Windows on a tall building with blue sky on the horizon
Peter Hartmann,

Lifecycle Cost of Buildings

The fact that the construction costs of a building are sometimes higher than forecast is nothing new. Much more difficult to determine and compare, however, are the operating costs over the building’s lifecycle. This is where incorporating forward-looking facility management and standardised calculation models can really save a lot of money.

The bravest window cleaners in the world keep the Burj Khalifa clean

With 828 meters to the top of its antenna, the building is ultra-modern in the truest sense of the word. However, its exterior cleaning concept is, let's say... more traditional. Armed only with a bucket and a squeegee, cleaning crews shimmy down long climbing ropes from a dizzying height. It is not particularly safe or efficient: a 36-man team takes around three months to clean the skyscraper's 24 348 windows... and then start over again.

How a building is constructed influences how easy it is to operate

We can learn from this: How a building is constructed has a decisive influence on how easy or cumbersome it will be to operate later, and how high its operating costs will be. “That is all the more important when you consider that around 80 percent of the total expenditures in the lifecycle of a hotel relate to operating costs," explains Prof. Dr. Andrea Pelzeter, Head of Facility Management at the Berlin School of Economics and Law, and author of Life Cycle Management of Real Estate.

Established models calculate and compare lifecycle costs of buildings

To help calculate and understand the lifecycle costs of buildings, an Excel-based calculation model created by the German Facility Management Association (GEFMA) and the International Facility Association Switzerland (IFMA) as part of the joint GEFMA / IFMA 220 guideline can be used. For the first time, there is a cross-border standard with which the lifecycle costs of real estate can be determined and compared.

The calculation is worthwhile, both for new buildings and for assessing renovation needs for older buildings. The standardized model can be used, for example, to determine when the photovoltaic system on the roof will pay for itself, whether a low or zero energy design makes sense - or whether the cleaning costs on the facade can be reduced with working platforms.

The best lifecycle models also include other factors, such as whether the cleaning concept needs to be brought in-line with the local occupational health and safety regulations, or which environmental regulations must be observed.

“It’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.“

However, you don't have to be Niels Bohr to foresee that cooling and air conditioning will evolve into ever more important cost factors in the face of rising average temperatures in summer. If you want to plan ahead, you need a trustworthy partner who has experience in the long-term operation of buildings, and this partner needs to be onboard as early as possible.

Caverion is a trusted advisor for planning and facility management

At Caverion, we are often involved in planning as well as facility management. We can make recommendations based on our wealth of experience, such as centralised building management and remote maintenance opportunities. We advise on what makes sense to install, and what can lead to a false economy.

The demand for comfort and efficiency have risen continuously over the past decades, and the right technology in the right place saves significant energy and personnel costs over the years. Often, a thorough renovation of a building is a better, more sustainable, and ultimately cheaper solution than demolition and new construction.

Anyone planning usable space in buildings today has almost endless options - but also just as many specifications and restrictions. Finding the most cost-efficient long-term solution remains a complicated optimization task in which we will support you as much as we can. As a facility manager, we find out every day where operating costs arise and can make practical, cost-saving recommendations based on data.

Not only for cleaning the windows.


This artcile was first posted on 10.05.2021 on our German blog.

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