Report Data Management

Data Management Group Report – 19 February 2015

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Jackie Bland, Chair, Data Management Group writes:

Following our split of the committee to focus ourselves on both the Format and the marketing of the format, we have had one meeting which was entirely focussed on Ground Modelling / AGSi.

Ground Modelling – AGSi

AGS ground model objectives

  • Transfer of derived data
  • Contain only the content of geotechnical investigation report (GIR) – as defined by BS5930 / EC7
  • Characteristic values (GDR) not in scope
  • Purpose of interpretation must be clear


  • Publish as AGS4.1 (for public consultation) – as AGS format CSV
  • Develop and publish an XML version
    • Consider including GML
    • Release as beta version (2016-17)
    • Publish as AGS5 alongside a CSV version (2020)
  • Interface with other projects – BGS/Keynetix
    • Liaise with BuildingSmart / IFC class – open dialog with committee to establish method to progress collaboration

Conference at Geotechnica in July 2015

Julian Lovell has very kindly offered us a 2 hour slot at the exhibition which we will use as a marketing/educational opportunity for AGS4, BS8574, BIM and a workshop for AGS4i.

AGS Website

Following on from the last AGS main committee meeting in November, the website redevelopment will not include any change to the AGS Format web-pages. Instead, it will be left in its current state as a sub-site of the main website. Hilary Derbyshire will continue to maintain the pages (providing she doesn’t retire!) until more funding can be found to move it to the new platform.

Article Contaminated Land Data Management Laboratories

NHBC’s Role in Developing Hazardous Sites

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NHBC (National House-Building Council) is the standard setting body and the leading warranty and insurance provider for new and newly converted homes in the UK. Our role is to work with the house-building and wider construction industry to provide warranty, risk management and compliance services that raise the standards of new homes, and to provide consumer protection to new homebuyers.

Approximately 80% of new homes built in the UK each year are registered with NHBC and benefit from our 10-year warranty and insurance policy called Buildmark. Around 1.6 million homes are currently covered by Buildmark policies and over the past 40 years, NHBC has protected more than 30% of all existing homes in the UK.

In 1999 Buildmark was extended to provide the homeowner with protection cover against the issue of a statutory notice. This was done in the anticipation of Part 2A, which came into force a year later.

The NHBC Foundation

The NHBC Foundation was launched in 2006 in partnership with the BRE Trust. Its remit is to provide the necessary data and intelligence to develop long-term solutions to industry challenges which lie ahead and lead debate and thinking among industry experts. The NHBC Foundation facilitates research and development, and shares pragmatic and relevant guidance and good practice to the homebuilding industry.

Though much of the NHBC Foundation’s research is focused on the challenges of the Government’s 2016 zero carbon homes target, published works do include ground related issues such as ground source heat pumps, the risks associated with basement construction and the efficient design of piling for housing.

NHBC Standards

The 2011 NHBC Standards, effective from 1 January 2011, introduced for the first time a new chapter for low or zero carbon technologies (Chapter 3.1). It also included an update to Chapter 4.1 – Land quality on managing ground conditions, and a major update to Chapter 4.6 – Vibratory and ground improvement techniques, as well as reference to the introduction of Eurocodes in place of British Standards.

The latest update to the NHBC Standards continues our corporate mission to work with the house-building and wider construction industry to provide guidance, inspection and technical services to raise the standard of new build UK homes to protection homeowners. The identification of geotechnical risk assessment and the implementation of robust site investigations and geotechnical and remediation designs are therefore essential to NHBC, our developer customers and ultimately the homeowner.

Chapter 4.1 Land quality – managing ground conditions

Chapter 4.1 was first published in 1998 and, since that time, few changes have been made. The Chapter has now been updated to reflect recent technical changes and developments, made to reflect the changes to British Standards and the development of European Standards. It now includes technical guidance produced since the Chapter was last revised and better aligns the process for assessing contaminated land with the Government’s guidance document CLR 11 (Contaminated Land Report 11): Model Procedures for the Management of Land Contamination (2004).

Chapter – CH4.6 Vibratory ground improvement techniques

The update to Chapter 4.6 reflects changes and innovations in ground improvement techniques. It outlines current industry practice, provides additional guidance on the suitability of ground to be treated, clarifies the objective of vibro treatment, and updates the range of suitable stone fill for vibro column materials by permitting the use of suitable recycled aggregates. It now also references Eurocode EC7 (BS EN 1997 – Geotechnical Design).

The new Standards reflect the EU wide transition to Eurocodes for the design of structural elements following the withdrawal of the existing British Standards in March 2010. It is proposed that the Building Regulations in England and Wales will be revised in 2013, with the structural Eurocodes becoming the standard reference document for demonstrating compliance. In the interim, the Public Contract Regulations 2006 require Eurocodes to be used for the design and construction of publically funded building projects.

