The world is changing and the KKTC is changing with it

April 25, 2023

Interviews with former and new KKTC chairperson

The KOMO Quality and Testing Committee (KKTC) has a new chairperson. Elphi Nelissen is taking over from Jos Lichtenberg. Chairing the KKTC is a serious matter. The KKTC examines whether a KOMO certification scheme meets KOMO’s requirements and the agreements made with the licensees (certification bodies that have a licence agreement with KOMO). Compliance with regulations is part of this.

During his term as Chair, Jos Lichtenberg placed the emphasis on innovation. We are curious about what Elphi Nelissen’s common thread will be as Chair of KKTC and the Assessment Committee of the Building Quality Assurance Act.

Elphi Nelissen, chairman Wkb review committee

Appointed – Elphi Nelissen

Elphi Nelissen has proved herself as an expert in sustainable building and circularity while her past roles include professor and dean at the Faculty of Architecture at the Technical University of Eindhoven. Additionally, she has had a range of different positions, including Chair of the transition team for circular building economy.

How do you see your role within the KKTC? Where do you place emphasis?
 “Elphi Nelissen: I think it is important to have, and keep, the ultimate goal in mind. The intention is to improve or at least maintain the quality of the built environment. In doing so, we have to be careful not to get bogged down in rules and formalities. Agreements and procedures certainly form part of this. And the same should apply to everyone. However, rules should not get in the way of ambitions such as innovation.

I strive to meet each other regularly. Meeting doesn’t have to be live every time, but still. Circumstances that arose through the Corona epidemic meant Jos Lichtenberg had to hold a great number of digital meetings with the KKTC. Fortunately, physical meetings are now possible again.”

The building and infra sector is in full swing. Not only climate, innovation, digitalisation, industrialisation, housing concepts, problematic nitrogen issues , energy crisis, but also the advent of the Building Quality Assurance Act (Wkb). For example, how does the Wkb affect the work of the KKTC?
“Once the Wkb takes effect, it will be necessary for Quality Schemes/Assessment Guidelines to be well aligned with each other and the Building Works Environment Decree (Bbl). Determining the actual quality achieved in all building phases makes sense and is probably more cost-efficient. This can be used to demonstrate the actual quality of the structure (also called the as-built quality) the materials and their development and so avoid costly mistakes. The adaptation of KOMO Assessment Guidelines required for this, is in full swing. The necessary fine-tuning is currently creating quite some work for the KKTC. However, once that is done, it will be possible to make very effective and efficient use of it without needing repeated demonstrations.”

WKB Assessment Committee

The Wkb Assessment Committee was installed on 19 January. You are also its chairperson. What is the Wkb Assessment Committee, also called the Wkb-TC, and what does this committee do?
“The Wkb-TC is an independent and national Wkb Assessment Committee consisting of all parties concerned. As Wkb-TC, our task is to determine the assessment framework and rating of quality schemes − developed over the years by a range of organisations including KOMO, KIWA, SKH, SKG-IKOB, SGS INTRON and InstallQ − in the Wkb performance ladder. We record this valuation in an independent objective report.

The Wkb performance ladder is a national, broadly aligned reading guide created to enable all quality assurance providers in the Netherlands to use existing quality schemes in the same way to ensure risk reduction during building. The performance ladder will be made freely available (after the summer of 2023) for the benefit of the market via an open online platform, the Wkb performance website. The Wkb Assessment Committee will draw up an annual report and publish it on this website.”

How do you see the Wkb performance ladder?
“I think the existence of the Wkb performance ladder and its assessment by the Wkb-TC is a very good thing. Since it provides a fair opportunity to establish the quality of assurance unambiguously according to standard norms. I think opening up the Wkb performance ladder to everyone is an additional bonus. It delivers advantages in efficiency.

How wonderful it is when all quality assurers and instruments deal with risk management in the same way on the basis of equivalent and objective assessment of quality schemes. The quality assurer can assume a set degree of risk reduction in the overall building process of a specific quality scheme focused on a specific product and/or process. Importantly, certificate holders do not have to do anything to get their certificates on the ladder. Existing certificates based on the quality schemes of member certification providers are valued on the Wkb performance ladder anyway.”

