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The Big Rebuild: Restoring reputation with innovation

Innovation will restore the UK construction sector’s reputation states Ian King, Chief Operating Officer of Zeroignition.

The Grenfell fire tragedy has unquestionably damaged the construction sector’s reputation. Paul Hyett, former RIBA president has even criticised the industry for having a sloppy attitude and “sleep-walking towards serious problems”. However, as the inquiry into the tragic events of 2017 continues, the industry is showing a united front to attempt to recover its good name.

Pioneering progress

Since Grenfell, the regulatory picture has evolved and is becoming much clearer. In recent times, the conversations we at Zeroignition are having with manufacturers, have revealed a very positive shift towards a higher focus on fire protection.

There’s real commitment to improving the safety of products coming to market. Companies are innovating strongly, investing in state-of-the-art technology and facilities, and sourcing the very best manpower, to achieve better fire rated credentials across all of their products

The result? Pioneering products that tick every box – from sustainability to impeccable quality, and crucially, safer choices that are fit for purpose, when it comes to fire.

Supply the demand

One wood panel manufacturer we work with closely uses our product to produce flame retardant OSB, and has seen a spike in enquiries for FR rated product since they launched their expanded FR range last year.

It seems that building in a safe, yet sustainable way is resonating with an increasing number within the industry. Companies now view investing time and money into FR products as a way to position themselves as contributing to a better world.

Slow and steady

While it’s encouraging to see change. I know many of you will be asking why it has taken the construction industry so long to get to this point.

Many of us are frustrated and disappointed in the industry, and rightly so. Change is slow, and this is largely due to timeframes. Building and product development, from initial concept, through testing and into the marketplace, takes a long time and a lot of money. At Zeroignition we’ve experienced the lengthy approval process first-hand.

Construction must also navigate a complex and grindingly slow regulatory system. Legal changes are processed by civil servants and politicians who move slowly. Take the 18m limit discussion for example. This is still being quibbled over now, three years on.

However with perseverance, innovations can begin to help us heal. Identifying and addressing the core problem might be challenging, but it’s where true innovation comes from, and can reap huge rewards.

Rather than focusing on what was lacking before, let’s set our sights firmly on the positive changes we are starting to see emerge, and present them to world in ways that show we really do care.

Ian King, Chief Operations Officer of Zero Ignition