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Building Tomorrow - Insights from the pioneers of MMC standards

At the Offsite Alliance, one of our earliest goals was to help establish new standards for offsite construction. We are very proud to be members of the BSI CB/301 committee. Our commitment goes beyond participation; we actively engage and ensure everyone stays informed. Our members are the true pioneers of the industry—visionary leaders and experts who are not only setting the pace but also driving significant advancements in building practices. We take immense pride in their achievements and their role in shaping the future of construction.


One of our founding members Matthew Egan has a role as Chair of the BSI committee for forming standards in the MMC sector.  We asked Matthew to give us a quick update about what’s happening in the world of standards and he was kind enough to oblige.  Read Matthews's update below: 


If I start to talk about CB/301, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a prelude to a conversation about a Star Wars robot or one of Elon Musk’s children. I’d have to quickly correct your thinking and inform you that it’s actually the name of the BSI committee, dedicated to developing standards in Modern Methods of Construction (MMC). For me, that’s just as exciting as it being a Star Wars robot, but then I’m a total geek. 


Personally, I think that it’s about time we had standards developed for the MMC sector, and I’m delighted to see that CB/301 is growing in reach across other BSI committees, as well as international ISO committees.


The UK is one of the global leaders in our sector, and much of the world looks to what we are doing, what we are learning, and how we are developing. The range of different MMC systems across many different materials is what I believe makes the UK unique, globally. We utilise a huge range of modern methods in our construction projects, and our government has led the world with a presumption in favour of MMC for public sector projects. As a nation, we have developed a huge range of skills in the sector; some of those skills haven’t even been assigned proper roles or job titles yet, but they are being nurtured and cultivated in our work environment by individuals and organisations who want to contribute to higher levels of productivity across the construction sector. Just look at how quickly the number of roles with “MMC” in their title has exploded all over LinkedIn. The RIBA DfMA overlay calls for the new role of MMC adviser, someone who is an expert in MMC and can provide support from the very early stages of a project to drive better outcomes in construction. As the sector grows, we will, no doubt, see more and more new or re-defined roles geared towards improving construction productivity under some sort of MMC job title. 


In the UK, we’ve also seen the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) put their weight behind the MMC definition framework to try to help take a first step at achieving commonality in terminology, and we’ve also seen them support the development of the new PAS 8700 standard that’s coming down the tracks for MMC in residential construction. Our national landscape for MMC is something we should be proud of, and the diverse range of expertise in our sector is something we should lean into to develop a whole new range of standards or influence existing standards to be more “MMC inclusive.” 


Outside the UK, the gears of international standards are starting to turn, and CB/301 sits at the table with an amazing group of global MMC experts and leaders. With new standards being developed on the international scene, CB/301 will bring its committee members to the international arena, offering our immense depth and wide range of experience to try to influence the development of those international standards. 

 

Like any BSI committee, CB/301 is structured with working groups that we refer to as panels. Each panel has a different area of expertise and is charged with work towards developing and influencing standards both nationally and internationally. Each panel begins to work towards any new standard by developing a business case for BSI to get any new work off the ground. As a committee, we horizon scan and outreach to various other BSI committees to make sure our panels can extend their specialist expertise into the ongoing refinement of existing standards. 

 

We are a relatively new BSI committee, being only a little over 2 years old, but we’ve been working towards our first two standards. The two standards will.


1) Better define terminology

2) Describe the general principles/processes within our sector.


We believe that categorising MMC systems with more granularity than the current industry language will allow better identification of safety-critical and performance-related standards across different MMC systems. Our work towards general principles/processes has allowed us to understand the industry landscape or ecosystem within which different platforms, building systems, and products can be referenced. There are more panels currently being formed that will aim for the thermal performance of MMC systems and fire safety of MMC systems, as well as many other areas that I believe we need to enhance to help benefit the sector. 

 

It’s an exciting time in the sector with a real push on both national and international fronts to increase the presence of MMC in the standards we use to design, manufacture, and build. If you think about the breadth of MMC, you’ll begin to understand the huge amount of work we have afoot,


We are actively recruiting new committee and panel members to work on new standards and are keen to speak to those who are willing to contribute their time and energy to bring our industry forward, improving safety, increasing productivity, and influencing the next leap forward in the global MMC sector. 


If you believe that you’re an industry expert with a particular area of specialist expertise, then please contact me or the committee manager for a chat about how you might be able to help us out.

 

CB/301 chair:  Matthew Egan matthew.egan@eganbennet.com 

CB/301 committee manager:  Sophie Sherwood sophie.sherwood@bsigroup.com 

 

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