Since the end of lockdowns, most businesses are still striving to bring their staff back into the office to allow for greater collaboration, less burnout, and less isolation.
To attract greater office occupancy, an effective measure that employers might consider is redesigning their tenancy to better suit the specific needs of their employees. This is called an office fit-out. But how might the process of restructuring the floor plan impact the building itself?
Any modifications to the services and office layout could affect the thermal comfort, energy and water ratings or even the reputation of the building. For a building owner, these concerns are valid unless the operation team has implemented a thorough process of reviewing the proposed fit-out.
What Does a Fit-Out Review Involve?
A fit-out review comprises a detailed analysis of the risks and challenges associated with tenant fit-outs. To undertake this analysis, it is best to seek advice from a sustainability advisor who is familiar with the building and some of its latent conditions. The overall goal of the owner is to ensure the base building performance is not compromised and the tenant’s wellbeing is not negatively impacted and still meeting tenant business objectives.
The review in general focuses on adherence of the fit-out work to the building guidelines by reviewing all services that were modified as part of the work. That includes Mechanical and BMS, Electrical, Hydraulic fire and even architectural design to ensure that fit-out works have no adverse impact on base building operations. Base building operations are the services provided by the landlord to all tenants across the building.
Is it Needed?
If building owners are not performing a detailed fit-out review, modifications to the existing spaces may create changes to the building, ultimately affecting the overall operation and resulting in reduced performance from a NABERS perspective as well as impacting comfort condition through the buildings even on the floors that were not affected by the fit-out works. Below are some key factors that a fit-out review identifies:
Detrimental Layout Design
If the layout isn’t adequately designed, it could become dysfunctional for end-users, impacting their efficiency and willingness to stay in the office, especially during the working from home era. The occupant experience might be affected if the HVAC isn’t providing adequate comfort conditions, regulated airflow and natural lighting. Decreased tenant satisfaction might affect the reputation of the owner, as tenants suffer from a lack of fresh air and the possibility of fatigue.
One dissatisfied tenant can cause a lot of harm and impact the owner’s ability to let the space in the future. This is especially evident in the current market when relatively high vacancy rates are predicted and more and more businesses reduce their spaces due to working-from-home policies.
Exceeding Base Building Capabilities
Without a review, the fit-out can become a significant risk to the tenants completing the work as well as other tenants occupying the building. Apart from the structural modifications, which are assessed by the building surveyor, part of the review also analyses the impact of the proposed work on building services. The most common issues include surpassing building allowances.
This can be in relation to fresh air supply, condenser water, power and heating and cooling loads. Failing to contain these services during the design phase can affect the tenant experience. Poor ventilation, shortage of power and possible leakage in the building might cause ongoing complaints and disputes.
As most of the building has a vertical delivery of air conditioning to the floors, one incorrectly designed tenancy may have a huge impact on the overall controllability of the building assets. This results in excessive energy and water usage that in the long term, will be impacting the sustainability of the building.
Common examples where fit-out works contribute to excessive energy usage of the base building are: high-density working space layouts that lead to the formation of hot spots, incorrect temperature sensor locations or affecting the return air paths.
Benefits of a Fit-Out Review
Strengthens Owner Reputation
Employing an effective review will mitigate all kinds of risks, ensure stakeholder satisfaction, and strengthen the owner’s reputation by demonstrating consideration of tenants, and a high NABERS rating showcasing
By ensuring that the base building services will be able to provide comfortable conditions without impacting the energy and water efficiency of the asset, building owners can diminish the risk of tenant dissatisfaction. A sustainability advisor will identify the spaces that might need redesigning and advise tenants on the best practices that can boost their experience.
Minimises Impact on Base Building
Before tenants make changes to their floor, a fit-out review will assess the impact of the changes and analyse any potential deviation from the building guidelines. If the fit-out meets the building guidelines and doesn’t impact the operations of the base building, the building owner can approve the changes.
It is understandable that in certain situations the landlord will be willing to find an agreement with the tenants even when some noncompliance is still present in the design. However, by undertaking a thorough review, the landlord will fully understand the risk and impact of the proposed modification which will help them to make the final decision based on facts and merits rather than making blind assumptions.
Reduces Carbon Emissions
A thorough fit-out review can also analyse the impact of the work on the building’s entire energy consumption and its impact on the carbon footprint of the asset. This might be a perfect opportunity to work with the tenant to align both business aspirations and implement the measures that will help achieve net zero emissions.
How Conservia Can Help
At Conservia, we work closely and collaboratively with our clients to achieve cost-effective sustainability results that don’t impact the overall building operations. We provide expert-driven fit-out reviews that ensure no impact on the base building operations, enhanced energy efficiency, and increased tenant satisfaction. We also continue providing ongoing support and advisory services to ensure the best energy efficiency outcomes. Get in touch with us today to learn more.
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