The big challenge is improving how buildings perform post occupancy, and that’s where FM teams can take the lead

Andrew Pryke

With 2016 fast approaching, the need to address the government requirements for BIM level 2, PAS1192-2 and Government Soft Landings (GSL) has never been greater. While significant progress has been made in many areas, there has been little focus on what is perhaps one of the most critical pieces in the jigsaw, GSL. This is despite the fact that to successfully achieve Soft Landings, I believe we will need to rethink our traditional approach to project delivery.

From the start, the focus of Soft Landings is on the end user and their environment, with key elements such as sustainability, a three year post occupancy evaluation (POE) and a need to achieve substantial operational savings. With this emphasis on the operations phase, we need to question if designers and contractors are the right people to lead this process and whether instead it should be led by FM teams - teams who have an in-depth knowledge of how buildings operate over the long term and understand the type of data needed and approach required during the design and construction phases, to ensure that the client brief can be met once an asset is operation.

We need to question if designers and contractors are the right people to lead this process and whether instead it should be led by FM teams

The government needs to achieve a further 20% savings during 2014/15, a large proportion of which will come from reducing operational costs. However, recent central government figures found a 300% difference between predicted and actual energy and operational costs in the Priority Schools Building Programme, and the Francis Reports findings in the health sector showed a direct correlation between a building’s operational performance and patient wellbeing and staff morale and retention. Both of these examples highlight how we are failing to really get to grips with performance during a building’s operational phase and that something has to change substantially if we are to succeed in this area.

However, while designers and contractors have an understanding of how to achieve operational performance, they lack the information and perspective from the coal face that is really needed to understand what works best in terms of operation and maintenance, cost reduction and capturing feedback. This leads me back to the FM teams, who I believe provide the answer to the challenges we face. They have this invaluable day to day knowledge and experience but are often not brought on board with a project until after the operations design and construction decisions have been made. This needs to change and I think that we should be engaging them in projects from the outset to lead, create, monitor and deliver Soft Landings for the whole project team. Only then will we start to achieve the optimum levels of operational performance in our buildings.

Andrew Pryke is managing director for Bam Design and BIM director for Bam Construct UK’s property development, design, construction and FM services