For geotechnically challenging sites, such as those where vibro improvement, piling or engineered fill is required, the management of geotechnical risk is likely to be enhanced by adherence to EC7. Additionally, in the UK, the British Standard for Earthworks (BS6031:2009) has also been extensively revised and is now compatible with the Eurocodes. These documents set out the requirements for assessing the geotechnical suitability of the ground for development and the execution of stabilisation works and foundations.

Some of the changes include:

  • References to the 15 kPa absolute limit on soft clay strength has been dropped
  • The 30 kPa limit on soft clays is maintained as not being generally acceptable unless the suitability of the treatment can be demonstrated, taking due account of the impact of group effects, ground heave and settlement
  • Requirement to consider inundation settlement risk issues of poorly compacted fill
  • Requirement to consider surcharging settlement effects
  • References to chalk or clay fills have been omitted and replaced with the generic ‘loose or un-engineered fills’
  • Requirement to consider effects on ground gas and contamination
  • Recycled aggregates can be used subject to compliance with BRE Digest 433 or other suitable guidance, such as WRAP
  • Validation testing is required of treated ground to confirm that the proposed load-settlement performance has been achieved
  • Requirement to produce validation reports confirming that the proposed load settlement performance of treated ground has been achieved
  • Clarification that plate load tests on stone columns alone are not acceptable to NHBC for treatment validation


Land Quality Endorsement (LQE)

For housing developments on major Brownfield sites requiring significant geotechnical and contamination remediation, NHBC has increasingly noted that many of the sites developed for housing in the UK are remediated by specialist remediation companies, landowners, private developers, regeneration specialists, development agencies and similar companies.

These organisations are responsible for or own contaminated land and are remediating them for residential development. However, they are not themselves NHBC registered builders or developers, and are therefore outside NHBC risk management processes and may not be aware of NHBC’s requirements.

NHBC introduced Land Quality Endorsement (LQE) in 2005 as a consultancy service providing technical risk management for sites being remediated befoere residential development. LQE allows the assessment of contaminated and brownfield sites against the requirements of the NHBC Standards.

This determines the suitability of these sites for Buildmark cover in advance of the formal registration of residential properties. Sites are assessed against the requirements of NHBC Standards Chapter 4.1, including a review of geotechnical and foundation proposals alongside contamination assessments.

The pre-registration assessment of sites affected by contamination and the remediation adopted will potentially enhance the marketability of a site by reducing the potential risks to the builder or developer, whilst saving time and effort.

Article Data Management Laboratories

FPS Electronic Pile Schedule

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The long nights of re-typing pile schedules could be a thing of the past as the Federation of Piling Specialists launches a standardised form of pile schedule for use by Contractors and Engineers alike in the driven and bored piling market. For too long now the procurement of piling has involved the laborious inputting of piling data by engineers into schedules with a wide variety of formats. This has usually been followed by the re-typing of the same data by each of the piling tenderers, incorporating of course a few human errors along the way. This same data has then been tweaked and adjusted each time the designer has issued new information. At contract stage, it has often then fallen to the Engineer to rigorously check the successful tenderer’s piling schedule against his own design details.

This is obviously a very inefficient way of working and with increasingly tight tender periods this wasted time could be better spent on honing the design solution and improving the quality of the end product. Furthermore it is sometimes the case that unnecessary human errors remain unspotted and deficient piles are as a result incorporated into the permanent works. Differing formats of information, particularly pile loading has lead to misunderstandings on numerous occasions between Engineer and Piling Contractor.

It is against this background that the FPS has developed a standardised pile schedule in Excel format which it is hoped will be used by the Engineer as a simple way of conveying pile design information such as pile diameter, cut-off level, applied loadings etc to the Piling Contractor. The key features of the pile schedule are as follows:

  • Uses a standardised terminology showing all of the information required to permit construction schedules to be prepared. Colour coding denotes responsibility for completing data cells.
  • Allows new revisions to be prepared either from scratch or by copying previous revisions.
  • Allows each revision to be saved with a unique file reference.
  • Scheduling to be emailed in a standard format to reduce potential delays in retyping pile schedules.
  • Allows basic or advanced loadings to be specified.

With the information provided electronically the Piling Contractor can supply the Client, his designer and follow on contractors with as-built information in a standard format which can be used easily by all parties and which will act as a key document in the Piling Completion Report. Furthermore the pile schedule is designed to be easily compatible with new data handling systems such as DIGGS.

