There is currently no organisation dedicated to interdisciplinary and cross-sector research into the creation and sustainable use of facilities. A facility is defined as a physical construct and asset that is designed, engineered and operated to serve a particular function and to fulfil a need or provide a service, such as a building, installation, system or network.
Facilities are needed for living, working, health care, education, industrial production, commercial development, retailing, utilities, transportation and other infrastructure, sports and leisure, entertainment and communication. Whilst functional requirements differ, the same or similar materials and technology can be found in different kinds of facility, but not necessarily with the same success.
A number of bodies have been established to look after the interests of a given profession or discipline, where each focuses on a part of the total process involved in creating and using facilities of different kinds. It is self-evident that none takes a broad, interdisciplinary approach that cuts across sectors. Moreover, none in this category has research as its primary object.
Common problems, common solutions
A complaint by owners and end-users of facilities is that the same problems appear over and over again. The causes are generally known and their effects are a source of irritation and can even lead to health concerns and financial losses. Since individual professions and disciplines concentrate on their own part of the total process, the owner may be left to deal with the interfaces between them. In fact, many of the problems are literally at the interfaces - those between physical components or systems, and those between people or organisations. Someone has to start looking at these issues.
The Society will focus its attention in four areas:
- Owner and end-user needs - providing the tools and techniques to ensure that requirements are taken fully into account (owner/user-focus).
- Holistic thinking - promoting process-based methods that adopt a whole life cycle approach to the creation and use of facilities (process-focus).
- Technology transfer - understanding how materials and technology used in different sectors and facilities can be used in others (technology-focus).
- Investigating best practice - reporting on the context within which something can be seen to be working at the highest level of performance (practice-focus).
The intention is that the Society will establish projects in each of these areas or themes. They will take the form of original research by the Society and the evaluation and summary of completed research by others. Both forms will be actively disseminated to the UK business community as well as society at large.