13 Dec 2012

60 seconds with...Simon Sturgis and Gareth Roberts, Sturgis Carbon Profiling

Simon Sturgis
We spent 60 seconds with Simon Sturgis, Managing Director, and Gareth Roberts, Partner at Sturgis Carbon Profiling, members of our Environmental Sustainbility Group (ESG) and contributors to the recently published BCO On-site Renewables report. 

The On-Site Renewables report is a follow up to the BCO's 2007 report on the Greater London Assembly's (GLA's) target for acheiving emissions reductions through on-site renewables from 10% to 20% of a building's regulated energy demand.

Whilst investigating our original concerns that the policy would not be effective, the research also offers an insight into:

  • the implications of using on-site renewables
  • identifying the factors driving performance
  • the potential to cut costs and increase environmental benefits from reduced emissions in the future.
Gareth Roberts

What led to the On-site Renewables report being commissioned?
Previous to this report no quantitative work has ever been undertaken examining the actual costs and benefits of on-site micro-generation in the UK and Sturgis Carbon Profiling felt that given the large amounts of money being spent on this it was worth trying to understand if value to environment and developers was being achieved.

What do you think the commercial property industry can learn most from this report? 
That you need to think holistically about carbon emissions to achieve accurate, comprehensive results. That Government and Local Authorities when developing policies to promote carbon reduction need also to look at the indirect losses that take place before considering if a policy is effective.

Are there any findings in the report that surprised you?

The aggregate scale of the inefficiency of the use of renewables in London Offices is quite staggering, in that for every £10 spent by developers and taxpayers to provide benefit to the environment through micro-generation less than £1 is actually being delivered.

Where should we be looking to for best practice at present? 


Who/what most inspires you in the world of commercial property? 

Anyone who is thinking ahead and looking to a more efficient future in office design.

What couldn’t you live without in your daily routine?

Simon - Lunch
Gareth - Coffee

Join Simon and Gareth on Thursday 7 February 2013 for the BCO ESG Breakfast, where they will be discussing and debating the findings of the On-site Renewables report with a response from Celeste Giusti from the London Plan Team at GLA. Click here to find out more and book your place.

25 Nov 2012

60 seconds with...BCO's NextGen Chairmen

Matt Flood (left), associate director at DTZ, has chaired the London Committee for nearly one year. Ben Newton (centre), senior associate at Eversheds, and  Paul Norbury (right), director at 5plus architects have taken on the role of Chairman in the Midlands and Northern Region (respectively) in the last six months. 


When did you first get involved in the BCO and what were your initial impressions? 
Paul: I first became aware of the BCO about 8 years ago when I was working on the large RBS fit outs in Manchester. My first involvement was simply attending the technical tours which I suspect is most people’s only experience of the BCO? 

Ben: My first involvement was at the inception of the Midlands NextGen Committee in 2009. It has proved to be an an exciting opportunity for the next generation of leaders in the office sector to share ideas, make contacts and learn from each other – much more than just a networking group. 

Matt: I joined the London committee in 2010 and immediately realised it was a fantastic opportunity to meet a cross-section of the industry at a diverse range of events. 

Can you sum up in three words the benefits of this group? 
Ben: Expanding knowledge and contacts.

Matt: Networking, knowledge and experience. 

Paul: My three words are “interesting”, “talented” and “ideas”...Since I joined the inaugural Northern Committee in 2010 I have spent time with some interesting and talented people on the committee. They always have a broad range of ideas so it’s always good when we meet up. 

Ben & Paul, you have recently stepped up to the role of Chairman in your regions, what do you hope to achieve during your time in post? 
Ben: I want to build on the good work of the Midlands Next Gen Committee to-date and continue to run thought provoking, interesting and well attended events that engage the entirety of the BCO membership in the Midlands (and hopefully expand it). 

Paul: Our targets are to be more active and increase membership. The two go hand in hand though really – there needs to be more activity to convince people to join! Our inaugural year was focussed on establishing ourselves as a committee, running a couple of seminars and working towards the NextGen event at the BCO Conference in Manchester this year. Now we are divulging a little bit and empowering our committee members who are based in Newcastle and Leeds so we spread the efforts and events around the various cities within this region. We have a mini-series of building visits coming up which is looking at industrial buildings that have been reworked into workplaces. We’ve just hosted The Toffee Factory in Newcastle, we will next move to Leeds and then, finally, Manchester. 

Matt, after being in post for over six months, what has been your highlight to date and what are you looking forward to? 
My highlight has to be the NextGen session at the conference in Manchester as it was a combined effort from the NextGen community across the country. Moving forward, I am hoping to successfully establish an initiative between the NextGen and Investor committees. 

What do you all see as a key challenge for the commercial property industry? 
Matt: I would say that the biggest challenge will be sourcing new forms of funding to replace the lack of available debt. 

Ben: Due to the funding difficulties in the sector, developers and landlords need to tailor their product to their customers and offer something different to the market in order to enable them to bring new buildings forward and bring older buildings back in to use. This means they have to work more closely with occupiers to create premises that are more client-focussed, adaptable and economically efficient to operate. 

