UK Construction Week 2023 – A recap

With two bank holiday weekends done and dusted (and yet another just around the corner), we recently set up shop at UK Construction Week 2023 at the ExCeL Centre to talk to the public and residential construction industry at large about sustainability, ESG goals and the future of offsite balcony construction.

Why we were there

UK Construction Week 2023 was an opportunity for us at Sapphire to introduce the world, in person, to our Crescent™ Corner Cassette balcony as well as to show off our brand-new Vision 2030 document. Beyond that, we had the opportunity to attend talks concerning sustainability, fire safety and the future of residential construction.

Having the chance to demonstrate our 2030 ESG vision to not just the public, but to our residential construction industry peers too, was one we couldn’t pass up. Proving your competency isn’t just about gaining certificates or meeting standards, it’s about being a role model for your peers too. By showing our commitment to a more sustainable future, we hope it will inspire others to take the same steps.

What’s going on

Sustainability was a huge focus for UK Construction Week, as it is for the residential construction industry at large. We attended several seminars hosted by some of the brightest minds in the construction space to expand our knowledge on how sustainability, procurement and fire safety are crucial to stay competent around.

Our first talk was a ‘question time’ discussion of fire safety in construction chaired by the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire and featured voices such as Steve Hamm (CEO of IFE), Tim Galloway (Building Safety Programme, HSE) and Steve Elliot (CEO, CIA).

Rebuilding trust through competency measures such as CPDs and communication was discussed, as well as playing a long game with educational measures that need to be taken such as schools for construction. Furthermore, it was mentioned that there is a clear need for sustainable innovation which addresses the parameters of fire safety – taking a risk-based approach so that functional requirements meet both fire safety and sustainability baselines.

Sapphire was also in attendance at a second talk by Shaun McCarthy (Supply Chain Sustainability School), Graham Edgell (Morgan Sindall) and Mellita D’Silva (Action Sustainability) where the importance of having a sustainable supply chain and positivity around procurement was discussed.

Amongst other points, the cost, appeal and collaboration possibilities of sustainability were discussed. A sustainable approach generally does cost more but much of this cost will be absorbed by upskilling markets, investing in more sustainable materials and the implicit avoidance of future upgrades through intelligent construction today.

What we’ve learned

Much as we expected, sustainability is a crucial factor for success over the next decade. Our Vision 2030 document explains how we’re making high-level changes to expand on our ESG vision and maintain our status as a sustainable and environmentally conscious company.

Sustainability starts with a product and the collaboration, communication and competency between companies invested in creating that product. Sustainable collaboration starts with early engagement, understanding how people add value to the supply chain, investing in and rewarding sustainable behaviours and understanding the root causes of carbon emissions to always stay ahead of the curve.

From a fire safety perspective, we learned that gateways and processes are changing in terms of fire requirements, but the functional aspects are staying the same. Codes and standards will never be ‘finished’, just updated with the knowledge of today and predictions for tomorrow that can make construction as safe an industry as it can be for the end user. Ultimately each building needs to demonstrate compliance to codes and standards, but professional judgement should be the standard we’re meeting, not a bare minimum of just codes themselves.

Rebuilding trust in the construction industry shouldn’t be boiled down to a minimum effort of meeting KPIs and following codes and standards to a bare minimum. Trust means going above and beyond. It means setting out a clear vision for sustainability, making innovative improvements to the way we work and the products we release, getting a professional judgement on our processes and making sure we’re always one step ahead of the crowd.

Sapphire Balconies are dedicated to being a forward-thinking, sustainable manufacturer and supplier. Our Vision 2030 document showcases our dedication to these processes and our newly revealed Crescent™ Corner balcony, as well as plenty of upcoming announcements, shows our commitment to innovative changes to our industry.

UK Construction Week 2023 wasn’t just an opportunity for us to show our latest developments. It was an opportunity for all of us in the residential construction sphere to develop ourselves.

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