EVORA supports Schroder Real Estate Investment Management (SREIM) to achieve the first ‘Fitwel for Workplace: Multi-Tenant Whole Building’ Certification in Europe

The Schroder UK Real Estate Fund office asset, Battersea Studio 1, was officially awarded the first ‘Fitwel for Workplace: Multi-Tenant Whole Building’Certification in Europe. As official Fitwel Ambassadors, EVORA supported in the completion of the assessment.

As a ‘Whole Building’ assessment, the Fitwel certification applies to the entire asset and all building users (including tenants), not just the base building and building management staff. The building achieved 97 Points and was awarded a ‘One Star’ rating.

Read more about EVORA and Fitwel here.

In addition to validating the existing health and wellbeing credentials of the building, the certification process also identified several ‘quick win’ improvement opportunities, which have all now been implemented, including:

  • conducting an occupant commuter survey to better understand active transport requirements for building users (e.g. bike storage and shower provision);
  • establishing an indoor air quality management policy;
  • installing point-of-decision signs promoting use of staircases rather than lifts; and,
  • assigning a meeting room for out-of-hours ‘wellness activities’ (e.g. book club, yoga).

Committed to continual improvement, SREIM, EVORA and Battersea Studio 1 are already actively working on progressing further enhancements to the asset and will aim to target a ‘Two Star’ Fitwel rating when it’s due to recertify.

Oli Pye, Associate Director at EVORA commented, “We’re really chuffed to have supported SREIM to achieve this certification for Battersea Studios 1. It’s was already a great building with lots of strong health and wellbeing features, however, through the certification process, we have been able to make it even better, as well as identify opportunities for further enhancement. We look forward to helping deliver these additional improvements for the benefit of all of the users of the building.”

You can read the full SREIM press release here.

Health and Safety: The legal risks of ignoring it on small projects

Despite having been introduced four years ago, there is still limited understanding in the building services sector of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM 2015) and the new obligations it has placed on building owners.

The 2015 regulations switched the balance of responsibility for health and safety from a CDM co-ordinator (a role which has now been abolished) to those paying for the works (ie clients). This places direct responsibility on property owners and landlords.

Anyone who has any kind of construction work carried out for them is considered ‘clients’ and are held legally responsible for ensuring every project, undertaken on their behalf, is suitably managed and ensures the health and safety of all those engaged on the project, as well as the members of the public.

CDM 2015 applies in every circumstance, whether it is a category A or B refurbishment or even just the ongoing maintenance of facilities, including remedial repair works.

A refurbishment project doesn’t have to involve any structural changes for CDM to apply. In short, CDM applies to every aspect of works being carried out on a property.

The fines for non-compliance are unlimited and directors can be jailed.

As an example, in 2016 a construction company was removing a roller shutter door on the boundary of a site and in the process, the door fell onto the pavement and badly damaged a market stall. The principal contractor was fined £45K for a CDM breach after the HSE’s investigation found:

  • there was no risk assessment for the task of removing the roller shutter door
  • the site manager was not on site when the incident occurred meaning there was no supervision of the workers
  • the site issues could have been rectified by appropriately planning, managing and monitoring the construction work.

It’s also worth remembering that the obligations apply to the design stage of works as well as actual construction. In fact, the creation of a ‘principal designer’ role in the regulations is supposed to ensure health and safety planning is an integral part of the design stage.

So who is responsible for what under CDM 2015?

Virtually everyone involved in a construction project has legal duties which can be defined as follows:

