• Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Designing and managing buildings: An Integrated Approach

The built environment is often used to refer to buildings and similar types of environments.

The design of a built environment is usually a complex process, with very many considerations such as structural, mechanical, electrical issues etc. in order to have an aesthetically pleasing building.

These complex components often result in different experts working in a linear manner to achieve the end goal.

What has, however, been lacking and is being advocated is a more integrated approach to all these elements even before the design of any building or facility.

What is an integrated approach? This simply means that before designing the building, all stakeholders- owner, architect, engineer, contractor, and a key stakeholder not usually associated with the design and construction of buildings, the facility manager must come together to discuss the different aspects of the project.

When we think of buildings, we are accustomed to thinking of the facility manager as one to assume a role once the facility is constructed and occupied, and usually available to resolve issues that occur in the course of the life of these buildings

This model is now being challenged and gradually being changed. There are numerous advantages in involving a facility manager at the inception of the design process.

The most obvious one is that a facility manager will fundamentally be interested in highlighting areas where problems are likely to occur later in the use of a building.

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This means looking at different angles – energy, space, potential value of the facility on a long term, environmental impact, and cost saving measures.

A facility manager, included in the process at the start, is able to provide additional professional support in the design of the facility even before any design is put to paper.

This involves negotiations, communication and planning including window size, energy saving, wiring, roofing system.

More importantly, the facility manager can play a role in ensuring quality assurance of products during the construction.

As any facility manager knows, these are some of the most important problems facing facilities in Nigeria today.
In a tropical country like Nigeria, the way the sun impacts on a building should be considered as it ultimately determines the amount of damage that may occur in future.

The design must also include the location of the building and accessibility depending on what the building/facility will be used for.

Accessibility not just for the tenants and users of the facilities, but also for services to be provided during the use of the facility, including for facility management.

The linear approach has been the norm, and it is cheaper with owners facing pressure constantly to save costs, but having an integrated approach means that buildings will cost more to design and construct but on the long run will save costs and generate more value for such buildings.

Implementing an integrated approach puts onus on owners/developers of buildings to start the process by bringing together all the stakeholders.

This will mean careful consideration, as the project is being conceptualized, in choosing architects, engineers, contractors and facility managers.

The advantages are many even if costly at the beginning. They include achieving the exact and specific requirements of the owner in the future management of the building, enhancing the space and comfort for users, fitting into the community and reducing bad environmental footprint.

Obileye is the Chair, IWFM Nigeria region and Managing Partner, TWT Consulting Ltd.