Jocelyne Fleming: Advocating for Scotland’s built environment
Kicking off a regular Chartered Institute of Building column for Scottish Construction Now, Jocelyne Fleming reveals the organisation’s priorities in Scotland.
The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) is the world’s largest and most influential professional body for construction management and leadership. CIOB has a Royal Charter to promote the science and practice of building and construction for the benefit of society.
In Scotland, CIOB proudly represents 2,500 active members who work in developing, conserving, and improving our built environment. An essential part of our work is engaging with decision-makers to influence policy change that supports the quality and well-being of those members, their colleagues and the communities for which they build.
In March 2022, I joined the CIOB as Policy & Public Affairs Officer for Scotland, with a dedicated remit to work with policymakers across the length and breadth of the country to champion the unique needs of Scotland’s construction sector.
There is much change on the horizon in Scotland – so we have much work to do. Our policy priorities in Scotland are broad and focused on supporting a high-quality built environment.
Sustainability is already something which informs much of our work - and will for years to come. CIOB is supportive of regulatory moves which enable a focus on embodied carbon, not just operational carbon emissions and add weight to its consideration as part of the construction and development process. We have been clear to our members that opportunities to take a more environment-centred approach, combined with practical measures and clarity in legislative requirements, should be welcomed.
We believe that a greater focus on the circular economy and waste management plans that seek to reduce and repurpose materials throughout all phases of construction support not only sustainability and net-zero objectives but also the economic wellbeing of communities.
Building quality & safety
Building quality & safety is at the heart of the CIOB’s global policy work. Following the Edinburgh Schools wall collapse, CIOB’s Construction Quality Commission published its ‘Guide to Best Practice Construction Quality Management’, which provides a single point of information for construction professionals to improve quality, by establishing best practice for quality management and quality planning processes. We will continue to advocate for the social, economic and environmental importance of ensuring the high quality of our built environment and for the critical role that must be played by suitably qualified professionals in upholding these standards.
The Scottish Government has consistently prioritised the importance of affordable, environmentally friendly, safe and warm housing. Our position is clear on the need for quality, affordable homes. The CIOB’s vision is aligned with the Housing to 2040 strategy’s view that housing should contribute to tackling climate change by delivering homes that are warm, affordable to heat and reduce the emissions caused by housing construction.
We will also continue to advocate for a national retrofit programme. We are encouraged by initiatives like Energy Efficiency Scotland that prioritise upgrading the efficiency of existing buildings but would like to see further measures to support retrofit works in Scotland.
For instance, in our latest discussion paper, ‘Levelling the playing field, not Scotland’s built environment: a case for retrofit over demolition?’ we raised questions about the role of VAT in creating a perverse environment where the replacement, rather than the repair and restoration of the built environment, is financially incentivised.
Mental health & EDI
The CIOB’s UK-wide team has made great strides in bringing attention to mental health issues and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the construction industry. Women are vastly underrepresented in the industry – making up around 12 - 13% of construction industry workers in the UK, with only 1 - 2% of those being on-site roles. CIOB is committed to taking action to change these statistics.
For example, our Diversity and Inclusion Charter, published last year, outlines practical behaviours that any size of company can adopt to make our industry more inclusive. Over ninety companies have signed the Charter to date. Looking ahead, our policy activities will bring mental health and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion challenges into broader industry discussions, recognising that these issues permeate all aspects of the built environment sector.
Across the globe, CIOB has championed these issues for years. We will now set to work in adopting a uniquely Scottish approach to these themes, reflective of Scotland’s geographic, economic, political and social contexts.
Having previously worked in sustainable housing research and local economic development, I know how important these issues are to improving our built environment and Scotland’s communities. CIOB members are exemplary practitioners committed to leading our industry into the future and their expertise will play a central role in informing our ongoing work. I look forward to advancing these sectors on behalf of members, the industry and, above all, the public interest. Please contact me at Jfleming@ciob.org.uk if you’d like to collaborate with us or learn more about CIOB membership or our ongoing work.
- Jocelyne Fleming is the policy & public affairs officer – Scotland at the CIOB