There is a growing body of evidence highlighting a gap between a new building’s expected performance and its actual performance. Energy consumption of recently completed public buildings can be up to two or three times higher after occupation compared with estimates made at design stage. Buildings which do not reach their designed potential can be extremely wasteful both in terms of unnecessary energy bills and excessive carbon emissions. Such shortfalls often coincide with low levels of comfort and high occupant dissatisfaction.
The reasons for this gap can be quite hard to unpick; building procurement in the UK is often geared towards project delivery at the expense of operational efficiency and end user satisfaction. Increased complexity in building services, inadequate skills or training for facilities management and late engagement with key stakeholders are other contributory factors.
Soft landings is a new way of thinking about the construction and procurement of buildings. Our highly qualified teams will scrutinise all stages of the building process to ensure that everyone involved can refocus on the part they play in obtaining the best performance from the finished building. We focus on promoting greater collaboration within the project team and a closer working relationship with clients and end users.
At the scoping and feasibility stages of your building project, we will ensure earlier consultation with key stakeholders to more fully understand the client brief, especially in relation to predicted hours of use, levels of IT infrastructure and facilities management.
At the design and construction stage, we will ensure closer collaboration between design team and builder to anticipate issues likely to effect building performance and ensure a smoother and defect free handover process.
All buildings require an element of fine tuning after completion to ensure that all the various building services are working properly together. Even minor glitches can lead to high levels of energy consumption when buildings are checked carefully. It also takes time for building users to become familiar with how their building works. Our in-house specialists will aid this process by undertaking thorough checks and by offering support and training to occupants so that they understand how their building works.
In most building contracts, support from designers and contractors ceases following the end of the defects liability period. Soft landings seeks to extend this level of support for the first three years after completion. Checks need to be carried out that the building and its systems are still working efficiently and that occupants are still using the building in the way it was intended. Work undertaken during this period could include seasonal commissioning, staff satisfaction surveys and a post-occupancy evaluation as well as regular update meetings.
A national framework document was published in 2009 by a consortium of leading architects, contractors and industry research organisations. The framework was designed to be easily applied to different organisations and project types. HCC Property Services has developed their own version of the framework and has started to implement its recommendations across our core services.
HCC Property Services is also a member of a national user-group of industry representatives researching how Soft landings can be implemented in practice.
Interest in Soft landings has been growing both nationally and internationally as more organisations recognise its potential to generate significant savings in operational expenditure, improved occupant satisfaction and lower carbon emissions.
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A recent academy school is generating savings of £10,000 per month having halved its energy bill by adopting a Soft Landings style approach.