Estates optimisation

Alex MacGruer
We are heading towards a post-Covid world that is also on a journey towards net zero. It is safe to say changes are going to be happening in the way we use buildings and the way they need to perform.

Imagine being able to look holistically at your estate and have access to the current utilisation model, optimised space planning for the future, future lifecycle costs, forecast environmental performance and the cost and programme for making any changes. You could then make informed decisions in your estates planning.

Understanding complex estates has long been a headache for major property portfolio holders in both public and private sectors. Asset registers, where they exist, rarely reveal the true picture of utilisation, occupation, condition and cost. Organisations find it hard to figure out how much—and what type of—space they need, let alone forecast capital and revenue expenditure.

Data-driven innovation is key to unlocking potential in complex estates

Faithful+Gould and Hawkins\Brown have partnered to pioneer an efficient methodology that helps clients identify the potential within their estate and recognise their options and opportunities. This approach challenges preconceptions and creates lean and efficient assets that fit our clients’ business plans.

Our top-down, data-driven analysis gives space utilisation, lifecycle cost and environmental performance scenarios that allow informed decision making. Add in our capital cost estimating and programming functions and our clients are well-equipped to plan the future of their estate.

Analysing the data

Hawkins Brown developed a dynamic, digital space-utilisation modelling tool that draws on space standards from an extensive database of projects. The tool produces a user-friendly, top-down analysis that illustrates existing and predicted user populations and space factors within individual buildings and across the estate. 

Space can be effectively categorised and assessed within a range of parameters and assumptions. If it’s workspace, precisely how much of it is agile, collaborative, shared? If it’s public interactive space, how much of it is allocated to exhibitions, meeting rooms, social space, revenue-driving space? If it’s a university, how much of the estate is devoted to improving student wellbeing?

Outputs are highly configurable and clients find them extremely useful for demonstrating the facts to their stakeholders.

These outputs alone are enlightening and they both validate and challenge preconceptions. Clients are often surprised by what they find. They may have had no idea how much underutilised space their total estate contains, or how much that’s costing them. Or they may have thought their agile workspace larger than it actually is, and in fact it’s in entirely the wrong location.

Using the data that you have

The acquisition and manipulation of this inclusive and now accessible data is the beginning of a collaborative process of exploration. Our team leads clients through option appraisals which may address future development, operational needs or changes to working practices (eg. building occupancy and agile working).

Cost and programme analysis

Our Faithful+Gould tools underpin the explorations and are tailored to the client’s specific needs. The tools bring clarity to the potential execution of options, adding capital and whole life costs, programme and operational information. 

Our smart investment planning tool brings an asset management perspective, top-down prediction of the estate’s lifecycle costs and an optimised spend. You can model this to your estate’s current condition and planned maintenance and investment strategies to give the optimum cost profile.

This is aligned to Insight, our benchmarking and costing software, to create dynamic cost modelling and capital cost forecasting. Insight will capture the space options developed by Hawkins\Brown and drop them into our cost and programme model.

Environmental performance

Demand for environmental performance measures has never been higher. We are all on a journey to net zero and we can’t get there without addressing the estate. Our team looks at the estate, analyses the data by building type and energy performance and models the outputs driven by the buildings. That data can then be manipulated and scenario planned (in line with the space utilisation and lifecycle cost software) to identify the optimum energy and sustainability model for the estate.

Why do this?

The Covid-19 pandemic has sharpened the focus on estates optimisation. Many estate holders now have a footprint mismatch, potentially carrying excess property weight, and have decisions to make on rightsizing options, operating models, renegotiation of leases, disposal and/or acquisitions. Accurate data is vital to getting these decisions right.

We work with clients across the UK, helping them make sense of their complex estates. Some decide to review the whole estate, others begin with smaller segments; some or all of our estates optimisation services may be used. Feedback has been extremely positive, with speed, accuracy, cost-effectiveness and top-down accessibility cited as benefits. 

The aim is to produce tailored data that drives informed decision making and ultimately enables a balance of suitability, quality and affordability across the asset base, ensuring investment is aligned with the business plan. 

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