Edge Debate 54 – A New Professionalism?

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013 | Debates

bri-41-1-coverIn 2011 the Edge debated ‘What does it mean to be a building professional in the 21st Century’ (Debate 46, 15.9.11). The debate led to the development of a Special Issue of the journal Building Research and Information on New Professionalism, which has just been published. Copies will be available at the Debate and those attending will be given internet access. The editorial is available for download

The debate examined the dynamic relationship between professionals, government and markets; and whether professionals need to have a stronger role in protecting the public good – through leadership, acting impartially, and sharing knowledge and expertise. In particular, it explored the actions that professional institutions could take.

The evening was in two parts:
1) Introductory statements by some contributors to the Special Issue, including Edge members Bill Bordass, Frank Duffy & Stephen Hill, and
2) a “Question Time” discussion involving the audience and a panel of leaders from professional institutes.


Most of the papers in the Special Issue agree that the leadership role of building professionals has been eroded over recent decades, but that the world today is in great need of professional independence, judgement and responsibility for the public good. Can professionals and their institutions respond effectively to this challenge? Can they develop new ways of working, test them in practice, and build the knowledge and capacity to apply them at scale?

The authors have proposed a number of essential actions, including:
— Establishment of a shared identity and vision for practice and education
— Better procurement processes
— Increasing the available knowledge about building performance in use
— Considering the need for an independent ‘Institute of Building Performance’

The debate also considered some shared principles that all individual building professionals might adopt. A list that the Edge has been developing is attached below.

Dr Bill Bordass OBE, Usable Buildings Trust and a guest editor of the BRI special issue[confirmed]
Dr Frank Duffy CBE, Founder DEGW and Past President RIBA [invited]
Dr Kathryn Janda, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford [invited]
Stephen Hill, C2O Futureplanners [confirmed]
Professor Will Hughes, University of Reading [confirmed]

Professor David Fisk, Imperial College and President CIBSE
Harry Rich, Chief Executive RIBA
Kenneth Creighton, Director of Professional Standards, RICS
Michael Brown, Chief Deputy Director CIOB
Keith Clarke CBE, former CEO Atkins and former chairman CIC

The Edge is an inter-institutional ginger group involving CIBSE, ICE, RIBA, IStructE and the RICS and seeks to promote interdisciplinary co-operation between construction professionals. We seek to encourage change in the industry through intellectual debate, political lobbying and inter-institutional working.
Synopses of previous debates are recorded on our website www.edgedebate.com

Venue: The Building Centre
Store Street, London WC1E 7BT

Hashtag: #edgeprofessionalism - (see Anne Dye’s live Twitter feed)

- Edge Debate 54 - Debate report
- Edge Debate 54 - Bill Bordass - Intro slides
- Edge Debate 54 - Kathryn Janda - Slides
- Edge Debate 54 - Stephen Hill - Slides
- Edge Debate 54: Elements of a New Professionalism - Draft Code
- Edge Debate 54 A New Professionalism - handout 130220
- Edge Debate 54 A New Professionalism - Attendees 130220
- Edge Debate 54 - A New Professionalism invite (20.2.13)

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