  • Client– Anyone who has construction work carried out for them. The main duty for clients is to make sure their project is suitably managed, ensuring the health and safety of all who might be affected by the work, including members of the public.
  • Principal designer – A designer appointed by the client to control the pre-construction phase on projects with more than one contractor. The principal designer’s main duty is to plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety during this phase when most design work is carried out.
  • Designer – An organisation or individual whose work involves preparing or modifying designs, drawings, specifications, bills of quantity or design calculations. Designers can be architects, consulting engineers and quantity surveyors, or anyone who specifies and alters designs as part of their work.  They can also include tradespeople if they carry out design work. The designer’s main duty is to eliminate, reduce or control foreseeable risks that may arise during construction work, or in the use and maintenance of the building once built. Designers work under the control of a principal designer on projects with more than one contractor.
  • Principal contractor – A contractor appointed by the client to manage the construction phase on projects with more than one contractor. The principal contractor’s main duty is to plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety during this phase when all construction work takes place.
  • Contractor – An individual or business in charge of carrying out construction work (e.g. building, altering, maintaining or demolishing). Anyone who manages this work or directly employs or engages construction workers is a contractor. Their main duty is to plan, manage and monitor the work under their control in a way that ensures the health and safety of anyone it might affect (including members of the public). Contractors work under the control of the principal contractor on projects with more than one contractor.
  • Worker – An individual who carries out the work involved in building, altering, maintaining or demolishing buildings or structures. Workers include plumbers, electricians, scaffolders, painters, decorators, steel erectors and labourers, as well as supervisors like foremen and chargehands. Their duties include cooperating with their employer and other duty holders, reporting anything they see that might endanger the health and safety of themselves or others. Workers must be consulted on matters affecting their health, safety and welfare.

Architects and engineers are often reluctant to take on the role of principal designer under the regulations because of a lack of expertise in the area of health and safety. At EVORA EDGE we are skilled mechanical, electrical and public health consultants able to take on the principal designer role and ensure health and safety is an integral part of all planned and designed works.

Take a look at our work acting in the principal designer role during the implementation of a large scale photovoltaic installation across multiple buildings in the UK, here.

For more information on how EVORA EDGE might be able to help you please contact Sadie Hopkins (0)1743 341903 or shopkins@evoraglobal.com

Soft Landings: Better Buildings, Better Real Estate

One topic I am very passionate about is that of ensuring that the buildings we build and operate are fit for purpose. In my mind, this means providing users with an environment to deliver their work in sustainable, efficient buildings that do not impact their wellbeing. For building owners, it is about ‘getting what you paid for’ in terms of efficient design that leads to sustainable operation.

We often find that existing buildings do not operate as they should / could due to age, refurbishment changes, historical maintenance practices and/or BMS set up. This may be shown through high energy consumption, plant equipment impacting asset performance as well as substandard occupant wellbeing and comfort.

Reasons why this is happening need to be understood so that we can adapt and learn for future situations, and in particular, refurbishments. The existing building stock isn’t going anywhere and refurbishments within these properties is going to be important in delivering both sustainability performance (including those aligned with Paris targets) and occupier wellbeing.

Soft Landings – bridging the gap from design to operation

A tool that addresses these issues is Soft Landings. I hear many people refer to Soft Landings as commissioning and handover. This is a misconception. These are critical components of implementing Soft Landings, but it is much more than that. It’s a mindset and approach that should begin at project inception and embed through the whole building’s life cycle. Bridging the gap from design to operation is essential to ensure the building delivers as intended for the end user.

By thinking about the end use at the outset, measurable KPI’s can be established along with roles, responsibilities and ownership. These KPI’s can be championed throughout, with agreed reviews and meetings to understand changes, manage re-occurring problems and capturing the required information to ensure a smooth hand over and aftercare in those early stages of occupancy. Communication and engagement are critical and must play an integral part to ensure information is shared at the right time and interpretation for all level of users is provided where required.

The BSRIA Soft Landings stages and how they align with the RIBA Plan of Work are shown in the diagram below.

Source: BSRIA Soft Landings Framework 2018 (View full-size Soft Landings Map)

BSRIA Soft Landings Map

Adopting this approach, I believe is a firm step forward in addressing the challenges faced across the built environment. Having honest discussions around what works and why things have gone wrong helps us to build and manage better buildings. This, in turn, helps move towards a sustainable built environment to ensure the real estate industry mitigates its climate change impacts.

