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Built environment professional bodies join forces to align data standards

BESA, RICS and NBS have joined forces to align the data standards that are used to manage costing, carbon and building and facilities maintenance, in a bid to clear up confusion and shift the digital focus from new build to whole life building performance. 

In what has been described as “a momentous game changing moment”, the built environment’s leading professional bodies (the Building Engineering Services Association, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and the National Building Specification) have created a roundtable collaboration forum, in response to government demand for the public sector to enhance the way it uses digital life cycle costing, carbon assessment and digital led maintenance.  

As part of its Building Better Buildings programme, the Government Property Function (GPF) has instigated a root and branch reform, based on the adoption of its FM asset data standards, to provide consistency in how asset data is captured and exploited. This is intended to improve asset performance, lower running costs, reduce carbon emissions, as well as optimising the level of maintenance carried out to an appropriate budget. 

The Government Property Agency (GPA), which manages the government’s offices estate, has been charged with delivering major efficiency improvements across its vast portfolio. The use of better building information is pivotal to this, and the GPA is working with the industry bodies to embed data standards into its estate, as a ‘living laboratory’ that will use data alignment for specific information purposes, across the entire asset life cycle, and realise ‘real life’ benefits. 

BESA Chief Executive David Frise commented: “More than 80 per cent of the total cost of ownership of any built asset is in ongoing operation and maintenance, but many clients find it almost impossible to get a clear handle on how much they should be spending and on what. 

“Many building owners and occupiers tell us they are sick and tired of not having access to complete cost and asset specific data about how their buildings need to be designed and built in a way that will optimise how they are run and maintained. They now desperately need to cut running costs, whilst make sure their buildings are safe and compliant, and get on with delivering their net zero carbon reduction targets.” 

The roundtable data collaboration forum should give them reason for optimism that the industry can be encouraged to stop working “in silos” and start sharing data to inform better decisions/outcomes. It is also trying to address the ongoing problem that decisions made at design stage to cut upfront expenditure often led to much higher lifetime maintenance costs, therefore passing on the problem to clients and people further down the supply chain. 

The market for UK building maintenance is estimated at over £60 billion/per annum, but the industry bodies fear that a significant proportion of that money is not being properly targeted to reduce running costs and carbon emissions, with inappropriate funds allocated to keep buildings operating safely and efficiently. 

Delegates at the BESA National Conference on 20 October will have the chance to engage with this process by taking part in an open forum with representatives from each of the data standard bodies.  

Speakers will explain how the standards will be aligned and will invite feedback from delegates. The roundtable group’s intention is to evolve the use of data into a cost and maintenance ‘playbook’ that will explain how quantity surveyors and FM/maintainers should set about gathering asset data using digital tools. 

The panel will outline how SFG20, the industry standard for building maintenance developed by BESA, will be aligned with the RICS New Rules of Measurement (NRM) for building works and the BIM Construction Classification (Uniclass) developed by NBS, together with CIBSE’s Guide M best practice guidance for management and maintenance of engineering services. 

This is intended to bridge the gap between the collection of digital information at the construction stage or during refurbishment projects, to help building managers develop accurate asset registers that can inform maintenance plans, asset renewal/life cycle plans, and carbon assessments.  

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