Building Expert Rod Bunn; “Buildings should be like building a new aircraft”

Rod Bunn

UK building expert Roderic Bunn of BSRIA (Building Service Research and Information Association) believes there is an unacceptable disconnect between the design intent of a building and its energy consumption.

He also believes that it’s about time the property sector started to emulate the aeronautical industry by ensuring the developer retained an interest and responsibility over the project throughout its life.

“It would be unthinkable that a corporation like Boeing would walk away from a project once it built a new type of plane,” he said.

The same must occur for building owners in the likely zero carbon world of the future.

Mr Bunn, principal consultant with the Building Services Research and Information Association has just finished touring Australia and New Zealand with this message in a series of seminars organised by the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers.

To stimulate a move towards this scenario Mr Bunn in association with Dr Bill Bordass, a forensic building services consultant with the Usable Buildings Trust, has developed an approach known as “soft landings”.

This followed Mr Bunn’s landmark study, PROBE, which he undertook with government funding when he was editor of the Building Services Journal in the UK that revealed a major disconnection between design intent and performance.

“In the 18 buildings we studied over five years, we found that energy consumption was three to five times in excess of what was assumed,” he said.

“Construction at present is seen as a linear process but in fact it is circular and this underlines the Soft Landings methodology, which closes the loop between design, construction, operation and feedback, and then into design again.

“It’s about ploughing back the lessons from one completed project to the next.”

Mr Bunn said that the Soft Landings Framework manual “emphasises awareness of performance in use in the early stages of briefing, helps to set realistic targets and assigns responsibilities.

“It then assists the management of expectations through design, construction and commissioning and into initial operation with particular attention to detail in the weeks immediately before and after handover.

“For this process to work, we need to engender a new culture of a championing client, thoughtful architect, a committed contractor and a fearless consulting engineer, willing to accept that things done in the past may not have worked.”

Mr Bunn said that the construction industry “must emulate the aircraft construction industry, in which it would be unthinkable that a corporation like Boeing would walk away from a project once it built a new type of plane.

“In the likely zero carbon world of the future, no building construction project team will be able to simply leave after handover because proof will be demanded that buildings meet their design intentions and I do not know how this can be done without a methodology like Soft Landings.”

To learn more about ‘Soft-Landings’, you can visit www.BSRIA.co.uk or read our blog post What is ‘Soft Landings’ in the Built Environment?

Rod Bunn

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