Question: is the construction industry putting into practice what it learned from the Grenfell Tower tragedy?

by BIM Academy | June 2, 2023 |  3 min read

Question: is the construction industry putting into practice what it learned from the Grenfell Tower tragedy?
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On any given day, the construction industry confronts a significant number of uncertainties, particularly when it comes to building safety. In this episode of the BIM Academy Digital Climate podcast, host Bola Abisogun OBE and his guest, Gill Kernick, home in on what matters and how we should be making the most of clear and present opportunities amidst ongoing change.

Over the past few years, the industry has found itself repeatedly recalibrating in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster of 2017, and no more so that after the release of the Dame Judith Hackitt report, Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, released in 2018 and the subsequent release of the new Building Safety Act in 2022. Both of these call for major reform and significant change to the responsibilities of building owners.

Bola’s guest is a former resident of Grenfell Tower. From 2011 to 2014 Gill lived on the 21st floor, and sadly seven of her previous immediate neighbours were among the 72 deaths resulting from that fatal fire.

Gill has since authored the book, Catastrophe and Systemic Change: Learning from the Grenfell Tower Fire and Other Disasters. It combines her deeply rooted personal connection to the Grenfell fire with decades of experience consulting organisations in high hazard industries to build the leadership and culture needed to prevent catastrophic events such as this.

With her role as Transformation Director for Arup University – home to Arup’s strategic foresight capability, applied research and innovation programmes – Bola was keen to ask Gill about the work she is doing to shape the industry into thinking “safety first”!

Bola began by asking Gill her view on the pace of change in the industry since Grenfell and if she is hopeful that the new legislation under the Building Safety Act will be effective in informing positive change? Gill talks about how unquestionably, as an industry, we should be building and delivering safer homes – every new build or refurbishment should be of the highest quality: we all deserve for our homes to be safe.

The two explore current legislation and how this will inform future construction projects, as well as where they see the future of construction headed over the next five years.

Bola asks Gill what her hopes for residents are, particularly those of high rise residential buildings, in the future. Gill talks about how one of the biggest areas of concern for her is risk and understanding risk. A lot of the new legislation is changing how we think about and address risk, but she fears that industry has yet to catch up with legislative requirements, and asks are we building buildings for now or are we designing buildings for 30 years’ time?

Listen to the podcast to hear the full conversation, Gill’s views on the actions taken within industry post Grenfell, and how her work is informing a better understanding of how to reduce risk and make our buildings safer.

Listen now