Public Works Outlook Robust for 2001

November 30, 2000 · by Kerry Harding

DI staff attended this year’s FedCon conference and came away with some revealing trend information for a variety of Federal entities. The most interesting are summarized below.

One of the year’s highlights each fall is the FedCon conference whose prophets predict the the Federal Government’s design and construction market potential for the coming year. DI staff both participated in and attended this year’s conference and came away with some revealing trend information for a variety of Federal entities. The most interesting are summarized below.

A vision of the future where design trade-offs can be analyzed in terms of quantified contributions to the functional efficiency of a facility or to occupant productivity was put forward by Dana K. “Deke” Smith, assistant chief information officer for the Army, during a luncheon presentation at FEDCON, a gathering of over 200 design and construction professionals, building product manufacturers, government agencies, and journalists. “Knowledge management is what we want to focus on,” Smith said, “so that a knowledge model is provided to the owner for use in managing the facility. Return-on-investment is calculated for the entire life of the building, including occupancy, and an electronic model of the facility is used to convey knowledge across the timed phases of the building life.”

Smith said new object-oriented design technology stores detailed information about each object in a building, so that construction contractors, operations and maintenance staff, and renovation designers will have ready and continuing access to original specifications, operations manuals, and forecast versus actual life-cycle operating costs.

Design changes that improve productivity offer the greatest economic opportunities. “Planning, design, operations, and maintenance are only 5% of the cost of a facility,” Smith said. “Ninety-five percent is the cost of the people and functions that occupy the space. The designer has the ability to improve productivity 5-30%.”

Smith cited a study by Carnegie-Mellon University that found that a productivity increase of 3.8% would pay for design, construction, operations, and maintenance.“If we try to keep design costs at 6% we are focusing in the wrong spot,” he said. New measurement tools, or metrics, are needed to implement a more holistic life-cycle cost analysis method, he explained. Perspectives that should be considered in a holistic model include design, financing, productivity, construction, environmental, operational, energy, occupancy, and health costs.

The Facility Information Council at the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) is a forum for discussion of the standards, metrics, decision models and knowledge sharing necessary for a more holistic way to evaluate life-cycle costs. The Council is working with a coalition of private building owners, facility-related associations, software developers, and government to pursue the vision of a building valuation analysis system that would incorporate all of these perspectives.

Current activities of the Council include working Version 3 of a national CAD standard that will be more object-oriented, as well as development of models for total life-cycle information and for real estate decision-making.

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