Second opinion It’s time to start using building sites positively, as free advertising for the construction industry.
The Construction Industry Board may have been affectionately described as “a committee designed by a camel”, but the success of three of its major initiatives is growing month by month.

National Construction Week (3-9 April) will this year be a truly national event, actively supported by almost every sector of construction.

The Considerate Constructors Scheme will very soon pass the target of 100 site registrations a month, involving more and more new clients and constructors as it expands.

The Movement for Innovation, which, despite its name, is more a camel designed by a committee, is also starting to win. Its reforming efforts, including those designed to integrate and rationalise construction’s archaic management structure, have not escaped the interest of the City, particularly the market-makers. The image of the construction industry is at last starting to improve, thanks in the main to these three initiatives.

The Considerate Constructors Scheme, however, has the most potential in the short term to raise the profile and improve the image of our industry quickly. This is because it encourages sites and their managers to take pride in the good impression that a site gives to passers-by and neighbours. The scheme’s rules – to which all sites must adhere – commit them to be:

  • Considerate

  • Environmentally aware

  • Clean – on and around the site

  • Good communicative neighbours

  • Respectful towards passers-by as well as site personnel

    The Considerate Constructors Scheme has the most potential to raise the profile and improve the image of our industry

  • Safe

  • Responsible, accountable and accessible.

The scheme was first proposed in the late 1980s by the Building Employers Confederation (now the Construction Confederation), but binned during the recession and the BEC’s own financial and leadership crises. But it was too good to lay buried for long, and resurfaced as the principal image-building proposal in Sir Michael Latham’s 1994 report, Constructing the Team (working group 7 report, “Constructing a Better Image”).

The report noted that there were 16 000-18 000 major construction sites in operation at any one time in the UK. If a significant number of those sites initiated positive action to improve standards of communication, presentation, cleanliness and safety and took steps to reduce the generation of dust, noise, disruption to traffic and so on, then the public would take notice.

The perception of construction sites and the reputation of the industry as a whole would start to rise. The site owners would find that their long-term costs would fall and their reputation as property owners and future neighbours would also rise proportionately. In addition, as all registered sites displaying the memorable CCS logo, for the first time construction would be strongly badged as a single unified industry.

Our industry has a unique resource in its open workplaces. Many of them are in the most prominent positions in our towns and cities, on our major road networks – all prime advertising sites and excellent shop windows for our product and process – when it is well managed.

Now that the CCS is on a sound financial footing (the scheme is self-financing and has paid off its start-up capital), we should start to exploit this promotional resource to market professional construction to the general public.

First, we need to consolidate the gains of the past four years by encouraging far more clients and constructors to register their sites. Many local authorities have set an excellent example by specifying registration for all their larger contracts. The scheme needs similar positive support from members of the Construction Round Table, the Construction Clients Forum and the Government Construction Clients Panel, as well as from all consultants and constructors that are not yet engaged.

Our target should be to increase site registrations per month to 200 by January 2001, 350 by 2002 and 500 by January 2003. Even then, we will only be registering about 50% of the available sites. But, once we hit those targets, the reformed, restructured, efficient and “squeaky clean” construction industry will be automatically promoting its excellence by example on all its major sites.