A cross-sector response to identify and remedy outmoded building materials in public buildings is in development.
Two industry-led teams will be created to inform and advise the UK Government and building owners on the presence of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) across the public sector estate.
It comes after 104 schools and colleges in England previously without mitigations in place may have been at risk of collapse due to RAAC being present.
All were told last week by the Department for Education (DfE) to vacate to safer settings, just days before the start of the autumn term.
The government has since published a list of all 147 schools requiring works.
Funding for essential works to remove any immediate risk is being made available by the government.
RAAC was a lightweight building material used to construct public buildings like schools and hospitals between the 1950s and mid-1990s.
However, the absence of coarse aggregate – present in ‘traditional’ reinforced concrete – means RAAC has a limited lifespan, after which it deteriorates rapidly, having usually developed air pockets inside.
In response, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) aims to provide a “single industry approach” to the issue via two groups – a technical expert panel from professional bodies across the sector, as well as industry experts, and a communication and external engagement group to ensure that accurate information and guidance is provided to the industry and building owners.
These groups will be tasked with the following remit:
- An assessment of the current situation and risk levels;
- Supporting the design and delivery of remediation programmes.
It also aims to address some of the immediate support required, including provision of temporary buildings, and the availability and competence of inspectors.
The announcement comes amid reports some companies are taking advantage of the situation by increasing their prices for temporary accommodation.
Membership of both groups will be confirmed shortly, said the CLC.
“The CLC is working to co-ordinate a cross-sector response; marshalling technical expertise and industry capacity to support the government and building owners to develop an effective programme to assist with prioritising and mitigating the risks; and developing plans to remediate buildings where required,” said CLC co-chairman, Mark Reynolds.
Graham Watts, one of the leaders of the CLC’s Building Safety workstream, said: “While we anticipate that the majority of buildings that contain RAAC will remain safe, there is an urgent need to identify and remedy any risks to the public.
“As an industry, we will support the programme of expert assessment of structures, both public and private, to identify where RAAC has been used and to deal with it to make it safe.
“We will be setting up two groups to take this work forward – a technical expert panel to co-ordinate our cross-industry response, as well as a communications group. We will be confirming the full membership of both groups shortly, and their work will start immediately.”
Reynolds added: “The construction industry has a responsibility to ensure the safety and the confidence of the public in the buildings that are a part of the fabric of their daily lives.”
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