Building performance at BAM: one year on
A year ago, I joined BAM as their Building Performance Manager. One of the key aspects of my role is to check back with our buildings after completion to see how our buildings are working in-use, as opposed to design intent, and whether any fine-tuning is required. This is done by undertaking Post-Occupancy Evaluations (POEs).
I can’t believe it’s been a year already! Over the past year, many people within the business have heard more about POEs and the idea of feeding back lessons learnt from the operational phase of a project, into the next generation of designs. Some of us may still feel slightly uncomfortable at the prospect of reviewing a finished project, fearing it will uncover problems and result in additional work or costs. However, as the number of POEs grows across the business, we are finding there is little to fear and instead many opportunities for added value.
The POE at New Scotland Yard in London was a particularly good example of this. New Scotland Yard has been occupied by the Metropolitan Police Services (MPS) since early 2017. BAM’s building performance team led a POE in autumn 2017, in collaboration with the architect, AHMM. The POE was especially valuable because it involved all stakeholders, including the BAM and AHMM project teams, and also the client (MPS), engineers (ARUP) and the building’s facilities management teams (Engie / BAM FM). The process included interviews, a technical walk-around with all project partners, collecting feedback from building operators and occupants, and finally, a detailed review of the building management system and energy performance. Findings were discussed in a joint POE meeting between all parties in October 2017.
The POE showed that the occupants like their new working environment, and people are often surprised by how modern and ‘non-Met’ New Scotland Yard feels. The building is generally comfortable, with few complaints about temperature or air quality, and the lighting is well liked. These positive outcomes are partly a result of the constructive working relationship between the client, design team, contractor and sub-contractors, which was praised by all project partners. The early involvement of BAM as the contractor was also found to be beneficial by all sides.
The collaborative POE process also worked really well. The joint workshop was a great opportunity to discuss findings and different interpretations. As one of the client advisors noted afterwards, “There is something about having everyone around the table that makes it easier to talk openly about what went well and what could have been better”.
Looking back over the last year, I have learnt two key things about what makes a POE valuable:
- When undertaking a POE we need to take into account that we are all human and proud of our work. It's therefore essential to highlight positive outcomes in a completed building, as well as promoting the lessons learnt.
- Buildings are a complex ecosystem with many different parties involved in their design, construction and use. It’s crucial for a POE to take account of as many of these different perspectives as possible in order for it to be useful and to fully understand where issues might have occurred. Experience has shown that it is often in the gaps between responsibilities that things can be overlooked.
I am excited to see what the next year at BAM will bring. With more POEs emerging across the business, we are now working to collate findings centrally so that can we ensure that new projects take on board lessons previously learnt.
Paula Morgenstern is a Building Performance Manager at BAM
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