Briefing

Briefing for Design and Construction (Facilities Management) (BS 8536-1)

Ensuring that the design and construction of buildings and other facilities take account of operational performance requirements is a matter of prime concern for owners, operators and their facility managers. Too often, facilities are delivered by a project team that has not taken sufficient account of operational requirements, especially those relating to environmental management, functionality and effectiveness, security and cost. This is not to say that blame rests solely with the project team. Owners and operators need to be able to express their requirements unambiguously and maintain a watchful eye over the emerging design and construction and the extent to which both measure up to the definition of an efficient, safe and cost-effective facility.

Why do we need a standard for briefing?

Historically, there was a paucity of guidance on briefing for design and construction for the purpose of assuring operability in the completed facility. This was largely rectified by a 2010 Code of Practice on Facilities Management Briefing (BS 8536), covering the briefing of designers on the performance requirements for a new or refurbished facility.

Modern facilities bring with them unique challenges for their management

Its aim was to introduce a more structured and rigorous approach to design that, by definition, had to take an active account of the needs of owners, operators and their facility managers in the operation and use phase, where facilities management is the responsible discipline. In the years since the publication of BS 8536, it became increasingly clear that more could and should be done to improve the processes that result in a successful facility.

BS 8536-1[1] is the response to both the need for more substantive recommendations and guidance on design and construction briefing for operability and the changing industrial landscape that construction and its clients represent. Significant among the changes in BS 8536-1 are: (1) alignment with industry work stages; (2) the incorporation of the principles of soft landings; (3) a definition of the information requirements associated with “BIM Level 2” in accordance with PAS 1192-2 (for CAPEX) and PAS 1192-3 (for OPEX); (4) security-mindedness in accordance with PAS 1192-5; and (5) the requirements for post-occupancy evaluation (POE), thereby strengthening the link between owners, operators and their facility managers, and the design and construction team to assure performance of the design and the operational facility. BS 8536-1 is expected to have a key role in coordinating these various aspects of the project delivery process.

Industry work stages
Industry work stages

What does it cover?

The three-fold aim of BS 8536-1 is: (1) to improve the focus of the supply chain on performance in use; (2) to extend supply chain involvement through to operations and defined periods of aftercare; and (3) to involve the operator and facility manager from the outset.

All of the above changes should be seen in the context of a broader scope of treatment that considers operational requirements throughout design, construction, testing and commissioning, handover, start-up of operations and during defined periods of aftercare. BS 8536-1 does not, however, provide detailed guidance on design or construction – there are other standards that do – but it is concerned with information and data about the operability and performance requirements for the new or refurbished facility.

Among the other changes brought by BS 8536-1 is a close alignment with industry work stages for projects. A key feature of the underlying processes for delivery of an operational facility is an evidence-based approach to design and construction that is driven by outcomes which are explicit and measurable. These need to reflect the requirements of the owner, operator, end-users and other key stakeholders concerning the operational performance of the facility. In fact, performance outcomes should be verified in each work stage to ensure that the facility will meet its operational requirements and avoid unwanted surprises at handover and start-up.

Sustainability in practical terms

The standard considers performance in terms of environmental, social (i.e. functionality and effectiveness), security and economic criteria – the practical side of sustainability principles – that have to be satisfied in the new or refurbished facility. These can be summarised as:

Environmental targets – energy use, CO2 emissions, water consumption and waste reduction/disposal.

Social outcomes – functional and operational requirements of the owner, e.g. overall concept, context, uses, access, visual form, space, internal environment, durability and adaptability, and the operator’s and end-users’ requirements of utility, usability, safety, maintainability, inclusiveness and comfort.

Security outcomes – security-mindedness with respect to both physical and digital assets.

Economic targets – capital cost and operational cost side-by-side to support whole-life cost management.

Post-occupancy evaluation (POE) is advocated as a means for establishing if the facility is performing as expected, including measurement of actual operational performance against the required performance outcomes/targets from the above environmental, social, security and economic perspectives set at the outset of the project. Specifically, the evaluation should include an end-user satisfaction survey, an energy-use survey and an assessment of the overall performance of the facility against agreed outcomes/targets and applicable benchmarks.

The final word

BS 8536-1 is a standard for everyone engaged in the design, construction and operation of a new or refurbished facility. A successful team is an informed team that is capable of delivering a facility to meet defined operational performance requirements. This standard can provide the team with a blueprint for success. A companion standard covering infrastructure, BS 8536-2:2016, was published in October 2016.


[1] BS 8536-1:2015 Briefing for design and construction – Part 1: Code of practice for facilities management (Buildings infrastructure) is still available as a free download from the BIM Level 2 website.