BAM Construction Targets BREEAM Excellence in £32m University of Exeter Contract
BAM Construction has been awarded a £32 million contract to build the University of Exeter’s Living Systems Institute research centre.
BAM has offices in the Devon city and will use a predominately local supply chain to deliver the new building.
The centre will bring together mathematicians, scientists and engineers in a bid to revolutionise the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of human, animal and plant diseases. It will consist of two linked buildings on a split level site, with a nine-storey tower block and a six-storey slab block, three of which will be basement levels, with significant excavations and temporary works.
BAM said it faced a number of challenges in delivering the project, building on a steeply sloping site constrained by other buildings and environmental issues. The contractor will also oversee the fit out of the centre, including laboratories and complex services.
Building information modelling (BIM) has been used from the outset, and an early relationship was established with mechanical and electrical contractor NG Bailey.
BAM is targeting a BREEAM Excellent rating, with solar panels and high levels of insulation. A combined heat and power plant will allow the centre to create its own energy.
BAM Western region is an accredited national skills academy for construction – the first such appointment in the south west of England – and BAM will offer apprenticeships on the project. The contractor will also work with the university to provide learning opportunities for existing students.
The project is entering its main construction phase this summer, with sectional completion in March 2016 and overall completion scheduled for May 2016. The architect is Hawkins Brown, civil and structural engineers are AECOM and services engineers are Hoare Lea.
BAM is also building the new £11 million South Devon University Technical College (UTC), in which the University is a partner.
The contractor has worked on a number of schemes in Exeter and Plymouth, including the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Montgomery School, Exeter Business school, Marine academy; All Saints Academy; the Roland Levinsky Building at Plymouth University; Plymouth UTC; and Plymouth Theatre Royal. This has allowed it to build up an extensive list of suppliers in the county, a major advantage in securing this latest scheme.
BAM Construction Director Graham Kingdon said: “We have worked hard over a number of years to create our supply chain in the South West. We now have a number of trusted, quality companies we can ask to price work for us. This allows us to find the best suppliers at the best prices and ensure we can deliver world class facilities in Devon and Cornwall even at times of economic hardship.
“We are delighted to be building the Living Systems Institute for the University of Exeter. It will throw up plenty of challenges but we know we have the skills and experience in our team to overcome these and deliver a world class research facility that meets the University’s quality requirements.”
Apprenticeships can bridge skills gap says Autodesk director
The UK construction industry needs 216,800 new workers by 2025 to meet rising demand, according to the Construction Skills Network published by CITB.
Even before Covid-19, it was estimated it needs to attract 400,000 new recruits each year to meet the UK’s infrastructure needs.
But given one in three current construction employees are over 50 there is predicted to be a 20-25% decline in the available workforce over the next decade. And with end of the free movement of people from the EU, it has further limited access to skilled talent.
Mike Pettinella, Director, Autodesk Construction Solutions EMEA, believes the solution may be one that is hardly new, but might have taken a back seat during the pandemic.
"Apprenticeships could help us bridge the construction skills gap and meet this rapidly rising demand, and attract a new crop of younger talent to the industry," he said.
"Apprenticeships benefit everyone. For candidates, it’s an opportunity to learn valuable skills without incurring thousands of pounds of student debts. For employers, it’s a chance to train up employees in the competencies that are really needed – combining technical knowledge with collaboration and team work, which are equally important as you enter a new industry. And if you’re a larger company and already required to pay the apprenticeship levy, it makes sense to ensure you’re benefitting from the scheme too."
Marshall Construction recently took on nine new apprenticeships covering various roles. "Some of our previous apprentices have left and started their own businesses, which sets them up for life," said Chairman Robert Marshall. "Most of our current managers came from organic growth within the business whom we have trained to our own standards." Firms such as Barnwood Construction and Keepmoat Homes are also advertising and supporting apprenticeships.
According to the CSN, most English regions will experience an increase in construction workers by 2025, with East Midlands (1.7%) and West Midlands (1.4%) forecast to lead demand. Scotland (1.4%) and Wales (0.7%) are also predicted to fare well. The only region forecast to see a slight decline in workforce is the North East (-0.1%).
Major projects such as HS2 are driving growth in some regions and infrastructure (5.2%) and private housing (6.7%) should see the healthiest pace of expansion by 2025.
The impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the future shape of work will be profound. Modelling by the McKinsey Global Institute on the effects of technology adoption on the UK workforce shows that up to 10 million people, or around 30 percent of all UK workers, may need to transition between occupations or skill levels by 2030.