Polypipe Civils Comment: Q4 2020

Steve Durdant-Hollamby, Managing Director Polypipe Civils is BMBI’s Expert for Civils & Green Infrastructure.

With the majority of sites open and supply chains functioning under health and safety restrictions, our industry is now having to deal with the challenge of increased absenteeism brought on by higher numbers of positive tests and their resulting self-isolation requirements. Added to this, we now have to cope with the growing severity of local lockdowns imposed to limit the spread of new Covid variants. Asking already stretched workforces to provide cover and perhaps work longer shifts while they also deal with family issues requires careful, sympathetic management.

Businesses also need to be aware of the personal impact of long-term isolation. Virtual platforms are life-savers, but they filter those human exchanges that are an essential part of a healthy and balanced working life. Bad weather confinement amplifies these effects. Hopefully with spring around the corner, the opportunity to get out and interact more normally will lift everyone’s spirits.

Civils activity is steady with quote and order books looking strong in Q1 2021. Bad weather is of course a concern at this time of year, but no significant delays have been reported.

As the Covid crisis rolls on, so the monetary value of urban green assets and the need to justify their creation and maintenance remains vitally important, but it’s being overtaken to some degree by wider ambitions set by politicians and high profile organisations. With the built environment responsible for around 40% of the country’s carbon load, we must all align ourselves to these ambitions. Responsible materials sourcing, packaging, recycled materials, and on-site renewables are areas where there is scope for innovation – but these must be supported by changes in construction practice and building standards.

Data will be the key to change. As the industry develops towards achieving sustainability goals, we need to trust the information we work with. Post-Grenfell, the CPA has been developing a Code for Construction Products Information that will address shortcomings in data and create a level playing field for all manufacturers, particularly in testing, certification and marketing. We look forward to reviewing the first draft of the Code which is out for consultation in Q1 2021.

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