BUILT ENVIRONMENT JOURNAL

Thirty years of CEBC

The Consortium of European Building Control celebrated 30 years in October with a meeting in Brussels themed to the circular economy

Author: Diane Marshall

10 April 2020

The Consortium of European Building Control (CEBC) was formed 30 years ago on the back of an idea by the former Institute of Building Control. An initial meeting in Brussels in November 1989, where some key individuals involved in setting regulations looked for greater collaboration across Europe, has now culminated in an international organisation representing 35 member bodies across 25 different countries. CEBC includes public- and private-sector bodies involved in the creation or application of legislation and standards in all aspects of building control.

A key part of the organisations activities includes information-gathering and sharing through publication of reports, covering a range of topical issues such as e-delivery the value of building control and the different systems in operation across member states (cebc.eu). It hosts general meetings twice a year on rotation around member organisations, and it themes each on issues relevant to the host country as well as any current industry-wide matters. The meetings also include technical visits to explore local architecture, construction or projects that are of interest.

It was fitting that in October, the 30th-anniversary event saw CEBC return to Brussels, where it focused on the circular economy in construction. With an introductory session on building regulations in Belgium and the role of host company SECO, presentations followed from the Flemish Institute of Technological Research and the Flemish government outlining the principles of circular construction. These explored the concept of designing buildings to enable easy disassembly transformation or transportation and greater re-use at the level of whole buildings or individual materials - thereby reducing waste.

The challenges to design culture were explored through the example of an existing project that is being entirely remodelled.

The World Trade Centre towers in Brussels are currently in use as offices, but there is a plan to regenerate them as multifunctional premises incorporating residential alongside office, leisure and retail uses to enhance the area while increasing density across the site.

The session explored the delicate balance of technical feasibility with economic and environmental impact: by planning for future use, buildings can be converted more readily to suit a variety of functions and purposes a concept that moves us on from sustainable to circular buildings. The presentation also explored the challenges of regulating and controlling this kind of building project.

CEBC's European members are also interested in whats happening with Building Regulations across the UK after the Grenfell Tower fire, so other presentations included an update on the changes to the Scottish building standards and the Industry Response Group report Raising the bar. As a result of the work being done on competencies in England, CEBC is now gathering data for its next report, looking at the way each member organisation measures and demonstrates competency.

The conference spent some time reminiscing over the past 30 years with the previous president and some influential former members being invited to contribute to the discussions and be part of the celebrations at the gala dinner.

The consortium has evolved over three decades with increasing numbers of members and organisations sharing a common, promoting best practice and disseminating information and ideas.

Diane Marshall is operations director at NHBC  dmarshall@nhbc.co.uk

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