How Built Environment Journal covered the key topics of 2023: part two

Alongside technical issues such as dilapidations and PPM, the journal has engaged with the vital topics of diversity, sustainability and the next generation, as the second of two articles details


  • Barney Hatt
  • Adam Bell

27 December 2023

Man and robot lifting box inside warehouse

Artificial intelligence (AI) and the environment have never been far from the headlines this year, and both have particular implications for professionals that have been among the subjects covered by the Built Environment Journal.

Beyond this, though, we have continued to focus on the issues that matter to RICS members around the world.

As well as building safety – one of several subjects covered in the first part of our 2023 round-up – our articles have looked at the dilapidations or make-good process, the philosophy of building conservation, and encouraging women to become and remain surveyors.

Insights offered on APC process

The journal's coverage of the APC process is always popular. Among pieces of specific interest to those entering the profession, alongside Jen Lemen's regular articles on the competencies, was a series starting in November by Jordanne Dunn, an AssocRICS building surveyor at Savills.

With a degree apprenticeship under her belt, she is now readying herself to complete the APC next year. Her first task has been to review her experience,  her diary and APC log to see where to start her paperwork and devise a strategy for completing what remains.

In many ways, she said, the AssocRICS assessment is an excellent primer for the APC. While the workload required may have been lighter, and there was no interview, it instilled good habits of record-keeping, taught her how to identify the competencies in her experience and gave a practical tutorial in how to write a submission – all skills that will benefit her on the APC.

'By measuring the experience I already have, I can more clearly identify any gaps I need to target'

Fostering fresh talent to renew old buildings

Supporting those who want to enter the profession is important whatever the discipline. When it comes to conservation, it is particularly critical.

In April, the 2022 RICS Young Building Surveyor of the Year Joshua Weston explained why inspiring young talent can ensure the future of both the profession and heritage properties.

He said that understanding how and why a property was built is key if building surveyors are going to bring it back into use – though we should also bear in mind that historic features are often incompatible with modern requirements.

'A lack of understanding of old buildings often leads to a misdiagnosis of underlying issues'

Research highlights challenges for women in profession

Woman in hard hat in front of industrial site


RICS – and the journals – also continue to promote diversity throughout the profession, whether in recruiting new entrants or retaining experienced surveyors.

At the end of July, the organisation published its first ever Women in surveying insight report, which looked at the make-up of its membership and sought to identify the barriers to career progression for women.

This was followed up in August with an article by the University of the West of England's Dr Samantha Organ and Sanderson Weatheralls' Jo Williams, which examined why women leave building surveying, and how more secure and rewarding positions can improve retention.

The authors said that enabling a supportive, inclusive work culture is vital, and must include clients, consultants and contractors. They also said all employees should have an opportunity for interesting work, as this helps provide a sense of fulfilment and can enhance their skill sets.

'Where possible, every woman in the profession should be able to seek out a mentor and offer their mentoring skills to others'

Avoiding plastics to improve sustainability

Rows of PVC plastic tubes


Another crucial area for RICS is sustainability, and throughout the year the journal has sought to reflect this.

In May, architect Tom Smethurst argued that the transition to sustainable construction in particular will need to involve fundamental changes in the way buildings are designed, manufactured, built and operated.

He said that, as society pushes up against planetary boundaries, built environment professionals will need to identify how to change their practice. A key aspect of doing so will be understanding the properties of the materials with which we construct our world – especially ubiquitous plastics.

'Although the environmental impacts of plastics are well known by building professionals and their clients, the effect of construction plastics on public health is less well understood'

Surveyors should embrace, not fear AI

With increasing interest in the benefits and dangers of AI, we also turned our attention to the potential for the technology to be used in planned preventative maintenance (PPM).

Author of RICS' PPM professional standard Adrian Tagg explained that, although the routine of PPM inspections might seem well suited to AI's capabilities, it would be hard to replicate the human touch.

He said that while surveyors should embrace technology to support such inspections this should remain a symbiotic relationship, in which the professional and the technology complement each other. The full automation of PPM surveys still seems a long way in the future.

'It is the intelligence and ability of a surveyor to multitask when processing data that gives a human advantage over automated technology'

New edition of standard focuses on make good

Like PPM, dilapidations is a common feature of members' work but plays out in different ways in different parts of the world.

With October seeing the publication of the third edition of RICS' professional standard on make good – as dilapidations are referred to in Australia – an article by the document's lead author John Goddard detailed how it sets out best practice and the information needed by all participants to carry it out.

He noted that it also described the legal context of the process, and how both parties should understand and negotiate a settlement, as well as including advice on avoiding an unfounded or exaggerated claim.

'In the new world of net-zero carbon targets and sustainability reporting, the latest edition suggests processes that can help minimise the huge waste caused by the make-good process'


Built Environment Journal resumes publication of articles in the new year, and will cover not only these topics but others such as asbestos, fire doors and guidance on dealing with hazardous wood waste, as well as insurance, insolvency and project briefs.


Barney Hatt is building surveying and building control editor of Built Environment Journal
Contact Barney: Email


Adam Bell is building conservation editor of Built Environment Journal
Contact Adam: Email

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