Designers will have a greater role after the handover of buildings under a new management process that promises to bed in systems for the users

Soft Landings, a joint initiative of BSRIA and the Usable Buildings Trust, requires designers and builders to help clients during the first months of a building’s operation, and potentially for the first three years, to troubleshoot the systems.

Bunn: user group will share experiences.
Bunn: user group will share experiences.

A Soft Landings team would be on site during the settling-in period. That team would remain in control of the initiative, which BSRIA says will close the gap between designers’ expectations and actual building performance.

The process is completely open source, and free to download from the BSRIA website.

Roderic Bunn, Soft Landings project manager, said the initiative would break the assumption that new buildings perform to expectations from day one. “We know that few new buildings are truly operationally ready at handover, and we know that energy consumption is often higher than anticipated,” he said.

“Soft Landings provides a mechanism by which project teams can remain involved after practical completion in order to identify emerging problems, resolve causes of energy wastage and help the occupants to gain full control over the building’s environmental systems.”

BSRIA said that the process could be modified to fit any project. The cost would equate to 0.1% of the overall contract.

BSRIA has set up a Soft Landings user group, open to all organisations working in design, construction and occupation, which will provide support for project teams and clients.

Bunn said: “The user group is going to be key to Soft Landings. It will be the place to pool collective experiences and share good practice with other users.”

He hopes the process will lead to sector-wide improvements. “We want this kind of practice to become normal. Practical completion isn’t the end of the story. We’re giving services engineers a lot to think about, but that’s healthy. Too often there’s too much emphasis placed on systems without factoring in human comfort.”

Bunn added: “Companies could attract business from showcasing the lessons learnt from their experiences. Clients would be able to identify the best companies for the job, which have demonstrated their capability and commitment to this kind of practice.”