Paul: I agree and the key challenge will be the creative refurbishment of existing buildings, including creating “office” space out of non-office buildings. Without looking more creatively at building design, the industry will just keep recreating office buildings that have the same old raised floor / carpet / cooling / ceiling solution. Everything will look the same. This isn’t the office of the future, nor does it respond to changing markets and user demands. 

The motto for NextGen is “Learning from the past, looking to the future”, what do you think the key lessons are? 
Paul: The typical market leading offices of the last 15 or so years have served their occupants well, and provided a sound basis for the BCO! There is a lot of good practice we can learn from but we’re interested in the “new directions of office design”. Sustainable, flexible, inspiring and fun work spaces are important, which embrace current trends in technology. 

Who/what has most inspired you in the Commercial Property Sector? 
Matt: John Forrester. 

Ben: Seeing and being involved in the transformation of Birmingham in the 10 years that I have lived in the city. 

Paul: Some of the high profile City of London office buildings are hard to beat, particularly Lloyd’s of London. That building is certainly creative and didn’t replicate the standard office design of the 80’s! 

What couldn’t you live without in your daily routine? 
Ben: My Kindle. 
Paul: iPhone 
Matt: Exercise. 

What is your guilty pleasure? 
Ben: My Norwich City season ticket. Living 160 miles from the ground I don’t get to many games so it’s arguably not great value for money (so my wife says)! 
Matt: Tottenham Hotspur for me. 
Paul: Haribos! We have a “chub cupboard” in the office, which is home to pots of tea and coffee, biscuits, cakes and sweets. The really sour, sugar covered Haribos are a personal favourite!

1 Nov 2012

60 seconds with...Tony Hordon, Director of Business Space at DTZ and BCO Northern Judging Chairman

Tony is Director of Business Space at DTZ and has extensive experience of Agency and Development work, principally providing advice to clients on masterplanning, pre-development design, marketing, property disposal and aquisitions.

He has led the BCO Northern Judging panel since 2011, so we spent 60 seconds quizzing him about his judging experiences to date:

How long have you been a member of the BCO and what do you see as a key benefit? 
I have been a member for some 10 years, during which it has provided an excellent source of information through publications such as The Guide to Specification and the Fit Out Guide, together with of course the various conferences and more recently with my involvement with the BCO Judging Panel. 

You have been on the Northern judging panel for three years and Chairman for one, what has been your favourite moment so far? 
I can honestly say there has been too many moments in order to single out one particular moment. The judging process is incredibly intense over a reasonably short space of time and we pack in so much in terms of the travel, the visits, the debate over the scores and therefore there are many favourite, enjoyable and dare I say entertaining moments! 

What is the hardest part about being a BCO Judge?

Perhaps the most demanding part of being a Judge and certainly a Chairman is the responsibility of arranging the itinerary of visits. The Northern Chapter represents a considerable geographical area to cover from the North of England to Yorkshire to the North West including North Wales and Northern Ireland. Last year for example, we had 23 entrants as far north as Alnwick and as far south as North Wales, together with a visit to Belfast. It is therefore incredibly important to ensure we plan the most efficient route in order to ensure we visit the submission with the appropriate time set aside for each submission. As always best laid plans can be totally thrown when you add the additional ingredients of weather. One particular incident was at Belfast Airport where I had arrived, but unfortunately my fellow Judges, who were flying from Manchester, were kept in a holding pattern for over an hour whilst a significant snow storm blew over! 

What is the best part about being a BCO Judge? 
The opportunity of experiencing a huge variety of schemes across a variety of cities – as part of this variety you get to see the good, the bad and the ugly. Most importantly, firsthand experience of each scheme in terms of the aspiration and ultimately the delivery.   

The Entry Guide asks entrants to describe how the office lifts spirits, is there a past awards entry that made a particularly positive impact on you? And if so, why was this? 
The stand out entry was the scheme we visited in Darlington which was a refurbishment of an old industrial scheme by Marchday and occupied by Student Loans. From the submission the panel were reasonably lukewarm in advance of the visit however on arrival we knew within seconds we were visiting a winner. To convert an old industrial unit into a modern call centre of over 80,000 sq ft with sustainability high on the agenda, air quality, light quality, spacial layout and breakouts was outstanding. It represented perhaps one of the best call centre environments I have ever witnessed – ultimately an environment I would personally work in and certainly a place that as you walk in simply lifts your spirits. 

What advice would you give someone planning to submit an entry for the 2013 Awards? 
As we receive a number of entries, it is important every effort is made to differentiate and highlight the unique points of the project, but in a concise and easy to read manner. I also feel the use of photography is important. 

What one piece of advice would you give to someone starting out as a BCO Judge? 
Get plenty of sleep beforehand, travel with plenty of Nurofen, but be prepared for a wonderful experience from the presentation by the home team, to the actual tour of the submission followed by the debate by the Judging Panel, a debate which is fascinating due to the cross section of the panel. In the Northern Chapter we have five judges on the panel, from five different backgrounds, with an agent, an architect, cost consultant, developer and M&E engineer, therefore five different skills and therefore five different opinions.

