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State of the Industry Opinion

GBE > Encyclopaedia > Opinion > State of the Industry > G#2416

State of the Industry Opinion


  • Many recently qualified Architects don’t understand or have never done
    • Physics of buildings
    • Science of materials
    • Building construction
    • Environmental know-how
    • Crunching of numbers
  • Architectural Education seems to focuses on philosophical BS, and fantasy graphics over any building know-how
    • Are oblivious to the real world of construction
    • Architectural Profession is sidelined by the industry through its lack of competency
    • RIBA Education and ARB accreditation of Architectural courses has a strangle hold on Syllabus
    • RIBA Sustainable Futures need to kick some ass to change the syllabus to embrace Climate Crisis
  • Brian Murphy learned more at ONC and HNC Construction than in Architecture
    • Computer programmes were non-existent then.
    • Manual Number crunching
      • U Value calculation
      • Condensation check (static only)
    • Construction methods
    • Materials
  • Architects can rarely brief the other consultants in sustainable approaches to be adopted
    • Engineers with calculations can run rings round them
  • Use BREEAM or (previously) Code for Sustainable Homes and (in Scotland) EcoHomes
    • These are tick-box approaches to sustainability
    • Where the design team do not need to know about sustainability
    • They just get advised at the end what their score is


  • Are focused on the number crunching of structural and services engineering
  • Work with Environmental Assessment Method (EAM) focus on carbon or energy efficiency drives
  • Need more guidance on the environmental opportunities
  • Use standard non-job specific text specifications including all non-environmental options
  • This approach permits use of environmental choices but does not require them

Structural Engineers

  • Know about low carbon cement but steer away from the slow set and strengthening
  • Seem not to appreciate the use of blended cements can act like OPC with low carbon content
  • Seem not to realise a switch to low carbon cement can significantly reduce the impact of construction
  • BREEAM or carbon counting seems to be having an effect in driving the use of cement substitutes
  • The cost of cement compared to substitutes makes switching easy

Services Engineers

  • Services Engineers read the journals about novel approaches to:
    • Low energy lighting, lighting controls,
    • Sustainable drainage,
    • Water saving appliances and valves,
    • Smart meters and smart or intelligent buildings,
  • But we still see many dumb solutions born out of:
    • Some knowledge applied badly,
    • Fear of health and safety,
    • Resulting in wasteful practices and higher energy consumption


  • Standard readymade specifications are the norm,
    • Reliant upon the drawing annotation or schedules to point at the specification clauses relevant to the project.
  • Standard specification quite often:
    • Permit the use of recycled aggregates or OPC replacement
    • But do not require their use,
    • Unless the Engineer is proactive in requesting them,
  • Industry norm will be adopted for familiarity, simplicity and piece of mind.
  • Never involved in policing the specification

QS & Cost controllers

  • Habitually focus on low initial cost based on pricing guides
  • Ignore or exclude possibility of client’s aspirations for environmental or low running costs
  • No interest in investing well in competent buildings
  • Set artificially low cost plans which sets in motion a ‘race to the bottom’
  • Start Value Engineering exercises (posh for cost cutting) even before going to tender
  • Compromise between what we design and what we build with:
    • Cost cutting,
    • Value engineering
      • (Looking at more than one item at a time and finding cheaper overall solutions)
      • Usually cost cutting in disguise
    • Permitting Substitution for cheaper (worse)



  • Construction Industry Effectively bankrupt and still trading (after ‘dead men standing’)
  • Suicidal tendering for work
    • Starting the ‘race to the bottom’
    • Reliance on fighting claims for more money later
  • Strangle hold the sub-contractors
    • Force Dutch bargaining to lower their prices below realistic levels
  • Force inadequate time programmes on sub-contractors
    • Preventing skilled tradesmen applying their skills and care
    • Force cutting corners
    • Force incompetent building
    • Disasters like Grenfell
  • Refuse to pay subcontractor’s invoices for 30-60-90 or longer days
    • Financial strangle hold down to staff pay cheques
    • Mental stress build up everywhere
  • Bogged down with paperwork
    • Don’t co-ordinate sub-contractors let them work it out themselves
    • Don’t supervise works
    • Don’t Snag the works leaving that to the Architects
  •  Substitutions
    • (Often replacing a good product with a worse one or a different performing product),
  • Surreptitious substitution or otherwise,
    • With low initial cost as the primary criteria for their success.
    • Ignoring the success of the building


  • Kier Construction have been substituting CLT in place of concrete frame school building
    • Primarily in school buildings to speed up the construction time to meet the school schedule


  • Further degradation of ambitions occurs on site through lack of communication from the design team,
  • Lack of understanding by site agents and managers leading to substitution and poor supervision
  • Poor supervision, lack of care or lack of knowledge of new systems or methods
  • Language barriers resulting in no or broken communication
  • Leading to misguided ambition and poor workmanship

GBE’s Response

  • It’s time for change,
  • Green Building Encyclopaedia (GBE) is the second of BrianSpecMan’s contributions
  • GBE is about developing a more detailed and joined up understanding of environmental design principles
  • Generating detailed ‘Healthy Environmental Appropriate Effective, Resourceful and Competent Construction’ rules
  • Even some ready-made potential solutions with guidance on choice.

© GBE NGS ASWS BrianMurphy aka BrianSpecMan
7th September 2015 – 29th November 2019
Extracted from GBE Home Page

State of the Industry Opinion


© GBE NGS ASWS BrianMurphy aka BrianSpecMan
21st September 2018 – 29th November 2019

State of the Industry Opinion

GBE Opinion

State of the Industry


© GBE NGS ASWS BrianMurphy aka BrianSpecMan
21st September 2018 – 29th November 2019