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Better buildings bring benefits

Paula Morgenstern   08 Nov 2016

BAM is passionate about creating comfortable and liveable buildings for us and for future generations. With the growing importance of understanding building performance, Paula has joined BAM’s sustainability team as Building Performance Manager.

Originally an engineer, I have always had a strong interest in the interface between technology and society. I am passionate about sustainability and after almost a decade of researching energy systems and building energy use in the UK, Germany and Latin America, I am excited to be leading our building performance strategy at BAM.

So what is building performance, and why does it matter? Building performance is how well a building serves its purpose – both in how functional and comfortable it is for its users and if the operation of the building uses as few resources as possible.

Meeting the functional needs of a building’s occupants is a vital part of the construction process – a school should have the right environment to learn in, a hospital needs to allow people to heal and an office must enhance productivity. And if the people who use the building enjoy its environment, the asset will be more desirable – boosting its value. But it is not just about being an attractive place to live and work, buildings that are not performing optimally will cost more to run, so bringing energy consumption in line with design expectations can also help to improve its financial performance.

Buildings need to meet the functional needs of their occupants

The next question is how can we improve building performance? There are different components to our building performance strategy, but all are based around the sharing of learning – both between projects and between completed buildings and new projects. To expand our knowledge, I will be spending time getting to know buildings and their occupants, in what we call Post Occupancy Evaluations (POEs). These involve:

  • Occupant satisfaction surveys around issues such as the environment, lighting, aesthetics etc.
  • Quantitative analysis of energy performance vs. performance projections at design stage
  • Measuring the temperature, lighting levels and air quality when the building is in use
  • Interviews with clients, facilities management teams and key occupants
  • Audits of the information stored in BIM
  • Review of processes to establish how information is collated, and by whom

The BAM built Bodmin Council offices targeted and achieved an operational energy rating of DEC B. We are working with them to learn from this success for other projects

The double benefit to carrying out POEs is that fine tuning a building at the earliest opportunity helps it to perform at its best. We already have BAM project teams delivering Soft Landings in partnership with our facilities management arm – BAM FM, and other teams are trialling initiatives to improve building performance, such as pursuing operational energy targets. It’s great to know that with so much relevant expertise in-house, we will be able to deliver a coordinated and proactive approach towards improving the way our buildings perform. By sharing data we will be able to feed lessons learnt into future projects, leading to continuous improvement of both design and construction.

I am looking forward to growing this new role, getting a better understanding of how buildings perform over time and what we can do to improve this. By implementing Soft Landings ideas and principles not only into design but also into construction, BAM is taking a leading role with the industry that will help us to deliver outstanding low energy buildings.

 

Paula Morgenstern is a Building Performance Manager at BAM

If you would like to talk to us about sustainability, contact us.

 

 

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