Sustainable building opens up a new world to QSs

by Tania Wannenburg
Sustainable building opens

The increased focus on sustainable building places confronts QSs with new challenges, but also new business opportunities.

The days of quantity surveyors mainly focusing on cost control in the building environment are over, according to Dr Deen Letchmiah, board member of the Association of South African Quantity Surveyors (ASAQS).

“Modern quantity surveyors need to consider the driving forces of the green environment in which they operate. They need to be holistic in thought and execution to drive sustainability directives and realise that all components of infrastructural development and operations must be reviewed to provide sustainable solutions,” he stated at the ASAQS “Building on Sunshine” seminar.

Dr Letchmiah is also the chief executive officer of the LDM Group and represents ASAQS on the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).

New challenges and opportunities
The increasing emphasis on sustainable construction has placed new and unprecedented responsibilities on the shoulders of the quantity surveying profession, but has also created important new opportunities.

“New services can now be offered to clients, such as analysing and advising on green capital costs, promoting the benefits of lifecycle management, green financing and green leases, and cost-effective sustainable strategies. Property performance appraisals, value management and engineering solutions, as well as the use of information technology such as building management systems and information models, will now all form part of the services a QS can offer clients,” Dr Letchmiah pointed out.

Lifecycle costing and facilities management, in particular, were two services Dr Letchmiah believes quantity surveyors could specialise in to achieve sustainable building.

“Lifecycle costing includes the purchase price, installation and operational costs, maintenance and upgrading costs, and the remaining value at the end of ownership of the commodity in question – in other words, the total cost of ownership.”

Bigger role in facilities management
Dr Letchmiah also urged quantity surveyors to play a bigger role in facilities management with some of the core skills including:    
•    Construction, building technology and maintenance costs.
•    Estimating and budgeting.
•    Cost control and reporting.
•    Managing building operations.
•    Lifecycle costs.
•    Understanding building components and functionality.
•    Procuring goods, services and leases.
•    Managing contracts and sub-contracts.
•    Understanding building management systems.
•    Integrating information and management systems.

“The Green Revolution is not a fad, and the roles of building industry professionals are changing rapidly. An integrated design process is required and for the quantity surveying profession there is the opportunity to stimulate change,” Dr Letchmiah added.

In closing, Larry Feinberg, executive director of ASAQS, noted that industry was South Africa’s largest polluter and that the quantity surveying profession would in future have to strongly consider the environmental responsibility and carbon footprint of all companies that form part of the building supply chain.

ASAQS is currently conducting an in-depth and ongoing research study for the GBCSA on the comparative costs of green and conventional design and construction.

ASAQS Midrand
Tel: 011 315 4140
Website: www.asaqs.co.za

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