It’s not a perfect world and things can go wrong during any stage of a project. Soft Landings is not a silver bullet to solve this.  However, it does help identify why and how a problem occurred, providing context and understanding. This is then built into ‘lessons learned’ to improve future project delivery. This in itself is a success story and requires an open approach to project delivery and building operation.

A framework approach

Where possible, Soft Landings should be fully embedded and deployed throughout the project. Not applying the framework in its entirety increases the risk of operational problems, user issues and/or failure in sustainable operation further down the line.

EVORA & EVORA EDGE recognise that this is difficult across many situations. In order to establish the vision of ‘delivering better buildings’, we can support our clients in navigating through the six phases of Soft Landings through the following ways:

Phase 0 & 1:

  • Act as the nominated ‘Soft Landings Champion’ on behalf of the client.
  • Carry out surveys of existing building to help support key project decisions and KPI’s.
  • Define ESG / sustainability objectives, targets, KPIs and responsibilities

Phases 2 to 4:

  • Co-ordinating and managing the Soft Landings ‘Gateway’ meetings.
  • Providing concept and technical design input to support and advice with regards to building services.
  • Ensuring data capture infrastructure is in place e.g. meters and sensors.

Phase 5:

  • Facilitating engagement with Stakeholders to identify solutions to impacts on occupant satisfaction and sustainability performance.
  • Co-ordinating with the project and operational teams to establish building user guides.

Phase 6 & 7:

  • Develop aftercare programmes, including building analytics and utility performance to support ongoing KPIs and performance measurement.
  • Conduct Post Occupancy Evaluation surveys
  • Providing BREEAM In Use, RESET & Fitwel assessments and certification.
  • Providing technical reviews on building system issues to fine tune performance.

Get in touch with our experts if you’d like to hear more about Soft Landings

Social Value Part 1: What is social value?

Social Value is the quantification of positive public benefits and outcomes. It originates from a collection of principles aiming to improve health, wellbeing, quality of life, and communities[1].

Social Value is considered in a variety of industry sectors, but recent uptake in the built environment has been sharp, and the future is focused on developing implementable social value strategies for commercial real estate.

Key factors for Social Value in the Built Environment

Social Value has been brought to the forefront of planning requirements by The Public Services (Social Value) Act (2012).  The Act gives no official definition or guidance on what process could be followed to implement Social Value. However, research from the U.K. Green Building Council (UKGBC) into Social Value provides comprehensive guidance into the most relevant aspects for development projects.

EVORA Global Social Value blog table Source UKGBC

How do we measure Social Value?

The most asked question in Social Value is ‘how do we measure this?’ Answered simply, Social Value is typically measured by the following 3 methods.
·     Fiscal, including Social Return on Investment (SROI)
·     Numerical quantification e.g. = number of people affected x outcome of action
·     Qualitative (storytelling)[2].

Social Value: Nice to have or must-have?

The rising global population means that the 3.5 billion people currently living in the world’s urban centres is set to increase. By 2030, this number set to rise to 4.9 billion. As the population grows and our cities become ever closer together, the challenges of living and working comfortably alongside each other are increasing. Understandably, government, the public and investors now expect more from those shaping our built environment. Unforgotten though, is that the built environment is a for-profit industry. It is therefore important to many that sustainability actions can be quantified with financial returns[3]. Social Value reporting gives us an updated set of sustainability principles and a way of quantifying them.

EVORA is now supporting our clients to develop and deliver Social Value programmes. You can read more about this topic in our next blog post in the series ‘5 key challenges for Social Value in Real Estate’.

Alternatively, please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like to discuss Social Value in more detail.

[1]Baldwin, C. and King, R. 2018. Social Sustainability, Climate Resilience and Community-Based Urban Development. 1st ed. London: Routledge.
[2] Maas, K. and Liket, K. 2011. Social impact measurement: Classification of methods in Environmental management accounting and supply chain management (pp. 171–202). Dordrecht: Springer.
[3]Emerson, J. 2003. The blended value proposition: Integrating social and financial returns. California Management Review, 45(4), pp.35–51. doi:10.2307/41166187