Obviously the success of the new pile schedule, which can be downloaded for free without prior registration from the FPS website, will be reliant on the numbers of practitioners who use it regularly. Therefore the FPS is very keen to receive feedback from users so that any improvements which may be necessary can be implemented as early as possible. Please contact the Federation of Piling Specialists at

Article Contaminated Land

Supporting the contaminated land community

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Dealing with uncertainty and heterogeneity in the risk-based land management process continues to present challenges for the contaminated land community.  The up front investment required to more accurately define risk is sometimes difficult to communicate to all stakeholders involved in projects which can, in some instances, lead to regretful compromises.


The EA’s MCerts Policy has increased confidence

Application of the Environment Agency’s MCerts Policy, which standardised laboratory based analytical procedures, has delivered increased confidence in the outputs of samples analysed by laboratories, however the relative cost per sample continues to offer opposition to increasing sampling density. This challenge is recognised by many, including the Environment Agency, however, there is a growing body of evidence to support the conclusion that greater emphasis needs to be placed upon overcoming it if we are to continue to develop potentially contaminated sites whilst eliminating risk and future liabilities


Added value…

Portable field analytical tools are, therefore, being increasingly considered to have an important role in supporting the community overcome this challenge. Their appropriate application can offer many added-value and commercial benefits. These include:


  • more rapid and cost effective determination of spatial and temporal variations (i.e. heterogeneity);
  • the optimisation of sampling strategies for subsequent laboratory analysis which, ultimately, increase the quality of site data and confidence; and
  • in the right circumstances, they can even enable on-site decision making, thereby dramatically saving time and money.


Such tools have been available for several decades and have been rigorously applied in other environmental fields, such as the trade effluent and stack emission monitoring.  However, their application in the contaminated land sector has been relatively low to date. There are many rational reasons for this, including a lack of awareness and confidence in their application, due, in part, to a lack of case history providing technical and economic evidence; a lack of available skills within the practitioner community; and a limited level of acceptance in their application and interpretation throughout the community.


FASA workshop

To this end, FASA, the Field Analytical Suppliers Association, hosted x4, one-day workshops this year, to provide attendees with a practical introduction to field analytical tools.


These events included:

  • the provision of information related to how they fit within the UK regulatory framework, kindly provided by Bob Barnes and Brian Bone from the Environment Agency;
  • an overview of available tools and case study information detailing the application of five of the most commonly applied; and
  • attendees were provided with the opportunity to see the tools for themselves and gain answers to their individual needs during afternoon demonstration surgeries.


What is FASA?

FASA is an independent body created to support the efforts of regulators, industry and laboratories in the management of potentially contaminated environments. It is funded and coordinated by suppliers and manufacturers of field tools in the UK and is supported and administered by IPM-Net.

The workshops described form part of its commitment to assist the community gain an informed understanding of the application of field analytical tools and their appropriate use. FASA aims to further assist the community by working with key stakeholders to develop guidelines, training material, best practice QC/QA procedures as well as technique specific information, such as case studies and evaluations.


Following analysis of the attendees’ feedback from the workshops it is clear that such information will assist the community, with 81% and 77% stating that the lack of available guidance and performance information, respectively, were barriers to their uptake. Their perceived costs, a lack of regulation and a lack of information on how to use field tools were, individually, seen as barriers to 60% of attendees.


New guidance being developed

The Environment Agency is currently developing guidance on the use of field analytical tools within the risk-based approach to land contamination. This document will discuss, amongst other aspects, the application of field tools in the context of sampling and analytical plans, fit for purpose decision making, building lines of evidence and informing conceptual site models. The first draft is likely to be circulated to the FASA committee by the end of this year, with further release anticipated to occur in the Spring of 2007.


For further information contact:


Mr Perry Guess , FASA Chairman

Tel:               01865 610504



FASA representatives will give a presentation at the next Contaminated Land WG (20 February 2007) on the use of field analytical tools.

Article Data Management


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One of the benefits of using the AGS Format for the transfer of SI data is that it can be used in any software programme without the need to re-key. However FPS Members report that by the time the data reaches them it has often been translated into *pdf format and become unusable except as a hard copy report.

Piling contractors have been slow to adopt the format and to acknowledge its advantages. They will be even slower, however, if they are denied the benefits.

Registered User Logo

If you are a registered user of Edition 3, you will have received a logo, as part of your registration pack, which identifies you as a registered user. This logo should be used on reports, documents and data. It will indicate to the end user that at some stage electronic data has been produced. In many cases (even if the *pdf problem has been avoided) the data travels through several hands, and arrives with the pile designer in hard copy only. The presence of the logo will alert the data user that it will be worth while making enquiries up the line to obtain electronic information.

USE THE LOGO and let everybody benefit.