A sound business case

wellbeing, payback
Karen Fletcher

“At our Round Table discussion this month, the conversation quickly came round to the topic of wellbeing. It seems to be a theme that is working its way across the industry, whether we’re looking at building controls, indoor air quality or heating.

One of the main points made by the panel is that wellbeing is important for building services because of its impact on occupant performance. It has been widely acknowledged that employees are generally the largest cost for business - way ahead of energy on most budgets. If building services influence how effectively that expensive investment works, then we are more likely to have the attention of financial directors and other key business influencers.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the issues of occupant wellbeing and associated productivity put us further along the path to specifications based on lifetime costs, rather than cost-first purchases of building services equipment.

It is up to the industry to educate clients about the benefits of whole-life costing. When faced with a large new-build project or even a refurbishment, it is easy to be convinced that saving money up-front is the best approach.

Instead, our industry needs to point out the costs of not installing the most energy efficient, reliable, accredited equipment. It may well be slightly more costly at the start, but five years down the line, when cheaper equipment starts to fail or under-perform, or has to be replaced because it does not meet legislative standards, that’s when the savings resulting from a long-term view will really kick in.

Rather than offering payback information, it might be better to look at return on investment. It would allow building services professionals to show what happens after those initial capital savings are ‘spent’ and the performance of cheaper kit starts to falter.

Government is pushing for buildings that are cheaper to operate in the long-term, but it will take more than recommendations to change the habits of an industry that is wedded to the cost-first principle.

A combination of improved productivity and better ROI are strong business arguments that should appeal to those who hold the purse strings on a project.”

Karen Fletcher

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