Changing Environments – Design

Our Building Services division talks you through the commercial and technical issues affecting building design in the education sector.
The commercial perspective

Is Design & Build (D&B) the most efficient procurement route for our schools and academies?
The D&B procurement method is in danger of restricting architectural and engineering design flair, as the contractor understandably limits the design solutions to familiar, low-risk options.

Ideally, there should be a more collaborative approach which allows greater input from the client.

This flexibility would also enable the contractors to explore alternative design solutions, rather than be entirely budget focused.

Is the process of working at risk to OBC (Outline Business Case) precluding innovative design?
It is restrictive. An inducement by part compensation would encourage more firms to tender. By its nature, mid-size contractors are excluded as many cannot risk of the costs involved in the early stages of procurement, whereas their early involvement could save time and money later.

Are today’s budgets realistic?
We need sufficient funds for built solutions which meet stakeholders’ aspirations, are truly durable
and capable of achieving the project objectives.

Deploying the best technical solutions

Is the use of Building Bulletins (BBs) becoming too prescriptive? Are we being forced to condition a greater percentage of school space to achieve the noise, summer temperature and ventilation criteria?

BBs are invaluable but they are inherently restrictive and this has led to facilities being built based on the constraints. A combined value engineering forum should be arranged to review the BBs and see if there is scope for a more flexible solution.

Does the carbon calculator improve the sustainable design of our schools or just increase the use of biomass boilers?
The carbon calculator is a blunt instrument, focusing only on known sustainable factors such as bio-fuels.
The motivation for its use is all too often financial – the opportunity to receive a sizeable grant – rather than to achieve a holistic sustainable solution.

While bio-fuels automatically address the 10% renewables target and the Carbon Reduction Commitment, all new schools should be considered holistically.