Who/what has most inspired you in the Commercial Property Sector? 
Whilst my career has been in office agency and development, I am a somewhat frustrated architect and therefore I guess if there is anything that has inspired me during my career it has been the architectural industry. The vision, the creativity and deliverability that this sector achieves can be game changing and life changing. I have had the pleasure and privilege of working with many architects and it really is a pleasure and an inspiration. 

What couldn’t you live without in your daily routine? 

What is your guilty pleasure? 
My guilty pleasure would have to be margaritas, although I don't have any guilt, only a headache!

29 Oct 2012

The BCO and Intelligent Buildings

Neil is the Head of Sustainability & Engineering for Land Securities PLC. As chairman of the BCO's Technical Affairs Committee Neil has overseen the production of the latest edition of the Guide to Specification and Guide to Fit Out. 

He is the man behind IntelliBuild (Wednesday 21 November) and we find out more about the conference and what it will cover.

Why have do you feel it’s important to have IntelliBuild, a half day conference on the subject of smart cities and intelligent buildings?
It’s important to give people an insight into the benefits of intelligent building design and use of integrated networks in commercial developments. It’s an area that’s not that well understood but in my view is vital for the future sustainability of buildings.

It’s the next big step forward!

The use of intelligence in the process of design and management of buildings makes sure efficiencies are achieved so that property can deliver against the original aspirations for the end users.

We’re seeing a significant increase in new materials that are coming through which we can use in the construction of buildings. The new materials will improve sustainability performance and operating efficiencies, reduce costs and ultimately create a better end product.

A lot of research has gone into nano technology and self healing coatings. These technologies show great promise and I am sure they will soon be move into mainstream construction.

The purpose of the BCO is to research what’s currently going on and provide advice to our membership on best practice so it’s really important that we understand the impact intelligent networks, intelligent design and innovative technologies will have in the office sector.

This event will be looking at what’s going on in the laboratory and working out whether we can bring it into the real world.

On a personal level, what are you looking forward to most at this event?
We have a great line up of speakers who will bring their own personal experiences from a broad range of elements within intelligent buildings.

We’ve deliberately set up the format of the conference to be interactive with the audience. I’m keen to see what questions come from the audience throughout the breakouts and Q&A elements. It will be great to learn what others are doing in this area.

Are intelligent buildings all about new technology or is there more to it than that?
Ultimately buildings are for the people and it’s important that the environment we create can respond to the needs of people and business requirements now and in the future.

The more sophisticated the building, the more likely it will meet the changing needs of the occupier in the future. Intelligent building management systems are all about bringing the right information to the right people at the right time enabling the building to operate at its best at all times. There is a growing need to embed intelligence into all aspects of the wider built environment.

Intelligent buildings are not all about technology they are about good design and meeting the needs of the building users.

An intelligent building from a developers’ perspective is one that is fully let and profitable!

What do you think is the most exciting prospect about a future where intelligent buildings are seen as the norm?

It will be great to see a seamless integration of the building and the individuals that use it. Buildings will be able to recognise the individual and adapt to their needs in an easy and intuitive way.

Being able to produce a building that is truly sustainable where waste, in the construction process, has been minimised and where the end product fulfils the needs of the ultimate users for an extended period of time without needing significant changes throughout its life.

Are there any good examples of intelligent buildings now or have we still got a lot to learn?
There are a growing number of examples in the office sector. In our own portfolio One New Change is probably the best example. We have a fully integrated network supporting all the main building control systems in both the retail and office elements of the scheme. And we have a number of other new developments where common network systems are currently being installed.

The new developments proposed for the Greenwich Peninsula are adopting a “Smart City” approach to their adoption of new technology in the buildings.

Office building have probably been a little slower to adopt the integrated network technology than other sectors such as retail, leisure, aviation and major sporting venues where there are many good examples of the application of converged networks that commercial office buildings can take inspiration from.

In terms of the influence of users we’re already seeing the growing use of information technology in business which is driving changes in the way people use the working environment. The social media explosion is part of that, as people use new ways of communicating with each other and we need to look at the impact this will have on the design of the workplace going forward

In the Intelligent Building workshop at the Manchester Conference earlier this year, Keith Priest of Fletcher Priest architects showed an example of a building they are designing which uses a titanium oxide coating which will pull carbon dioxide out of the air to improve the local environment around the building. 

Where should we be looking at for best practice at present?
We have some of the best examples of intelligent building design in the world in the UK.

In terms of the use of integrated networks a lot of work has been done already in the retail, leisure and sports sectors but the office sector is catching up fast. Around the world the application of smart building technology is particularly advanced in the Far East and North America.

Who, or what, most inspires you in the world of commercial property?
What I really like about working in the industry is that nothing remains constant & everything changes so there’s always a new challenge. You’re always learning. There’s nothing better than being involved in a new building, I get great satisfaction once the building is there and you know you played a part in creating it. That’s what enthuses me to get out bed in the morning.

What couldn't you live without in your daily routine?
My alarm clock.

