Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  03 Feb 2009

PROPERTY: Collaboration Minimises Risk


Recent Western Cape Business News

Property developers put sustainable profits at risk if there is insufficient collaboration at the planning stages between architects, developers, engineers and contractors to ensure that the IT and electronic systems, especially the structured cabling infrastructure,  is designed and installed for integrated communications.

Bradley Hemphill, managing director of Cape Town-based Electrical Engineering Solutions, says it is a major challenge to get property owners and developers to appreciate that the structure they are building will have little value in the future if they do not build it with a converged network in place.

Unfortunately, says Hemphill, many property developers and owners overlook the relevance of the Building 2.0 trend because they assume it adds complexity and risk when their focus is on building quickly to save on construction costs. This means they sideline considering the long-term total cost of ownership.

“What they fail to appreciate is that the intelligent backbone of the structure is not easily installed afterwards in a cost effective way as and when the property administrators and tenants ask for it. The space for the cabling, plus the devices that manage the networks, must be drawn into the plans and built into the structure.

“The networks, and the systems and devices that connect to them, must form part of the initial budget. And this is where it sometimes becomes ‘fuzzy’ for developers because it is difficult to predict exactly what technology the future tenants will need.

“But if they decide to install the best-possible intelligent backbone in the building, they will have made an appropriate investment to attract valuable tenants, and continue to meet their growing needs into the future in a mutually beneficial way
“The value proposition exists for all stakeholders, from the developer who saves from a lower capital cost to the operator or tenant who saves from a lower operational cost and to the end user who obtains a better user experience.”

Important issues he stresses are:

Energy information provides building management - via the integrated systems - intelligent energy management, such as monitoring room temperatures in a data centre and turning air conditioners on and off within pre-determined temperature ranges, without the need for human intervention.

Environmental data enables, for example, individually adjusted ambient temperatures for reception areas and offices within the same building.

Maintenance data – gives management the necessary information to be proactive in managing the facilities, such as escalators, access controls, power supply and telecommunications.

Occupancy data – means having at management’s desktops accurate information about interactions with tenants and determining the profitability of rented space and facility usage.

Location data gives accurate information on the whereabouts of company assets and triggers alerts when these assets are moved.


But, adds Hemphill, there is often conflict between the professionals working on building projects because they have differing agendas and no incentive to achieve the integration.

“There is a huge risk to the developers and to the engineering consultants if they opt not to collaborate because the design and implementation of an integrated communications infrastructure is a complex and specialised task. It cannot be achieved in the most cost-efficient and professional way if the consultants work in isolation from each other.

“There must be a concerted effort by all those involved in the construction industry to collaborate from the conceptual stages of a development to ensure all risks from the design through to the sustainability of the buildings are minimised.”

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