A new report published by the Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC) has said that the digital golden thread will play a “crucial” role in supporting the UK’s construction industry, residents, and the new building safety regulator.
Providing a fresh overview of the development of the government’s golden thread policy and how it has so far progressed, the report states that the golden thread is a key part of the “new, more stringent” regime for building safety in higher-risk buildings.
Going forward, the report says, the thread will help the construction industry to manage its buildings; support residents in understanding how safety is managed in their buildings, as well as enable them to feel safe; and support the new building safety regulator in assessing the safety of higher-risk buildings.
According to BRAC, the golden thread is both the information that allows a person to understand a building and the steps needed to keep both the building and people safe, now and in the future.
Essentially, the term refers to both the information and the information-management process.
‘Vital’ the right approach is adopted
In the report, BRAC calls on the industry to make changes now, rather that wait for legislation.
The report reads: “As part of this pivotal culture change, the opportunity must be taken to maximise industry awareness and understanding of the value of data, wider opportunities, and digital vision for the sector, and to drive the adoption of these technologies across the construction supply chain.”
It adds: “It is therefore vital that the right approach to golden thread is adopted now, to deliver building safety and to support wider digital transformation.”
The report says that, as the Building Safety Bill continues its passage through Parliament, the BRAC golden thread working group will continue to support MHCLG, HSE, and industry in developing and understanding the golden thread.
Going forward, the working group will focus on:
- Supporting government in developing the golden thread secondary legislation package and guidance
- Working with government to develop the ‘guide’ to applying standards to higher risk buildings to create a golden thread and continuing to investigate relevant British and international standards and mapping how these fit together
- Continuing to promote the necessary culture change across the sector
- Increasing communications on golden thread across the sector to support them in understanding how they can prepare for the upcoming legislation
The BRAC golden thread working group was established in November 2020, with support from MHCLG and HSE.
The group serves as the primary source of advice to officials on golden thread policy and facilitates MHCLG’s and HSE’s engagement with the industry.
Background: Golden thread
The need for a golden thread in the building industry arose from Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent review of building regulations and fire safety, following the Grenfell tower tragedy in 2017.
In her report, Building a safer future, Hackitt recommended the introduction of a ‘golden thread’ as a tool to manage buildings as holistic systems and allow people to use information to safely and effectively design, construct, and operate their buildings.
Hackitt said that stated that the golden thread should be “passed across to future building owners to underpin more effective safety management throughout the building lifecycle”.
The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) had previously specified that the golden thread will use digital tools and systems to enable key information to be stored and used effectively to ensure safer buildings; and that the thread will support dutyholders and “accountable persons” throughout the lifecycle of a building.
It also said that the thread would incorporate all the information needed to understand a building and how it should be managed, make information easily available “to the right people at the right time”, and put in place a new higher standard of information-keeping.
The MHCLG has said it plans to consult on secondary legislation and guidance for the golden thread “in due course”.
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