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Creating sustainable estates and high performing assets

29th March 2017

Mark Tyson, Service Delivery Director within Capita’s Property and Asset Management business, considers the value of creating sustainable estates and high performing assets...

Alongside the widely recognised need for more investment in high quality new development in the Scottish property sector there is clearly a strong imperative to make more of the assets we currently have.

By far the majority of an asset’s costs are incurred after the development and construction process is complete, but how much profile do we give to optimising their usage and performance? How do our property assets support individual organisation’s objectives - and are they providing the right, high performance environment for our customers or workforce?

Creating the right environment

There is a big picture in creating the right environment – understanding how to create a sense of ‘Place’ is critical and a very current focus in local government - but also a detailed picture, where we need to exploit the data we now have available on our buildings to improve their performance. That's not just the energy usage performance, but also how the building provides the right environment to improve occupier satisfaction and workforce productivity.

No organization is immune from the need to drive better value from its property assets. In the private sector property is generally the second largest cost to a business after its people and the need to provide the right environment for the optimum cost is key to most businesses in retaining staff and achieving targets. There are significantly raised expectations of how building environments can be tailored to our individual needs.

Challenges facing local authorities

Across the UK, local authorities are under overwhelming pressure to reduce costs while also having to deliver frontline services, support regeneration and develop more local employment. Many of them are exploring different ways of achieving this through optimisation and commercialization of their property assets.

At the same time, we are now able to access technology which provides detailed data on many aspects of building performance, underpinned by advancements in the ‘Internet of Things’. Linking and measuring the operating costs of large, disparate corporate and public sector estates to the outcomes and performance which the buildings provide to the occupiers is key in ensuring the environment is fit for purpose.

As an industry our challenge has to be to establish the ability to ‘continually commission buildings’ and attribute post-occupancy value in more than energy terms. This should in no way conflict with the larger goals of environmental sustainability but, rather aim for a more measured approach to building performance. We need to create greater visibility and clearer building performance metrics to enable occupiers to make more informed decisions about their working environments, while also broadening the image of building performance.

Learning from other industries

Taking an external perspective and learning from other industries can help guide and accelerate change. The car industry makes a highly technical and confusing issue relatively simple. When buying a car most individuals look at simple metrics like 0-60mph, MPG and Euro NCAP safety standards to help make more informed decisions. However, we have nothing similar to allow a comparison for occupiers on how a building’s performance benefits an occupier’s health, wellbeing and productivity. If we were able to provide similarly transparent metrics on performance, those buildings consistently delivering against a broader building performance profile, would increase in value to both owners and occupiers.

Obviously, and quite rightly, sustainability will be one of those measures but, we should have air quality, light, temperature and noise included in new measures for buildings, all of which can impact health, wellbeing and productivity.

The benefit of this approach is that we can move away from a new build bias on smart technology. A tiny fraction of UK Real Estate consists of brand new buildings designed to include the latest BMS and smart building technology. Therefore, the opportunity is surely in the secondary market where using the new measures we establish a standard for operating buildings post-occupancy. In fact, multi-occupancy or 2nd, 3rd or even 4th generation of tenants/ occupiers that move into a building can then benefit from this way of operating buildings.

Mark Tyson is Service Delivery Director within Capita’s Property and Asset Management business 

Mark will also be speaking at the Facilities Management and Property (FMP) event on Wednesday 5th April, discussing “Using data to change the building user engagement and FM operating models” 

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