The BCO's IntelliBuild Conference takes place on Wednesday 21 November at Arup, 8 Fitzroy Street London. Find out more at www.bco.org.uk/events

Benefitting from BIM (London event)

Fiona Frost, Director of Communications & Events at the British Council for Offices and NextGen Coordinator writes...

On Friday 26 October over 80 delegates joined the NextGen Committee in London to discuss the benefits of Building Information Modelling (BIM). As technology advances in every aspect of life at a rate of knots, we wanted to find out if this tool can really “aid” the design team and consultants or if it is just a fancy piece of technology that will have 15 minutes of fame?

Our panel, chaired by Simon Rawlinson (EC Harris and chairman of the BCO Research Committee), consisted of experts from the modellers (Rob Charlton _space group), consultants (Mark Walker WSP) and clients (James Pellatt Great Portland Estates). They were set to explore:

  • The impact that the adoption of BIM will have on the development and construction industry?
  • How the office sector can reap the benefits?
  • What the future will hold?

Rob Charlton, described by Simon Rawlinson as a chameleon (architect by trade, BIM technologist by profession), is chief executive of _space group. As an organization _space group have been advocates of BIM for over 10 years and have pioneered its use in the UK. In Rob's words the driver behind BIM is that "it's not about the technology, it's all about the output and the flow of data from day one until the end".

Marc Walker, UK BIM Development Manager at WSP, picked up on this thread using case studies of the Bulgari Hotel, London Bridge Place and London Bridge Station Redevelopment. These projects were able to demonstrate the benefits of BIM in a variety of areas from the early resolution of critical issues to running simulations and identifying inactive areas on site, thereby increasing efficiency.

Like Rob, Marc agreed that BIM is not just about the technology & software. WSP consider BIM to be a socio-technological system – a way of working that involves people, processes and tools. Marc emphasised that software can only go as far as highlighting the issues. It will always take knowledge and skills to come up with the right solution.

James Pellatt, Head of Projects at Great Portland Estates, continued to enforce the message that BIM doesn't magically work on its own, it needs creative input from everyone involved in the project. James called for the client to take the lead, after all if you are able to iron out problems at the start then there is great potential for less cost, less time, less risk and most of all less waste.

It does sound a bit like I’ve been employed by the Government (who are mandating BIM level 2 by 2016 for the public sector) to create a piece of BIM propaganda. I haven’t, I promise, but for an industry so keen to reduce waste, save time and money surely this is the way forward.

As Rob stated, it's not about the designers and engineers showing how clever they can be, and he doesn't blame people for thinking this way, in reality it's the move from BIM (Building Information Modelling) to BIM (Building Information Management) that will offer the real value.

Overall the key message throughout the morning was collaboration, collaboration and more collaboration! BIM is here to stay and when used correctly there are genuine benefits to be gained in all elements of design, build and occupation.

Still not convinced? Simon Rawlinson challenged our speakers to come up with an Elevator Pitch that could be used on the occasion “you bump into your CEO in the lift, & have 30 seconds to provide them with a business case for BIM”.
"It will save you time & money if all elements of the process work together." James Pellatt, GPE 
 "It's about pulling all the data together for the entire project rather than focussing on individual elements." Rob Charlton, _space group
"Simply say to your chief exec....If we don't buy into BIM then the client won't come to us. The industry is moving forward." Marc Walker, WSP
So what happens next? Will everyone jump on board and how will the industry engage with the end user?

Footnote (29/10/12):
The BCO is currently in the process of commissioning a new research project on BIM as James Wates’ Presidential Project. The report is due to set out the BCO’s view on this subject, provide guidance on best practice and identify the value of BIM to stakeholders across the membership. To keep up to date with news on this report, sign up to the BCO newsletter.

kindly supported by        
Benefitting from BIM?
Friday 26 October 2012 (08.30)
CBRE, Henrietta House, Henrietta Place
London W1

Interested in finding our more about BCO NextGen? Click here to visit www.bco.org.uk

20 Sep 2012

60 seconds with...Bill Ritchie, Director at Atelier Ten and BCO Scottish Judging Chairman

Bill is a fellow of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, he has extensive experience of major public sector projects including schools, housing and hospitals, and commercial projects including offices, shops, cinemas and hotels.

He will be taking on responsibility for the BCO Scottish Awards in 2013, so we spent 60 seconds quizzing him about his judging experiences to date:

How long have you been a member of the BCO and what do you see as a key benefit?

I have been a member for approximately six years and have been involved with the Scottish Chapter Committee for the last four years. I also represent the BCO on the Scottish Property Federation’s Policy Committee for Building Standards and Sustainability.

There are many benefits of membership but learning through the research portal and attending tours are a great way of keeping abreast of the ever changing challenges of good office design.

You have been on the Scottish judging panel for three years, what do you see as the biggest challenge of becoming Chairman?

The judging process has been well-honed over the years and, in my experience, provides a great deal of rigour to what otherwise could be quite a subjective process. The biggest challenge is to ensure that there is a healthy competition. Last year’s regional results demonstrated that competent well delivered schemes win awards – not necessarily the most expensive projects.

