Building Services Design Management
Building services engineers seek to provide safe and comfortable environments for building occupants and for any activities happening within buildings: their remit may also extend to areas outside buildings.
This process starts with the design of the appropriate systems and equipment, which then has to be installed and operated. It is all too easy for building services engineers just to concentrate on, for example, the water flow rates in pipes, the airflows in ducts, the temperature and airflow rate coming out of the diffusers, because these are specific.
However, they also need to focus on what is happening within the space they are serving; for example, in any space there will be air movements due to draughts, leakages, window and door openings, and the buoyancy of the air will be changing from place to place; there may, or may not, be sun streaming through the window; heat is being given off by people, lights and equipment; … and so the list goes on.
The role of a building services engineering design manager is becoming a discipline in its own right. There have been numerous efforts to place design on a higher intellectual level, and to develop design as a discipline with its own structure, methods and vocabulary. The methodologies for design management are inherently complex and the problem is exacerbated by the highly dynamic nature of the construction industry, the iterative nature of any creative process and the reworking that inevitably must be planned for. The increasing number of specialisms coupled with a tendency for participants to work in ‘silos’ provides further challenges. Finally, design management is increasingly becoming a contractor-led process which is a relatively new scenario for all the involved parties. Traditional planning and management techniques are not well suited to the particular needs of the building services design manager. Design management issues cannot be resolved by squeezing the design process,achieving the same milestones with less information or making autarchic decisions to change design sequences. With respect to building services engineering, there are a lot of factors to be considered and many disciplines are involved. Non-existent or ineffective design management results in extended design timescales and poor quality of information.
Any unresolved design issues have to be answered at some point in order for the installation work to happen. The effects of this can be increased costs, programme delays on site and inferior quality of the completed systems. Design ‘management’ historically consisted of monitoring the drawing, document and schedule completion against a planned release schedule. This approach was crude and superficial, giving an approximate guide to progress without consideration of the design activity itself. The most serious inadequacy is the inability to predict the effects of changes.
Design changes are an unavoidable outcome of the ill-defined nature of design problems. These arise frequently, owing to either the client’s instruction – for example, a change/clarification of the brief – or the designer’s eliminating an error or improving the design. Any technique that gives some insight into the impact of design changes (often termed ‘design variations’) on other design disciplines, the programme, on cost (to both client and designer) or on construction would be most valuable.
This book aims to give practical and relevant information to those involved with the design management of building services. In particular it recognises the idiosyncrasies and distinct features of building services engineering that are not specifically covered in general texts on design management – which tend to be architecturally focused. It does not provide specific guidance on how to design building services systems but it does contain direction on how to approach the management of the design.
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