In today’s environment, one has expectations that consulting engineers will be environmentally aware, at the cutting edge of technology and have the expertise to present the facts with an air of authority, based on sound research methodology. International engineering and project management consultancy Royal HaskoningDHV is such a consultancy and, lives its motto of ‘enhancing society together’ across all of its activities, as one of South Africa’s leading engineering consultancies.
“Royal HaskoningDHV has recently collaborated on some groundbreaking projects, as a result of our environmental and research expertise and use of advanced technology. Our state-of-the-art ‘iRoom’, where we practice the virtual design and construction (VDC) approach, is an example of our groundbreaking technology, with significant time, and cost, saving implications for infrastructure projects,” says Royal HaskoningDHV director business unit – buildings SF van der Linde.
A typical part of process activities in the integrated concurrent engineering (ICE) sessions, which take place in the iRoom, is to detect clash hot-spots as part of a virtual process of managing the design and construction progress and programme. Recently, a R100-million educational infrastructure project was designed and produced in the iRoom up to procurement stage in a mere six weeks – a scheduled time saving of about 50%.
“In the green building rating arena we have collaborated with the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) on the development of an existing building performance rating tool to assist in the environmental reconfiguration of established buildings. We also contribute to the wider environmental arena and we were proud to be awarded the tender to assist the national Department of Environmental Affairs in preparation for the South African Environment Outlook report, based on our extensive and well recognised research abilities,” says van der Linde.
Royal HaskoningDHV, has dedicated business units that cover industry sectors such as aviation, water, transport, rail and logistics, industry energy and mining, project and asset management. The buildings unit includes all the engineering disciplines (mechanical, structural, electronics, electrical, civils, architects and quantity surveyors) as full-time resources. The buildings unit operates within the public and private sector and has a strategic focus on industrial projects, such as cleanrooms technology and design for the pharmaceutical sector; food and beverage; automotive and office blocks. In the parastatal sector, the company focuses on education (universities), which has been identified as a growth market, and have completed projects for the South African Reserve Bank and government sector work, throughout all tiers of government.
Van der Linde comments: “We believe that the current focus on infrastructure sustainability, energy efficiencies and greening of existing buildings creates a growing opportunity for us because of its multi-disciplinary approach - we offer that approach, it fits our profile well and it matches our corporate philosophy of ‘enhancing society together’ ”.
Existing Building Performance Rating Tool
Royal HaskoningDHV was appointed as lead technical consultants by the GBCSA in the development of the Green Star SA Existing Building Performance Tool, which was launched on October 16, at the GBCSA Convention in Cape Town. The pilot programme for the existing building performance rating tool will run throughout 2014 on 50 buildings.
The tool was developed by Royal HaskoningDHV, in collaboration with GBCSA technical staff, a technical working group that consisted of volunteer industry representatives, as well as specialist sub-contractor Ecocentric, who has experience in certifying US-accreditation leadership in energy and environmental design (LEED) for existing buildings operations and maintenance projects. The GBCSA will work closely with owners of selected buildings to test the pilot rating tool thoroughly. These buildings will ultimately receive the appropriate certification.
Royal HaskoningDHV architect and Green Star SA AP Mauritz Kruger tells Engineering News that launching the existing building performance rating tool at the Cape Town convention highlighted the effort South Africa is putting into ensuring its buildings are environmentally friendly, whether new or existing buildings.
“We also underscored our integrated green building and facilities management expertise in this sector. The development of the existing building performance rating tool started with a framework of credits covering nine categories. Individual credits had to be determined, and we researched other international examples of similar tools from LEED and UK-accreditation BREEAM-IN-USE, as well as Green Star Australia.
“Certainly from the perspective of LEED certifications, existing building ratings, in operation since 2009, outstrip those of new buildings in the USA. There is an ever-growing awareness that those who own investment grade property can increase the value of their portfolios by making these buildings high performance and that their buildings will in fact, appreciate in value, as a result of energy efficient performance measurement credits,” he notes.
“Previous Green Star SA rating tools had focused entirely on new buildings, but with existing building stock making up nearly 98% of all buildings, it became paramount that the development of a performance rating tool was needed to measure the environmental performance of existing buildings. It is estimated that 40% of worldwide energy use, can be attributed to buildings. Only 2% of existing building stock are new buildings, so it made sense to look more closely at existing building stock to achieve energy savings and thereby reduce the impact on the environment further,” Royal HaskoningDHV asset management consultant Lungelo Thabethe comments.
Some of the benefits for existing buildings to be environmentally performance rated include: reduced operational costs; a rental premium for high performance buildings; improved indoor environment quality; creation of a healthier working environment; a more desirable working location, resulting in higher client demand; superior building management practices, which obviously impact upon running costs.
