Social value in construction: progress

By Jo Dobson

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Two months since publishing our major research report ‘Maximising Social Value from Infrastructure Projects’, here are some reflections on how the findings have been received and taken forward across the construction sector.

One of the key report insights was that lack of common definition for the built environment is inhibiting progress.  Since our publication, the UKGBC has established a task force to define social value for the built environment. The consultation received over 80 responses, which shows just how much interest there is in this area and need to make sense of social value in the context of the construction sector.  As part of this task force, alongside many other social value practitioners and consultants, we are helping to develop a common definition and guidance – which will be launched by the end of the year.  Find out more here.

The RIBA has launched The Social Value Toolkit for Architecture, which was developed to make it simple to evaluate and demonstrate the social impact of design on people and communities. The need to put increased focus on social value creation during design stage was raised in our report.  You can access the toolkit here.

The Construction Innovation Hub launched a new Value Toolkit to support value-based decision making for policy makers and clients. It is great to see the increasing focus on making value-based decisions throughout the whole investment lifecycle, which is one of the key report findings, that will drive better social, economic and environmental outcomes.  Download the Construction Innovation Hub toolkit here.

This week RICS launched an insight paper on measuring social value in infrastructure projects. It provides a useful overview of different approaches for social value measurement and valuing non-financial impacts. One of the key findings from ‘Maximising social value from infrastructure projects’ was lack of consistent definition and measurement. Another was lack of knowledge and skills. So it is encouraging to see this new paper published!  Have a read here.

The ICE is also producing a policy paper on appraising social value in the infrastructure sector and taking forward our recommendations to government.  Sponsored by our colleague and ICE Fellow Judith Sykes, it will examine how social value should be applied in infrastructure planning, procurement and project delivery processes. One of the key points in our research was that the Green Book is not fit for purpose for major infrastructure schemes, and this was discussed with members of Treasury to take forward into the updates to the Green Book.

Upcoming events

If you’re keen to find out more about the research findings, social value in construction in general and where it’s heading, I’m speaking at two upcoming events:

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