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· Robin Nicholson

Collaboration for Change

What progress with the Edge Commission Report?

It’s been six months since the Edge launched Collaboration for Change, the report on the future of professionalism written by Paul Morrell. Paul had distilled the evidence submitted by nine of the Built Environment Professions and suggested an urgent need for them to start collaborating to greater effect.

We are delighted with the progress made on some of the six collaborative projects Paul proposed - ethics, dissemination of research, education, the performance gap, industry reform and climate change – we have begun. Collaborating is difficult but without it the impact of our Professions is marginal, as Paul witnessed on many occasions during his time as Government Chief Construction Advisor (2009-12). What next?

Ethics: On ethics there has been good progress with RICS playing a key role in the UN Global Compact, with RIBA and CIOB joining them; others are keen. The recent 3rd RICS CPD Foundation Harris Debate on ‘Ethics and the public interest’ was inspiring but the question is how to get it discussed internationally, routinely and on an inter-disciplinary basis - in every city in the world. The ICE has released the brilliantly simple SayNo Toolkit to help us all.

Research: Ten of our institutions agreed in principle nine months ago to collaborate on highlighting new inter-disciplinary knowledge and feeding it into their journals to speed up the process and to make sure that excellent research does not fall through the cracks between the disciplines, as now.

Education: The number of courses with dual qualification is increasing (at last) and the RICS has opened the door for non-cognate entry. It may be early days on breaking down these old silos but the cost to students of education has to fall if numbers are to keep up, leading to more creative ways of study. CIC is keen to support these initiatives.

Performance Gap: CIBSE and RIBA have expressed interest on working on the performance gap between how we and our models say our buildings will perform and what actually happens. Now Paul Morrell has thrown down the gauntlet to the Edge to engage all the institutions in an agreed change programme in time for Ecobuild 2016!

Industry Reform: For those of us old enough to have been part of the implementation of the Latham (1994) and Egan (1998) Reports, the challenge to the professions is how can they together provide a better deal for our customers, our clients, as it isn’t working very well for any of us right now!

Climate Change: As the last-chance Paris UN COP (21st Conference of the Parties) comes closer, it is disappointing that the professions are largely invisible in the public debate about climate change. Buildings are 37% of the problem in UK; we have the knowledge and some of the understanding but we need to find a way of working with bodies like UK Green Building Council to be and to be seen to be an essential part of the answer.

Next steps for the Edge include a programme of events throughout the UK; so far the Cambridge Forum for the Construction Industry and Arup in Cardiff have hosted multi-disciplinary events. Next up will be Reading University, Sheffield, Newcastle and Belfast with others in the pipeline. If you want to find out more please email contact@edgedebate.com

Illustration from 'Collaboration for Change'.

 

Robin Nicholson is a senior Cullinan Studio partner and convenor of the Edge, which is a voluntary built environment think-tank that challenges the professional institutions and promotes multi-disciplinarity.

Abbreviations: CIBSE is the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, CIOB is the Chartered Institute of Building, CIC is the Construction Industry Council, ICE is the Institution of Civil Engineers, RIBA is Royal Institute of British Architects, RICS is the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

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