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editorial

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After 18 months of anecdotal evidence that Movement For Innovation (M 4I) demonstration projects are speedy, cost-effective and defect-free, the supporting figures were revealed at the M 4I annual conference at Interbuild this week. The 1999 figures tell us that 62 per cent of M 4Iprojects met (or beat) their construction cost targets as opposed to an industry-wide figure of 45 per cent, and 68 per cent were completed on time, compared with 62 per cent of projects across the industry.There are many other figures, of course, relating to client satisfaction, safety, defects etc - but suffice to say that congratulations are due all round. One point which is worth noting is that M4I projects are, on average, 3.3 per cent more profitable than average. This is the finding which is most likely to convince clients that signing up to notions such as sustainability and innovation could be a hard-nosed business decision.

All credit to Rab Bennetts - an architect who has done much to knock the sentimentality out of sustainability - for pointing out at the conference (a) that tangible measurements are an essential means of putting pressure on corporate clients who claim to be environmentally-friendly but see little need to back it up, and (b) that effective means of measurement can be gloriously simple.Counting the number of skips on site may be almost moronic in its banality, but it is probably as good a means as any of assessing the amount of waste.

Now that everybody's getting to grips with meaningful measurements, maybe it's time to look at the value of the M 4I results themselves. The figures are impressive, but how much is this due to the fact that the projects are self-selecting? Only the most cocksure of practices are going to submit themselves to all the attendant publicity which goes with signing up to M 4I.The chances are that these projects would have performed well with or without the discipline of the M 4I targets. Perhaps it's time to take a random sample of projects and to put pressure on those involved to adopt the M 4I criteria, and to publish the results.

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