Theo Cullinane, CEO, BAM Ireland, reflects on the importance of collaboration, sustainability and industrialised construction, as the driving forces behind their high profile projects.
With a forecast turnover of €520m for 2020, BAM Ireland is the largest multinational construction business operating nationally, with expertise and experience in the delivery of many of Ireland’s flagship infrastructural and building projects.
One of the most high profile in recent years is the New Children’s Hospital (NCH). Theo Cullinane, CEO, BAM Ireland, says the project is progressing well and has recently reached a significant milestone in completing the reinforced concrete structure. “The sheer scale and complexity of this mammoth 160,000m2 structure is now very apparent and we look forward to completing the next phase, the internal fit out.”
Another milestone was the completion of the N25 New Ross Bypass PPP scheme which was officially opened in January 2020 by then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, T.D. — it includes the longest extradosed bridge of its type in the world, the Rose Fitzgerald-Kennedy Bridge, and has greatly improved connectivity in the South East of the country and reduced travel times on the strategic Cork to Rosslare corridor leading to Rosslare Europort, a key shipping link to Europe post-Brexit.
Looking to the West, he adds, “In Mayo works are ongoing on the N5 Westport to Turlough Road Scheme by the BAM-Wills JV. This project is the Government’s largest ever investment in Mayo’s road network, involving the construction of a 20.3km dual carriageway which will see a major improvement for road users in the area.”
Another completion was the much-anticipated Boland’s Quay development in Dublin’s South Docklands, comprising 36,800m2 of office, residential, retail and cultural space. Google acquired the development in a bid to expand its EMEA HQ, which will boost US capital investment in Ire-land and create vibrant new civic spaces and retail amenities in the Docklands area.
“BAM is delighted this year to see its partnership with Marlet Property Group continue to grow,” Cullinane states. “BAM is now constructing multiple projects for Marlet, including Lime Street Residential comprising 216 apartments, The Shipping Office on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, designed to an exceptionally high standard to achieve LEED & Wiredscore Platinum Certification providing 177,000 sq.ft. of office space across eight storeys and finally the Green Acre Grange development beside Airfield’s urban farm in Dundrum comprising 253 apartments.”
In Cork, BAM is overseeing the six-acre Horgan’s Quay development. The development incorporates the Dean Hotel, more than 230 apartments, retail facilities and three office blocks that can accommodate 5,000 employees. “The offices have been designed to the LEED v4 Gold Standard, the newest version of LEED green building specialised for a better user experience, while adopting the latest in efficient, sustainable technology,” he notes.
A relatively new venture for BAM Ireland has been taking a majority share in Modern Homes Ireland. Cullinane elaborates, “This enables us to leverage our expertise in sustainability and industrialised construction activities in response to the increasing market demand for affordably priced and low carbon homes and BAM is looking forward to playing its part in alleviating the housing crisis.”
BAM has invested over €1.4bn in Ireland through the PPP model, and has been instrumental in delivering vital infrastructure at no upfront cost to the State through public private partnership (PPP). “Using this model, we have provided 11 schools under Schools PPP Bundles 3&4 and seven courthouses throughout the country in recent years,” he states. “Our six PPP motorway schemes covering almost 700km of national primary route infrastructure are instrumental in attracting significant inward investment.
“PPP also helps avoids many of the adversarial issues with the current structure and framing of standard public works contracts. The process places too much risk on the side of the contractors and procurement teams are often not able to manage their own risk allocation, thus leading to conflict. This adversarial model delivers for no one – least of all the taxpayer.
“Using the PPP approach, the collaboration and co-operation provide certainty for both client and contractor. We must now ensure that appropriate risk sharing is embedded in all procurement models going forward as the Irish construction industry must strengthen to enable future planning and attract international partners. We need continued priority and requisite investment in Project Ireland 2040.”
Cullinane says BAM meets clients’ requirements for predictable, safe and sustainable solutions by applying more industrialised techniques and by remaining at the forefront of the use of digitalisation. “In the next year, we will also continue our focus on innovation and investing in the latest technologies,” he states. “This will ultimately improve safety in the workplace and result in more energy efficient and environmentally sustainable projects, while providing a very high quality and competitive solution to our clients.”
BAM Ireland was an early adopter to BIM in Ireland and won a number of awards with the con-tractor’s teams regularly presenting at CitA conferences and regional events. “Our work with BIM has been praised by Autodesk and the international construction community,” he notes, adding, “Our Head of Digital Construction Paul Brennan was interviewed for Irish building magazine last year and gave great insight into the projects the company works on and the in-house training and knowledge development.”
“The last year has brought many challenges for businesses and the wider economy. At BAM, we believe sustainability will play a key role in Ireland’s recovery and we know from our own experience that significant growth comes from sustainable practice,” says Cullinane.
“We are the only construction company in Ireland to feature on Climate Change ‘A List’ published by CDP Global (Climate Disclosure Project) and have successfully retained this science-based mark over the last number of years. This is a proud badge of distinction in these times.”
BAM also very recently became only the fourth Platinum Member of the Irish Green Building Council, which aligns with BAM’s desire to be a driving force behind the transformation of the Irish construction and property sector into a global leader in quality and sustainability.
“Operating responsibly and sustainably are core components of how we work and our goal is to have a net positive impact on the environment and society by 2050. In order to support employees to lead healthy lives, both physically and mentally, the company aims to create awareness around mental health and wellbeing and this year organised a Wellbeing Festival to facilitate the dialogue about this important theme.”
BAM also operates a ‘culture changing’ programme called ‘Your Safety is My Safety’ (YSIMS), to improve safety performance on projects as well as delivering improved adherence to the principle of ‘Everyone Home Safe Every Day’. “It is based on behavioural science principles and focuses on the environment and the people operating and working within that environment. A unique aspect of the YSIMS programme is to promote regular ‘formal and informal’ safety conversations with all site teams and operatives,” he added.
Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on BAM Ireland’s operations. “It has been a difficult year,” Cullinane admits, “but we have remained resilient.
“BAM followed all official guidelines and closed its non-essential sites as soon as these were clarified, including the New Children’s Hospital. We continued to undertake separate COVID-19 related work on the main St. James’s hospital campus at the request of the hospital management as well as some essential motorway maintenance and facilities management work around the country.”
Following the lifting of restrictions, BAM Ireland employees returned to work on all sites across the country, with full implementation of the Government’s mandatory restrictions as a minimum, and in many cases exceeded these where local conditions required. “In January we introduced weekly PCR testing for all workers at the NCH site in partnership with HealthWatch Screening,” he notes, “and this has proved to be very effective. The safety of anyone who comes to a BAM site is always our top priority.”
This article first appeared as part of the Irish building magazine ‘Leaders in Construction’ interview series. Click here to read the entire issue
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