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Whole Life Asset Performance - ahead of the curve!December 2018


Nick Blake, Principal Consultant - Facilities Management, Sustainable Construction Group, BSRIA
BSRIA’s Nick Blake, Principal Consultant – Facilities Management, gets into the “ribs and spokes” of Whole Life Asset Performance to share his experience and expertise.

The performance of an asset over its anticipated life span takes into consideration not only the initial capital cost of a built asset but also the operational, maintenance, repair, upgrade and eventual disposal costs of the asset.

The phrase has been recently highlighted with the release of the Construction Sector Deal on Thursday 5th July 2018. One of the milestones of this project is to ensure that a common approach to procuring for whole life asset value is developed by 2020 along with cost and performance benchmarks for built assets.

A lot of people in the industry have been ahead of the curve on this, for example BSRIA was working on Cost Benchmarking for the installation of building services before the turn of the millennium in conjunction with a short-lived Government Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR 97-01).

One of the recommendations of that guide: BSRIA AG 20-1/99, was that “tenders should be evaluated on whole life costs rather than capital costs alone. This is best practice but often tenders are evaluated/awarded as directed by the client to suit his/her objectives and available funds – sometimes without regard to the ultimate long-term economies”.

As the Circular Economy becomes a more common term in the construction industry, the UK and the rest of the world is finding itself moving into one of the greatest industrial opportunities of our time: the move to cleaner, greener and more sustainable economic growth. The focus on Whole Life Asset Performance in the built environment is shifting the emphasis from the costs of construction to a more cradle-to-grave approach: considering the costs of a building across its life cycle.

In our own lives we find no difficulty in balancing a higher capital investment with a reduced operating cost or a higher residual value: these are the judgments we make when justifying the purchase of low energy lamps, loft insulation or a new car with a higher resale value or greater fuel efficiency. Why then should organisations find it so difficult to move away from the “quick win mentality” and apply the same rational approach to their investments in buildings and plant?

Nick said:

“An example of where this has been embraced is the PFI schemes, where whole life costs are crucial to the profitability of the scheme. In these circumstances capital cost is recognised as a small subset of the whole-life costs, as the entity responsible for the build is also responsible for the running/maintenance of the site. Life Cycle Costing (LCC) is also well established as a process for establishing the economic pillar of sustainability in BREEAM environmental assessments, BIM level 2 and general good stewardship.

On existing sites, we have often been called in to provide independent condition reports (sometimes used as dilapidation surveys), to support change in ownership and/or occupancy as well as when new maintenance contracts are being awarded. With a completed condition survey, and an understanding of the business under study, we are able to offer our BFM as an alternative to SFG20’s generic frequencies.

BFM runs a maintenance programme in line with business needs by aligning all activities with the criticality of the service being provided. This approach offers the potential for improved whole life asset performance even on existing installations.

With a more forward-looking approach to construction, it is important to recognise the FM’s knowledge maximises its value over the long term. Early involvement of FM know-how increases the potential to add value from the start of the project.

Whole life asset performance can be maximised by ensuring the design process meets the user’s needs and this is the expertise that the FM brings. FMs can be used to increase the value of assets over the long term by increasing efficiency, reducing maintenance costs and thereby increasing profits, while at the same time improving the facilities and the availability of the assets.”

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