If the world has learnt anything from the Coronavirus pandemic, it is that collaboration is vital. Had people not followed instructions to stay at home, maintain social distancing measures and wear face coverings; had pharmaceutical companies and health services not worked together to develop vaccines and deliver them to people, undoubtedly the situation would have been – and would continue to be – much worse.
Last week’s RCI Show was one of the first industry events to take place in over eighteen months where attendees could meet face-to-face. To see people in real life remains the best way to establish and build personal relationships. Indeed, from a personal perspective, it was the first opportunity to meet several Single Ply Roofing Association (SPRA) membrane manufacturer, associate and contractor members (as well as representatives of other institutions, manufacturers and trade associations) physically since assuming the role of Technical Manager. It must be said, however, that the advent of virtual meeting platforms during three national lockdowns (in England) and a multitude of other restrictions was invaluable. They allowed people to continue to collaborate in both personal and professional capacities, despite the challenging circumstances. Even the SPRA Conference and Awards 2021 event was hosted virtually with great success.
Regardless of the preferred method of communication – physical or virtual – it is the spirit of collaboration that must endure as the world returns to normal. In the wake of the Grenfell tower tragedy, the construction industry is scrutinised more than ever before. Building Regulations and associated approved documents have been revised; the Code for Construction Product Information (CCPI) was published on 21 September; and the LEXiCON consultation closed at the end of the month. These fundamental changes to how the construction industry operates and how construction products are marketed apply to everybody, so a collaborative attitude is required to implement them successfully and trade associations lay at the heart of it. Of course, at the heart of any trade association are its members: independent businesses that work together for the good of their respective industries, despite being competitors commercially.
It is an approach that the roofing industry has adopted already with SPRA, the Liquid Roofing and Waterproofing Association (LRWA) and the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) co-authoring a guidance document about changes in Regulations and approved documents relating to fire safety for flat roofs on ‘relevant buildings’ in England, which was published in June. Another joint SPRA—LRWA—NFRC guidance document about the fire resistance of roof decks within a roof build-up is being drafted; SPRA and NFRC have shared independent guidance documents with each other for comment; and following the last SPRA Technical Committee meeting, a SPRA task group featuring representatives from LRWA and NFRC was created to write guidance on the use of non-combustible boards in flat roofing.
By working together instead of in isolation, the roofing industry can share expertise and ideas; work more efficiently; and avoid conflict – all of which lends weight to its guidance and makes it more likely to be endorsed by other organisations like the British Board of Agrément (BBA), Local Authority Building Control (LABC) and Premier Guarantee. It is a point of view that is shared across the industry. Collaboration, not duplication, is the order of the day.
As the world of work adopts a more flexible style, so too will SPRA. The core team meets virtually twice per week to discuss administrative, marketing and technical matters. Virtual meetings continue to be the preferred option for the Technical Committee, Sustainability Group and task groups. There remains a strong desire for the annual awards event to be physical and, of course, the golf day would not work any other way! Details of the latter two will be announced in due course, but the next Technical Committee meeting will be on next Tuesday 12 October at 09:30 – please contact me for the joining details. I look forward to meeting you there.
Anthony Hogan BA (Hons) MIoR
Single Ply Roofing Association