The Changing Face of the Commercial Building
Driven by the increased trend in mobile technology and a strong sense of environmental sustainability, workplaces are rapidly changing in their design and, which some might say, is for the better. An office is now no longer just perceived as a place to work from, consideration is given to the design and functionality to ensure that it is fit for purpose. After all, a commercial building when designed correctly, can set the tone for creativity enabling work to flow more productively.
Once only appearing on a client wish list, environmental saving features are now often a necessity rather than a luxury and are seen as an essential element of any modern day construction project. Subsequently installers are constantly looking for innovative ways to reduce energy costs in the building design; such as strategic placement of skylights and windows to capitalise on the sun’s natural light and warmth. As a result owners and developers recognise that it’s more affordable to integrate sustainable features into the design at the outset.
It is not only the design elements that are becoming more environmentally sustainable but also the way the ordering of materials takes place. Materials are now increasingly being sourced locally to reduce their carbon footprint as well as opting to purchase products that can be assembled in the factory to avoid over-ordering issues.
Sustainability is a global issue for the construction industry which has led The World Green Building Council (World GBC) to launch a new project that aims to ensure all buildings are ‘net zero’ by 2050 to help and tackle climate change. The aim is to reduce CO2 emissions from the buildings sector by 84 gigatonnes by 2050 through net zero buildings and deep renovation, which was made at COP21 in Paris last December.
Gone now are the stuffy institutionalised looking offices with a plethora of closed uninviting offices and welcome to the more flexible, airy and open workspaces. As departments are brought together in carefully designed office blocks and warehousing to encourage team working, creativity and seamless communication networks a new style of co-working has emerged.
As flexible working continues to increase in popularity, hot-desking is becoming the norm for some companies. Subsequently offices need to be designed to accommodate this new way of working with work spaces designed to enable individuals to work alongside others that may have no connection to each other whilst enabling a productive day’s work to be undertaken.
The speed in which technology is advancing is mind-blowing, and when it comes to commercial construction it too is no exception to this trend. As Business Information Modelling (BIM) becomes a competitive advantage for suppliers, providing 3D representations enables project managers to assess and plan the most efficient way to plan a project before even laying the foundations.
With BIM producing a 3D model of a building that is data-rich; it captures all the given info about a project in one place, including everything from measurements to the cost of materials and how building elements will work together. As much as some of us choose to shy away from technology, in some situations it is unavoidable with BIM currently mandatory on government building projects.
The benefits of BIM is that it produces efficiencies, but it also brings its own challenges as it requires individuals to possess the skills to utilise the technology. These skills are something that the construction industry will need to acquire as the technological trend increases and faced with a skills shortage the question is, is how quickly the industry can adapt to an ever changing world.