Building services engineers seek to provide safe and comfortable environments for building occupants and for any activities happening within buildings: their remit may also extend to areas outside buildings. This process starts with the design of the appropriate systems and equipment, which then has to be installed and operated. It is all too easy for building services engineers just to concentrate on, for example, the water flow rates in pipes, the airflows in ducts, the temperature and airflow rate coming out of the diffusers, because these are specific. However, they also need to focus on what is happening within the space they are serving; for example, in any space there will be air movements due to draughts, leakages, window and door openings, and the buoyancy of the air will be changing from place to place; there may, or may not, be sun streaming through the window; heat is being given off by people, lights and equipment; … and so the list goes on.
The role of a building services engineering design manager is becoming a discipline in its own right. There have been numerous efforts to place design on a higher intellectual level, and to develop design as a discipline with its own structure, methods and vocabulary. The methodologies for design management are inherently complex and the problem is exacerbated by the highly dynamic nature of the construction industry, the iterative nature of any creative process and the reworking that inevitably must be planned for. The increasing number of specialisms coupled with a tendency for participants to work in ‘silos’ provides further challenges. Finally, design management is increasingly becoming a contractor-led process which is a relatively new scenario for all the involved parties.
Traditional planning and management techniques are not well suited to the particular needs of the building services design manager. Design management issues cannot be resolved by squeezing the design process, achieving the same milestones with less information or making autarchic decisions to change design sequences. With respect to building services engineering, there are a lot of factors to be considered and many disciplines are involved. Non-existent or ineffective design management results in extended design timescales and poor quality of information. Any unresolved design issues have to be answered at some point in order for the installation work to happen. The effects of this can be increased costs, programme delays on site and inferior quality of the completed systems.
Design ‘management’ historically consisted of monitoring the drawing, document and schedule completion against a planned release schedule. This approach was crude and superficial, giving an approximate guide to progress without consideration of the design activity itself. The most serious inadequacy is the inability to predict the effects of changes. Design changes are an unavoidable outcome of the ill-defined nature of design problems. These arise frequently, owing to either the client’s instruction – for example, a change/clarification of the brief – or the designer’s eliminating an error or improving the design. Any technique that gives some insight into the impact of design changes (often termed ‘design variations’) on other design disciplines, the programme, on cost (to both client and designer) or on construction would be most valuable.
This book aims to give practical and relevant information to those involved with the design management of building services. In particular it recognises the idiosyncrasies and distinct features of building services engineering that are not specifically covered in general texts on design management – which tend to be architecturally focused. It does not
provide specific guidance on how to design building services systems but it does contain direction on how to approach the management of the design.
The intended audience includes:
◼ building services engineering undergraduates, postgraduates and their tutors
◼ other construction-related discipline undergraduates and postgraduates and their tutors
◼ practising building services engineers who aspire to move into design management
◼ building services engineers who have found themselves promoted to design managers and need some support
◼ architecturally biased design managers seeking a better understanding of building services engineering design management
◼ project managers and clients in search of a better understanding of building services engineering.
‘Purple panels’ are included to offer some light relief from the main text. These provide worked examples, further explanations or useful background information.
While the book is biased towards the UK market in terms of references to terminology, legislation and working practices, the approaches are applicable to other regions.
The book is to all intent and purpose about management of a process. Yet successful design management, particularly building services engineering, needs leadership, which in turn means, good, even excellent interpersonal skills. These are about the how we communicate with, listen to, respond to, and understand others, such that problems are more accurately analysed and the corrective actions are more likely to remove the difficulty or resolve the problem, which contributes to the project’s desired outcome and leads to our personally being more successful in professional and personal lives.
In a nutshell, this is the book I wish I had had during my career in industry, as I transitioned from a building services engineer to a design manager and as a part-time lecturer covering building services design management, when I would have appreciated relevant reference material to help structure my lectures.
About the author
Dr Jackie Portman DBEnv, MSc, BEng, ACGI, CEng, FCIBSE, MIET, MCIOB, MiMechE is a building services design engineer and manager with over 25 years’ experience. She graduated in electrical engineering from Imperial College, University of London and took her first steps into the construction industry. She was attracted by the exciting, challenging, ever-changing and all-encompassing nature of the construction industry – where there are always new challenges and areas of interest – and she has never looked back. She has worked in consultancy, main-contracting, building services subcontracting, project management and client organisations in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. She has led the design management process of a range of projects in terms of complexity, size and uses: university complexes (libraries, archive buildings, state-of-the-art education and research facilities), healthcare projects (wards, laboratories, clinical areas), single and mixed-use commercial office complexes, residential developments and schools.
Her particular areas of expertise are in consultant selection and appointment, managing the design and pre-construction activities, and also in ensuring that commissioning management procedures are put in place, and closing out and handing over successful projects, and thereafter in instigating post-occupancy studies to understand how the building services engineering designs worked for the building occupants, operations and maintenance staff. She fully appreciates the challenges of design management, where design issues cannot be resolved by squeezing the design process, achieving milestones but with less information or making explicit decisions to change design sequences. There are a lot of factors to be considered and many disciplines and stakeholders involved. Non-existent or ineffective design management results in extended design timescales.
She has always been keen to enthuse and motivate students and trainees and has used her ‘hands-on’ perspective to support full-time academics and teachers. She has been a visiting lecturer at the University of the West of England and the City of Bristol College, also contributing to the development of syllabuses, in particular, ensuring their relevance to current industry trends and requirements.
She obtained her doctorate from the University of the West of England, researching into ways and means of improving the contribution of building services engineers to the building design process, looking at how they are perceived by the rest of the construction industry and what tools and processes would help improve their performance.