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Soft Landings Framework publishedJuly 2009

BSRIA and the Usable Buildings Trust published the Soft Landings Framework at the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) luncheon at the House of Commons on 29 June, exactly 12 months after the initiative was first announced.

The Soft Landings Framework is a joint initiative between BSRIA, the Usable Buildings Trust (UBT), and the originator of Soft Landings, Mark Way. Its purpose is to provide the structure for project teams to stay engaged after practical completion, hand-holding the client during the first months of operation to fine-tune and de-bug systems and ensure the occupiers understand how to control and best use their new work environment. The Soft Landings process is designed to extend up to three years post-completion.

The Soft Landings Framework includes procedures and example checklists which act as signposts for design teams to help end-users get to grips with their often unfamiliar and complex buildings. It allows for a full programme of post-occupancy evaluation that the project team can use to improve a building's performance and make it sustainable over the long term.

Soft Landings complements rather than duplicating existing procedures used by the construction industry. Specifically, it has been designed to be the underpinning chassis for environmental assessments like BREEAM and LEED, all forms of energy performance certification, post-occupancy evaluation (POE), building logbooks, green leases, and industry key performance indicators (KPIs).

Rab Bennetts, architect and principal of Bennetts Associates, welcomed the publication of the Framework. "Systematic, post-occupancy evaluation is widely recognised to be a hugely important step in the right direction, but it needs to be linked to a rational methodology for assessing the briefing, design and commissioning stages," he said. "This is where Soft Landings comes into its own, closing the loop between design, construction, operation, feedback and into design again. As the title suggests, the raison-d'être of Soft Landings is to provide better buildings and a more effective service to the client."

The lead author of the Soft Landings Framework, Bill Bordass of the UBT, says that clients have a major role to play in getting their construction teams to adopt Soft Landings. "Soft Landings helps to manage client and design aspirations through the procurement process and on into use," he said. "The result: buildings that perform better with less effort."

BSRIA's Roderic Bunn, project manager of the Soft Landings Framework, said that the time is right for Soft Landings to become routinely adopted by construction clients and their delivery teams.

"For too long we have assumed that new buildings will perform exactly as their design teams intend, from day one of occupation," he said. "However, we know that few new buildings are truly operationally ready at handover, and we also know that energy consumption is often far higher than anticipated. The Soft Landings Framework provides a simple mechanism by which project teams can remain involved after practical completion in order to identify emerging problems, resolve causes of energy wastage, and help the occupants gain full control over the building's environmental systems."

BSRIA and the UBT intend to generate additional guidance to support the Framework, such as guidance for project managers, additional Soft Landings procedures to cover design development, and advice on how to embed Soft Landings in tender documents and terms of appointment, particularly for m&e contractors.

"The latter will be crucial for ensuring that all key members of a delivery team are on board," said Roderic Bunn. "Soft Landings needs to be championed by clients and led by design team principals, but it is also vital to get the specialist contractors engaged with the process, as they design, install and commission the systems that make buildings work."

BSRIA will be launching a Soft Landings User Group in July for early adopters of the Framework to come together and share experiences. The Group will also feed into long-term development of the Framework. Membership of the group will be open to clients, designers and building end-users.

The UBT is now working with BCSE, BSRIA and a team of designers, contractors and project managers to test and demonstrate how the Soft Landings Framework can be applied to schools projects.

For more information contact Roderic Bunn at BSRIA:
T: 01344 465600

Visit BSRIA's Soft Landings web pages to download the Framework and for information about the User Group.

Soft Landings guides

Soft Landings guides including Framework and Core Principles (free download for BSRIA Members)