Optimising the built environment
Can the importance of building optimisation be summed up in just one word? At a very high level, you might say yes, and that one word is ‘cost’. Not simply cost in the financial sense, though, but cost to occupiers in terms of comfort and wellbeing, and cost to the planet measured in carbon and energy consumption.
Building optimisation in a nutshell
It’s a term that has been gaining real traction in the industry in the last few years, particularly post-pandemic, but just what is building optimisation? Well, it is the process of identifying specific goals for a building, mapping out strategies to realise those goals, then measuring how the building is performing. The building in question could be a planned construction, or an existing building undergoing restoration or renovation, perhaps in advance of a new tenant taking occupancy, or the intended use of the building changing.
Are buildings more than just buildings?
When we break down a construction into its constituent raw materials – concrete, brick, steel, glass, wood, plumbing, electrics – it can be easy to overlook the most important stakeholder in the construction project: people. For its occupants, a building is so much more. It’s home, a place to live and love and raise families. It’s work, where ambitions are realised, careers are shaped, and perhaps more time is spent with colleagues than friends or families.
The manner in which a building is optimised, and the goals set for that process, will be defined by the nature of the inhabitants within it. What are the things that will help protect and preserve their health and wellbeing while they call that building their home or workplace?
What kind of goals might you have for building optimisation?
- Ventilation (which has become more important post-COVID)
- Heating (effectiveness, efficiency, and environmental impact)
- Lighting (natural and artificial, ambient and powered)
- Ease of movement for both foot and vehicle traffic
- Flexibility and modularity of interior design and layout
- Accessibility (from public roads and thoroughfares)
- Drying (particularly with commercial buildings with workers that commute by bicycle)
How these priorities, along with many more, are ranked impacts the perspectives (personal and financial) of the tenant, current or future. It will affect their decision-making when it comes to choosing or remaining in a building for the long term.
Building information modelling
How often are costly problems in the construction process only discovered when it has already begun? Imagine if all of the different specialties and trades (architecture, engineering, construction, electrical, plumbing, insulation, etc.) involved in the process were able to see how compatible their plans and ways of working would be with each other’s.
That’s where building information modelling (BIM) is a real innovation, enabling real-time collaboration between all of the professionals working on a building throughout its lifespan.
Used from the outset, BIM utilises intelligent software modelling to optimise a building in the planning stages, so that architects, engineers and contractors can collaborate on a building’s design, construction and operation. This leads to improvements in cost, safety and efficiency across every facet and feature, from heat and light to accessibility and ventilation.
Building optimisation is not only about cost
Managing cost and expense during construction and throughout a building’s lifespan, quite rightly, is up there as an overarching goal when it comes to building optimisation. But the defining factor is people. Put yourself in the shoes of the people who will inhabit, operate and interact with that building every day.
The key to optimising their building is making decisions that will optimise their lives.
Click here to see how we’ve utilised BIM at Tritech to help partners collaborate and aid building optimisation on some recent projects.