New Customisable SFG20 - Changing the World of Building Maintenance

Andy Green
The planning and delivery of optimum maintenance solutions has long been a challenge for building & services engineers, Facility Manager's (FMs), estate holders and property end users.

A lack of standard methodology has made it very difficult to set and defend life cycle budgets, leaving maintenance, operations and replacement costs the poor relation of the more readily defined capital building costs.

In November 2012 the world of building maintenance changed with the launch of the updated and new customisable SFG20 Standard Maintenance Specification for Building & Engineering Services.

In November 2012 the world of building maintenance changed with the launch of the updated and new customisable SFG20 Standard Maintenance Specification for Building & Engineering Services. The new maintenance standard enables clients, contractors and consultants to simplify how they identify compliant maintenance (i.e. statutory legal obligations). The non-statutory maintenance can then be prioritised and customised for every maintainable asset applicable to the building/facility or its functional use.

In these challenging economic times the need to constantly maximise limited budgets has driven the need for the new customisable maintenance standards. The new SFG20 web service will help users simplify the process of tendering and setting up maintenance contracts.

Since its original launch in 1990, the Heating and Ventilating Contractors' Association's (HVCA) standard maintenance specification for building and engineering services has been regarded as the industry standard for specifying the maintenance of building services. Following the association’s name change in March of 2012, the Building & Engineering Association’s (B&ES) new customisable SFG20 standard maintenance specifications were developed.

Designed for industry wide use the new SFG20 now offers bespoke maintenance sets which can be modelled for specific building types covering schools, offices, banks, prisons, libraries, hotels, retail units, car parks and many more still to come. Maintenance levels can be customised according to available budgets and the criticality of each asset. All the tasks can then be edited to create a “service model” to ensure compliance and avoid under or over maintaining the assets.

SFG20

The new three-part SFG20 comprises:

Core SFG20 library: Dynamic web service with over 400 industry standard maintenance specifications covering all principal types of heating, cooling and ventilation, installation and plant and electrical services, complete with regular technical updates.

Customiser compliance: A new customiser tool which allows users to create a bespoke building maintenance task library, including the addition of new non-core tasks such as fabric maintenance, and to print bespoke booklets of applicable standards. The customiser tool includes links to all relevant statutory/legal obligations and references, together with regular updates to define compliant maintenance.

Customiser service model: This enables users to prioritise maintenance regimes using simple criticality ratings to model multiple ‘fit for function’ service regimes that avoid under or over maintaining assets. Predefined functional models (such as schools, retail, and offices) allow users to refine their specific requirements. Client or site specific data can then be printed as a customised pdf or downloaded into tender documents and FM software (subject to licenses as required).

By aligning the new SFG20 standards with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) rules of measurement for capital building works, this has created a common industry data structure linking building and related maintenance costs which will help overcome the capital/revenue divide.

By aligning the new SFG20 standards with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) rules of measurement for capital building works, this has created a common industry data structure linking building and related maintenance costs which will help overcome the capital/revenue divide. It will also have a massive impact on how projects are handed over and change future asset surveying, enabling the creation of robust maintenance databases, as well as providing the basis for building information modelling (BIM).  

This also aligns with the 2011 Government Construction Strategy (GCS) which aims to reduce the whole life cost of government construction projects by 2015, with BIM being a key part of achieving the required saving in procurement costs from a whole life cycle perspective.

Another major advantage of the new SFG20 is that it is web based, as this simplifies user experiences and, most importantly, encourages people to use the correct maintenance pack. It is also much more interactive, which increases user understanding and appreciation of the maintenance compliance schedule. It also gives like-for-like comparisons when a tendering process is underway, creating a more balanced supply chain and helping to deliver best value for clients and end users.

A new colour coded critical rating system enables users to immediately visualise a clear prioritisation of tasks to streamline budgets and project management. The new colour coding is as follows:

  • RED for statutory – to ensure legal compliance (i.e. keeping out of jail!)
  • PINK – for mandatory – to ensure regulatory and sector/organisation compliance
  • AMBER for function critical tasks – to maintain business critical assets and avoid under/over maintaining applicable assets
  • GREEN for discretionary – to maintain non critical assets and meet non business critical commitments, or protect asset value

Extensive cross industry collaboration and consultation amongst contractors, practitioners, professional bodies (such as RICS, BCIS, CIBSE Guide M) and trade associations has brought SFG20 to fruition and made it interoperable with cost management and service life planning of assets.

Timeline

This new standard will not be a static framework either, which can easily become out of date. Instead, the ongoing work of B&ES’s technical standards committee and support team will provide regular updates to SFG20, which can then be downloaded by users to constantly refresh and keep up to date their maintenance libraries. This is another obvious benefit of ensuring the new standards are web based.

This is a truly groundbreaking moment for the industry; finally, 90 years after the advent of capital costs standard method of measurement, we have the capability to effectively manage the total cost of ownership, benchmarking maintenance against a scale of possible budgets, to deliver the most cost effective programmes. In these austerity challenging times, this will help change the building maintenance world.