What is the extent of collaboration involving FM during the pre-design and design stages of a project in Saudi Arabia to ensure an integrated project development approach for translating building performance objectives into reality?
According to the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), facility management (FM) is defined as “a profession that encompasses multiple disciplines to ensure functionality of the built environment by integrating people, place, processes and technology”.
So, in Saudi Arabia, there is growing emphasis on the value of FM in the design of a facility, taking into account the operational requirements for maintenance, the needs of users and considerations around how the space is used, especially in big constructions projects.
So, the involvement of the facility manager during the design [stage] is a systematic process that includes design review, installation verification, proper system start-ups, functional performance tests, operations and maintenance training and complete documentation of the installed systems.
Involving FM early and often in the design-assist phase of construction is the key to extending the operational lifecycle of the commercial building and to ensure the integration is as expected to support users.
There should be an integrated data source, providing information support for the building lifecycle. It is envisaged that Building Information Modelling (BIM) would fill the gap by acting as a visual model and a database throughout the building lifecycle.
The benefits of the involvement of facilities manager in the design process include lower cost of procurement due to reduction in design alteration and rework. A sustainable approach is important to ensure the build environment does not harm the natural environment and to reduce efforts and increase cost-effectiveness of maintenance during the operational phase of facilities.
As the operational phase of a building is longer and more cost-intensive, FM is involved and engaged early in the design phase of commercial projects in Saudi Arabia. Due to innovations in technology and energy efficiency for commercial buildings, the structure becomes more intricate in its mechanical, lighting and control systems.
To sum up, in recent years, and particularly since 2014, the triggers for FM’s earliest possible involvement have been in place. So, there is no absence of involvement, especially in the case of big projects. The number of qualified Saudis and professional training for FM has increased. Today, there is awareness of the importance of FM and the role FM handles in increasing the lifecycle of a building.
Is the change you see owing to the iterative knowledge that FM personnel bring to the table?
Yes, the change is happening, and the important role of FM in any organisation has been noticed. FM adds value and focus to increase the building’s lifecycle, and to reduce and optimise the cost during construction and in the post-construction phase.
How much does cost influence the decision to hire FM resources at a very early stage of a project?
The decision to hire FM at the early stage is not easy, because the top management is slow in realising the importance of FM. If not hired early, the cost will be high in the final stage of the project as well as during the occupancy stage, as you would have to undertake re-work and place special order for materials required.
By and large, are FM teams in Saudi Arabia trained to properly and comprehensively handle specialized HVAC functions in a building, including BMS?
Yes , there are trained in handling HVAC chillers with air-handling units in towers and malls. These equipment are integrated to the BMS, which is required to manage and control all the systems. Today, we are seeing AI for controlling building systems.
What is the range and depth of training in your organization?
The training at our organization is very wide; and for this, we have allocated a decent budget to especially improve the technical skills.
Are there any instances of RMS in managing assets in Saudi Arabia, in collaboration with telecom providers, or is the process viewed as complicated?
Remote Monitoring System in Saudi Arabia is available and working well, especially after the shift in telecom companies to become total solutions companies. They offer a variety of ICT solutions and digital services in several categories, including telecommunication, IT, financial technology, digital media, cybersecurity and other advanced digital solutions.
What is the uptake of cloud, IoT and AI-based solutions for managing assets and improving energy efficiency with a view to lower total cost of ownership and indirect emissions, optimising water use and improving indoor air quality?
Real evidence shows that AI, IoT and cloud are already driving a major shift in the global approach to managing assets and sustainability. The technologies will improve the controlling of the building systems, thus increase the lifecycle of buildings as well as TCO.
They are keys components of the infrastructure of smart sustainable cities as an emerging urban development approach due to the great potential to advance environmental sustainability. IoT and AI are associated with big data analytics, which is clearly on a penetrative path across many urban domains for optimising energy efficiency and mitigating environmental effects. This pertains mainly to the effective utilisation of natural resources, the intelligent management of infrastructures and facilities, and the enhanced delivery of services in support of the environment. As such, the IoT and related big data applications can play a key role in catalysing and improving the process of environmentally sustainable development.
AI will support low-carbon energy systems with high integration of renewable energy and energy efficiency, which are all needed to address climate change. AI can also be used to help improve the health of ecosystems.
What has the pandemic taught FM teams and building owners in Saudi Arabia in terms of the need to enhance IAQ? Is there a call for introducing more fresh air changes per hour (more than the specified minimum by, say, ASHRAE, enhancing air filtration, paying attention to humidification (40-60% RH) and proper cleaning of coils and ducting systems? Or, are these largely being applied only in healthcare centres?
IAQ is marked by sufficient level of fresh air and minimal level of harmful gases and pollutants. So, there are threats to IAQ from outside and inside, as well. From outside, pollutants in the ambient can be drawn into the facilities. From Inside, HVAC system can contribute to poor IAQ by providing insufficient supplies of fresh air and inadequate air filtration of dust, spores , bacteria and viruses. Promoting the growth of mould by operating at inappropriate levels of humidity is an issue. Humidity above 60% can contribute to mould and microbial growth.
To Improve the IAQ, we need to use demand-controlled ventilation, CO2 sensors and automated air-handling systems. We must be aware that low-efficiency filters – for example, less than MERV 8, according to ASHRAE Standard 52.2 or less than ePM2.5 20%, according to ISO 16890-1:2016 – are very unlikely to make a difference when it comes to improving IAQ.
A properly designed and maintained ultraviolet (UV) lamps system, often in concert with filtration, humidity control and airflow management, has been shown to reduce infections from other viruses. The details of the system are very important – for example, the design of fixtures, lamp type, lamp placement, airflow amount and mixing. Simply adding UV to an existing system without consideration of these factors has not shown any demonstrable benefit.
Hospitals and many other healthcare facilities have specially designed mechanical systems that can accommodate the levels of filtration that they need. They often rely on other systems and control strategies – for example, UV lamps, humidity control and airflow management – to maximise the benefit from filtration. Most importantly, they have dedicated staff who operate and maintain this equipment so that it provides maximal benefit.
What specifically would your be presenting during The Big 5 Digital Festival?
My presentation is titled ‘The need for Facilities Management Strategy & Budgeting in an organization’. As the fast-paced Fourth Industrial Revolution dawns on us, the effective maintenance and management of a facility are becoming increasingly important. Buildings are getting smarter, and technology is getting more sophisticated, which needs to be managed effectively to avoid business disruption and to effectively leverage data insights. Facilities managers are generally responsible for ensuring everything to do with the physical infrastructure of the business is running as it should, as well as identifying areas for greater efficiency and cost-saving.
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