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The rise of the Building Performance Management (BPM)

We are undergoing a period of excitement in regards to both new and existing buildings. There has been real momentum in relation to energy efficiency over the past decade which is bearing fruit to our homes, our vehicles, our street lighting and our workplaces. With improved software solutions, it allows us to control energy systems in these places smarter than ever before.

 

In more recent times, there has been a positive drive towards health and wellbeing, with schemes such as WELL, Fitwel and bespoke solutions (dependent on the development in question) incorporated into new and existing buildings. From a UK perspective there is also the need to consider our lagging productivity behind other countries such as the US and Italy and the efforts we need to make to improve it.

The major challenge within the current approach to the built environment is that these issues are regularly considered in isolation and we do not contemplate the interactions and tensions that there are between them. I have sat in meetings where WELL, BREEAM, energy efficiency and renewable energy have been wrapped up together as if they are all part of the move to a low carbon future. However, only a small portion of BREEAM relates to CO2 / energy and meeting the conditions of that needed for WELL certification will almost certainly increase energy demand with the requirements for air filtration and ventilation rates etc. Though they are all important, it is equally as important that we understand their differences and how we assess the ambitions and priorities within building projects.

Within our team at WSP, we have undertaken energy audits of properties all over the world, worked on sustainability for new and existing developments of all scales and reviewed energy efficiency standards for buildings and cities. Until recently we hadn’t considered the productivity of staff/ occupants or health and wellbeing, and although we do so now, it is often isolated from energy/CO2 reductions and sufficient emphasis is not given to considering these holistically. For example, on new residential developments where we are providing sustainability and energy input, the focus should be on the development and provision of places that allow people to be the best they can and to do so as efficiently as possible.

From a long term perspective the reduction of CO2 emissions is well on its way. In simple terms, our electricity will become zero carbon and almost everything will electrify. There is still a lot of work to get there but technologically there are no major breakthroughs required, only the refinement of current systems. This is fantastic for us all in terms of noise reduction, improving air quality and the mitigation of climate change and it will even be cheaper to us as consumers than it is now. What we mustn’t do now is build or regenerate places that are “zero carbon” to the detriment of the fundamental reason they are there, which is, to benefit the occupants that use them.

To that end we have launched our Building Performance Management (BPM) service for existing developments. The principle is that we will offer all of our clients the opportunity to understand their developments from a whole asset perspective; looking at health and wellbeing, energy and productivity aspects of the property and considering their linkages to each other rather than focusing on one in isolation. As well as the expertise within our BPM team itself, we are able to benefit from the technical expertise provided by our WSP colleagues in areas including air quality, transport, acoustics and ecology.

Our aim is to assist our clients in making buildings and cities more efficient, better places to be and contribute to delivering greater productivity that will allow businesses and individuals to flourish.

This blog was written by Gregg Taylor, Associate in Sustainability and Energy.