Cal Bailey of NG Bailey talks us through his ideal M&E project, and then describes one that came pretty close – the Scottish Natural Heritage headquarters.

NG Bailey employs 4,000 staff across seven divisions and has a turnover of about £500m. It is most widely known for its building services capability, but also works in the IT, interiors, off-site and maintenance sectors. The company was started by Noel Bailey in Leeds in 1922; now it has 19 offices across the UK and has a very unusual headquarters – the 18th century Denton Hall and its 2,500-acre estate. Cal Bailey, business planning and development director, talks about the importance of offering a whole-life service, working on the UK’s greenest building and the wonders of PFI.

We’re one of the UK’s largest building services providers and have a very wide scope – we include IT solutions as well as full M&E and maintenance. One of our recent additions is to offer ceilings and partitions, which complement our M&E work. We like broad integrated teams that cover all those capabilities on one project and that means we can save the main contractor an awful lot of programme management.

Our whole theme is to offer our services throughout the life of the building – so it’s not just in the construction phase, it’s afterwards in the operation and the refurbishment phase as well. This is an offer that’s not widely understood yet but we believe that it fits well with the whole drive towards sustainable buildings and full whole-life costing. We’re finding that increasingly clients welcome our commitment to the whole life-cycle of the building.

Our biggest frustration is not being brought in early enough on projects – that’s probably our biggest reason for turning work away. It depends on the type of project but if it’s an install-only project then we’re frequently brought in late and find that the design is neither complete nor buildable. As a result we prefer design and build. The great advantage of PFI is that you have time to design it properly.

The only way to understand what the client wants is to talk to them. The truth is that building services is seen as a black art by many of the other players who haven’t interpreted the client’s needs well enough. Therefore we want to talk to the client directly – but it doesn’t happen frequently enough. I think people are afraid of partnership in our industry.

We’re doing a lot of work on attaining the BREEAM “excellent” standard at the moment. One building we finished last year was the headquarters for Scottish Natural Heritage, where our challenge was to achieve an excellent rating through the installation of green technology. We took responsibility for the design and build of the M&E services, including daylighting, solar thermal systems, natural ventilation and rainwater harvesting. And the building achieved the highest ever BREEAM rating in the UK [although this has since been overtaken by the Innovate Property building] – a great project.

There are two types of value engineering that go on in the industry – there is cost-down engineering, where cutting costs is the only criterion, and there’s proper value engineering. Proper value engineering is great – we support it very strongly.

We worked on a project where a pre-commencement value engineering workshop of the six largest building services suppliers saved 9% of the M&E value of the project, as well as enabling the formation of a great integrated team.

And we achieved that without compromising the quality of the installation.

However, if it’s cost-down engineering, our belief is that it has a negative full-life cost impact. In other words cost down at point of construction is cost up for the occupier and we don’t think that’s value for money for anyone.

Cal Bailey, business planning and development director, NG Bailey

I swear by …
Truly integrated teams – so integrated that we have time to design for manufacture off site and own the success of the whole project.

The worst piece of red tape is …

Actually we don’t mind how tough Building Regulations are providing they’re clear, enforceable and enforced. We understand why the government wants to reduce carbon and we support it. What we hate, being a large company that takes these things seriously is having to enforce them ourselves when others don’t.

I think …
Screwed and welded pipeworks systems should go. They are expensive, time-consuming and dangerous.

I think the best recent innovation is …

The increase in IP-enabled building management systems. These are digital, which means they are genuinely maintainable and externally controllable – they give the client much more for a lower installation cost.