Looking back, pushing forward: Digital Construction Champion Su Butcher

abstract image of 2024 for Su Butcher Q&A
Image: Pintxoman |

In the fifth in a short series of Q&As to mark the turning of the year, Digital Construction Champion of the Year 2023 Su Butcher sits in the hot seat to reveal her highlights from 2023 and her hopes and plans for 2024. It’s time to get out of your BIM bubbles, she warns.

BIMplus: What’s the best thing that happened in BIM and digital construction in 2023?

Su Butcher: Personally, it was winning Digital Construction Champion of the Year in July! But for the industry as a whole, it’s pleasing that we are finally moving away from narrow 3D and tech-porn-focused concepts of BIM and realising that BIM is about data.

Now that more of the secondary legislation to support the Building Safety Act has been published, the construction industry and clients will have to ask for structured data from the supply chain, and that can only be a good thing, although the process of getting there will be challenging.

Su Butcher

“Get out of your design and construction bubbles (and your BIM bubble) and listen to manufacturers and clients.”

Su Butcher

What are you looking forward to professionally in 2024?

In 2023, I joined the board of the Apollo Protocol initiative and I’m looking forward to the publication of our methodology for cross-sector collaboration on a common language for digital twins and information management. Data doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it needs to be shared to do its magic.

I’m also looking forward to assisting the client-led initiative BIM for Housing Associations with its new project programme. I’m also going to be doing a lot more work with manufacturer and distributor clients on how they respond to the industry’s growing requirements for structured data.

The other thing happening in the new year is that the Fire Protection Association’s RISCAuthority research group is publishing a piece of research I’ve written for insurers on Regulation 38, the golden thread, and the problem of disclosure in the supply chain. I hope the piece and the work that will come out of it will enable insurers to know what to ask for from construction, and how to ask for it, so that they can adequately assess risk and deliver better buildings insurance.

What does the industry need to do more (or less of) in 2024?

We need to get out there and listen better to the people who put data in and take data out of our processes. Get out of your design and construction bubbles (and your BIM bubble) and listen to manufacturers and clients. You’ll find that they have a much better handle on what is achievable and where you should be focusing your data work.

Do you have any sort of festive ritual?

This year I joined a local community choir, and it has made Christmas very special. We go into care homes to sing and raise funds for local charities. The response from the residents has been amazing and you can see how much the staff appreciate it. The choir I’m part of has no auditions and everyone is welcome. If you can find the time, I heartily recommend joining a community choir.

Recommend a book, podcast, TV series, film or album that you enjoyed in 2023.

Maybe ‘enjoyed’ isn’t the right word, but as a member of the covid-bereaved, I’ve found the podcast hosted by Broudie Jackson Canter very useful to share a different perspective to the limited focus of the BBC and other mainstream outlets.

You can listen to the weekly sessions and understand what is really going on on Spotify or Youtube.

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