Is there anything else you wish to say?
“Being at the beginning of my term of office I am obviously not yet familiar with all the ins and outs but I have had a thorough briefing and am quickly getting up to speed. From the very beginning, I try to keep the most important points correct and clear and maintain an overview. Not to put too much emphasis on details. The incredibly fast-changing society sometimes leads to a restless feeling. Yet all the developments mentioned offer many opportunities to give the right direction to what you are already doing. That is the beauty of this moment. It matters!”

" Sitting still is not an option. Otherwise reality will get ahead of us. "

Jos Lichtenberg

Jos Lichtenberg, former chair KKTC

Highlighted – Jos Lichtenberg

Departing chairperson Jos Lichtenberg is a busy man who has proved his skills in the building sector. From consultant for industrial, executive and creative companies to Professor of Product Development at the Technical University of Eindhoven. He is involved in several innovative projects in the building sector. Jos Lichtenberg chaired the KKTC from the beginning of 2020. Private circumstances forced him to resign from his KKTC position.

Innovation plays a major role in all your work, also as KKTC chairperson. You indicated that you strive to ensure that the system does not act as ballast, making it a brake on innovation. Has that been successful in the relatively short time you were Chair?
“Jos Lichtenberg: You don’t do something like this on your own. Within KOMO and the KKTC, innovation was already on the agenda. Just like in building and infra. It is a social trend that we as KOMO cannot avoid. It would be unfortunate if a quality system delayed the launch of responsive products or processes. I have certainly drawn attention to this. We have to show that things can be done better and we must think along actively. Provide space and communicate openly with parties. Not we-they, but how can we as the building world guarantee quality. And how can we continue to fulfil our task, given the changes in society, in a good way. The world is changing, so are we. That too is innovation. In my opinion, we are definitely on the right track.

In addition, KOMO responds to your interesting social issues such as climate and sustainability. What role can the KKTC play in this?
“The KKTC is a committee with people who all have expertise in a broad field. Besides their activities aimed at keeping the KOMO quality system in order, they also look at substantive aspects of the changing world, for example climate and sustainability. Twenty years ago, tomorrow still seemed like today. Now there is additional pressure through, for example, climate change or energy problems due to the war in Ukraine. Sitting still is not an option. Otherwise reality will overtake you. We have to respond to this. We can use KKTC’s substantive knowledge to find a position as KOMO in this playing field. I see this already happening. Not just within the KKTC but also within the KOMO office. The entire quality system is constructed in an extremely clever way, but sitting back in a dynamic society is not an option. Fortunately, within the realm of quality, including within the KKTC, there is abundant willingness to adopt changes and think actively about what our world will look like in 5 to 10 years.”

You mentioned earlier that one way to give innovation a place within KOMO is to be receptive. In what way did you substantiate that at the KKTC?
“I think it is helpful that I am open and facilitate discussion. That has a knock-on effect and invites others to do likewise. Reciprocity arises, which creates a good atmosphere. Corona did make it difficult to meet live, but video calling was a good alternative. An example of interaction: Ton Jans actively involved me and the KKTC in the development of the Wkb performance ladder. We were able to react and make additions. In this manner, the Wkb performance ladder was developed more swiftly.”

What tip can you give the current chairman for the coming period?
“First of all, I congratulate Elphi Nelissen and wish her every success. I am pleased that she has taken on this interesting task. Especially given her track record. My tip, which I have already given, by the way: try to think about the bigger things and do not just focus on substantive aspects of Assessment Guidelines, et cetera. When you have to look at things through a magnifying glass it is very difficult to keep the bigger picture in view while staying above the anthill, so to speak. You can also be a work ant yourself, but you have to keep seeing the bigger picture.”

Is there anything else you want to say?
“I regret that I had to step down earlier than I had foreseen. Although staying for ten years is also not necessary for me, in terms of content it would have been nice to be involved a little longer. I want to emphasise that I enjoyed being able to chair this committee with its exceptional expertise. Finding so much expertise together is rare in the building sector. In my opinion, KKTC is on the right track. I wish the fellow members, under the leadership of their new Chair, a bright future.”

Also read the interview we had with Jos Lichtenberg at the end of 2021

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