26 June 2017 | Jamie Harris
A report from the British Council for Offices (BCO) has identified opportunities for technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and 3D printing to help mitigate waste during design, construction and fit-out processes.
The report, titled Virtual reality and 3D printing: Reducing waste in office construction through new technology, sets out to find ways in which waste in office construction - of which 100 million tones was generated in 2012 - can be significantly reduced.
It notes that while VR technology has a broader ability to simulate environments and visualise the completed product, its ability to allow tenants to view a completed floor virtually negates the requirement for a category A fit-out.
The report indicates that although advances in technology are still to be made, VR has reached a maturity level in which it can be considered "a useful tool" for the construction industry.
Its impact on facilities management too, allows for the tenant to simulate physically accurate materials, lighting conditions and various other aesthetics before anything is built.
The report also delves into 3D printing technologies, the main benefit of which is higher efficiencies in material use.
3D printing is a manufacturing process in which material is built up, or 'printed' in layers. This additive method removes the requirement for drilling and cutting processes, reducing waste material, particularly for bespoke parts.
BCO does, however, note that despite the theory there are few reliable studies in the construction industry that highlight quantifiable savings, partly down to the limited commercial applications of 3D printing currently on offer.
The full report is available to BCO members for download here.