Nicky Dobreanu will be speaking at Windows, Doors and Facades Event next September. He shared with us some insight on the top trends in the facades industry. He is the Senior Quantity Surveyor at C-Quest a division of KEO International Consultants and will be presenting the key note for Procurement of Cost Efficient Facade systems and a panel discussion on Advancements in boosting Building Envelope Performance.
How does one bridge the gap between selection decisions of façade systems at the early design phase?
Decisions taken early in the project lifecycle, based on the client’s needs and expectations - including scope, time, and cost - have a significant impact on the successful delivery of a project. Postponing such decisions until later in the project lifecycle will not help anyone. Minor cost savings may be achieved in the later design stages through reactive approaches such as value engineering or – even worse – de-scoping or cost cutting. Successful project delivery is based on an informed, early decision-making process embedded in the project’s DNA.
Key to selection of the optimum façade systems for a building is to involve a façade consultant and/or a specialist façade subcontractor. The optimum façade system selection will consider aspects such as the building type (residential, commercial, industrial, hotel, retail, carpark etc.), massing (a term in architecture which refers to the perception of the general shape and form, as well as size of a building), orientation (the way a building is situated on a site and the positioning of windows, rooflines, and other features), and space planning (used to determine how a space should be laid out and used with a view to improve the wellbeing and productivity of its occupants).
It is vital for façades to be in sync with the building physics, and this includes, but is not limited to, accommodating structural movements, providing weather protection and responding to varying temperatures. Such aspects may then be fine-tuned based on the design intent (exterior aesthetics / interior experience), building performance (energy efficiency, occupant comfort / productivity, ventilation, drainage, daylight, long term commercial benefits), operation and maintenance (cleaning, panel replacement, pest control), and – last, but not least – cost.
A classification of technical terms / concepts across the various façade systems’ vendors will facilitate a comprehensive comparison of façade performance levels and inform decisions that would ideally be taken as early as feasible in the design process (e.g. concept design).
It may be difficult for clients and non-construction professionals to read technical drawings, and being able to provide good visualisation data by means of renders, elevations, 3D models, virtual / augmented reality etc. will facilitate decisions to be made by the client and end users without having to navigate the unfriendly language of two-dimensional construction drawings. The focus of Building Information Modelling (BIM) adoption has been to create coordinated design information that can also aid in predicting performance, appearance and cost, while reducing waste and the environmental impact.
Many clients and design teams still focus more on the capital expenditure (project delivery costs), and many contracts include clauses such as “design to cost”. However, more informed clients and professionals have understood that the measure of how successful a project was, in fact, is when the delivery cycle is completed, and the operational expenditure starts, bearing in mind that most buildings are designed for a relatively long life expectancy when compared to the time necessary to construct such buildings.
What are the top 5 high performance and cost-effective façade solutions?
High performance building façades are defined as comprehensive systems that incorporate daylighting, solar heat-gain control, ventilation, and space conditioning.
Typically, such façades provide:
1. Enhanced sun protection and cooling-load control, increased thermal comfort, and ample daylighting;
2. Improved air quality and reduced cooling loads using natural ventilation schemes, employing the façade as an active air-control element;
3. Reduced operating costs via daylighting-thermal tradeoffs, minimizing lighting, cooling, and heating;
4. Improved indoor environments leading to enhanced occupant health, comfort, and performance.
High performance also implies the application of technology in terms of a time-tested product or system that is delivered as a result of an established design process, use of design tools (software), and has undergone numerous performance assessments and appeared in case studies. This does not usually result in a cost-effective solution.
1. Conventional blockwork, plaster and paint with windows (the most cost-effective façade solution, in terms of Capital Expenditure or CapEx);
2. EIFS Extrenal Insulation and Finish Systems (non-load bearing building cladding systems that provides exterior walls with an insulated, water-resistant, finished surface in an integrated composite material system);
3. Window wall system (achieved by placing glazing between a building’s concrete slabs, using the slabs as structural support and installed from the inside of a building, which is a safer, more efficient and more cost-effective solution);
4. Continuous stick curtain wall system (consisting of curtain wall frame verticals called mullions and glass or opaque panels usually fabricated and shipped to the job site, then installed and connected piece by piece);
5. Continuous unitized curtain wall system (systems comprised of large units that are assembled and glazed in the factory, then shipped to the job site and erected on the building façade; the vertical and horizontal modules mate and stack together to create a complete system; cranes are most often used to install these systems as modules can be one story tall and 1.5 - 1.8 meters wide).
Depending on the building height, massing / configuration, and considering the building life cycle costs (instead of solely focusing of the capital expenditure), the order of arrangement indicated above can vary.
What are today’s top 3 trends in the façades industry?
The main trend in design industry at the moment is represented by Building Information Modelling (BIM).
BIM represents an integrated process built on coordinated, reliable information, used to:
1. Create coordinated, digital design information and documentation;
2. Predict performance, appearance, and cost;
3. Deliver projects faster, more economically, and with a reduced environmental impact.
Other current trends include freeform / flexible shapes and large vision glass panels which can either facilitate unhindered views or provide a transparent media facade that is highly versatile and can be implemented by means of horizontal, vertical or individual free style is made possible by the perfect integration of such display into the architecture of buildings.
Lastly, façade systems’ vendors continuously research and develop products with enhanced performance; this represents a constant demand, as it improves the product value in commercial terms - buyers are more and more conscious about running costs and this is fueled by impressive concepts and claims from designers and manufacturers in terms of ventilation, weather protection, dynamic shading, daylighting etc., all of which assist in a more cost-efficient building operation.
About Nicky Dobreanu:
Nicky works as a chartered quantity surveyor (MRICS) for C-Quest, a division of KEO International Consultants; he has a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering, a Bachelor’s Degree in Commercial Management and is studying towards an LLM in Construction Law and Arbitration.
He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb), a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Building (FCIOB), a member of CIOB’s Business Development Board and a member of the CIOB Dubai Hub, supporting the Special Interest Group for Digital Technologies in Construction. Nicky is also one of the few RICS Certified BIM Managers and BRE BIM Informed Professionals and one of the many PMI Certified Project Management Professionals (PMP).
Nicky started his journey into BIM in 2009 in Ireland, where he assisted practices, universities and NGOs in the adoption of electronic estimating systems, training over 350 students and professionals in the review and quantification of BIM designs. Currently based in Dubai, Nicky is working on a number of public and private projects spread across the MENA region.