Clearview South Feb 2013 - Issue 135 - Page 80

ALUMINIUM WHERE IS THE VALUE TODAY IN VALUE ENGINEERING? Asks Lennart Jonsson, MD of Senior Architectural Systems. Before ‘Sustainability’ became a byword for all things used in Construction, Value Engineering, or ‘VE’ was one of the key drivers in the UK for efficient building design. Initially developed during the Second World War, ‘VE’ became a well-known procedure for designing engineering projects during the latter half of the last century. The process also lent itself very well to building construction projects and proved to offer clients exceptional good design and project value - if used correctly. So, what is ‘VE’? Simply put, looking at designs and products, then combining their initial costs with their projected life cycle costs, to offer the most cost efficient long term solution for the client. Most contractors today would let us believe that their ‘VE’ contribution is choosing the lowest price for all sub-contract tenders on a project, so offering their clients the best construction value. Continuing this ‘Cost Reduction’ process after the project has been fully specified continues to reduce the client costs, or, depending on your viewpoint, allows the Main Contractor to raise his margins slightly whilst the Sub-Contractor reduces his. It must be said that not all contractors work in this way, but it is generally accepted that this is the case in UK Construction. This approach encourages Sub-Contractors to cut labour costs and choose cheaper products to further reduce costs in order to gain work, all of which can have dire consequences on site and undoubtedly cost the client more during the building’s productive lifespan, some would say ‘robbing from Peter to pay Paul’. Of late, the closest we have come to ‘VE’ in construction has been the PFI Programme of Public Building Construction such as schools and hospitals. Although the jury is out whether the PFI programme has offered good value for the Government, the PFI principle is a perfect example of ‘VE’. The PFI (Private Finance Initiative) gave Building Contractors the responsibility of both building a project and then maintaining it for a period of up to thirty years. Discussing various designs and their merits, products and life expectancy, including services, has forced Main Contractors to adopt the very best ‘VE’ Principles into PFI as correctly adopted ‘VE’ reduces costs in the long term. So what about ‘VE’ today? Should we still be using this Principle? It may have lost its status as current methodology, but I believe the process still plays a crucial part in today’s good design. Architects currently hold the ‘VE’ mantle as it is at the initial design process where ‘VE’ is most effective. Their designs offer the client effective solutions, their choices of materials reflect both quality and life expectancy. Ask any Architect and they would tell you that one of their biggest achievements is a project which stands the test of time. The final working drawings reflect a well thought out design with specified materials working together to offer a client a building with a long life expectancy The Green Guide has also helped to maintain quality and specifications as clients seek to have well engineered buildings. With BREEAM rated buildings, designs and products follows well thought through ‘VE’ principles. With Main Contractors continuing to take value out of general building projects at the procurement phase with little or no regard to life expectancy, this will leave clients with higher maintenance costs and lower building values as a result. So how do we get ‘VE’ back into our buildings? A possible answer would be for clients to insist that Main Contractors are responsible for the maintenance of new buildings for a period of say thirty years for a fixed yearly fee. I would argue that we would have better buildings as a result and save clients money in the longer term. Until we can get the Main Contractors to take responsibility for their design and choice of materials in the longer term, clients will end up footing the bill. So how does ‘VE’ sit with sustainability? I would suggest that ‘VE’ is at the very heart of construction sustainability. Take ‘VE’, add up front Responsible Sourcing of Construction Products (BES6001) and then consider end of life recycling and we have a good general view of product and installation sustainability With the adoption of BIM in the shorter term, only higher quality products will have BIM components available, so reducing choice. 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