelled the playing field for all employers and ensured that vital training did take place – pointing out that many training levies in different parts of the world were very successful. However, the pressing need for targeted funding for apprenticeships in key industry sectors gave the Apprenticeship Levy a clear mandate.

“The future relevance of the CITB is less clear,” said Mr Howard. “Later this year, all employers will get the chance to exercise their democratic right and vote on the future of the CITB Levy,” he said. “As we now have an Apprenticeship Levy, the obvious question is whether there should be two funding streams.”

To renew its Levy Order from the government, the CITB must demonstrate there is industry consensus for it to continue. Employers will, therefore, be asked to vote on the issue between August and September, with a Government decision expected by February 2018 and the new (Apprenticeship) Levy coming into effect in April.

The CITB’s chief executive Sarah Beale said she was “confident that this Levy offer is the best option”.

She added that the organisation was embarking on a process of “engaging with our industry” to ensure “that our offer is relevant, makes a real difference and delivers value for money”.

“It is for the construction industry to decide what type of support they want for skills and training from CITB in the future,” added Ms Beale.

The CITB has also set up an employer-led Levy Working Party to look at how the CITB Levy could work alongside the Apprenticeship Levy from 2018. However, companies with a payroll over £3m and who are in scope of the CITB will have to pay both levies for a year.

Under the body’s temporary ‘Transition Package’ these firms will be able to claim CITB funding “at an enhanced rate, capped at their level of Apprenticeship Levy contribution”, according to the training body’s website.

BESA ready to plug certification gap

Paul McLaughlin

Paul McLaughlin

Building engineering services employers have been reassured that new routes to professional certification will be made available by the passing of revised F Gas handling legislation next year.

There was widespread alarm at the announcement that the CITB is to close its Utilities Engineering Division, which provided training and certification for the gas, electric, water, oil, refrigerant, steam and renewable industries in January.

In particular, companies working with refrigerant gases, whose staff are legally required to carry F Gas certification, were concerned about the apparent gap in provision.

However, DEFRA – the government department responsible – said the legislation would pave the way for the creation of new schemes and it has already approved the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), which operates the Refcom safe refrigerant handling scheme, as an F Gas certification body.

“We are delighted to have received approval from DEFRA to help plug this vital gap in certification,” said BESA chief executive Paul McLaughlin. “It is important that there continues to be a number of providers in the market, offering choice and ensuring value for money, and we have been working with DEFRA for some time to set up our own scheme to support employers’ right across the sector.”

Paul McLaughlin stressed that there was no need for employers to seek immediate re-certification via alternative providers as their existing CITB certificates will remain valid until their printed expiry dates and the new BESA scheme will be in place from next year.
The Association said F Gas would be the first of a series of new BESA certification programmes and would be followed by ventilation; health & safety; unvented hot water; energy efficiency and renewables; and ventilation hygiene.

“The new regulations offer a catalyst for BESA to disrupt the traditional certification market,” said BESA training director Tony Howard. “Historically, we have delivered training and certification ourselves using third parties with assessments we developed. We now intend to grow and develop training, assessment and certification to enable employers in our industry to access the provision they need at a local level through licensed providers audited against our standards.”

The development of new style apprenticeship training is also taking place alongside the changes to certification and the Association said the government’s new ‘Trailblazer’ apprenticeship scheme was an opportunity “to radicalise provision of training in the sector”.

“There needs to be greater clarity between ‘short courses’ and apprenticeships,” explained Mr Howard. “BESA plans to change the nature of apprenticeships by raising the bar of provision and enabling industry specialists to help employers train their own apprentices.”

Employers have welcomed the broadening of BESA’s remit and association president Malcolm Thomson, who runs an air conditioning business, said he was “encouraged by the actions that BESA is taking to ensure the continued smooth provision of F Gas Personnel Certification”.

“Businesses must have a choice of routes to certification to satisfy their own business models. F Gas is our first scheme to hit the market, but it will certainly not be the last,” he added.