With the increased global emphasis on carbon emissions, carbon taxes, the environmental impact of industry, energy costs and wastage, the swing to being ‘green, greener, greenest’ has taken on a whole new importance to more than just a select few.
Thabethe adds that the investment of greening existing buildings can be coasted over a certain time-frame. Some existing buildings will be cheaper to green than others, depending on the design, equipment, machinery and products previously installed, as well as the size and orientation of the building.
“The existing building performance rating tool does not just focus on the retrofits that have a monetary value to creating a more environmentally better performing building, it also focuses on how the building is operated and managed by facility managers.
“So the tool will, for example, recognise and reward building management-practices that enhance environmental performance through correct application of maintenance contract guides, policies, plans and programmes for maintenance, ensuring that the building can be operated, maintained and managed in an environmentally sustainable manner. It also looks at the procurement of products that are utilised within the building, so that environmentally preferable products are highlighted through this tool. It becomes a ‘best practice tool’ through its implementation,” he says.
Universities are an important focus in the existing building sector, most of which receive government subsidies that cannot be used for operational costs. With spiralling energy costs and, increased student traffic, universities should be looking at ways to reduce their operational costs and to greening their campuses and lecture facilities to create healthier learning environments. The existing building performance rating tool will assist in identifying where energy wastage is present, and how it can be converted to a more efficiently run operation through better product usage, operational installations running more economically and better campus facility management.
One cannot merely build another university, but one can make existing facilities perform at an environmentally optimised level and be more cost effective and greener. Royal HaskoningDHV was recently appointed for the design, documentation, tender and contract administration for all the engineering services at UNISA’s new laboratories at their Florida Campus, near Roodepoort, making it one of the most advanced learning facilities on the African continent.
Kruger adds: “We are extremely proud of our green building credentials and of being selected as the lead technical consultants for the GBCSA existing building performance rating tool project. We believe we bring immense expertise and impeccable credentials to the green environment and sustainability sector. It is a like a journey, building owners can start to make a commitment to becoming more environmentally friendly and achieve a one, two or three Green Star rating, and progress to four Green Stars indicating best practices are being implemented, and onwards to five and six Green Stars reflecting a world environmental leadership role.
“The Green Star Certifications are valid for three years, and one reapplies for a recertification to maintain, or seek a higher, Green Star rating based on building performance measurements. There is a realisation that we can improve our environment little-by-little if we change our mindset and embrace greener building and working options. Those initial steps will evolve into ground breaking change and contribute to a healthier environment for all,” he says.
Royal HaskoningDHV will be conducting a series of workshops, courses, lectures and interfaces to assist in the understanding of the applications of this new Existing Building Performance Rating Tool to professional colleagues, property and building owners, educational institutions and other interested parties.
Cutting Edge Technology for Engineering Projects
Imagine constructing a complex building using conventional design and coordination processes, generally resulting in multiple service clashes. This normally results in a spiralling list of ‘requests for information’, additional costs and increased frequency of coordination meetings. The number of clashes and additional costs can be drastically reduced through the virtual design and construction (VDC) process which Royal HaskoningDHV has adopted.
The VDC process is practised in the iRoom, equipped with the latest building information modelling technology and associated software. The VDC approach has been practised in the fully equipped iRoom for the past 12 months at Royal HaskoningDHV’s premises in Monument Park, near Pretoria.
“Welcome to the future” says Royal HaskoningDHV VDC facilitator and architect Danie Markgraaff. “Welcome to the world of VDC, a first for South Africa , and set in our ‘iRoom’ – our Integration Room - which offers all the decision makers of a project the opportunity to participate together, right from the prepurchase of land stage through to project completion,” he says.
“The advantages of using our VDC technology are that it offers immediate simulated resolutions to complex project issues in the iRoom before going to site. The process enables all members of the project including the client, engineers, town planners and the architects - all the decision makers - to come together and discuss the project elements, complexities, calculate project variables and adjust specifications based on a joint sharing of expertise. The VDC technology constructs three-dimensional (3D) and four-dimensional models of buildings and infrastructure, using interactive smart boards, personal computers and the relevant design software.
“Gone are the individually scheduled meetings, reviewing clash conflicts on site, sending plans back and forth to resolve clashes – such as cabling and pipe work laid out incorrectly along with the associated delays that these activities can incur – not to mention the additional costs. VDC assists in eliminating the need for a rework based on miscommunication between the project professionals working in isolation – because they now work in ‘integration’.
