Adopting a Soft Landings Approach for Optimal Performance in use

Annabel Clark
An explanation of Faithful+Gould’s soft landing service to improve building performance, operational costs and building user satisfaction rates.

What is soft landings?

The soft landings process ensures end user engagement to achieve the original vision and optimal capabilities of the building. Soft Landings is a structured process of guaranteeing that operational considerations are kept at the forefront of decision making during the concept, design, delivery, handover and initial occupation of new buildings.

The start of a project will be used to define outcomes and measures of success for the project. Early integration of the client aspiration, stakeholders and involvement of the end user results in exceptional operational efficiency. During the project the soft landings team will ensure that the requirements and expectations are maintained within the design and construction. This process encourages collaboration between designers, contractors, users and operators to improve performance in use. The final stage will collect and compare actual operational performance against the planned targets agreed at the start. Soft landings create a constructive dialogue with the key stakeholders to ensure end-user satisfaction. The aim of soft landings is to champion better outcomes for your built assets to ensure full value is achieved in the operational lifecycle of an asset.

The service offered can be shown to improve operational costs and building user satisfaction rates. This in turn can lead to higher rents and higher rates of staff productivity.

What are the benefits?

Improved productivity from asset use

The soft landings process provides the facilities management team with a comprehensive information set regarding the optimum approach to managing their assets. This is especially effective when the designers have built the relevant asset data into their BIM models, which is then passed through to the contractor and on to the client. As part of the handover process the contractor will ensure that the data they hold on the project is transformed effectively into a clear asset list with detailed planned preventable maintenance schedules, and CAFM data.

Reduced running costs

The management of the ongoing operational costs can be improved in several different ways through the soft landings process. Initially the commissioning process is undertaken with the inclusion of training in partnership with end users. This fully embeds best operational and maintenance practice from the suppliers and the system designers which can often be lost during a standard handover process.

Measuring the operational performance of the energy using systems within a building is an integral part of the soft landings process. Wherever possible the main systems are sub-metered, recorded and analysed in a structured and well-defined approach. This will provide the operations team with up-to-date hard data on their assets which can be used for regular performance reviews to identify areas of waste, and potential areas for improvements.

This analysis of the building performance not only seeks to collect data on energy consumption, but also on the factors that drive it. Common drivers of energy consumption are:

  • external temperature
  • occupancy patterns
  • activities being undertaken
  • time of day

The soft landings process provides a formalised structure where all these factors are considered together so that a complete picture of the building can be obtained. Without this type of in-depth analysis, operational inefficiencies can remain hidden for years, without anyone knowing that there could be operational cost savings to be achieved.

Improved time to reach optimum performance

During the occupation of any new building there is inevitably an initial period where its operation is less than optimum, as the building users and operators are learning how to use the new facilities. To overcome this, the soft landings process includes an in-depth collaborative handover process. In addition to this there are also regular post occupancy evaluation reviews in the first three years of occupation. During these reviews the hard operational data from the building, and the soft feedback from the building users, is collected, reviewed and fed back to the key stakeholders. These stakeholders can include the client, designers, contractors, operators and staff. This process will highlight any areas where the building is failing to either meet its original stated performance or the existing needs of the users.

The stakeholders should have sufficient understanding of the building to identify the root cause of any issues identified and put in place a suitable mitigation strategy. This can typically involve further training, fine tuning of systems or changes to maintenance procedures.

This process is not about fixing issues that do not meet the specification, as these should naturally be picked up as part of snagging during the defects liability period. The purpose of the soft landings is to identify and offer solutions to the shortfalls in performance, in controllability, in manageability and in dealing with unintended consequences of system operation.

The SAM team at Faithful+Gould are in a hugely valuable position of having experts in facilities management, sustainability, asset management and lifecycle costing within one team to cater for your project needs.

Please contact a member of the Strategic Asset Management team if you would like to transform your building expectation into reality: Annabel Clark, David Green, Paul Taylor, Sarah Cranke

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