International webinar offers the ‘smart’ answer to indoor air quality

besa-Building Engineering Services AssociationIncreasingly strict building ventilation standards are making the task of achieving a good balance between healthy indoor air quality (IAQ) and lower HVAC power and energy consumption more challenging for building engineers all over the world.

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) is hosting an international webinar organised by the CIBSE ASHRAE Group and featuring global IAQ authority Max Sherman – senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.

This will take place on Wednesday, 9 November 2016 starting at 6pm (UK time).

As well as being responsible for over 170 technical papers in his 36 years at this prestigious institution, Max is an ASHRAE Distinguished Lecturer and former board member. He is also Principal of EPB Consulting Group, which carries out forensic, engineering and expert services relating to building science including energy efficiency and indoor air quality. Max is also a board member of the Air Infiltration and Ventilation Centre, which is an annex of the International Energy Agency based in Brussels.

He believes that a more harmonious relationship between IAQ and energy consumption can be achieved by being smarter about how and when ventilation occurs, which stems from an understanding of why we ventilate.

High performance

For example, numerous smart ventilation strategies are possible in high performance homes, such as increasing ventilation when the outdoor temperature is less extreme; scheduling ventilation during off-peak hours; avoiding ventilation during periods of poor outdoor air quality, and reducing whole house ventilation operation in response to incidental ventilation (e.g., bathroom or kitchen fan operation) and occupancy.

Speaking via web link live from California, Max will review the how and why of ventilation; outline the requirements of a smart control ventilation strategy; provide some actual examples of smart ventilation strategies; and look further into the future of IAQ.

The session will be chaired by BESA technical director Tim Rook and there will be a discussion led by the Association’s technical committee following the presentation. There are a small number of ‘physical’ places for those wanting to join the discussion in person, but many more will be able to join in online via the webinar link.

For more information about taking part, please email:

BESA urges Scottish Government to go further with Project Bank Accounts plan

Paul McLaughlin

Paul McLaughlin

The Scottish Government’s announcement that Project Bank Accounts (PBAs) are to be used as the preferred method on all public sector construction projects over £4 million has been hailed as a major step towards greater financial stability for the industry.

Derek Mackay, Scotland’s cabinet secretary for finance, announced that the method of protecting payment to sub-contractors in construction supply chains will be imposed on all projects procured by Scottish Government departments from October 31 this year.

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), which represents specialist engineering contractors and was heavily involved in the campaign to have PBAs introduced, congratulated Mr Mackay for taking the “vital leap forward” which it says will improve payment conditions and speed up cash flow.

BESA chief executive Paul McLaughlin urged the rest of the UK to follow suit by implementing a policy that could improve financial conditions for the whole construction sector.

“Unfair and abusive payment practices have been a blight on the construction process for decades,” he said. “The Scottish Government should be roundly praised for taking a bold step to remove one of the barriers to efficient project delivery.”

PBAs are a cash disbursement model that allows money to be ring-fenced in bank accounts from which payments are made directly to suppliers. This reduces the risk of contractor insolvency and the consequent disruption to projects. It also cuts out much of the additional cost of risk pricing and debt management associated with having multiple layers of payment within the contractual chain.

PBA payments can be made within as little as 12 days and, once in the account, the monies are protected from upstream insolvencies and unfair delays. Public Highways England and the Environment Agency have been using this method for some time and, on average; ‘Tier 3’ sub-contractors on their projects are paid within 19 days.

“Security of payment allows firms to invest in the skills and processes they need to improve productivity and fund growth,” added Mr McLaughlin. “By improving cash flow through the supply chain, project clients can also be assured of a more cohesive, harmonious and, therefore, efficient project process.”

He also called for the introduction of digital payment platforms as the next step in the process of “remedying endemic industry payment problems”. This would give SMEs the reassurance of transparent and legislatively compliant payment processes supported by electronic banking; allowing them “to plan for the future with greater confidence and commercial stability”.