Royal HaskoningDHV principal in charge, buildings, Western Cape Hubert van Zandvoort adds that the contract to design the new laboratories at the UNISA Campus, in Florida, was awarded to us owing to the complexity of the project and the fact that we had already undertaken similar work. Royal HaskoningDHV implemented the VDC methodology and Revit 3D modelling software that assisted in minimising construction risks by addressing design elements in the iRoom before they became evident onsite during construction. With a project of this complexity, for example, one could expect up to 5 000 clashes – we reduced this to less than 50 clashes in various areas of the building, by using our Revit 3D software which is a huge improvement in the reduction of downtime”.
Markgraaff adds that the VDC methodology and iRoom technology is also valuable in the prepurchase stage of land for development.
“We can convene the developers, civil engineers, architects and local authority specialists together in the iRoom, using applications such as Google Earth to view the relevant property and associated infrastructure, soil conditions, and waterways.
“The professionals can place their comments of expertise onto the smart boards for discussion and debate, and determine the way forward in a single iRoom session. So if a developer wishes to construct a multi level mall, and the local town planner identifies issues that need to be resolved, the 3D design model can be adjusted in real time. On a very complex project multiple sessions in the iRoom would have been required weekly, depending on the critical path requirements. Conventional methods used would cost the consultant and client much more in the loss of time and rework,” he notes.
The VDC methodology reverses the current trend of non-face-to-face communication, and encourages interaction by all project stakeholders. It affords delegates immediate decision making processes and eliminates the latency factor so prevalent in the engineering sector at present. All of the work conducted in the iRoom is recorded and saved to a design web format or portable document files, ensuring that the working file is always current. The savings in time from using this technology varies, depending on the project size and complexity but it is
estimated that it could be between 10% to 25% compared to the conventional approach.
“It is the intention of Royal HaskoningDHV to roll-out the VDC process as the preferred methodology in design and construction, using the well-equipped iRoom throughout their network. They have also considered the positive implications for using this technology in remote areas of the African continent where distances are great, facilities are sparse and there is a need to cut project costs. In time, the VDC technology and iRoom facility will be used remotely from one iRoom to another iRoom, with huge savings on time and accommodation/travel costs for all concerned,” says Van Zandvoort.
“A large benefit of the iRoom and VDC offering is that one can get all of the service coordination done, upfront, before fruitless expenses and costs are incurred. It also reduces the design and construction period which in turn result in significant savings for the owners. Although it will never eliminate all clashes, the technology will ensure significant reduction in clashes and minor conflicts might remain on complex projects.
“This technology affords us with a better way of going through the design and construction process, a way of improving communications, cost controls, programme and quality controls on any design and construction programme. Clients can increase the profitability of their projects through the methodologies that we offer. The client is a valued and an integral part of the process. The client becomes part of the solution for their own project, by being part of the team from start to finish” says Markgraaff.
Environmental outlook reports are a body of research that assist decision makers in planning the way forward, evaluating their past performance and reviewing environmental trends. Royal HaskoningDHV has been involved in the development of three provincial environmental outlook reports, including Gauteng, the Western Cape and are currently busy with a report for the North West Province.
“We are proud of our track record in producing provincial environmental outlook reports for three provinces. We were awarded the individual tenders for the compilation of the PEO’s, including the project management, specialist contributions, stakeholder engagement, integrative report writing and publication” says Royal HaskoningDHV Principal: strategic and sustainability services Janet Loubser.
“The information that we include in these reports goes beyond a mere description of the conditions of environment, and includes a set of indicators that report on environmental conditions and trends, pressures and management effectiveness. The report is structured in terms of the DPSIR framework comprising drivers, pressures, the state, impact and responses. The ability to establish progress, failures or trends is easily tracked across all the environmental aspects reported on, as each report is reviewed and updated every five years, and therefore comparison over time is evident,” she adds.
“We were also appointed to prepare the national South African Environmental Outlook (SAEO), of which three of the nine specialised technical chapters were authored by our staff. These included the topics of inland water, air quality, and oceans and coasts. We were also subsequently commissioned to do the integrative writing and prepare the final consolidated SAEO.
“The findings and trends contained in the national report will be used as report card to measure progress towards sustainable resource management and ecological resilience. The research that we were commissioned to do will highlight our broad spectrum of expertise, and has certainly created a greater awareness of our abilities within the environmental and sustainability reporting field,” concludes Loubser.
These environmental outlook reports are available to decision makers in all spheres of government, professionals, schools and tertiary academic institutions, NGOs and the public and are regarded as sector benchmarks. In addition to these strategic environmental appointments, we also undertake environmental impact assessments, environmental screening and social impact assessments prior to project implementation as well as disaster management, in addition to other related industry research and impact assessments. The company has considerable experience in integrated environmental authorisation processes.
“We offer advanced technologies, software and research that can be applied across all spectrums of industry and government operations. We are at the cutting edge of the way forward. We can offer our clients a journey they will wish to embark upon – simply because we believe in it,” concludes Van der Linde.