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UK takes another step towards golden thread

Published: 2021-06-23

At the end of May, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government approved a formal definition of the “golden thread”. This definition covers the information, documents and information management processes used to support building safety. The United Kingdom has been discussing the need for a “single point of truth” since the tragedy of Grenfell Tower shone a light on the lack of traceable safety information in many of the country’s buildings.

The “golden thread of information” is a term used to describe how information or data is kept alive and traceable throughout the entire lifecycle of a building, from design to maintenance, reconstruction and finally demolition. With an updated audit trail, the golden thread “will record changes, including the reason for change, evaluation of change, date of change and the decision-making process” and also the part responsible for the changes. This way, the safety of the building should always be up to code and everyone should know their own part in the construction- and maintenance process.

With this, the United Kingdom take another step towards the radical system shift Dame Judith Hackitt petitioned for in her report from 2018. This new definition will be included in the Building Safety Bill when it reaches Parliament.

British standard is working on a standard for the golden thread of information for fire safety, BS 8644-1, which is open for public comments until August 22nd.

While the UK’s work with traceability and accountability in our safety systems are world leading front runners, Scandinavian countries are working to catch up. In Sweden SBUF (Sweden’s construction industry's organisation for research and development) recently published the result of a project which purpose was to provide produced a basis for streamlining contractors' delivery of fire protection information to property owners. The project has been carried out to identify and describe the needs of various stakeholders by mapping their current knowledge levels and information needs. Further, the project has clarified property owners' need for fire protection information in the interface with contractors when completing a construction project. These needs are description of executed fire protection, description of fire protection requirements, standardized formats and data, as well as co-creation and access to information.

This is an important move towards a “golden thread-infused” workflow. By mapping the needs of the different phases to see how they are interconnected, important data can be added into the project in an earlier stage. At the same time, the Norwegian government is looking into automatic code compliance as a requirement. We’ll tell you more as this work progresses!