4 December 2017 | Tom Cudmore
Tom Cudmore, senior consultant at LCMB Building Performance, discusses how to improve the performance of buildings.
I was recently invited to speak at the Association of University Engineers conference on how to improve the performance of buildings. In a previous career, I worked with athletes as an exercise physiologist to get the best out of people. I asked myself, are there lessons we can take from the world of elite sport and apply to improve our buildings?
There are parallels. For an athlete to perform at their best we have to focus on the individual and understand their strengths and weaknesses and continually review performance and work on improvements. And yet there are many examples of sports people focusing far too much on equipment at the expense of their own fitness.
My observation over three years working with LCMB is that many buildings are only looked at when equipment breaks or users complain.
Buildings change. Staff move around, occupant densities change, as do the tasks being performed. Plant performance deteriorates, maintenance and upgrades affect operational performance. New-builds undergo a commissioning process and post-occupancy evaluation, but often little is invested once the building has been in operation for two or three years.
Technology makes it easier and cheaper than ever to collect good-quality data to monitor performance and prioritise efforts on buildings where there is the biggest potential for cost savings, energy reduction or improved productivity through better indoor environmental quality.
Even in new-builds, Innovate UK's Building Performance Evaluation research shows a significant performance gap from design specification to operating conditions so it's unsurprising that existing buildings that receive little or no continuous performance reviews suffer. It might not be possible to turn donkeys into racehorses, but most buildings have potential for performance improvement. Let's go for gold!
Tom Cudmore is a senior consultant at LCMB Building Performance