What is the hardest part about being a BCO judge?

The most difficult element is having to select only one winner in each category. I can recall on a number of occasions wishing to recognise more than one scheme. Timing can be the key to success and a number of schemes have not been awarded due to the number of entries in a category in that particular year. There is no enjoyment in seeing some great developments going unrewarded.

What is the best part about being a BCO Judge?

The best part has to be the license to see and hear what the best in the industry is doing. It is tantamount to industrial espionage! I also really enjoy the open debates between judges hearing what appeals to each member of the panel.

The Entry Guide asks entrants to describe how the office lifts spirits, is there a past awards entry that made a particular positive impact on you? And if so, why was this?

I think this is one of the most important questions which we ask. The office environment has seen many changes from the drab grey interiors of the 70’s. We are witnessing a transformation in office design with offices becoming colourful – even fun spaces which encourage communication and enhance productivity. Virgin Money’s award winning refurbishment on Charlotte Square in Edinburgh last year was of particular note where a respectable St Andrew Square historic and listed building was transformed into a contemporary space which the client, staff and visitors clearly enjoy. Hard Rock Cafe style Virgin branded memorabilia adorn the main staircase and visitors lounge, which looks more akin to a boutique hotel.

What advice would you give someone planning to submit an entry for the 2013 Awards?

Go for it! The application process has been streamlined this year and we are working to give more prominence and publicity to those who participate. Given the current economic climate, the number of entries is expected to stabilise so there has never been a better opportunity to win a coveted cube!

What one piece of advice would you give to someone starting out as a BCO Judge?

Be yourself. Each judge is picked to bring their own particular knowledge and experience to bear and this is the key to ensuring that the review is as broad an assessment as possible. (My other advice would be get in training – four days in a van with little time to eat, drink or check emails can be punishing!)

Who/what has most inspired you in the Commercial Property Sector?

There are many great sources of inspiration that we see through judging or attending tours. Design teams are using more sophisticated simulation packages to deliver low energy or fire engineered solutions whilst architects and interior designers are constantly raising the bar delivering more flexible and creative environments.

What couldn’t you live without in your daily routine?

I am lucky with a very understanding wife and two teenage children who still have some time for me! We endeavour whenever possible to catch up over our evening meal together – although that seems to be getting later and later these days.

What is your guilty pleasure?

I am a terrible Karaoke singer but that doesn’t stop me giving the odd and very bad rendition of Kenny Roger’s Ruby!

19 Sep 2012

60 seconds with...Chris Kimber-Nickelson, Head of Development Management at MEPC and BCO South West, Thames Valley & South Wales Judging Chairman

Chris is responsible for driving forward MEPC's development arm of the business; all development and refurbishment projects through inception to completion; and maintaining MEPC's development management systems at the leading edge of best practice.

He will be taking on responsibility for the BCO Awards in the South West, Thames Valley & South Wales in 2013, so we spent 60 seconds quizzing him about his judging experiences to date:

How long have you been a member of the BCO and what do you see as a key benefit?

I have been a member of the BCO for 3 years now. The main benefit is being able to share open discussion across the broad range of property and construction related issues with respected peers in the industry.

You have been on the South West judging panel for three years, what do you see as the biggest challenge of becoming Chairman?

This will undoubtedly be the coordination of 4 very busy property professionals.

What is the hardest part about being a BCO Judge?

Taking in and processing all of the information that is imparted to you in the brief time you have to see each entry…and the travelling!

What is the best part about being a BCO Judge?

Meeting enthusiastic and committed project team members who are genuinely excited, and rightly proud, about the clever and innovative ways in which they have delivered good office space….and the cakes!

The Entry Guide asks entrants to describe how the office lifts spirits, is there a past awards entry that made a particularly positive impact on you? And if so, why was this?

My personal favourite of all the entrants was the Aardman Animations office in Bristol. The attention to detail was immense and I would love to work in a building where Wallace is the voice of the lift!

What advice would you give someone planning to submit an entry for the 2013 Awards?

You need to cover all the bases as the general standard is high. BCO compliance and good environmental standards are ‘givens’ now and where projects win is when they demonstrate how they have gone the extra mile in several different ways.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone starting out as a BCO Judge?

It is not an undertaking to be taken lightly. They are long days, it is hard to carve out the time, and your fellow judges will likely be up for a good spirited debate!

Who/what has most inspired you in the Commercial Property Sector? 

I think that there are a number of inspirational ‘placemaking’ projects such as the redevelopment of Kings Cross and the Mills Bakery Royal William Yard in Plymouth which the judges visited this year. These types of project can make a real community difference across a much wider area than the site alone.

What couldn't you live without in your daily routine?

I am a bit of a Blackberry addict, but I would love to live without it!

What is your guilty pleasure?

One of my hobbies is Morris dancing…it doesn’t get much more embarrassing than that!

