BSRIA’s Dr Michelle Agha-Hossein asks why don’t we all have regular checks for our buildings like we do with our cars?

A new pilot scheme developed by BSRIA (Building Services Research and Information Association) seeks to provide building operators with the skills and tools necessary to control and manage their buildings efficiently and sustainably.

BSRIA Building MOTs Scheme enables organisations to collect useful information in a systematic way that can then be used to identify immediate improvement strategies that focus on the buildings themselves, the people using the space, and the connection between the two.

Wellbeing

The wellbeing of occupants is increasingly becoming an important factor in our built environment, especially as outdoor air quality is still so poor in many of our towns and cities.  In addition to facing continual operating cost pressures and energy saving legislation, building operators are now also being asked to factor in human comfort and wellbeing.

The WELL Building Standard for example is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and wellbeing, administered by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI).

Launched in 2014, more than 300 projects encompassing 60 million square feet are now registered or certified under the WELL Building Standard in 27 countries, and this is slowly starting to gain traction here in the UK.

MOT scheme

The development of the MOT scheme has been led by Dr Michelle Agha-Hossein, Sustainable Building Consultant for BSRIA’s Sustainable Construction Group.  The team have developed the scope of the scheme to cover new-build, refurbishments and existing buildings.

Designed to give building owners and operators guidance on what steps they can take to improve things, the first version of the scheme, which will focus specifically on offices, will be published later in 2018. 

It will look at all elements of the building’s operational aspects that have the potential to affect occupants’ safety and wellbeing and that can be managed and controlled by building operators.

These operational aspects will be evaluated through 80 distinct features – identified through literature reviews and a series of workshops with high-profile academics as well as a number of industry professionals.

Three main categories

BSRIA has grouped these features in the scheme within three main categories:

  • Physical category which covers indoor environmental quality factors as well as the features associated with the safety of the building.

  • Functional category which concerns the features that can affect the efficiency of the operational performance of the building as well as the occupants’ performance.

  • Psychological category which refers to the features that affect occupants’ mental health and happiness.

The scheme is designed to enable the building operators to ensure the objectives of the building regulations are met and retained throughout the building life.

It also emphasises how to drive a culture of continuous improvement towards leading industry practice. This will give the owners, tenants and occupants in general the peace of mind that their building provides a safe, healthy and comfortable working environment.

This scheme is structured so that buildings can be easily audited and could be applied to all types of buildings. Tailored versions of the Scheme to suit other types of building will come later.

Field trials are taking place over the next couple of months to test the standard and subject to a successful completion, BSRIA will then be looking to make an official industry launch.

If you would like more information about the scheme and how you might be able to get involved, please email michelle.agha-hossein@bsria.co.uk.

BSRIA is the test, instruments, research and consultancy organisation in construction and building services.