Understanding the need for The Golden Thread

The term Golden Thread was coined many years ago, but it has been linked more recently to Dame Judith Hackitt’s work on the safety of buildings following the Grenfell tower tragedy in the UK in 2017.

There has been much debate around the term the Golden Thread, and although it has been embraced to some degree on the process of how we design and build, there is still more to be done on how we measure accountability for design, specification, construction and operational data on our buildings and building products.

We know well based on our work globally and the types of clients we work with that the construction industry still lags behind others. There is a lack of innovation when it comes to design and construction in terms of high-level management. What we mean by this is that technology is being used in many ways and also in quite sophisticated ways to support different pieces of how we design and construct assets. The lack of innovation lies in the governance and authority and ensuring that the information that is developed by a series of stakeholders ultimately relates to how the buildings are used and operated. 

One key element which has been missing in the UK BIM debate is using BIM to monitor and audit activities and accountability for those activities. For example, in many cases products may be revised and changed based on cost or regulatory implications and these changes are rarely recorded as accountable and by who.

This is where the Golden Thread, and the impact of a digital record can ultimately help us as an industry. To be able to record and update information when it is changed, and to check that the changes specified are fit for purpose are crucial to our industry and society well-being.

We have a responsibility as members of the construction industry to ensure we have specified either a product or material which has been tested for its use. Although many would debate that this hangs on the manufacturer, it is still heavily reliant on the specifier (Architect or Contractor) to ensure it is adequate. 

The principles of the Golden Thread are nicely linked to how we would use the processes and procedures outlined within ISO 19650 and using a detailed and controlled (as well as consistent) process to share and hold information is crucial. There is only so much we can do as an industry, the leadership on this must come from the client ultimately and their authority and people monitoring and maintaining the assets they run and/or own.

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