17 Sep 2012

60 seconds with...Nigel Clark, Technical Director at Hilson Moran and Chairman of the BCO London & South East Regional Judging Panel

Nigel has been involved in the design and construction of buildings for over 30 years. He has considerable experience in the energy performance of buildings, fa├žade design solutions and the application of low and zero carbon and renewable technologies and regularly provides advice on all aspects of building design in the UK, Europe and the Middle East with an emphasis on tall buildings and environmentally progressive buildings.

He became Chairman for the London and South East BCO Judging panel in 2012 and following his first year as Chairman we spent 60 seconds finding out more about his experience as a judge and what drives him in his career:

How long have you been a member of the BCO and what do you see as a key benefit?

As a company, we have been members of the BCO since 2001, although my own individual membership dates from 2007. As a significant proportion of our work revolves around commercial offices, the BCO is a very relevant and influential organisation to us. It’s for that reason that I was happy to contribute to both the Guide to Specification and the Fit Out Guide, as I think they are important documents that set the standard for developers, designers and occupiers to compare themselves against.

You have been on the London and South East judging panel for two years and Chairman for one, what has been your favourite moment so far?

It’s really difficult to try and pick a favorite moment because I have genuinely enjoyed the whole experience so far. I think the number of people who have said they would like to put themselves forward as Judges next year must rate highly in my series of favourite moments as it means the importance of the Awards is increasing every year, if more and more people are willing to commit the time necessary to be a Judge.

What is the hardest part about being a BCO Judge?

I think short listing from the submissions is very difficult and it’s really important that as Judges we are as diligent as possible in arriving at the list of buildings which are to receive a visit.  All the entrants will have done a lot of work to submit their entry and not to be shortlisted will inevitably be disappointing to them.  The other aspect is trying to get around almost 40 buildings in five days, it’s a very intensive schedule which needs to be organised with almost military like precision. I will never forget the itinerary I saw in my first year of judging, in some cases we had five minutes to get from one building to the next, but we managed it in four!

What is the best part about being a BCO Judge?

I think it has to be the opportunity to see a wide range of buildings which I probably wouldn’t get to see in any other way. Being able to view what others are achieving is a great way of seeing how you are really doing compared to others. Also it’s good to have the opportunity to meet other colleagues and professionals that you haven’t had the chance to work with previously.

The Entry Guide asks entrants to describe how the office lifts spirits, is there a past awards entry that made a particularly positive impact on you? And if so, why was this?

The one entry that I will never forget is the Graeae Theatre Company, which is a disabled-led theatre company in Hackney.  It was only a small project, entered in the Projects up to 2000sqm category, but seeing what had been achieved on a tight budget and feeling the passion of the users and their excitement at having a new home was about as inspirational as it gets.  The fact it became the national winner as well as the regional winner must have meant others felt the same.  The attention to detail and the innovative ways that colour, light, touch and even smell had been used to give all the users, whatever their disability or impairment ways of moving around and using the building was just amazing.  I think all the judges felt the same as when we came out; we all looked at each other, not quite knowing how to put it into words.

What advice would you give someone planning to submit an entry for the 2013 Awards?

With the quality of the entries always being so high, it is really important that the written entries highlight the unique aspects of their project that set them apart from the competition. Because of the number of entries we get in the L&SE Region, we always have to shortlist on the basis of the submissions only, so it is really important for entrants to set out their unique points in a clear, concise and easy to read manner. The spread of questions will give everyone the opportunity to put forward whatever aspect of their project they feel goes beyond just good practice.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone starting out as a BCO Judge?

My advice would be to try and look behind the words or smart desktop publishing of a submission and look for something that is genuinely innovative or unusual and sets them apart from the competition. The Awards are meant to reward best practice and this can come in so many forms, it can take a bit of digging to find it sometimes.  I think that’s why it is so important to have a mix of skills on the judging panel, as everyone spots something different, so collectively, hopefully we don’t miss anything.

Who/what has most inspired you in the Commercial Property Sector? 

There have been a number of people who have inspired me over the years but I wouldn’t want to pick out individuals although they all had a few things in common. Firstly they all had a fantastic understanding of what was necessary to make a project special, way beyond their own individual background or training, and secondly they were incredibly passionate and enthusiastic about what they did and obviously enjoyed every second of it.  That type of passion brings out the best in everyone involved and being part of a team with that type of drive is a great feeling and inspires you to strive for even better things.

What is your guilty pleasure?  (Something you enjoy but feel a bit guilty for. Possibly an embarrassing taste, whether it be music, fashion, food etc)

I gave up long ago feeling guilty about doing anything I enjoy, others will have to take me as they find me, I guess it’s one of the advantages of getting older. My son plays inline roller hockey at a high level and having been a taxi driver most weekends whilst he was a teenager, I can’t really give it up, so now help out with managing one of the youth teams and often find myself being team Waterboy to the seniors. Despite all the wisecracks I get, I wouldn’t miss it for anything when you watch a group of youngsters really working hard for each other and enjoying success through sheer hard team work, it’s an important life lesson I hope they never forget.

10 Aug 2012

NextGen Summer Social @ The Oast House Manchester

Paul Norbury, Director, 5plus architects
Chair of the Northern NextGen Committee writes...

