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BSRIA publishes Soft Landings Core PrinciplesMarch 2012

“BSRIA has produced these Core Principles largely for clients who may have heard of Soft Landings but need to know how to do it,” Roderic Bunn.
BSRIA has published a free to download guide to twelve Core Principles that define a Soft Landings project. The Soft Landings Core Principles have been developed by BSRIA working with the BSRIA Soft Landings User Group. They have been written for construction clients and their professional teams to inform Soft Landings project processes.

Soft Landings is the cradle-to-occupation process for the graduated handover of a new or refurbished building, where a period of professional aftercare by the project team is planned for at project inception and carried out for up to three years post-completion.

The Soft Landings Framework was published by BSRIA in 2009 as a free-to-use, open-source method to help deliver truly sustainable buildings. It has become widely accepted for new and refurbishment building projects. The adoption of Soft Landings work steps can earn credits in the sustainable management section of BREEAM for New Construction, and is in the process of being adopted for government procurement policy.

"BSRIA has produced these Core Principles largely for clients who may have heard of Soft Landings but need to know how to do it," said BSRIA's Soft Landings manager, Roderic Bunn. "Construction firms also need to know what is and is not essential to a Soft Landings project."

The Core Principles stress the importance of adopting all stages of the Soft Landings process, from the inception stage onwards, not just the aftercare elements. "While we don't wish to stop clients from introducing Soft Landings on projects already underway - a graduated handover can be beneficial in itself - a true Soft Landings project is a cradle-to-occupation process, " added Bunn. "A soft take-off is more likely to result in a soft landing, where extra attention has been paid in the early stages to designing for manageability and usability, and in properly defining the building's performance targets, such as energy use," he said.

"Even on projects that adopt Soft Landings from the outset, cherry-picking of the Core Principles may introduce risks and fragilities," explained Bunn. "We believe the risks of under-performance will increase proportionately as Core Principles are weakened or abandoned. Clients need to appreciate this, so we're hoping that architects, engineers and builders who are keen on Soft Landings give their clients a copy of the Soft Landings Core Principles and make sure they understand what's needed."

The 12 Core Principles are:

  1. Adopt the entire process
  2. Provide leadership
  3. Set roles and responsibilities
  4. Ensure continuity
  5. Commit to aftercare
  6. Share risk and responsibility
  7. Use feedback to inform design
  8. Focus on operational outcomes
  9. Involve the building managers
  10. Involve the end users
  11. Set performance objectives
  12. Communicate and inform

The 8-page BSRIA publication provides detail on each of the principles, with guidance on how to interpret and apply them to real projects.

Dr Bill Bordass of the Usable Buildings Trust and co-author of the Soft Landings Framework said "With growing financial and environmental constraints, we can no longer afford the large discrepancies that so often occur between predicted and in-use performance of new buildings. Clients, designers and builders must focus on actual outcomes. They can start tomorrow by adopting the Soft Landings Core Principles."

Gary Clark, chairman of the Soft Landings User Group said "The Core Principles are a timely addition to the growing catalogue of Soft Landings supporting documents by BSRIA. They aim to articulate in clear and concise terms what fundamental actions are required by clients and project teams to deliver consistently better buildings."

"In this age of austerity, Soft Landings is vital for helping to deliver lower carbon buildings within constrained capital and operating budgets," added Clark. "The Soft Landings Core Principles offers the construction industry a blueprint of doing more with less, without adding layers of unnecessary and wasteful bureaucracy."

BSRIA believes that clients and building teams could express the Core Principles in a Soft Landings Code of Conduct for a project. "This could be similar to the Considerate Contractors' Scheme, to which all parties would be willing signatories," said Roderic Bunn. "This would require statements to encourage people to aim high and improve product delivery."

Clients are not advised to make the Core Principles a contractual requirement in themselves, rather to use them to inform their requirements in each section of the project documentation. The Core Principles can be added as an appendix, but ideally each principle should also be inserted at relevant points in the project tender documentation. The Core Principles can then be referenced in the chosen form of appointment for the designers, and in the construction contract for the builder.

Construction companies are urged to support the Soft Landings Core Principles, and are invited to do so via the Soft Landings website when they download the PDF version.

For more information on how BSRIA's support services can help you successfully adopt Soft Landings on a project or about the Soft Landings User Group, contact Roderic Bunn (graeme.owen@bsria.co.uk or 01344 465516).

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