Edinburgh Portrait Gallery refurbishment wins inspector’s praise for approach to local transport – and workers getting on their bikes to make it green

  The refurbishment of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery has lead to a rare maximum score by independent inspectors because of how considerately it is managing the relationship with neighbours and road users during the historic building’s extensive £10.8 million restoration.

  The UK’s Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS), which carries out around 1000 site visits across the UK every month, singled out Edinburgh-based BAM Construction’s work at the Grade A listed building on busy Queen Street in the heart of New Town Edinburgh for its considerte approach to local pedestrians and its management of roads and transport. Just one in 60 sites across the UK (1.65%) achieved such a high score in this category.   BAM carried out extensive consultation with the council, police, Lothian Buses and the Trams Initiative Edinburgh to ensure proper traffic movements and signage. The company consulted residential neighbours to establish safe and practical access for pedestrians while the refurbishment takes place. Allowing a continuous flow of traffic despite the central location of the project has been important to the Gallery which is in the heart of residential Edinburgh and adjacent to office and retail neighbours.   Jeff Thornton, project manager for BAM, said:   ‘This score is an important indicator for the project – we spent six months in pre-construction and the issue of traffic management was one of the most significant aspects of delivering a successful refurbishment of the Portrait Gallery. It took a lot of planning and negotiation to establish the right programme. You can see vehicles gain access efficiently, then offload and depart quickly.'   BAM Construction, which has local offices in Calder Road, was also praised because its workforce mainly travels to work by bike, car-share or use public transport each day. This is part of the drive that has cut the company's carbon emissions significantly for two years running. Mr Thornton, who is an Edinburgh resident himself, added:   ‘We think how we build is as important now as what we build. Modern construction has changed, and our ability to provide an exceptional quality of work has to be complemented by our ability to work effectively within our communities. That actually makes the job easier for us and as our team is mainly local too, so coming to work is a good experience.’    By the end of the year BAM is set to become the first company in the construction sector to launch a sustainable transport strategy. Last month it was listed by trade title Construction News as the most successful building contractor in Scotland over the previous twelve months. Elsewhere in Edinburgh it is nearing completion of Easter Bush Research Centre and next year commences work on the £100 million Royal Hospital for Sick Children.

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NOTES BAM was awarded 36 out of 40 by the CCS overall, including 5 out of 5 for the category of being ‘considerate’. In the last year (02/11/09 to 02/11/10) 1.65% sites out of 9980 in the UK scored a 5 for that category.