Last night, Thursday 09 August, over 60 guests attended our first summer social in the Northern Region. It was a great night and one which enabled us to meet colleagues in the commercial property sector in a very informal and relaxed manner. 

This event marked the end of the first year since the establishment of NextGen in the Northern Region and it was good to see an appetite for more. As mentioned in my welcome speech our first year was very much focussed on the BCO conference, hosted in Manchester on 23-25 May, and moving forward it is our intention to create a varied programme of relevant tours and seminars for the NextGen audience.

The committee will shortly be launching a series of building visits looking at the creative re use of former industrial buildings as workplaces. Our proposed sites include; The Toffee Factory (Newcastle), Tower Works (Leeds) and the Sharp Project (Manchester). Do post comments to this post if you have any questions or issues you would like raised at any of these events.

If you want to be the first to hear when bookings open then I would encourage you to sign up to our mailing list. Email events@bco.org.uk with your name & contact details and we'll do the rest.

We look forward to seeing you soon and in the meantime here are a few shots from last night's event. You can see the full album at www.facebook.com/BCOSocial

The sun shone on Spinningfields for our first Summer Social.
@TheOastHouseMcr provided a great spread of bohemian food in a bespoke venue.
NextGeners relaxing in the Beer Garden
A few of my colleagues from 5plus architects network with other NextGen members
Inside at the Oast House, a great venue in Manchester's Spinningfields

We weren't the only ones enjoying the sun at The Oast House. 
(You can see the venue for our next tour in the background, Tower 12. Sign up to our emails to find out more.)
kindly sponsored by
NextGen Summer Social - Manchester 

Thrusday 09 August 2012 (18.00)
The Oast House, Spinningfields

Interested in finding our more about BCO NextGen? Click here to visit www.bco.org.uk

22 Jun 2012

Benefitting from BIM (Birmingham)

Richard Pearce, Associate at Arup 
and member of the NextGen Midlands Committee writes...

The BCO NextGen Midlands Committee hosted their first “out of town” event at The Arup Campus in Solihull. The event titled "Benefitting from BIM” attracted attendees from across the sector include interior designers, architects, project managers, and contractors. 

The first speaker, Colin Magner (BIM Manager at Arup), explained some of the principles behind BIM and how, as an industry, there has long been a need to provide a more integrated process for delivery. Colin explained that BIM is far more than 3D modelling; with the information that is stored in the model being of value to designers, contractors and ultimately end users. “One version of the truth” is the focus, with drawings, schedules, and specification data all originating from the same model. Change the lighting on the layout view and the associated schedules change automatically. 

Colin explained how Arup see the best value in BIM when all parties start designing in BIM early, say at RIBA stage C. BIM is all about collaboration so it’s important to remember the needs of others in developing the model. 

Richard Hartigan, Senior Associate at Eversheds, attracted a number of questions following his presentation on the Legal Implications of a BIM environment. Richard highlighted that it was key to identify the legal issues at the outset of the project to ensure that they could be suitably covered in contract. A key message was that although only the JCT form of contract refers to BIM, the principles of our legal system are well set up to deal with issues that may arise under Joint and Several Liability. 

Richard picked up on Colin’s introduction to the BIM coordinator role, and highlighted that this new appointment would introduce a multitude of practical and commercial issues including, scope of services, powers and timing. 

The third and final speaker was Richard Draper from Birmingham City University. Following the development of the BIM for phase 1 of their City Centre Campus, Richard was employed by the University as their BIM manager. Richard explained how the University were early adopters of BIM and how that came with challenges particularly around implementation and procurement. 

Richard explained that one of the key drivers for implementing BIM was the University’s requirement to move to a more pro-active / preventative maintenance regime to improve their service to their internal clients. They included the requirement for the contractor to provide the University with an as-built BIM. The contractor will be delivering a 3D asset and facilities management software package that integrates with the BIM and provides the University with a single source for all of the associated data. 

The University have mandated BIM on the 2nd phase of the City Centre Campus which is currently out to Tender. With the development of the industry over the past two years, Richard is expecting to see further developments in the capabilities of the contractors and a more interactive tool delivered at completion. Richard also confirmed that the University is now looking to record its existing estate in BIM using 3D laser scanning to create a point cloud that will be delivered as a 3D model. 

Through experience it would seem that BIM will soon be touching everyone involved with the built environment. With the continuing development of the software tools available to designers, more robust contracts suited to collaborative working, and the delivery of easily accessible interactive FM platforms it seems that we can all benefit from BIM. 

kindly supported by        
Benefitting from BIM
Wednesday 13 June 2012 (17.30)
The Arup Campus, Blythe Valley Park,
Solihull, West Midlands

Interested in finding our more about BCO NextGen? Click here to visit www.bco.org.uk

20 Jun 2012

60 seconds with...Richard Francis, Director - Environment & Sustainability, Gardiner & Theobald Chair of the BCO Environmental Sustainability Group (ESG)

Richard Francis takes over as chairman of the BCO Environmental Sustainability Group (ESG) in Summer 2012. He leads the sustainability team, at Gardiner & Theobald, and is an expert in providing strategic sustainability advice from a business perspective.

