Data integrity key in golden thread and building safety

With the building safety regime now requiring a golden thread of information on each property, one construction product manufacturer has implemented robust processes to ensure data integrity


  • Paul French

03 April 2024

Overhead drone image of crane on construction site with car park and high rises nearby

The golden thread of construction information required by the Building Safety Act 2022, is only as strong as each individual strand – which is why everyone should ensure they share data that is reliable, consistent and accurate.

As soon as the data is altered or allowed to become out of date, the golden thread is compromised. Therefore, the integrity of design and construction information in a building that complies with the 2022 Act must be maintained throughout.

The way in which the data is collected, stored, and shared also needs to be robust and timely, otherwise confusion reigns.

Building information mandated after Hackitt review

Dame Judith Hackitt's review of Building Regulations and fire safety has transformed the culture of the construction industry, prompting an overhaul of the way it manages and maintains product data.

Manufacturers are required to provide quality products and systems with verified performance data.

Specifiers must meet safety, fire, thermal and acoustic standards based on this data, while contractors should install in accordance with manufacturers' guidelines.

Data integrity is essential in helping specifiers, architects and housebuilders choose the right products and systems so buildings are fit for purpose.

This means robust performance data that is reliable, up to date and accurate is critical to ensure a safe, compliant and long-lasting installation.

Therefore, transparency and trust are crucial in making sure that the products and systems specified comply with the relevant Building Regulations and guidance as well as other standards applicable to their construction application.

Every building must have its own golden thread of information to support those responsible for its safety – not just in the design and construction phases, but throughout the entire life-cycle.

This means everyone involved throughout the construction process needs to understand the importance of data governance, and how important it is to have fully proven, tested products for a project.

It also means they can provide performance characteristics for each specific building component according to project requirements, industry standards and sector benchmarks.

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Integrity must be constantly maintained

In construction, data integrity represents the accuracy, completeness and reliability of data throughout the life-cycle of a building.

Quality in contrast relates to the robustness of the test data, while security is a means of preventing hackers gaining access to systems and information.

Data integrity must be structured, it has to be current, and it has to be definitive. It does not suffice, for example, to provide specification evidence in static pdfs that cannot be easily updated or expanded.

Neither can previous project or specification details be reused, as these may be out of date and no longer valid for a current project.

Equally, it is not just a case of dumping all the data you have and hoping that every party understands it.

Integrity requires data to remain solid, accurate and up to date throughout the design and build process, which means the principal designer must also have systems in place to maintain this – especially as accountability becomes paramount throughout the life-cycle of a building.

'Every building must have its own golden thread of information to support those responsible for its safety'

Testing underpins manufacturer's product data

Traceability of the initial test data behind the performance claims we make is essential in providing trustworthy data.

This is why the robust approach by British Gypsum, which comes under the umbrella of Saint-Gobain Interior Solutions, includes systems testing at independent UKAS-accredited laboratories.

These stringent tests help to create a single, sustainable source of truth that underpins its data integrity, and means the defined performance levels of the system components are substantiated.

Ongoing, routine system testing ensures performance is replicable and not just a one-off, giving further confidence about the product's claims.

British Gypsum has been publishing its industry-respected guide, the White Book, for more than half a century, providing guidance on its systems and specifications.

As part of its continued commitment to complete transparency for all partner construction customers, the firm reviewed the way it approached the integrity of its product and specification performance data in 2021.

To enhance its approach, a product information management (PIM) system was implemented to provide a single source for all product, system and specification data.

This included information from the 13,000 test reports that inform the White Book. If something is altered in the PIM, the information is mirrored across all data repositories.

This system is also supported by a digital asset management platform that was created to host all related documentation and files, such as detailed drawings, data sheets and test reports.

This process covers all the firm's specification data, whether it is accessed on its website, on search tool NBS Source or in the White Book. It means that the technical information and specifications are up to date and aligned.

The need for test data to remain current is one of the reasons why British Gypsum decided to make the White Book digital in the form of a specification selector, to ensure accurate, timely and accessible information.

Such processes mean customers and the supply chain can be confident in the decisions they make relating to design and specification.

It is crucial on site to know that the different elements of a system will perform exactly as designed, with system integrity confirming performance capability.

Training enables competent information handling

However, while testing and a digital record have a role to play, so do the people at Saint-Gobain Interior Solutions, which has introduced a competency framework so that they can share the test data in a correct and comprehensible manner.

Continuing professional development (CPD) helps to ensure that the team can provide customers with accurate and dependable information.

Colleagues in the technical support team and the project specification managers are extensively trained and tested so that they can pass through preset levels of the framework, which has been created to reflect their increasing knowledge.

To help maintain a visible golden thread, performance critical technical queries are also requested in writing rather than being answered on the phone.

A new live chat feature has also been introduced on the British Gypsum website which can enable a connection with a member of the technical support team. This includes a function to save the transcript.

Having a deep understanding of technical data and its built environment context is essential because it underpins all construction activity.

Recent revisions to Building Regulations introduce new requirements, which makes system and data integrity even more important.

Product mark assures quality

A further strand of data integrity is the Code for Construction Product Information (CCPI) Mark.

This was created by the Construction Product Association (CPA) as a direct result of Hackitt's findings. It aims to assure users that product information is clear, accurate, accessible, up-to-date and unambiguous.

British Gypsum supports the CCPI accreditation process as it believes it will create a level playing field for manufacturers and remove ambiguity in performance claims.

Gaining the mark for all British Gypsum partition systems reinforces the company's commitment to higher standards in building safety through higher standards in construction product information and claims.

In essence, it provides a benchmark for manufacturers, signifying to customers that the product information is trustworthy and adheres to the high standards set out by the CCPI.

British Gypsum is proud to be working proactively with the CCPI to raise standards in its own product information management as the construction industry adapts to the improved building safety regime.

Although CCPI accreditation is currently voluntary, it is hoped it will be adopted by industry as standard practice.

Data integrity inspires confidence and safety

The 2022 Act calls for a digital record of building information to be handed on, to ensure a golden thread. It is clear that this will require strong data management and integrity.

Fundamentally, this is about creating trust and confidence. By maintaining data integrity everyone from design to construction and beyond can be assured of its accuracy – and building safety.

Paul French is head of digital construction at Saint-Gobain Interior Solutions

Contact Saint-Gobain: Email

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