I agree with Geoff Prudence’s opinion piece “FM action stations” (BSj 07/08) about the importance of facilities management and its relationship with building services.
I have come across sophisticated building services design in which the operational and maintenance effectiveness has not been carefully thought through. As a result, substantial and costly improvement works have had to be carried out after completion. The cost would have been minimal or zero if they had been considered at the design stage.
Consultants often overlook the importance of O&M cost in their designs yet, as we all are aware, this constitutes a larger portion of the investment than the capital outlay over the life of the building. If O&M cannot be effectively and efficiently carried out, the interruption of services to the stakeholders has a great impact on the on-going return of the investment.
As more and more new buildings with state-of-the-art technology are completed, there is a high demand for technology-savvy professionals to join the FM team, especially in regard to energy saving and sustainability. But in the region where I am now working, it appears most of the “talented” graduates still consider facilities management to be of low technical standard and opt for design consultancy work in building services.
However, design consultants often consider their job finishes when the buildings are occupied and will leave any problems to the FM team. They are also reluctant to follow up improvement works required to make operation and maintenance effective. On the other hand, the FM team will have difficulties proceeding with the improvement works, partly because of shortage of skill or they were not involved from the outset and therefore are not fully aware of the design principles or details.
I strongly agree more should be done to strengthen the collaboration between the two professions. In fact, to achieve sustainable buildings, the FM team should be involved from the beginning of the project to give input on testing, commissioning and O&M aspects. I believe there is great potential for building services engineers to take charge of facilities management, which is currently dominated by other professions.
Dr Dennis HF Mui FCIBSE, assistant project director, Pacific Century Premium Developments, Hong Kong
Building Sustainable Design