Breeam 2008 has been revised and toughened up, with some fundamental updates to the environmental assessment method that strengthen its credibility and raise the bar
by Peter Excell
17 April 2008
The revisions to Part L of the Building Regulations, which came into force two years ago, changed many things about how we set up and run buildings. However, what is potentially the most significant change for facilities managers has rather slipped under the radar.
The new Part L tries to address the problem of many FMs being left totally in the dark about how to maintain and operate their buildings by making log books a legal requirement at handover of a new building and when any major refurbishment works are carried out.
Log books are an extremely useful and underused development. They should be prepared by the design team to provide the FM with a basic summary of the services, key information about how the systems work from a single reference point along with a design philosophy for the building.
Operation and maintenance (O&M) manuals are present in most buildings, but these are far too detailed and indigestible - they are of little use to a busy FM trying to quickly source simple information that will take him or her to the root of any problem.
Log books, created by following the template produced by Cibse in its document TM31, should ensure that whoever is left to run the building has all the information at their fingertips.
Its role is becoming increasingly important as it is the best way for an FM to monitor and record the energy performance of the building. It can, therefore, provide the vital evidence required for an energy audit for EPCs.
Meeting all these legislative requirements is important, but the significant bonus is tackling the building owner's soaring energy bills at the same time. The log book should be between 20 and 50 pages long - any less and there won't be enough information and any more will mean it is ignored. The FM signs it when he takes possession and passes it on to his successors ensuring that it is a 'dynamic' document that can be added to during the lifetime of the building as renovations and extensions are made.
Changes to building layout can play havoc with the performance of services if the original design and approach are not clearly understood. Random changes can be disastrous and are often made because the building operator is in the dark. The log book should be reviewed annually as part of the organisation's quality assurance system and an entry should be made for each.
"The general philosophy behind log books is that they should improve the understanding, management and operation of buildings resulting in lower running costs and reduced CO2 emissions," says energy management specialist Mike Malina of Energy Solutions Associates.
"This will also contribute to improved occupant comfort, satisfaction and productivity. Specifically, they provide a place to record ongoing building energy performance, which should help improve energy efficiency.
"However, two years after the new Building Regulations came into force log books are only present in a tiny percentage of the buildings I visit for energy audits. Local and central government must make policing this issue a key priority if we are to improve the energy efficiency of our building stock," adds Malina.
Being able to produce an up-to-date log book is the best way for an FM to be able to prove that a building complies with Part L. The Cibse guidance provides step-by-step instructions about how to complete one, what should be in it and where the FM should keep it. It also gives three examples: a large air conditioned office; a small naturally ventilated school and a very small office.
The building log book is, potentially, one of the most significant improvements created by the 2006 Building Regulations as it is the key to successful on-going operation and maintenance of buildings. Yet, few FMs have ever seen one and so are "flying blind".
FMs and the specialist teams who work with them can also take advantage of the HVCA's SFG20 best practice guidance for planned maintenance programmes, which will also help them prepare for energy performance certificates. The guidance covers all of the principal types of heating, cooling and ventilation systems commonly used in Europe and gives maintenance guidance on 66 types of equipment, including all aspects of air handling and heat generation.
If designers keep in mind the criteria detailed in the SFG20 when putting systems together, they can ensure safe, energy efficient plant operation and be sure of complying with all current legislation.
All FMs should challenge the design engineers working on their buildings to deliver against the best practice principles in SFG20. Specialist contractors should also be willing and able to provide a log book at handover - this means they will have to be properly trained and accredited.
If you haven't got a log book in your building already, isn't it time you thought about having one produced retrospectively?
Peter Excell is chairman of the HVCA's Service and Facilities Group.
FM QUICK FACTS
The Cibse's building log book template TM31 - more details at www.cibse.org
The HVCA publish a planned maintenance guide SFG20 - www.hvca.org.uk has more details