The world of construction is heading for continued growth in many economic hotspots around the world in 2016. London, for example, has been experiencing an unprecedented boom in commercial office space and this is now spreading to other major UK cities such as Birmingham and Manchester. There is simultaneously an evolution occurring globally in the way we design and create our buildings. Worldwide, the trend is to create buildings with the final user occupants top-of-mind from day one.
The growing user-centric construction trend is now supported by some key standards developments, which are again percolating into design and construction practises across the globe.
For example, from April this year the UK Government will require all firms involved in creating public buildings in the UK to conform with Level 2 Building Information Modelling (BIM) demands. Level 2 BIM requires much tighter, ideally 3D model-based, building specifications to ensure smoother commissioning so that they work better for occupants from the outset and are easier to maintain, underpinning upgrading schedules for buildings’ equipment and systems.
The Government Soft Landings (GSL) protocol, which demands that new government buildings are designed with user experience in mind, is also being rolled out. The ‘soft landings’ strategy is being adopted to foster a ‘bump-free’ transition from construction to occupation and optimise operational performance. The Soft Landings Framework is a joint initiative between BSRIA (Building Services Research and Information Association) and UBT (Usable Buildings Trust).
Available on the BSRIA website, GSL is an open-source framework intended to “smooth the transition into use and to address problems that post-occupancy evaluations show to be widespread.” It was updated in 2014 to align with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) 2013 work stages.
This framework includes five key stages:
- Ensuring that the client’s needs and required outcomes are clearly defined
- Reviewing comparable projects and assessing proposals in relation to facilities management and building users
- Ensuring operators properly understand systems before occupation
- Stationing a soft landings team on site to receive feedback, fine-tune systems and ensure proper operation. Typically this will last 4 to 6 weeks, but may be longer for complex buildings such as hospitals and may be shorter for simple buildings such as shops
- Outstanding issues are resolved and post-occupancy evaluations are fed back for future projects. It is suggested that this period lasts for three years. In year 1, problems are identified, training provided and systems fine-tuned. In years 2 and 3, performance is reviewed, and post-occupancy surveys carried out, but with reviews becoming less frequent.
Building Internet of Things (BIoT)
Surrounding these major developments is the wider trend to use technology to get Building Management Systems (BMS) and Building Automation Systems (BAS) talking to each other and working more in the interests of the occupants of that building. Building Internet of Things (BIoT), in which all building control systems are accessible over the internet (and can therefore be controlled via any smart and mobile device), is fast becoming a reality.
Truly ‘smart’ buildings are finally being built.
Read the full article on the IFSEC Global website.