How long have you been involved with the BCO and what do you see as the key strengths?
I have been involved with the BCO for three years as a member of the ESG.

The BCO has numerous strengths that are recognised not only in the UK but across the world – it provides the gold standard for work on offices. It has a well-recognised ability to bring together individuals with unparalleled experience who are eager to share their knowledge and confront common challenges. That is a pretty unusual combination.

The BCO is a first class organisation pursuing innovation in a country that is determined to be ahead of the curve in sustainability. Who could ask for a better assignment than to help guide this change?

Earlier this month you took over the role of chair for the BCO ESG from Paul Edwards. What would you like to achieve in this role?
It was great to work with Paul and to see him develop and reach a clear set of forward-looking research goals – I learned a lot from him and other members of the committee.

As we move forward, I would like the BCO to become the go-to organisation for providing the industry with evidence-based, actionable intelligence that BCO members and others can trust. Compliance can be difficult and costly, but BCO members will need to think beyond merely meeting standards in order to effectively prosper in an evolving and more sophisticated market.

The moral and the fiscal are converging and the lesson of carbon is that “soft issues” can have hard edges. The ground is shifting under our feet. I would like BCO members to not only avoid the risks but also profit from the opportunities that are here now and will continue to emerge.

What do you see as the main purpose of the ESG within the BCO?
To provide realistic, honest, rigorous analysis of the sustainability issues affecting BCO members and to help them simplify what is an unnecessarily complex subject.

When it comes to sustainability, members of the BCO should ask themselves three simple questions: Where am I now? Where do I need to be? How do I get there?

The main purpose of the BCO ESG is to help members answer these questions in a way that minimises costs, maximises (fiscal and environmental) benefits and adheres to the scrutiny given other business decisions. 

What do you see as the main challenge for the industry regarding the environment & sustainability?
What the industry needs most is to systematically incorporate feedback, and learning, into new projects. We can be highly imaginative and innovative in theory and design, but our understanding of actual outcomes and our implementation of improved processes lags other industries. Consequently, we invest a great deal of time and money at the front end without appreciating or understanding the consequences, and sometimes make the same mistakes long after we should have known better.

As an industry we have a great understanding of potential but a poor understanding of performance – reinforced by regulation and market drivers that can reward appearance rather than reality. The financial and environmental price for this is high.

The biggest challenge is to find cost-effective, easily implemented solutions that will ease the burden on businesses and lead to actual reductions in impacts.

The industry has to answer the same three questions as raised above: Where are we now? Where do we need to be? How do we get there? At the moment, that last – and perhaps most important - question remains less clear than it should be. 

If you had the power to change one thing within the property industry, what would it be?
I would change the perception in the industry to focus more on what buildings do rather than what they are, particularly with regards to sustainability. Sustainability must be about achieving real results rather than cleverly meeting prescriptive requirements. This is not just in energy, water and waste, but in helping buildings achieve their mission – optimising the experience of occupants. Sustainable hospitals can and should heal people faster, sustainable schools should enable students to learn better and sustainable offices should enable healthy and productive workers.

We know our buildings can do more – and we need to realise the integrated benefits of buildings that help achieve purpose. We are beginning to see occupiers reward these building and I would like to see this trend accelerate. 

Who has most inspired you in the Commercial Property Sector?
There are many people I look up to in the Commercial Property Sector, so it is difficult to isolate a single person. There are a lot of people who have been pushing sustainability in the industry for a long time and who have enabled the changes we see today.

I am thinking of people like Angus McIntosh, Derek Clements-Croome, Ken Yeang and Paul McNamara – all of whom have contributed to the BCO greatly over the years. They are usually people with one foot in industry and another in research who have a gift for teaching and have helped bring important ideas into the commercial marketplace.

To get to know these individuals in the last few years has been a great privilege. They have been very kind to me as I have started my professional life here in the UK. 

What’s your favourite office development in the UK? And why?
Actually, I have two favourite developments that are seemingly unlike each other but have a common theme.

The first is The Co-operative’s new head office in Manchester. The building has the highest BREEAM rating possible, will have EPC and DEC ratings of “A” and is designed to promote the health and wellbeing of its occupants.

The second is The Carrochan, the headquarters for the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority. This building is a winner of the Carbon Trust Low Carbon Building Award and the BCO National Award winner. It uses cost-effective, locally available renewable energy, the finest local and sustainable materials and a design that is sympathetic to the landscape and the local community.

Two very different buildings achieving very different missions, but proving to be best in class at what they provide. 

What is your guilty pleasure?
I have a small, old motorboat that I use for fishing and clamming back where I am from on Cape Cod. Friends and colleagues tell me that I should be sailing, as this is the more environmentally friendly alternative. I like sailing, but sometimes it can be a little boring (just like sustainability consultants), especially when the fish are biting. My sailing skills are no match for a fast-moving school of bluefish and striped bass.

What couldn’t you live without in your daily routine?
Hearing what my little boy has been up to during his day.

He reminds me of that most important of questions:“Why?”