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Soft Landings is a building delivery approach that runs through the project from inception and briefing to its completion and beyond. When implemented, it increases collaboration between project teams and helps to deliver buildings that operate according to their spec, meeting the client’s expectations as well as the end users’ needs.
The BSRIA Soft Landings Network was established in 2010 to support understanding of this process, promote its uptake across the industry, and ensure its continuous development to meet the evolving needs of industry.
In the last ten years the Soft Landings Network has done outstanding work:
Today the Soft Landings Network counts over 30 member organisations from various fields within Construction – among them are longstanding Soft Landings experts as well as those who have just started to embrace the process.
The Network offers the opportunity to develop an understanding of Soft Landings and to learn about best practice. It is a forum to discuss Soft Landings principles and to share experiences with a diverse range of practitioners.
Soft Landings Network Members also benefit from access to:
Download a Soft Landings Network application form now, or request a quote from our Soft Landings team.
Be at the forefront of Soft Landings implementation.
The 5th Annual Soft Landings Conference took place between 23rd and 25th June. This year the Conference was held online and attended by many devoted Soft Landings users as well as many adepts eager to learn and adopt the framework.
The focus of the 5th annual Soft Landings conference was on culture change promoted by Soft Landings and the need to deliver better buildings and combat climate change. This is a topic that is incredibly important to all of us, even though the COVID-19 pandemic might have pushed climate change away from the front pages over the last few months. “The climate change emergency is an enduring and difficult issue to solve but, considering the huge emergence of social actions that we witnessed around the world last year, there are also opportunities and possibilities of change in different ways that we didn’t think of before,” noted Julia Evans, CEO of BSRIA, in her opening speech.
We know that the combustion of fossil fuels is a major contributor to climate change. The number one producer of greenhouse gas emissions in most major cities in the world are buildings. “About 80% of greenhouse gas emissions in New York are ultimately attributable to buildings. The picture is similar in London with buildings responsible for 77%,” highlighted Andrew Jackson, a partner in the environmental engineering team at Foster + Partners. How can we reduce emissions from buildings? Measuring actual performance of buildings in operation could be the first step. Post occupancy evaluation (POE) is part of the Soft Landings approach and it requires the project team to assess the actual performance of the building between 12 and 18 months after occupancy. POE activities, at minimum, include energy assessment, occupant satisfaction surveys and indoor environmental quality checks.
In addition to global benchmarking systems such as BREEAM and LEED, there are several local benchmarking systems that are used in different countries. "The GREEN MARK [which is used in Singapore] is read in conjunction with, 'The Code of practice for air conditioning and mechanical ventilation in buildings.' The Code outlines a process somewhat similar to Soft Landings,” further explained Milena Stojkovic, an associate partner in Foster + Partners’ environmental engineering team.
Although the Soft Landings Framework is mainly aimed at non-domestic buildings, the principles of Soft Landings can easily be applied in residential projects as well. Setting clear targets at the beginning, planning for gradual handover, and evaluating the operational performance, can bring benefits to the whole project and minimise the performance gap. “There is normally a mismatch between what the designers of [residential] buildings imagined was going to happen and what actually goes on. In some cases, homeowners are not even aware of having certain systems in their homes, let alone how to use them,” said Carrie Behar, an associate at Useful Projects.
Soft Landings requires major change in the way our industry behaves and interacts. It requires and guides towards a collaborative working culture where everyone involved is working towards clear goals. “Although Soft Landings is a process, at its heart, it is actually a mindset,” explained Colin Goodwin, technical director at BSRIA. In agreement with this, Tim Whitehill, managing director of Project Five Consulting, asked: “How many of us enter projects with all of the information we need? How many of us are engaged onto a project early enough to carry out the right amount of planning? How many of us find ourselves waiting for a decision to be made up or down the chain at nearly all stages of a project? In pre-start meetings how many clients ask: ‘When can you start?’ rather than ‘what information do you need to start?’”. He continued: “Collaborative working is an enabler for success - it always has been - for all project delivery models.” But this collaboration should not be limited to clients, designers and constructors. It is also essential to have end users involved in the project. “How do we know people can successfully use our buildings if we don’t ask them?” argued Richard Harper, principal sustainability consultant at Hoare Lea.
Whose responsibility is it to ensure collaboration is maintained throughout the project? Although the obvious answer is ‘everyone’, the Soft Landings Champion plays a vital role in maintaining and promoting the collaborative environment between the project teams throughout. “A Soft Landings Champion should be assigned by the client to lead the Soft Landings process … ideally from inception to post occupancy evaluation,” said Richard Harper.
“Soft Landings can help project teams to deliver more energy efficient and also healthier buildings,” added Krystyna Dawson, commercial director at BSRIA. Soft Landings provides a platform for the project team to better collaborate throughout the project and beyond completion to ensure the final product, i.e. the building is performing to its optimum. This brings benefits to all stakeholders. Barry Morton, director of facilities services at the University of Glasgow, listed the values that Soft Landings brings to their project as: “Reduced operating costs, improved maintainability and continuous improvement.” Christian Dimbleby, associate at Architype, itemised the benefits of adopting Soft Landings in their projects: “Having happy clients, improved designs, creating well-performing buildings, better understanding of challenging briefs, and limited late changes.”
So, now as we have the process and the knowledge on how to deliver better buildings, what is the next step for the UK industry to deliver them? “We need ambitious targets for measured building performance and a clearly defined pathway for achieving Net Zero Carbon. We need greater reporting and better transparency on actual building performance, and we need it for all types of buildings…. we hope to see the introduction of a mandatory Soft Landings approach for all projects,” concluded Andrew Jackson.
The built environment can and must help tackle climate change. However, in such a complex sector challenges are huge and combating them requires collaboration across all disciplines and industry stakeholders. Soft Landings approach is part of the solution.
Dr Milena Stojkovic and Andrew Jackson, Foster + Partners: Soft Landings – A Global Perspective
Dr Carrie Behar, Useful Simple Trust: Scaling Up Soft Landings – Buildings, Estates and Communities
Richard Harper, Hoare Lea: Soft Landings requires a collaborative culture
Tim Whitehill, Project Five Consulting: How to establish a collaborative environment
Barry Morton, University of Glasgow: The benefit of Soft Landings from a client point of view
Christian Dimbleby, Architype: How do you know if your building is performing if you are not checking?
Past Soft Landings conferences
To view past Soft Landings conferences or to download resources, visit the past conferences page.